CORe50: a New Dataset and Benchmark for Continuous Object Recognition
Continuous/Lifelong learning of high-dimensional data streams is a challenging research problem. In fact, fully retraining models each time new data become available is infeasible, due to computational and storage issues, while naïve incremental strategies have been shown to suffer from catastrophic forgetting. In the context of real-world object recognition applications (e.g., robotic vision), where continuous learning is crucial, very few datasets and benchmarks are available to evaluate and compare emerging techniques. In this work we propose a new dataset and benchmark CORe50, specifically designed for continuous object recognition, and introduce baseline approaches for different continuous learning scenarios.
Datasets such as ImageNet and Pascal VOC provide a very good playground for classification and detection approaches. However, they have been designed with “static” evaluation protocols in mind; the entire dataset is split in just two parts: a training set is used for (one-shot) learning and a separate test set is used for accuracy evaluation. Splitting the training set into a number of batches is essential to train and test continuous learning approaches, a hot research topic that is currently receiving much attention. Unfortunately, most of the existing datasets are not well suited to this purpose because they lack a fundamental ingredient: the presence of multiple (unconstrained) views of the same objects taken in different sessions (varying background, lighting, pose, occlusions, etc.). Focusing on Object Recognition we consider three continuous learning scenarios:
New Instances (NI): new training patterns of the same classes become available in subsequent batches with new poses and conditions (illumination, background, occlusion, etc.). A good model is expected to incrementally consolidate its knowledge about the known classes without compromising what it has learned before.
New Classes (NC): new training patterns belonging to different classes become available in subsequent batches. In this case the model should be able to deal with the new classes without losing accuracy on the previous ones.
New Instances and Classes (NIC): new training patterns belonging both to known and new classes become available in subsequent training batches. A good model is expected to consolidate its knowledge about the known classes and to learn the new ones.
It appears clear that for dealing with such complex scenarios datasets/benchmarks specifically designed for continuous learning are needed in order to evaluate and compare emerging approaches. In particular, the ideal dataset should be composed of a high number of classes to be added in subsequent batches, but, more important, of a large number of views for each class acquired in different sessions. The presence of temporal coherent sessions (i.e., videos where the objects gently move in front of the camera) is another key feature since temporal smoothness can be used to simplify object detection, improve classification accuracy and to address unsupervised scenarios Maltoni2016-icpr () Maltoni2016-arxiv (). In Section 2 we review existing datasets and better clarify the motivations that induced us to propose a new benchmark. When addressing real-world continuous learning, assuming that the whole past data can be used at each training step (i.e., cumulative approach) is not only very far from biological learning but also unlikely for application engineering. In fact, the cumulative approach would require:
To store all the previous data streams;
To retrain a model on all the whole data each time new data is available.
Updating an already trained model with new data (only) is much more feasible in term of computation and memory constraints. Recent advances in transfer learning/tuning with deep neural networks have shown that using previously learned knowledge on similar tasks can be useful for solving new ones Lomonaco2016 (). Yet, little has been done in the context of continuous learning where the same model is required to solve new tasks while maintaining good performances on the previous ones. Indeed, preserving previously learned knowledge without re-accessing old patterns remains particularly challenging due to the phenomenon known in literature as catastrophic forgetting where what has been learned so far is seriously compromised. The contributions of this paper can be summarized as follows:
Collection of a new dataset (called CORe50) specifically designed for continuous object recognition. CORe50 is publicly available at http://vlomonaco.github.io/core50.
Definition of benchmarks for NI, NC, NIC scenarios on CORe50.
Design and test of simple continual learning approaches for NI, NC, NIC scenarios to be used as baseline references when developing new approaches.
In section 2 we review related literature and compare datasets that can be used for continuous object recognition. Section 3 describes CORe50. While the new dataset is intended for continuous object recognition, in Section 4 we provide an overview of the accuracy that can be achieved by training recent CNNs on the whole training data (i.e., static benchmark). In Section 5 we introduce, for each continuous learning scenario (NI, NC and NIC), one or more simple approaches that can be used as baseline references when testing new developments on CORe50. Finally, in Section 6 some conclusions are drawn.
