Institute Talks

Building Multi-Family Animal Models

  • 07 April 2017 • 11:00 12:00
  • Silvia Zuffi
  • Aquarium, N.3.022, Spemannstr. 34, third floor

There has been significant prior work on learning realistic, articulated, 3D statistical shape models of the human body. In contrast, there are few such models for animals, despite their many applications in biology, neuroscience, agriculture, and entertainment. The main challenge is that animals are much less cooperative subjects than humans: the best human body models are learned from thousands of 3D scans of people in specific poses, which is infeasible with live animals. In the talk I will illustrate how we extend a state-of-the-art articulated 3D human body model (SMPL) to animals learning from toys a multi-family shape space that can represent lions, cats, dogs, horses, cows and hippos. The generalization of the model is illustrated by fitting it to images of real animals, where it captures realistic animal shapes, even for new species not seen in training.

Frederick Eberhardt - TBA

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

Organizers: Sebastian Weichwald

Learning Rich and Fair Representations from Images and Text

  • 10 June 2015 • 03:00 pm 04:00 pm
  • Rich Zemel
  • MPH Lecture Hall, Tübingen

I will talk about two types of machine learning problems, which are important but have received little attention. The first are problems naturally formulated as learning a one-to-many mapping, which can handle the inherent ambiguity in tasks such as generating segmentations or captions for images. A second problem involves learning representations that are invariant to certain nuisance or sensitive factors of variation in the data while retaining as much of the remaining information as possible. The primary approach we formulate for both problems is a constrained form of joint embedding in a deep generative model, that can develop informative representations of sentences and images. Applications discussed will include image captioning, question-answering, segmentation, classification without discrimination, and domain adaptation.

Organizers: Gerard Pons-Moll

  • Hans-Peter Seidel
  • MPH Hall

During the last three decades computer graphics established itself as a core discipline within computer science and information technology. Two decades ago, most digital content was textual. Today it has expanded to include audio, images, video, and a variety of graphical representations. New and emerging technologies such as multimedia, social networks, digital television, digital photography and the rapid development of new sensing devices, telecommunication and telepresence, virtual reality, or 3D-internet further indicate the potential of computer graphics in the years to come. Typical for the field is the coincidence of very large data sets with the demand for fast, and possibly interactive, high quality visual feedback. Furthermore, the user should be able to interact with the environment in a natural and intuitive way. In order to address the challenges mentioned above, a new and more integrated scientific view of computer graphics is required. In contrast to the classical approach to computer graphics which takes as input a scene model -- consisting of a set of light sources, a set of objects (specified by their shape and material properties), and a camera -- and uses simulation to compute an image, we like to take the more integrated view of `3D Image Analysis and Synthesis’ for our research. We consider the whole pipeline from data acquisition, over data processing to rendering in our work. In our opinion, this point of view is necessary in order to exploit the capabilities and perspectives of modern hardware, both on the input (sensors, scanners, digital photography, digital video) and output (graphics hardware, multiple platforms) side. Our vision and long term goal is the development of methods and tools to efficiently handle the huge amount of data during the acquisition process, to extract structure and meaning from the abundance of digital data, and to turn this into graphical representations that facilitate further processing, rendering, and interaction. In this presentation I will highlight some of our ongoing research by means of examples. Topics covered include 3D reconstruction and digital geometry processing, shape analysis and shape design, motion and performance capture, and 3D video processing.

  • Andrea Vedaldi
  • MPH Hall

Learnable representations, and deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) in particular, have become the preferred way of extracting visual features for image understanding tasks, from object recognition to semantic segmentation. In this talk I will discuss several recent advances in deep representations for computer vision. After reviewing modern CNN architectures, I will give an example of a state-of-the-art network in text spotting; in particular, I will show that, by using only synthetic data and a sufficiently large deep model, it is possible directly map image regions to English words, a classification problem with 90K classes, obtaining in this manner state-of-the-art performance in text spotting. I will also briefly touch on other applications of deep learning to object recognition and discuss feature universality and transfer learning. In the last part of the talk I will move to the problem of understanding deep networks, which remain largely black boxes, presenting two possible approaches to their analysis. The first one are visualisation techniques that can investigate the information retained and learned by a visual representation. The second one is a method that allows exploring how representation capture geometric notions such as image transformations, and to find whether different representations are related and how.

