Machine LearningOur Machine Learning team has been at the forefront of machine learning developments, including deep learning, support vector machines, and semantic analysis, for over a decade. We develop innovative technologies integrated into NEC’s products and services. Machine learning is the critical technology for data analytics and artificial intelligence. Recent progress in this field opens opportunities for various new applications.

Deep learning will maintain prominence with more robust model architectures, training methods, and optimization techniques. Enhanced interpretability and explainability will be imperative, especially for AI systems in critical domains like healthcare and finance. Addressing bias and ensuring fairness in AI algorithms will be a top priority, leading to the development of tools and guidelines for ethical AI. Federated learning, quantum computing’s potential impact, and the growth of edge computing will diversify ML applications.

Natural language processing will continue to advance, driving progress in conversational AI, while healthcare, finance, education, and creative industries will witness profound AI integration. As quantum computing matures, it could revolutionize machine learning, while edge computing and federated learning will expand AI’s reach across various domains. Our machine learning research will produce innovation across industries, including more accurate medical diagnoses, safer autonomous systems, and efficient energy use while enabling personalized education and AI-generated creativity.

Read our news and publications from our world-class team of researchers from our Machine Learning department.

Posts

Real-time Intrusion Detection and Impulsive Acoustic Event Classification with Fiber Optic Sensing and Deep Learning Technologies over Telecom Networks

We review various use cases of distributed-fiber-optic-sensing and machine-learning technologies that offer advantages to telecom fiber networks on existing fiber infrastructures. Byleveraging an edge-AI platform, perimeter intrusion detection and impulsive acoustic event classification can be performed locally on-the-fly, ensuring real-time detection with low latency.

Automatically Evaluating Opinion Prevalence in Opinion Summarization

When faced with a large number of product reviews, it is not clear that a human can remember all of them and weight opinions representatively to write a good reference summary. Wepropose an automatic metric to test the prevalence of the opinions that a summary expresses, based on counting the number of reviews that are consistent with each statement in the summary, while discrediting trivial or redundant statements. To formulate this opinion prevalence metric, we consider several existing methods to score the factual consistency of a summary statement with respect to each individual source review. On a corpus of Amazon product reviews, we gather multiple human judgments of the opinion consistency, to determinewhich automatic metric best expresses consistency in product reviews. Using the resulting opinion prevalence metric, we show that a human authored summary has only slightly betteropinion prevalence than randomly selected extracts from the source reviews, and previous extractive and abstractive unsupervised opinion summarization methods perform worse thanhumans. We demonstrate room for improvement with a greedy construction of extractive summaries with twice the opinion prevalence achieved by humans. Finally, we show that pre-processing source reviews by simplification can raise the opinion prevalence achieved by existing abstractive opinion summarization systems to the level of human performance

Improving Cross-Domain Detection with Self-Supervised Learning

Cross-Domain Detection (XDD) aims to train a domain-adaptive object detector using unlabeled images from a target domain and labeled images from a source domain. Existing approaches achieve this either by aligning the feature maps or the region proposals from the two domains, or by transferring the style of source images to that of target images. In this paper, rather than proposing another method following the existing lines, we introduce a new framework complementary to existing methods. Our framework unifies some popular Self-Supervised Learning (SSL) techniques (e.g., rotation angle prediction, strong/weak data augmentation, mean teacher modeling) and adapts them to the XDD task. Our basic idea is to leverage the unsupervised nature of these SSL techniques and apply them simultaneously across domains (source and target) and models (student and teacher). These SSL techniques can thus serve as shared bridges that facilitate knowledge transfer between domains. More importantly, as these techniques are independently applied in each domain, they are complementary to existing domain alignment techniques that relies on interactions between domains (e.g., adversarial alignment). We perform extensive analyses on these SSL techniques and show that they significantly improve the performance of existing methods. In addition, we reach comparable or even better performance than the state-of-the-art methods when integrating our framework with an old well-established method.

