This is with refernce to the paper Efficient Object Localization Using Convolutional Networks, and from what I understand the dropout is implemented in 2D.

After reading the code from Keras on how the Spatial 2D Dropout is implemented, basically a random binary mask of shape [batch_size, 1, 1, num_channels] is implemented. However, what does this spatial 2D Dropout exactly do to the input convolution block of shape [batch_size, height, width, num_channels]?

My current guess is that for each pixel, if any of the pixel's layers/channels has a negative value, the entire channels of that one pixel will be defaulted to zero. Is this correct?

However, if my guess is correct, then how does using a binary mask of shape [batch_size, height, width, num_channels] that are exactly in the dimension of the original input block give the usual element-wise dropout (this is according to the tensorflow's original dropout implementation that sets the shape of the binary mask as the shape of the input)? Because it would then mean if any pixel in the conv block is negative, then the entire conv block will be defaulted to 0. This is the confusing part I don't quite understand.


2 Answers 2


This response is a bit late, but I needed to address this myself and thought it might help.

Looking at the paper, it seems that in Spatial Dropout, we randomly set entire feature maps (also known as channels) to 0, rather than individual 'pixels.'

It make sense what they are saying, that regular dropout would not work so well on images because adjacent pixels are highly correlated. So if you hide pixels randomly I can still have a good idea of what they were by just looking at the adjacent pixels. Dropping out entire feature maps might be better aligned with the original intention of dropout.

Here's a function that implements it in Tensorflow, based on tf.nn.dropout. The only real change from tf.nn.dropout is that the shape of our dropout mask is BatchSize * 1 * 1 * NumFeatureMaps, as opposed to BatchSize * Width * Height * NumFeatureMaps

def spatial_dropout(x, keep_prob, seed=1234):
    # x is a convnet activation with shape BxWxHxF where F is the 
    # number of feature maps for that layer
    # keep_prob is the proportion of feature maps we want to keep

    # get the batch size and number of feature maps
    num_feature_maps = [tf.shape(x)[0], tf.shape(x)[3]]

    # get some uniform noise between keep_prob and 1 + keep_prob
    random_tensor = keep_prob
    random_tensor += tf.random_uniform(num_feature_maps,

    # if we take the floor of this, we get a binary matrix where
    # (1-keep_prob)% of the values are 0 and the rest are 1
    binary_tensor = tf.floor(random_tensor)

    # Reshape to multiply our feature maps by this tensor correctly
    binary_tensor = tf.reshape(binary_tensor, 
                               [-1, 1, 1, tf.shape(x)[3]])
    # Zero out feature maps where appropriate; scale up to compensate
    ret = tf.div(x, keep_prob) * binary_tensor
    return ret

Hope that helps!


My current guess is that for each pixel, if any of the pixel's layers/channels has a negative value, the entire channels of that one pixel will be defaulted to zero. Is this correct?

I am not sure exactly what you mean here but dropout occurs irrespective of any values other than those randomly drawn for dropout mask. That is dropout is not affected by pixel values, filter weights or feature map values. If you use a mask of size [batch_size, 1, 1, num_channels] you will get a binary mask of this size during dropout. Zeros in that binary mask occur with probability rate (at least in Keras implementation, first argument to Dropout layer). This mask is then multiplied by your feature maps, so whichever mask dimension is of size 1 - that mask dimension is broadcasted to match you feature map shape.
Imagine a simpler situation - let's say you have feature maps of size [height, num_channels] (let's ignore batch size for now) and you feature maps values are:


[[2 1 4]
 [1 3 2]
 [5 2 6]
 [2 2 1]]


(4, 3)

Then imagine a binary dropout mask of size [1, num_channels], like this one:


[[0 1 0]]


(1, 3)

Now notice what happens when you multiply feature_maps and dropout_mask:

print(feature_maps * dropout_mask)

[[0 1 0]
 [0 3 0]
 [0 2 0]
 [0 2 0]]

The values in dropout_mask were broadcasted to match height of each feature map and then the element-by-element multiplication was performed. As a result whole feature maps got zeroed out - and that is exactly what spatial dropout does.


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