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Archive for the ‘Computer Vision’ Category

Paper Picks: CVPR 2020

In AI, Computer Vision, deep learning, Paper Talk, vision on September 7, 2020 at 6:30 am
by Li Yang Ku (Gooly)

CVPR is virtual this year for obvious reasons, and if you did not pay the $325 registration fee to attend this ‘prerecorded’ live event, you can now have a similar experience through watching all the recorded videos on their YouTube channel for free. Of course its not exactly the same since you are loosing out the virtual chat room networking experience, but honestly speaking, computer vision parties are often awkward in person already and I can’t imagine you missing much. Before we go through my paper picks, lets look at the trend first. The graph below is the accepted paper counts by topic this year.

CVPR 2020 stats

And the following are the stats for CVPR 2019:

CVPR 2019 stats

These numbers cannot be directly compared since the categories are not exactly the same, for example, deep learning that had the most submission in 2019 is no longer a category (Aren’t gonna be a very useful category when every paper is about deep learning.) The distribution of these two graphs look quite similar. However, if I have to analyze it at gunpoint, I would say the following:

  1. Recognition is still the most popular application for computer vision.
  2. The new category “Transfer/Low-shot/Semi/Unsupervised Learning” is the most popular problem to solve with deep networks.
  3. Despite being a controversial technology, more people are working on face recognition. For some countries this is probably still where most money is distributed.
  4. The new category “Efficient training and inference methods for networks” shows that there is an effort to push for practical use of the neural network.
  5. Based on this other statistic data, it seems that the keyword ‘graph’, ‘representation’, and ‘cloud’ doubled from last year. This is consistent with my observation that people are exploring 3D data more since the research space on 2D image is the most crowded and competitive.

Now for my random paper picks:

a) Boyang Deng, Kyle Genova, Soroosh Yazdani, Sofien Bouaziz, Geoffrey Hinton, and Andrea Tagliasacchi. “CvxNet: Learnable Convex Decomposition” (video)

This Google Research paper introduces a new representation for 3D shapes that can be learned by neural networks and used by physics engines directly. In the paper, the authors mentioned that there are two types of 3D representations, 1) explicit representations such as meshes. These representations can be used in many applications such as physics simulations directly because they contain information of the surface. explicit representations are however hard to learn with neural networks. The other type is 2) implicit representations such as voxel grids, voxel grids can be learned from neural networks since it can be considered as a classification problem that labels each voxel empty or not. However, turning these voxel grids into a mesh is quite expensive. The authors therefore introduce this convex decomposition representation that represent a 3D shape with a union of convex parts. Since a convex shape can be represented by a set of hyperplanes that draw the boundary of the shape, it becomes a learnable classification problem while remains the benefit of having information of the shape boundary. This representation is therefore both implicit and explicit. The authors also demonstrated that a learned CvxNet is able to generate 3D shapes from 2D images with much better success compared to other approaches as show below.

b) Tushar Nagarajan, Yanghao Li, Christoph Feichtenhofer, Kristen Grauman. “Ego-Topo: Environment Affordances From Egocentric Video” (video)

Environment Affordance

This paper on predicting an environment’s affordance is a collaboration between UT Austin’s computer vision group and Facebook AI Research. This paper caught my eye since my dissertation was also about affordances using a graph like structure. If you are not familiar of the word “affordance”, its a controversial word made up to describe what action/function an object/environment affords a person/robot.

In this work, the authors argue that the space that an action is taken place in is important to understanding first person videos. Traditional approaches on classifier actions in videos usually just take a chunk of the video and generate a representation for classification, while SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) approaches that tries to create the exact 3D structure of the environment often fails when humans move too fast. Instead, this work learns a network that classifies whether two views belong to the same space. Based on this information, a graph where each node represents a space and the corresponding videos can be created. The edges between nodes then represent the action sequences that happened between these spaces. These videos within a node can then be used to predict what an environment affords. The authors further trained a graph convolution network that takes into account neighboring nodes to predict the next action in the video. The authors showed that taking into account the underlying space benefited in both tasks.

c) Kiana Ehsani, Shubham Tulsiani, Saurabh Gupta, Ali Farhadi, Abhinav Gupta. “Use the Force, Luke! Learning to Predict Physical Forces by Simulating Effects” (video)

use the force luke - Yoda | Meme Generator

This paper would probably won the best title award for this conference if there is one. This work is about estimating forces applied to objects by human in a video. Arguably, if robots can estimate forces applied on objects, it would be quite useful for performing tasks and predicting human intentions. However, personally I don’t think this is how humans understand the world and it may be solving a harder problem then needed. Having said that this is still an interesting paper worth discussing.

Estimating force and contact points

The difficulty of this task is that the ground truth forces applied on objects cannot be easily obtained. Instead of figuring out how to obtain this data, the authors use a physics simulator to simulate the outcome of applying the force and then use keypoints annotated in the next frame compared to the keypoints location of the simulated outcome as a signal to train the network. Contact points are also predicted by a separate network with annotated data. The figure above shows this training schema. Note that estimating gradients through a non-differentiable physics simulator is possible by looking at the result when each dimension is changed a little bit. The authors show this approach is able to obtain reasonable result on a collected dataset and can be extended to novel objects.

d) Xianzhi Du, Tsung-Yi Lin, Pengchong Jin, Golnaz Ghiasi, Mingxing Tan, Yin Cui, Quoc V. Le, Xiaodan Song. “SpineNet: Learning Scale-Permuted Backbone for Recognition and Localization” (video)

This is a Google Brain paper that tries to find a better architecture for object detection tasks that would benefit from more spatial information. For segmentation tasks, the typical architecture has an hour glass shaped encoder decoder structure that first down scales the resolution and then scales it back up to predict pixel-wise result. The authors argued that these type of neural networks that have this scale decreasing backbone may not be the best solution for tasks which localization is also important.

Left: ResNet, Right: Permute last 10 blocks

The idea is then to permute the order of the layers of an existing network such as ResNet and see if this can result in a better architecture. To avoid having to try out all combinations, the authors used Neural Architecture Search (basically another network) to learn what architecture would be better. The result is an architecture that has mixed resolutions and many skip connections that go further (image above). The authors showed that with this architecture they were able to outperform prior state of the art result and this same network was also able to achieve good results on other datasets other than the one trained on.

 

Guest Post: How to Make a Posture Correction App

In AI, App, Computer Vision, deep learning on August 8, 2020 at 9:35 am

This is a guest post by Lila Mullany and Stephanie Casola from alwaysAI (in exchange they will post one of my articles in their company blog.) What this startup is developing might be useful to some of my readers that just want to implement deep learning vision apps without having to go through a steep learning curve. It’s also open source and free if you are just working on a home project. In the following, we’ll do a brief intro on alwaysAI and then Lila will talk about how to make a posture correction app with their library.

Sitting Up-Straight: A Personal Struggle for Proper… | Cirrus Insight

AlwaysAI is a startup located in San Diego that is making a deep learning computer vision platform that aims at making computer vision more accessible to developers. They provide a freemium version that could be quite useful to hobbyists as well as devs looking to build computer vision into commercial products. This platform is optimized to run on edge devices and can be an attractive option for anyone looking to build computer vision with resource constraints. One could easily create a computer vision app with alwaysAI and run it on a Raspberry Pi (a Raspberry Pi 4 costs about $80). If you know basic Python, you can sign up for a free account and create your own computer vision application with a few lines of code.