Source-Free Video Domain Adaptation with Spatial-Temporal-Historical Consistency Learning

Source-free domain adaptation (SFDA) is an emerging research topic that studies how to adapt a pretrained source model using unlabeled target data. It is derived from unsupervised domain adaptation but has the advantage of not requiring labeled source data to learn adaptive models. This makes it particularly useful in real-world applications where access to source data is restricted. While there has been some SFDA work for images, little attention has been paid to videos. Naively extending image-based methods to videos without considering the unique properties of videos often leads to unsatisfactory results. In this paper, we propose a simple and highly flexible method for Source-Free Video Domain Adaptation (SFVDA), which extensively exploits consistency learning for videos from spatial, temporal, and historical perspectives. Our method is based on the assumption that videos of the same action category are drawn from the same low-dimensional space, regardless of the spatio-temporal variations in the high-dimensional space that cause domain shifts. To overcome domain shifts, we simulate spatio-temporal variations by applying spatial and temporal augmentations on target videos, and encourage the model to make consistent predictions from a video and its augmented versions. Due to the simple design, our method can be applied to various SFVDA settings, and experiments show that our method achieves state-of-the-art performance for all the settings.

Exploring Compositional Visual Generation with Latent Classifier Guidance

Diffusion probabilistic models have achieved enormous success in the field of image generation and manipulation. In this paper, we explore a novel paradigm of using the diffusion model and classifier guidance in the latent semantic space for compositional visual tasks. Specifically, we train latent diffusion models and auxiliary latent classifiers to facilitate non-linear navigation of latent representation generation for any pre-trained generative model with a semantic latent space. We demonstrate that such conditional generation achieved by latent classifier guidance provably maximizes a lower bound of the conditional log probability during training. To maintain the original semantics during manipulation, we introduce a new guidance term, which we show is crucial for achieving compositionality. With additional assumptions, we show that the non-linear manipulation reduces to a simple latent arithmetic approach. We show that this paradigm based on latent classifier guidance is agnostic to pre-trained generative models, and present competitive results for both image generation and sequential manipulation of real and synthetic images. Our findings suggest that latent classifier guidance is a promising approach that merits further exploration, even in the presence of other strong competing methods.

Conditional Image-to-Video Generation with Latent Flow Diffusion Models

Conditional image-to-video (cI2V) generation aims to synthesize a new plausible video starting from an image (e.g., a person’s face) and a condition (e.g., an action class label like smile). The key challenge of the cI2V task lies in the simultaneous generation of realistic spatial appearance and temporal dynamics corresponding to the given image and condition. In this paper, we propose an approach for cI2V using novel latent flow diffusion models (LFDM) that synthesize an optical flow sequence in the latent space based on the given condition to warp the given image. Compared to previous direct-synthesis-based works, our proposed LFDM can better synthesize spatial details and temporal motion by fully utilizing the spatial content of the given image and warping it in the latent space according to the generated temporally-coherent flow. The training of LFDM consists of two separate stages: (1) an unsupervised learning stage to train a latent flow auto-encoder for spatial content generation, including a flow predictor to estimate latent flow between pairs of video frames, and (2) a conditional learning stage to train a 3D-UNet-based diffusion model (DM) for temporal latent flow generation. Unlike previous DMs operating in pixel space or latent feature space that couples spatial and temporal information, the DM in our LFDM only needs to learn a low-dimensional latent flow space for motion generation, thus being more computationally efficient. We conduct comprehensive experiments on multiple datasets, where LFDM consistently outperforms prior arts. Furthermore, we show that LFDM can be easily adapted to new domains by simply finetuning the image decoder. Our code is available at https://github.com/nihaomiao/CVPR23_LFDM.

Camouflaged Object Detection with Feature Decomposition and Edge Reconstruction

Camouflaged object detection (COD) aims to address the tough issue of identifying camouflaged objects visually blended into the surrounding backgrounds. COD is a challenging task due to the intrinsic similarity of camouflaged objects with the background, as well as their ambiguous boundaries. Existing approaches to this problem have developed various techniques to mimic the human visual system. Albeit effective in many cases, these methods still struggle when camouflaged objects are so deceptive to the vision system. In this paper, we propose the FEature Decomposition and Edge Reconstruction (FEDER) model for COD. The FEDER model addresses the intrinsic similarity of foreground and background by decomposing the features into different frequency bands using learnable wavelets. It then focuses on the most informative bands to mine subtle cues that differentiate foreground and background. To achieve this, a frequency attention module and a guidance-based feature aggregation module are developed. To combat the ambiguous boundary problem, we propose to learn an auxiliary edge reconstruction task alongside the COD task. We design an ordinary differential equation-inspired edge reconstruction module that generates exact edges. By learning the auxiliary task in conjunction with the COD task, the FEDER model can generate precise prediction maps with accurate object boundaries. Experiments show that our FEDER model significantly outperforms state-of-the-art methods with cheaper computational and memory costs.

