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van Eeden seminar: How to represent part-whole hierarchies in a neural network

Tuesday, March 2, 2021 - 11:00 to 12:00
van Eeden Invited Speaker Geoffrey Hinton, Professor Emeritus, Computer Science Department, University of Toronto
Statistics Seminar
Zoom (registration required)


To join this seminar, please register via Zoom. Once your registration is approved, you'll receive an email with details on how to join the meeting.

If you have any questions about your registration or the seminar, please contact headsec [at]


I will present a single idea about representation which allows advances made by several different groups to be combined into an imaginary system called GLOM. The advances include transformers, implicit functions, contrastive representation learning, distillation and capsules. GLOM answers the question: How can a neural network with a fixed architecture parse an image into a part-whole hierarchy which has a different structure for each image? The idea is simply to use islands of identical vectors to represent the nodes in the parse tree. The talk will discuss the many ramifications of this idea. If GLOM can be made to work, it should significantly improve the interpretability of the representations produced by transformer-like systems when applied to vision or language.

van Eeden speakers

Professor Geoffrey Hinton has been invited by our department's graduate students to be this year's van Eeden speaker. A van Eeden speaker is a prominent statistician who is chosen by our graduate students each year to give a lecture, supported by the Constance van Eeden Fund.