K-Net: Towards Unified Image Segmentation

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2021)

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Wenwei Zhang, Jiangmiao Pang, Kai Chen, Chen Change Loy


Semantic, instance, and panoptic segmentations have been addressed using different and specialized frameworks despite their underlying connections. This paper presents a unified, simple, and effective framework for these essentially similar tasks. The framework, named K-Net, segments both instances and semantic categories consistently by a group of learnable kernels, where each kernel is responsible for generating a mask for either a potential instance or a stuff class. To remedy the difficulties of distinguishing various instances, we propose a kernel update strategy that enables each kernel dynamic and conditional on its meaningful group in the input image. K-Net can be trained in an end-to-end manner with bipartite matching, and its training and inference are naturally NMS-free and box-free. Without bells and whistles, K-Net surpasses all previous published state-of-the-art single-model results of panoptic segmentation on MS COCO test-dev split and semantic segmentation on ADE20K val split with 55.2% PQ and 54.3% mIoU, respectively. Its instance segmentation performance is also on par with Cascade Mask R-CNN on MS COCO with 60%-90% faster inference speeds. Code and models will be released at https://github.com/ZwwWayne/K-Net/.