2 Related Works
In the last few years, we have witnessed a renewed interest in continuous learning, both for supervised classification and reinforcement learning. Several interesting approaches have been proposed such as: Learning without Forgetting Li2016 (), Progressive Neural Networks Rusu (), Active Long Term Memory Networks Furlanello2016 (), Adaptive Convolutional Neural Network Zhang2016 (), PathNet pathnet (), Incremental Regularized Least Squares Camoriano2017 (), Elastic Weight Consolidation Kirkpatrick2016 (), Encoder-based Lifelong Learning Triki2017 (), etc.
Elastic Weight Consolidation (EWC) appears particularly intriguing since it provides a formal criterion to identify the subset of weights that should not be changed (or changed as little as possible) during the model update to reduce forgetting. Learning without Forgetting (LwF) Li2016 () and some of its evolutions Triki2017 () are also very interesting since they prove that enforcing the output stability helps to control forgetting and, at the same time, provides enough degrees of freedom to learn the new task(s). Unfortunately, until now, most of the experimentations have been performed in setups that are appropriate to learn very short sequences of big tasks (typically 2), while their capabilities have not been assessed in continuous learning scenarios characterized by frequent (sometimes small) updates. For example, EWC classification tests have been carried out on permuted MNIST task Goodfellow2013 () Srivastava2013 (), where the new tasks to learn are obtained by scrambling the pixel positions in the MNIST dataset. Although original and ingenious such experiment is not truly linked to real-world applications. Most of the experiments performed on LwF consider pairs of large datasets (selected from ImageNet, Pascal VOC, Places365-standard, Caltech-UCSD Birds-200-2011, MIT indoor scene classification, etc) and proves that a model trained on the first dataset can be further trained on the second one without forgetting the first task; even if LwF can deal with multiple new tasks, only a simple experiments is reported in Li2016 () for multiple new tasks. Furthermore, only the NC scenario has been addressed.
In Table 1 we compare datasets/benchmarks which, in our opinion, could be used for continuous object recognition. Datasets where temporal coherent sequences are not available (or cannot be generated from static frames) are here excluded. In principle, such datasets could be used for continuous learning as well, but we think that temporally coherent sequences allow a larger number of real-world applications to be addressed (e.g., robotic vision scenario). YouTube-8M Abu-El-Haija2016 () provides a huge number of videos acquired in difficult natural settings. However, the classes are quite heterogeneous and acquisition conditions are completely uncontrolled in terms of object distance, pose, lighting, occlusions, etc. In other words, we believe it is too challenging for current continuous learning approaches (still in their infancy).
|Dataset||Cat.||Obj.||Sess.||Frames per sess.||Format||Acquisition setting||Outdoor sessions|
|NORB LeCun2004 ()||5||25||20||20*||grayscale||turntable||no|
|COIL-100 Nene1996 ()||-||100||20||54*||RGB||turntable||no|
|iLab-20M Borji2016 ()||15||704||-||-||RGB||turntable||no|
|RGB-D Schwarz2015 ()||51||300||-||-||RGB-D||turntable||no|
|BigBIRD bigbird ()||-||100||-||-||RGB-D||turntable||no|
|ALOI aloi ()||-||1000||-||-||RGB||turntable||no|
|BigBrother Franco2009 ()||-||7||54||20||RGB||wall cameras||no|
|iCubWorld28 Pasquale2015a ()||7||28||4||150||RGB||hand hold||no|
|iCubWorld-Transf icub-transf ()||15||150||6||150||RGB||hand hold||no|
|CORe50||10||50||11||300||RGB-D||hand hold||yes (3)|
In the first group of datasets in Table 1 (NORB, COIL-100, iLAB20M, Washington RGB-D, BigBIRD, ALOI), objects are positioned on turntables and acquisition is systematically controlled in term of pose/lighting. Neither complex backgrounds nor occlusions are present in these datasets. For NORB and COIL-100 we defined in Maltoni2016-icpr () a number of exploration sequences that turn the native static benchmarks into continuous learning tasks; Maltoni2016-icpr () also reports supervised and semi-supervised accuracy for the NI scenario. Exploration sequences can be generated for the other datasets in this group as well by randomly walking through adjacent static frames in the multivariate parameter space; however, the obtained sequences would remain quite unnatural. BigBrother dataset (see Lomonaco2016 () Franco2009 ()) is an interesting incremental learning setup in the face recognition domain, but unfortunately the owner copyright does not allow the public diffusion of the dataset. Finally, the iCubWorld datasets (Pasquale2015a (), icub-transf ()) have been acquired in a robotic vision context and are the closest ones to CORe50. In fact, objects are hand hold at nearly constant distance from the camera and are randomly moved. With respect to these datasets, CORe50 consists of a higher number of longer sessions (including outdoor ones), more complex backgrounds and also provide depth information (that can be used as extra-feature for classification and/or to simplify object detection).
