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Publication# Graph-based image representation learning

Abstract

Though deep learning (DL) algorithms are very powerful for image processing tasks, they generally require a lot of data to reach their full potential. Furthermore, there is no straightforward way to impose various properties, given by the prior knowledge about the target task, on the features extracted by a DL model. Therefore, in this thesis we propose several techniques that rely on the power of graph representations to embed prior knowledge inside the learning process. This allows to reduce the solution space and leads to faster optimization convergence and higher accuracy in the representation learning.

In our first work, inspired by the ability of a human to correctly classify rotated, shifted or flipped objects, we propose an algorithm that permits to inherently encode invariance to isometric transformations of objects in an image. Our DL architecture is based on graph representations and consists of three novel layers, which we refer to as graph convolutional, dynamic pooling and statistical layers. Our experiments on the image classification tasks show that our network correctly recognizes isometrically transformed objects even though such types of transformation are not seen by the network at training time. Standard DL techniques are typically not able to succeed in solving such a problem without extensive data augmentation.

Then, we propose to exploit the properties of graph-based approaches to efficiently process images with various types of projective geometry. In particular, we are interested in increasingly popular omnidirectional cameras, which have a 360 degree field of view. Despite their effectiveness, such cameras create images with specific geometric properties, which require special techniques for efficient processing. We propose an efficient way of adjusting the weights of the graph edges to adapt the filter responses to the geometric image properties introduced by omnidirectional cameras. Our experiments prove that using the proposed graph with properly adjusted edge weights permits to reach better performance as compared to using regular grid graph with equal weights.

Finally, the approach described above relies on the isotropic filters, which work well within our transformation invariant architecture for image classification. However, for other problems (e.g. image compression) or even when used without dynamic pooling and statistical layers that are defined within the proposed architecture, these filters are unable to efficiently encode the information about the object. Thus, we introduce a different technique based on anisotropic filters that adapt their shape and size according to the omnidirectional image geometry. The main advantage of this approach compared to the previous one is the ability to encode the orientation of an image pattern, which is important for various tasks such as image compression. Our experiments show that our approach adapts to different image projective geometries and achieves state-of-the-art performance on image classification and compression tasks.

Overall we propose several methods, which combine the power of DL and graph signal processing towards incorporating prior information about the target task inside the optimization procedure. We hope that the research efforts presented in this thesis will help the development of efficient DL algorithms that can use various types of prior knowledge to make them efficient even when the available training data is scarce.

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Machine Learning is a modern and actively developing field of computer science, devoted to extracting and estimating dependencies from empirical data. It combines such fields as statistics, optimization theory and artificial intelligence. In practical tasks, the general aim of Machine Learning is to construct algorithms able to generalize and predict in previously unseen situations based on some set of examples. Given some finite information, Machine Learning provides ways to exract knowledge, describe, explain and predict from data. Kernel Methods are one of the most successful branches of Machine Learning. They allow applying linear algorithms with well-founded properties such as generalization ability, to non-linear real-life problems. Support Vector Machine is a well-known example of a kernel method, which has found a wide range of applications in data analysis nowadays. In many practical applications, some additional prior knowledge is often available. This can be the knowledge about the data domain, invariant transformations, inner geometrical structures in data, some properties of the underlying process, etc. If used smartly, this information can provide significant improvement to any data processing algorithm. Thus, it is important to develop methods for incorporating prior knowledge into data-dependent models. The main objective of this thesis is to investigate approaches towards learning with kernel methods using prior knowledge. Invariant learning with kernel methods is considered in more details. In the first part of the thesis, kernels are developed which incorporate prior knowledge on invariant transformations. They apply when the desired transformation produce an object around every example, assuming that all points in the given object share the same class. Different types of objects, including hard geometrical objects and distributions are considered. These kernels were then applied for images classification with Support Vector Machines. Next, algorithms which specifically include prior knowledge are considered. An algorithm which linearly classifies distributions by their domain was developed. It is constructed such that it allows to apply kernels to solve non-linear tasks. Thus, it combines the discriminative power of support vector machines and the well-developed framework of generative models. It can be applied to a number of real-life tasks which include data represented as distributions. In the last part of the thesis, the use of unlabelled data as a source of prior knowledge is considered. The technique of modelling the unlabelled data with a graph is taken as a baseline from semi-supervised manifold learning. For classification problems, we use this apporach for building graph models of invariant manifolds. For regression problems, we use unlabelled data to take into account the inner geometry of the input space. To conclude, in this thesis we developed a number of approaches for incorporating some prior knowledge into kernel methods. We proposed invariant kernels for existing algorithms, developed new algorithms and adapted a technique taken from semi-supervised learning for invariant learning. In all these cases, links with related state-of-the-art approaches were investigated. Several illustrative experiments were carried out on real data on optical character recognition, face image classification, brain-computer interfaces, and a number of benchmark and synthetic datasets.

