Phillip Isola

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Visiting Research Scientist at OpenAI

  • Learning to Control Self-Assembling Morphologies: A Study of Generalization via Modularity

    Contemporary sensorimotor learning approaches typically start with an existing complex agent (e.g., a robotic arm), which they learn to control. In contrast, this paper investigates a modular co-evolution strategy: a collection of primitive agents learns to dynamically self-assemble into composite bodies while also learning to coordinate their behavior to control these bodies. Each primitive agent consists of a limb with a motor attached at one end. Limbs may choose to link up to form collectives. When a limb initiates a link-up action and there is another limb nearby, the latter is magnetically connected to the 'parent' limb's motor. This forms a new single agent, which may further link with other agents. In this way, complex morphologies can emerge, controlled by a policy whose architecture is in explicit correspondence with the morphology. We evaluate the performance of these 'dynamic' and 'modular' agents in simulated environments. We demonstrate better generalization to test-time changes both in the environment, as well as in the agent morphology, compared to static and monolithic baselines. Project videos and code are available at

    02/14/2019 ∙ by Deepak Pathak, et al. ∙ 12 share

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  • GANalyze: Toward Visual Definitions of Cognitive Image Properties

    We introduce a framework that uses Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) to study cognitive properties like memorability, aesthetics, and emotional valence. These attributes are of interest because we do not have a concrete visual definition of what they entail. What does it look like for a dog to be more or less memorable? GANs allow us to generate a manifold of natural-looking images with fine-grained differences in their visual attributes. By navigating this manifold in directions that increase memorability, we can visualize what it looks like for a particular generated image to become more or less memorable. The resulting "visual definitions" surface image properties (like "object size") that may underlie memorability. Through behavioral experiments, we verify that our method indeed discovers image manipulations that causally affect human memory performance. We further demonstrate that the same framework can be used to analyze image aesthetics and emotional valence. Visit the GANalyze website at

    06/24/2019 ∙ by Authors, et al. ∙ 9 share

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  • Neural MMO: A Massively Multiagent Game Environment for Training and Evaluating Intelligent Agents

    The emergence of complex life on Earth is often attributed to the arms race that ensued from a huge number of organisms all competing for finite resources. We present an artificial intelligence research environment, inspired by the human game genre of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, a.k.a. MMOs), that aims to simulate this setting in microcosm. As with MMORPGs and the real world alike, our environment is persistent and supports a large and variable number of agents. Our environment is well suited to the study of large-scale multiagent interaction: it requires that agents learn robust combat and navigation policies in the presence of large populations attempting to do the same. Baseline experiments reveal that population size magnifies and incentivizes the development of skillful behaviors and results in agents that outcompete agents trained in smaller populations. We further show that the policies of agents with unshared weights naturally diverge to fill different niches in order to avoid competition.

    03/02/2019 ∙ by Joseph Suarez, et al. ∙ 6 share

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  • On the "steerability" of generative adversarial networks

    An open secret in contemporary machine learning is that many models work beautifully on standard benchmarks but fail to generalize outside the lab. This has been attributed to training on biased data, which provide poor coverage over real world events. Generative models are no exception, but recent advances in generative adversarial networks (GANs) suggest otherwise -- these models can now synthesize strikingly realistic and diverse images. Is generative modeling of photos a solved problem? We show that although current GANs can fit standard datasets very well, they still fall short of being comprehensive models of the visual manifold. In particular, we study their ability to fit simple transformations such as camera movements and color changes. We find that the models reflect the biases of the datasets on which they are trained (e.g., centered objects), but that they also exhibit some capacity for generalization: by "steering" in latent space, we can shift the distribution while still creating realistic images. We hypothesize that the degree of distributional shift is related to the breadth of the training data distribution, and conduct experiments that demonstrate this. Code is released on our project page:

    07/16/2019 ∙ by Ali Jahanian, et al. ∙ 5 share

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  • Contrastive Multiview Coding

    Humans view the world through many sensory channels, e.g., the long-wavelength light channel, viewed by the left eye, or the high-frequency vibrations channel, viewed by the right ear. Each view is noisy and incomplete, but important factors, such as physics, geometry, and semantics, tend to be shared between all views (e.g., a "dog" can be seen, heard, and felt). We hypothesize that a powerful representation is one that models view-invariant factors. Based on this hypothesis, we investigate a contrastive coding scheme, in which a representation is learned that aims to maximize mutual information between different views but is otherwise compact. Our approach scales to any number of views, and is view-agnostic. The resulting learned representations perform above the state of the art for downstream tasks such as object classification, compared to formulations based on predictive learning or single view reconstruction, and improve as more views are added. Code and reference implementations are released on our project page:

    06/13/2019 ∙ by Yonglong Tian, et al. ∙ 1 share

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  • CyCADA: Cycle-Consistent Adversarial Domain Adaptation

    Domain adaptation is critical for success in new, unseen environments. Adversarial adaptation models applied in feature spaces discover domain invariant representations, but are difficult to visualize and sometimes fail to capture pixel-level and low-level domain shifts. Recent work has shown that generative adversarial networks combined with cycle-consistency constraints are surprisingly effective at mapping images between domains, even without the use of aligned image pairs. We propose a novel discriminatively-trained Cycle-Consistent Adversarial Domain Adaptation model. CyCADA adapts representations at both the pixel-level and feature-level, enforces cycle-consistency while leveraging a task loss, and does not require aligned pairs. Our model can be applied in a variety of visual recognition and prediction settings. We show new state-of-the-art results across multiple adaptation tasks, including digit classification and semantic segmentation of road scenes demonstrating transfer from synthetic to real world domains.