Typically, computer vision apps can take a lot of time to implement from scratch. With alwaysAI you can get going pretty quickly on object detection, object tracking, image classification, semantic segmentation, and pose estimation. Creating a computer vision application with alwaysAI starts with selecting a pre-trained model from their model catalog. If you want to  train your own model you can sign up here for their closed beta model training program.

At this time, all models are open source and available to be freely used in your apps. As for distributing your app, the first device you run your app on is free. For a free account, just sign up here.

open source | Funny Jokes and Laughs :)

For more information you can look up their documentation, blog, and Youtube channel. They also do hackathons, webinars, and weekly “Hacky Hours”. You can find out more about these events on their community page.

So that’s the intro, below Lila will show you an example of how their library can be used to build your own posture corrector.

Many of us spend most of our days hunched over a desk, leaning forward looking at a computer screen, or slumped down in our chair. If you’re like me, you’re only reminded of your bad posture when your neck or shoulders hurt hours later, or you have a splitting migraine. Wouldn’t it be great if someone could remind you to sit up straight? The good news is, you can remind yourself! In this tutorial, we’ll build a posture corrector app using a pose estimation model available from alwaysAI.

To complete the tutorial, you must have:

  1. An alwaysAI account (it’s free!)
  2. alwaysAI set up on your machine (also free)
  3. A text editor such as sublime or an IDE such as PyCharm, both of which offer free versions, or whatever else you prefer to code in

All of the code from this tutorial is available on GitHub.

Let’s get started!

After you have your free account and have set up your developer environment, download the starter apps; do so using this link before proceeding with the rest of the tutorial. We’ll build the posture corrector by modifying the ‘realtime_pose_detector’ starter app. You may want to copy the contents into a new directory, so you retain the original code.

There will be three main parts to this tutorial:

  1. The configuration file
  2. The main application
  3. The utility class for detecting poor posture

1) Creation of the Configuration File

Create this file as specified in this tutorial. For this example app we need one configuration variable (and more if you want them): scale, which is an int and will be used to tailor the sensitivity of the posture functions.

Now the configuration is all set up!

2) Creation of the App

Add the following import statements to the top of your app.py file:

import os
import json
from posture import CheckPosture

We need ‘json’ to parse the configuration file, and ‘CheckPosture’ is the utility class for detecting poor posture, which we’ll define later in this tutorial.

NOTE: You can change the engine and the accelerator you use in this app depending on your deployment environment. Since I am developing on a Mac, I chose the engine to be ‘DNN’, and so I changed the engine parameter to be ‘edgeiq.Engine.DNN’. I also changed the accelerator to be ‘CPU’. You can read more about the accelerator options here, and more about the engine options here.

Next, remove the following lines from app.py:

text.append("Key Points:")
for key_point in pose.key_points:
    text.append(str(key_point))

Add the following lines to replace the ones you just removed (right under the ‘text.append’ statements):

# update the instance key_points to check the posture
posture.set_key_points(pose.key_points)
# play a reminder if you are not sitting up straight
correct_posture = posture.correct_posture()
if not correct_posture:
    text.append(posture.build_message())
# make a sound to alert the user to improper posture
print("\a")

We used an unknown object type just there and called some functions on it that we haven’t defined yet. We’ll do that in the last section!

Move the following lines to directly follow the end of the above code (directly after the ‘for’ loop, and right before the ‘finally’):

streamer.send_data(results.draw_poses(frame), text)
fps.update()
if streamer.check_exit():
    break

3) Creating the Posture Utility Class

Create a new file called ‘posture.py’. Define the class using the line:

class CheckPosture

Create the constructor for the class. We’ll have three instance variables: key_points, scale, and message.

def __init__(self, scale=1, key_points={}):
    self.key_points = key_points
    self.scale = scale
    self.message = ""

We used defaults for scale and key_points, in case the user doesn’t provide them. We just initialize the variable message to hold an empty string, but this will store feedback that the user can use to correct their posture. You already saw the key_points variable get set in the app.py section; this variable allows the functions in posture.py to make determinations about the user’s posture. Finally, the scale simply makes the calculations performed in posture.py either more or less sensitive when it is decreased or increased respectively.

Now we need to write some functions for posture.py.

Create a getter and setter for the key_points, message, and scale variables:

def set_key_points(self, key_points):
    self.key_points = key_points

def get_key_points(self):
    return self.key_points

def set_message(self, message):
    self.message = message

def get_message(self):
    return self.message

def set_scale(self, scale):
    self.scale = scale

def get_scale(self):
    return self.scale

Now we need functions to actually check the posture. My bad posture habits include leaning forward toward my computer screen, slouching down in my chair, and tilting my head down to look at notes, so I defined methods for detecting these use cases. You can use the same principle of coordinate comparison to define your own custom methods, if you prefer.

First, we’ll define the method to detect leaning forward, as shown in the image below. This method works by comparing an ear and a shoulder on the same side of the body. So first it detects whether the ear and shoulder are both visible (i.e. the coordinate we want to use is not -1) on either the left or right side, and then it checks whether the shoulder’s x-coordinate is greater than the ear’s x-coordinate.

def check_lean_forward(self):
    if self.key_points['Left Shoulder'].x != -1 \
        and self.key_points['Left Ear'].x != -1 \
        and  self.key_points['Left Shoulder'].x >= \
        (self.key_points['Left Ear'].x + \
        (self.scale * 150)):
        return False
if self.key_points['Right Shoulder'].x != -1 \
    and self.key_points['Right Ear'].x != -1 \
    and  self.key_points['Right Shoulder'].x >= \
    (self.key_points['Right Ear'].x + \
    (self.scale * 160)):
    return False
return True

NOTE: the coordinates for ‘alwaysai/human-pose’ are 0,0 at the upper left corner. Also, the frame size will differ depending on whether you are using a Streamer input video or images, and this will also impact the coordinates. I developed using a Streamer object and the frame size was (720, 1280). For all of these functions, you’ll most likely need to play around with the coordinate differences, or modify the scale, as every person will have a different posture baseline. The principle of coordinate arithmetic will remain the same, however, and can be used to change app behavior in other pose estimation use cases! You could also use angles or a percent of the frame, so as to not be tied to absolute numbers. Feel free to re-work these methods and submit a pull request to the GitHub repo!

Next, we’ll define the method for slouching down in a chair, such as in the image below.

