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2007


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Reinforcement Learning for Optimal Control of Arm Movements

Theodorou, E., Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of the 37st Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience., Neuroscience, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Every day motor behavior consists of a plethora of challenging motor skills from discrete movements such as reaching and throwing to rhythmic movements such as walking, drumming and running. How this plethora of motor skills can be learned remains an open question. In particular, is there any unifying computa-tional framework that could model the learning process of this variety of motor behaviors and at the same time be biologically plausible? In this work we aim to give an answer to these questions by providing a computational framework that unifies the learning mechanism of both rhythmic and discrete movements under optimization criteria, i.e., in a non-supervised trial-and-error fashion. Our suggested framework is based on Reinforcement Learning, which is mostly considered as too costly to be a plausible mechanism for learning com-plex limb movement. However, recent work on reinforcement learning with pol-icy gradients combined with parameterized movement primitives allows novel and more efficient algorithms. By using the representational power of such mo-tor primitives we show how rhythmic motor behaviors such as walking, squash-ing and drumming as well as discrete behaviors like reaching and grasping can be learned with biologically plausible algorithms. Using extensive simulations and by using different reward functions we provide results that support the hy-pothesis that Reinforcement Learning could be a viable candidate for motor learning of human motor behavior when other learning methods like supervised learning are not feasible.

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[BibTex]

2007


[BibTex]


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Reinforcement learning by reward-weighted regression for operational space control

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 24th Annual International Conference on Machine Learning, pages: 745-750, ICML, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Many robot control problems of practical importance, including operational space control, can be reformulated as immediate reward reinforcement learning problems. However, few of the known optimization or reinforcement learning algorithms can be used in online learning control for robots, as they are either prohibitively slow, do not scale to interesting domains of complex robots, or require trying out policies generated by random search, which are infeasible for a physical system. Using a generalization of the EM-base reinforcement learning framework suggested by Dayan & Hinton, we reduce the problem of learning with immediate rewards to a reward-weighted regression problem with an adaptive, integrated reward transformation for faster convergence. The resulting algorithm is efficient, learns smoothly without dangerous jumps in solution space, and works well in applications of complex high degree-of-freedom robots.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Policy gradient methods for machine learning

Peters, J., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 14th INFORMS Conference of the Applied Probability Society, pages: 97-98, Eindhoven, Netherlands, July 9-11, 2007, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present an in-depth survey of policy gradient methods as they are used in the machine learning community for optimizing parameterized, stochastic control policies in Markovian systems with respect to the expected reward. Despite having been developed separately in the reinforcement learning literature, policy gradient methods employ likelihood ratio gradient estimators as also suggested in the stochastic simulation optimization community. It is well-known that this approach to policy gradient estimation traditionally suffers from three drawbacks, i.e., large variance, a strong dependence on baseline functions and a inefficient gradient descent. In this talk, we will present a series of recent results which tackles each of these problems. The variance of the gradient estimation can be reduced significantly through recently introduced techniques such as optimal baselines, compatible function approximations and all-action gradients. However, as even the analytically obtainable policy gradients perform unnaturally slow, it required the step from ÔvanillaÕ policy gradient methods towards natural policy gradients in order to overcome the inefficiency of the gradient descent. This development resulted into the Natural Actor-Critic architecture which can be shown to be very efficient in application to motor primitive learning for robotics.

am ei

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Policy Learning for Motor Skills

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of 14th International Conference on Neural Information Processing (ICONIP), pages: 233-242, (Editors: Ishikawa, M. , K. Doya, H. Miyamoto, T. Yamakawa), 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Policy learning which allows autonomous robots to adapt to novel situations has been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence, and cognitive sciences. However, to date, learning techniques have yet to fulfill this promise as only few methods manage to scale into the high-dimensional domains of manipulator robotics, or even the new upcoming trend of humanoid robotics, and usually scaling was only achieved in precisely pre-structured domains. In this paper, we investigate the ingredients for a general approach policy learning with the goal of an application to motor skill refinement in order to get one step closer towards human-like performance. For doing so, we study two major components for such an approach, i.e., firstly, we study policy learning algorithms which can be applied in the general setting of motor skill learning, and, secondly, we study a theoretically well-founded general approach to representing the required control structures for task representation and execution.

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PDF DOI [BibTex]

PDF DOI [BibTex]


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Reinforcement learning for operational space control

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2007 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 2111-2116, IEEE Computer Society, ICRA, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
While operational space control is of essential importance for robotics and well-understood from an analytical point of view, it can be prohibitively hard to achieve accurate control in face of modeling errors, which are inevitable in complex robots, e.g., humanoid robots. In such cases, learning control methods can offer an interesting alternative to analytical control algorithms. However, the resulting supervised learning problem is ill-defined as it requires to learn an inverse mapping of a usually redundant system, which is well known to suffer from the property of non-convexity of the solution space, i.e., the learning system could generate motor commands that try to steer the robot into physically impossible configurations. The important insight that many operational space control algorithms can be reformulated as optimal control problems, however, allows addressing this inverse learning problem in the framework of reinforcement learning. However, few of the known optimization or reinforcement learning algorithms can be used in online learning control for robots, as they are either prohibitively slow, do not scale to interesting domains of complex robots, or require trying out policies generated by random search, which are infeasible for a physical system. Using a generalization of the EM-based reinforcement learning framework suggested by Dayan & Hinton, we reduce the problem of learning with immediate rewards to a reward-weighted regression problem with an adaptive, integrated reward transformation for faster convergence. The resulting algorithm is efficient, learns smoothly without dangerous jumps in solution space, and works well in applications of complex high degree-of-freedom robots.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Using reward-weighted regression for reinforcement learning of task space control