In our opinion, the most important feature of CORe50, is the presence of 11 distinct acquisition sessions per object; this allows to define incremental strategies that are long enough to appreciate the learning trends. While preparing this paper we noted that iCubWorld-Transf is being expanded (see https://robotology.github.io/iCubWorld/ for latest updates), and we think that cross-evaluating continuous object recognition approaches on both CORe50 and iCubWorld-Transf could be very interesting.
CORe50, specifically designed for (C)ontinuous (O)bject (Re)cognition, is a collection of 50 domestic objects belonging to 10 categories: plug adapters, mobile phones, scissors, light bulbs, cans, glasses, balls, markers, cups and remote controls (see Figure 1). Classification can be performed at object level (50 classes) or at category level (10 classes). The first task (the default one) is much more challenging because objects of the same category are very difficult to be distinguished under certain poses. The dataset has been collected in 11 distinct sessions (8 indoor and 3 outdoor) characterized by different backgrounds and lighting. For each session and for each object, a 15 seconds video (at 20 fps) has been recorded with a Kinect 2.0 sensor kinect () delivering 300 RGB-D frames. Objects are hand hold by the operator and the camera point-of-view is that of the operator eyes. The operator is required to extend his arm and smoothly move/rotate the object in front of the camera. A subjective point-of-view with objects at grab-distance is well-suited for a number of robotic applications. The grabbing hand (left or right) changes throughout the sessions and relevant object occlusions are often produced by the hand itself.
Row data consists of 1024 575 RGB + 512 424 Depth frames. Depth information can be mapped to RGB coordinates upon calibration. The acquisition interface identifies a central region where the object should be kept (see red box in Figure 2). This allows to performs a first (fixed) cropping, thus reducing the frame size to 350 350.
Since our domestic objects (kept at arm distance) typically extend for less than 100 100 pixels, only a small fraction of the frame contains the object of interest. Therefore, we exploited temporal information to crop from each 350 350 frame a 128 128 box around the object
The final dataset consists of 164,866 128 128 RGB-D images: 11 sessions x 50 objects x (300
The full dataset, along with further information can be downloaded from vlomonaco.github.io/core50. In the same repository we make available the code for the reproducibility of the benchmarks described in the following sections.
4 Static Object Recognition Benchmark
While designed for continuous learning, CORe50 dataset can still be used as a medium size benchmark for object recognition with a static evaluation protocol. The high object pose variability and complex acquisition setting make the problem sufficiently hard to solve even when learning is performed on the whole training data.
In Table 2, we show the accuracy of two well-known CNN models (CaffeNet and VGG
Mid-CNN from scratch: training a model from scratch.
Mid-CNN + SVM: using a model pre-trained on ILSVRC-2012 as a fixed feature extractor in conjunction with a linear SVM classifiers. Features are extracted at pool5 level.
Mid-CNN + FT: fine-tuning an ILSVRC-2012 pre-trained model on CORe50.
