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Spotlight
Learning to Compose Visual Relations
Nan Liu · Shuang Li · Yilun Du · Josh Tenenbaum · Antonio Torralba

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The visual world around us can be described as a structured set of objects and their associated relations. An image of a room may be conjured given only the description of the underlying objects and their associated relations. While there has been significant work on designing deep neural networks which may compose individual objects together, less work has been done on composing the individual relations between objects. A principal difficulty is that while the placement of objects is mutually independent, their relations are entangled and dependent on each other. To circumvent this issue, existing works primarily compose relations by utilizing a holistic encoder, in the form of text or graphs. In this work, we instead propose to represent each relation as an unnormalized density (an energy-based model), enabling us to compose separate relations in a factorized manner. We show that such a factorized decomposition allows the model to both generate and edit scenes that have multiple sets of relations more faithfully. We further show that decomposition enables our model to effectively understand the underlying relational scene structure.

Author Information

Nan Liu (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Shuang Li (MIT)
Yilun Du (MIT)
Josh Tenenbaum (MIT)

Josh Tenenbaum is an Associate Professor of Computational Cognitive Science at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received his PhD from MIT in 1999, and was an Assistant Professor at Stanford University from 1999 to 2002. He studies learning and inference in humans and machines, with the twin goals of understanding human intelligence in computational terms and bringing computers closer to human capacities. He focuses on problems of inductive generalization from limited data -- learning concepts and word meanings, inferring causal relations or goals -- and learning abstract knowledge that supports these inductive leaps in the form of probabilistic generative models or 'intuitive theories'. He has also developed several novel machine learning methods inspired by human learning and perception, most notably Isomap, an approach to unsupervised learning of nonlinear manifolds in high-dimensional data. He has been Associate Editor for the journal Cognitive Science, has been active on program committees for the CogSci and NIPS conferences, and has co-organized a number of workshops, tutorials and summer schools in human and machine learning. Several of his papers have received outstanding paper awards or best student paper awards at the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), NIPS, and Cognitive Science conferences. He is the recipient of the New Investigator Award from the Society for Mathematical Psychology (2005), the Early Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists (2007), and the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology (in the area of cognition and human learning) from the American Psychological Association (2008).

Antonio Torralba (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

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