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Non-parametric Models for Structured Data and Applications to Human Bodies and Natural Scenes

Lehrmann, A.

ETH Zurich, July 2016 (phdthesis)

The purpose of this thesis is the study of non-parametric models for structured data and their fields of application in computer vision. We aim at the development of context-sensitive architectures which are both expressive and efficient. Our focus is on directed graphical models, in particular Bayesian networks, where we combine the flexibility of non-parametric local distributions with the efficiency of a global topology with bounded treewidth. A bound on the treewidth is obtained by either constraining the maximum indegree of the underlying graph structure or by introducing determinism. The non-parametric distributions in the nodes of the graph are given by decision trees or kernel density estimators. The information flow implied by specific network topologies, especially the resultant (conditional) independencies, allows for a natural integration and control of contextual information. We distinguish between three different types of context: static, dynamic, and semantic. In four different approaches we propose models which exhibit varying combinations of these contextual properties and allow modeling of structured data in space, time, and hierarchies derived thereof. The generative character of the presented models enables a direct synthesis of plausible hypotheses. Extensive experiments validate the developed models in two application scenarios which are of particular interest in computer vision: human bodies and natural scenes. In the practical sections of this work we discuss both areas from different angles and show applications of our models to human pose, motion, and segmentation as well as object categorization and localization. Here, we benefit from the availability of modern datasets of unprecedented size and diversity. Comparisons to traditional approaches and state-of-the-art research on the basis of well-established evaluation criteria allows the objective assessment of our contributions.

pdf [BibTex]


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Artscience Sciencart

Black, M. J., Levy, D., PamelaZ,

In Art and Innovation: The Xerox PARC Artist-in-Residence Program, pages: 244-300, (Editors: Harris, C.), MIT-Press, 1999 (incollection)

One of the effects of the PARC Artist In Residence (PAIR) program has been to expose the strong connections between scientists and artists. Both do what they do because they need to do it. They are often called upon to justify their work in order to be allowed to continue to do it. They need to justify it to funders, to sponsoring institutions, corporations, the government, the public. They publish papers, teach workshops, and write grants touting the educational or health benefits of what they do. All of these things are to some extent valid, but the fact of the matter is: artists and scientists do their work because they are driven to do it. They need to explore and create.

This chapter attempts to give a flavor of one multi-way "PAIRing" between performance artist PamelaZ and two PARC researchers, Michael Black and David Levy. The three of us paired up because we found each other interesting. We chose each other. While most artists in the program are paired with a single researcher Pamela jokingly calls herself a bigamist for choosing two PAIR "husbands" with different backgrounds and interests.

There are no "rules" to the PAIR program; no one told us what to do with our time. Despite this we all had a sense that we needed to produce something tangible during Pamela's year-long residency. In fact, Pamela kept extending her residency because she did not feel as though we had actually made anything concrete. The interesting thing was that all along we were having great conversations, some of which Pamela recorded. What we did not see at the time was that it was these conversations between artists and scientists that are at the heart of the PAIR program and that these conversations were changing the way we thought about our own work and the relationships between science and art.

To give these conversations their due, and to allow the reader into our PAIR interactions, we include two of our many conversations in this chapter.