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Institute Talks

Private Federated Learning

Talk
  • 01 October 2018 • 10:00 10:45
  • Mona Buisson-Fenet
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, seminar room 2P4

With the expanding collection of data, organisations are becoming more and more aware of the potential gain of combining their data. Analytic and predictive tasks, such as classification, perform more accurately if more features or more data records are available, which is why data providers have an interest in joining their datasets and learning from the obtained database. However, this rising interest for federated learning also comes with an increasing concern about security and privacy, both from the consumers whose data is used, and from the data providers who are liable for protecting it. Securely learning a classifier over joint datasets is a first milestone for private multi-party machine learning, and though some literature exists on that topic, systems providing a better security-utility trade-off and more theoretical guarantees are still needed. An ongoing issue is how to deal with the loss gradients, which often need to be revealed in the clear during training. We show that this constitutes an information leak, and present an alternative optimisation strategy that provides additional security guarantees while limiting the decrease in performance of the obtained classifier. Combining an encryption-based and a noise-based approach, the proposed method enables several parties to jointly train a binary classifier over vertically partitioned datasets while keeping their data private.

Organizers: Sebastian Trimpe

Soft Feel by Soft Robotic Hand: New way of robotic sensing

IS Colloquium
  • 04 October 2018 • 13:30 - 04 September 2018 • 14:30
  • Prof. Koh Hosoda
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Werner-Köster lecture hall

This lecture will show some interesting examples how soft body/skin will change your idea of robotic sensing. Soft Robotics does not only discuss about compliance and safety; soft structure will change the way to categorize objects by dynamic exploration and enables the robot to learn sense of slip. Soft Robotics will entirely change your idea how to design sensing and open up a new way to understand human sensing.

Organizers: Ardian Jusufi

Medical Robots with a Haptic Touch – First Experiences with the FLEXMIN System

IS Colloquium
  • 04 October 2018 • 10:00 11:00
  • Prof. Peter Pott
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

The FLEXMIN haptic robotic system is a single-port tele-manipulator for robotic surgery in the small pelvis. Using a transanal approach it allows bi-manual tasks such as grasping, monopolar cutting, and suturing with a footprint of Ø 160 x 240 mm³. Forces up to 5 N in all direction can be applied easily. In addition to provide low latency and highly dynamic control over its movements, high-fidelity haptic feedback was realised using built-in force sensors, lightweight and friction-optimized kinematics as well as dedicated parallel kinematics input devices. After a brief description of the system and some of its key aspects, first evaluation results will be presented. In the second half of the talk the Institute of Medical Device Technology will be presented. The institute was founded in July 2017 and has ever since started a number of projects in the field of biomedical actuation, medical systems and robotics and advanced light microscopy. To illustrate this a few snapshots of bits and pieces will be presented that are condensation nuclei for the future.

Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker

Interactive and Effective Representation of Digital Content through Touch using Local Tactile Feedback

Talk
  • 05 October 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Mariacarla Memeo
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

The increasing availability of on-line resources and the widespread practice of storing data over the internet arise the problem of their accessibility for visually impaired people. A translation from the visual domain to the available modalities is therefore necessary to study if this access is somewhat possible. However, the translation of information from vision to touch is necessarily impaired due to the superiority of vision during the acquisition process. Yet, compromises exist as visual information can be simplified, sketched. A picture can become a map. An object can become a geometrical shape. Under some circumstances, and with a reasonable loss of generality, touch can substitute vision. In particular, when touch substitutes vision, data can be differentiated by adding a further dimension to the tactile feedback, i.e. extending tactile feedback to three dimensions instead of two. This mode has been chosen because it mimics our natural way of following object profiles with fingers. Specifically, regardless if a hand lying on an object is moving or not, our tactile and proprioceptive systems are both stimulated and tell us something about which object we are manipulating, what can be its shape and size. The goal of this talk is to describe how to exploit tactile stimulation to render digital information non visually, so that cognitive maps associated with this information can be efficiently elicited from visually impaired persons. In particular, the focus is to deliver geometrical information in a learning scenario. Moreover, a completely blind interaction with virtual environment in a learning scenario is something little investigated because visually impaired subjects are often passive agents of exercises with fixed environment constraints. For this reason, during the talk I will provide my personal answer to the question: can visually impaired people manipulate dynamic virtual content through touch? This process is much more challenging than only exploring and learning a virtual content, but at the same time it leads to a more conscious and dynamic creation of the spatial understanding of an environment during tactile exploration.

Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker

Autonomous Robots that Walk and Fly

Talk
  • 22 October 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Roland Siegwart
  • MPI, Lecture Hall 2D5, Heisenbergstraße 1, Stuttgart

While robots are already doing a wonderful job as factory workhorses, they are now gradually appearing in our daily environments and offering their services as autonomous cars, delivery drones, helpers in search and rescue and much more. This talk will present some recent highlights in the field of autonomous mobile robotics research and touch on some of the great challenges and opportunities. Legged robots are able to overcome the limitations of wheeled or tracked ground vehicles. ETH’s electrically powered legged quadruped robots are designed for high agility, efficiency and robustness in rough terrain. This is realized through an optimal exploitation of the natural dynamics and serial elastic actuation. For fast inspection of complex environments, flying robots are probably the most efficient and versatile devices. However, the limited payload and computing power of drones renders autonomous navigation quite challenging. Thanks to our custom designed visual-inertial sensor, real-time on-board localization, mapping and planning has become feasible and enables our multi-copters and solar-powered fixed wing drones for advanced rescue and inspection tasks or support in precision farming, even in GPS-denied environments.

Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker Matthias Tröndle Ildikó Papp-Wiedmann

Multi-task Learning with Labeled and Unlabeled Tasks

Talk
  • 05 July 2017 • 14:30 15:45
  • Anastasia Pentina
  • N2 Seminar Room (changed location)

In multi-task learning, a learner is given a collection of prediction tasks and needs to solve all of them. In contrast to previous work, that required that annotated training data must be available for all tasks, I will talk about a new setting, in which for some tasks, potentially most of them, only unlabeled training data is available. Consequently, to solve all tasks, information must be transfered between tasks with labels and tasks without labels. Focussing on an instance-based transfer method I will consider two variants of this setting: when the set of labeled tasks is fixed, and when it can be actively selected by the learner. I will discuss a generalization bound that covers both scenarios and an algorithm, that follows from it, for making the choice of labeled tasks (in the active case) and for transferring information between the tasks in a principled way. I will also show results of some experiments that illustrate the effectiveness of the algorithm.

Organizers: Georg Martius


Some parallels between classical and kernel quadrature

Talk
  • 04 July 2017 • 11:00 12:15
  • Toni Karvonen
  • S2 seminar room

This talk draws three parallels between classical algebraic quadrature rules, that are exact for polynomials of low degree, and kernel (or Bayesian) quadrature rules: i) Computational efficiency. Construction of scalable multivariate algebraic quadrature rules is challenging whereas kernel quadrature necessitates solving a linear system of equations, quickly becoming computationally prohibitive. Fully symmetric sets and Smolyak sparse grids can be used to solve both problems. ii) Derivatives and optimal rules. Algebraic degree of a Gaussian quadrature rule cannot be improved by adding derivative evaluations of the integrand. This holds for optimal kernel quadrature rules in the sense that derivatives are of no help in minimising the worst-case error (or posterior integral variance). iii) Positivity of the weights. Essentially as a consequence of the preceding property, both the Gaussian and optimal kernel quadrature rules have positive weights (i.e., they are positive linear functionals).

Organizers: Alexandra Gessner


Causal Macro Variables

IS Colloquium
  • 03 July 2017 • 11:15 12:15
  • Frederick Eberhardt
  • Max Planck House Lecture Hall

Standard methods of causal discovery take as input a statistical data set of measurements of well-defined causal variables. The goal is then to determine the causal relations among these variables. But how are these causal variables identified or constructed in the first place? Often we have sensor level data but assume that the relevant causal interactions occur at a higher scale of aggregation. Sometimes we only have aggregate measurements of causal interactions at a finer scale. I will motivate the general problem of causal discovery and present recent work on a framework and method for the construction and identification of causal macro-variables that ensures that the resulting causal variables have well-defined intervention distributions. Time permitting, I will show an application of this approach to large scale climate data, for which we were able to identify the macro-phenomenon of El Nino using an unsupervised method on micro-level measurements of the sea surface temperature and wind speeds over the equatorial Pacific.

Organizers: Sebastian Weichwald


Recent Projects on Lifelong Learning

Talk
  • 30 June 2017 • 15:30 16:45
  • Christoph Lampert
  • N2 Seminar Room

Organizers: Georg Martius


  • Sarah Bechtle
  • N2.025 (AMD seminar room - 2nd floor)

This work investigates the development of the sense of agency and of object permanence in humanoid robots. Based on findings from developmental psychology and from neuroscience, development of sense of object permanence is linked to development of sense of agency and to processes of internal simulation of sensor activity. In the course of the work, two sets of experiments will be presented, in the first set a humanoid robot has to learn the forward relationship between its movements and their sensory consequences perceived from the visual input. In particular, a self-monitoring mechanism was implemented that allows the robot to distinguish between self-generated movements and those generated by external events. In a second experiment, once having learned this mapping, the self-monitoring mechanism is exploited to suppress the predicted visual consequences of intended movements. The speculation is made that this process can allow for the development of sense of object permanence. It will be shown, that using these predictions, the robot maintains an enhanced simulated image where an object occluded by the movement of the robot arm is still visible, due to sensory attenuation processes.