In this method, we’ll use the y-coordinate neck and nose keypoints to detect when the nose gets too close to the neck, which happens when someone’s back is hunched down in a chair. For me, about 150 points was the maximum distance I wanted to allow. If my nose is less than 150 points from my neck, I want to be notified. Again, these hardcoded values can be scaled with the ‘scale’ factor or modified as suggested in the note above.

def check_slump(self):
    if self.key_points['Neck'].y != -1 \
       and self.key_points['Nose'].y != -1 \
       and (self.key_points['Nose'].y >= \
       self.key_points['Neck'].y - (self.scale * 150)):
       return False
    return True

Now, we’ll define the method to detect when a head is tilted down, as shown in the image below. This method will use the ear and eye key points to detect when the y-coordinate of a given eye is closer to the bottom of the image than the ear on the same side of the body.

def check_head_drop(self):
    if self.key_points['Left Eye'].y != -1 \
        and self.key_points['Left Ear'].y != -1 \
        and self.key_points['Left Eye'].y > \
        (self.key_points['Left Ear'].y + (self.scale * 15)):
        return False

    if self.key_points['Right Eye'].y != -1 \
        and self.key_points['Right Ear'].y != -1 \
        and self.key_points['Right Eye'].y > \
        (self.key_points['Right Ear'].y + (self.scale * 15)):
        return False

    return True

Now, we’ll just make a method that checks all the posture methods. This method works by using python’s all method, which only returns True if all iterables in a list return True. Since all of the posture methods we defined return False if the poor posture is detected, the method we define now will return False if any one of those methods returns False.

def correct_posture(self):
    return all([self.check_slump(), 
                self.check_head_drop(), 
                self.check_lean_forward()])

And finally, we’ll build one method that returns a customized string that tells the user how they can modify their posture. This method is called in app.py and the result is displayed on the streamer’s text.

def build_message(self):
    current_message = ""
    if not self.check_head_drop():
        current_message += "Lift up your head!\n"

    if not self.check_lean_forward():
        current_message += "Lean back!\n"

    if not self.check_slump():
        current_message += "Sit up in your chair, you're slumping!\n"

    self.message = current_message
    return current_message

That’s it! Now you have a working posture correcting app. You can customize this app by creating your own posture detection methods, using different keypoint coordinates, making the build_message return different helpful hints, and creating your own custom audio file to use instead of the ‘print(“\a”)’.

If you want to run this app on a Jetson Nano, update your Dockerfile and the accelerator and engine arguments in app.py as described in this article.

Now, just start your app (visit this page if you need a refresher on how to do this for your current set up), and open your web browser to ‘localhost:5000’ to see the posture corrector in action!

This posture corrector application development was also covered in one of the previous weekly “Hacky Hours”, you can watch the video recording of it on Youtube, just click here.

 

10 Facts About Human Vision a Computer Vision Scientist Might Not Know

In Computer Vision, Neural Science, Visual Illusion on June 7, 2020 at 3:14 pm

by Li Yang Ku (Gooly)

The one thing that all computer vision scientists can agree on is probably that as of today, human vision is a lot better than computer vision algorithms (in the range of visible lights) on understanding our surrounding world. However, most computer vision scientists don’t usually look into our vision system for inspiration since it is not part of the computer science curriculum. This post is about a few interesting facts about our own vision system that I considered less commonly known among computer vision folks. (plus a few more commonly known facts to make it add up to ten.)

1) You transmit more signal when you don’t see:

You might think that the photoreceptors in our eyes are like light sensors that emit signals when photons hit the sensor. Well its actually the opposite, the photoreceptors in ours eyes depolarizes and releases more neurotransmitter when there are no light.

Visual Signals

2) Stars are smaller then they look:

I would argue that you can’t really see stars, when you look at the starry night sky you are seeing your eye’s “pixel” (the smallest dot in your visual field). This is because stars are too far away and are smaller than your eye’s resolution. Angular diameter is used to measure how large a circle appears in a view, for example, the star that has the largest angular diameter when viewed on earth is R Doradus, which has an angular diameter of 0.06 arc second (or 1.66667e-5 degree), but our eyes can tell at most 28 arc seconds apart. Because the light emitted by stars are very strong, even though it’s light only hit a small portion of our photoreceptor, it is enough to cause that single neuron to polarize.

Stars are smaller then they look

(Note that because of the earth atmosphere and imperfection of human eyes, when the star light hit your photoreceptor it will already be blurred and can be larger then 28 arc seconds if the star is bright, in this case brighter stars may appear larger then others) (relevant link) (relevant link 2)

3) Visual illusions help survival:

Visual illusions aren’t just your vision system malfunctioning or some left over trait from our ancestors, it actually is crucial for our survival. What we see when we open our eyes aren’t the raw information we get from our photoreceptors, it’s actually heavily post processed information. Visual illusions are merely results of these post processing when the input is not something human normally encounter in nature. For example, if you look at the Kanizsa’s triangle shown below, you tend to see an upside down triangle even though there are no contours of one. This visual illusion is easy to notice in this image, but the same functionality is actually happening every moment you see. This is the reason you can easily identify different objects overlapping in your visual field. You might think you separate objects because of color or brightness, but if you actually take a digital picture and look at the pixel values, it is not always obvious where the contour is. If it is that easy, segmentation would be a solved computer vision problem already. (See my previous post on other visual illusions)

Kanizsa's Triangle

4) Some people can see more colors:

When I was a kid, one of my dreams was to discover a new kind of color. When I grew older I realized it was impossible since we can visualize all the colors in the visible light spectrum and no new color is left to discover. But I was actually wrong, because color isn’t measurable externally because it is an internal representation in our brain. So my childhood dream shouldn’t be to “discover” a new kind of color but to “sense” a new kind of color instead. So the remaining question is whether it is possible to sense a new kind of color.

People often disagree about colors, that’s because we all see colors a little bit differently. We typically have 3 different kinds of color sensors in our eyes that we call cones. These cones response to lights of different wavelengths and we associate these wavelengths to the colors we call red, green, and blue. If a light’s wavelength lies in between two of the cone types’ response range, both will fire and we see a different color. Your cones’ response range are slightly different than mine, therefore our representation of color would also be slightly different.

Some people can see more colors

Studies show that a percentage of human (one study says 15% of women) have a fourth type of cone that responses to lights with bandwidth between green and red lights. This means that colors are actually sensed very differently by these people. These people with four cone types may not realize they are sensing differently because color is an internal representation that cannot be compared. These people may be seeing a new color normal people can’t see and getting responses like “Oh, thats just a different shade of green”, while in fact they are having a totally different experience.

(Note that since our screens that fuses red green and blue lights to simulate other color lights are designed only for people with the red, green, and blue cones. These people with four cone types would probably found the color of display to be different from the real object.) (relevant link)

5) Cones are not evenly distributed

You might expect the color photoreceptor (cones) in your eyes to be evenly distributed on your retina, but thats not true. You can find large areas in your eye with mostly one type of cones (link). Would this be a problem? It shouldn’t be once your brain post processed it and fill in all the missing color. To demonstrate your brain’s color filling ability, the following image is actually a gray scale image with colored grid lines. You will notice your brain fills in the missing color if you look at it from a distance.

Your brain fills in colors

Image Source: https://www.patreon.com/posts/color-grid-28734535

6) The photoreceptors are located close to the last layer in your eye

If I am to design a digital camera I will probably put my light sensors facing towards the lens and have the wires connected on the other side so that it wouldn’t block the light source. This is however not how your eyes are designed. When lights go through your eye lens, it has to first go pass ganglion cells and their axions that transmit all the visual information to your brain, then another four layers that contain different neurons before hitting the photoreceptors that response to light. Luckily the five layers light has to pass through are mostly transparent, but still this seems to be a less optimal design.

