Abstract: Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) methods (including the particle filters and smoothers) allows us to compute probabilistic representations of the unknown objects in models used to represent for example nonlinear dynamical systems. This talk has three connected parts: 1. A (hopefully pedagogical) introduction to probabilistic modelling of dynamical systems and an explanation of the SMC method. 2. In learning unknown parameters appearing in nonlinear state-space models using maximum likelihood it is natural to make use of SMC to compute unbiased estimates of the intractable likelihood. The challenge is that the resulting optimization problem is stochastic, which recently inspired us to construct a new solution to this problem. 3. A challenge with the above (and in fact with most use of SMC) is that it all quickly becomes very technical. This is indeed the key challenging in spreading the use of SMC methods to a wider group of users. At the same time there are many researchers who would benefit a lot from having access to these methods in their daily work and for those of us already working with them it is essential to reduce the amount of time spent on new problems. We believe that the solution to this can be provided by probabilistic programming. We are currently developing a new probabilistic programming language that we call Birch. A pre-release is available from birch-lang.org/ It allow users to use SMC methods without having to implement the algorithms on their own.
Organizers: Philipp Hennig
Today’s advances in tactile sensing and wearable, IOT and context-aware computing are spurring new ideas about how to configure touch-centered interactions in terms of roles and utility, which in turn expose new technical and social design questions. But while haptic actuation, sensing and control are improving, incorporating them into a real-world design process is challenging and poses a major obstacle to adoption into everyday technology. Some classes of haptic devices, e.g., grounded force feedback, remain expensive and limited in range. I’ll describe some recent highlights of an ongoing effort to understand how to support haptic designers and end-users. These include a wealth of online experimental design tools, and DIY open sourced hardware and accessible means of creating, for example, expressive physical robot motions and evolve physically sensed expressive tactile languages. Elsewhere, we are establishing the value of haptic force feedback in embodied learning environments, to help kids understand physics and math concepts. This has inspired the invention of a low-cost, handheld and large motion force feedback device that can be used in online environments or collaborative scenarios, and could be suitable for K-12 school contexts; this is ongoing research with innovative education and technological elements. All our work is available online, where possible as web tools, and we plan to push our research into a broader openhaptics effort.
Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker
Why cannot the current robots act intelligently in the real-world environment? A major challenge lies in the lack of adequate tactile sensing technologies. Robots need tactile sensing to understand the physical environment, and detect the contact states during manipulation. Progress requires advances in the sensing hardware, but also advances in the software that can exploit the tactile signals. We developed a high-resolution tactile sensor, GelSight, which measures the geometry and traction field of the contact surface. For interpreting the high-resolution tactile signal, we utilize both traditional statistical models and deep neural networks. I will describe my research on both exploration and manipulation. For exploration, I use active touch to estimate the physical properties of the objects. The work has included learning the hardness of artificial objects, as well as estimating the general properties of natural objects via autonomous tactile exploration. For manipulation, I study the robot’s ability to detect slip or incipient slip with tactile sensing during grasping. The research helps robots to better understand and flexibly interact with the physical world.
Organizers: Katherine Kuchenbecker
Gliding evolved at least nine times in mammals. Despite the abundance and diversity of gliding mammals, little is known about their convergent morphology and mechanisms of aerodynamic control. Many gliding animals are capable of impressive and agile aerial behaviors and their flight performance depends on the aerodynamic forces resulting from airflow interacting with a flexible, membranous wing (patagium). Although the mechanisms that gliders use to control dynamic flight are poorly understood, the shape of the gliding membrane (e.g., angle of attack, camber) is likely a primary factor governing the control of the interaction between aerodynamic forces and the animal’s body. Data from field studies of gliding behavior, lab experiments examining membrane shape changes during glides and morphological and materials testing data of gliding membranes will be presented that can aid our understanding of the mechanisms gliding mammals use to control their membranous wings and potentially provide insights into the design of man-made flexible wings.
