Unsupervised Learning of Shape Concepts - From Real-World Objects to Mental Simulation

Christian A. Mueller, Andreas Birk

An unsupervised shape analysis is proposed to learn concepts reflecting shape commonalities. Our approach is two-fold: i) a spatial topology analysis of point cloud segment constellations within objects is used in which constellations are decomposed and described in a hierarchical and symbolic manner. ii) A topology analysis of the description space is used in which segment decompositions are exposed in. Inspired by Persistent Homology, groups of shape commonality are revealed. Experiments show that extracted persistent commonality groups can feature semantically meaningful shape concepts; the generalization of the proposed approach is evaluated by different real-world datasets. We extend this by not only learning shape concepts using real-world data, but by also using mental simulation of artificial abstract objects for training purposes. This extended approach is unsupervised in two respects: label-agnostic (no label information is used) and instance-agnostic (no instances preselected by human supervision are used for training). Experiments show that concepts generated with mental simulation, generalize and discriminate real object observations. Consequently, a robot may train and learn its own internal representation of concepts regarding shape appearance in a self-driven and machine-centric manner while omitting the tedious process of supervised dataset generation including the ambiguity in instance labeling and selection.

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