    11/08/2017 ∙ by Judy Hoffman, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Unpaired Image-to-Image Translation using Cycle-Consistent Adversarial Networks

    Image-to-image translation is a class of vision and graphics problems where the goal is to learn the mapping between an input image and an output image using a training set of aligned image pairs. However, for many tasks, paired training data will not be available. We present an approach for learning to translate an image from a source domain X to a target domain Y in the absence of paired examples. Our goal is to learn a mapping G: X → Y such that the distribution of images from G(X) is indistinguishable from the distribution Y using an adversarial loss. Because this mapping is highly under-constrained, we couple it with an inverse mapping F: Y → X and introduce a cycle consistency loss to push F(G(X)) ≈ X (and vice versa). Qualitative results are presented on several tasks where paired training data does not exist, including collection style transfer, object transfiguration, season transfer, photo enhancement, etc. Quantitative comparisons against several prior methods demonstrate the superiority of our approach.

    03/30/2017 ∙ by Jun-Yan Zhu, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Combining Self-Supervised Learning and Imitation for Vision-Based Rope Manipulation

    Manipulation of deformable objects, such as ropes and cloth, is an important but challenging problem in robotics. We present a learning-based system where a robot takes as input a sequence of images of a human manipulating a rope from an initial to goal configuration, and outputs a sequence of actions that can reproduce the human demonstration, using only monocular images as input. To perform this task, the robot learns a pixel-level inverse dynamics model of rope manipulation directly from images in a self-supervised manner, using about 60K interactions with the rope collected autonomously by the robot. The human demonstration provides a high-level plan of what to do and the low-level inverse model is used to execute the plan. We show that by combining the high and low-level plans, the robot can successfully manipulate a rope into a variety of target shapes using only a sequence of human-provided images for direction.

    03/06/2017 ∙ by Ashvin Nair, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Split-Brain Autoencoders: Unsupervised Learning by Cross-Channel Prediction

    We propose split-brain autoencoders, a straightforward modification of the traditional autoencoder architecture, for unsupervised representation learning. The method adds a split to the network, resulting in two disjoint sub-networks. Each sub-network is trained to perform a difficult task -- predicting one subset of the data channels from another. Together, the sub-networks extract features from the entire input signal. By forcing the network to solve cross-channel prediction tasks, we induce a representation within the network which transfers well to other, unseen tasks. This method achieves state-of-the-art performance on several large-scale transfer learning benchmarks.

    11/29/2016 ∙ by Richard Zhang, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Image-to-Image Translation with Conditional Adversarial Networks

    We investigate conditional adversarial networks as a general-purpose solution to image-to-image translation problems. These networks not only learn the mapping from input image to output image, but also learn a loss function to train this mapping. This makes it possible to apply the same generic approach to problems that traditionally would require very different loss formulations. We demonstrate that this approach is effective at synthesizing photos from label maps, reconstructing objects from edge maps, and colorizing images, among other tasks. Indeed, since the release of the pix2pix software associated with this paper, a large number of internet users (many of them artists) have posted their own experiments with our system, further demonstrating its wide applicability and ease of adoption without the need for parameter tweaking. As a community, we no longer hand-engineer our mapping functions, and this work suggests we can achieve reasonable results without hand-engineering our loss functions either.

    11/21/2016 ∙ by Phillip Isola, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Colorful Image Colorization

    Given a grayscale photograph as input, this paper attacks the problem of hallucinating a plausible color version of the photograph. This problem is clearly underconstrained, so previous approaches have either relied on significant user interaction or resulted in desaturated colorizations. We propose a fully automatic approach that produces vibrant and realistic colorizations. We embrace the underlying uncertainty of the problem by posing it as a classification task and use class-rebalancing at training time to increase the diversity of colors in the result. The system is implemented as a feed-forward pass in a CNN at test time and is trained on over a million color images. We evaluate our algorithm using a "colorization Turing test," asking human participants to choose between a generated and ground truth color image. Our method successfully fools humans on 32 than previous methods. Moreover, we show that colorization can be a powerful pretext task for self-supervised feature learning, acting as a cross-channel encoder. This approach results in state-of-the-art performance on several feature learning benchmarks.

    03/28/2016 ∙ by Richard Zhang, et al. ∙ 0 share

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