Transformers have significantly impacted domains like natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics, where they improve performance compared to other neural networks. This survey explores how transformers are used in reinforcement learning (RL), where they are seen as a promising solution for addressing challenges such as unstable training, credit assignment, lack of interpretability, and partial observability. We begin by providing a brief domain overview of RL, followed by a discussion on the challenges of classical RL algorithms. Next, we delve into the properties of the transformer and its variants and discuss the characteristics that make them well-suited to address the challenges inherent in RL. We examine the application of transformers to various aspects of RL, including representation learning, transition and reward function modeling, and policy optimization. We also discuss recent research that aims to enhance the interpretability and efficiency of transformers in RL, using visualization techniques and efficient training strategies. Often, the transformer architecture must be tailored to the specific needs of a given application. We present a broad overview of how transformers have been adapted for several applications, including robotics, medicine, language modeling, cloud computing, and combinatorial optimization. We conclude by discussing the limitations of using transformers in RL and assess their potential for catalyzing future breakthroughs in this field.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spread rapidly worldwide, overwhelming manual contact tracing in many countries and resulting in widespread lockdowns for emergency containment. Large-scale digital contact tracing (DCT) has emerged as a potential solution to resume economic and social activity while minimizing spread of the virus. Various DCT methods have been proposed, each making trade-offs between privacy, mobility restrictions, and public health. The most common approach, binary contact tracing (BCT), models infection as a binary event, informed only by an individual's test results, with corresponding binary recommendations that either all or none of the individual's contacts quarantine. BCT ignores the inherent uncertainty in contacts and the infection process, which could be used to tailor messaging to high-risk individuals, and prompt proactive testing or earlier warnings. It also does not make use of observations such as symptoms or pre-existing medical conditions, which could be used to make more accurate infectiousness predictions. In this paper, we use a recently-proposed COVID-19 epidemiological simulator to develop and test methods that can be deployed to a smartphone to locally and proactively predict an individual's infectiousness (risk of infecting others) based on their contact history and other information, while respecting strong privacy constraints. Predictions are used to provide personalized recommendations to the individual via an app, as well as to send anonymized messages to the individual's contacts, who use this information to better predict their own infectiousness, an approach we call proactive contact tracing (PCT). We find a deep-learning based PCT method which improves over BCT for equivalent average mobility, suggesting PCT could help in safe re-opening and second-wave prevention.
The segmentation of video sequences into foreground and background regions is a low-level process commonly used in video content analysis and smart surveillance applications. Using a multispectral camera setup can improve this process by providing more diverse data to help identify objects despite adverse imaging conditions. The registration of several data sources is however not trivial if the appearance of objects produced by each sensor differs substantially. This problem is further complicated when parallax effects cannot be ignored when using close-range stereo pairs. In this work, we present a new method to simultaneously tackle multispectral segmentation and stereo registration. Using an iterative procedure, we estimate the labeling result for one problem using the provisional result of the other. Our approach is based on the alternating minimization of two energy functions that are linked through the use of dynamic priors. We rely on the integration of shape and appearance cues to find proper multispectral correspondences, and to properly segment objects in low contrast regions. We also formulate our model as a frame processing pipeline using higher order terms to improve the temporal coherence of our results. Our method is evaluated under different configurations on multiple multispectral datasets, and our implementation is available online.
Tracking with a Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera has been a research topic in computer vision for many years. However, it is very difficult to assess the progress that has been made on this topic because there is no standard evaluation methodology. The difficulty in evaluating PTZ tracking algorithms arises from their dynamic nature. In contrast to other forms of tracking, PTZ tracking involves both locating the target in the image and controlling the motors of the camera to aim it so that the target stays in its field of view. This type of tracking can only be performed online. In this paper, we propose a new evaluation framework based on a virtual PTZ camera. With this framework, tracking scenarios do not change for each experiment and we are able to replicate online PTZ camera control and behavior including camera positioning delays, tracker processing delays, and numerical zoom. We tested our evaluation framework with the Camshift tracker to show its viability and to establish baseline results.
* This is an extended version of the 2015 ICIP paper "Reproducible
Evaluation of Pan-Tilt-Zoom Tracking"