As already shown by many authors, fine-tuning a pre-trained model on the new dataset is often the most effective strategy, especially if the new dataset is large enough to avoid overfitting, but not so large to learn representative features from scratch.
|Accuracy %||Accuracy %|
|(object level: 50 classes)||(category level: 10 classes)|
|Mid-CNN from scratch||37,82%||38,09%||48,93%||53,74%|
|Mid-CNN + SVM||51,35%||59,03%||61,81%||68,94%|
|Mid-CNN + FT||65,98%||69,08%||77,76%||80,23%|
The term Mid-CNN is here used to highlight that we are not using the original 227 227 CaffeNet and 224 224 VGG models but their adaption to a mid-size of 128 128 pixels. Many researchers use available pre-trained CNN models as they are, and simply stretch their images to fit the model input size, even if the image size is much smaller than the CNN input. Stretching our input pattern (from 128 128 to 227 227) would require much more computation at inference time (about four times), so we decided to adapt the pre-trained CNN models to work with 128 128 input images. However, in case of pre-trained models, this step is not neutral and obvious as one could expect: more details are provided in Appendix A.
To improve classification accuracy, instead of classifying single frames, a set of temporally adjacent frames can be fused. To this purpose we implemented a simple sum-rule fusion at confidence level. The graph in Figure 5 shows the result for the Mid-VGG model. For each classification experiment (object level and category level) we tested two cases: i) we concatenate frames from all test sequences without considering end-of-sequence events (reset); ii) we assume that a reset signal is available. In the former, as the window size increases the risk of fusing frames from different classes increases as well. In general, fusing 40-50 frames (about 2 seconds of video) seems to be a good compromise even when sequences cannot be reliably segmented.
5 Continuous Object Recognition Benchmark
For all the continuous learning scenarios (NI, NC, NIC) we use the same test set composed of sessions #3, #7 and #10. The remaining 8 sessions are split in batches and provided sequentially during training. Since the batch order can affect the final result, we compute the average over 10 runs where the batches are randomly shuffled. Moreover, for each scenario, we provide the accuracy of the cumulative strategy (i.e., the current batch and the entire previous ones are used for training) as a target
5.1 NI: New Instances
In this scenario the training batches coincides with the 8 sessions available in the training set. In fact, since each session includes a sequence (about 300 frames) for each of the 50 objects, training a model on the first session ad tuning it 7 times (on the remaining 7 sessions) is in line with NI scenario: all the classes are known since from the first batch and successive batches provide new instances of these classes to refine and consolidate knowledge. A baseline naïve approach for this scenario is simply continuing the SGD training as new batches become available. In Figure 6 we compare the baseline and cumulative approaches.
The accuracy gap between the naïve and the cumulative approach is here quite modest. In fact, with a careful tuning of the learning rate and number of iterations (early stopping), forgetting can be tamed in this scenario where the model memory is regularly refreshed with new poses (scale, view angle, occlusion, lighting, etc.). Similar findings have been reported for NORB, COIL100 and BigBrother in the NI scenario Maltoni2016-icpr () Lomonaco2016 ().
5.2 NC: New Classes
In this scenario, for each sequential batch, new objects (i.e. classes) to recognize are presented. Each batch contains the whole training sequences (8) of a small group of classes, and therefore no memory refresh is possible across batches. In the first batch we include 10 classes, while the remaining 8 batches contain 5 classes each. To slightly simplify the task, in each of the ten runs we randomly chose the classes with a biased policy which privileges maximal categorical representation (i.e., spreading of objects of the same category in different batches). Defining an optimal testing protocol for NC scenario is not obvious. We initially considered three alternatives:
NC – Partial Test Set: at each evaluation step (i.e., after each training batch) the test set includes only patterns of the classes already presented to the network.
NC – Full Test Set: the test set is fixed and includes patterns of all the classes. Except for the last evaluation step, the model is (also) required to classify patterns of never seen classes.
NC – Full Test Set with Rejection Option: the test set is fixed and includes patterns of all classes, however the model has the possibility to reject a pattern if it believes the pattern does not belong to any of the known classes. Since the training set does not include “negative” examples we cannot add an extra neuron for the “unknown” class, and the rejection mechanism has to compare the max class probability with a given threshold.
