Title: Minimally-Invasive Lens-free Computational Microendoscopy
Abstract: Ultra-miniaturized imaging tools are vital for numerous biomedical applications. Such minimally invasive imagers allow for navigation into hard-toreach regions and, for example, observation of deep brain activity in freely moving animals with minimal ancillary tissue damage. Conventional solutions employ distal microlenses. However, as lenses become smaller and thus less invasive they develop greater optical aberrations, requiring bulkier compound designs with restricted field-of-view. In addition, tools capable of 3-dimensional volumetric imaging require components that physically scan the focal plane, which ultimately increases the distal complexity, footprint, and weight. Simply put, minimally-invasive imaging systems have limited information capacity due to their given cross-sectional area.
This thesis explores minimally-invasive lens-free microendoscopy enabled by a successful integration of signal processing, optical hardware, and image reconstruction algorithms. Several computational microendoscopy architectures that simultaneously achieve miniaturization and high information content are presented. Leveraging the computational imaging techniques enables color-resolved imaging with wide field-of-view, and 3-dimensional volumetric reconstruction of an unknown scene using a single camera frame without any actuated parts, further advancing the performance versus invasiveness of microendoscopy.
Title: Semi-supervised training for automatic speech recognition.
Abstract: State-of-the-art automatic speech recognition (ASR) systems use sequence-level objectives like Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC) and Lattice-free Maximum Mutual Information (LF-MMI) for training neural network-based acoustic models. These methods are known to be most effective with large size datasets with hundreds or thousands of hours of data. It is difficult to obtain large amounts of supervised data other than in a few major languages like English and Mandarin. It is also difficult to obtain supervised data in a myriad of channel and envirormental conditions. On the other hand, large amounts of
unsupervised audio can be obtained fairly easily. There are enormous amounts of unsupervised data available in broadcast TV, call centers and YouTube for many different languages and in many environment conditions. The goal of this research is to discover how to best leverage the available unsupervised data for training acoustic models for ASR.
In the first part of this thesis, we extend the Maximum Mutual Information (MMI) training to the semi-supervised training scenario. We show that maximizing Negative Conditional Entropy (NCE) over lattices from unsupervised data, along with state-level Minimum Bayes Risk (sMBR) on supervised data, in a multi-task architecture gives word error rate (WER) improvements without needing any confidence-based filtering.
In the second part of this thesis, we investigate using lattice-based supervision as numerator graph to incorporate uncertainities in unsupervised data in the LF-MMI training framework. We explore various aspects of creating the numerator graph including splitting lattices for minibatch training, applying tolerance to frame-level alignments, pruning beam sizes, word LM scale and inclusion of pronunciation variants. We show that the WER recovery rate (WRR) of our proposed approach is 5-10\% absolute better than that of the baseline of using 1-best transcript as supervision, and is stable in the 40-60\% range even on large-scale setups and multiple different languages.
Finally, we explore transfer learning for the scenario where we have unsupervised data in a mismatched domain. First, we look at the teacher-student learning approach for cases where parallel data is available in source and target domains. Here, we train a “student” neural network on the target domain to mimic a “teacher” neural network on the source domain data, but using sequence-level posteriors instead of the traditional approach of using frame-level posteriors.
We show that the proposed approach is very effective to deal with acoustic domain mismatch in multiple scenarios of unsupervised domain adaptation — clean to noisy speech, 8kHz to 16kHz speech, close-talk microphone to distant microphone.
Second, we investigate approaches to mitigate language domain mismatch, and show that a matched language model significantly improves WRR. We finally show that our proposed semi-supervised transfer learning approach works effectively even on large-scale unsupervised datasets with 2000 hours of
audio in natural and realistic conditions.
Title: Strategies for Handling Out-of-Vocabulary Words in Automatic Speech Recognition
Abstract: Nowadays, most ASR (automatic speech recognition) systems deployed in industry are closed-vocabulary systems, meaning we have a limited vocabulary of words the system can recognize, and where pronunciations are provided to the system. Words out of this vocabulary are called out-of-vocabulary (OOV) words, for which either pronunciations or both spellings and pronunciations are not known to the system. The basic motivations of developing strategies to handle OOV words are: First, in the training phase, missing or wrong pronunciations of words in training data results in poor acoustic models. Second, in the test phase, words out of the vocabulary cannot be recognized at all, and mis-recognition of OOV words may affect recognition performance of its in-vocabulary neighbors as well. Therefore, this dissertation is dedicated to exploring strategies of handling OOV words in closed-vocabulary ASR.
