Alexander Ku


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On the Evaluation of Vision-and-Language Navigation Instructions
Ming Zhao | Peter Anderson | Vihan Jain | Su Wang | Alexander Ku | Jason Baldridge | Eugene Ie
Proceedings of the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Main Volume

Vision-and-Language Navigation wayfinding agents can be enhanced by exploiting automatically generated navigation instructions. However, existing instruction generators have not been comprehensively evaluated, and the automatic evaluation metrics used to develop them have not been validated. Using human wayfinders, we show that these generators perform on par with or only slightly better than a template-based generator and far worse than human instructors. Furthermore, we discover that BLEU, ROUGE, METEOR and CIDEr are ineffective for evaluating grounded navigation instructions. To improve instruction evaluation, we propose an instruction-trajectory compatibility model that operates without reference instructions. Our model shows the highest correlation with human wayfinding outcomes when scoring individual instructions. For ranking instruction generation systems, if reference instructions are available we recommend using SPICE.

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PanGEA: The Panoramic Graph Environment Annotation Toolkit
Alexander Ku | Peter Anderson | Jordi Pont Tuset | Jason Baldridge
Proceedings of the Second Workshop on Advances in Language and Vision Research

PanGEA, the Panoramic Graph Environment Annotation toolkit, is a lightweight toolkit for collecting speech and text annotations in photo-realistic 3D environments. PanGEA immerses annotators in a web-based simulation and allows them to move around easily as they speak and/or listen. It includes database and cloud storage integration, plus utilities for automatically aligning recorded speech with manual transcriptions and the virtual pose of the annotators. Out of the box, PanGEA supports two tasks – collecting navigation instructions and navigation instruction following – and it could be easily adapted for annotating walking tours, finding and labeling landmarks or objects, and similar tasks. We share best practices learned from using PanGEA in a 20,000 hour annotation effort to collect the Room-Across-Room dataset. We hope that our open-source annotation toolkit and insights will both expedite future data collection efforts and spur innovation on the kinds of grounded language tasks such environments can support.


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Room-Across-Room: Multilingual Vision-and-Language Navigation with Dense Spatiotemporal Grounding
Alexander Ku | Peter Anderson | Roma Patel | Eugene Ie | Jason Baldridge
Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)

We introduce Room-Across-Room (RxR), a new Vision-and-Language Navigation (VLN) dataset. RxR is multilingual (English, Hindi, and Telugu) and larger (more paths and instructions) than other VLN datasets. It emphasizes the role of language in VLN by addressing known biases in paths and eliciting more references to visible entities. Furthermore, each word in an instruction is time-aligned to the virtual poses of instruction creators and validators. We establish baseline scores for monolingual and multilingual settings and multitask learning when including Room-to-Room annotations (Anderson et al., 2018). We also provide results for a model that learns from synchronized pose traces by focusing only on portions of the panorama attended to in human demonstrations. The size, scope and detail of RxR dramatically expands the frontier for research on embodied language agents in photorealistic simulated environments.


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Stay on the Path: Instruction Fidelity in Vision-and-Language Navigation
Vihan Jain | Gabriel Magalhaes | Alexander Ku | Ashish Vaswani | Eugene Ie | Jason Baldridge
Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Advances in learning and representations have reinvigorated work that connects language to other modalities. A particularly exciting direction is Vision-and-Language Navigation(VLN), in which agents interpret natural language instructions and visual scenes to move through environments and reach goals. Despite recent progress, current research leaves unclear how much of a role language under-standing plays in this task, especially because dominant evaluation metrics have focused on goal completion rather than the sequence of actions corresponding to the instructions. Here, we highlight shortcomings of current metrics for the Room-to-Room dataset (Anderson et al.,2018b) and propose a new metric, Coverage weighted by Length Score (CLS). We also show that the existing paths in the dataset are not ideal for evaluating instruction following because they are direct-to-goal shortest paths. We join existing short paths to form more challenging extended paths to create a new data set, Room-for-Room (R4R). Using R4R and CLS, we show that agents that receive rewards for instruction fidelity outperform agents that focus on goal completion.