To understand the reason our eyes have this kind of structure we might have to look at the early eyes that first appeared on earth. The following sequence of images shows the evolution of eyes, the first version is just some photoreceptor on the skin. A cavity gradually formed because it creates a pin hole camera effect that gives more information of the outer world, which really helps if your are trying to eat a prey or avoid becoming a prey. After millions years of evolution, the cavity closed and the lens is formed to provide the ability to focus. Since in the early designs these photoreceptors were flat, it might make sense that it was not located at the outer most layer so that it doesn’t get damaged easily. (It could also be just due to how it was wired originally, but it is very likely a design due to evolution.)

The evolution of eye

Image source: https://www.pnas.org/content/104/suppl_1/8567.figures-only

7) Car dash board colors are not designed to match style

Your car’s dash board may have colored backlight during night time, it may look cool but the color choice was suppose to keep you safe not to match your style. However, different car brands use different colors because designers can’t agree on what color is safer.

Why car dashboard light have different colors

There are two types of photoreceptors in our eyes, the cones that detects colors which we described earlier, and the rods that doesn’t provide color information but are sensitive to brightness changes. When it’s dark we are mostly just using rods, therefore we normally don’t see much color during night. Although the rods don’t provide any color information, they do prefer lights with bandwidths close to blue and green lights. Therefore, one argument is that having a dim blue or green dash board light can take advantage of the sensitivity of the rods so your dash board would be more visible during night time.

The other camp however suggests using bright red dash lights, the argument is that instead of having the rods do all the jobs why not let the cones detect the dash board light. Since rods are not sensitive to red, the bright red color wouldn’t effect cone’s night vision. Both argument sounds reasonable, I guess the take away is that if you prefer a dim light use green or blue, but if you prefer a brighter dash board use red.

8) You cannot see what you did not learn to see

Seeing the world around you happens so naturally it is hard to imagine a person with a normal biological vision system to not see something in front of them. However, this is something that can happen. If you did not experience with vertical lines when you are learning to see, you might not be able to see vertical lines when exposed to a normal world. This is demonstrated in a series of experiments I talked about in my previous post, the short summary is that vision is not something you are born with but something you need to experience in order to acquire.

cat experiment

9) The world becomes less colorful if you stopped moving

Photoreceptors in yours eyes gradually decrease response to light even if the light level doesn’t change. So if you stopped moving (including your eyeballs) in a static world for long enough, the world you see aren’t going to be as colorful. However, since it usually requires a huge effort to not blink and not saccade, this isn’t normally a problem.

The reason to have this mechanism is to be adaptable to different environments. This is similar to the white balance and auto brightness adjustment option on a camera. If you are in a bright room, it’s probably better to be less sensitive to brightness. The side effect of this mechanism is that you see opposite colors if you look at a patch of colors too long. This side effect is actually used to help make Disney’s grass look greener.

Disneyland uses pink walkways to make grass look green

(More details: Photoreceptors that receive photons generates more messengers called cGMP that causes sodium gates to close and photoreceptors to have a higher membrane potential, but closing the gate too long will also cause calcium concentration to drop which leads to the gate reopening again.)

10) Vision regions in the brain can be repurposed for other senses

The current consensus among the neuroscience community is that our neocortex, which handles most of our visual processing and many other intelligent behaviors, mostly have the same structure across our brain.  Studies show that areas normally dedicated to vision is repurposed to tactile or auditory senses among blind people. Because of this, with modern technology it is possible to allow blind people to see again through tactile senses. Brainport is a technology that uses an electrode array placed on the user’s tongue to allow blind people to see through a camera that is connected to this electrode array. The resolution is only 20×20, but the company mentioned that users can’t tell much difference when given a higher resolution.

Helping the blind to see

Another approach to make the blind see again is to use implants on the brain surface that generate electrical stimulations. One example is the Intracortical Visual Prosthesis Project, if done right this approach should be able to provide visual information with higher resolution.

These are 10 facts about human vision, but probably not the 10 most interesting ones. See my post about visual pathways and subscribe to my blog for more interesting discoveries of human vision.

Talk the Talk: Optimization’s Untold Gift to Learning

In AI, Computer Vision, deep learning, Machine Learning on October 13, 2019 at 10:40 am

by Li Yang Ku (Gooly)

deep learning optimization

In this post I am going to talk about a fascinating talk by Nati Srebro at ICML this June. Srebro have given similar talks at many places but I think he really nailed it this time. This talk is interesting not only because he provided a different view of the role of optimization in deep learning but also because he clearly explained why many researcher’s argument on the reason that deep learning works doesn’t make sense.

Srebro first look into what we know about deep learning (typical feed forward network) based on three questions. The first question is regarding the capacity of the network. How many samples do we need to learn certain network architecture? The short answer is that it should be proportional to the number of parameters in the network, which is the total number of edges. The second question is about the expressiveness of the network. What can we express with certain model class? What type of questions can we learn? Since a two layer neural network is a universal approximator, it can learn any continuous function, this is however not a very useful information since it may require an exponentially large network and exponential amount of samples to learn. So the more interesting question is what can we express with a reasonable sized network? Many recent research more or less focuses on this question. However, Srebro argues that since there is another theory that says any function that can be executed within a reasonable amount of time can be captured by a network of reasonable size (please comment below if you know what theory this is), all problems that we expect to be solvable can be expressed by a reasonable sized network.

The third question is about computation. How hard is it to find optimal parameters? The bad news is that finding the weights for even tiny networks is NP-Hard. Theories (link1 link2) show that even if the training data can be perfectly expressed by a small neural network there are no polynomial time algorithm to find such set of weights. This means that neural network’s expressiveness described in question 2 doesn’t really do much good since we aren’t capable of finding the optimal solution. But we all know that in reality neural network works pretty well, it seems that there are some magical property that allows us to learn neural networks. Srebro emphasizes that we still don’t know what is the magical property that makes neural networks learnable, but we do know it is not because we can represent the data well with the network. If you ask vision folks why neural networks work, they might say something like the lower layers of the network matches low level visual features and the higher layers match higher level visual features. However, this answer is about the expressiveness of the network described in question 2 which is not sufficient for explaining why neural networks work and provides zero evidence since we already know neural networks have the power to express any problem.

Srebro then talked about the observed behavior that neural networks usually don’t overfit to the training data. This is an unexpected property quite similar to the behavior of Adaboost, which was invented in 1997 and quite popular in the 2000s. It was only after the invention that people discovered that the reason Adaboost doesn’t overfit is because it is implicitly minimizing the L-1 norm that limits the complexity. So the question Srebro pointed out was whether the gradient decent algorithm for learning neural networks are also implicitly minimizing certain complexity measure that would be beneficial in reaching a solution that would generalize. Given a set of training data, a neural network can have multiple optimal solutions that are global minima (zero training error). However, some of these global minima perform better than the others on the test data. Srebro argues that the optimization algorithm might be doing something else other than just minimizing the training error. Therefore, by changing the optimization algorithm we might observe a difference in how well can a neural network generalize to test data, and this is exactly what Srebro’s group discovered. In one experiment they showed that even though using Adam optimization achieves lower training error then stochastic gradient decent, it actually performs worse on the test data. What this means is that we might not be putting enough emphasize on optimization in the deep learning community where a typical paper looks like the following:

Deep Learning Paper TemplateThe contributions are on the model and loss function, while the optimization is just a brief mention. So the main point Srebro is trying to convey is that different optimization algorithms would lead to different inductive biases, and different inductive biases would lead to different generalization properties. “We need to understand optimization algorithm not just as reaching some global optimum, but as reaching a specific optimum.”

