Fine-grained classification is challenging because categories can only be discriminated by subtle and local differences. Variances in the pose, scale or rotation usually make the problem more difficult. Most fine-grained classification systems follow the pipeline of finding foreground object or object parts (where) to extract discriminative features (what).
In this paper, we propose to apply visual attention to finegrained classification task using deep neural network. Our pipeline integrates three types of attention: the bottom-up attention that propose candidate patches, the object-level top-down attention that selects relevant patches to a certain object, and the part-level top-down attention that localizes discriminative parts. We combine these attentions to train domain-specific deep nets, then use it to improve both the what and where aspects. Importantly, we avoid using expensive annotations like bounding box or part information from end-to-end. The weak supervision constraint makes our work easier to generalize.
We have verified the effectiveness of the method on the subsets of ILSVRC2012 dataset and CUB200 2011 dataset. Our pipeline delivered significant improvements and achieved the best accuracy under the weakest supervision condition. The performance is competitive against other methods that rely on additional annotations.