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This paper proposes a framework for recognizing complex human activities in videos. Our method describes human activities in a hierarchical discriminative model that operates at three semantic levels. At the lower level, body poses are encoded in a representative but discriminative pose dictionary. At the intermediate level, encoded poses span a space where simple human actions are composed. At the highest level, our model captures temporal and spatial compositions of actions into complex human activities. Our human activity classifier simultaneously models which body parts are relevant to the action of interest as well as their appearance and composition using a discriminative approach. By formulating model learning in a max-margin framework, our approach achieves powerful multi-class discrimination while providing useful annotations at the intermediate semantic level. We show how our hierarchical compositional model provides natural handling of occlusions. To evaluate the effectiveness of our proposed framework, we introduce a new dataset of composed human activities. We provide empirical evidence that our method achieves state-of-the-art activity classification performance on several benchmark datasets.
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