Fast and High Quality Image Denoising via Malleable Convolution

Yifan Jiang, Bartlomiej Wronski, Ben Mildenhall, Jonathan T. Barron, Zhangyang Wang, Tianfan Xue ;


"Most image denoising networks apply a single set of static convolutional kernels across the entire input image. This is sub-optimal for natural images, as they often consist of heterogeneous visual patterns. Dynamic convolution tries to address this issue by using per-pixel convolution kernels, but this greatly increases computational cost. In this work, we present \textbf{Malle}able \textbf{Conv}olution (\textbf{MalleConv}), which performs spatial-varying processing with minimal computational overhead. MalleConv uses a smaller set of spatially-varying convolution kernels, a compromise between static and per-pixel convolution kernels. These spatially-varying kernels are produced by an efficient predictor network running on a downsampled input, making them much more efficient to compute than per-pixel kernels produced by a full-resolution image, and also enlarging the network’s receptive field compared with static kernels. These kernels are then jointly upsampled and applied to a full-resolution feature map through an efficient on-the-fly slicing operator with minimum memory overhead. To demonstrate the effectiveness of MalleConv, we use it to build an efficient denoising network we call \textbf{MalleNet}. MalleNet achieves high quality results without a very deep architecture, e.g., running 8.9$\times$ faster than the best performing denoising algorithms (SwinIR) while maintaining similar quality. We also show that a single MalleConv layer added to a standard convolution-based backbone can contribute significantly to reducing the computational cost or can boost image quality at a similar cost."

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