Header logo is

Institute Talks

The phenotyping revolution

Talk
  • 05 October 2020 • 11:30—12:30
  • Daniel Haun
  • Remote talk on zoom

One of the most striking characteristics of human behavior in contrast to all other animal is that we show extraordinary variability across populations. Human cultural diversity is a biological oddity. More specifically, we propose that what makes humans unique is the nature of the individual ontogenetic process, that results in this unparalleled cultural diversity. Hence, our central question is: How is human ontogeny adapted to cultural diversity and how does it contribute to it? This question is critical, because cultural diversity does not only entail our predominant mode of adaptation to local ecologies, but is key in the construction of our cognitive architecture. The colors we see, the tones that we hear, the memories we form, the norms we adhere to are all the consequence of an interaction between our emerging cognitive system and our lived experiences. While psychologists make careers measuring cognitive systems, we are terrible at measuring experience as are anthropologists, sociologists, etc. The standard methods all face unsurmountable limitations. In our department, we hope to apply Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Computer Vision to automatically extract developmentally important indicators of humans’ daily experience. Similarly to the way that modern sequencing technologies allow us to study the human genotype at scale, applying AI methods to reliably quantify humans’ lived experience would allow us to study the human behavioral phenotype at scale, and fundamentally alter the science of human behavior and its application in education, mental health and medicine: The phenotyping revolution.

Organizers: Timo Bolkart

  • Ernest (Ted) Gomez, MD, MTR
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Surgery is a demanding activity that places a human life in the hands of others. However, innovations in minimally invasive surgery have physically separated surgeons' hands from their patients, creating the need for surgeons and their tools to develop both natural and artificial haptic intelligence. This lecture examines the essential role of haptic intelligence in skill development for laparoscopic and robotic surgery.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker


Feedback-Control for Self-Adaptive Predictable Computing

Talk
  • 10 September 2019 • 14:00—15:00
  • Prof. Martina Maggio
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, seminar room 2P4

Cloud computing gives the illusion of infinite computational capacity and allows for on-demand resource provisioning. As a result, over the last few years, the cloud computing model has experienced widespread industrial adoption and companies like Netflix offloaded their entire infrastructure to the cloud. However, with even the largest datacenter being of a finite size, cloud infrastructures have experienced overload due to overbooking or transient failures. In essence, this is an excellent opportunity for the design of control solutions, that tackle the problem of mitigating overload peaks, using feedback from the infrastructure. These solutions can then exploit control-theoretical principles and take advantage of the knowledge and the analysis capabilities of control tools to provide formal guarantees on the predictability of the infrastructure behavior. This talk introduces recent research advances on feedback control in the cloud computing domain, together with my research agenda for enhancing predictability and formal guarantees for cloud computing.

Organizers: Sebastian Trimpe


A New Framework to Understanding Biological Vision

IS Colloquium
  • 03 September 2019 • 11:00—12:00
  • Zhaoping Li
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Visual attention selects a tiny amount of information that can be deeply processed by the brain, and gaze shifts bring the selected visual object to fovea, the center of the visual field, for better visual decoding or recognition of the selected objects. Therefore, central and peripheral vision should differ qualitatively in visual decoding, rather than just quantitatively in visual acuity.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker


  • Björn Browatzki
  • PS Aquarium

Current solutions to discriminative and generative tasks in computer vision exist separately and often lack interpretability and explainability. Using faces as our application domain, here we present an architecture that is based around two core ideas that address these issues: first, our framework learns an unsupervised, low-dimensional embedding of faces using an adversarial autoencoder that is able to synthesize high-quality face images. Second, a supervised disentanglement splits the low-dimensional embedding vector into four sub-vectors, each of which contains separated information about one of four major face attributes (pose, identity, expression, and style) that can be used both for discriminative tasks and for manipulating all four attributes in an explicit manner. The resulting architecture achieves state-of-the-art image quality, good discrimination and face retrieval results on each of the four attributes, and supports various face editing tasks using a face representation of only 99 dimensions. Finally, we apply the architecture's robust image synthesis capabilities to visually debug label-quality issues in an existing face dataset.

Organizers: Timo Bolkart


  • Gunhyuk Park
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Heisenbergstr. 3, Room 2P4

Many hapticians have designed and implemented haptic effects to various user interactions. For several decades, hapticians have proved that the haptic feedback can improve multiple facets of user experience including task performance, analyzing and utilizing user perception, and substituting other sensory modalities. Among them, this talk introduces two representative rendering methods to provide vibrotactile effects to users: 2D phantom sensation that makes a user perceive illusive tactile perception by using multiple real vibrotactile actuators and vibrotactile dimensional reduction that reduces 3D acceleration data from real interactions to 1D vibrations for maximizing its realism and similarity.

