Keywords: [ gentle teaching assistant ] [ semi-supervised semantic segmentation ]
Semi-Supervised Semantic Segmentation aims at training the segmentation model with limited labeled data and a large amount of unlabeled data. To effectively leverage the unlabeled data, pseudo labeling, along with the teacher-student framework, is widely adopted in semi-supervised semantic segmentation. Though proved to be effective, this paradigm suffers from incorrect pseudo labels which inevitably exist and are taken as auxiliary training data. To alleviate the negative impact of incorrect pseudo labels, we delve into the current Semi-Supervised Semantic Segmentation frameworks. We argue that the unlabeled data with pseudo labels can facilitate the learning of representative features in the feature extractor, but it is unreliable to supervise the mask predictor. Motivated by this consideration, we propose a novel framework, Gentle Teaching Assistant (GTA-Seg) to disentangle the effects of pseudo labels on feature extractor and mask predictor of the student model. Specifically, in addition to the original teacher-student framework, our method introduces a teaching assistant network which directly learns from pseudo labels generated by the teacher network. The gentle teaching assistant (GTA) is coined gentle since it only transfers the beneficial feature representation knowledge in the feature extractor to the student model in an Exponential Moving Average (EMA) manner, protecting the student model from the negative influences caused by unreliable pseudo labels in the mask predictor. The student model is also supervised by reliable labeled data to train an accurate mask predictor, further facilitating feature representation. Extensive experiment results on benchmark datasets validate that our method shows competitive performance against previous methods. We promise to release our code towards reproducibility.