Modern technology allows us to collect, process, and share more data than ever before. This data revolution opens up new ways to design control and learning algorithms, which will form the algorithmic foundation for future intelligent systems that shall act autonomously in the physical world. Starting from a discussion of the special challenges when combining machine learning and control, I will present some of our recent research in this exciting area. Using the example of the Apollo robot learning to balance a stick in its hand, I will explain how intelligent agents can learn new behavior from just a few experimental trails. I will also discuss the need for theoretical guarantees in learning-based control, and how we can obtain them by combining learning and control theory.
In 1995 Fraunhofer IPA embarked on a mission towards designing a personal robot assistant for everyday tasks. In the following years Care-O-bot developed into a long-term experiment for exploring and demonstrating new robot technologies and future product visions. The recent fourth generation of the Care-O-bot, introduced in 2014 aimed at designing an integrated system which addressed a number of innovations such as modularity, “low-cost” by making use of new manufacturing processes, and advanced human-user interaction. Some 15 systems were built and the intellectual property (IP) generated by over 20 years of research was recently licensed to a start-up. The presentation will review the path from an experimental platform for building up expertise in various robotic disciplines to recent pilot applications based on the now commercial Care-O-bot hardware.
With the ubiquity of catalyzed reactions in manufacturing, the emergence of the device laden internet of things, and global challenges with respect to water and energy, it has never been more important to understand atomic interactions in the functional materials that can provide solutions in these spaces.
Neural networks have taken the world of computing in general and AI in particular by storm. But in the future, AI will need to revisit generative models. There are several reasons for this – system robustness, precision, transparency, and the high cost of labelling data. This is particularly true of perceptual AI, as needed for autonomous vehicles, where also the need for simulators and the need to confront novel situations, also will demand generative, probabilistic models.
Recently, deep learning proved to be successful also on low level vision tasks such as stereo matching. Another recent trend in this latter field is represented by confidence measures, with increasing effectiveness when coupled with random forest classifiers or CNNs. Despite their excellent accuracy in outliers detection, few other applications rely on them. In the first part of the talk, we'll take a look at the latest proposal in terms of confidence measures for stereo matching, as well as at some novel methodologies exploiting these very accurate cues. In the second part, we'll talk about GC-net, a deep network currently representing the state-of-the-art on the KITTI datasets, and its extension to motion stereo processing.
Organizers: Yiyi Liao
Bioelectronics integrates principles of electrical engineering and materials science to biology, medicine and ultimately health. Soft bioelectronics focus on designing and manufacturing electronic devices with mechanical properties close to those of the host biological tissue so that long-term reliability and minimal perturbation are induced in vivo and/or truly wearable systems become possible. We illustrate the potential of this soft technology with examples ranging from prosthetic tactile skins to soft multimodal neural implants.
Organizers: Diana Rebmann
Vaccine refusal can lead to outbreaks of previously eradicated diseases and is an increasing problem worldwide. Vaccinating decisions exemplify a complex, coupled system where vaccinating behavior and disease dynamics influence one another. Complex systems often exhibit characteristic dynamics near a tipping point to a new dynamical regime. For instance, critical slowing down -- the tendency for a system to start `wobbling'-- can increase close to a tipping point. We used a linear support vector machine to classify the sentiment of geo-located United States and California tweets concerning measles vaccination from 2011 to 2016. We also extracted data on internet searches on measles from Google Trends. We found evidence for critical slowing down in both datasets in the years before and after the 2014-15 Disneyland, California measles outbreak, suggesting that the population approached a tipping point corresponding to widespread vaccine refusal, but then receded from the tipping point in the face of the outbreak. A differential equation model of coupled behaviour-disease dynamics is shown to illustrate the same patterns. We conclude that studying critical phenomena in online social media data can help us develop analytical tools based on dynamical systems theory to identify populations at heightened risk of widespread vaccine refusal.
Organizers: Diana Rebmann
This talk will look at hardware-based means of assembling, controlling and driving systems at the smallest of scales, including those that can become autonomous. I will show that insights from physics, chemistry and material engineering can be used to permit the simplification and miniaturization of otherwise bulky systems and that this can give rise to new technologies. One of the technologies we have invented may also permit the development of new imaging devices.
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
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
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
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.