The NeurIPS 2020 paper Learning to Learn Variational Semantic Memory by Xiantong Zhen*, Yingjun Du*, Huan Xiong, Qiang Qiu, Cees G. M. Snoek, and Ling Shao is now available. In this paper, we introduce variational semantic memory into meta-learning to acquire long-term knowledge for few-shot learning. The variational semantic memory accrues and stores semantic information for the probabilistic inference of class prototypes in a hierarchical Bayesian framework. The semantic memory is grown from scratch and gradually consolidated by absorbing information from tasks it experiences. By doing so, it is able to accumulate long-term, general knowledge that enables it to learn new concepts of objects. We formulate memory recall as the variational inference of a latent memory variable from addressed contents, which offers a principled way to adapt the knowledge to individual tasks. Our variational semantic memory, as a new long-term memory module, confers principled recall and update mechanisms that enable semantic information to be efficiently accrued and adapted for few-shot learning. Experiments demonstrate that the probabilistic modelling of prototypes achieves a more informative representation of object classes compared to deterministic vectors. The consistent new state-of-the-art performance on four benchmarks shows the benefit of variational semantic memory in boosting few-shot recognition.

Graphical illustration of the proposed probabilistic prototype inference with variational semantic memory.

The BMVC 2020 paper Bias-Awareness for Zero-Shot Learning the Seen and Unseen by William Thong and Cees Snoek is now available. Generalized zero-shot learning recognizes inputs from both seen and unseen classes. Yet, existing methods tend to be biased towards the classes seen during training. In this paper, we strive to mitigate this bias. We propose a bias-aware learner to map inputs to a semantic embedding space for generalized zero-shot learning. During training, the model learns to regress to real-valued class prototypes in the embedding space with temperature scaling, while a margin-based bidirectional entropy term regularizes seen and unseen probabilities. Relying on a real-valued semantic embedding space provides a versatile approach, as the model can operate on different types of semantic information for both seen and unseen classes. Experiments are carried out on four benchmarks for generalized zero-shot learning and demonstrate the benefits of the proposed bias-aware classifier, both as a stand-alone method or in combination with generated features.

The ICML 2020 paper Learning to Learn Kernels with Variational Random Features by Xiantong Zhen, Haoliang Sun, Yingjun Du, Jun Xu, Yilong Yin, Ling Shaoand Cees Snoek is now available. In this work, we introduce kernels with random Fourier features in the meta-learning framework to leverage their strong few-shot learning ability. We propose meta variational random features (MetaVRF) to learn adaptive kernels for the base-learner, which is developed in a latent variable model by treating the random feature basis as the latent variable. We formulate the optimization of MetaVRF as a variational inference problem by deriving an evidence lower bound under the meta-learning framework. To incorporate shared knowledge from related tasks, we propose a context inference of the posterior, which is established by an LSTM architecture. The LSTM-based inference network can effectively integrate the context information of previous tasks with task-specific information, generating informative and adaptive features. The learned MetaVRF can produce kernels of high representational power with a relatively low spectral sampling rate and also enables fast adaptation to new tasks. Experimental results on a variety of few-shot regression and classification tasks demonstrate that MetaVRF delivers much better, or at least competitive, performance compared to existing meta-learning alternatives.

The ICMR 2020 paper Interactivity Proposals for Surveillance Videos by Shuo Chen, Pascal Mettes, Tao Hu and Cees Snoek is now available. This paper introduces spatio-temporal interactivity proposals for video surveillance. Rather than focusing solely on actions performed by subjects, we explicitly include the objects that the subjects interact with. To enable interactivity proposals, we introduce the notion of interactivityness, a score that reflects the likelihood that a subject and object have an interplay. For its estimation, we propose a network containing an interactivity block and geometric encoding between subjects and objects. The network computes local interactivity likelihoods from subject and object trajectories, which we use to link intervals of high scores into spatio-temporal proposals. Experiments on an interactivity dataset with new evaluation metrics show the general benefit of interactivity proposals as well as its favorable performance compared to traditional temporal and spatio-temporal action proposals. 

