Seminars

The Notion of Affordance: Focusing on the Interface of the Agent with the World
by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Erol Şahin, Middle East Technical University, TR

Date: 11 July 2019, Thursday
Time: 1.30 pm – 2.30 pm
Venue: Mithat Çoruh Auditorium, EB Building,
Bilkent University

Abstract: The concept of affordances influenced studies in fields ranging from human–computer interaction to autonomous robotics. In the first part of this talk, I first introduce the notion of affordances as conceived by J. J. Gibson and review the use of the term in different fields, with particular emphasis on its use in autonomous robotics. Then, I will point out that there are three, not one, perspectives from which to view affordances and that much of the confusion regarding discussions on the concept has arisen from this. I will describe a new affordances formalism for affordances and discuss its implications for autonomous robot control. In the second part of this talk, I will  briefly report the experimental results obtained with mobile and manipulator robots within a framework where this affordance formalization is realized in different levels of robot control.

Bio: Dr. Sahin received his PhD in Cognitive and Neural Systems from Boston University in 2000, after getting his BS and MS in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Bilkent University, and Computer Engineering from METU in 1991 and 1995 respectively. Dr. Sahin worked as a post-doctoral researcher at IRIDIA of Universite Libre de Bruxelles,  before assuming his faculty position at the Dept. of Computer Engineering of METU in 2002. He founded the KOVAN Research Lab., which hosts 4 faculty members and 12 graduate students at the moment. The Lab. has received more than 2,000,000€ of funding from EU, TUBITAK and industry.  Dr. Sahin’s has focused on swarm robotics, robotic learning and manipulation during the last decade. Besides publishing in major conferences and journals, Dr. Sahin has edited three journal special issues, three  conference proceedings, two books (one published as the State-of-the-Art series of Springer as the “first book on swarm robotics”). In 2007, he was awarded a free iCub humanoid platform from the RobotCub consortium for his research in robotic learning. Between 2013 and 2015, Dr. Sahin visited the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, USA through a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship project about learning in robotic manipulation. Dr. Sahin is serving as an Associate Editor for the Adaptive Behavior journal since 2008 and as Editorial Board member of the Swarm Intelligence journal since 2007.


Oracle Academy: Resources for Education and Research
by Sena Aydoğan, Oracle, TR

Date: 16 July 2019, Tuesday
Time: 1.30 pm – 2.30 pm
Venue: EA-409, EA Building
, Bilkent University

Abstract: Oracle’s global, philanthropic, award-winning educational program, Oracle Academy leverages Oracle’s leadership in emerging technologies and next generation Cloud developments to advance computing education around the world to increase knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields. This seminar will provide a deep dive into Oracle Academy’s innovation-focused education resources for teaching and (non-profit) academic research, including technology, curriculum and courseware, student workshops, educator training, Oracle industry certification and exam preparation materials (for universities, two-year colleges, etc).

Bio: Sena Aydogan is a Strategic Business Development Manager at Oracle, currently responsible for leading and implementing digital capacity building and skill development initiatives via building strategic partnerships & collaborations with startups, academia, universities, customers, partners, Innovation Hubs/Entrepreneurship Foundations, NGOs & NPOs, and Ministry of Education to drive innovation and create a shared value among Oracle and the community. She is also managing the Oracle Academy Program, Oracle’s flagship philanthropic program supporting Computer Science education, in Turkey. Sena graduated with a BSc degree in Computer Technology and Information Systems from the Bilkent University in 2013. She is passionate about technology, innovation, knowledge-sharing and women’s empowerment. You can reach Sena at sena.aydogan@oracle.com, twitter: @Sena_Aydolinkedin.com/in/senaaydogan/


Computation of Emotions
by Prof. Dr. Peter Robinson, University of Cambridge, UK

Date: 22 July 2019, Monday
Time: 1.30 pm – 2.30 pm
Venue:
FFB-05, FF Building, Bilkent University

Abstract: The importance of emotional expression as part of human communication has been understood since the seventeenth century, and has been explored scientifically since Charles Darwin and others in the nineteenth century.  Recent advances in Psychology have greatly improved our understanding of the role of affect in communication, perception, decision-making, attention and memory.  At the same time, advances in technology mean that it is becoming possible for machines to sense, analyse and express emotions.  We can now consider how these advances relate to each other and how they can be brought together to influence future research in perception, attention, learning, memory, communication, decision-making and other applications. This talk will survey recent advances in theories of emotion and affect, their embodiment in computational systems, the implications for general communications, and broader applications.  The combination of new results in psychology with new techniques of computation on new technologies will enable new applications in commerce, education, entertainment, security, therapy and everyday life.  However, there are important issues of privacy and personal expression that must also be considered.

