Manifold-Aware Regularization for Masked Autoencoders

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Masked Autoencoders (MAEs) represent a significant shift in self-supervised learning (SSL) due to their independence from augmentation techniques for generating positive (and/or negative) pairs as in contrastive frameworks. Their masking and reconstruction strategy also aligns well with SSL approaches in natural language processing. Most MAEs are built upon Transformer-based architectures where visual features are not regularized as opposed to their convolutional neural network (CNN) based counterparts, which can potentially limit their effectiveness. To address this, we introduce a novel batch-wide layer-wise regularization loss applied to representations of different Transformer layers. We demonstrate that by plugging in the proposed regularization loss, one can significantly improve the performance of MAE-based baselines.