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Code for CVPR'19 "Recursive Visual Attention in Visual Dialog"
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Recursive Visual Attention in Visual Dialog

This repository contains the code for the following paper:

  • Yulei Niu, Hanwang Zhang, Manli Zhang, Jianhong Zhang, Zhiwu Lu, Ji-Rong Wen, Recursive Visual Attention in Visual Dialog. In CVPR, 2019. (PDF)
    author = {Niu, Yulei and Zhang, Hanwang and Zhang, Manli and Zhang, Jianhong and Lu, Zhiwu and Wen, Ji-Rong},
    title = {Recursive Visual Attention in Visual Dialog},
    booktitle = {The IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)},
    month = {June},
    year = {2019}

This code is reimplemented as a fork of batra-mlp-lab/visdial-challenge-starter-pytorch.

Setup and Dependencies

This code is implemented using PyTorch v1.0, and provides out of the box support with CUDA 9 and CuDNN 7. Anaconda/Miniconda is the recommended to set up this codebase:

Anaconda or Miniconda

  1. Install Anaconda or Miniconda distribution based on Python3+ from their downloads' site.
  2. Clone this repository and create an environment:
git clone
conda create -n visdial-ch python=3.6

# activate the environment and install all dependencies
conda activate visdial-ch
cd rva/
pip install -r requirements.txt

# install this codebase as a package in development version
python develop

Download Data

  1. Download the VisDial v1.0 dialog json files from here and keep it under $PROJECT_ROOT/data directory, for default arguments to work effectively.

  2. Get the word counts for VisDial v1.0 train split here. They are used to build the vocabulary.

  3. batra-mlp-lab provides pre-extracted image features of VisDial v1.0 images, using a Faster-RCNN pre-trained on Visual Genome. If you wish to extract your own image features, skip this step and download VisDial v1.0 images from here instead. Extracted features for v1.0 train, val and test are available for download at these links. Note that these files do not contain the bounding box information.

  1. batra-mlp-lab also provides pre-extracted FC7 features from VGG16.
  1. Download the GloVe pretrained word vectors from here, and keep glove.6B.300d.txt under $PROJECT_ROOT/data directory.

Extracting Features (Optional)

With Docker (Optional)

For Dockerfile, please refer to batra-mlp-lab/visdial-challenge-starter-pytorch.

Without Docker (Optional)

  1. Set up opencv, cocoapi and Detectron.

  2. Prepare the MSCOCO and Flickr images.

  3. Extract visual features.

python ./data/ --image-root /path/to/MSCOCO/train2014/ /path/to/MSCOCO/val2014/ --save-path /path/to/feature --split train # Bottom-up features of 36 proposals from images of train split.
python ./data/ --image-root /path/to/Flickr/VisualDialog_val2018 --save-path /path/to/feature --split val # Bottom-up features of 36 proposals from images of val split.
python ./data/ --image-root /path/to/Flickr/VisualDialog_test2018 --save-path /path/to/feature --split test # Bottom-up features of 36 proposals from images of test split.

Initializing GloVe Word Embeddings

Simply run

python data/


Train the model provided in this repository as:

python --config-yml configs/rva.yml --gpu-ids 0 # provide more ids for multi-GPU execution other args...

Saving model checkpoints

This script will save model checkpoints at every epoch as per path specified by --save-dirpath. Refer visdialch/utils/ for more details on how checkpointing is managed.


We use Tensorboard for logging training progress. Recommended: execute tensorboard --logdir /path/to/save_dir --port 8008 and visit localhost:8008 in the browser.


Evaluation of a trained model checkpoint can be done as follows:

python --config-yml /path/to/config.yml --load-pthpath /path/to/checkpoint.pth --split val --gpu-ids 0

This will generate an EvalAI submission file, and report metrics from the Visual Dialog paper (Mean reciprocal rank, R@{1, 5, 10}, Mean rank), and Normalized Discounted Cumulative Gain (NDCG), introduced in the first Visual Dialog Challenge (in 2018).

The metrics reported here would be the same as those reported through EvalAI by making a submission in val phase. To generate a submission file for test-std or test-challenge phase, replace --split val with --split test.

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