First, we investigate dealing with OOV words in ASR training data, by introducing an acoustic-data driven pronunciation learning framework using a likelihood-reduction based criterion for selecting pronunciation candidates from multiple sources, i.e. standard grapheme-to-phoneme algorithms (G2P) and phonetic decoding, in a greedy fashion. This framework effectively expands a small hand-crafted pronunciation lexicon to cover OOV words, for which the learned pronunciations have higher quality than approaches using G2P alone or using other baseline pruning criteria. Furthermore, applying the proposed framework to generate alternative pronunciations for in-vocabulary (IV) words improves both recognition performance on relevant words and overall acoustic model performance.
Second, we investigate dealing with OOV words in ASR test data, i.e. OOV detection and recovery. We first conduct a comparative study of a hybrid lexical model (HLM) approach for OOV detection, and several baseline approaches, with the conclusion that the HLM approach outperforms others in both OOV detection and first pass OOV recovery performance. Next, we introduce a grammar-decoding framework for efficient second pass OOV recovery, showing that with properly designed schemes of estimating OOV unigram probabilities, the framework significantly improves OOV recovery and overall decoding performance compared to first pass decoding.
Finally we propose an open-vocabulary word-level recurrent neural network language model (RNNLM) re scoring framework, making it possible to re-score lattices containing recovered OOVs using a word-level RNNLM, that was ignorant of OOVs when it was trained. Above all, the whole OOV recovery pipeline shows the potential of a highly efficient open-vocabulary word-level ASR decoding framework, tightly integrated into a standard WFST decoding pipeline.
Title: Exploring scalable coating of inorganic semiconductor inks: the surface structure-property-performance correlations
Abstract: Inorganic semiconductor inks – such as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) and transition metal oxides (MOs) – can potentially enable low-cost flexible and transparent electronics via ‘roll-to-roll’ printing. Surfaces of these nanometer-sized CQDs and MO ultra-thin films lead to surface phenomenon with implications on film formation during coating, crystallinity and charge transport. In this talk, I will describe my recent efforts aimed at understanding the crucial role of surface structure in these materials using photoemission spectroscopy and X-ray scattering. Time-resolved X-ray scattering helps reveal the various stages during CQD ink-to-film transformation during blade-coating. Interesting insights include evidence of an early onset of CQD nucleation toward self-assembly and superlattice formation. I will close by discussing fresh results which suggest that nanoscale morphology significantly impacts charge transport in MO ultra-thin (≈5 nm) films. Control over crystallographic texture and film densification allows us to achieve high-performing (electron mobility ≈40 cm2V-1s-1), blade-coated MO thin-film transistors.
Bio: Dr. Ahmad R. Kirmani is a Guest Researcher in the Materials Science and Engineering Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the group of Dr. Dean M. DeLongchamp and Dr. Lee J. Richter. He is exploring scalable coating of inorganic semiconductor inks using X-ray scattering. He received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) under the supervision of Prof. Aram Amassian in 2017 for probing the surface structure-property relationship in colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics. He has published 30 articles in high-impact journals such Advanced Materials, ACS Energy Letters and the Nature family, and is also a volunteer science writer for the Materials Research Society (MRS) since the last couple of years and has contributed 10 news articles, opinions and perspectives.
Title: A Theory and Practice of the Lifelong Learnable Forest
Abstract: Since Vapnik’s and Valiant’s seminal papers on learnability, various lines of research have generalized his concept of learning and learners. In this paper, we formally define what it means to be a lifelong learner. Given this definition, we propose the first lifelong learning algorithm with theoretical guarantees that it can perform forward transfer and reverse transfer, while not experiencing catastrophic forgetting. Our algorithm, dubbed Lifelong Learning Forests, outperforms the current state-of-the-art deep lifelong learning algorithm on the CIFAR 10-by-10 challenge problem, despite its simplicity and mathematical tractability. Our approach immediately lends to further algorithmic developments that promise to exceed current performance limits of existing approaches.
