Collaborating Authors

Notes on a New Philosophy of Empirical Science Machine Learning

This book presents a methodology and philosophy of empirical science based on large scale lossless data compression. In this view a theory is scientific if it can be used to build a data compression program, and it is valuable if it can compress a standard benchmark database to a small size, taking into account the length of the compressor itself. This methodology therefore includes an Occam principle as well as a solution to the problem of demarcation. Because of the fundamental difficulty of lossless compression, this type of research must be empirical in nature: compression can only be achieved by discovering and characterizing empirical regularities in the data. Because of this, the philosophy provides a way to reformulate fields such as computer vision and computational linguistics as empirical sciences: the former by attempting to compress databases of natural images, the latter by attempting to compress large text databases. The book argues that the rigor and objectivity of the compression principle should set the stage for systematic progress in these fields. The argument is especially strong in the context of computer vision, which is plagued by chronic problems of evaluation. The book also considers the field of machine learning. Here the traditional approach requires that the models proposed to solve learning problems be extremely simple, in order to avoid overfitting. However, the world may contain intrinsically complex phenomena, which would require complex models to understand. The compression philosophy can justify complex models because of the large quantity of data being modeled (if the target database is 100 Gb, it is easy to justify a 10 Mb model). The complex models and abstractions learned on the basis of the raw data (images, language, etc) can then be reused to solve any specific learning problem, such as face recognition or machine translation.

Baidu's Deep Voice 2 text-to-speech engine can imitate hundreds of human accents


Next time you hear a voice generated by Baidu's Deep Voice 2, you might not be able to tell whether it's human. Baidu, the Beijing-based juggernaut that commands 80 percent of the Chinese internet search market, is investing heavily in artificial intelligence. In 2013, it opened the Institute of Deep Learning, an R&D center focused on machine learning. And in May, it took the wraps off the newest version of Deep Voice, its AI-powered text-to-speech engine. Deep Voice 2, which follows on the heels of Deep Voice's public debut earlier this year, can produce real-time speech that's nearly indistinguishable from a human voice.

SEWA DB: A Rich Database for Audio-Visual Emotion and Sentiment Research in the Wild Artificial Intelligence

Natural human-computer interaction and audio-visual human behaviour sensing systems, which would achieve robust performance in-the-wild are more needed than ever as digital devices are becoming indispensable part of our life more and more. Accurately annotated real-world data are the crux in devising such systems. However, existing databases usually consider controlled settings, low demographic variability, and a single task. In this paper, we introduce the SEWA database of more than 2000 minutes of audio-visual data of 398 people coming from six cultures, 50% female, and uniformly spanning the age range of 18 to 65 years old. Subjects were recorded in two different contexts: while watching adverts and while discussing adverts in a video chat. The database includes rich annotations of the recordings in terms of facial landmarks, facial action units (FAU), various vocalisations, mirroring, and continuously valued valence, arousal, liking, agreement, and prototypic examples of (dis)liking. This database aims to be an extremely valuable resource for researchers in affective computing and automatic human sensing and is expected to push forward the research in human behaviour analysis, including cultural studies. Along with the database, we provide extensive baseline experiments for automatic FAU detection and automatic valence, arousal and (dis)liking intensity estimation.

Salient Object Detection: A Survey Artificial Intelligence

Detecting and segmenting salient objects in natural scenes, often referred to as salient object detection, has attracted a lot of interest in computer vision. While many models have been proposed and several applications have emerged, yet a deep understanding of achievements and issues is lacking. We aim to provide a comprehensive review of the recent progress in salient object detection and situate this field among other closely related areas such as generic scene segmentation, object proposal generation, and saliency for fixation prediction. Covering 228 publications, we survey i) roots, key concepts, and tasks, ii) core techniques and main modeling trends, and iii) datasets and evaluation metrics in salient object detection. We also discuss open problems such as evaluation metrics and dataset bias in model performance and suggest future research directions.

Machine Learning Systems for Highly-Distributed and Rapidly-Growing Data Machine Learning

The usability and practicality of any machine learning (ML) applications are largely influenced by two critical but hard-to-attain factors: low latency and low cost. Unfortunately, achieving low latency and low cost is very challenging when ML depends on real-world data that are highly distributed and rapidly growing (e.g., data collected by mobile phones and video cameras all over the world). Such real-world data pose many challenges in communication and computation. For example, when training data are distributed across data centers that span multiple continents, communication among data centers can easily overwhelm the limited wide-area network bandwidth, leading to prohibitively high latency and high cost. In this dissertation, we demonstrate that the latency and cost of ML on highly-distributed and rapidly-growing data can be improved by one to two orders of magnitude by designing ML systems that exploit the characteristics of ML algorithms, ML model structures, and ML training/serving data. We support this thesis statement with three contributions. First, we design a system that provides both low-latency and low-cost ML serving (inferencing) over large-scale and continuously-growing datasets, such as videos. Second, we build a system that makes ML training over geo-distributed datasets as fast as training within a single data center. Third, we present a first detailed study and a system-level solution on a fundamental and largely overlooked problem: ML training over non-IID (i.e., not independent and identically distributed) data partitions (e.g., facial images collected by cameras varies according to the demographics of each camera's location).