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  • Machine learning plays a pivotal role in most state-of-the-art systems in many application research domains. With the rising of deep learning, massive labeled data become the solution of feature learning, which enables the model to learn automatically. Unfortunately, the trained deep learning model is hard to adapt to other datasets without fine-tuning, and the applicability of machine learning methods is limited by the amount of available labeled data. Therefore, the aim of this thesis is to alleviate the limitations of supervised learning by exploring algorithms to learn good internal representations, and invariant feature hierarchies from unlabelled data. Firstly, we extend the traditional dictionary learning and sparse coding algorithms onto hierarchical image representations in a principled way. To achieve dictionary atoms capture additional information from extended receptive fields and attain improved descriptive capacity, we present a two-pass multi-resolution cascade framework for dictionary learning and sparse coding. This cascade method allows collaborative reconstructions at different resolutions using only the same dimensional dictionary atoms. The jointly learned dictionary comprises atoms that adapt to the information available at the coarsest layer, where the support of atoms reaches a maximum range, and the residual images, where the supplementary details refine progressively a reconstruction objective. Our method generates flexible and accurate representations using only a small number of coefficients, and is efficient in computation. In the following work, we propose to incorporate the traditional self-expressiveness property into deep learning to explore better representation for subspace clustering. This architecture is built upon deep auto-encoders, which non-linearly map the input data into a latent space. Our key idea is to introduce a novel self-expressive layer between the encoder and the decoder to mimic the ``self-expressiveness'' property that has proven effective in traditional subspace clustering. Being differentiable, our new self-expressive layer provides a simple but effective way to learn pairwise affinities between all data points through a standard back-propagation procedure. Being nonlinear, our neural-network based method is able to cluster data points having complex (often nonlinear) structures. However, Subspace clustering algorithms are notorious for their scalability issues because building and processing large affinity matrices are demanding. We propose two methods to tackle this problem. One method is based on $k$-Subspace Clustering, where we introduce a method that simultaneously learns an embedding space along subspaces within it to minimize a notion of reconstruction error, thus addressing the problem of subspace clustering in an end-to-end learning paradigm. This in turn frees us from the need of having an affinity matrix to perform clustering. The other way starts from using a feed forward network to replace the spectral clustering and learn the affinities of each data from "self-expressive" layer. We introduce the Neural Collaborative Subspace Clustering, where it benefits from a classifier which determines whether a pair of points lies on the same subspace under supervision of "self-expressive" layer. Essential to our model is the construction of two affinity matrices, one from the classifier and the other from a notion of subspace self-expressiveness, to supervise training in a collaborative scheme. In summary, we make constributions on how to perform the unsupervised learning in several tasks in this thesis. It starts from traditional sparse coding and dictionary learning perspective in low-level vision. Then, we exploit how to incorporate unsupervised learning in convolutional neural networks without label information and make subspace clustering to large scale dataset. Furthermore, we also extend the clustering on dense prediction task (saliency detection).
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  • This paper revisits the development models promoted in recent national plans in PNG, the influences that framed their ambitious visions and their compatibility with the earlier NGDPs. Learning from the failed attempts at implementing the National Goals and Directive Principles (NGDPs), this paper suggests making them justiciable and institutionalised — as suggested by the Constitutional Planning Committee (CPC) —for the purpose of vetting development policies and programs.