Title: Automated Spore Analysis Using Bright-Field Imaging and Raman Microscopy
Abstract: In 2015, it was determined that the United States Department of Defense had been shipping samples of B. anthracis spores which had undergone gamma irradiation but were not fully inactivated. In the aftermath of this event alternative and orthogonal methods were investigated to analyze spores determine their viability. In this thesis we demonstrate a novel analysis technique that combines bright-field microscopy images with Raman chemical microscopy.
We first developed an image segmentation routine based on the watershed method to locate individual spores within bright-field images. This routine was able to effectively demarcate 97.4% of the Bacillus spores within the bright-field images with minimal over-segmentation. Size and shape measurements, to include major and minor axis and area, were then extracted for 4048 viable spores which showed very good agreement with previously published values. When similar measurements were taken on 3627 gamma-irradiated spores, a statistically significant difference was noted for the minor axis length, ratio of major to minor axis, and total area when compared to the non-irradiated spores. Classification results show the ability to correctly classify 67% of viable spores with an 18% misclassification rate using the bright-field image by thresholding the minimum classification length.
Raman chemical imaging microscopy (RCIM) was then used to measure populations of viable, gamma irradiated, and autoclaved spores of B. anthracis Sterne, B. atrophaeus. B. megaterium, and B. thuringensis kurstaki. Significant spectral differences were observed between viable and inactivated spores due to the disappearance of features associated with calcium dipicolinate after irradiation. Principal component analysis was used which showed the ability to distinguish viable spores of B. anthracis Sterne and B. atrophaeus from each other and the other two Bacillus species.
Finally, Raman microscopy was used to classify mixtures of viable and gamma inactivated spores. A technique was developed that fuses the size and shape characteristics obtained from the bright-field image to preferentially target viable spores. Simulating a scenario of a practical demonstration of the technique was performed on a field of view containing approximately 7,000 total spores of which are only 12 were viable to simulate a sample that was not fully irradiated. Ten of these spores are properly classified while interrogating just 25% of the total spores.
Title: Robust Adaptive Strategies for Myographic Prosthesis Movement Decoding
Abstract: Improving the condition-tolerance, stability, response time, and dexterity of neural prosthesis control strategies are major clinical goals to aid amputees in achieving natural restorative upper-limb function. Currently, the dominant noninvasive neural source for prosthesis motor control is the skin-surface recorded electromyographic (EMG) signal. Decoding movement intentions from EMG is a challenging problem because this signal type is subject to a high degree of interference from noise and conditional influences. As a consequence, much of the movement intention information contained within the EMG signal has remained significantly under-utilized for the purposes of controlling robotic prostheses. We sought to overcome this information deficit through the use of adaptive strategies for machine learning, sparse representations, and signal processing to significantly improve myographic prosthesis control. This body of research represents the current state-of-the-art in condition-tolerant EMG movement classification (Chapter 3), stable and responsive EMG sequence decoding during movement transitions (Chapter 4), and positional regression to reliably control 7 wrist and finger degrees-of-freedom (Chapter 5). To our knowledge, the methods we describe in Chapter 5 elicit the most dexterous, biomimetic, and natural prosthesis control performance ever obtained from the surface EMG signal.
Title: “Honey I shrank the microscope!” And Other Adventures in Functional Imaging
Abstract: Imaging the brain in action, in awake freely behaving animals without the confounding effect of anesthetics poses unique design and experimental challenges. Moreover, imaging the evolution of disease models in the preclinical setting over their entire lifetime is also difficult with conventional imaging techniques. This lecture will describe the development and applications of a miniaturized microscope that circumvents these hurdles. This lecture will also describe how image acquisition, data visualization and engineering tools can be leveraged to answer fundamental questions in cancer, neuroscience and tissue engineering applications.
Bio: Dr. Pathak is an ideator, educator and mentor focused on transforming lives through the power of imaging. He received the BS in Electronics Engineering from the University of Poona, India. He received his PhD from the joint program in Functional Imaging between the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University. During his PhD he was a Whitaker Foundation Fellow. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Molecular Imaging. He is currently Associate Professor of Radiology, Oncology and Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). His research is focused on developing new imaging methods, computational models and visualization tools to ‘make visible’ critical aspects of cancer, neurobiology and tissue engineering. His work has been recognized by multiple journal covers and awards including the Bill Negendank Award from the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) given to “outstanding young investigators in cancer MRI” and the Career Catalyst Award from the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. He serves on review panels for national and international funding agencies, and the editorial boards of imaging journals. He is dedicated to mentoring the next generation of imagers and innovators. He has mentored over sixty students, was the recipient of the ISMRM’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 2014, a 125 Hopkins Hero in 2018 for outstanding dedication to the core values of JHU, and a Career Champion Nominee in 2018 for student career guidance and support.