Towards Realizing the Value of Labeled Target Samples: a Two-Stage Approach for Semi-Supervised Domain Adaptation

Semi-Supervised Domain Adaptation (SSDA) is a recently emerging research topic that extends from the widely-investigated Unsupervised Domain Adaptation (UDA) by further having a few target samples labeled, i.e., the model is trained with labeled source samples, unlabeled target samples as well as a few labeled target samples. Compared with UDA, the key to SSDA lies how to most effectively utilize the few labeled target samples. Existing SSDA approaches simply merge the few precious labeled target samples into vast labeled source samples or further align them, which dilutes the value of labeled target samples and thus still obtains a biased model. To remedy this, in this paper, we propose to decouple SSDA as an UDA problem and a semi-supervised learning problem where we first learn an UDA model using labeled source and unlabeled target samples and then adapt the learned UDA model in a semi-supervised way using labeled and unlabeled target samples. By utilizing the labeled source samples and target samples separately, the bias problem can be well mitigated. We further propose a consistency learning based mean teacher model to effectively adapt the learned UDA model using labeled and unlabeled target samples. Experiments show our approach outperforms existing methods.

T-Cell Receptor Optimization with Reinforcement Learning and Mutation Polices for Precision Immunotherapy

T cells monitor the health status of cells by identifying foreign peptides displayed on their surface. T-cell receptors (TCRs), which are protein complexes found on the surface of T cells, are able to bind to these peptides. This process is known as TCR recognition and constitutes a key step for immune response. Optimizing TCR sequences for TCR recognition represents a fundamental step towards the development of personalized treatments to trigger immune responses killing cancerous or virus-infected cells. In this paper, we formulated the search for these optimized TCRs as a reinforcement learning (RL) problem and presented a framework TCRPPO with a mutation policy using proximal policy optimization. TCRPPO mutates TCRs into effective ones that can recognize given peptides. TCRPPO leverages a reward function that combines the likelihoods of mutated sequences being valid TCRs measured by a new scoring function based on deep autoencoders, with the probabilities of mutated sequences recognizing peptides from a peptide-TCR interaction predictor. We compared TCRPPO with multiple baseline methods and demonstrated that TCRPPO significantly outperforms all the baseline methods to generate positive binding and valid TCRs. These results demonstrate the potential of TCRPPO for both precision immunotherapy and peptide-recognizing TCR motif discovery.

Explore Benefits of Distributed Fiber Optic Sensing for Optical Network Service Providers

We review various applications of distributed fiber optic sensing (DFOS) and machine learning (ML) technologies that particularly benefit telecom operators’ fiber networks and businesses. By leveraging relative phase shift of the reflectance of coherent Rayleigh, Brillouin and Raman scattering of light wave, the ambient environmental vibration, acoustic effects, temperature and fiber/cable strain can be detected. Fiber optic sensing technology allows optical fiber to support sensing features in addition to its conventional role to transmit data in telecommunications. DFOS has recently helped telecom operators by adding multiple sensing features and proved feasibility of co-existence of sensing and communication systems on same fiber. We review the architecture of DFOS technique and show examples where optical fiber sensing helps enhance network operation efficiency and create new services for customers on deployed fiber infrastructures, such as determination of cable locations, cable cut prevention, perimeter intrusion detection and networked sensing applications. In addition, edge AI platform allows data processing to be conducted on-the-fly with low latency. Based on discriminative spatial-temporal signatures of different events of interest, real-time processing of the sensing data from the DFOS system provides results of the detection, classification and localization immediately.