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2014


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Towards building a Crowd-Sourced Sky Map

Lang, D., Hogg, D., Schölkopf, B.

In Proceedings of the Seventeenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, JMLR W\&CP 33, pages: 549–557, (Editors: S. Kaski and J. Corander), JMLR.org, AISTATS, 2014 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

2014


link (url) [BibTex]


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Active Microrheology of the Vitreous of the Eye applied to Nanorobot Propulsion

Qiu, T., Schamel, D., Mark, A. G., Fischer, P.

In 2014 IEEE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ROBOTICS AND AUTOMATION (ICRA), pages: 3801-3806, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation ICRA, 2014, Best Automation Paper Award – Finalist. (inproceedings)

Abstract
Biomedical applications of micro or nanorobots require active movement through complex biological fluids. These are generally non-Newtonian (viscoelastic) fluids that are characterized by complicated networks of macromolecules that have size-dependent rheological properties. It has been suggested that an untethered microrobot could assist in retinal surgical procedures. To do this it must navigate the vitreous humor, a hydrated double network of collagen fibrils and high molecular-weight, polyanionic hyaluronan macromolecules. Here, we examine the characteristic size that potential robots must have to traverse vitreous relatively unhindered. We have constructed magnetic tweezers that provide a large gradient of up to 320 T/m to pull sub-micron paramagnetic beads through biological fluids. A novel two-step electrical discharge machining (EDM) approach is used to construct the tips of the magnetic tweezers with a resolution of 30 mu m and high aspect ratio of similar to 17:1 that restricts the magnetic field gradient to the plane of observation. We report measurements on porcine vitreous. In agreement with structural data and passive Brownian diffusion studies we find that the unhindered active propulsion through the eye calls for nanorobots with cross-sections of less than 500 nm.

Best Automation Paper Award – Finalist.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Incremental Local Gaussian Regression

Meier, F., Hennig, P., Schaal, S.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27, pages: 972-980, (Editors: Z. Ghahramani, M. Welling, C. Cortes, N.D. Lawrence and K.Q. Weinberger), 28th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2014, clmc (inproceedings)

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PDF link (url) [BibTex]

PDF link (url) [BibTex]


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Sérsic galaxy models in weak lensing shape measurement: model bias, noise bias and their interaction

Kacprzak, T., Bridle, S., Rowe, B., Voigt, L., Zuntz, J., Hirsch, M., MacCrann, N.

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 441(3):2528-2538, Oxford University Press, 2014 (article)

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Learning to Deblur

Schuler, C. J., Hirsch, M., Harmeling, S., Schölkopf, B.

In NIPS 2014 Deep Learning and Representation Learning Workshop, 28th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2014 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Swimming by reciprocal motion at low Reynolds number

Qiu, T., Lee, T., Mark, A. G., Morozov, K. I., Muenster, R., Mierka, O., Turek, S., Leshansky, A. M., Fischer, P.

NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 5, 2014, Max Planck Press Release. (article)

Abstract
Biological microorganisms swim with flagella and cilia that execute nonreciprocal motions for low Reynolds number (Re) propulsion in viscous fluids. This symmetry requirement is a consequence of Purcell's scallop theorem, which complicates the actuation scheme needed by microswimmers. However, most biomedically important fluids are non-Newtonian where the scallop theorem no longer holds. It should therefore be possible to realize a microswimmer that moves with reciprocal periodic body-shape changes in non-Newtonian fluids. Here we report a symmetric `micro-scallop', a single-hinge microswimmer that can propel in shear thickening and shear thinning (non-Newtonian) fluids by reciprocal motion at low Re. Excellent agreement between our measurements and both numerical and analytical theoretical predictions indicates that the net propulsion is caused by modulation of the fluid viscosity upon varying the shear rate. This reciprocal swimming mechanism opens new possibilities in designing biomedical microdevices that can propel by a simple actuation scheme in non-Newtonian biological fluids.

Max Planck Press Release.

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Video - A Swimming Micro-Scallop Video - Winner of the Micro-robotic Design Challenge in Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics DOI [BibTex]

Video - A Swimming Micro-Scallop Video - Winner of the Micro-robotic Design Challenge in Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics DOI [BibTex]


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Nanohelices by shadow growth

Gibbs, J. G., Mark, A. G., Lee, T., Eslami, S., Schamel, D., Fischer, P.

