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Communicative Learning with Natural Gestures for Embodied Navigation Agents with Human-in-the-Scene

Aug 05, 2021
Qi Wu, Cheng-Ju Wu, Yixin Zhu, Jungseock Joo

Human-robot collaboration is an essential research topic in artificial intelligence (AI), enabling researchers to devise cognitive AI systems and affords an intuitive means for users to interact with the robot. Of note, communication plays a central role. To date, prior studies in embodied agent navigation have only demonstrated that human languages facilitate communication by instructions in natural languages. Nevertheless, a plethora of other forms of communication is left unexplored. In fact, human communication originated in gestures and oftentimes is delivered through multimodal cues, e.g. "go there" with a pointing gesture. To bridge the gap and fill in the missing dimension of communication in embodied agent navigation, we propose investigating the effects of using gestures as the communicative interface instead of verbal cues. Specifically, we develop a VR-based 3D simulation environment, named Ges-THOR, based on AI2-THOR platform. In this virtual environment, a human player is placed in the same virtual scene and shepherds the artificial agent using only gestures. The agent is tasked to solve the navigation problem guided by natural gestures with unknown semantics; we do not use any predefined gestures due to the diversity and versatile nature of human gestures. We argue that learning the semantics of natural gestures is mutually beneficial to learning the navigation task--learn to communicate and communicate to learn. In a series of experiments, we demonstrate that human gesture cues, even without predefined semantics, improve the object-goal navigation for an embodied agent, outperforming various state-of-the-art methods.

* To appear in IROS 2021 

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Whose Opinions Matter? Perspective-aware Models to Identify Opinions of Hate Speech Victims in Abusive Language Detection

Jun 30, 2021
Sohail Akhtar, Valerio Basile, Viviana Patti

Social media platforms provide users the freedom of expression and a medium to exchange information and express diverse opinions. Unfortunately, this has also resulted in the growth of abusive content with the purpose of discriminating people and targeting the most vulnerable communities such as immigrants, LGBT, Muslims, Jews and women. Because abusive language is subjective in nature, there might be highly polarizing topics or events involved in the annotation of abusive contents such as hate speech (HS). Therefore, we need novel approaches to model conflicting perspectives and opinions coming from people with different personal and demographic backgrounds. In this paper, we present an in-depth study to model polarized opinions coming from different communities under the hypothesis that similar characteristics (ethnicity, social background, culture etc.) can influence the perspectives of annotators on a certain phenomenon. We believe that by relying on this information, we can divide the annotators into groups sharing similar perspectives. We can create separate gold standards, one for each group, to train state-of-the-art deep learning models. We can employ an ensemble approach to combine the perspective-aware classifiers from different groups to an inclusive model. We also propose a novel resource, a multi-perspective English language dataset annotated according to different sub-categories relevant for characterising online abuse: hate speech, aggressiveness, offensiveness and stereotype. By training state-of-the-art deep learning models on this novel resource, we show how our approach improves the prediction performance of a state-of-the-art supervised classifier.


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Algorithmic Bias and Data Bias: Understanding the Relation between Distributionally Robust Optimization and Data Curation

Jun 17, 2021
Agnieszka Słowik, Léon Bottou

Machine learning systems based on minimizing average error have been shown to perform inconsistently across notable subsets of the data, which is not exposed by a low average error for the entire dataset. In consequential social and economic applications, where data represent people, this can lead to discrimination of underrepresented gender and ethnic groups. Given the importance of bias mitigation in machine learning, the topic leads to contentious debates on how to ensure fairness in practice (data bias versus algorithmic bias). Distributionally Robust Optimization (DRO) seemingly addresses this problem by minimizing the worst expected risk across subpopulations. We establish theoretical results that clarify the relation between DRO and the optimization of the same loss averaged on an adequately weighted training dataset. The results cover finite and infinite number of training distributions, as well as convex and non-convex loss functions. We show that neither DRO nor curating the training set should be construed as a complete solution for bias mitigation: in the same way that there is no universally robust training set, there is no universal way to setup a DRO problem and ensure a socially acceptable set of results. We then leverage these insights to provide a mininal set of practical recommendations for addressing bias with DRO. Finally, we discuss ramifications of our results in other related applications of DRO, using an example of adversarial robustness. Our results show that there is merit to both the algorithm-focused and the data-focused side of the bias debate, as long as arguments in favor of these positions are precisely qualified and backed by relevant mathematics known today.


