Don’t Just Assume; Look and Answer: Overcoming Priors for Visual Question Answering

Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)

By: Aishwarya Agrawal, Dhruv Batra, Devi Parikh, Aniruddha Kembhavi


A number of studies have found that today’s Visual Question Answering (VQA) models are heavily driven by superficial correlations in the training data and lack sufficient image grounding. To encourage development of models geared towards the latter, we propose a new setting for VQA where for every question type, train and test sets have different prior distributions of answers. Specifically, we present new splits of the VQA v1 and VQA v2 datasets, which we call Visual Question Answering under Changing Priors (VQA-CP v1 and VQA-CP v2 respectively). First, we evaluate several existing VQA models under this new setting and show that their performance degrades significantly compared to the original VQA setting. Second, we propose a novel Grounded Visual Question Answering model (GVQA) that contains inductive biases and restrictions in the architecture specifically designed to prevent the model from ‘cheating’ by primarily relying on priors in the training data. Specifically, GVQA explicitly disentangles the recognition of visual concepts present in the image from the identification of plausible answer space for a given question, enabling the model to more robustly generalize across different distributions of answers. GVQA is built off an existing VQA model – Stacked Attention Networks (SAN). Our experiments demonstrate that GVQA significantly outperforms SAN on both VQA-CP v1 and VQA-CP v2 datasets. Interestingly, it also outperforms more powerful VQA models such as Multimodal Compact Bilinear Pooling (MCB) in several cases. GVQA offers strengths complementary to SAN when trained and evaluated on the original VQA v1 and VQA v2 datasets. Finally, GVQA is more transparent and interpretable than existing VQA models.