TxT: Crossmodal End-to-End Learning with Transformers

Jan-Martin O. Steitz, Jonas Pfeiffer, Iryna Gurevych, and Stefan Roth,
in Proc. of the 43rd DAGM German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), 2021, Best Paper Honorable Mention.

Reasoning over multiple modalities, e.g. in Visual Question Answering (VQA), requires an alignment of semantic concepts across domains. Despite the widespread success of end-to-end learning, today’s multimodal pipelines by and large leverage pre-extracted, fixed features from object detectors, typically Faster R-CNN, as representations of the visual world. The obvious downside is that the visual representation is not specifically tuned to the multimodal task at hand. At the same time, while transformer-based object detectors have gained popularity, they have not been employed in today’s multimodal pipelines. We address both shortcomings with TxT, a transformer-based crossmodal pipeline that enables fine-tuning both language and visual components on the downstream task in a fully end-to-end manner. We overcome existing limitations of transformer-based detectors for multimodal reasoning regarding the integration of global context and their scalability. Our transformer-based multimodal model achieves considerable gains from end-to-end learning for multimodal question answering.

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