About

I am an associate professor of Applied Mathematics in the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. My research is primarily focused around applied machine learning. I have worked in the domains of probabilistic robotics and computer vision for many years, have some recent experience in computational linguistics and reinforcement learning, and currently have an interest mainly in representation learning and resource-efficient computer vision. I like working on applications for nature conservation and social impact, and I am passionate about building and serving machine learning communities all across the African continent.

I completed an MSc in Applied Mathematics at Stellenbosch in 2005, and a PhD in Computer Science at Sheffield Hallam University in the UK in 2008. After about a year of postdoc work at South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, I returned to Stellenbosch in 2009 where I have been teaching a variety of undergrad and postgrad courses in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, and working with many amazing postgraduate students.

Office:  Room A311, General Engineering Building, Banghoek Road        Email:  wbrink [at] sun [dot] ac [dot] za        Phone:  +27 (0)21 808 4218

Community engagement

Maties Machine Learning
Herman Kamper and I created MML in 2018, in an effort to bring together researchers and students from across departments and faculties of Stellenbosch University. It is primarily a seminar series and discussion forum, and anyone at the university interested in machine learning is most welcome to join us.

Deep Learning Indaba
The Deep Learning Indaba is an organisation whose mission is to strengthen machine learning and artificial intelligence in Africa. We work towards the goal of Africans being not only observers and receivers of ongoing advances, but active shapers and owners of these technologies. Visit our website to find out more!

DeepMind Scholarships
I coordinate the DeepMind scholarship programme at Stellenbosch University, and am proud to represent the first African university in this programme. Applications for 2022 scholarships at SU have closed, but do keep an eye out for future opportunities. More information here and here.

Teaching

Courses I am teaching in 2021:

Other courses I've taught in the past:

  •   •   AM244  Applied Differential Equations

  •   •   NM262  Numerical Methods for Engineers

  •   •   AM324  Numerical Analysis

  •   •   CS364  Computer Vision

  •   •   AM793  Digital Image Processing

Coming 2022:

Graduate students

  •   •   Shane Josias (PhD)

  •   •   Samuel Mensah (PhD, co-supervised with Bubacarr Bah)

  •   •   Jama Mohamud (PhD, co-supervised with Ulrich Paquet)

  •   •   Andries Smit (PhD, co-supervised with Herman Engelbrecht)

  •   •   Wian Crous (MSc)

  •   •   Fred de Villiers (MSc, co-supervised with Benjamin Rosman)

  •   •   Mikkel du Plessis (MSc)

  •   •   Christiaan Louw (MSc)

Publications and preprints

  1. Machine learning models for stomatal conductance in multiple tree species across different forest biomes [link]
    Alta Saunders, David Drew, Willie Brink
    Trees, Forests and People, vol. 6, art. 100139, 2021

  2. Mava: a research framework for distributed multi-agent reinforcement learning [arXiv]
    Arnu Pretorius, Kale-ab Tessera, Andries Smit, Claude Formanek, St John Grimbly, Kevin Eloff, Siphelele Danisa, Lawrence Francis, Jonathan Shock, Herman Kamper, Willie Brink, Herman Engelbrecht, Alexandre Laterre, Karim Beguir
    arXiv preprint, arXiv:2107.01460, 2021

  3. Class-selective mini-batching and multitask learning for visual relationship recognition [link]
    Shane Josias, Willie Brink
    SAIEE Africa Research Journal, vol. 112, no. 2, pp. 99-109, 2021

  4. BINet: a binary inpainting network for deep patch-based image compression [link] [arXiv]
    André Nortje, Willie Brink, Herman Engelbrecht, Herman Kamper
    Signal Processing: Image Communication, vol. 29, art. 116119, 2021

  5. Towards the localisation of lesions in diabetic retinopathy [link] [arXiv]
    Samuel Mensah, Bubacarr Bah, Willie Brink
    Intelligent Computing: Lecture Notes in Networks and Systems, vol. 285, pp. 100-107, 2021

