Slimmable compressive autoencoders for practical neural image compression

Authors: Fei Yang, Luis Herranz, Yongmei Cheng, Mikhail G. Mozerov

Publication name: CVPR 2021

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Neural image compression leverages deep neural networks to outperform traditional image codecs in rate-distortion performance. However, the resulting models are also heavy, computationally demanding and generally optimized for a single rate, limiting their practical use. Focusing on practical image compression, we propose slimmable compressive autoencoders (SlimCAEs), where rate (R) and distortion (D) are jointly optimized for different capacities. Once trained, encoders and decoders can be executed at different capacities, leading to different rates and complexities. We show that a successful implementation of SlimCAEs requires suitable capacity-specific RD tradeoffs. Our experiments show that SlimCAEs are highly flexible models that provide excellent rate-distortion performance, variable rate, and dynamic adjustment of memory, computational cost and latency, thus addressing the main requirements of practical image compression.