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Optimal Decisions from Probabilistic Models: the Intersection-over-Union Case

Sebastian Nowozin


A probabilistic model allows us to reason about the world and make statistically optimal decisions using Bayesian decision theory. However, in practice the intractability of the decision problem forces us to adopt simplistic loss functions such as the 0/1 loss or Hamming loss and as result we make poor decisions through MAP estimates or through low-order marginal statistics. In this work we investigate optimal decision making for more realistic loss functions. Specifically we consider the popular intersection-over-union (IoU)score used in image segmentation benchmarks and show that it results in a hard combinatorial decision problem. To make this problem tractable we propose a statistical approximation to the objective function, as well as an approximate algorithm based on parametric linear programming. We apply the algorithm on three benchmark datasets and obtain improved intersection-over-union scores compared to maximum-posterior-marginal decisions. Our work points out the difficulties of using realistic loss functions with probabilistic computer vision models.


Publication typeInproceedings
Published inComputer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR 2014)
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
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