Mask Focal Loss for dense crowd counting with canonical object detection networks

by   Xiaopin Zhong, et al.

Crowd counting plays an important role in risk perception and early warning, traffic control and scene statistical analysis. The challenges of crowd counting in highly dense and complex scenes lie in the mutual occlusion of the human body parts, the large variation of the body scales and the complexity of imaging conditions. Deep learning based head detection is a promising method for crowd counting. However the highly concerned object detection networks cannot be well applied to this field for two main reasons. First, most of the existing head detection datasets are only annotated with the center points instead of bounding boxes which is mandatory for the canonical detectors. Second, the sample imbalance has not been overcome yet in highly dense and complex scenes because the existing loss functions calculate the positive loss at a single key point or in the entire target area with the same weight. To address these problems, We propose a novel loss function, called Mask Focal Loss, to unify the loss functions based on heatmap ground truth (GT) and binary feature map GT. Mask Focal Loss redefines the weight of the loss contributions according to the situ value of the heatmap with a Gaussian kernel. For better evaluation and comparison, a new synthetic dataset GTA_Head is made public, including 35 sequences, 5096 images and 1732043 head labels with bounding boxes. Experimental results show the overwhelming performance and demonstrate that our proposed Mask Focal Loss is applicable to all of the canonical detectors and to various datasets with different GT. This provides a strong basis for surpassing the crowd counting methods based on density estimation.


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