Where to Focus: Investigating Hierarchical Attention Relationship for Fine-Grained Visual Classification

Yang Liu, Lei Zhou, Pengcheng Zhang, Xiao Bai, Lin Gu, Xiaohan Yu, Jun Zhou, Edwin R. Hancock ;


"Object categories are often grouped into a multi-granularity taxonomic hierarchy. Classifying objects at coarser-grained hierarchy requires global and common characteristics, while finer-grained hierarchy classification relies on local and discriminative features. Therefore, humans should also subconsciously focus on different object regions when classifying different hierarchies. This granularity-wise attention is confirmed by our collected human real-time gaze data on different hierarchy classifications. To leverage this mechanism, we propose a Cross-Hierarchical Region Feature (CHRF) learning framework. Specifically, we first design a region feature mining module that imitates humans to learn different granularity-wise attention regions with multi-grained classification tasks. To explore how human attention shifts from one hierarchy to another, we further present a cross-hierarchical orthogonal fusion module to enhance the region feature representation by blending the original feature and an orthogonal component extracted from adjacent hierarchies. Experiments on five hierarchical fine-grained datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of CHRF compared with the state-of-the-art methods. Ablation study and visualization results also consistently verify the advantages of our human attention-oriented modules. The code and dataset are available at https://github.com/visiondom/CHRF."

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