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2007 IEEE International Symposium on Approximate Dynamic Programming and Reinforcement Learning, pages: 262-267, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 1-5, 2007, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we evaluate different versions from the three main kinds of model-free policy gradient methods, i.e., finite difference gradients, `vanilla' policy gradients and natural policy gradients. Each of these methods is first presented in its simple form and subsequently refined and optimized. By carrying out numerous experiments on the cart pole regulator benchmark we aim to provide a useful baseline for future research on parameterized policy search algorithms. Portable C++ code is provided for both plant and algorithms; thus, the results in this paper can be reevaluated, reused and new algorithms can be inserted with ease.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Evaluation of Policy Gradient Methods and Variants on the Cart-Pole Benchmark

Riedmiller, M., Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2007 IEEE International Symposium on Approximate Dynamic Programming and Reinforcement Learning, pages: 254-261, ADPRL, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we evaluate different versions from the three main kinds of model-free policy gradient methods, i.e., finite difference gradients, `vanilla' policy gradients and natural policy gradients. Each of these methods is first presented in its simple form and subsequently refined and optimized. By carrying out numerous experiments on the cart pole regulator benchmark we aim to provide a useful baseline for future research on parameterized policy search algorithms. Portable C++ code is provided for both plant and algorithms; thus, the results in this paper can be reevaluated, reused and new algorithms can be inserted with ease.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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A strategy for vision-based controlled pushing of microparticles

Lynch, N. A., Onal, C., Schuster, E., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation, 2007 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1413-1418, 2007 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Uncertain 3D Force Fields in Reaching Movements: Do Humans Favor Robust or Average Performance?

Mistry, M., Theodorou, E., Hoffmann, H., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of the 37th Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Applying the episodic natural actor-critic architecture to motor primitive learning

Peters, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 2007 European Symposium on Artificial Neural Networks (ESANN), Bruges, Belgium, April 25-27, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we investigate motor primitive learning with the Natural Actor-Critic approach. The Natural Actor-Critic consists out of actor updates which are achieved using natural stochastic policy gradients while the critic obtains the natural policy gradient by linear regression. We show that this architecture can be used to learn the Òbuilding blocks of movement generationÓ, called motor primitives. Motor primitives are parameterized control policies such as splines or nonlinear differential equations with desired attractor properties. We show that our most modern algorithm, the Episodic Natural Actor-Critic outperforms previous algorithms by at least an order of magnitude. We demonstrate the efficiency of this reinforcement learning method in the application of learning to hit a baseball with an anthropomorphic robot arm.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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A computational model of human trajectory planning based on convergent flow fields

Hoffman, H., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of the 37st Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, San Diego, CA, Nov. 3-7, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
A popular computational model suggests that smooth reaching movements are generated in humans by minimizing a difference vector between hand and target in visual coordinates (Shadmehr and Wise, 2005). To achieve such a task, the optimal joint accelerations may be pre-computed. However, this pre-planning is inflexible towards perturbations of the limb, and there is strong evidence that reaching movements can be modified on-line at any moment during the movement. Thus, next-state planning models (Bullock and Grossberg, 1988) have been suggested that compute the current control command from a function of the goal state such that the overall movement smoothly converges to the goal (see Shadmehr and Wise (2005) for an overview). So far, these models have been restricted to simple point-to-point reaching movements with (approximately) straight trajectories. Here, we present a computational model for learning and executing arbitrary trajectories that combines ideas from pattern generation with dynamic systems and the observation of convergent force fields, which control a frog leg after spinal stimulation (Giszter et al., 1993). In our model, we incorporate the following two observations: first, the orientation of vectors in a force field is invariant over time, but their amplitude is modulated by a time-varying function, and second, two force fields add up when stimulated simultaneously (Giszter et al., 1993). This addition of convergent force fields varying over time results in a virtual trajectory (a moving equilibrium point) that correlates with the actual leg movement (Giszter et al., 1993). Our next-state planner is a set of differential equations that provide the desired end-effector or joint accelerations using feedback of the current state of the limb. These accelerations can be interpreted as resulting from a damped spring that links the current limb position with a virtual trajectory. This virtual trajectory can be learned to realize any desired limb trajectory and velocity profile, and learning is efficient since the time-modulated sum of convergent force fields equals a sum of weighted basis functions (Gaussian time pulses). Thus, linear algebra is sufficient to compute these weights, which correspond to points on the virtual trajectory. During movement execution, the differential equation corrects automatically for perturbations and brings back smoothly the limb towards the goal. Virtual trajectories can be rescaled and added allowing to build a set of movement primitives to describe movements more complex than previously learned. We demonstrate the potential of the suggested model by learning and generating a wide variety of movements.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Hand placement during quadruped locomotion in a humanoid robot: A dynamical system approach

Degallier, S., Righetti, L., Ijspeert, A.