Option 1. has the drawback that as we increase the number of classes in the test set the task becomes more complex and it is difficult to appreciate the learning trend and benefits of subsequent batches. Option 3. is the most realistic one for real applications but evaluation and comparison of different techniques is more difficult because at each step instead of a single point we have a ROC curve (accuracy also depends on the threshold). Considering that our aim is comparative evaluation among continual object recognition approaches we believe that option 2. is a good trade-off between simplicity and usefulness for the task. This option also maintains the test set coherent across all scenarios (NI, NC and NIC) so we decided to adopt it.
The naive approach in this scenario is not working at all. Graphs in Figure 7 show that the models completely forget the old tasks while learning the new classes: the initial accuracy drop is due to the larger size of the first batch w.r.t. the following ones. So we investigated other approaches and find out one (denoted as CWR: CopyWeights with Re-init) that, in spite of its simplicity, performs fairly well and can be used as baseline for further studies (see Figure 7).
In CWR we skip layers fc6 and fc7 and directly connect pool5 to a final layer fc8 (followed by softmax) while maintaining the weights up to pool5 fixed. This allows isolating the subsets of weights that each class uses. During the training two sets of weights are maintained by the model for the pool5 fc8 connections: cw are the consolidated weights used for inference and tw the temporary weights used for training; cw are initialized to 0 before the first batch, while tw are randomly re-initialized (default Gaussian distribution with std = 0.01, mean = 0) before each training batch. At the end of each batch training, the weights in tw corresponding to the classes in the current batch are copied in cw: this is trivial in this scenario because of the class segregation in different batches. In other words, cw can be seen as a sort of hippocampus where consolidated concepts are maintained, while tw as a short term working memory in the cortex used to learn new concepts without interfering with stable ones (see the interesting discussion in Li2016 ()).
Other simple approaches have been implemented and tested such as: i) FW where cw is not used and we just freeze in tw the class weights of the already encountered classes; ii) CW which is the same of CWR but without the re-init step; however as shown in Figure 8 the results obtained are significantly worse than CWR.
5.3 NIC: New Instances and Classes
In the third and last scenario, both new classes and instances are presented in each training batch. This scenario is the closest to many real-world applications where an agent continuously learns new objects and refines the knowledge about previously discovered ones. As for NC scenario the first batch includes 10 classes, and the subsequent batches 5 classes each. However, only one training sequence per class is here included in a batch, thus resulting in a double partitioning scheme (i.e., classes and sequences). The total number of batches is 79. We maximized the categorical representation in the first batch but we left the composition and order of the 78 subsequent batches completely random. The test set is the same as in NI and NC scenarios.
CWR approach for this scenario needs to be slightly adjusted. The first time a new class is encountered its tw weights are copied on cw, while at successive steps cw is updated as a weighted average. More precisely, for each class in the current batch:
where is the number of times class has been encountered so far. Figure 9 reports the accuracy of the naïve, cumulative and CWR approaches. The graph clearly shows that this scenario is very difficult (CWR accuracy is about half of the Cumulative approach accuracy) and there is a big room for improvements.
Biological learning requires neither to store perceptual data streams nor to process them in a cumulative way; however, it effectively tackles incremental learning tasks where new object representations are continuously learned and consolidated and only the useless one are forgot. Artificial learning systems still lack these capabilities and new research is needed to fill the gap. In this paper we introduced a new dataset and associated benchmarks to support continuous learning studies in the context of object recognition.
As argued by many researchers our results also prove that naïve approaches such as incremental tuning cannot avoid catastrophic forgetting in complex real-world scenarios like NC and NIC. When testing new approaches on CORe50, the most important indicator is not the absolute accuracy on specific scenarios but the relative accuracy w.r.t. the corresponding cumulative approach. In fact, using a state-of-the-art full size CNN one can easily exceed absolute accuracy here reported for mid-size CNNs while only really effective continual learning techniques can significantly reduce the gap w.r.t. the corresponding cumulative approaches.
