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Institute Talks

Learning to Act with Confidence

Talk
  • 23 October 2018 • 12:00 13:00
  • Andreas Krause
  • MPI-IS Tübingen, N0.002

Actively acquiring decision-relevant information is a key capability of intelligent systems, and plays a central role in the scientific process. In this talk I will present research from my group on this topic at the intersection of statistical learning, optimization and decision making. In particular, I will discuss how statistical confidence bounds can guide data acquisition in a principled way to make effective and reliable decisions in a variety of complex domains. I will also discuss several applications, ranging from autonomously guiding wetlab experiments in protein function optimization to safe exploration in robotics.

Control Systems for a Surgical Robot on the Space Station

IS Colloquium
  • 23 October 2018 • 16:30 17:30
  • Chris Macnab
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

As part of a proposed design for a surgical robot on the space station, my research group has been asked to look at controls that can provide literally surgical precision. Due to excessive time delay, we envision a system with a local model being controlled by a surgeon while the remote system on the space station follows along in a safe manner. Two of the major design considerations that come into play for the low-level feedback loops on the remote side are 1) the harmonic drives in a robot will cause excessive vibrations in a micro-gravity environment unless active damping strategies are employed and 2) when interacting with a human tissue environment the robot must apply smooth control signals that result in precise positions and forces. Thus, we envision intelligent strategies that utilize nonlinear, adaptive, neural-network, and/or fuzzy control theory as the most suitable. However, space agencies, or their engineering sub-contractors, typically provide gain and phase margin characteristics as requirements to the engineers involved in a control system design, which are normally associated with PID or other traditional linear control schemes. We are currently endeavouring to create intelligent controls that have guaranteed gain and phase margins using the Cerebellar Model Articulation Controller.

Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker

Artificial haptic intelligence for human-machine systems

IS Colloquium
  • 24 October 2018 • 11:00 12:00
  • Veronica J. Santos
  • 5H7 at MPI-IS in Stuttgart

The functionality of artificial manipulators could be enhanced by artificial “haptic intelligence” that enables the identification of object features via touch for semi-autonomous decision-making and/or display to a human operator. This could be especially useful when complementary sensory modalities, such as vision, are unavailable. I will highlight past and present work to enhance the functionality of artificial hands in human-machine systems. I will describe efforts to develop multimodal tactile sensor skins, and to teach robots how to haptically perceive salient geometric features such as edges and fingertip-sized bumps and pits using machine learning techniques. I will describe the use of reinforcement learning to teach robots goal-based policies for a functional contour-following task: the closure of a ziplock bag. Our Contextual Multi-Armed Bandits approach tightly couples robot actions to the tactile and proprioceptive consequences of the actions, and selects future actions based on prior experiences, the current context, and a functional task goal. Finally, I will describe current efforts to develop real-time capabilities for the perception of tactile directionality, and to develop models for haptically locating objects buried in granular media. Real-time haptic perception and decision-making capabilities could be used to advance semi-autonomous robot systems and reduce the cognitive burden on human teleoperators of devices ranging from wheelchair-mounted robots to explosive ordnance disposal robots.

Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker

Artificial haptic intelligence for human-machine systems

IS Colloquium
  • 25 October 2018 • 11:00 11:00
  • Veronica J. Santos
  • N2.025 at MPI-IS in Tübingen

The functionality of artificial manipulators could be enhanced by artificial “haptic intelligence” that enables the identification of object features via touch for semi-autonomous decision-making and/or display to a human operator. This could be especially useful when complementary sensory modalities, such as vision, are unavailable. I will highlight past and present work to enhance the functionality of artificial hands in human-machine systems. I will describe efforts to develop multimodal tactile sensor skins, and to teach robots how to haptically perceive salient geometric features such as edges and fingertip-sized bumps and pits using machine learning techniques. I will describe the use of reinforcement learning to teach robots goal-based policies for a functional contour-following task: the closure of a ziplock bag. Our Contextual Multi-Armed Bandits approach tightly couples robot actions to the tactile and proprioceptive consequences of the actions, and selects future actions based on prior experiences, the current context, and a functional task goal. Finally, I will describe current efforts to develop real-time capabilities for the perception of tactile directionality, and to develop models for haptically locating objects buried in granular media. Real-time haptic perception and decision-making capabilities could be used to advance semi-autonomous robot systems and reduce the cognitive burden on human teleoperators of devices ranging from wheelchair-mounted robots to explosive ordnance disposal robots.

Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker Adam Spiers

TBA

IS Colloquium
  • 28 January 2019 • 3pm 4pm
  • Florian Marquardt

Organizers: Matthias Bauer

  • Simo Särkkä
  • Max Planck House Lecture Hall

Gaussian process regression is a non-parametric Bayesian machine learning paradigm, where instead of estimating parameters of fixed-form functions, we model the whole unknown functions as Gaussian processes. Gaussian processes are also commonly used for representing uncertainties in models of dynamic systems in many applications such as tracking, navigation, and automatic control systems. The latter models are often formulated as state-space models, where the use of non-linear Kalman filter type of methods is common. The aim of this talk is to discuss connections of Kalman filtering methods and Gaussian process regression. In particular, I discuss representations of Gaussian processes as state-space models, which enable the use of computationally efficient Kalman-filter-based (or more general Bayesian-filter-based) solutions to Gaussian process regression problems. This also allows for computationally efficient inference in latent force models (LFM), which are models combining first-principles mechanical models with non-parametric Gaussian process regression models.

Organizers: Philipp Hennig


  • Rainer Dahlhaus
  • Max Planck House Lecture Hall

(joint work with Jan. C. Neddermeyer) A technique for online estimation of spot volatility for high-frequency data is developed. The algorithm works directly on the transaction data and updates the volatility estimate immediately after the occurrence of a new transaction. Furthermore, a nonlinear market microstructure noise model is proposed that reproduces several stylized facts of high frequency data. A computationally efficient particle filter is used that allows for the approximation of the unknown efficient prices and, in combination with a recursive EM algorithm, for the estimation of the volatility curve. We neither assume that the transaction times are equidistant nor do we use interpolated prices. We also make a distinction between volatility per time unit and volatility per transaction and provide estimators for both. More precisely we use a model with random time change where spot volatility is decomposed into spot volatility per transaction times the trading intensity - thus highlighting the influence of trading intensity on volatility.

Organizers: Michel Besserve


Simulation in physical scene understanding

IS Colloquium
  • 28 March 2014 • 11:15 12:45
  • Peter Battaglia
  • Max Planck House Lecture Hall

Our ability to understand a scene is central to how we interact with our environment and with each other. Classic research on visual scene perception has focused on how people "know what is where by looking", but this talk will explore people's ability to infer the "hows" and "whys" of their world, and in particular, how they form a physical understanding of a scene. From a glance we can know so much: not only what objects are where, but whether they are movable, fragile, slimy, or hot; whether they were made by hand, by machine, or by nature; whether they are broken and how they could be repaired; and so on. I posit that these common-sense physical intuitions are made possible by the brain's sophisticated capacity for constructing and manipulating a rich mental representation of a scene via a mechanism of approximate probabilistic simulation -- in short, a physics engine in the head. I will present a series of recent and ongoing studies that develop and test this computational model in a variety of prediction, inference, and planning tasks. Our model captures various aspects of people's experimental judgments, including the accuracy of their performance as well as several illusions and errors. These results help explain core aspects of human mental models that are instrumental to how we understand and act in our everyday world. They also open new directions for developing robotic and AI systems that can perceive, reason, and act the way people do.

Organizers: Michel Besserve


Video-based Analysis of Humans and Their Behavior

Talk
  • 27 March 2014 • 14:00:00
  • Stan Sclaroff
  • MRC Seminar room (0.A.03)

This talk will give an overview of some of the research in the Image and Video Computing Group at Boston University related to image- and video-based analysis of humans and their behavior, including: tracking humans, localizing and classifying actions in space-time, exploiting contextual cues in action classification, estimating human pose from images, analyzing the communicative behavior of children in video, and sign language recognition and retrieval.

Collaborators in this work include (in alphabetical order): Vassilis Athitsos, Qinxun Bai, Margrit Betke, R. Gokberk Cinbis, Kun He, Nazli Ikizler-Cinbis, Hao Jiang, Liliana Lo Presti, Shugao Ma, Joan Nash, Carol Neidle, Agata Rozga, Tai-peng Tian, Ashwin Thangali, Zheng Wu, and Jianming Zhang.