In 2007 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 2047-2052, IEEE, San Diego, USA, 2007 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Locomotion on an irregular surface is a challenging task in robotics. Among different problems to solve to obtain robust locomotion, visually guided locomotion and accurate foot placement are of crucial importance. Robust controllers able to adapt to sensory-motor feedbacks, in particular to properly place feet on specific locations, are thus needed. Dynamical systems are well suited for this task as any online modification of the parameters leads to a smooth adaptation of the trajectories, allowing a safe integration of sensory-motor feedback. In this contribution, as a first step in the direction of locomotion on irregular surfaces, we present a controller that allows hand placement during crawling in a simulated humanoid robot. The goal of the controller is to superimpose rhythmic movements for crawling with discrete (i.e. short-term) modulations of the hand placements to reach specific marks on the ground.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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A Computational Model of Arm Trajectory Modification Using Dynamic Movement Primitives

Mohajerian, P., Hoffmann, H., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of the 37st Meeting of the Society of Neuroscience, San Diego, CA, Nov 3-7, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Several scientists used a double-step target-displacement protocol to investigate how an unexpected upcoming new target modifies ongoing discrete movements. Interesting observations are the initial direction of the movement, the spatial path of the movement to the second target, and the amplification of the speed in the second movement. Experimental data show that the above properties are influenced by the movement reaction time and the interstimulus interval between the onset of the first and second target. Hypotheses in the literature concerning the interpretation of the observed data include a) the second movement is superimposed on the first movement (Henis and Flash, 1995), b) the first movement is aborted and the second movement is planned to smoothly connect the current state of the arm with the new target (Hoff and Arbib, 1992), c) the second movement is initiated by a new control signal that replaces the first movement's control signal, but does not take the state of the system into account (Flanagan et al., 1993), and (d) the second movement is initiated by a new goal command, but the control structure stays unchanged, and feed-back from the current state is taken into account (Hoff and Arbib, 1993). We investigate target switching from the viewpoint of Dynamic Movement Primitives (DMPs). DMPs are trajectory planning units that are formalized as stable nonlinear attractor systems (Ijspeert et al., 2002). They are a useful framework for biological motor control as they are highly flexible in creating complex rhythmic and discrete behaviors that can quickly adapt to the inevitable perturbations of dynamically changing, stochastic environments. In this model, target switching is accomplished simply by updating the target input to the discrete movement primitive for reaching. The reaching trajectory in this model can be straight or take any other route; in contrast, the Hoff and Arbib (1993) model is restricted to straight reaching movement plans. In the present study, we use DMPs to reproduce in simulation a large number of target-switching experimental data from the literature and to show that online correction and the observed target switching phenomena can be accomplished by changing the goal state of an on-going DMP, without the need to switch to different movement primitives or to re-plan the movement. :

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Inverse dynamics control with floating base and constraints

Nakanishi, J., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA2007), pages: 1942-1947, Rome, Italy, April 10-14, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we address the issues of compliant control of a robot under contact constraints with a goal of using joint space based pattern generators as movement primitives, as often considered in the studies of legged locomotion and biological motor control. For this purpose, we explore inverse dynamics control of constrained dynamical systems. When the system is overconstrained, it is not straightforward to formulate an inverse dynamics control law since the problem becomes an ill-posed one, where infinitely many combinations of joint torques are possible to achieve the desired joint accelerations. The goal of this paper is to develop a general and computationally efficient inverse dynamics algorithm for a robot with a free floating base and constraints. We suggest an approximate way of computing inverse dynamics algorithm by treating constraint forces computed with a Lagrange multiplier method as simply external forces based on FeatherstoneÕs floating base formulation of inverse dynamics. We present how all the necessary quantities to compute our controller can be efficiently extracted from FeatherstoneÕs spatial notation of robot dynamics. We evaluate the effectiveness of the suggested approach on a simulated biped robot model.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Lower body realization of the baby humanoid - ‘iCub’

Tsagarakis, N., Becchi, F., Righetti, L., Ijspeert, A., Caldwell, D.

In 2007 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 3616-3622, IEEE, San Diego, USA, 2007 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Nowadays, the understanding of the human cognition and it application to robotic systems forms a great challenge of research. The iCub is a robotic platform that was developed within the RobotCub European project to provide the cognition research community with an open baby- humanoid platform for understanding and development of cognitive systems. In this paper we present the design requirements and mechanical realization of the lower body developed for the "iCub". In particular the leg and the waist mechanisms adopted for lower body to match the size and physical abilities of a 2 frac12 year old human baby are introduced.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Kernel carpentry for onlne regression using randomly varying coefficient model

Edakunni, N. U., Schaal, S., Vijayakumar, S.