Srebro further talked about a few more works based on these observations. If you are interested by now, you should probably watch the whole video (You would need to fast forward a bit to start.) I am however going to put in a little bit of my own thoughts here. Srebro emphasizes the importance of optimization a lot in this talk and said the deep models we use now can basically express any problem we have, therefore the model is not what makes deep learning work. However, we also know that the model does matter based on claims of many papers that invented new model architectures. So how could both of these claims be true? We have to remember that the model architecture is also part of the optimization process that shapes the geometry which the optimization algorithm is optimizing on. Hence, if the nerual network model provides a landscape that allows the optimization algorithm to reach a desired minimum more easily, it will also generalize better to the test data. In other words, the model and the optimization algorithm have to work together.

The Deep Learning Not That Smart List

In AI, Computer Vision, deep learning, Machine Learning, Paper Talk on May 27, 2019 at 12:00 pm

by Li Yang Ku (Gooly)

Deep learning is one of the most successful scientific story in modern history, attracting billions of investment money in half a decade. However, there is always the other side of the story where people discover the less magical part of deep learning. This post is about a few research (quite a few published this year) that shows deep learning might not be as smart as you think (most of the time they would came up with a way to fix it, since it used to be forbidden to accept paper without deep learning improvements.) This is just a short list, please comment below on other papers that also belong.

a) Szegedy, Christian, Wojciech Zaremba, Ilya Sutskever, Joan Bruna, Dumitru Erhan, Ian Goodfellow, and Rob Fergus. “Intriguing properties of neural networks.”, ICLR 2014

The first non-magical discovery of deep learning has to go to the finding of adversarial examples. It was discovered that images added with certain unnoticeable perturbations can result in mysterious false detections by a deep network. Although technically the first publication of this discovery should go to the paper “Evasion Attacks against Machine Learning at Test Time” by Battista Biggio et al. published in September 2013 in ECML PKDD, the paper that really caught people’s attention is this one that was put on arxiv in December 2013 and published in ICLR 2014. In addition to having bigger names on the author list, this paper also show adversarial examples on more colorful images that clearly demonstrates the problem (see image below.) Since this discover, there have been continuous battles between the band that tries to increase the defense against attacks and the band that tries to break it (such as “Obfuscated Gradients Give a False Sense of Security: Circumventing Defenses to Adversarial Examples” by Athalye et al.), which leads to a recent paper in ICLR 2019 “Are adversarial examples inevitable?” by Shafahi et al. that questions whether it is possible that a deep network can be free of adversarial examples from a theoretical standpoint.

b) Dmitry Ulyanov, Andrea Vedaldi, and Victor Lempitsky. “Deep Image Prior.” CVPR 2018

This is not a paper intended to discover flaws of deep learning, in fact, the result of this paper is one of the most magical deep learning results I’ve seen. The authors showed that deep networks are able to fill in cropped out images in a very reasonable way (see image below, left input, right output) However, it also unveils some less magical parts of deep learning. Deep learning’s success was mostly advertised as learning from data and claimed to work better than traditional engineered visual features because it learns from large amount of data. This work, however, uses no data nor pre-trained weights. It shows that convolution and the specific layered network architecture, (which may be the outcome of millions of grad student hours through trial and error,) played a significant role in the success. In other words, we are still engineering visual features but in a more subtle way. It also raises the question of what made deep learning so successful, is it because of learning? or because thousands of grad students tried all kinds of architectures, lost functions, training procedures, and some combinations turned out to be great?

c) Robert Geirhos, Patricia Rubisch, Claudio Michaelis, Matthias Bethge, Felix A. Wichmann, and Wieland Brendel. “ImageNet-trained CNNs are biased towards texture; increasing shape bias improves accuracy and robustness.” ICLR 2019.

It was widely accepted in the deep learning community that CNNs recognize objects by combining lower level filters that represent features such as edges into more complex shapes layer by layer. In this recent work, the authors noticed that contrary to what the community believes, existing deep learning models seems to have a strong bias towards textures. For example, a cat with elephant texture is often recognized as an elephant. Instead of learning how a cat looks like, CNNs seem to take the short cut and just try to recognize cat fur. You can find a detailed blog post about this work here.

d) Wieland Brendel, and Matthias Bethge. “Approximating CNNs with Bag-of-local-Features models works surprisingly well on ImageNet.” ICLR 2019.

This is a paper from the same group as the previous paper. Based on the same observations, this paper claims that CNNs are not that different from bag of feature approaches that classifies based on local features. The authors created a network that only looks at local patches in an image without high level spatial information and was able to achieve pretty good result on ImageNet. The author further shuffled features in an image and existing deep learning models seems to be not sensitive to these changes. Again CNNs seem to be taking short cuts by making classifications based on just local features. More on this work can be found in this post.

e) Azulay, Aharon, and Yair Weiss. “Why do deep convolutional networks generalize so poorly to small image transformations?.” rejected by ICLR 2019.

This is a paper that discovered that modern deep networks may fail to recognize images shifted 1 pixel apart, but got rejected because reviewers don’t quite buy-in on the experiments nor the explanation. (the authors made a big mistake of not providing an improved deep network in the paper.) The paper showed that when the image is shifted slightly or if a sequence of frames from a video is given to a modern deep network, jaggedness appear in the detection result (see example below where the posterior probability of recognizing the polar bear varies a lot frame by frame.) The authors further created a dataset from ImageNet with the same images embedded in a larger image frame at a random location and showed that the performance dropped about 30% when the embedded frame is twice the width of the original image. This work shows that despite modern networks getting close to human performance on image classification tasks on ImageNet, it might not be able to generalize to the real world as well as we hoped.

f) Nalisnick, Eric, Akihiro Matsukawa, Yee Whye Teh, Dilan Gorur, and Balaji Lakshminarayanan. “Do Deep Generative Models Know What They Don’t Know?.” ICLR 2019

This work from DeepMind looks into tackling the problem that when tested on data with a distribution different from training, deep neural network can give wrong results with high confidence. For example, in the paper “Multiplicative Normalizing Flows for Variational Bayesian Neural Networks” by Louizos and Welling, it was discovered that on the MNIST dataset a trained network can be highly confident but wrong when the input number is tilted. This makes deploying deep learning to critical tasks quite problematic. Deep generative models were thought to be a solution to such problems, since it also models the distribution of the samples, it can reject anomalies if it does not belong to the same distribution as the training samples. However, the authors short answer to the question is no; even for very distinct datasets such as digits versus images of horse and trucks, anomalies cannot be identified, and many cases even wrongfully provide stronger confidence than samples that does come from the trained dataset. The authors therefore “urge caution when using these models with out-of-training-distribution inputs or in unprotected user-facing systems.”

Paper Picks: CVPR 2018

In Computer Vision, deep learning, Machine Learning, Neural Science, Paper Talk on July 2, 2018 at 9:08 pm

by Li Yang Ku (Gooly)

I was at CVPR in salt lake city. This year there were more then 6500 attendances and a record high number of accepted papers. People were definitely struggling to see them all. It was a little disappointing that there were no keynote speakers, but among the 9 major conferences I have been to, this one has the best dance party (see image below). You never know how many computer scientists can dance until you give them unlimited alcohol.

