Deep learning takes on GIFs, fashion, doodles and more at ACM Multimedia

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Sketch a picture of a cat, or a castle, or a crab and most people will get what you’re trying to convey — but unless you have a little talent, the drawing probably doesn’t look a lot like the real thing. That’s not a problem for this system created by Belgian computer scientists. Their system can recognize toddler-level sketches of 250 categories of objects.

This has been done a couple of times before, but one interesting aspect of this approach is that the machine learning system is exposed to the drawing as it’s created, seeing it at various fractions of completeness. Turns out that can help identify the object; after all, you ever see anyone draw the chimney on the house first? Me neither. So with just the first 20 percent of the image, they can get the right category 62 percent of the time.

Key quote: “Freehand sketches are a simple and powerful tool commonly used by humans.”

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