In Proceedings of the 20th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Hyderabad, India: Jan. 6-12, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a Bayesian formulation of locally weighted learning (LWL) using the novel concept of a randomly varying coefficient model. Based on this, we propose a mechanism for multivariate non-linear regression using spatially localised linear models that learns completely independent of each other, uses only local information and adapts the local model complexity in a data driven fashion. We derive online updates for the model parameters based on variational Bayesian EM. The evaluation of the proposed algorithm against other state-of-the-art methods reveal the excellent, robust generalization performance beside surprisingly efficient time and space complexity properties. This paper, for the first time, brings together the computational efficiency and the adaptability of Õnon-competitiveÕ locally weighted learning schemes and the modeling guarantees of the Bayesian formulation.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Autonomous 2D microparticle manipulation based on visual feedback

Onal, C. D., Sitti, M.

In Advanced intelligent mechatronics, 2007 IEEE/ASME international conference on, pages: 1-6, 2007 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A robust quadruped walking gait for traversing rough terrain

Pongas, D., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA2007), pages: 1474-1479, Rome, April 10-14, 2007, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Legged locomotion excels when terrains become too rough for wheeled systems or open-loop walking pattern generators to succeed, i.e., when accurate foot placement is of primary importance in successfully reaching the task goal. In this paper we address the scenario where the rough terrain is traversed with a static walking gait, and where for every foot placement of a leg, the location of the foot placement was selected irregularly by a planning algorithm. Our goal is to adjust a smooth walking pattern generator with the selection of every foot placement such that the COG of the robot follows a stable trajectory characterized by a stability margin relative to the current support triangle. We propose a novel parameterization of the COG trajectory based on the current position, velocity, and acceleration of the four legs of the robot. This COG trajectory has guaranteed continuous velocity and acceleration profiles, which leads to continuous velocity and acceleration profiles of the leg movement, which is ideally suited for advanced model-based controllers. Pitch, yaw, and ground clearance of the robot are easily adjusted automatically under any terrain situation. We evaluate our gait generation technique on the Little-Dog quadruped robot when traversing complex rocky and sloped terrains.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Bayesian Nonparametric Regression with Local Models

Ting, J., Schaal, S.

In Workshop on Robotic Challenges for Machine Learning, NIPS 2007, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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STRIDE: A highly maneuverable and non-tethered water strider robot

Song, Y. S., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation, 2007 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 980-984, 2007 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Dry spinning polymeric nano/microfiber arrays using glass micropipettes with controlled porosities and fiber diameters

Nain, A. S., Gupta, A., Amon, C., Sitti, M.

In Nanotechnology, 2007. IEEE-NANO 2007. 7th IEEE Conference on, pages: 728-732, 2007 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Task space control with prioritization for balance and locomotion

Mistry, M., Nakanishi, J., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robotics Systems (IROS 2007), San Diego, CA: Oct. 29 Ð Nov. 2, 2007, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper addresses locomotion with active balancing, via task space control with prioritization. The center of gravity (COG) and foot of the swing leg are treated as task space control points. Floating base inverse kinematics with constraints is employed, thereby allowing for a mobile platform suitable for locomotion. Different techniques of task prioritization are discussed and we clarify differences and similarities of previous suggested work. Varying levels of prioritization for control are examined with emphasis on singularity robustness and the negative effects of constraint switching. A novel controller for task space control of balance and locomotion is developed which attempts to address singularity robustness, while minimizing discontinuities created by constraint switching. Controllers are evaluated using a quadruped robot simulator engaging in a locomotion task.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Microrobotically fabricated biological scaffolds for tissue engineering

Nain, A. S., Chung, F., Rule, M., Jadlowiec, J. A., Campbell, P. G., Amon, C., Sitti, M.

In Robotics and Automation, 2007 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 1918-1923, 2007 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Bacterial flagella assisted propulsion of patterned latex particles: Effect of particle size

Behkam, B., Sitti, M.

In Nanotechnology, 2007. IEEE-NANO 2007. 7th IEEE Conference on, pages: 723-727, 2007 (inproceedings)

pi

Project Page [BibTex]

Project Page [BibTex]


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A scaled bilateral control system for experimental 1-D teleoperated nanomanipulation applications

Onal, C. D., Pawashe, C., Sitti, M.

In Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2007. IROS 2007. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on, pages: 483-488, 2007 (inproceedings)

pi

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Guided Self-organisation for Autonomous Robot Development

Martius, G., Herrmann, J. M., Der, R.

In Advances in Artificial Life 9th European Conference, ECAL 2007, 4648, pages: 766-775, LNCS, Springer, 2007 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]

2006


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Conformal Multi-Instance Kernels

Blaschko, M., Hofmann, T.

In NIPS 2006 Workshop on Learning to Compare Examples, pages: 1-6, NIPS Workshop on Learning to Compare Examples, December 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In the multiple instance learning setting, each observation is a bag of feature vectors of which one or more vectors indicates membership in a class. The primary task is to identify if any vectors in the bag indicate class membership while ignoring vectors that do not. We describe here a kernel-based technique that defines a parametric family of kernels via conformal transformations and jointly learns a discriminant function over bags together with the optimal parameter settings of the kernel. Learning a conformal transformation effectively amounts to weighting regions in the feature space according to their contribution to classification accuracy; regions that are discriminative will be weighted higher than regions that are not. This allows the classifier to focus on regions contributing to classification accuracy while ignoring regions that correspond to vectors found both in positive and in negative bags. We show how parameters of this transformation can be learned for support vector machines by posing the problem as a multiple kernel learning problem. The resulting multiple instance classifier gives competitive accuracy for several multi-instance benchmark datasets from different domains.

ei

PDF Web [BibTex]

2006


PDF Web [BibTex]


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Adapting Spatial Filter Methods for Nonstationary BCIs

Tomioka, R., Hill, J., Blankertz, B., Aihara, K.

