RefCLIP: A Universal Teacher for Weakly Supervised Referring Expression Comprehension
Lei Jin · Gen Luo · Yiyi Zhou · Xiaoshuai Sun · Guannan Jiang · Annan Shu · Rongrong Ji
West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 255
Referring Expression Comprehension (REC) is a task of grounding the referent based on an expression, and its development is greatly limited by expensive instance-level annotations. Most existing weakly supervised methods are built based on two-stage detection networks, which are computationally expensive. In this paper, we resort to the efficient one-stage detector and propose a novel weakly supervised model called RefCLIP. Specifically, RefCLIP redefines weakly supervised REC as an anchor-text matching problem, which can avoid the complex post-processing in existing methods. To achieve weakly supervised learning, we introduce anchor-based contrastive loss to optimize RefCLIP via numerous anchor-text pairs. Based on RefCLIP, we further propose the first model-agnostic weakly supervised training scheme for existing REC models, where RefCLIP acts as a mature teacher to generate pseudo-labels for teaching common REC models. With our careful designs, this scheme can even help existing REC models achieve better weakly supervised performance than RefCLIP, e.g., TransVG and SimREC. To validate our approaches, we conduct extensive experiments on four REC benchmarks, i.e., RefCOCO, RefCOCO+, RefCOCOg and ReferItGame. Experimental results not only report our significant performance gains over existing weakly supervised models, e.g., +24.87% on RefCOCO, but also show the 5x faster inference speed. Project: https://refclip.github.io.