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Gu, Jindong and Tresp, Volker (2020): Improving the Robustness of Capsule Networks to Image Affine Transformations. In: 2020 Ieee/Cvf Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (Cvpr): pp. 7283-7291

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Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) achieve translational invariance by using pooling operations. However, the operations do not preserve the spatial relationships in the learned representations. Hence, CNNs cannot extrapolate to various geometric transformations of inputs. Recently, Capsule Networks (CapsNets) have been proposed to tackle this problem. In CapsNets, each entity is represented by a vector and routed to high-level entity representations by a dynamic routing algorithm. CapsNets have been shown to be more robust than CNNs to affine transformations of inputs. However, there is still a huge gap between their performance on transformed inputs compared to untransformed versions. In this work, we first revisit the routing procedure by (un)rolling its forward and backward passes. Our investigation reveals that the routing procedure contributes neither to the generalization ability nor to the affine robustness of the CapsNets. Furthermore, we explore the limitations of capsule transformations and propose affine CapsNets (Aff-CapsNets), which are more robust to affine transformations. On our benchmark task, where models are trained on the MNIST dataset and tested on the AffNIST dataset, our Aff-CapsNets improve the benchmark performance by a large margin (from 79% to 93.21%), without using any routing mechanism.

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