Thanks to Professor Pietro Perona and his graduate students including Grant Van Horn and Sara Beery, the next wildlife photo you snap might set you on a path to helping map life on Earth. “The whole web, this huge repository of wonderful information, is indexed by words,” Perona says. “But when we have an image—a visual query—we don’t know what to do unless there is an expert next to us. We’ve gotten so numb to the idea that we’ll never find the answer out.” [Breakthrough story]
Researchers from Caltech and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are collaborating in Pasadena to foster a relationship that could change the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) research in Southern California. “Our graduate programs train extraordinarily talented future researchers, who mostly leave Pasadena after completing their PhD." An industry research center located nearby, however, can help retain talent locally, says Professor Pietro Perona one of the architects of the new collaboration. "Together, we can build a critical mass of machine-learning and AI researchers right here in Pasadena.” Primarily affiliated with Caltech via the CMS Department of the EAS Division, AWS will provide summer internships for Caltech students and students of other top universities, job opportunities for alumni, and the potential for collaborations between Caltech and AWS researchers. AWS is also contributing funding for Caltech projects and a pipeline for marketable research. AWS has already committed $2.5 million to Caltech for graduate student fellowships and cloud-computing credits in order to seed AI innovations. [Caltech story]
Graduate student Grant Van Horn and postdoctoral scholars Oisin Mac Aodha, working with Professor Pietro Perona, started the iNaturalist Challenge last year, to see how much they could push machine-learning technology. The competition is now in its second year and the dataset contains over 8,000 species, with a combined training and validation set of 450,000 images that have been collected and verified by multiple users from iNaturalist. This year's competition promise to be much more challenging because there are more species and less examples for the computer to learn from. The top submissions will be invited to give talks at CVPR, which is the premier annual computer vision event. [Enter the competition]
Caltech and Disney Research have entered into a joint research agreement to pioneer robotic control systems and further explore artificial intelligence technologies. Pietro Perona will work with Disney roboticist Martin Buehler to create navigation and perception software that could allow robotic characters to safely move through dense crowds and interact with people. Aaron Ames will work with Disney Research's Lanny Smoot to further explore robot autonomy and machine learning by creating objects that can self-navigate and perform stunts. Yisong Yue has been working with engineers from Disney Research on the use of machine learning to analyze the behavior of soccer players and to measure audience engagement. [Caltech story]
From autonomous robotics to state of-the-art computer vision, Caltech and Amazon have a lot in common, including the belief that pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will not only disrupt industries, but it will fundamentally change the nature of scientific research. As part of this two-year renewable research collaboration, Amazon will provide both financial support, in the form of funding for graduate fellowships, and computing resources, in the form of AWS Cloud credits, to accelerate the work of faculty and students at Caltech in these areas. [AWS AI Blog]
Caltech and Cornell teamed up to create the iNaturalist Challenge, a competition to create the best machine-learning algorithm for identifying the world's plant and animal species. The contest was an outgrowth of the institutions' previous work together on Visipedia, a visual encyclopedia created by a network of people and machine-learning computers that harvest image information off the internet. The technology was developed for the encyclopedia by Pietro Perona's Vision Group at Caltech and Serge Belongie's Computer Vision Group at Cornell Tech. [Caltech story]
Electrical Engineering alumna, Fei-Fei Li, who worked with Professor Pietro Perona has made Forbes’ list of 20+ leading women in Artificial Intelligence (AI) research. She is currently Chief Scientist of Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning at Google Cloud. "We all have a responsibility to make sure everyone - including companies, governments and researchers - develop AI with diversity in mind,” Fei-Fei Li emphasized. [Forbes article]
Computer science and mechanical engineering student Kun ho (John) Kim is a recipient of the 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. John is working with Professors Burdick and Perona to develop novel machine learning methods for medical applications and crowd sourced data mining. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to the engineering student with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.
On April 19, 2017 Electrical Engineering alumnus Evangelos Simoudis (BS '83) moderated a panel titled "The Road Ahead: A Panel on the Future of Driverless Vehicles," hosted by the Caltech Associates. The panel members were Professors Mory Gharib, Richard Murray, and Pietro Perona, along with Reuters automotive industry reporter, Paul Lienert. They discuss a variety of opportunities and challenges associated with autonomous technologies and systems. Beyond the legal and ethical challenges, several technological obstacles must be overcome before driverless cars become common on the road. One key challenge is teaching driverless cars how to read the behavior of other cars and react accordingly. Professor Perona described the problem of a car attempting to merge onto a crowded freeway. A driverless car would see an impenetrable wall of vehicles, but a human driver could edge forward and wave at other drivers to work his or her way into the line of traffic. [Caltech story]
Pietro Perona, Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering, and colleagues have developed the Merlin Bird Photo ID mobile app which uses machine-learning technology to identify hundreds of North American bird species it "sees" in photos. "This app is the culmination of seven years of our students' hard work and is propelled by the tremendous progress that computer-vision and machine-learning scientists are making around the world," says Professor Perona. "A machine that recognizes objects in images, like humans do, was a distant dream when I was a graduate student and now it's finally happening." [Caltech story]
IST Meeting of the Minds
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