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Are Visual Recognition Models Robust to Image Compression?

Joao Maria Janeiro; Stanislav Frolov; Alaaeldin El-Nouby; Jakob Verbeek
In: International Conference on Machine Learning Workshop Neural Compression: From Information Theory to Applications. International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML-2023), Neural Compression: From Information Theory to Applications, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2023.


Reducing the data footprint of visual content via image compression is essential to reduce storage requirements, but also to reduce the bandwidth and latency requirements for transmission. In particular, the use of compressed images allows for faster transfer of data, and faster response times for visual recognition in edge devices that rely on cloud-based services. In this paper, we first analyze the impact of image compression using traditional codecs, as well as recent state-of-the-art neural compression approaches, on three visual recognition tasks: image classification, object detection, and semantic segmentation. We consider a wide range of compression levels, ranging from 0.1 to 2 bits-per-pixel (bpp). We find that for all three tasks, the recognition ability is significantly impacted when using strong compression. For example, for segmentation mIoU is reduced from 44.5 to 30.5 mIoU when compressing to 0.1 bpp using the best compression model we evaluated. Second, we test to what extent this performance drop can be ascribed to a loss of relevant information in the compressed image, or to a lack of generalization of visual recognition models to images with compression artefacts. We find that to a large extent the performance loss is due to the latter: by finetuning the recognition models on compressed training images, most of the performance loss is recovered. For example, bringing segmentation accuracy back up to 42 mIoU, i.e. recovering 82% of the original drop in accuracy.

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