Dense Center-Direction Regression for Object Counting and Localization with Point Supervision

Pattern Recognition, 2024
Object counting and localization problems are commonly addressed with point supervised learning, which allows the use of less labor-intensive point annotations. However, learning based on point annotations poses challenges due to the high imbalance between the sets of annotated and unannotated pixels, which is often treated with Gaussian smoothing of point annotations and focal loss. However, these approaches still focus on the pixels in the immediate vicinity of the point annotations and exploit the rest of the data only indirectly. In this work, we propose a novel approach termed CeDiRNet for point-supervised learning hat uses a dense regression of directions pointing owards the nearest object centers, i.e. center-directions. This provides greater support for each center point arising from many surrounding pixels pointing towards the object center. We propose a formulation of center-directions that allows the problem to be split into the domain-specific dense regression of center-directions and the final localization task based on a small, lightweight, and domain-agnostic localization network that can be trained with synthetic data completely independent of the target domain. We demonstrate the performance of the proposed method on six different datasets for object counting and localization, and show that it outperforms the existing state-of-the-art methods. Keywords: Point-Supervision, Object Counting, Object Localization, Center-Point Prediction, Center-Direction Regression, CeDiRNet


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