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  • Public decisions impact each of our lives, now and into the future. We entrust them to politicians and civil servants, expecting our elected and paid representatives to act in the public interest and to deliver on the promises they make to us. This thesis explores what has led to the arguably limited achievement of sustainable development by public decision-makers, despite three decades of increasing international, national, and subnational commitments to it. Thirty-five interviews and a survey (n=98) of current or former Victorian Public Sector employees provide insights into public decision-making. Inductive thematic and statistical analyses across case studies and cohorts, network mapping, and systems thinking are applied to draw and validate conclusions stemming from those insights. Forty influences, ranging from the personal characteristics of individual decision-makers to the definition, availability and use of evidence, are found to have the potential to both help and hinder the achievement of desired public outcomes. Regression and distributional analyses show that the importance of these influences varies, depending on context and perspective. For example: participants whose work focused on achieving sustainable development have quite different influence importance hierarchies compared to their more general decision-making focused peers; and, participants with a more 'upbeat' approach focus more on influences individuals can impact than their less 'upbeat' colleagues. Network mapping of the linkages between influences illustrates the importance of interconnected approaches to their management, and a theory on the level of control individuals can exert upon each is proposed. Additionally, considerations of sustainable development are found to be influenced by: the presence of reinforcing feedback loops within the decision-making system; apparently limited awareness of the ability to change or evolve the system; inconsistent goal definition (interviewees provide seven definitions of sustainable development); and heuristics (a third of participants are unaware of the Sustainable Development Goals, and of those indicating awareness a number demonstrate poorer understanding than they self-assess). Seventy-eight percent of participants indicate people have more influence upon public outcomes than formal frameworks, suggesting the latter are of limited value. Other solutions discussed include: tweaking existing processes to encourage thinking and awareness of sustainable development; highlighting individual's agency; applying the understandings of system leverage points gained herein; and, a suite of interviewee ideas for enhancing public decision effectiveness or longevity. This thesis concludes that public decision-makers recognise unmet public expectations and do their best to address them. But, they are often overwhelmed by the system's complexity and underestimate the impact they can reasonably have upon it, leaving many of them feeling as frustrated and powerless as the public they endeavour to serve. However, it also suggests that public decision makers who believe they can personally drive change, are more likely to do so and that greater self-efficacy within the public sector will lead to a lessening of the gap between public aspirations and delivered public outcomes. The identified influences and solutions, presented amidst a previously unavailable and rich set of insights and other factors identified in the literature, provide a basis on which to enhance these practices. Further, it is suggested that these conclusions and the influences identified apply not only to sustainable development in Victoria but to many other public decision-making issues and geographic scales, broadening the potential application of the findings.
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  • This thesis is an investigation into materialism as a crucial component of Huli thought. Previous ethnographic research undertaken among Huli since the 1950s has touched upon materialist aspects of Huli in various ways, but the ethnographic fieldwork that I undertook in 2016 convinced me that the existence of a distinct Huli materialist ontology presented a gap in our understandings of Huli culture and history. This thesis examines several different aspects of contemporary Huli life, and links them via a theory of Huli materialism. This thesis posits the theory that Huli materialism has been influenced by radical material changes that have occurred over several centuries of Huli history. Huli inhabit a landscape that is subject to sudden and dramatic change due to climate variations causing drought and frost, floods and famine, earthquakes, and sudden changes in the behaviour of rivers and lakes. Two major events that have received much attention in the literature include the introduction of sweet potato, and the eruption of the Long Island volcano that produced the "time of darkness" event that was widespread across the PNG highlands. These phenomena have influenced Huli understandings of nature that embrace the experience of material change. Crucially, Huli understandings of material change are embracive of doubt, speculation, and personal opinion as to the nature of cause and effect. Previous research has revealed a Huli historicity that conceives a "modern" version of Huli human that emerged after the introduction of sweet potato. This thesis argues that a pre-contact Huli modern is not only characterised by Huli historical understandings of themselves, but also by a materialist ontology that is recognisable to a Western observer. Huli encountered Western modernity from the 1950s by embracing a form of material change to which they believed they were entitled. Modernity intersected with pre-existing desires for material change and a cultural flexibility that could be employed readily to interpret an ancestral prophetic wisdom that had foretold of all that was new. This thesis examines Huli society from a broad perspective that incorporates the many and varied components that go into the composition of Huli identity. Constructions of nature and the use of the natural world in expressions of sentiment, love, performance, and spells are all viewed through the lens of a Huli materialism. Huli historicity is viewed as being materialist for its embrace of contingency and change, and this thesis argues strongly for so called "tribal warfare" to be understood as an undesired, historically-placed, and contingent phenomenon. The vast PNG LNG project that extracts gas from Huli territory has intersected with an historicised set of expectations for radical material renewal that has resulted in an extraordinary reworking of Huli cosmological and mythological understandings. Responses to the stark development decline of recent years, and frustrations at the PNG LNG project's failure to live up to its promises in many ways mirror the failure to bring about renewal of the earth's fertility through ritual that had been practised since the eruption of the Long Island volcano during the second half of the seventeenth century. Finally, this thesis argues for more consideration to be given more broadly to materialist aspects of human thought across cultures. Modernity has never been anything other than a pluralist phenomenon, and change itself, in all its contingent and multiple guises, is not easily partitioned across cultures in ways that ignore a shared human experience of the material world.