NANOSCALE, 6(16):9457-9466, 2014 (article)

Abstract
The helix has remarkable qualities and is prevalent in many fields including mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. This shape, which is chiral by nature, is ubiquitous in biology with perhaps the most famous example being DNA. Other naturally occurring helices are common at the nanoscale in the form of protein secondary structures and in various macromolecules. Nanoscale helices exhibit a wide range of interesting mechanical, optical, and electrical properties which can be intentionally engineered into the structure by choosing the correct morphology and material. As technology advances, these fabrication parameters can be fine-tuned and matched to the application of interest. Herein, we focus on the fabrication and properties of nanohelices grown by a dynamic shadowing growth method combined with fast wafer-scale substrate patterning which has a number of distinct advantages. We review the fabrication methodology and provide several examples that illustrate the generality and utility of nanohelices shadow-grown on nanopatterns.

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Video - Fabrication of Designer Nanostructures DOI [BibTex]


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Analysis of Distance Functions in Graphs

Alamgir, M.

University of Hamburg, Germany, University of Hamburg, Germany, 2014 (phdthesis)

ei

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Efficient Bayesian Local Model Learning for Control

Meier, F., Hennig, P., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 2244 - 2249, IROS, 2014, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Model-based control is essential for compliant controland force control in many modern complex robots, like humanoidor disaster robots. Due to many unknown and hard tomodel nonlinearities, analytical models of such robots are oftenonly very rough approximations. However, modern optimizationcontrollers frequently depend on reasonably accurate models,and degrade greatly in robustness and performance if modelerrors are too large. For a long time, machine learning hasbeen expected to provide automatic empirical model synthesis,yet so far, research has only generated feasibility studies butno learning algorithms that run reliably on complex robots.In this paper, we combine two promising worlds of regressiontechniques to generate a more powerful regression learningsystem. On the one hand, locally weighted regression techniquesare computationally efficient, but hard to tune due to avariety of data dependent meta-parameters. On the other hand,Bayesian regression has rather automatic and robust methods toset learning parameters, but becomes quickly computationallyinfeasible for big and high-dimensional data sets. By reducingthe complexity of Bayesian regression in the spirit of local modellearning through variational approximations, we arrive at anovel algorithm that is computationally efficient and easy toinitialize for robust learning. Evaluations on several datasetsdemonstrate very good learning performance and the potentialfor a general regression learning tool for robotics.

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PDF link (url) DOI [BibTex]

PDF link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Towards an optimal stochastic alternating direction method of multipliers

Azadi, S., Sra, S.

Proceedings of the 31st International Conference on Machine Learning, 32, pages: 620-628, (Editors: Xing, E. P. and Jebara, T.), JMLR, ICML, 2014 (conference)

ei

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Diminished White Matter Integrity in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Schmidt-Wilcke, T., Cagnoli, P., Wang, P., Schultz, T., Lotz, A., Mccune, W. J., Sundgren, P. C.

NeuroImage: Clinical, 5, pages: 291-297, 2014 (article)

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Open Problem: Finding Good Cascade Sampling Processes for the Network Inference Problem

Gomez Rodriguez, M., Song, L., Schölkopf, B.

Proceedings of the 27th Conference on Learning Theory, 35, pages: 1276-1279, (Editors: Balcan, M.-F. and Szepesvári, C.), JMLR.org, COLT, 2014 (conference)

ei

PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Chiral Nanomagnets

Eslami, S., Gibbs, J. G., Rechkemmer, Y., van Slageren, J., Alarcon-Correa, M., Lee, T., Mark, A. G., Rikken, G. L. J. A., Fischer, P.

ACS PHOTONICS, 1(11):1231-1236, 2014 (article)

Abstract
We report on the enhanced optical properties of chiral magnetic nanohelices with critical dimensions comparable to the ferromagnetic domain size. They are shown to be ferromagnetic at room temperature, have defined chirality, and exhibit large optical activity in the visible as verified by electron microscopy, superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometry, natural circular dichroism (NCD), and magnetic circular dichroism (MCD) measurements. The structures exhibit magneto-chiral dichroism (MChD), which directly demonstrates coupling between their structural chirality and magnetism. A chiral nickel (Ni) film consisting of an array of nanohelices similar to 100 nm in length exhibits an MChD anisotropy factor g(MChD) approximate to 10(-4) T-1 at room temperature in a saturation field of similar to 0.2 T, permitting polarization-independent control of the film's absorption properties through magnetic field modulation. This is also the first report of MChD in a material with structural chirality on the order of the wavelength of light, and therefore the Ni nanohelix array is a metamaterial with magnetochiral properties that can be tailored through a dynamic deposition process.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Wireless powering of e-swimmers

Roche, J., Carrara, S., Sanchez, J., Lannelongue, J., Loget, G., Bouffier, L., Fischer, P., Kuhn, A.

SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 4, 2014 (article)

Abstract
Miniaturized structures that can move in a controlled way in solution and integrate various functionalities are attracting considerable attention due to the potential applications in fields ranging from autonomous micromotors to roving sensors. Here we introduce a concept which allows, depending on their specific design, the controlled directional motion of objects in water, combined with electronic functionalities such as the emission of light, sensing, signal conversion, treatment and transmission. The approach is based on electric field-induced polarization, which triggers different chemical reactions at the surface of the object and thereby its propulsion. This results in a localized electric current that can power in a wireless way electronic devices in water, leading to a new class of electronic swimmers (e-swimmers).

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Swelling and shrinking behaviour of photoresponsive phosphonium-based ionogel microstructures

Czugala, M., O’Connell, C., Blin, C., Fischer, P., Fraser, K. J., Benito-Lopez, F., Diamond, D.

SENSORS AND ACTUATORS B-CHEMICAL, 194, pages: 105-113, 2014 (article)

Abstract
Photoresponsive N-isopropylacrylamide ionogel microstructures are presented in this study. These ionogels are synthesised using phosphonium based room temperature ionic liquids, together with the photochromic compound benzospiropyran. The microstructures can be actuated using light irradiation, facilitating non-contact and non-invasive operation. For the first time, the characterisation of the swelling and shrinking behaviour of several photopatterned ionogel microstructures is presented and the influence of surface-area-to-volume ratio on the swelling kinetics is evaluated. It was found that the swelling and shrinking behaviour of the ionogels is strongly dependent on the nature of the ionic liquid. In particular, the {[}P-6,P-6,P-6,P-14]{[}NTf2] ionogel exhibits the greatest degree of swelling, reaching up to 180\% of its initial size, and the fastest shrinkage rate (k(sh) = 29 +/- 4 x 10(-2) s(-1)). (C) 2014 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Information-Theoretic Bounded Rationality and ϵ-Optimality

Braun, DA, Ortega, PA

Entropy, 16(8):4662-4676, August 2014 (article)

Abstract
Bounded rationality concerns the study of decision makers with limited information processing resources. Previously, the free energy difference functional has been suggested to model bounded rational decision making, as it provides a natural trade-off between an energy or utility function that is to be optimized and information processing costs that are measured by entropic search costs. The main question of this article is how the information-theoretic free energy model relates to simple \(\epsilon\)-optimality models of bounded rational decision making, where the decision maker is satisfied with any action in an \(\epsilon\)-neighborhood of the optimal utility. We find that the stochastic policies that optimize the free energy trade-off comply with the notion of \(\epsilon\)-optimality. Moreover, this optimality criterion even holds when the environment is adversarial. We conclude that the study of bounded rationality based on \(\epsilon\)-optimality criteria that abstract away from the particulars of the information processing constraints is compatible with the information-theoretic free energy model of bounded rationality.

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Occam’s Razor in sensorimotor learning

Genewein, T, Braun, D

Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 281(1783):1-7, May 2014 (article)

Abstract
A large number of recent studies suggest that the sensorimotor system uses probabilistic models to predict its environment and makes inferences about unobserved variables in line with Bayesian statistics. One of the important features of Bayesian statistics is Occam's Razor—an inbuilt preference for simpler models when comparing competing models that explain some observed data equally well. Here, we test directly for Occam's Razor in sensorimotor control. We designed a sensorimotor task in which participants had to draw lines through clouds of noisy samples of an unobserved curve generated by one of two possible probabilistic models—a simple model with a large length scale, leading to smooth curves, and a complex model with a short length scale, leading to more wiggly curves. In training trials, participants were informed about the model that generated the stimulus so that they could learn the statistics of each model. In probe trials, participants were then exposed to ambiguous stimuli. In probe trials where the ambiguous stimulus could be fitted equally well by both models, we found that participants showed a clear preference for the simpler model. Moreover, we found that participants’ choice behaviour was quantitatively consistent with Bayesian Occam's Razor. We also show that participants’ drawn trajectories were similar to samples from the Bayesian predictive distribution over trajectories and significantly different from two non-probabilistic heuristics. In two control experiments, we show that the preference of the simpler model cannot be simply explained by a difference in physical effort or by a preference for curve smoothness. Our results suggest that Occam's Razor is a general behavioural principle already present during sensorimotor processing.