The proposed CWR approach (to be used as baseline for further studies) performs better than the naïve solution but the accuracy drops w.r.t. the cumulative approach is large and leaves much room for improvements. Directly connecting pool5 to fc8 and freezing the model parameters up to conv5, allowed us to easily disentangle the sets of weights which are relevant for the different classes, but more sophisticate techniques are needed in presence of multiple shared layers. EWC Kirkpatrick2016 () and LwF Li2016 () Triki2017 () are interesting approaches in this direction, and we intend to test them on CORe50 in the near future. Other future steps in our plan are:
Further extending the dataset in terms of classes and sessions;
Combining motion and depth to provide better object segmentation;
Classifying CORe50 objects with models exploiting both RGB and depth information.
Appendix A Using pre-trained CNN with different input size
In the recent years, the pervasiveness of deep neural networks and the complexity of training such architectures on datasets of remarkable size has led to the proliferation of pre-trained models which represent a very good starting point for many customized solutions. However, this approach requires adapting problem-specific data to a fixed size architecture which was designed and optimized to solve another task. In the context of computer vision and object recognition, for example, it is very common to stretch images of arbitrary sizes to 227 227 pixels which is the typical input of well-known CNN models pre-trained on ImageNet: this often leads to highly distort the original patterns and significantly increases inference time. A more elegant (and efficient) approach is adapting a pre-trained model to work with input patterns of different size. This is straightforward for convolution and pooling layers thanks to local (shared) connections, but is much more problematic for fully connected layers, whose number of weights depends on the input image size. In this case, two main strategies can be used:
Reusing the pre-trained network up to the last convolution layer and retraining the fully connected layers from scratch on the new task and input size. A typical approach is also to train an external classifier (e.g., SVM) from pooled features just after the last convolutional layer.
Independently of the network adaption to a different input size, when the problem classes change, the final softmax layer needs to be replaced and re-trained from scratch.
|Accuracy (object level: 50 classes)|
|CNN + SVM (on top of …)||fc6||pool5|
|CNN + Finetuning||Accuracy (object level: 50 classes)|
Since in our experiments we used the classic CaffeNet and VGG models (which have not been trained in a multi-scale fashion) and we aimed at fast processing, we opted for the second strategy. Hence, we reshaped the input volume to 3 128 128, halved
Table 3 summaries our findings. For the full-size models, extracting features from fc6 or pool5 is nearly equivalent in terms of accuracy (compare columns fc6 and pool5 for raw 1 and 3 in the table). So the lack of a fully pre-trained fc6 in the mid-size models is not critical. However, in the experiments with SVM (rows 1:4), the mid-size networks loose about 10% accuracy with respect their original version. A similar gap (just slightly smaller for VGG) can be observed when the networks are finetuned (rows 5:8). The reason of such accuracy drop is not totally clear to us. On the one hand, if we consider finetuning experiments (rows 5:8), fc6 and fc7 have been pre-trained on a higher number of patterns in the full-size networks, and therefore it is reasonable to expect higher accuracy; on the other hand, if we consider pool5 + SVM experiments, both the network exploits the same pre-training and stretching our input patterns from 128 128 to 227 227 (in principle) does not add new information.
We did similar experiments on other datasets (e.g., NORB, COIL100, BigBrother, iCub) and obtained close results: it seems that the zoomed image, even if a blurred, allow a more detailed feature extraction to be performed by the network. This can be due to the spatial scale of the filters learned on ILSVRC-2012 or by a richer hierarchical representation (more neurons and link between neurons cover the object region). We believe that more investigations are necessary to fully understand the reasons and to make available pre-trained mid-size networks (for patterns whose native size is close to 128 128) which are competitive with full-size ones.
- in principle object detection inside the frame could be performed by a trained model like a Faster R-CNN Ren2015 () or Yolo Redmon2016 (); however, since our main interest is continuous object recognition, at this stage we preferred to focus on object classification instead of the more complex and time demanding detection task.
- Some sequences are slightly shorter than 300 frames because a few initial frames are necessary to initialize the automatic motion-based tracker.
- We refer to the VGG-CNN-M model introduced in Chatfield2014 ().
- To reduce computations, the number of runs for the NC and NIC cumulative strategy is reduced to 5 and 3 respectively.
- As other authors we noted that such reduction has no significant impact on accuracy.
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