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In IEEE transactions on image processing : a publication of the IEEE Signal Processing Society

Instance segmentation is an important task for biomedical and biological image analysis. Due to the complicated background components, the high variability of object appearances, numerous overlapping objects, and ambiguous object boundaries, this task still remains challenging. Recently, deep learning based methods have been widely employed to solve these problems and can be categorized into proposal-free and proposal-based methods. However, both proposal-free and proposal-based methods suffer from information loss, as they focus on either global-level semantic or local-level instance features. To tackle this issue, we present a Panoptic Feature Fusion Net (PFFNet) that unifies the semantic and instance features in this work. Specifically, our proposed PFFNet contains a residual attention feature fusion mechanism to incorporate the instance prediction with the semantic features, in order to facilitate the semantic contextual information learning in the instance branch. Then, a mask quality sub-branch is designed to align the confidence score of each object with the quality of the mask prediction. Furthermore, a consistency regularization mechanism is designed between the semantic segmentation tasks in the semantic and instance branches, for the robust learning of both tasks. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed PFFNet, which outperforms several state-of-the-art methods on various biomedical and biological datasets.

Liu Dongnan, Zhang Donghao, Song Yang, Huang Heng, Cai Weidong