  6. Link prediction in knowledge graphs using latent feature modelling and neural tensor factorisation [pdf]
    Luyolo Magangane, Willie Brink
    Southern African Conference for Artificial Intelligence Research (SACAIR), pp. 335-348, 2020

  7. Image identification of Protea species with attributes and subgenus scaling [pdf]
    Peter Thompson, Willie Brink
    IEEE Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision (WACV), pp. 2094-2102, 2020

  8. Learning fine-grained control for mapless navigation [pdf]
    Fred de Villiers, Willie Brink
    SAUPEC/RobMech/PRASA Conference, pp. 666-671, 2020

  9. Batch construction and multitask learning in visual relationship recognition [pdf]
    Shane Josias, Willie Brink
    SAUPEC/RobMech/PRASA Conference, pp. 713-718, 2020

  10. Towards automating healthcare question answering in a noisy multilingual low-resource setting [pdf]
    Jeanne Daniel, Willie Brink, Ryan Eloff, Charles Copley
    Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), pp. 948-953, 2019

  11. Short-term stream flow forecasting at Australian river sites using data-driven regression techniques [pdf]
    Melise Steyn, Josefine Wilms, Willie Brink, Francois Smit
    International Work-Conference on Time Series (ITISE), pp. 865-876, 2017

  12. A method for 3D stem analysis and its application in a study on the occurrence of resin pockets in Pinus patula [link]
    Frederick Lerm, Melanie Blumentritt, Willie Brink, Brand Wessels
    European Journal of Forest Research, vol. 136, no. 3, pp. 411-420, 2017

  13. A probabilistic graphical model approach to the structure-and-motion problem [pdf]
    Simon Streicher, Willie Brink, Johan du Preez
    PRASA-RobMech International Conference, paper 8, 2016

  14. Text detection in natural images with convolutional neural networks and synthetic training data [pdf]
    Marco Grond, Willie Brink, Ben Herbst
    PRASA-RobMech International Conference, paper 20, 2016

  15. The application of support vector regression for stream flow prediction on the Amazon basin [pdf]
    Melise du Toit, Josefine Wilms, Francois Smit, Willie Brink
    Conference of the South African Society for Atmospheric Sciences, pp. 25-28, 2016

  16. Pose uncertainty in occupancy grids through Monte Carlo integration [link]
    Daniek Joubert, Willie Brink, Ben Herbst
    Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems, vol. 77, no. 1, pp. 5-16, 2015

  17. Long-term tracking of multiple interacting pedestrians using a single camera [pdf]
    Mogomotsi Keaikitse, Willie Brink, Natasha Govender
    PRASA, RobMech and AfLaT International Joint Symposium, pp. 59-65, 2014

  18. Pose uncertainty in occupancy grids through Monte Carlo integration [pdf]
    Daniek Joubert, Willie Brink, Ben Herbst
    International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR), paper 90, 2013

  19. FastSLAM with stereo vision  [pdf]
    Wikus Brink, Willie Brink, Corné van Daalen
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 24-30, 2012

  20. Probabilistic outlier removal for robust landmark identification in stereo vision based SLAM [pdf]
    Wikus Brink, Willie Brink, Corné van Daalen
    IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pp. 2822-2827, 2012

  21. Scene reconstruction from uncontrolled motion using a low cost 3D sensor [pdf]
    Pierre Joubert, Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 13-18, 2011

  22. Stereo vision as a sensor for EKF SLAM [pdf]
    Wikus Brink, Willie Brink, Corné van Daalen
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 19-24, 2011

  23. A mesh-based approach to incremental range image integration [pdf]
    Daniek Joubert, Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 74-79, 2011

  24. Graph cut segmentation of range images into planar regions [pdf]
    Simon Muller, Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 108-113, 2011

  25. Gain scheduling control of monocular vision-based human-following robot [pdf]
    Michael Burke, Willie Brink
    World Congress of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC), pp. 8177-8182, 2011

  26. Dense stereo correspondence for uncalibrated images in multiple view reconstruction [pdf]
    Willie Brink, Daniek Joubert, Francois Singels
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 39-44, 2010