Bio: Peter Robinson is Professor of Computer Technology in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in England, where he leads work on computer graphics and interaction. Professor Robinson’s research concerns problems at the boundary between people and computers. This involves investigating new technologies to enhance communication between computers and their users, and new applications to exploit these technologies. The main focus for this is human-computer interaction, where he has been leading work for some years on the use of video and paper as part of the user interface. The idea is to develop augmented environments in which everyday objects acquire computational properties through user interfaces based on video projection and digital cameras. This led to work on desk-size projected displays and tangible interfaces. Recent work has explored applications of computer vision to enhancing driver experiences in semi-autonomous vehicles. With rapid advances in key computing technologies and the heightened user expectation of computers, the development of socially and emotionally adept technologies is becoming a necessity. He has led investigations of the inference of people’s mental states from facial expressions, vocal nuances, body posture and gesture, and other physiological signals, and also considered the expression of emotions by robots and cartoon avatars. This has led to work on analysing facial expressions of domestic animals and also to more general consideration of what it means to be human in an age of increasingly human-like machines. He has also pursued a parallel line of research into inclusive user interfaces. Collaboration with the Engineering Design Centre has investigated questions of physical handicap, and research students have considered visual handicaps. This has broader applications for interaction with ubiquitous computers, where the input and output devices themselves impose limitations. Professor Robinson is a Fellow of Gonville & Caius College where he previously studied for a first degree in Mathematics and a PhD in Computer Science under Neil Wiseman. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the British Computer Society and member of the Association for Computing Machinery. www.cst.cam.ac.uk/~pr


Driving the Future
by Prof. Dr. Peter Robinson, University of Cambridge, UK

Date: 23 July 2019, Tuesday
Time: 10.00 am – 11.00 am
Venue: Informatics Institute, Middle East Technical University

Abstract: Road transport is changing.  Drivers will see more changes in the next five years than they have seen in the last 100.  How can we make these changes easier?  How successfully users adapt to this new world — and hence their confidence, comfort, safety and happiness with the new technologies — will depend on the new ways they are given to interact with vehicles, traffic, navigation and the road system as a whole. This talk will discuss some of these new experiences, report on early experiments with the systems required to deliver them, and assess users’ reactions to the new scenarios created as a result.

Bio: Peter Robinson is Professor of Computer Technology in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in England, where he leads work on computer graphics and interaction. Professor Robinson’s research concerns problems at the boundary between people and computers. This involves investigating new technologies to enhance communication between computers and their users, and new applications to exploit these technologies. The main focus for this is human-computer interaction, where he has been leading work for some years on the use of video and paper as part of the user interface. The idea is to develop augmented environments in which everyday objects acquire computational properties through user interfaces based on video projection and digital cameras. This led to work on desk-size projected displays and tangible interfaces. Recent work has explored applications of computer vision to enhancing driver experiences in semi-autonomous vehicles. With rapid advances in key computing technologies and the heightened user expectation of computers, the development of socially and emotionally adept technologies is becoming a necessity. He has led investigations of the inference of people’s mental states from facial expressions, vocal nuances, body posture and gesture, and other physiological signals, and also considered the expression of emotions by robots and cartoon avatars. This has led to work on analysing facial expressions of domestic animals and also to more general consideration of what it means to be human in an age of increasingly human-like machines. He has also pursued a parallel line of research into inclusive user interfaces. Collaboration with the Engineering Design Centre has investigated questions of physical handicap, and research students have considered visual handicaps. This has broader applications for interaction with ubiquitous computers, where the input and output devices themselves impose limitations. Professor Robinson is a Fellow of Gonville & Caius College where he previously studied for a first degree in Mathematics and a PhD in Computer Science under Neil Wiseman. He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the British Computer Society and member of the Association for Computing Machinery. www.cst.cam.ac.uk/~pr


Multimodal Analysis for Apparent Personality and Emotion Estimation
by Prof. Dr. Albert Ali Salah, Utrecht University, NL 

Date: 30 July 2019, Tuesday
Time: 1.30 pm – 2.30 pm
Venue:
FFB-05, FF Building, Bilkent University

Abstract: Explainability and interpretability are two critical aspects of decision support systems. Within computer vision, they are critical in certain tasks related to human behavior analysis such as in health care applications. Despite their importance, it is only recently that researchers are starting to explore these aspects. In this talk, I will first introduce computer analysis of human behavior from a broad perspective. Then I will describe a series of ChaLearn challenges on first expression analysis, organized in ICPR’16, ECCV’16, and CVPR’17. Finally, I will describe our multimodal approach for this problem
(winner of the qualitative and quantitative parts of the challenge at CVPR) and discuss issues of explainability and bias.

Bio: Albert Ali Salah is a professor of social and affective computing at Dept. Information and Computing Sciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He has co-authored over 150 publications on pattern recognition, multimodal interfaces, and computer analysis of human behavior. He serves as a Steering Board member of ACM ICMI, as an associate editor of journals including IEEE Trans. on Cognitive and Developmental Systems, IEEE Trans. Affective Computing, and Int. Journal on Human-Computer Studies. Albert chairs the Data for Refugees Challenge (D4R – http://d4r.turktelekom.com.tr) Scientific Committee, the 21st Int. Conf. on Speech and Computer – SPECOM 2019 (http://specom.nw.ru/) and the 6th Int. Symp. on Brain and Cognitive Science – ISBCS 2019 (http://isbcs2019.yeditepe.edu.tr/). He is a senior member of IEEE, and a member of ACM. Contact: a.a.salah@uu.nl Web: http://www.staff.science.uu.nl/~salah006/