The CVPR 2020 paper ActionBytes: Learning from Trimmed Videos to Localize Actions by Mihir Jain, Amir Ghodrati and Cees Snoek is now available. This paper tackles the problem of localizing actions in long untrimmed videos. Different from existing works, which all use annotated untrimmed videos during training, we learn only from short trimmed videos. This enables learning from large-scale datasets originally designed for action classification. We propose a method to train an action localization network that segments a video into interpretable fragments, we call ActionBytes. Our method jointly learns to cluster ActionBytes and trains the localization network using the cluster assignments as pseudo-labels. By doing so, we train on short trimmed videos that become untrimmed for ActionBytes. In isolation, or when merged, the ActionBytes also serve as effective action proposals. Experiments demonstrate that our boundary-guided training generalizes to unknown action classes and localizes actions in long videos of Thumos14, MultiThumos, and ActivityNet1.2. Furthermore, we show the advantage of ActionBytes for zero-shot localization as well as traditional weakly supervised localization, that train on long videos, to achieve state-of-the-art results.

The CVPR 2020 paper: Searching for Actions on the Hyperbole by Teng Long, Pascal Mettes, Heng Tao Shen and Cees Snoek is now available. In this paper, we introduce hierarchical action search. Starting from the observation that hierarchies are mostly ignored in the action literature, we retrieve not only individual actions but also relevant and related actions, given an action name or video example as input. We propose a hyperbolic action network, which is centered around a hyperbolic space shared by action hierarchies and videos. Our discriminative hyperbolic embedding projects actions on the shared space while jointly optimizing hypernym-hyponym relations between action pairs and a large margin separation between all actions. The projected actions serve as hyperbolic prototypes that we match with projected video representations. The result is a learned space where videos are positioned in entailment cones formed by different subtrees. To perform search in this space, we start from a query and increasingly enlarge its entailment cone to retrieve hierarchically relevant action videos. Experiments on three action datasets with new hierarchy annotations show the effectiveness of our approach for hierarchical action search by name and by video example, regardless of whether queried actions have been seen or not during training. Our implementation is available at

The CVPR 2020 paper: Actor-Transformers for Group Activity Recognition by Kirill Gavrilyuk, Ryan Sanford, Mehrsan Javan and Cees Snoek is now available. This paper strives to recognize individual actions and group activities from videos. While existing solutions for this challenging problem explicitly model spatial and temporal relationships based on location of individual actors, we propose an actor-transformer model able to learn and selectively extract information relevant for group activity recognition. We feed the transformer with rich actor-specific static and dynamic representations expressed by features from a 2D pose network and 3D CNN, respectively. We empirically study different ways to combine these representations and show their complementary benefits. Experiments show what is important to transform and how it should be transformed. What is more, actor-transformers achieve state-of-the-art results on two publicly available benchmarks for group activity recognition, outperforming the previous best published results by a considerable margin.

The CVPR 2020 paper: Cloth in the Wind: A Case Study of Physical Measurement through Simulation by Tom Runia, Kirill Gavrilyuk, Cees Snoek and Arnold Smeulders is now available. For many of the physical phenomena around us, we have developed sophisticated models explaining their behavior. Nevertheless, measuring physical properties from visual observations is challenging due to the high number of causally underlying physical parameters — including material properties and external forces. In this paper, we propose to measure latent physical properties for cloth in the wind without ever having seen a real example before. Our solution is an iterative refinement procedure with simulation at its core. The algorithm gradually updates the physical model parameters by running a simulation of the observed phenomenon and comparing the current simulation to a real-world observation. The correspondence is measured using an embedding function that maps physically similar examples to nearby points. We consider a case study of cloth in the wind, with curling flags as our leading example — a seemingly simple phenomena but physically highly involved. Based on the physics of cloth and its visual manifestation, we propose an instantiation of the embedding function. For this mapping, modeled as a deep network, we introduce a spectral layer that decomposes a video volume into its temporal spectral power and corresponding frequencies. Our experiments demonstrate that the proposed method compares favorably to prior work on the task of measuring cloth material properties and external wind force from a real-world video.