A Hierarchical Spatial Transformer for Massive Point Samples in Continuous Space

Wenchong He · Zhe Jiang · Tingsong Xiao · Zelin Xu · Shigang Chen · Ronald Fick · MILES MEDINA · Christine Angelini

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #106
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Wed 13 Dec 3 p.m. PST — 5 p.m. PST


Transformers are widely used deep learning architectures. Existing transformers are mostly designed for sequences (texts or time series), images or videos, and graphs. This paper proposes a novel transformer model for massive (up to a million) point samples in continuous space. Such data are ubiquitous in environment sciences (e.g., sensor observations), numerical simulations (e.g., particle-laden flow, astrophysics), and location-based services (e.g., POIs and trajectories). However, designing a transformer for massive spatial points is non-trivial due to several challenges, including implicit long-range and multi-scale dependency on irregular points in continuous space, a non-uniform point distribution, the potential high computational costs of calculating all-pair attention across massive points, and the risks of over-confident predictions due to varying point density. To address these challenges, we propose a new hierarchical spatial transformer model, which includes multi-resolution representation learning within a quad-tree hierarchy and efficient spatial attention via coarse approximation. We also design an uncertainty quantification branch to estimate prediction confidence related to input feature noise and point sparsity. We provide a theoretical analysis of computational time complexity and memory costs. Extensive experiments on both real-world and synthetic datasets show that our method outperforms multiple baselines in prediction accuracy and our model can scale up to one million points on one NVIDIA A100 GPU. The code is available at

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