In IBIS 2006, pages: 65-70, 2006 Workshop on Information-Based Induction Sciences, November 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
A major challenge in applying machine learning methods to Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) is to overcome the possible nonstationarity in the data from the datablock the method is trained on and that the method is applied to. Assuming the joint distributions of the whitened signal and the class label to be identical in two blocks, where the whitening is done in each block independently, we propose a simple adaptation formula that is applicable to a broad class of spatial filtering methods including ICA, CSP, and logistic regression classifiers. We characterize the class of linear transformations for which the above assumption holds. Experimental results on 60 BCI datasets show improved classification accuracy compared to (a) fixed spatial filter approach (no adaptation) and (b) fixed spatial pattern approach (proposed by Hill et al., 2006 [1]).

ei

PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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A Linear Programming Approach for Molecular QSAR analysis

Saigo, H., Kadowaki, T., Tsuda, K.

In MLG 2006, pages: 85-96, (Editors: Gärtner, T. , G. C. Garriga, T. Meinl), International Workshop on Mining and Learning with Graphs, September 2006, Best Paper Award (inproceedings)

Abstract
Small molecules in chemistry can be represented as graphs. In a quantitative structure-activity relationship (QSAR) analysis, the central task is to find a regression function that predicts the activity of the molecule in high accuracy. Setting a QSAR as a primal target, we propose a new linear programming approach to the graph-based regression problem. Our method extends the graph classification algorithm by Kudo et al. (NIPS 2004), which is a combination of boosting and graph mining. Instead of sequential multiplicative updates, we employ the linear programming boosting (LP) for regression. The LP approach allows to include inequality constraints for the parameter vector, which turns out to be particularly useful in QSAR tasks where activity values are sometimes unavailable. Furthermore, the efficiency is improved significantly by employing multiple pricing.

ei

PDF PDF [BibTex]

PDF PDF [BibTex]


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Incremental Aspect Models for Mining Document Streams

Surendran, A., Sra, S.

In PKDD 2006, pages: 633-640, (Editors: Fürnkranz, J. , T. Scheffer, M. Spiliopoulou), Springer, Berlin, Germany, 10th European Conference on Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper we introduce a novel approach for incrementally building aspect models, and use it to dynamically discover underlying themes from document streams. Using the new approach we present an application which we call “query-line tracking” i.e., we automatically discover and summarize different themes or stories that appear over time, and that relate to a particular query. We present evaluation on news corpora to demonstrate the strength of our method for both query-line tracking, online indexing and clustering.

ei

Web DOI [BibTex]

Web DOI [BibTex]


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PALMA: Perfect Alignments using Large Margin Algorithms

Rätsch, G., Hepp, B., Schulze, U., Ong, C.

In GCB 2006, pages: 104-113, (Editors: Huson, D. , O. Kohlbacher, A. Lupas, K. Nieselt, A. Zell), Gesellschaft für Informatik, Bonn, Germany, German Conference on Bioinformatics, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Despite many years of research on how to properly align sequences in the presence of sequencing errors, alternative splicing and micro-exons, the correct alignment of mRNA sequences to genomic DNA is still a challenging task. We present a novel approach based on large margin learning that combines kernel based splice site predictions with common sequence alignment techniques. By solving a convex optimization problem, our algorithm -- called PALMA -- tunes the parameters of the model such that the true alignment scores higher than all other alignments. In an experimental study on the alignments of mRNAs containing artificially generated micro-exons, we show that our algorithm drastically outperforms all other methods: It perfectly aligns all 4358 sequences on an hold-out set, while the best other method misaligns at least 90 of them. Moreover, our algorithm is very robust against noise in the query sequence: when deleting, inserting, or mutating up to 50% of the query sequence, it still aligns 95% of all sequences correctly, while other methods achieve less than 36% accuracy. For datasets, additional results and a stand-alone alignment tool see http://www.fml.mpg.de/raetsch/projects/palma.

ei

PDF Web [BibTex]

PDF Web [BibTex]


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Graph Based Semi-Supervised Learning with Sharper Edges

Shin, H., Hill, N., Rätsch, G.

In ECML 2006, pages: 401-412, (Editors: Fürnkranz, J. , T. Scheffer, M. Spiliopoulou), Springer, Berlin, Germany, 17th European Conference on Machine Learning (ECML), September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In many graph-based semi-supervised learning algorithms, edge weights are assumed to be fixed and determined by the data points‘ (often symmetric)relationships in input space, without considering directionality. However, relationships may be more informative in one direction (e.g. from labelled to unlabelled) than in the reverse direction, and some relationships (e.g. strong weights between oppositely labelled points) are unhelpful in either direction. Undesirable edges may reduce the amount of influence an informative point can propagate to its neighbours -- the point and its outgoing edges have been ``blunted.‘‘ We present an approach to ``sharpening‘‘ in which weights are adjusted to meet an optimization criterion wherever they are directed towards labelled points. This principle can be applied to a wide variety of algorithms. In the current paper, we present one ad hoc solution satisfying the principle, in order to show that it can improve performance on a number of publicly available benchmark data sets.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Finite-Horizon Optimal State-Feedback Control of Nonlinear Stochastic Systems Based on a Minimum Principle

Deisenroth, MP., Ohtsuka, T., Weissel, F., Brunn, D., Hanebeck, UD.