  • Cristian Sminchisescu
  • MRZ Seminar room

Recent progress in computer-based visual recognition heavily relies on machine learning methods trained using large scale annotated datasets. While such data has made advances in model design and evaluation possible, it does not necessarily provide insights or constraints into those intermediate levels of computation, or deep structure, perceived as ultimately necessary in order to design reliable computer vision systems. This is noticeable in the accuracy of state of the art systems trained with such annotations, which still lag behind human performance in similar tasks. Nor does the existing data makes it immediately possible to exploit insights from a working system - the human eye - to derive potentially better features, models or algorithms. In this talk I will present a mix of perceptual and computational insights resulted from the analysis of large-scale human eye movement and 3d body motion capture datasets, collected in the context of visual recognition tasks (Human3.6M available at, and Actions in the Eye available at I will show that attention models (fixation detectors, scan-paths estimators, weakly supervised object detector response functions and search strategies) can be learned from human eye movement data, and can produce state of the art results when used in end-to-end automatic visual recognition systems. I will also describe recent work in large-scale human pose estimation, showing the feasibility of pixel-level body part labeling from RGB, and towards promising 2D and 3D human pose estimation results in monocular images.In this context, I will discuss perceptual, perhaps surprising recent quantitative experiments, revealing that humans may not be significantly better than computers at perceiving 3D articulated poses from monocular images. Such findings may challenge established definitions of computer vision `tasks' and their expected levels of performance.

  • Auke Ijspeert
  • Max Planck Lecture Hall

Organizers: Ludovic Righetti

Modelling in the Context of Massively Missing Data

  • 18 March 2015 • 11:00 am 12:00 am
  • Neill Lawrence
  • MPH Lecture Hall, Tübingen

In the age of large streaming data it seems appropriate to revisit the foundations of what we think of as data modelling. In this talk I'll argue that traditional statistical approaches based on parametric models and i.i.d. assumptions are inappropriate for the type of large scale machine learning we need to do in the age of massive streaming data sets. Particularly when we realise that regardless of the size of data we have, it pales in comparison to the data we could have. This is the domain of massively missing data. I'll be arguing for flexible non-parametric models as the answer. This presents a particular challenge, non parametric models require data storage of the entire data set, which presents problems for massive, streaming data. I will present a potential solution, but perhaps end with more questions than we started with.

Organizers: Jane Walters

  • Benedetta Gennaro
  • MRC seminar room (0.A.03)

The breast is not just a protruding gland situated on the front of the thorax in female bodies: behind biology lies an intricate symbolism that has taken various and often contradictory meanings.  We begin our journey looking at pre-historic artifacts that revered the breast as the ultimate symbol of life; we then transition to the rich iconographical tradition centering on the so-called Virgo Lactans when the breast became a metaphor of nourishment for the entire Christian community. Next, we look at how artists have eroticized the breast in portraits of fifteenth-century French courtesans and how enlightenment philosophers and revolutionary events have transformed it into a symbol of the national community. Lastly, we analyze how contemporary society has medicalized the breast through cosmetic surgery and discourses around breast cancer, and has objectified it by making the breast a constant presence in advertisement and magazine covers. Through twenty-five centuries of representations, I will talk about how the breast has been coded as both "good" and "bad," sacred and erotic, life-giving and life-destroying.

Aerial Robot Swarms

  • 09 March 2015 • 15:00 16:30
  • Vijay Kumar, Ph.D.
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Lecture Hall 2D5, Heisenbergstraße 1

Autonomous micro aerial robots can operate in three-dimensional, indoor and outdoor environments, and have applications to search and rescue, first response and precision farming. I will describe the challenges in developing small, agile robots and the algorithmic challenges in the areas of (a) control and planning, (b) state estimation and mapping, and (c) coordinating large teams of robots.

Quadrupedal locomotion: a planning & control framework for HyQ

  • 09 March 2015 • 11:00 am 12:00 am
  • Ioannis Havoutis
  • AMD seminar room (TTR building first floor)

It is a great pleasure to invite you to the talk of Ioannis Havoutis (cf. info below) on Monday March 9th at 11h in the AMD seminar room (TTR building, first floor). have a nice week-end, ludovic Quadrupedal animals move with skill, grace and agility. Quadrupedal robots have made tremendous progress in the last few years. In this talk I will give an overview of our work with the Hydraulic Quadruped -HyQ- and present our latest framework for perception, planning and control of quadrupedal locomotion in challenging environments. In addition, I will give a short preview of our work on optimization of dynamic motions, and our future goals.

Organizers: Ludovic Righetti

  • Michael Tarr
  • MPH Lecture Hall

How is it that biological systems can be so imprecise, so ad hoc, and so inefficient, yet accomplish (seemingly) simple tasks that still elude state-of-the-art artificial systems? In this context, I will introduce some of the themes central to CMU's new BrainHub Initiative by discussing: (1) The complexity and challenges of studying the mind and brain; (2) How the study of the mind and brain may benefit from considering contemporary artificial systems; (3) Why studying the mind and brain might be interesting (and possibly useful) to computer scientists.