Stare at What You See: Masked Image Modeling Without Reconstruction

Hongwei Xue · Peng Gao · Hongyang Li · Yu Qiao · Hao Sun · Houqiang Li · Jiebo Luo

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 203


Masked Autoencoders (MAE) have been prevailing paradigms for large-scale vision representation pre-training. By reconstructing masked image patches from a small portion of visible image regions, MAE forces the model to infer semantic correlation within an image. Recently, some approaches apply semantic-rich teacher models to extract image features as the reconstruction target, leading to better performance. However, unlike the low-level features such as pixel values, we argue the features extracted by powerful teacher models already encode rich semantic correlation across regions in an intact image. This raises one question: is reconstruction necessary in Masked Image Modeling (MIM) with a teacher model? In this paper, we propose an efficient MIM paradigm named MaskAlign. MaskAlign simply learns the consistency of visible patch feature extracted by the student model and intact image features extracted by the teacher model. To further advance the performance and tackle the problem of input inconsistency between the student and teacher model, we propose a Dynamic Alignment (DA) module to apply learnable alignment. Our experimental results demonstrate that masked modeling does not lose effectiveness even without reconstruction on masked regions. Combined with Dynamic Alignment, MaskAlign can achieve state-of-the-art performance with much higher efficiency.

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