In MFI 2006, pages: 371-376, (Editors: Hanebeck, U. D.), IEEE Service Center, Piscataway, NJ, USA, 6th IEEE International Conference on Multisensor Fusion and Integration, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, an approach to the finite-horizon optimal state-feedback control problem of nonlinear, stochastic, discrete-time systems is presented. Starting from the dynamic programming equation, the value function will be approximated by means of Taylor series expansion up to second-order derivatives. Moreover, the problem will be reformulated, such that a minimum principle can be applied to the stochastic problem. Employing this minimum principle, the optimal control problem can be rewritten as a two-point boundary-value problem to be solved at each time step of a shrinking horizon. To avoid numerical problems, the two-point boundary-value problem will be solved by means of a continuation method. Thus, the curse of dimensionality of dynamic programming is avoided, and good candidates for the optimal state-feedback controls are obtained. The proposed approach will be evaluated by means of a scalar example system.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Uniform Convergence of Adaptive Graph-Based Regularization

Hein, M.

In COLT 2006, pages: 50-64, (Editors: Lugosi, G. , H.-U. Simon), Springer, Berlin, Germany, 19th Annual Conference on Learning Theory, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The regularization functional induced by the graph Laplacian of a random neighborhood graph based on the data is adaptive in two ways. First it adapts to an underlying manifold structure and second to the density of the data-generating probability measure. We identify in this paper the limit of the regularizer and show uniform convergence over the space of Hoelder functions. As an intermediate step we derive upper bounds on the covering numbers of Hoelder functions on compact Riemannian manifolds, which are of independent interest for the theoretical analysis of manifold-based learning methods.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Regularised CSP for Sensor Selection in BCI

Farquhar, J., Hill, N., Lal, T., Schölkopf, B.

In Proceedings of the 3rd International Brain-Computer Interface Workshop and Training Course 2006, pages: 14-15, (Editors: GR Müller-Putz and C Brunner and R Leeb and R Scherer and A Schlögl and S Wriessnegger and G Pfurtscheller), Verlag der Technischen Universität Graz, Graz, Austria, 3rd International Brain-Computer Interface Workshop and Training Course, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The Common Spatial Pattern (CSP) algorithm is a highly successful method for efficiently calculating spatial filters for brain signal classification. Spatial filtering can improve classification performance considerably, but demands that a large number of electrodes be mounted, which is inconvenient in day-to-day BCI usage. The CSP algorithm is also known for its tendency to overfit, i.e. to learn the noise in the training set rather than the signal. Both problems motivate an approach in which spatial filters are sparsified. We briefly sketch a reformulation of the problem which allows us to do this, using 1-norm regularisation. Focusing on the electrode selection issue, we present preliminary results on EEG data sets that suggest that effective spatial filters may be computed with as few as 10--20 electrodes, hence offering the potential to simplify the practical realisation of BCI systems significantly.

ei

PDF PDF [BibTex]

PDF PDF [BibTex]


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Time-Dependent Demixing of Task-Relevant EEG Signals

Hill, N., Farquhar, J., Lal, T., Schölkopf, B.

In Proceedings of the 3rd International Brain-Computer Interface Workshop and Training Course 2006, pages: 20-21, (Editors: GR Müller-Putz and C Brunner and R Leeb and R Scherer and A Schlögl and S Wriessnegger and G Pfurtscheller), Verlag der Technischen Universität Graz, Graz, Austria, 3rd International Brain-Computer Interface Workshop and Training Course, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Given a spatial filtering algorithm that has allowed us to identify task-relevant EEG sources, we present a simple approach for monitoring the activity of these sources while remaining relatively robust to changes in other (task-irrelevant) brain activity. The idea is to keep spatial *patterns* fixed rather than spatial filters, when transferring from training to test sessions or from one time window to another. We show that a fixed spatial pattern (FSP) approach, using a moving-window estimate of signal covariances, can be more robust to non-stationarity than a fixed spatial filter (FSF) approach.

ei

PDF PDF [BibTex]

PDF PDF [BibTex]


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A Sober Look at Clustering Stability

Ben-David, S., von Luxburg, U., Pal, D.

