Learning Physical Intuition of Block Towers by Example

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Adam Lerer, Sam Gross, Rob Fergus ;
Proceedings of The 33rd International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 48:430-438, 2016.

Abstract

Wooden blocks are a common toy for infants, allowing them to develop motor skills and gain intuition about the physical behavior of the world. In this paper, we explore the ability of deep feed-forward models to learn such intuitive physics. Using a 3D game engine, we create small towers of wooden blocks whose stability is randomized and render them collapsing (or remaining upright). This data allows us to train large convolutional network models which can accurately predict the outcome, as well as estimating the trajectories of the blocks. The models are also able to generalize in two important ways: (i) to new physical scenarios, e.g. towers with an additional block and (ii) to images of real wooden blocks, where it obtains a performance comparable to human subjects.

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