Efficient Contextformer: Spatio-Channel Window Attention for Fast Context Modeling in Learned Image Compression

A. Burakhan Koyuncu, Panqi Jia, Atanas Boev, Elena Alshina, Eckehard Steinbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Entropy estimation is essential for the performance of learned image compression. It has been demonstrated that a transformer-based entropy model is of critical importance for achieving a high compression ratio, however, at the expense of a significant computational effort. In this work, we introduce the Efficient Contextformer (eContextformer) – a computationally efficient transformer-based autoregressive context model for learned image compression. The eContextformer efficiently fuses the patch-wise, checkered, and channel-wise grouping techniques for parallel context modeling, and introduces a shifted window spatio-channel attention mechanism. We explore better training strategies and architectural designs and introduce additional complexity optimizations. During decoding, the proposed optimization techniques dynamically scale the attention span and cache the previous attention computations, drastically reducing the model and runtime complexity. Compared to the non-parallel approach, our proposal has ~145x lower model complexity and ~210x faster decoding speed, and achieves higher average bit savings on Kodak, CLIC2020, and Tecnick datasets. Additionally, the low complexity of our context model enables online rate-distortion algorithms, which further improve the compression performance. We achieve up to 17% bitrate savings over the intra coding of Versatile Video Coding (VVC) Test Model (VTM) 16.2 and surpass various learning-based compression models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages1
JournalIEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Adaptation models
  • Complexity theory
  • Computational modeling
  • Context modeling
  • Efficient Context Modeling
  • Entropy
  • Image coding
  • Learned Image Compression
  • Transformers
  • Transformers


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