Deep Metric Learning for re-identification, tracking and hierarchical novelty detection

CVC has a new PhD on its record!

Idoia Ruiz successfully defended his dissertation on Computer Science on July 27, 2022, and she is now Doctor of Philosophy by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

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What is the thesis about?

Metric learning refers to the problem in machine learning of learning a distance or similarity measurement to compare data. In particular, deep metric learning involves learning a representation, also referred to as embedding, such that in the embedding space data samples can be compared based on the distance, directly providing a similarity measure. This step is necessary to perform several tasks in computer vision. It allows to perform the classification of images, regions or pixels, re-identification, out-of-distribution detection, object tracking in image sequences and any other task that requires computing a similarity score for their solution.

This thesis addresses three specific problems that share this common requirement. The first one is person re-identification. Essentially, it is an image retrieval task that aims at finding instances of the same person according to a similarity measure. We first compare in terms of accuracy and efficiency, classical metric learning to basic deep learning based methods for this problem. In this context, we also study network distillation as a strategy to optimize the trade-off between accuracy and speed at inference time. The second problem we contribute to is novelty detection in image classification. It consists in detecting samples of novel classes, i.e. never seen during training. However, standard novelty detection does not provide any information about the novel samples besides they are unknown. Aiming at more informative outputs, we take advantage from the hierarchical taxonomies that are intrinsic to the classes. We propose a metric learning based approach that leverages the hierarchical relationships among classes during training, being able to predict the parent class for a novel sample in such hierarchical taxonomy. Our third contribution is in multi-object tracking and segmentation. This joint task comprises classification, detection, instance segmentation and tracking. Tracking can be formulated as a retrieval problem to be addressed with metric learning approaches. We tackle the existing difficulty in academic research that is the lack of annotated benchmarks for this task. To this matter, we introduce the problem of weakly supervised multi-object tracking and segmentation, facing the challenge of not having available ground truth for instance segmentation. We propose a synergistic training strategy that benefits from the knowledge of the supervised tasks that are being learnt simultaneously.

Keywords: metric learning, novelty detection, hierarchical classification, multi-object tracking, instance segmentation, person re-identification, autonomous driving, computer vision, machine learning.