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Dynamic Visual Reasoning by Learning Differentiable Physics Models from Video and Language
Mingyu Ding · Zhenfang Chen · Tao Du · Ping Luo · Josh Tenenbaum · Chuang Gan

Thu Dec 09 04:30 PM -- 06:00 PM (PST) @

In this work, we propose a unified framework, called Visual Reasoning with Differ-entiable Physics (VRDP), that can jointly learn visual concepts and infer physics models of objects and their interactions from videos and language. This is achieved by seamlessly integrating three components: a visual perception module, a concept learner, and a differentiable physics engine. The visual perception module parses each video frame into object-centric trajectories and represents them as latent scene representations. The concept learner grounds visual concepts (e.g., color, shape, and material) from these object-centric representations based on the language, thus providing prior knowledge for the physics engine. The differentiable physics model, implemented as an impulse-based differentiable rigid-body simulator, performs differentiable physical simulation based on the grounded concepts to infer physical properties, such as mass, restitution, and velocity, by fitting the simulated trajectories into the video observations. Consequently, these learned concepts and physical models can explain what we have seen and imagine what is about to happen in future and counterfactual scenarios. Integrating differentiable physics into the dynamic reasoning framework offers several appealing benefits. More accurate dynamics prediction in learned physics models enables state-of-the-art performance on both synthetic and real-world benchmarks while still maintaining high transparency and interpretability; most notably, VRDP improves the accuracy of predictive and counterfactual questions by 4.5% and 11.5% compared to its best counterpart. VRDP is also highly data-efficient: physical parameters can be optimized from very few videos, and even a single video can be sufficient. Finally, with all physical parameters inferred, VRDP can quickly learn new concepts from a few examples.

Author Information

Mingyu Ding (The University of Hong Kong)
Zhenfang Chen (The University of Hong Kong)
Ping Luo (The University of Hong Kong)
Josh Tenenbaum (MIT)

Josh Tenenbaum is an Associate Professor of Computational Cognitive Science at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received his PhD from MIT in 1999, and was an Assistant Professor at Stanford University from 1999 to 2002. He studies learning and inference in humans and machines, with the twin goals of understanding human intelligence in computational terms and bringing computers closer to human capacities. He focuses on problems of inductive generalization from limited data -- learning concepts and word meanings, inferring causal relations or goals -- and learning abstract knowledge that supports these inductive leaps in the form of probabilistic generative models or 'intuitive theories'. He has also developed several novel machine learning methods inspired by human learning and perception, most notably Isomap, an approach to unsupervised learning of nonlinear manifolds in high-dimensional data. He has been Associate Editor for the journal Cognitive Science, has been active on program committees for the CogSci and NIPS conferences, and has co-organized a number of workshops, tutorials and summer schools in human and machine learning. Several of his papers have received outstanding paper awards or best student paper awards at the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), NIPS, and Cognitive Science conferences. He is the recipient of the New Investigator Award from the Society for Mathematical Psychology (2005), the Early Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists (2007), and the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology (in the area of cognition and human learning) from the American Psychological Association (2008).

Chuang Gan (MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab)

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