Masked Jigsaw Puzzle: A Versatile Position Embedding for Vision Transformers

Position Embeddings (PEs), an arguably indispensable component in Vision Transformers (ViTs), have been shown to improve the performance of ViTs on many vision tasks. However, PEs have a potentially high risk of privacy leakage since the spatial information of the input patches is exposed. This caveat naturally raises a series of interesting questions about the impact of PEs on accuracy, privacy, prediction consistency, etc. To tackle these issues, we propose a Masked Jigsaw Puzzle (MJP) position embedding method. In particular, MJP first shuffles the selected patches via our block-wise random jigsaw puzzle shuffle algorithm, and their corresponding PEs are occluded. Meanwhile, for the nonoccluded patches, the PEs remain the original ones but their spatial relation is strengthened via our dense absolute localization regressor. The experimental results reveal that 1) PEs explicitly encode the 2D spatial relationship and lead to severe privacy leakage problems under gradient inversion attack; 2) Training ViTs with the naively shuffled patches can alleviate the problem, but it harms the accuracy; 3) Under a certain shuffle ratio, the proposed MJP not only boosts the performance and robustness on large-scale datasets (i.e.,
ImageNet-1K and ImageNet-C, -A/O) but also improves the privacy preservation ability under typical gradient attacks by a large margin. The source code and trained models are available at

ALADIN: Distilling Fine-grained Alignment Scores for Efficient Image-Text Matching and Retrieval

Image-text matching is gaining a leading role among tasks involving the joint understanding of vision and language. In literature, this task is often used as a pre-training objective to forge architectures able to jointly deal with images and texts. Nonetheless, it has a direct downstream application: cross-modal retrieval, which consists in finding images related to a given query text or vice-versa. Solving this task is of critical importance in cross-modal search engines. Many recent methods proposed effective solutions to the image-text matching problem, mostly using recent large vision-language (VL) Transformer networks. However, these models are often computationally expensive, especially at inference time. This prevents their adoption in large-scale cross-modal retrieval scenarios, where results should be provided to the user almost instantaneously. In this paper, we propose to fill in the gap between effectiveness and efficiency by proposing an ALign And DIstill Network (ALADIN). ALADIN first produces high-effective scores by aligning at fine-grained level images and texts. Then, it learns a shared embedding space – where an efficient kNN search can be performed – by distilling the relevance scores obtained from the fine-grained alignments. We obtained remarkable results on MS-COCO, showing that our method can compete with state-of-the-art VL Transformers while being almost 90 times faster. The code for reproducing our results is available at