Identifying key patterns of tactics implemented by rival teams, and developing effective responses, lies at the heart of modern football. However, doing so algorithmically remains an open research challenge. To address this unmet need, we propose TacticAI, an AI football tactics assistant developed and evaluated in close collaboration with domain experts from Liverpool FC. We focus on analysing corner kicks, as they offer coaches the most direct opportunities for interventions and improvements. TacticAI incorporates both a predictive and a generative component, allowing the coaches to effectively sample and explore alternative player setups for each corner kick routine and to select those with the highest predicted likelihood of success. We validate TacticAI on a number of relevant benchmark tasks: predicting receivers and shot attempts and recommending player position adjustments. The utility of TacticAI is validated by a qualitative study conducted with football domain experts at Liverpool FC. We show that TacticAI's model suggestions are not only indistinguishable from real tactics, but also favoured over existing tactics 90% of the time, and that TacticAI offers an effective corner kick retrieval system. TacticAI achieves these results despite the limited availability of gold-standard data, achieving data efficiency through geometric deep learning.
NeRF provides unparalleled fidelity of novel view synthesis: rendering a 3D scene from an arbitrary viewpoint. NeRF requires training on a large number of views that fully cover a scene, which limits its applicability. While these issues can be addressed by learning a prior over scenes in various forms, previous approaches have been either applied to overly simple scenes or struggling to render unobserved parts. We introduce Laser-NV: a generative model which achieves high modelling capacity, and which is based on a set-valued latent representation modelled by normalizing flows. Similarly to previous amortized approaches, Laser-NV learns structure from multiple scenes and is capable of fast, feed-forward inference from few views. To encourage higher rendering fidelity and consistency with observed views, Laser-NV further incorporates a geometry-informed attention mechanism over the observed views. Laser-NV further produces diverse and plausible completions of occluded parts of a scene while remaining consistent with observations. Laser-NV shows state-of-the-art novel-view synthesis quality when evaluated on ShapeNet and on a novel simulated City dataset, which features high uncertainty in the unobserved regions of the scene.
We propose NeRF-VAE, a 3D scene generative model that incorporates geometric structure via NeRF and differentiable volume rendering. In contrast to NeRF, our model takes into account shared structure across scenes, and is able to infer the structure of a novel scene -- without the need to re-train -- using amortized inference. NeRF-VAE's explicit 3D rendering process further contrasts previous generative models with convolution-based rendering which lacks geometric structure. Our model is a VAE that learns a distribution over radiance fields by conditioning them on a latent scene representation. We show that, once trained, NeRF-VAE is able to infer and render geometrically-consistent scenes from previously unseen 3D environments using very few input images. We further demonstrate that NeRF-VAE generalizes well to out-of-distribution cameras, while convolutional models do not. Finally, we introduce and study an attention-based conditioning mechanism of NeRF-VAE's decoder, which improves model performance.
In multi-agent reinforcement learning, the problem of learning to act is particularly difficult because the policies of co-players may be heavily conditioned on information only observed by them. On the other hand, humans readily form beliefs about the knowledge possessed by their peers and leverage beliefs to inform decision-making. Such abilities underlie individual success in a wide range of Markov games, from bluffing in Poker to conditional cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma, to convention-building in Bridge. Classical methods are usually not applicable to complex domains due to the intractable nature of hierarchical beliefs (i.e. beliefs of other agents' beliefs). We propose a scalable method to approximate these belief structures using recursive deep generative models, and to use the belief models to obtain representations useful to acting in complex tasks. Our agents trained with belief models outperform model-free baselines with equivalent representational capacity using common training paradigms. We also show that higher-order belief models outperform agents with lower-order models.
The rapid progress in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has opened unprecedented analytics possibilities in various team and individual sports, including baseball, basketball, and tennis. More recently, AI techniques have been applied to football, due to a huge increase in data collection by professional teams, increased computational power, and advances in machine learning, with the goal of better addressing new scientific challenges involved in the analysis of both individual players' and coordinated teams' behaviors. The research challenges associated with predictive and prescriptive football analytics require new developments and progress at the intersection of statistical learning, game theory, and computer vision. In this paper, we provide an overarching perspective highlighting how the combination of these fields, in particular, forms a unique microcosm for AI research, while offering mutual benefits for professional teams, spectators, and broadcasters in the years to come. We illustrate that this duality makes football analytics a game changer of tremendous value, in terms of not only changing the game of football itself, but also in terms of what this domain can mean for the field of AI. We review the state-of-the-art and exemplify the types of analysis enabled by combining the aforementioned fields, including illustrative examples of counterfactual analysis using predictive models, and the combination of game-theoretic analysis of penalty kicks with statistical learning of player attributes. We conclude by highlighting envisioned downstream impacts, including possibilities for extensions to other sports (real and virtual).