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Sparse DETR: Efficient End-to-End Object Detection with Learnable Sparsity

Byungseok Roh · JaeWoong Shin · Wuhyun Shin · Saehoon Kim



DETR is the first end-to-end object detector using a transformer encoder-decoder architecture and demonstrates competitive performance but low computational efficiency. The subsequent work, Deformable DETR, enhances the efficiency of DETR by replacing dense attention with deformable attention, which achieves 10x faster convergence and improved performance. Using the multiscale feature to ameliorate performance, however, the number of encoder queries increases by 20x compared to DETR, and the computation cost of the encoder attention remains a bottleneck. We observe that the encoder queries referenced by the decoder account for only 45% of the total, and find out the detection accuracy does not deteriorate significantly even if only the referenced queries are polished in the encoder block. Inspired by this observation, we propose Sparse DETR that selectively updates only the queries expected to be referenced by the decoder, thus help the model effectively detect objects. In addition, we show that applying an auxiliary detection loss on the selected queries in the encoder improves the performance while minimizing computational overhead. We validate that Sparse DETR achieves better performance than Deformable DETR even with only 10% encoder queries on the COCO dataset. Albeit only the encoder queries are sparsified, the total computation cost decreases by 38% and the frames per second (FPS) increases by 42% compared to Deformable DETR. Code will be released.

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