In COLT 2006, pages: 5-19, (Editors: Lugosi, G. , H.-U. Simon), Springer, Berlin, Germany, 19th Annual Conference on Learning Theory, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Stability is a common tool to verify the validity of sample based algorithms. In clustering it is widely used to tune the parameters of the algorithm, such as the number k of clusters. In spite of the popularity of stability in practical applications, there has been very little theoretical analysis of this notion. In this paper we provide a formal definition of stability and analyze some of its basic properties. Quite surprisingly, the conclusion of our analysis is that for large sample size, stability is fully determined by the behavior of the objective function which the clustering algorithm is aiming to minimize. If the objective function has a unique global minimizer, the algorithm is stable, otherwise it is unstable. In particular we conclude that stability is not a well-suited tool to determine the number of clusters - it is determined by the symmetries of the data which may be unrelated to clustering parameters. We prove our results for center-based clusterings and for spectral clustering, and support our conclusions by many examples in which the behavior of stability is counter-intuitive.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Information Marginalization on Subgraphs

Huang, J., Zhu, T., Rereiner, R., Zhou, D., Schuurmans, D.

In ECML/PKDD 2006, pages: 199-210, (Editors: Fürnkranz, J. , T. Scheffer, M. Spiliopoulou), Springer, Berlin, Germany, 10th European Conference on Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Real-world data often involves objects that exhibit multiple relationships; for example, ‘papers’ and ‘authors’ exhibit both paper-author interactions and paper-paper citation relationships. A typical learning problem requires one to make inferences about a subclass of objects (e.g. ‘papers’), while using the remaining objects and relations to provide relevant information. We present a simple, unified mechanism for incorporating information from multiple object types and relations when learning on a targeted subset. In this scheme, all sources of relevant information are marginalized onto the target subclass via random walks. We show that marginalized random walks can be used as a general technique for combining multiple sources of information in relational data. With this approach, we formulate new algorithms for transduction and ranking in relational data, and quantify the performance of new schemes on real world data—achieving good results in many problems.

ei

Web DOI [BibTex]

Web DOI [BibTex]


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Bayesian Active Learning for Sensitivity Analysis

Pfingsten, T.

In ECML 2006, pages: 353-364, (Editors: Fürnkranz, J. , T. Scheffer, M. Spiliopoulou), Springer, Berlin, Germany, 17th European Conference on Machine Learning, September 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Designs of micro electro-mechanical devices need to be robust against fluctuations in mass production. Computer experiments with tens of parameters are used to explore the behavior of the system, and to compute sensitivity measures as expectations over the input distribution. Monte Carlo methods are a simple approach to estimate these integrals, but they are infeasible when the models are computationally expensive. Using a Gaussian processes prior, expensive simulation runs can be saved. This Bayesian quadrature allows for an active selection of inputs where the simulation promises to be most valuable, and the number of simulation runs can be reduced further. We present an active learning scheme for sensitivity analysis which is rigorously derived from the corresponding Bayesian expected loss. On three fully featured, high dimensional physical models of electro-mechanical sensors, we show that the learning rate in the active learning scheme is significantly better than for passive learning.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Supervised Probabilistic Principal Component Analysis

Yu, S., Yu, K., Tresp, V., Kriegel, H., Wu, M.

In KDD 2006, pages: 464-473, (Editors: Ungar, L. ), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 12th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, August 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Principal component analysis (PCA) has been extensively applied in data mining, pattern recognition and information retrieval for unsupervised dimensionality reduction. When labels of data are available, e.g.,~in a classification or regression task, PCA is however not able to use this information. The problem is more interesting if only part of the input data are labeled, i.e.,~in a semi-supervised setting. In this paper we propose a supervised PCA model called SPPCA and a semi-supervised PCA model called S$^2$PPCA, both of which are extensions of a probabilistic PCA model. The proposed models are able to incorporate the label information into the projection phase, and can naturally handle multiple outputs (i.e.,~in multi-task learning problems). We derive an efficient EM learning algorithm for both models, and also provide theoretical justifications of the model behaviors. SPPCA and S$^2$PPCA are compared with other supervised projection methods on various learning tasks, and show not only promising performance but also good scalability.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Let It Roll – Emerging Sensorimotor Coordination in a Spherical Robot

Der, R., Martius, G., Hesse, F.

In Proc, Artificial Life X, pages: 192-198, Intl. Society for Artificial Life, MIT Press, August 2006 (inproceedings)

al

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A Continuation Method for Semi-Supervised SVMs

Chapelle, O., Chi, M., Zien, A.

In ICML 2006, pages: 185-192, (Editors: Cohen, W. W., A. Moore), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Semi-Supervised Support Vector Machines (S3VMs) are an appealing method for using unlabeled data in classification: their objective function favors decision boundaries which do not cut clusters. However their main problem is that the optimization problem is non-convex and has many local minima, which often results in suboptimal performances. In this paper we propose to use a global optimization technique known as continuation to alleviate this problem. Compared to other algorithms minimizing the same objective function, our continuation method often leads to lower test errors.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Trading Convexity for Scalability

Collobert, R., Sinz, F., Weston, J., Bottou, L.

In ICML 2006, pages: 201-208, (Editors: Cohen, W. W., A. Moore), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Convex learning algorithms, such as Support Vector Machines (SVMs), are often seen as highly desirable because they offer strong practical properties and are amenable to theoretical analysis. However, in this work we show how non-convexity can provide scalability advantages over convexity. We show how concave-convex programming can be applied to produce (i) faster SVMs where training errors are no longer support vectors, and (ii) much faster Transductive SVMs.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Personalized handwriting recognition via biased regularization

Kienzle, W., Chellapilla, K.

