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Foveated Vision Models for Search and Recognition


Computer vision has made a significant progress in recent years thanks to advancement in neural network architectures and computing power. At the sensory level, the current machine vision systems sample the visual data uniformly to make predictions about the scene. This is in contrast with the human vision system that has high visual acuity only in a small central region, the fovea, and much coarser sampling away from the center. There has been a renewed interest, particularly in the context of active vision for robotics navigation and scene exploration, to develop biologically motivated methods that can leverage such foveated computations. While foveated vision offers computational savings at or near the region of interest, it requires eye movements to scan the scene for effective image understanding. The hypothesis is that methods that can leverage non-uniform sampling of the field of view together with eye-movements will lead to a new class of active vision systems that are optimized computationally for specific tasks of interest.

Inspired by the above observations, this research provides, for the first time, a comprehensive study of the human visual search in the constrained setting of person identification in the wild. A novel video database is created that systematically tests how different parts of a person contribute towards eye-movements and person identification. Our study shows that the search errors can dominate the overall recognition accuracy in human subject experiments. This calls for new strategies for integrating eye tracking with foveated image representations. Towards this two specific approaches are investigated further.

In the first approach, a deep neural network based method is developed to model eye movements. Using the long-short-term-memory to model the successive fixations. The proposed method outperforms state of the state of the art performance while simplifying the feature extraction procedure. The second approach focuses on the foveated image model that leverages multiple fixations. A convolutional neural network method is proposed that works directly with the foveated input images that achieves competitive recognition rates compared to standard neural networks operating on the same number of input pixels.

Overall the thesis investigates the requirements and implementations that could support active foveated vision, and lays down the ground work for future studies in this area.

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