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  • The thesis investigates the political economy of the revival of aristocratic politics in post-authoritarian Indonesia. It attempts to explore why some aristocrats have staged successful political comebacks in post-Suharto politics, while others have failed to do so. Using the case of the Yogyakarta Sultanate as my main case study, I argue that those aristocrats who have been the most successful in post-Suharto politics are those who - over time - have developed and maintained their capacity to control land as an essential power resource. This thesis uses the theoretical framework of land access. According to this framework, control over land is determined not only by legal ownership but can also be established through a web of informal power relations. By opening access to land, it can be used as a resource of power accummulation, just as would be the case if its status was legal property. Subsequently, access can be transformed into legal property, codifying the official control over the power resource of land. Applied to the case of the Yogyakarta Sultanate, this thesis shows how the royal houses' initial land property rights were first downgraded to land access after 1945; how the sultan defended this access amidst rapid political and social change until the 2010s; and how he ultimately succeeded in re-establishing property rights over land in 2012. During the colonial period, the Yogyakarta Sultanate gained land control (in the form of property rights) from the Dutch as a result of the system of indirect rule. Tolerated by the Dutch, the sultanate used land as the basis of its political economy through a land lease and apanage system. The sultan gave usage rights to his aristocrats in return for loyalty and military assistance. The peasants worked on the land in a crop sharing system under intermediaries. The socio-political upheaval of the 1940s and 1950s threatened the sultanate's land control, as its land property rights were gradually undermined by the Japanese occupation, the revolution and the establishment of democracy. The sultan, however, succeeded in defending land access through a series of political maneuvres. These maneuvres also helped him to circumvent the restrictions on aristocratic land ownership imposed by the Basic Agrarian Law of 1960. Even as the New Order regime pressured him to implement the Law in Yogyakarta in 1984, he found loopholes to prevent its full execution. Thus, when Suharto fell in 1998, the sultanate had a sound power base built on land and the clients that depended on its usage. From this power base, Sultan Hamengku Buwono X launched a campaign for the full restoration of aristocratic powers. Supported by his loyalists living on and benefitting from traditional land, he succeeded spectacularly: he first regained the position of governor that the sultanate had lost after Hamengku Buwono IX's death in 1988; then managed to get approval for the permanent entrenchment of the sultan's family in that position; and finally was able to restore the sultanate's land property rights. Subsequently, he used his governorship to identify, register and certify this land. After having analysed the Yogyakarta Sultanate in detail, the thesis tests whether the findings derived from this case hold in other areas. It finds that the level of land control also determined the outcome of aristocratic revival campaigns in Ubud, Ternate, Gowa and Palembang. Hence, the the thesis highlights the central role of land as a political resource available (or unavailable) to aristocracies after 1998. This perspective, in turn, adds a significant nuance to the literature on aristocratic politics that has often been dominated by anthropological studies in the mystical, religious or otherwise spiritual control of royals over their former subjects.
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  • Good Living was included in Ecuador's 2008 Constitution as a result of a long-period of crises that reshaped the country's political realm, altering centuries of citizenship regimes and the legal institutions that made them viable. Novel in character, Good Living, Sumak Kawsay or Buen Vivir would catalyze debates in various academic and civil society circles that longed for a political, social and economic alternative to the tumultuous years that proceeded the enactment of the 2008 Constitution. Through inductive theory-guided process tracing, this thesis analyses current strains of what has been labelled as statist, Indigenist and post-developmental Good Living in order to examine its origins and develop a more nuanced theoretical approach titled "critical Good Living". Unlike its previous theoretical counterparts, Critical Good Living unites the converging forces of a retreating state, changing citizenship regimes, politicized ethnic cleavages, discursive democracy and the emergence of an empty signifier to craft a new theory from which Buen Vivir may be depicted. Contextual in nature, a product of its time and the forces that forged it, Good Living would be the end-result of a striving indigenous movement, international NGOs, a retreating state and new forms of transnational governmentality uniting to displace radical forms of civil society cohesion. This new form of biopolitics, would create microfoundations of power that would leverage on indigenous demands of autonomy and collective rights to promote market-orientated assets that could remedy staggering levels of poverty throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Good Living, as an empty signifier, would wield power in new ways, pacifying social protest as it catered to many and satisfied none. However, this thesis also presents the power of its introduction as a constitutional principle, as its harbours the possibility of developing legal instruments of law that are both local, regional and international. This possibility is the central contribution this thesis makes.