Organizers: Katherine J. Kuchenbecker


  • Yoshihiro Kanamori
  • PS-Aquarium

Relighting of human images has various applications in image synthesis. For relighting, we must infer albedo, shape, and illumination from a human portrait. Previous techniques rely on human faces for this inference, based on spherical harmonics (SH) lighting. However, because they often ignore light occlusion, inferred shapes are biased and relit images are unnaturally bright particularly at hollowed regions such as armpits, crotches, or garment wrinkles. This paper introduces the first attempt to infer light occlusion in the SH formulation directly. Based on supervised learning using convolutional neural networks (CNNs), we infer not only an albedo map, illumination but also a light transport map that encodes occlusion as nine SH coefficients per pixel. The main difficulty in this inference is the lack of training datasets compared to unlimited variations of human portraits. Surprisingly, geometric information including occlusion can be inferred plausibly even with a small dataset of synthesized human figures, by carefully preparing the dataset so that the CNNs can exploit the data coherency. Our method accomplishes more realistic relighting than the occlusion-ignored formulation.

Organizers: Senya Polikovsky Jinlong Yang


Self-supervised 3D hand pose estimation

Talk
  • 23 July 2019 • 11:00—12:00
  • Chengde Wan
  • PS-Aquarium

Deep learning has significantly advanced state-of-the-art for 3D hand pose estimation, of which accuracy can be improved with increased amounts of labelled data. However, acquiring 3D hand pose labels can be extremely difficult. In this talk, I will present our recent two works on leveraging self-supervised learning techniques for hand pose estimation from depth map. In both works, we incorporate differentiable renderer to the network and formulate training loss as model fitting error to update network parameters. In first part of the talk, I will present our earlier work which approximates hand surface with a set of spheres. We then model the pose prior as a variational lower bound with variational auto-encoder(VAE). In second part, I will present our latest work on regressing the vertex coordinates of a hand mesh model with 2D fully convolutional network(FCN) in a single forward pass. In the first stage, the network estimates a dense correspondence field for every pixel on the image grid to the mesh grid. In the second stage, we design a differentiable operator to map features learned from the previous stage and regress a 3D coordinate map on the mesh grid. Finally, we sample from the mesh grid to recover the mesh vertices, and fit it an articulated template mesh in closed form. Without any human annotation, both works can perform competitively with strongly supervised methods. The later work will also be later extended to be compatible with MANO model.

Organizers: Dimitrios Tzionas


An introduction to bladder cancer & challenges for translational research

Talk
  • 22 July 2019 • 10:30 AM—22 April 2019 • 11:30 AM
  • Richard T Bryan
  • 2P4


  • Christoph Keplinger
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Room 2R04 / MPI-IS Tübingen, Room N0.002 (Broadcast)

Robots today rely on rigid components and electric motors based on metal and magnets, making them heavy, unsafe near humans, expensive and ill-suited for unpredictable environments. Nature, in contrast, makes extensive use of soft materials and has produced organisms that drastically outperform robots in terms of agility, dexterity, and adaptability. The Keplinger Lab aims to fundamentally challenge current limitations of robotic hardware, using an interdisciplinary approach that synergizes concepts from soft matter physics and chemistry with advanced engineering technologies to introduce robotic materials – material systems that integrate actuation, sensing and even computation – for a new generation of intelligent systems. This talk gives an overview of fundamental research questions that inspire current and future research directions. One major theme of research is the development of new classes of actuators – a key component of all robotic systems – that replicate the sweeping success of biological muscle, a masterpiece of evolution featuring astonishing all-around actuation performance, the ability to self-heal after damage, and seamless integration with sensing. A second theme of research are functional polymers with unusual combinations of properties, such as electrical conductivity paired with stretchability, transparency, biocompatibility and the ability to self-healing from mechanical and electrical damage. A third theme of research is the discovery of new energy capture principles that can provide power to intelligent autonomous systems, as well as – on larger scales – enable sustainable solutions for the use of waste heat from industrial processes or the use of untapped sources of renewable energy, such as ocean waves.


  • Joseph B. Tracy
  • MPI-IS Stuttgart, Room 2P04

Magnetic fields and light can be used to assemble, manipulate, and heat nanoparticles (NPs) and to remotely actuate polymer composites. Simple soft robots will be presented, where incorporation of magnetic and plasmonic NPs makes them responsive to magnetic fields and light. Application of magnetic fields to dispersions of magnetic NPs drives their assembly into chains. Dipolar coupling within the chains is a source of magnetic anisotropy, and chains of magnetic NPs embedded in a polymer matrix can be used to program the response of soft robots, while still using simple architectures. Wavelength-selective photothermal triggering of shape recovery in shape memory polymers with embedded Au nanospheres and nanorods can be used to remotely drive sequential processes. Combining magnetic actuation and photothermal heating enables remote configuration, locking, unlocking, and reconfiguration of soft robots, thus increasing their capabilities. Composite and multifunctional NPs are of interest for expanding the properties and applications of NPs. Silica shells are desirable for facilitating functionalization with silanes and enhancing the stability of NPs. Methods for depositing thin silica shells with controlled morphologies onto Au nanorods and CdSe/CdS core/shell quantum dot nanorods will be presented. Silica deposition can also be accompanied by etching and breakage of the core NPs. Assembly of Fe3O4 NPs onto silica-overcoated Au nanorods allows for magnetic manipulation, while retaining the surface plasmon resonance.

Organizers: Metin Sitti