Learning dynamical models for visual tracking
Using some form of dynamical model in a visual tracking system is a well-known method for increasing robustness and indeed performance in general. Often, quite simple models are used and can be effective, but prior knowledge of the likely motion of the tracking target can often be exploited by using a specially-tailored model. Specifying such a model by hand, while possible, is a time-consuming and error-prone process. Much more desirable is for an automated system to learn a model from training data. A dynamical model learnt in this manner can also be a source of useful information in its own right, and a set of dynamical models can provide discriminatory power for use in classification problems. Methods exist to perform such learning, but are limited in that they assume the availability of 'ground truth' data. In a visual tracking system, this is rarely the case. A learning system must work from visual data alone, and this thesis develops methods for learning dynamical models while explicitly taking account of the nature of the training data --- they are noisy measurements. The algorithms are developed within two tracking frameworks. The Kalman filter is a simple and fast approach, applicable where the visual clutter is limited. The recently-developed Condensation algorithm is capable of tracking in more demanding situations, and can also employ a wider range of dynamical models than the Kalman filter, for instance multi-mode models. The success of the learning algorithms is demonstrated experimentally. When using a Kalman filter, the dynamical models learnt using the algorithms presented here produce better tracking when compared with those learnt using current methods. Learning directly from training data gathered using Condensation is an entirely new technique, and experiments show that many aspects of a multi-mode system can be successfully identified using very little prior information. Significant computational effort is required by the implementation of the methods, and there is scope for improvement in this regard. Other possibilities for future work include investigation of the strong links this work has with learning problems in other areas. Most notable is the study of the 'graphical models' commonly used in expert systems, where the ideas presented here promise to give insight and perhaps lead to new techniques.