Observing a group to infer individual characteristics

Arshed Nabeel, Danny Raj M
In the study of collective motion, it is common practice to collect movement information at the level of the group to infer the characteristics of the individual agents and their interactions. However, it is not clear whether one can always correctly infer individual characteristics from movement data of the collective. We investigate this question in the context of a composite crowd with two groups of agents, each with its own desired direction of motion. A simple observer attempts to classify an agent into its group based on its movement information. However, collective effects such as collisions, entrainment of agents, formation of lanes and clusters, etc. render the classification problem non-trivial, and lead to misclassifications. Based on our understanding of these effects, we propose a new observer algorithm that infers, based only on observed movement information, how the local neighborhood aids or hinders agent movement. Unlike a traditional supervised learning approach, this algorithm is based on physical insights and scaling arguments, and does not rely on training-data. This new observer improves classification performance and is able to differentiate agents belonging to different groups even when their motion is identical. Data-agnostic approaches like this have relevance to a large class of real-world problems where clean, labeled data is difficult to obtain, and is a step towards hybrid approaches that integrate both data and domain knowledge.

Read the full article at: arxiv.org