In this post I am going to talk about a few papers that were not the most popular ones but were what I personally found interesting. If you want to know the papers that the reviewers though were interesting instead, you can look into the best paper “Taskonomy: Disentangling Task Transfer Learning” and four other honorable mentions including the “SPLATNet: Sparse Lattice Networks for Point Cloud Processing” from collaborations between Nvidia and some people in the vision lab at UMass Amherst which I am in.

a) Donglai Wei, Joseph J Lim, Andrew Zisserman, and William T Freeman. “Learning and Using the Arrow of Time.”

I am quite fond of works that explore cues in the world that may be useful for unsupervised learning. Traditional deep learning approaches requires large amount of labeled training data but we humans seem to be able to learn from just interacting with the world in an unsupervised fashion. In this paper, the direction of time is used as a clue. The authors train a neural network to distinguish the direction of time and show that such network can be helpful in action recognition tasks.

b) Arda Senocak, Tae-Hyun Oh, Junsik Kim, Ming-Hsuan Yang, and In So Kweon. “Learning to Localize Sound Source in Visual Scenes.”

This is another example of using cues available in the world. In this work, the authors ask whether a machine can learn the correspondence between visual scene and sound, and localize the sound source only by observing sound and visual scene pairs like humans? This is done by using a triplet network that tries to minimize the difference between visual feature of a video frame and the sound feature generated in a similar time window, while maximizing the difference between the same visual feature and a random sound feature. As you can see in the figure above, the network is able to associate different sounds with different visual regions.

c) Edward Kim, Darryl Hannan, and Garrett Kenyon. “Deep Sparse Coding for Invariant Multimodal Halle Berry Neurons.”

This work is inspired by experiments done by Quiroga et al. that found a single neuron in one human subject’s brain that fires on both pictures of Halle Berry and texts of Halle Berry’s name. In this paper, the authors show that training a deep sparse coding network that takes a face image and a text image of the corresponding name results in learning a multimodal invariant neuron that fires on both Halle Berry’s face and name. When certain modality is missing, the missing image or text can be generated. In this network, each sparse coding layer is learned through the Locally Competitive Algorithm (LCA) that uses principles of thresholding and local competition between neurons. Top down feedback is also used in this work through propagating reconstruction error downwards. The authors show interesting results where adding information to one modality changes the belief of the other modality. The figure above shows that this Halle Berry neuron in the sparse coding network can distinguish between cat women acted by Halle Berry versus cat women acted by Anne Hathaway and Michele Pfeiffer.

d) Assaf Shocher, Nadav Cohen, and Michal Irani. “Zero-Shot Super-Resolution using Deep Internal Learning.”

Super resolution is a task that tries to increase the resolution of an image. The typical approach nowaday is to learn it through a neural network. However, the author showed that this approach only works well if the down sampling process from the high resolution to the low resolution image is similar in training and testing. In this work, no training is needed beforehand. Given a test image, training examples are generated from the test image by down sampling patches of this same image. The fundamental idea of this approach is the fact that natural images have strong internal data repetition. Therefore, from the same image you can infer high resolution structures of lower resolution patches by observing other parts of the image that have higher resolution and similar structure. The image above shows their results (top row) versus state of the art results (bottom row).

e) Dmitry Ulyanov, Andrea Vedaldi, and Victor Lempitsky. “Deep Image Prior.”

Most modern approaches for denoising, super resolution, or inpainting tasks use an image generation network that trains on a large dataset that consist of pairs of images before and after the affect. This work shows that these nice outcomes are not just the result of learning but also the effect of the convolutional structure. The authors take an image generation network, feed random noise as input, and then update the network using the error between the outcome and the test image, such as the left image shown above for inpainting. After many iterations, the network magically generates an image that fills the gap, such as the right image above. What this works says is that unlike common belief that deep learning approaches for image restoration learns image priors better then engineered priors, the deep structure itself is just a better engineered prior.

Deep Learning Approaches For Object Detection

In Computer Vision, deep learning, Machine Learning, Paper Talk on March 25, 2018 at 3:16 pm

by Li Yang Ku

In this post I am going to talk about the progression of a few deep learning approaches for object detection. I will start from R-CNN and OverFeat (2013) then gradually move to more recent approaches such as the RetinaNet which won the best student paper in ICCV 2017. Object detection here refers to the task of identifying a limited set of object classes (20 ~ 200) in a given image by giving each identified object a bounding box and a label. This is one of the main stream challenges in Computer Vision which requires algorithms to output the locations of multiple object in addition to corresponding class. Some of the most well known datasets are the PASCAL visual object classes challenge (2005-2012) funded by the EU (20 classes ~10k images), the ImageNet object detection challenge (2013 ~ present) sponsored by Stanford, UNC, Google, and Facebook (200 classes ~500k images) , and the COCO dataset (2015 ~ current) first started by Microsoft (80 classes ~200K images). These datasets provide hand labeled bounding boxes and class labels of objects in images for training. Challenges for these datasets happen yearly; teams from all over the world submit their code to compete on an undisclosed test set.

In December 2012, the success of Alexnet on the ImageNet classification challenge was published. While many computer vision scientist around the world were still scratching their head trying to understand this result, several groups quickly harvested techniques implemented in Alexnet and tested it out. Based on the success of Alexnet, in November 2013 the vision group in Berkeley published (on arxiv) an approach for solving the object detection problem. This proposed R-CNN is a simple extension that extends the Alexnet that was designed to solve the classification problem to handle the detection problem. R-CNN is composed of 3 parts, 1) region proposal: where selective search is used to generate around 2000 possible object location bounding boxes, 2) feature extraction: Alexnet is used to generate features, 3) classification: a SVM (support vector machine) is trained for each object class. This hybrid approach successfully outperformed previous algorithms on the PASCAL dataset by a significant margin.

R-CNN architecture

Around the same time (December 2013), the NYU team (Yann LeCun, Rob Fergus) published an approach called OverFeat. OverFeat is based on the idea that convolutions can be done efficiently on dense image locations in a sliding window fashion. The fully connected layers in the Alexnet can be seen as 1×1 convolution layers. Therefore, instead of generating a classification confidence for a cropped fix size image, OverFeat generates a map of confidence on the whole image. To predict the bounding box a regressor network is added after the convolution layers. OverFeat was at the 4th place during the 2013 ImageNet object detection challenge but claimed to have better then 1st place result with longer training time which wasn’t ready in time for the competition.

Since then, a lot of researches expanded based on concepts introduced in these work. The SPP-net is an approach that speeds up the R-CNN approach up to 100x by performing the convolution operations just once on the whole image. (note that OverFeat does convolution on images of different scale) The SPP-net adds a spatial pyramid pooling layer before the fully connected layers. This spatial pyramid pooling layer transforms an arbitrary size feature map into a fixed size input by pooling from areas separated by grids of different scale. However, similar to R-CNN, SPP-net requires multistep training on feature extraction and the SVM classification. Fast R-CNN came across to address this problem. Similar to R-CNN, Fast R-CNN uses selective search to generate a set of possible region proposals and by adapting the idea of SPP-net, feature map is generated once on the whole image and a ROI pooling layers extracts a fixed size features for each region proposal. A multi task loss is also used so that the whole network can be trained together in one stage. The Fast R-CNN can speed up R-CNN up to 200x and produce better accuracy.

