Masters/PhD ideas

The 2008 year is coming to a close (sort of) and it’s time I started thinking of my future. I have received a job offer and I’ll follow that, just to see if I can get in, but I’m really leaning towards post-grad research.

I’m likely eligible for Masters but I recently realised that I could also be eligible for a PhD if I get good marks for my Honours year (which I have been so far). Doing a PhD would be pretty cool and is quite a distinguished title for me to carry. Although, it’s also another 3-5 years inside, which isn’t so great. But then again, 3-5 years at uni is probably more fun than 3-5 years at some dead-end corporate job. Also, if I do a PhD, I don’t have to move house, which works for me.

Anyway, I’m using this space to record down possible PhD/Masters ideas that could be used for research purposes.

Artificial Intelligence: RL + FL
One idea I’ve been tossing around is the combination of Reinforcement Learning and Formal Logic. The way (that I personally believe) humans learn is by storing knowledge and building on that knowledge, using logic. By combining RL, which explores and exploits and FL, which is a compact and useful knowledge representation, an AI agent could be created that learns rules and behaviour based on logical inference and probabilities.

The agent would learn by exploring the domain and working off what it already knows (strict rules that cannot be changed, like gravity for example), and store what it learns as a bunch of rules, which can be used to infer new rules from them as well as hypothesising likely events. These hypotheses could be tested using agent-environment interaction and setting a probability of their ‘truth’ by the results obtained.

Mapping real-life video into digital 3D terrain
Using a video of an area, process it and create a 3D interpretation of it, stored as a 3D world. This would require object recognition from a video, thus including object tracking and placement. Also, depth would need to be evaluated. Because a single image wouldn’t be enough to properly view an area, a video/s would be required. A single video probably wouldn’t get everything either, with some parts of an area skipped over. The program could either fill them in however it sees fit or prompt the user to make another video of the particular area, as indicated by the program. If done in real-time, as an incremental algorithm, the program could tell the user to go to certain areas when filming (“go over ‘here’ (show user location or direction) so I can learn its structure” says the computer).

This would require a great many things to work, which currently aren’t at excellent levels. Image processing (let alone video processing), object recognition and creation, terrain creation, among others. It would be a tough project, likely not to be finished within a single PhD term by one person. Still, it’s an idea.