Joint Semantic Instance Segmentation on Graphs with the Semantic Mutex Watershed
Semantic instance segmentation is the task of simultaneously partitioning an image into distinct segments while associating each pixel with a class label. In commonly used pipelines, segmentation and label assignment are solved separately since joint optimization is computationally expensive. We propose a greedy algorithm for joint graph partitioning and labeling derived from the efficient Mutex Watershed partitioning algorithm. It optimizes an objective function closely related to the Symmetric Multiway Cut objective and empirically shows efficient scaling behavior. Due to the algorithm's efficiency, it can operate directly on pixels without prior over-segmentation of the image into superpixels. We evaluate the performance on the Cityscapes dataset (2D urban scenes) and on a 3D microscopy volume. In urban scenes, the proposed algorithm combined with current deep neural networks outperforms the strong baseline of `Panoptic Feature Pyramid Networks' by Kirillov et al. (2019). In the 3D electron microscopy images, we show explicitly that our joint formulation outperforms a separate optimization of the partitioning and labeling problems. "