Abstract: Object-centric representations are a promising path toward more systematic generalization by providing flexible abstractions upon which compositional world models can be built. Recent work on simple 2D and 3D datasets has shown that models with object-centric inductive biases can learn to segment and represent meaningful objects from the statistical structure of the data alone without the need for any supervision. However, such fully-unsupervised methods still fail to scale to diverse realistic data, despite the use of increasingly complex inductive biases such as priors for the size of objects or the 3D geometry of the scene. In this paper, we instead take a weakly-supervised approach and focus on how 1) using the temporal dynamics of video data in the form of optical flow and 2) conditioning the model on simple object location cues can be used to enable segmenting and tracking objects in significantly more realistic synthetic data. We introduce a sequential extension to Slot Attention which we train to predict optical flow for realistic looking synthetic scenes and show that conditioning the initial state of this model on a small set of hints, such as center of mass of objects in the first frame, is sufficient to significantly improve instance segmentation. These benefits generalize beyond the training distribution to novel objects, novel backgrounds, and to longer video sequences. We also find that such initial-state-conditioning can be used during inference as a flexible interface to query the model for specific objects or parts of objects, which could pave the way for a range of weakly-supervised approaches and allow more effective interaction with trained models.
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