Fast R-CNN architecture

At this point, the region proposal process have become the computation bottleneck for Fast R-CNN. As a result, the “Faster” R-CNN addresses this issue by introducing the region proposal network that generates region proposals based on the same feature map used for classification. This requires a four stage training that alternates between these two networks but achieves a 5 frames per second speed.

Image pyramid where images of multiple scales are created for feature extraction was a common approach used in features such as SIFT features to handle scale invariant. So far, most R-CNN based approaches does not use image pyramids due to the computation and memory cost during training. The feature pyramid network shows that since deep convolution neural networks are by natural multi-scale, a similar effect can be achieved with little extra cost. This is done by combining top-down information with lateral information for each convolution layer as shown in the figure below. By restricting the feature maps to have the same dimension, the same classification network can be used for all scales; this has a similar flavor to traditional approaches that use the same detector for images of different scales in the image pyramid.

Till 2017, most of the high accuracy approaches on object detection are extensions of R-CNN that have a region proposal module separate from classification. Single stage approaches although faster, were not able to out perform in accuracy. The paper “Focal Loss for Dense Object Detection” published in ICCV 2017 discovers the problem with single stage approaches and proposed an elegant solution that results in faster and more accurate models. The lower accuracy among single stage approaches was a consequence of imbalance between foreground and background training examples. By replacing the cross entropy loss with the focal loss that down weights examples the network already has high confidence, the network improves substantially on accuracy. The figure below shows the difference between the cross entropy loss (CE) and the focal loss (FL). A larger gamma parameter puts less weight on high confidence examples.

The references of approaches I mentioned is listed below. Note that I only talked about a small part of a large body of work on object detection and the current progress on object detection have been moving in a rapid speed. If you look at the current leader board for the COCO dataset, the numbers have already surpassed the best approach I have mentioned by a substantial margin.

  • Girshick, Ross, Jeff Donahue, Trevor Darrell, and Jitendra Malik. “Rich feature hierarchies for accurate object detection and semantic segmentation.” In Proceedings of the IEEE conference on computer vision and pattern recognition, pp. 580-587. 2014.
  • Sermanet, Pierre, David Eigen, Xiang Zhang, Michaël Mathieu, Rob Fergus, and Yann LeCun. “Overfeat: Integrated recognition, localization and detection using convolutional networks.” arXiv preprint arXiv:1312.6229 (2013).
  • He, Kaiming, Xiangyu Zhang, Shaoqing Ren, and Jian Sun. “Spatial pyramid pooling in deep convolutional networks for visual recognition.” In european conference on computer vision, pp. 346-361. Springer, Cham, 2014.
  • Girshick, Ross. “Fast r-cnn.” arXiv preprint arXiv:1504.08083(2015).
  • Ren, Shaoqing, Kaiming He, Ross Girshick, and Jian Sun. “Faster r-cnn: Towards real-time object detection with region proposal networks.” In Advances in neural information processing systems, pp. 91-99. 2015.
  • Lin, Tsung-Yi, Piotr Dollár, Ross Girshick, Kaiming He, Bharath Hariharan, and Serge Belongie. “Feature pyramid networks for object detection.” In CVPR, vol. 1, no. 2, p. 4. 2017.
  • Lin, Tsung-Yi, Priya Goyal, Ross Girshick, Kaiming He, and Piotr Dollár. “Focal loss for dense object detection.” arXiv preprint arXiv:1708.02002 (2017).

 

Machine Learning, Computer Vision, and Robotics

In Computer Vision, Machine Learning, Robotics on December 6, 2017 at 2:32 pm

By Li Yang Ku (Gooly)

Having TA’d for Machine Learning this semester and worked in the field of Computer Vision and Robotics for the past few years, I always have this feeling that the more I learn the less I know. Therefore, its sometimes good to just sit back and look at the big picture. This post will talk about how I see the relations between these three fields in a high level.

First of all, Machine Learning is more a brand then a name. Just like Deep Learning and AI, this name is used for getting funding when the previous name used is out of hype. In this case, the name popularized after AI projects failed in the 70s. Therefore, Machine learning covers a wide range of problems and approaches that may look quite different at first glance. Adaboost and support vector machine was the hot topic in Machine Learning when I was doing my master’s degree, but now it is deep neural network that gets all the attention.

Despite the wide variety of research in Machine Learning, they usually have this common assumption on the existent of a set of data. The goal is then to learn a model based on this set of data. There are a wide range of variations here, the data could be labeled or not labeled resulting in supervised or unsupervised approaches; the data could be labeled with a category or a real number, resulting in classification or regression problems; the model can be limited to a certain form such as a class of probability models, or can have less constraints in the case of deep neural network. Once the model is learned, there are also a wide range of possible usage. It can be used for predicting outputs given new inputs, filling missing data, generating new samples, or providing insights on hidden relationships between data entries. Data is so fundamental in Machine Learning, people in the field don’t really ask the question of why learning from data. Many datasets from different fields are collected or labeled and the learned models are compared based on accuracy, computation speed, generalizability, etc. Therefore Machine Learning people often consider Computer Vision and Robotics as areas for applying Machine Learning techniques.

Robotics on the other hand comes from a very different background. There are usually no data to start with in robotics. If you cannot control your robot or if your robot crashes itself at first move, how are you going to collect any data. Therefore, classical robotics is about designing models based on physics and geometries. You build models that model how the input and current observation of the robot changes the robot state. Based on this model you can infer the input that will safely control the robot to reach certain state.

Once you can command your robot to reach certain state, a wide variety of problems emerge. The robot will then have to do obstacle avoidance and path planning to reach certain goal. You may need to to find a goal state that satisfies a set of restrictions while optimizing a set of properties. Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) may be needed if no maps are given. In addition, sensor fusion is required when multiple sensors with different properties are used. There may also be uncertainties in robot states where belief space planning may be helpful. For robots with a gripper, you may also need to be able to identify stable grasps and recognizing the type and pose of an object for manipulation. And of course, there is a whole different set of problems on designing the mechanics and hardware of the robot.  Unlike Machine Learning, a lot of approaches of these problems are solved without a set of data. However, most of these robotics problems (excluding mechanical and hardware problems) share a common goal of determining the robot input based on feedback. (Some) Roboticists view robotics as the field that has the ultimate goal of creating machines that act like humans, and Machine Learning and Computer Vision are fields that can provide methods to help accomplish such goal.

The field of Computer Vision started under AI in the 60s under the goal of helping robots to achieve intelligent behaviors, but left such goal behind after the internet era when tons of images on the internet are waiting to be classified. In this age, computer vision applications are no longer restricted to physical robots. In the past decade, the field of Computer Vision is driven by datasets. The implicit agreement on evaluation based on standardized datasets helped the field to advance in a reasonably fast pace (under the cost of millions of grad student hours on tweaking models to get a 1% improvement.) Given these datasets, the field of Computer Vision inevitably left the Robotics community and embraced the data-driven Machine Learning approaches. Most Computer Vision problems have a common goal of learning models for visual data. The model is then used to do classification, clustering, sample generation, etc. on images or videos. The big picture of Computer Vision can be seen in my previous post. Some Computer Vision scientists consider vision different from other senses and believe that the development of vision is fundamental to the evolution of intelligence (which could be true… experiments do show 50% of our brain neurons are vision related.) Nowadays, Computer Vision and Machine Learning are deeply tangled; Machine Learning techniques help foster Computer Vision solutions, while successful models in Computer Vision contribute back to the field of Machine Learning. For example, the successful story of Deep Learning started from Machine Learning models being applied to the ImageNet challenge, and end up with a wide range of architectures that can be applied to other problems in Machine Learning. On the other hand, Robotics is a field where Computer Vision folks are gradually moving back to. Several well known Computer Vision scientists, such as Jitendra Malik, started to consider how Computer Vision can help the field of Robotics ,since their conversation with Robotics colleagues were mostly about vision not working, based on the recent success on data-driven approaches in Computer Vision.

