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Western Producer: Deep learning methods guide computers to insect identification

June 11, 2018 — 
Digvir Jayas, grain storage expert

Digvir Jayas, grain storage expert

As the Western Producer reports: 

Three-year olds are known for a long list of bad habits: biting other kids, throwing toys at their mom and answering every question with “no.”

Despite those irrational behaviours, they are also smart.

Show a three-year-old girl a van, a truck and a car, and she will quickly learn to identify the three types of vehicles.

Digvir Jayas, vice-president of research at the University of Manitoba and grain storage expert, said computers aren’t as smart as three- year olds, at least when it comes to computer vision and identifying objects.

But scientists are now teaching computers to think like a three-year old, so the machines can see the differences between one object and another.

“Computer programs try to mimic that human thinking,” Jayas said. “And that’s what is increasing the capability of identifying these objects.”

Jayas, a former Canada Research Chair in Stored Grain Ecosystems, is not interested in teaching computers how to recognize cars, vans and trucks. Instead, Jayas and other scientists have developed a program where computers can identify insects within grain bins.

The programming method, known as deep learning, is a key part of a stored grain monitoring system. Such systems can be used to detect insects in a grain bin before the grain is mixed into other bins or before it’s delivered to the elevator.

Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.


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