Multi-View Perception of Dynamic Scenes

IS Colloquium
  • 20 March 2014 • 11:15:00 12:30
  • Edmond Boyer
  • Max Planck House Lecture Hall

The INRIA MORPHEO research team is working on the perception of moving shapes using multiple camera systems. Such systems allows to recover dense information on shapes and their motions using visual cues. This opens avenues for research investigations on how to model, understand and animate real dynamic shapes using several videos. In this talk I will more particularly focus on recent activities in the team on two fundamental components of the multi-view perception of dynamic scenes that are: (i) the recovery of time-consistent shape models or shape tracking and (ii) the segmentation of objects in multiple views and over time. 
 

Organizers: Gerard Pons-Moll


  • Prof. Yoshinari Kameda
  • MRC seminar room (0.A.03)

This talk presents our 3D video production method by which a user can watch a  real game from any free viewpoint. Players in the game are captured by 10 cameras and they are reproduced three dimensionally by billboard based representation in real time. Upon producing the 3D video, we have also worked on good user interface that can enable people move the camera intuitively. As the speaker is also working on wide variety of computer vision to augmented reality, selected recent works will be also introduced briefly.

Dr. Yoshinari Kameda started his research from human pose estimation as his Ph.D thesis, then he expands his interested topics from computer vision, human interface, and augmented reality.
He is now an associate professor at University of Tsukuba.
He is also a member of Center for Computational Science of U-Tsukuba where some outstanding super-computer s are in operation.
He served International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality as a area chair for four years (2007-2010).


  • Christof Hoppe
  • MRC Seminar Room

3D reconstruction from 2D still-images (Structure-from-Motion) has reached maturity and together with new image acquisition devices like Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAV), new interesting application scenarios arise. However, acquiring an image set which is suited for a complete and accurate reconstruction is even for expert users a non-trivial task. To overcome this problem, we propose two different methods. In the first part of the talk, we will present a SfM method that performs sparse reconstruction of 10Mpx still-images and a surface extraction from sparse and noisy 3D point clouds in real-time. We therefore developed a novel efficient image localisation method and a robust surface extraction that works in a fully incremental manner directly on sparse 3D points without a densification step. The real-time feedback of the reconstruction quality the enables the user to control the acquisition process interactively. In the second part, we will present ongoing work of a novel view planning method that is designed to deliver a set of images that can be processed by today's multi-view reconstruction pipelines.


  • Bernt Schiele
  • Max Planck House Lecture Hall

This talk will highlight recent progress on two fronts. First, we will talk about a novel image-conditioned person model that allows for effective articulated pose estimation in realistic scenarios. Second, we describe our work towards activity recognition and the ability to describe video content with natural language. 

Both efforts are part of a longer-term agenda towards visual scene understanding. While visual scene understanding has long been advocated as the "holy grail" of computer vision, we believe it is time to address this challenge again,  based on the progress in recent years.


  • Pascal Fua
  • Max Planck House Lecture Hall

In this talk, I will show that, given probabilities of presence of people at various locations in individual time frames, finding the most likely set of trajectories amounts to solving a linear program that depends on very few parameters.
This can be done without requiring appearance information and in real-time, by using the K-Shortest Paths algorithm (KSP). However, this can result in unwarranted identity switches in complex scenes. In such cases, sparse image information can be used within the Linear Programming framework to keep track of people's identities, even when their paths come close to each other or intersect. By sparse, we mean that the appearance needs only be discriminative in a very limited number of frames, which makes our approach widely applicable.


  • Alessandra Tosi
  • Max Planck Haus Lecture Hall

Manifold learning techniques attempt to map a high-dimensional space onto a lower-dimensional one. From a mathematical point of view, a manifold is a topological Hausdorff space that is locally Euclidean. From Machine Learning point of view, we can interpret this embedded manifold as the underlying support of the data distribution. When dealing with high dimensional data sets, nonlinear dimensionality reduction methods can provide more faithful data representation than linear ones. However, the local geometrical distortion induced by the nonlinear mapping leads to a loss of information and affects interpretability, with a negative impact in the model visualization results.
This talk will discuss an approach which involves probabilistic nonlinear dimensionality reduction through Gaussian Process Latent Variables Models. The main focus is on the intrinsic geometry of the model itself as a tool to improve the exploration of the latent space and to recover information loss due to dimensionality reduction. We aim to analytically quantify and visualize the distortion due to dimensionality reduction in order to improve the performance of the model and to interpret data in a more faithful way.

In collaboration with: N.D. Lawrence (University of Sheffield), A. Vellido (UPC)