In ICML 2006, pages: 457-464, (Editors: Cohen, W. W., A. Moore), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a new approach to personalized handwriting recognition. The problem, also known as writer adaptation, consists of converting a generic (user-independent) recognizer into a personalized (user-dependent) one, which has an improved recognition rate for a particular user. The adaptation step usually involves user-specific samples, which leads to the fundamental question of how to fuse this new information with that captured by the generic recognizer. We propose adapting the recognizer by minimizing a regularized risk functional (a modified SVM) where the prior knowledge from the generic recognizer enters through a modified regularization term. The result is a simple personalization framework with very good practical properties. Experiments on a 100 class real-world data set show that the number of errors can be reduced by over 40% with as few as five user samples per character.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Deterministic annealing for semi-supervised kernel machines

Sindhwani, V., Keerthi, S., Chapelle, O.

In ICML 2006, pages: 841-848, (Editors: Cohen, W. W., A. Moore), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
An intuitive approach to utilizing unlabeled data in kernel-based classification algorithms is to simply treat the unknown labels as additional optimization variables. For margin-based loss functions, one can view this approach as attempting to learn low-density separators. However, this is a hard optimization problem to solve in typical semi-supervised settings where unlabeled data is abundant. The popular Transductive SVM algorithm is a label-switching-retraining procedure that is known to be susceptible to local minima. In this paper, we present a global optimization framework for semi-supervised Kernel machines where an easier problem is parametrically deformed to the original hard problem and minimizers are smoothly tracked. Our approach is motivated from deterministic annealing techniques and involves a sequence of convex optimization problems that are exactly and efficiently solved. We present empirical results on several synthetic and real world datasets that demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Clustering Graphs by Weighted Substructure Mining

Tsuda, K., Kudo, T.

In ICML 2006, pages: 953-960, (Editors: Cohen, W. W., A. Moore), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Graph data is getting increasingly popular in, e.g., bioinformatics and text processing. A main difficulty of graph data processing lies in the intrinsic high dimensionality of graphs, namely, when a graph is represented as a binary feature vector of indicators of all possible subgraphs, the dimensionality gets too large for usual statistical methods. We propose an efficient method for learning a binomial mixture model in this feature space. Combining the $ell_1$ regularizer and the data structure called DFS code tree, the MAP estimate of non-zero parameters are computed efficiently by means of the EM algorithm. Our method is applied to the clustering of RNA graphs, and is compared favorably with graph kernels and the spectral graph distance.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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A Choice Model with Infinitely Many Latent Features

Görür, D., Jäkel, F., Rasmussen, C.

In ICML 2006, pages: 361-368, (Editors: Cohen, W. W., A. Moore), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Elimination by aspects (EBA) is a probabilistic choice model describing how humans decide between several options. The options from which the choice is made are characterized by binary features and associated weights. For instance, when choosing which mobile phone to buy the features to consider may be: long lasting battery, color screen, etc. Existing methods for inferring the parameters of the model assume pre-specified features. However, the features that lead to the observed choices are not always known. Here, we present a non-parametric Bayesian model to infer the features of the options and the corresponding weights from choice data. We use the Indian buffet process (IBP) as a prior over the features. Inference using Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) in conjugate IBP models has been previously described. The main contribution of this paper is an MCMC algorithm for the EBA model that can also be used in inference for other non-conjugate IBP models---this may broaden the use of IBP priors considerably.

ei

PostScript PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PostScript PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Learning High-Order MRF Priors of Color Images

McAuley, J., Caetano, T., Smola, A., Franz, MO.

In ICML 2006, pages: 617-624, (Editors: Cohen, W. W., A. Moore), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we use large neighborhood Markov random fields to learn rich prior models of color images. Our approach extends the monochromatic Fields of Experts model (Roth and Blackwell, 2005) to color images. In the Fields of Experts model, the curse of dimensionality due to very large clique sizes is circumvented by parameterizing the potential functions according to a product of experts. We introduce several simplifications of the original approach by Roth and Black which allow us to cope with the increased clique size (typically 3x3x3 or 5x5x3 pixels) of color images. Experimental results are presented for image denoising which evidence improvements over state-of-the-art monochromatic image priors.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]


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Inference with the Universum

Weston, J., Collobert, R., Sinz, F., Bottou, L., Vapnik, V.

In ICML 2006, pages: 1009-1016, (Editors: Cohen, W. W., A. Moore), ACM Press, New York, NY, USA, 23rd International Conference on Machine Learning, June 2006 (inproceedings)

Abstract
WIn this paper we study a new framework introduced by Vapnik (1998) and Vapnik (2006) that is an alternative capacity concept to the large margin approach. In the particular case of binary classification, we are given a set of labeled examples, and a collection of "non-examples" that do not belong to either class of interest. This collection, called the Universum, allows one to encode prior knowledge by representing meaningful concepts in the same domain as the problem at hand. We describe an algorithm to leverage the Universum by maximizing the number of observed contradictions, and show experimentally that this approach delivers accuracy improvements over using labeled data alone.

ei

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]

PDF Web DOI [BibTex]