Foundation Models, and their origin, analysis and development have been typically associated with the US and Big Tech. Yet, a critical share of important insights and novel approaches¬†do¬†come from Europe, both within academia and industry. Part of this winter school’s goal is to highlight these fresh perspectives and give the students an in-depth look into how Europe is guiding its own research agenda with unique directions and bringing together the community. The winter school will take place at the University of Amsterdam. For full program see:

The NeurIPS, 2023 cam-ready paper Learn to Categorize or Categorize to Learn? Self-Coding for Generalized Category Discovery by Sarah Rastegar, Hazel Doughty, Cees G M Snoek is now available. In the quest for unveiling novel categories at test time, we confront the inherent limitations of traditional supervised recognition models that are restricted by a predefined category set. While strides have been made in the realms of self-supervised and open-world learning towards test-time category discovery, a crucial yet often overlooked question persists: what exactly delineates a category? In this paper, we conceptualize a category through the lens of optimization, viewing it as an optimal solution to a well-defined problem. Harnessing this unique conceptualization, we propose a novel, efficient and self-supervised method capable of discovering previously unknown categories at test time. A salient feature of our approach is the assignment of minimum length category codes to individual data instances, which encapsulates the implicit category hierarchy prevalent in real-world datasets. This mechanism affords us enhanced control over category granularity, thereby equipping our model to handle fine-grained categories adeptly. Experimental evaluations, bolstered by state-of-the-art benchmark comparisons, testify to the efficacy of our solution in managing unknown categories at test time. Furthermore, we fortify our proposition with a theoretical foundation, providing proof of its optimality.

The NeurIPS, 2023 cam-ready paper Learning Unseen Modality Interaction by Yunhua Zhang, Hazel Doughty, Cees G M Snoek is now available. Multimodal learning assumes all modality combinations of interest are available during training to learn cross-modal correspondences. In this paper, we challenge this modality-complete assumption for multimodal learning and instead strive for generalization to unseen modality combinations during inference. We pose the problem of unseen modality interaction and introduce a first solution. It exploits a module that projects the multidimensional features of different modalities into a common space with rich information preserved. This allows the information to be accumulated with a simple summation operation across available modalities. To reduce overfitting to less discriminative modality combinations during training, we further improve the model learning with pseudo-supervision indicating the reliability of a modality’s prediction. We demonstrate that our approach is effective for diverse tasks and modalities by evaluating it for multimodal video classification, robot state regression, and multimedia retrieval.

The NeurIPS2023 cam-ready ProtoDiff: Learning to Learn Prototypical Networks by Task-Guided Diffusion by Yingjun Du, Zehao Xiao, Shengcai Liao, Cees G M Snoek is now available. Prototype-based meta-learning has emerged as a powerful technique for addressing few-shot learning challenges. However, estimating a deterministic prototype using a simple average function from a limited number of examples remains a fragile process. To overcome this limitation, we introduce ProtoDiff, a novel framework that leverages a task-guided diffusion model during the meta-training phase to gradually generate prototypes, thereby providing efficient class representations. Specifically, a set of prototypes is optimized to achieve per-task prototype overfitting, enabling accurately obtaining the overfitted prototypes for individual tasks. Furthermore, we introduce a task-guided diffusion process within the prototype space, enabling the meta-learning of a generative process that transitions from a vanilla prototype to an overfitted prototype. ProtoDiff gradually generates task-specific prototypes from random noise during the meta-test stage, conditioned on the limited samples available for the new task. Furthermore, to expedite training and enhance ProtoDiff’s performance, we propose the utilization of residual prototype learning, which leverages the sparsity of the residual prototype. We conduct thorough ablation studies to demonstrate its ability to accurately capture the underlying prototype distribution and enhance generalization. The new state-of-the-art performance on within-domain, cross-domain, and few-task few-shot classification further substantiates the benefit of ProtoDiff.

The CVPR 2023 paper Self-Guided Diffusion Models by Vincent Tao Hu, David W Zhang, Yuki M Asano, Gertjan J Burghouts, and Cees Snoek is now available. Diffusion models have demonstrated remarkable progress in image generation quality, especially when guidance is used to control the generative process. However, guidance requires a large amount of image-annotation pairs for training and is thus dependent on their availability, correctness and unbiasedness. In this paper, we eliminate the need for such annotation by instead leveraging the flexibility of self-supervision signals to design a framework for self-guided diffusion models. By leveraging a feature extraction function and a self-annotation function, our method provides guidance signals at various image granularities: from the level of holistic images to object boxes and even segmentation masks. Our experiments on single-label and multi-label image datasets demonstrate that self-labeled guidance always outperforms diffusion models without guidance and may even surpass guidance based on ground-truth labels, especially on unbalanced data. When equipped with self-supervised box or mask proposals, our method further generates visually diverse yet semantically consistent images, without the need for any class, box, or segment label annotation. Self-guided diffusion is simple, flexible and expected to profit from deployment at scale.