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Generalized Thompson sampling for sequential decision-making and causal inference

Ortega, PA, Braun, DA

Complex Adaptive Systems Modeling, 2(2):1-23, March 2014 (article)

Abstract
Purpose Sampling an action according to the probability that the action is believed to be the optimal one is sometimes called Thompson sampling. Methods Although mostly applied to bandit problems, Thompson sampling can also be used to solve sequential adaptive control problems, when the optimal policy is known for each possible environment. The predictive distribution over actions can then be constructed by a Bayesian superposition of the policies weighted by their posterior probability of being optimal. Results Here we discuss two important features of this approach. First, we show in how far such generalized Thompson sampling can be regarded as an optimal strategy under limited information processing capabilities that constrain the sampling complexity of the decision-making process. Second, we show how such Thompson sampling can be extended to solve causal inference problems when interacting with an environment in a sequential fashion. Conclusion In summary, our results suggest that Thompson sampling might not merely be a useful heuristic, but a principled method to address problems of adaptive sequential decision-making and causal inference.

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Assessing randomness and complexity in human motion trajectories through analysis of symbolic sequences

Peng, Z, Genewein, T, Braun, DA

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(168):1-13, March 2014 (article)

Abstract
Complexity is a hallmark of intelligent behavior consisting both of regular patterns and random variation. To quantitatively assess the complexity and randomness of human motion, we designed a motor task in which we translated subjects' motion trajectories into strings of symbol sequences. In the first part of the experiment participants were asked to perform self-paced movements to create repetitive patterns, copy pre-specified letter sequences, and generate random movements. To investigate whether the degree of randomness can be manipulated, in the second part of the experiment participants were asked to perform unpredictable movements in the context of a pursuit game, where they received feedback from an online Bayesian predictor guessing their next move. We analyzed symbol sequences representing subjects' motion trajectories with five common complexity measures: predictability, compressibility, approximate entropy, Lempel-Ziv complexity, as well as effective measure complexity. We found that subjects’ self-created patterns were the most complex, followed by drawing movements of letters and self-paced random motion. We also found that participants could change the randomness of their behavior depending on context and feedback. Our results suggest that humans can adjust both complexity and regularity in different movement types and contexts and that this can be assessed with information-theoretic measures of the symbolic sequences generated from movement trajectories.

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Curiosity-driven learning with Context Tree Weighting

Peng, Z, Braun, DA

pages: 366-367, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, 4th Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics (IEEE ICDL-EPIROB), October 2014 (conference)

Abstract
In the first simulation, the intrinsic motivation of the agent was given by measuring learning progress through reduction in informational surprise (Figure 1 A-C). This way the agent should first learn the action that is easiest to learn (a1), and then switch to other actions that still allow for learning (a2) and ignore actions that cannot be learned at all (a3). This is exactly what we found in our simple environment. Compared to the original developmental learning algorithm based on learning progress proposed by Oudeyer [2], our Context Tree Weighting approach does not require local experts to do prediction, rather it learns the conditional probability distribution over observations given action in one structure. In the second simulation, the intrinsic motivation of the agent was given by measuring compression progress through improvement in compressibility (Figure 1 D-F). The agent behaves similarly: the agent first concentrates on the action with the most predictable consequence and then switches over to the regular action where the consequence is more difficult to predict, but still learnable. Unlike the previous simulation, random actions are also interesting to some extent because the compressed symbol strings use 8-bit representations, while only 2 bits are required for our observation space. Our preliminary results suggest that Context Tree Weighting might provide a useful representation to study problems of development.

ei

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Monte Carlo methods for exact & efficient solution of the generalized optimality equations

Ortega, PA, Braun, DA, Tishby, N

pages: 4322-4327, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), June 2014 (conference)

Abstract
Previous work has shown that classical sequential decision making rules, including expectimax and minimax, are limit cases of a more general class of bounded rational planning problems that trade off the value and the complexity of the solution, as measured by its information divergence from a given reference. This allows modeling a range of novel planning problems having varying degrees of control due to resource constraints, risk-sensitivity, trust and model uncertainty. However, so far it has been unclear in what sense information constraints relate to the complexity of planning. In this paper, we introduce Monte Carlo methods to solve the generalized optimality equations in an efficient \& exact way when the inverse temperatures in a generalized decision tree are of the same sign. These methods highlight a fundamental relation between inverse temperatures and the number of Monte Carlo proposals. In particular, it is seen that the number of proposals is essentially independent of the size of the decision tree.

ei

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]