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The Pascal Visual Object Classes Challenge: A Retrospective

Abstract

The Pascal Visual Object Classes (VOC) challenge consists of two components: (i) a publicly available dataset of images together with ground truth annotation and standardised evaluation software; and (ii) an annual competition and workshop. There are five challenges: classification, detection, segmentation, action classification, and person layout. In this paper we provide a review of the challenge from 2008–2012. The paper is intended for two audiences: algorithm designers, researchers who want to see what the state of the art is, as measured by performance on the VOC datasets, along with the limitations and weak points of the current generation of algorithms; and, challenge designers, who want to see what we as organisers have learnt from the process and our recommendations for the organisation of future challenges. To analyse the performance of submitted algorithms on the VOC datasets we introduce a number of novel evaluation methods: a bootstrapping method for determining whether differences in the performance of two algorithms are significant or not; a normalised average precision so that performance can be compared across classes with different proportions of positive instances; a clustering method for visualising the performance across multiple algorithms so that the hard and easy images can be identified; and the use of a joint classifier over the submitted algorithms in order to measure their complementarity and combined performance. We also analyse the community’s progress through time using the methods of Hoiem et al. (Proceedings of European Conference on Computer Vision, 2012) to identify the types of occurring errors. We conclude the paper with an appraisal of the aspects of the challenge that worked well, and those that could be improved in future challenges.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Pascal stands for pattern analysis, statistical modelling and computational learning. It was an EU Network of Excellence funded project under the IST Programme of the European Union.

  2. 2.

    Matlab ® is a registered trademark of MathWorks, Inc.

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Acknowledgments

First, we thank all the groups that participated in the challenge—without these VOC would just have been a dataset. Second, we would like to thank those who have been ‘friends of the challenge’—making helpful suggestions and criticisms throughout: Alyosha Efros, David Forsyth, Derek Hoiem, Ivan Laptev, Jitendra Malik and Bill Triggs. Third, we thank those who have given additional assistance in developing and maintaining the PASCAL challenge: Marcin Eichner, Sam Johnson, Lubor Ladicky, Marcin Marszalek, Arpit Mittal and Andrea Vedaldi. In particular, we thank Alexander Sorokin for the first version of the evaluation server, and Yusuf Aytar for subsequent versions. Fourth, we gratefully acknowledge the annotators from VOC2008 onwards: Yusuf Aytar, Lucia Ballerini, Jan Hendrik Becker, Hakan Bilen, Patrick Buehler, Kian Ming Adam Chai, Ken Chatfield, Mircea Cimpoi, Miha Drenik, Chris Engels, Basura Fernando, Adrien Gaidon, Christoph Godau, Bertan Gunyel, Hedi Harzallah, Nicolas Heess, Phoenix/Xuan Huang, Sam Johnson, Zdenek Kalal, Jyri Kivinen, Lubor Ladicky, Marcin Marszalek, Markus Mathias, Alastair Moore, Maria-Elena Nilsback, Patrick Ott, Kristof Overdulve, Konstantinos Rematas, Florian Schroff, Gilad Sharir, Glenn Sheasby, Alexander Sorokin, Paul Sturgess, David Tingdahl, Diana Turcsany, Hirofumi Uemura, Jan Van Gemert, Johan Van Rompay, Mathias Vercruysse, Vibhav Vineet, Martin Vogt, Josiah Wang, Ziming Zhang, Shuai Kyle Zheng. Fifth, we are grateful to the IST Programme of the EC under the PASCAL2 Network of Excellence, IST-2007-216886 who provided the funding for running the VOC challenge, and Michele Sebag and John-Shawe Taylor who coordinated the challenge programme and PASCAL2 respectively. Finally, we would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their encouragement and feedback—their suggestions led to significant improvements to the paper.

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Correspondence to S. M. Ali Eslami.

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Mark Everingham, who died in 2012, was the key member of the VOC project. His contribution was crucial and substantial. For these reasons he is included as the posthumous first author of this paper. An appreciation of his life and work can be found in Zisserman et al. (2012).

Communicated by M. Hebert.

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Everingham, M., Eslami, S.M.A., Van Gool, L. et al. The Pascal Visual Object Classes Challenge: A Retrospective. Int J Comput Vis 111, 98–136 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11263-014-0733-5

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Keywords

  • Database
  • Benchmark
  • Object recognition
  • Object detection
  • Segmentation