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Hypervolume-Optimal $μ$-Distributions on Line/Plane-based Pareto Fronts in Three Dimensions

Apr 20, 2021
Ke Shang, Hisao Ishibuchi, Weiyu Chen, Yang Nan, Weiduo Liao

Hypervolume is widely used in the evolutionary multi-objective optimization (EMO) field to evaluate the quality of a solution set. For a solution set with $\mu$ solutions on a Pareto front, a larger hypervolume means a better solution set. Investigating the distribution of the solution set with the largest hypervolume is an important topic in EMO, which is the so-called hypervolume optimal $\mu$-distribution. Theoretical results have shown that the $\mu$ solutions are uniformly distributed on a linear Pareto front in two dimensions. However, the $\mu$ solutions are not always uniformly distributed on a single-line Pareto front in three dimensions. They are only uniform when the single-line Pareto front has one constant objective. In this paper, we further investigate the hypervolume optimal $\mu$-distribution in three dimensions. We consider the line- and plane-based Pareto fronts. For the line-based Pareto fronts, we extend the single-line Pareto front to two-line and three-line Pareto fronts, where each line has one constant objective. For the plane-based Pareto fronts, the linear triangular and inverted triangular Pareto fronts are considered. First, we show that the $\mu$ solutions are not always uniformly distributed on the line-based Pareto fronts. The uniformity depends on how the lines are combined. Then, we show that a uniform solution set on the plane-based Pareto front is not always optimal for hypervolume maximization. It is locally optimal with respect to a $(\mu+1)$ selection scheme. Our results can help researchers in the community to better understand and utilize the hypervolume indicator.

* This paper has been submitted to a journal for review 

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Using Voice and Biofeedback to Predict User Engagement during Requirements Interviews

Apr 06, 2021
Alessio Ferrari, Thaide Huichapa, Paola Spoletini, Nicole Novielli, Davide Fucci, Daniela Girardi

Capturing users engagement is crucial for gathering feedback about the features of a software product. In a market-driven context, current approaches to collect and analyze users feedback are based on techniques leveraging information extracted from product reviews and social media. These approaches are hardly applicable in bespoke software development, or in contexts in which one needs to gather information from specific users. In such cases, companies need to resort to face-to-face interviews to get feedback on their products. In this paper, we propose to utilize biometric data, in terms of physiological and voice features, to complement interviews with information about the engagement of the user on the discussed product-relevant topics. We evaluate our approach by interviewing users while gathering their physiological data (i.e., biofeedback) using an Empatica E4 wristband, and capturing their voice through the default audio-recorder of a common laptop. Our results show that we can predict users' engagement by training supervised machine learning algorithms on biometric data, and that voice features alone can be sufficiently effective. The performance of the prediction algorithms is maximised when pre-processing the training data with the synthetic minority oversampling technique (SMOTE). The results of our work suggest that biofeedback and voice analysis can be used to facilitate prioritization of requirements oriented to product improvement, and to steer the interview based on users' engagement. Furthermore, the usage of voice features can be particularly helpful for emotion-aware requirements elicitation in remote communication, either performed by human analysts or voice-based chatbots.

* 44 pages, submitted for peer-review to Empirical Software Engineering Journal 

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A Survey of Deep RL and IL for Autonomous Driving Policy Learning

Jan 06, 2021
Zeyu Zhu, Huijing Zhao

Autonomous driving (AD) agents generate driving policies based on online perception results, which are obtained at multiple levels of abstraction, e.g., behavior planning, motion planning and control. Driving policies are crucial to the realization of safe, efficient and harmonious driving behaviors, where AD agents still face substantial challenges in complex scenarios. Due to their successful application in fields such as robotics and video games, the use of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) and deep imitation learning (DIL) techniques to derive AD policies have witnessed vast research efforts in recent years. This paper is a comprehensive survey of this body of work, which is conducted at three levels: First, a taxonomy of the literature studies is constructed from the system perspective, among which five modes of integration of DRL/DIL models into an AD architecture are identified. Second, the formulations of DRL/DIL models for conducting specified AD tasks are comprehensively reviewed, where various designs on the model state and action spaces and the reinforcement learning rewards are covered. Finally, an in-depth review is conducted on how the critical issues of AD applications regarding driving safety, interaction with other traffic participants and uncertainty of the environment are addressed by the DRL/DIL models. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first survey to focus on AD policy learning using DRL/DIL, which is addressed simultaneously from the system, task-driven and problem-driven perspectives. We share and discuss findings, which may lead to the investigation of various topics in the future.


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MANGO: A Mask Attention Guided One-Stage Scene Text Spotter

Dec 08, 2020
Liang Qiao, Ying Chen, Zhanzhan Cheng, Yunlu Xu, Yi Niu, Shiliang Pu, Fei Wu

Recently end-to-end scene text spotting has become a popular research topic due to its advantages of global optimization and high maintainability in real applications. Most methods attempt to develop various region of interest (RoI) operations to concatenate the detection part and the sequence recognition part into a two-stage text spotting framework. However, in such framework, the recognition part is highly sensitive to the detected results (\emph{e.g.}, the compactness of text contours). To address this problem, in this paper, we propose a novel Mask AttentioN Guided One-stage text spotting framework named MANGO, in which character sequences can be directly recognized without RoI operation. Concretely, a position-aware mask attention module is developed to generate attention weights on each text instance and its characters. It allows different text instances in an image to be allocated on different feature map channels which are further grouped as a batch of instance features. Finally, a lightweight sequence decoder is applied to generate the character sequences. It is worth noting that MANGO inherently adapts to arbitrary-shaped text spotting and can be trained end-to-end with only coarse position information (\emph{e.g.}, rectangular bounding box) and text annotations. Experimental results show that the proposed method achieves competitive and even new state-of-the-art performance on both regular and irregular text spotting benchmarks, i.e., ICDAR 2013, ICDAR 2015, Total-Text, and SCUT-CTW1500.

