Inferring Categories to Accelerate the Learning of New Classes

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Proceedings of the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2013
Robert Goeddel and Edwin Olson

Abstract - On-the-fly learning systems are necessary for the deployment of general purpose robots. New training examples for such systems are often supplied by mentor interactions. Due to the cost of acquiring such examples, it is desirable to reduce the number of necessary interactions. Transfer learning has been shown to improve classification results for classes with small numbers of training examples by pooling knowledge from related classes. Standard practice in these works is to assume that the relationship between the transfer target and related classes is already known.

In this work, we explore how previously learned categories, or related groupings of classes, can be used to transfer knowledge to novel classes without explicitly known relationships to them. We demonstrate an algorithm for determining the category membership of a novel class, focusing on the difficult case when few training examples are available. We show that classifiers trained via this method outperform classifiers optimized to learn the novel class individually when evaluated on both synthetic and real-world datasets.