Neighborhood Attention Transformer

Ali Hassani · Steven Walton · Jiachen Li · Shen Li · Humphrey Shi

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 197


We present Neighborhood Attention (NA), the first efficient and scalable sliding window attention mechanism for vision. NA is a pixel-wise operation, localizing self attention (SA) to the nearest neighboring pixels, and therefore enjoys a linear time and space complexity compared to the quadratic complexity of SA. The sliding window pattern allows NA’s receptive field to grow without needing extra pixel shifts, and preserves translational equivariance, unlike Swin Transformer’s Window Self Attention (WSA). We develop NATTEN (Neighborhood Attention Extension), a Python package with efficient C++ and CUDA kernels, which allows NA to run up to 40% faster than Swin’s WSA while using up to 25% less memory. We further present Neighborhood Attention Transformer (NAT), a new hierarchical transformer design based on NA that boosts image classification and downstream vision performance. Experimental results on NAT are competitive; NAT-Tiny reaches 83.2% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet, 51.4% mAP on MS-COCO and 48.4% mIoU on ADE20K, which is 1.9% ImageNet accuracy, 1.0% COCO mAP, and 2.6% ADE20K mIoU improvement over a Swin model with similar size. To support more research based on sliding window attention, we open source our project and release our checkpoints.

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