* Accepted to AAAI2021. The code will be published soon 

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Kronecker CP Decomposition with Fast Multiplication for Compressing RNNs

Aug 21, 2020
Dingheng Wang, Bijiao Wu, Guangshe Zhao, Hengnu Chen, Lei Deng, Tianyi Yan, Guoqi Li

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are powerful in the tasks oriented to sequential data, such as natural language processing and video recognition. However, since the modern RNNs, including long-short term memory (LSTM) and gated recurrent unit (GRU) networks, have complex topologies and expensive space/computation complexity, compressing them becomes a hot and promising topic in recent years. Among plenty of compression methods, tensor decomposition, e.g., tensor train (TT), block term (BT), tensor ring (TR) and hierarchical Tucker (HT), appears to be the most amazing approach since a very high compression ratio might be obtained. Nevertheless, none of these tensor decomposition formats can provide both the space and computation efficiency. In this paper, we consider to compress RNNs based on a novel Kronecker CANDECOMP/PARAFAC (KCP) decomposition, which is derived from Kronecker tensor (KT) decomposition, by proposing two fast algorithms of multiplication between the input and the tensor-decomposed weight. According to our experiments based on UCF11, Youtube Celebrities Face and UCF50 datasets, it can be verified that the proposed KCP-RNNs have comparable performance of accuracy with those in other tensor-decomposed formats, and even 278,219x compression ratio could be obtained by the low rank KCP. More importantly, KCP-RNNs are efficient in both space and computation complexity compared with other tensor-decomposed ones under similar ranks. Besides, we find KCP has the best potential for parallel computing to accelerate the calculations in neural networks.


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Efficient minimum word error rate training of RNN-Transducer for end-to-end speech recognition

Jul 27, 2020
Jinxi Guo, Gautam Tiwari, Jasha Droppo, Maarten Van Segbroeck, Che-Wei Huang, Andreas Stolcke, Roland Maas

In this work, we propose a novel and efficient minimum word error rate (MWER) training method for RNN-Transducer (RNN-T). Unlike previous work on this topic, which performs on-the-fly limited-size beam-search decoding and generates alignment scores for expected edit-distance computation, in our proposed method, we re-calculate and sum scores of all the possible alignments for each hypothesis in N-best lists. The hypothesis probability scores and back-propagated gradients are calculated efficiently using the forward-backward algorithm. Moreover, the proposed method allows us to decouple the decoding and training processes, and thus we can perform offline parallel-decoding and MWER training for each subset iteratively. Experimental results show that this proposed semi-on-the-fly method can speed up the on-the-fly method by 6 times and result in a similar WER improvement (3.6%) over a baseline RNN-T model. The proposed MWER training can also effectively reduce high-deletion errors (9.2% WER-reduction) introduced by RNN-T models when EOS is added for endpointer. Further improvement can be achieved if we use a proposed RNN-T rescoring method to re-rank hypotheses and use external RNN-LM to perform additional rescoring. The best system achieves a 5% relative improvement on an English test-set of real far-field recordings and a 11.6% WER reduction on music-domain utterances.

* Accepted to Interspeech 2020 

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A Review of Computer Vision Methods in Network Security

May 07, 2020
Jiawei Zhao, Rahat Masood, Suranga Seneviratne

Network security has become an area of significant importance more than ever as highlighted by the eye-opening numbers of data breaches, attacks on critical infrastructure, and malware/ransomware/cryptojacker attacks that are reported almost every day. Increasingly, we are relying on networked infrastructure and with the advent of IoT, billions of devices will be connected to the internet, providing attackers with more opportunities to exploit. Traditional machine learning methods have been frequently used in the context of network security. However, such methods are more based on statistical features extracted from sources such as binaries, emails, and packet flows. On the other hand, recent years witnessed a phenomenal growth in computer vision mainly driven by the advances in the area of convolutional neural networks. At a glance, it is not trivial to see how computer vision methods are related to network security. Nonetheless, there is a significant amount of work that highlighted how methods from computer vision can be applied in network security for detecting attacks or building security solutions. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive survey of such work under three topics; i) phishing attempt detection, ii) malware detection, and iii) traffic anomaly detection. Next, we review a set of such commercial products for which public information is available and explore how computer vision methods are effectively used in those products. Finally, we discuss existing research gaps and future research directions, especially focusing on how network security research community and the industry can leverage the exponential growth of computer vision methods to build much secure networked systems.


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