Organizers: Stefan Schaal Lidia Pavel


  • Omur Arslan
  • N2.025 (AMD seminar room - 2nd floor)

In robotics, it is often practically and theoretically convenient to design motion planners for approximate simple robot and environment models first, and then adapt such reference planners to more accurate complex settings. In this talk, I will introduce a new approach to extend the applicability of motion planners of simple settings to more complex settings using reference governors. Reference governors are add-on control schemes for closed-loop dynamical systems to enforce constraint satisfaction while maintaining stability, and offers a systematic way of separating the issues of stability and constraint enforcement. I will demonstrate example applications of reference governors for sensor-based navigation in environments cluttered with convex obstacles and for smooth extensions of low-order (e.g., position- or velocity-controlled) feedback motion planners to high-order (e.g., force/torque controlled) robot models, while retaining stability and collision avoidance properties.

Organizers: Stefan Schaal Lidia Pavel


  • Seong Joon Oh
  • Aquarium

Growth of the internet and social media has spurred the sharing and dissemination of personal data at large scale. At the same time, recent developments in computer vision has enabled unseen effectiveness and efficiency in automated recognition. It is clear that visual data contains private information that can be mined, yet the privacy implications of sharing such data have been less studied in computer vision community. In the talk, I will present some key results from our study of the implications of the development of computer vision on the identifiability in social media, and an analysis of existing and new anonymisation techniques. In particular, we show that adversarial image perturbations (AIP) introduce human invisible perturbations on the input image that effectively misleads a recogniser. They are far more aesthetic and effective compared to e.g. face blurring. The core limitation, however, is that AIPs are usually generated against specific target recogniser(s), and it is hard to guarantee the performance against uncertain, potentially adaptive recognisers. As a first step towards dealing with the uncertainty, we have introduced a game theoretical framework to obtain the user’s privacy guarantee independent of the randomly chosen recogniser (within some fixed set).

Organizers: Siyu Tang


  • Matthias Niessner
  • PS Seminar Room (N3.022)

In the recent years, commodity 3D sensors have become easily and widely available. These advances in sensing technology have spawned significant interest in using captured 3D data for mapping and semantic understanding of 3D environments. In this talk, I will give an overview of our latest research in the context of 3D reconstruction of indoor environments. I will further talk about the use of 3D data in the context of modern machine learning techniques. Specifically, I will highlight the importance of training data, and how can we efficiently obtain labeled and self-supervised ground truth training datasets from captured 3D content. Finally, I will show a selection of state-of-the-art deep learning approaches, including discriminative semantic labeling of 3D scenes and generative reconstruction techniques.

Organizers: Despoina Paschalidou


  • Felix Leibfried and Jordi Grau-Moya
  • N 4.022 (Seminar Room EI-Dept.)

Autonomous systems rely on learning from experience to automatically refine their strategy and adapt to their environment, and thereby have huge advantages over traditional hand engineered systems. At PROWLER.io we use reinforcement learning (RL) for sequential decision making under uncertainty to develop intelligent agents capable of acting in dynamic and unknown environments. In this talk we first give a general overview of the goals and the research conducted at PROWLER.io. Then, we will talk about two specific research topics. The first is Information-Theoretic Model Uncertainty which deals with the problem of making robust decisions that take into account unspecified models of the environment. The second is Deep Model-Based Reinforcement Learning which deals with the problem of learning the transition and the reward function of a Markov Decision Process in order to use it for data-efficient learning.

Organizers: Michel Besserve


Bayesian Probabilistic Numerical Methods

Talk
  • 13 June 2017 • 11:00 12:00
  • Jon Cockayne

The emergent field of probabilistic numerics has thus far lacked rigorous statistical foundations. We establish that a class of Bayesian probabilistic numerical methods can be cast as the solution to certain non-standard Bayesian inverse problems. This allows us to establish general conditions under which Bayesian probabilistic numerical methods are well-defined, encompassing both non-linear models and non-Gaussian prior distributions. For general computation, a numerical approximation scheme is developed and its asymptotic convergence is established. The theoretical development is then extended to pipelines of numerical computation, wherein several probabilistic numerical methods are composed to perform more challenging numerical tasks. The contribution highlights an important research frontier at the interface of numerical analysis and uncertainty quantification, with some illustrative applications presented.

Organizers: Michael Schober