ASRU 2011

More Words and Bigger Pictures

David Forsyth (University of Illinois)

Object recognition is a little like translation: a picture (text in a source language) goes in, and a description (text in a target language) comes out. I will use this analogy, which has proven fertile, to describe recent progress in object recognition.

We have very good methods to spot some objects in images, but extending these methods to produce descriptions of images remains very difficult. The description might come in the form of a set of words, indicating objects, and boxes or regions spanned by the object. This representation is difficult to work with, because some objects seem to be much more important than others, and because objects interact. An alternative is a sentence or a paragraph describing the picture, and recent work indicates how one might generate rich structures like this. Furthermore, recent work suggests that it is easier and more effective to generate descriptions of images in terms of chunks of meaning ("person on a horse") rather than just objects ("person"; "horse").

Finally, if the picture contains objects that are unfamiliar, then we need to generate useful descriptions that will make it possible to interact with them, even though we don't know what they are.