Deep Hashing by Discriminating Hard Examples

Cheng Yan, Guansong Pang, Xiao Bai, Chunhua Shen, Jun Zhou, Edwin Hancock. MM 2019

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Deep Learning MM Image Retrieval

This paper tackles a rarely explored but critical problem within learning to hash, i.e., to learn hash codes that effectively discriminate hard similar and dissimilar examples, to empower large-scale image retrieval. Hard similar examples refer to image pairs from the same semantic class that demonstrate some shared appearance but have different fine-grained appearance. Hard dissimilar examples are image pairs that come from different semantic classes but exhibit similar appearance. These hard examples generally have a small distance due to the shared appearance. Therefore, effective encoding of the hard examples can well discriminate the relevant images within a small Hamming distance, enabling more accurate retrieval in the top-ranked returned images. However, most existing hashing methods cannot capture this key information as their optimization is dominated byeasy examples, i.e., distant similar/dissimilar pairs that share no or limited appearance. To address this problem, we introduce a novel Gamma distribution-enabled and symmetric Kullback-Leibler divergence-based loss, which is dubbed dual hinge loss because it works similarly as imposing two smoothed hinge losses on the respective similar and dissimilar pairs. Specifically, the loss enforces exponentially variant penalization on the hard similar (dissimilar) examples to emphasize and learn their fine-grained difference. It meanwhile imposes a bounding penalization on easy similar (dissimilar) examples to prevent the dominance of the easy examples in the optimization while preserving the high-level similarity (dissimilarity). This enables our model to well encode the key information carried by both easy and hard examples. Extensive empirical results on three widely-used image retrieval datasets show that (i) our method consistently and substantially outperforms state-of-the-art competing methods using hash codes of the same length and (ii) our method can use significantly (e.g., 50%-75%) shorter hash codes to perform substantially better than, or comparably well to, the competing methods.