In recent years, Machine Learning based Computer Vision techniques made impressive progress. These algorithms proved particularly efficient for image classification or detection of isolated objects. From a probabilistic perspective, these methods can predict marginals, over single or multiple variables, independently, with high accuracy.
However, in many tasks of practical interest, we need to predict jointly several correlated variables.
Practical applications include people detection in crowded scenes, image segmentation, surface reconstruction, 3D pose estimation and others. A large part of the research effort in today's computer-vision community aims at finding task-specific solutions to these problems, while leveraging the power of Deep-Learning based classifiers. In this thesis, we present our journey towards a generic and practical solution based on mean-field (MF) inference.
Mean-field is a Statistical Physics-inspired method which has long been used in Computer-Vision as a variational approximation to posterior distributions over complex Conditional Random Fields. Standard
mean-field optimization is based on coordinate descent
and in many situations can be impractical.
We therefore propose a novel proximal gradient-based
approach to optimizing the variational objective. It
is naturally parallelizable and easy to implement.
We prove its convergence, and then demonstrate that, in
practice, it yields faster convergence and often finds better
optima than more traditional mean-field optimization techniques.
Then, we show that we can replace the fully factorized distribution of mean-field by a weighted mixture of such distributions, that similarly minimizes the KL-Divergence to the true posterior. Our extension of the clamping method proposed in previous works allows us to both produce a more descriptive approximation of the true posterior and, inspired by the diverse MAP paradigms, fit a mixture of mean-field approximations. We demonstrate that this positively impacts real-world algorithms that initially relied on mean-fields.
One of the important properties of the mean-field inference algorithms is that the closed-form updates are fully differentiable operations. This naturally allows to do parameter learning by simply unrolling multiple iterations of the updates, the so-called back-mean-field algorithm. We derive a novel and efficient structured learning method for multi-modal posterior distribution based on the Multi-Modal Mean-Field approximation, which can be seamlessly combined to modern gradient-based learning methods such as CNNs.
Finally, we explore in more details the specific problem of structured learning and prediction for multiple-people detection in crowded scenes. We then present a mean-field based structured deep-learning detection algorithm that provides state of the art results on this dataset.

Machine Learning is a modern and actively developing field of computer science, devoted to extracting and estimating dependencies from empirical data. It combines such fields as statistics, optimization theory and artificial intelligence. In practical tasks, the general aim of Machine Learning is to construct algorithms able to generalize and predict in previously unseen situations based on some set of examples. Given some finite information, Machine Learning provides ways to exract knowledge, describe, explain and predict from data. Kernel Methods are one of the most successful branches of Machine Learning. They allow applying linear algorithms with well-founded properties such as generalization ability, to non-linear real-life problems. Support Vector Machine is a well-known example of a kernel method, which has found a wide range of applications in data analysis nowadays. In many practical applications, some additional prior knowledge is often available. This can be the knowledge about the data domain, invariant transformations, inner geometrical structures in data, some properties of the underlying process, etc. If used smartly, this information can provide significant improvement to any data processing algorithm. Thus, it is important to develop methods for incorporating prior knowledge into data-dependent models. The main objective of this thesis is to investigate approaches towards learning with kernel methods using prior knowledge. Invariant learning with kernel methods is considered in more details. In the first part of the thesis, kernels are developed which incorporate prior knowledge on invariant transformations. They apply when the desired transformation produce an object around every example, assuming that all points in the given object share the same class. Different types of objects, including hard geometrical objects and distributions are considered. These kernels were then applied for images classification with Support Vector Machines. Next, algorithms which specifically include prior knowledge are considered. An algorithm which linearly classifies distributions by their domain was developed. It is constructed such that it allows to apply kernels to solve non-linear tasks. Thus, it combines the discriminative power of support vector machines and the well-developed framework of generative models. It can be applied to a number of real-life tasks which include data represented as distributions. In the last part of the thesis, the use of unlabelled data as a source of prior knowledge is considered. The technique of modelling the unlabelled data with a graph is taken as a baseline from semi-supervised manifold learning. For classification problems, we use this apporach for building graph models of invariant manifolds. For regression problems, we use unlabelled data to take into account the inner geometry of the input space. To conclude, in this thesis we developed a number of approaches for incorporating some prior knowledge into kernel methods. We proposed invariant kernels for existing algorithms, developed new algorithms and adapted a technique taken from semi-supervised learning for invariant learning. In all these cases, links with related state-of-the-art approaches were investigated. Several illustrative experiments were carried out on real data on optical character recognition, face image classification, brain-computer interfaces, and a number of benchmark and synthetic datasets.