On the Generalization of Learned Structured Representations

Andrea Dittadi

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Despite tremendous progress over the past decade, deep learning methods generally fall short of human-level systematic generalization. It has been argued that explicitly
capturing the underlying structure of data should allow connectionist systems to generalize in a more predictable and systematic manner. Indeed, evidence in humans suggests that interpreting the world in terms of symbol-like compositional entities may be crucial for intelligent behavior and high-level reasoning. Another common limitation of deep learning systems is that they require large amounts of training data, which can be expensive to obtain. In representation learning, large datasets are leveraged to learn generic data representations that may be useful for efficient learning of arbitrary downstream tasks. This thesis is about structured representation learning. We study methods that learn, with little or no supervision, representations of unstructured data that capture its hidden structure. In the first part of the thesis, we focus on representations that
disentangle the explanatory factors of variation of the data. We scale up disentangled representation learning to a novel robotic dataset, and perform a systematic
large-scale study on the role of pretrained representations for out-of-distribution generalization in downstream robotic tasks. The second part of this thesis focuses on
object-centric representations, which capture the compositional structure of the input in terms of symbol-like entities, such as objects in visual scenes. Object-centric
learning methods learn to form meaningful entities from unstructured input, enabling symbolic information processing on a connectionist substrate. In this study, we train
a selection of methods on several common datasets, and investigate their usefulness for downstream tasks and their ability to generalize out of distribution.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTechnical University of Denmark
Number of pages270
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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