Surrogate-assisted Multiobjective Neural Architecture Search for Real-time Semantic Segmentation


The architectural advancements in deep neural networks have led to remarkable leap-forwards across a broad array of computer vision tasks. Instead of relying on human expertise, neural architecture search (NAS) has emerged as a promising avenue towards automating the design of architectures. While recent achievements on image classification have suggested opportunities, the promises of NAS have yet to be thoroughly assessed on more challenging tasks of semantic segmentation. The main challenges of applying NAS to semantic segmentation arise from two aspects: i) high-resolution images to be processed; ii) additional requirement of real-time inference speed (i.e. real-time semantic segmentation) for applications such as autonomous driving. To meet such challenges, we propose a surrogate-assisted multi-objective method in this paper. Through a series of customized prediction models, our method effectively transforms the original NAS task to an ordinary multi-objective optimization problem. Followed by a hierarchical pre-screening criterion for in-fill selection, our method progressively achieves a set of efficient architectures trading-off between segmentation accuracy and inference speed. Empirical evaluations on three benchmark datasets together with an application using Huawei Atlas 200 DK suggest that our method can identify architectures significantly outperforming existing state-of-the-art architectures designed both manually by human experts and automatically by other NAS methods. Code is available from

IEEE Transactions on Artificial Intelligence