Paper Picks: ICRA 2017

In Computer Vision, deep learning, Machine Learning, Paper Talk, Robotics on July 31, 2017 at 1:04 pm

by Li Yang Ku (Gooly)

I was at ICRA (International Conference on Robotics and Automation) in Singapore to present one of my work this June. Surprisingly, the computer vision track seems to gain a lot of interest in the robotics community. The four computer vision sessions are the most crowded ones among all the sessions that I have attended. The following are a few papers related to computer vision and deep learning that I found quite interesting.

a) Schmidt, Tanner, Richard Newcombe, and Dieter Fox. “Self-supervised visual descriptor learning for dense correspondence.”

In this work, a self-supervised learning approach is introduced for generating dense visual descriptors with convolutional neural networks. Given a set of RGB-D videos of Schmidt, the first author, wandering around, a set of training data can be automatically generated by using Kinect Fusion to track feature points between frames. A pixel-wise contrastive loss is used such that two points belong to the same model point would have similar descriptors.

Kinect Fusion cannot associate points between videos, however with just training data within the same video, the authors show that the learned descriptors of the same model point (such as the tip of the nose) are similar across videos. This can be explained by the hypothesis that with enough data, a model point trajectory will inevitably come near to the same model point trajectory in another video. By chaining these trajectories, clusters of the same model point can be separated even without labels. The figure above visualizes the learned features with colors. Note that it learns a similar mapping across videos despite with no training signal across videos.

b) Pavlakos, Georgios, Xiaowei Zhou, Aaron Chan, Konstantinos G. Derpanis, and Kostas Daniilidis. “6-dof object pose from semantic keypoints.”

In this work, semantic keypoints predicted by convolutional neural networks are combined with a deformable shape model to estimate the pose of object instances or objects of the same class. Given a single RGB image of an object, a set of class specific keypoints is first identified through a CNN that is trained on labeled feature point heat maps. A fitting problem that maps these keypoints to keypoints on the 3D model is then solved using a deformable model that captures different shape variability. The figure above shows some pretty good results on recognizing the same feature of objects of the same class.

The CNN used in this work is the stacked hourglass architecture, where two hourglass modules are stacked together. The hourglass module was introduced in the paper “Newell, Alejandro, Kaiyu Yang, and Jia Deng. Stacked hourglass networks for human pose estimation. ECCV, 2016.” An hourglass module is similar to a fully convolutional neural network but with residual modules, which the authors claim to make it more balanced between down sampling and up sampling. Stacking multiple hourglass modules allows repeated bottom up, top down inferences which improves on the state of the art performances.

c) Sung, Jaeyong, Ian Lenz, and Ashutosh Saxena. “Deep Multimodal Embedding: Manipulating Novel Objects with Point-clouds, Language and Trajectories.”

In this work, point cloud, natural language, and manipulation trajectory data are mapped to a shared embedding space using a neural network. For example, given the point cloud of an object and a set of instructions as input, the neural network should map it to a region in the embedded space that is close to the trajectory that performs such action. Instead of taking the whole point cloud as input, a segmentation process that decides which part of the object to manipulate based on the instruction is first executed. Based on this shared embedding space, the closest trajectory to where the input point cloud and language map to can be executed during test time.

In order to learn a semantically meaningful embedding space, a loss-augmented cost that considers the similarity between different types of trajectory is used. The result shows that the network put similar groups of actions such as pushing a bar and moving a cup to a nozzle close to each other in the embedding space.

d) Finn, Chelsea, and Sergey Levine. “Deep visual foresight for planning robot motion.”

In this work, a video prediction model that uses a convolutional LSTM (long short-term memory) is used to predict pixel flow transformation from the current frame to the next frame for a non-prehensile manipulation task. This model takes the input image, end-effector pose, and a future action to predict the image of the next time step. The predicted image is then fed back into the network recursively to generate the next image. This network is learned from 50000 pushing examples of hundreds of objects collected from 10 robots.

For each test, the user specifies where certain pixels on an object should move to, the robot then uses the model to determine actions that will most likely reach the target using an optimization algorithm that samples actions for several iterations. Some of the results are shown in the figure above, the first column indicates the interface where the user specifies the goal. The red markers are the starting pixel positions and the green markers of the same shape are the goal positions. Each row shows a sequence of actions taken to reach the specified target.

Generative Adversarial Nets: Your Enemy is Your Best Friend?

In Computer Vision, deep learning, Machine Learning, Paper Talk on March 20, 2017 at 7:10 pm

by Li Yang Ku (gooly)

Generating realistic images with machines was always one of the top items on my list of difficult tasks. Past attempts in the Computer Vision community were only able to get a blurry image at best. The well publicized Google Deepdream project was able to generate some interesting artsy images, however they were modified from existing images and were designed more to make you feel like on drugs then realistic. Recently (2016), a work that combines the generative adversarial network framework with convolutional neural networks (CNNs) generated some results that look surprisingly good. (A non vision person would likely not be amazed though.) This approach was quickly accepted by the community and was referenced more then 200 times in less then a year.

This work is based on an interesting concept first introduced by Goodfellow et al. in the paper “Generative Adversarial Nets” at NIPS 2014 (http://papers.nips.cc/paper/5423-generative-adversarial-nets). The idea was to have two neural networks compete with each other. One would try to generate images as realistic as it can and the other network would try to distinguish them from real images at its best. By theory this competition will reach a global optimum where the generated image and the real image will belong to the same distribution (Could be a lot trickier in practice though). This work in 2014 got some pretty good results on digits and faces but the generated natural images are still quite blurry (see figure above).

In the more recent work “Unsupervised Representation Learning with Deep Convolutional Generative Adversarial Networks” by Radford, Metz, and Chintala, convolutional neural networks and the generative adversarial net framework are successfully combined with a few techniques that help stabilize the training (https://arxiv.org/abs/1511.06434). Through this approach, the generated images are sharp and surprisingly realistic at first glance. The figures above are some of the generated bedroom images. Notice that if you look closer some of them may be weird.

The authors further explored what the latent variables represents. Ideally the generator (neural network that generates image) should disentangle independent features and each latent variable should represent a meaningful concept. By modifying these variables, images that have different characteristics can be generated. Note that these latent variables are what given to the neural network that generates images and is randomly sampled from a uniform distribution in the previous examples. In the figure above is an example where the authors show that the latent variables do represent meaningful concepts through arithmetic operations. If you subtract the average latent variables of men without glasses from the average latent variables of men with glasses and add the average latent variables of women without glasses, you obtain a latent variable that result in women with glasses when passed through the generator. This process identifies the latent variables that represent glasses.