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  • In a flurry of activity over the last nine months, the United States has rediscovered the strategic value of the freely associated states in Micronesia. This In Brief is in two parts: in the first Stewart Firth examines the geopolitical context of the United States’ relations with the freely associated states, including China’s interest in the region; in the second he describes how the United States is updating its Pacific Islands policy, both in the freely associated states and in the region more generally.
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  • Parkinson disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in the world, directly affecting 2-3% of the population over the age of 65. People diagnosed with the disorder can experience motor, autonomic, cognitive, sensory and neuropsychiatric symptoms that can significantly impact quality of life. Uncertainty still exists about the pathophysiological mechanisms that underlie a range of clinical features of the disorder, linked to structural as well as functional brain changes. This thesis thus aimed to uncover neuroimaging biomarkers associated with clinical dysfunction in PD. A 'hubs-and-spokes' neural circuit-based approach can contribute to this aim, by analysing the component elements and also the interconnections of important brain networks. This thesis focusses on structures within basal ganglia-thalamocortical neuronal circuits that are linked to a range functions impacted in the disorder, and that are vulnerable to the consequences of PD pathology. This thesis investigated neuronal 'hubs' by studying the morphology of the caudate nucleus, putamen, thalamus and neocortex. The caudate nucleus, putamen and thalamus are all vital subcortical 'hubs' that play important roles in a number of functional domains that are compromised in PD. The neocortex, on the other hand, has a range of 'hubs' spread across it, regions of the brain that are crucial for neuronal signalling and communication. The interconnections, or 'spokes', between these hubs and other brain regions were investigated using seed-based resting-state functional connectivity analyses. Finally, a morphological analysis was used to investigate possible structural changes to the corpus callosum, the major inter-hemispheric white matter tract of the brain, crucial to effective higher-order brain processes. This thesis demonstrates that the caudate nucleus, putamen, thalamus, corpus callosum and neocortex are all atrophied in PD participants with dementia. PD participants also demonstrated a significant correlation between volumes of the caudate nuclei and general cognitive functioning and speed, while putamina volumes were correlated with general motor function. Cognitively unimpaired PD participants demonstrated minimal morphological alterations compared to control participants, however they demonstrated significant increases in functional connectivity of the caudate nucleus, putamen and thalamus with areas across the frontal lobe, and decreases in functional connectivity with parietal and cerebellar regions. PD participants with mild cognitive impairment and dementia show decreased functional connectivity of the thalamus with paracingulate and posterior cingulate cortices, respectively. This thesis contributes a deeper understanding of the relationship between structures of basal ganglia-thalamocortical neuronal circuits, corpus callosal and neocortical morphology, and the clinical dysfunction associated with PD. This thesis suggests that functional connectivity changes are more common in early stages of the disorder, while morphological alterations are more pronounced in advanced disease stages.
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  • The ANU Department of Pacific Affairs ran a large-scale election observation exercise in Solomon Islands prior to, during and following national elections held on 3 April 2019. Observations were conducted in 15 of Solomon Islands’ 50 constituencies by 90 observers, 77 of whom were Solomon Islanders. The research comprised direct election observations and almost 5000 citizen surveys. This In Brief is the first in a two-part series highlighting key findings that draw on data canvassed in our final election observation report. An important component of our election observation research was to explore how constituency development funds (CDFs) impact voter behaviour, especially in terms of how political support is acquired and maintained by incumbent members of parliament (MPs). We discuss our findings across two In Briefs: in Part 1 we present some of our findings on voters’ experiences with CDFs as well as their perceptions of how CDFs are spent. Part 2 discusses implications of CDFs for electoral politics in Solomon Islands.
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