Large-scale pre-trained foundation models have been an emerging paradigm for building artificial intelligence (AI) systems, which can be quickly adapted to a wide range of downstream tasks. This paper presents mPLUG, a new vision-language foundation model for both cross-modal understanding and generation. Most existing pre-trained models suffer from inefficiency and linguistic signal overwhelmed by long visual sequences in cross-modal alignment. To address both problems, mPLUG introduces an effective and efficient vision-language architecture with novel cross-modal skip-connections.mPLUG is pre-trained end-to-end on large-scale image-text pairs with both discriminative and generative objectives. It achieves state-of-the-art results on a wide range of vision-language downstream tasks, including image captioning, image-text retrieval, visual grounding and visual question answering. mPLUG also demonstrates strong zero-shot transferability on vision-language and video-language tasks. The code and pre-trained models are available at https://github.com/alibaba/AliceMind
Despite the achievements of large-scale multimodal pre-training approaches, cross-modal retrieval, e.g., image-text retrieval, remains a challenging task. To bridge the semantic gap between the two modalities, previous studies mainly focus on word-region alignment at the object level, lacking the matching between the linguistic relation among the words and the visual relation among the regions. The neglect of such relation consistency impairs the contextualized representation of image-text pairs and hinders the model performance and the interpretability. In this paper, we first propose a novel metric, Intra-modal Self-attention Distance (ISD), to quantify the relation consistency by measuring the semantic distance between linguistic and visual relations. In response, we present Inter-modal Alignment on Intra-modal Self-attentions (IAIS), a regularized training method to optimize the ISD and calibrate intra-modal self-attentions from the two modalities mutually via inter-modal alignment. The IAIS regularizer boosts the performance of prevailing models on Flickr30k and MS COCO datasets by a considerable margin, which demonstrates the superiority of our approach.