  27. Estimating target orientation with a single camera for use in a human-following robot [pdf]
    Michael Burke, Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 51-56, 2010

  28. Multi-view 3D position estimation of sports players [pdf]
    Robbie Vos, Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 299-304, 2010

  29. Applying Bayesian segmentation in volumetric silhouette-based reconstruction [pdf]
    Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 17-22, 2009

  30. Real-time stereo reconstruction through hierarchical DP and LULU filtering [pdf]
    Francois Singels, Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 41-46, 2009

  31. Combining motion detection and hierarchical particle filter tracking in a multi-player sports environment [pdf]
    Robbie Vos, Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 65-70, 2009

  32. Real-time surface tracking with uncoded structured light [pdf]
    Willie Brink
    Annual Symposium of the Pattern Recognition Association of South Africa (PRASA), pp. 91-95, 2008

  33. Indexing uncoded stripe patterns in structured light systems by maximum spanning trees [pdf]
    Willie Brink, Alan Robinson, Marcos Rodrigues
    British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC), pp. 575-584, 2008

  34. Willmore energy vs area as criteria for mesh optimisation [pdf]
    Willie Brink, Lyuba Alboul
    Numerical Geometry, Grid Generation and High Performance Computing, pp. 6-12, 2006

  35. Mesh optimisation based on Willmore energy [pdf]
    Lyuba Alboul, Willie Brink, Marcos Rodrigues
    European Workshop on Computational Geometry, pp. 133-136, 2006

Previous graduate students

  • Evander Nyoni (MSc, 2021): Neural machine translation for Southern African languages

  • Mulanga Makhubele (MSc, 2021): FCNs for landmark detection in tsetse wing images

  • Luyolo Magangane (MSc, 2020): Link prediction in knowledge graphs [link]

  • Gregory Newman (MSc, 2020): Video classification using deep learning [link]

  • Reem Elmahdi (MSc, 2020): Predicting water quality variables [link]

  • Shane Josias (MSc, 2020): Visual relationship recognition [link]

  • Jeanne Daniel (MSc, 2020): NLP for low-resource languages in healthcare [link]

  • Peter Thompson (MSc, 2020): Image identification of Protea species [link]

  • Simbarashe Nyatsanga (MSc, 2020): Automatic video captioning [link]

  • Belinda Matebese (PhD, 2019): Path planning using optimal control [link]

  • Jaco Briers (MSc, 2019): River flow routing using deep learning [link]

  • Russell Kingwill (MSc, 2019): Forecasting South African basic fuel prices [link]

  • Jacques Marais (MSc, 2018): Elephant detection in aerial images [link]

  • Melise Steyn (MSc, 2018): Stream flow forecasting using machine learning [link]

  • Marco Grond (MSc, 2017): Text detection in natural images [link]

  • Simon Streicher (MSc, 2016): Structure-from-motion with PGMs [link]

  • Gideon Zuurmond (MSc, 2015): Camera calibration through moiré pattern analysis [link]

  • Alwyn Burger (MEng, 2015): Occupancy grid mapping using stereo vision [link]

  • Pieter Holtzhausen (PhD, 2015): Video surveillance incorporating PTZ cameras [link]

  • Lloyd Hughes (MSc, 2014): Mobile camera pose estimation [link]

  • Pierre Joubert (MSc, 2014): People detection and tracking in RGB and IR [link]

  • Mogomotsi Keaikitse (MSc, 2014): Long-term tracking of multiple pedestrians [link]

  • Simon Muller (MSc, 2013): Planar segmentation of range images [link]

  • Wikus Brink (MEng, 2012): Stereo vision for SLAM [link]

  • Daniek Joubert (MSc, 2012): Occupancy grid mapping with pose uncertainty [link]

  • Michael Burke (MEng, 2011): Visual control for a human-following robot [link]

  • Robbie Vos (MSc, 2010): Multi-view tracking of sports players

  • Francois Singels (MSc, 2010): Real-time stereo reconstruction [link]

Last updated: 16 September 2021