Title: Loss Landscapes of Neural Networks and their Generalization: Theory and Applications
Abstract: In the last decade or so, deep learning has revolutionized entire domains of machine learning. Neural networks have helped achieve significant improvements in computer vision, machine translation, speech recognition, etc. These powerful empirical demonstrations leave a wide gap between our current theoretical understanding of neural networks and their practical performance. The theoretical questions in deep learning can be put under three broad but inter-related themes: 1) Architecture/Representation, 2) Optimization, and 3) Generalization. In this dissertation, we study the landscapes of different deep learning problems to answer questions in the above themes.
First, in order to understand what representations can be learned by neural networks, we study simple Autoencoder networks with one hidden layer of rectified linear units. We connect autoencoders to the well-known problem in signal processing of Sparse Coding. We show that the squared reconstruction error loss function has a critical point at the ground truth dictionary under an appropriate generative model.
Next, we turn our attention to a problem at the intersection of optimization and generalization. Training deep networks through empirical risk minimization is a non-convex problem with many local minima in the loss landscape. A number of empirical studies have observed that “flat minima” for neural networks tend to generalize better than sharper minima. However, quantifying the flatness or sharpness of minima has been an issue due to possible rescaling in neural networks with positively homogenous activations. We use ideas from Riemannian geometry to define a new measure of flatness that is invariant to rescaling. We test the hypothesis that flatter minima generalize better through a number of different experiments on deep networks.
Finally, we apply deep networks to computer vision problems with compressed measurements of natural images and videos. We conduct experiments to characterize the situations in which these networks fail, and those in which they succeed. We train deep networks to perform object detection and classification directly on these compressive measurements of images, without trying to reconstruct the scene first. These experiments are conducted on public datasets as well as datasets specific to a sponsor of our research.
Title: Neural Circuit Mechanisms of Stimulus Selection Underlying Spatial Attention
Thesis Committee: Shreesh P. Mysore, Hynek Hermansky, Mounya Elhilali, Ralph Etienne-Cummings
Abstract: Humans and animals routinely encounter competing pieces of information in their environments, and must continually select the most salient in order to survive and behave adaptively. Here, using computational modeling, extracellular neural recordings, and focal, reversible silencing of neurons in the midbrain of barn owls, we uncovered how two essential computations underlying competitive selection are implemented in the brain: a) the ability to select the most salient stimulus among all pairs of stimulus locations, and b) the ability to signal the most salient stimulus categorically.
We first discovered that a key inhibitory nucleus in the midbrain attention network, called isthmi pars magnocellularis (Imc), encodes visual space with receptive fields that have multiple excitatory hotspots (‘‘lobes’’). Such (previously unknown) multilobed encoding of visual space is necessitated for selection at all location-pairs in the face of scarcity of Imc neurons. Although distributed seemingly randomly, the RF lobe-locations are optimized across the high-firing Imc neurons, allowing them to combinatorially solve selection across space. This combinatorially optimized inhibition strategy minimizes metabolic and wiring costs.
Next, we discovered that a ‘donut-like’ inhibitory mechanism in which each competing option suppresses all options except itself is highly effective at generating categorical responses. It surpasses motifs of feedback inhibition, recurrent excitation, and divisive normalization used commonly in decision-making models. We demonstrated experimentally not only that this mechanism operates in the midbrain spatial selection network in barn owls, but also that it is required for categorical signaling by it. Moreover, the pattern of inhibition in the midbrain forms an exquisitely structured ‘multi-holed’ donut consistent with this network’s combinatorial inhibitory function (computation 1).
Our work demonstrates that the vertebrate midbrain uses seemingly carefully optimized structural and functional strategies to solve challenging computational problems underlying stimulus selection and spatial attention at all location pairs. The neural motifs discovered here represent circuit-based solutions that are generalizable to other brain areas, other forms of behavior (such as decision-making, action selection) as well as for the design of artificial systems (such as robotics, self-driving cars) that rely on the selection of one among many options.