The CVPR 2023 paper Test of Time: Instilling Video-Language Models with a Sense of Time by Piyush Bagad, Makarand Tapaswi, Cees Snoek is now available. Modeling and understanding time remains a challenge in contemporary video understanding models. With language emerging as a key driver towards powerful generalization, it is imperative for foundational video-language models to have a sense of time. In this paper, we consider a specific aspect of temporal understanding: consistency of time order as elicited by before/after relations. We establish that six existing video-language models struggle to understand even such simple temporal relations. We then question whether it is feasible to equip these foundational models with temporal awareness without re-training them from scratch. Towards this, we propose a temporal adaptation recipe on top of one such model, VideoCLIP, based on post-pretraining on a small amount of video-text data. We conduct a zero-shot evaluation of the adapted models on six datasets for three downstream tasks which require a varying degree of time awareness. We observe encouraging performance gains especially when the task needs higher time awareness. Our work serves as a first step towards probing and instilling a sense of time in existing video-language models without the need for data and compute-intense training from scratch.

The CVPR 2023 paper SuperDisco: Super-Class Discovery Improves Visual Recognition for the Long-Tail by Yingjun Du, Jiayi Shen, Xiantong Zhen, and Cees Snoek is now available. Modern image classifiers perform well on populated classes, while degrading considerably on tail classes with only a few instances. Humans, by contrast, effortlessly handle the long-tailed recognition challenge, since they can learn the tail representation based on different levels of semantic abstraction, making the learned tail features more discriminative. This phenomenon motivated us to propose SuperDisco, an algorithm that discovers super-class representations for long-tailed recognition using a graph model. We learn to construct the super-class graph to guide the representation learning to deal with long-tailed distributions. Through message passing on the super-class graph, image representations are rectified and refined by attending to the most relevant entities based on the semantic similarity among their super-classes. Moreover, we propose to meta-learn the super-class graph under the supervision of a prototype graph constructed from a small amount of imbalanced data. By doing so, we obtain a more robust super-class graph that further improves the long-tailed recognition performance. The consistent state-of-the-art experiments on the long-tailed CIFAR-100, ImageNet, Places and iNaturalist demonstrate the benefit of the discovered super-class graph for dealing with long-tailed distributions.

The Learning on Graphs 2022 paper “Pruning Edges and Gradients to Learn Hypergraphs from Larger Sets” by David W. Zhang, Gertjan Burghouts and Cees Snoek is now available. This paper aims for set-to-hypergraph prediction, where the goal is to infer the set of relations for a given set of entities. This is a common abstraction for applications in particle physics, biological systems and combinatorial optimization. We address two common scaling problems encountered in set-to-hypergraph tasks that limit the size of the input set: the exponentially growing number of hyperedges and the run-time complexity, both leading to higher memory requirements. We make three contributions. First, we propose to predict and supervise the positive edges only, which changes the asymptotic memory scaling from exponential to linear. Second, we introduce a training method that encourages iterative refinement of the predicted hypergraph, which allows us to skip iterations in the backward pass for improved efficiency and constant memory usage. Third, we combine both contributions in a single set-to-hypergraph model that enables us to address problems with larger input set sizes. We provide ablations for our main technical contributions and show that our model outperforms prior state-of-the-art, especially for larger sets.

The NeurIPS 2022 paper “Variational Model Perturbation for Source-Free Domain Adaptation” by Mengmeng Jing, Xiantong Zhen, Jingjing Li and Cees Snoek is now available. We aim for source-free domain adaptation, where the task is to deploy a model pre-trained on source domains to target domains. The challenges stem from the distribution shift from the source to the target domain, coupled with the unavailability of any source data and labeled target data for optimization. Rather than fine-tuning the model by updating the parameters, we propose to perturb the source model to achieve adaptation to target domains. We introduce perturbations into the model parameters by variational Bayesian inference in a probabilistic framework. By doing so, we can effectively adapt the model to the target domain while largely preserving the discriminative ability. Importantly, we demonstrate the theoretical connection to learning Bayesian neural networks, which proves the generalizability of the perturbed model to target domains. To enable more efficient optimization, we further employ a parameter sharing strategy, which substantially reduces the learnable parameters compared to a fully Bayesian neural network. Our model perturbation provides a new probabilistic way for domain adaptation which enables efficient adaptation to target domains while maximally preserving knowledge in source models. Experiments on several source-free benchmarks under three different evaluation settings verify the effectiveness of the proposed variational model perturbation for source-free domain adaptation.