Custom Factor Features

Contributing back to the Community

Consider contributioning back, so if you have developed variables and factors that may be useful to the community, please write up an issue in Caesar.jl or submit a PR to the relavent repo.

What is CalcFactor

CalcFactor is part of the IIF interface to all factors. It contains metadata and other important bits of information that are useful in a wide swath of applications. As work requires more interesting features from the code base, it is likely that the cfo::CalcFactor object will contain such data. If not, please open an issue with Caesar.jl so that the necessary options may be added.

The cfo object contains the field .factor::T which is the type of the user factor being used, e.g. myprior from above example. That is cfo.factor::MyPrior. This is why getSample is using rand(cfo.factor.Z).

CalcFactor was introduced in IncrementalInference v0.20 to consolidate and standardize a variety of features that had previously been diseparate and unwieldy.


Many factors already exists in IncrementalInference, RoME, and Caesar. Please see their src directories for more details.

Factor Metadata

The MM-iSAMv2 algorithm relies on the Kolmogorov-Criteria as well as uncorrelated factor sampling. This means that when generating fresh samples for a factor, those samples should not depend on values of variables in the graph or independent volatile variables. That said, if you are comfortable or have a valid reason for introducing correlation between the factor sampling process with values inside the factor graph then you can do so via the cfo.CalcFactor interface.

At present cfo contains three main fields:

  • cfo.factor::MyFactor the factor object as defined in the struct definition,
  • cfo.metadata::FactorMetadata, which is currently under development and likely to change.
    • This contains references to the connected variables to the factor and more, and is useful for large data retrieval such as used in Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN).
  • cfo._sampleIdx is the index of which computational sample is currently being calculated.

The old .specialSampler framework has been replaced with the standardized ::CalcFactor interface. See for details.

Partial Factors

In some cases a factor only effects a partial set of dimensions of a variable. For example a magnetometer being added onto a Pose2 variable would look something like this:

struct MyMagnetoPrior{T<:SamplableBelief} <: AbstractPrior

# define a helper constructor
MyMagnetoPrior(z) = MyMagnetoPrior(z, (3,))

getSample(cfo::CalcFactor{<:MyMagnetoPrior}) = samplePoint(cfo.factor.Z)

Similarly for <:IIF.AbstractRelativeMinimize, and note that the Roots version currently does not support the .partial option.

Factors supporting a Parametric Solution

See the parametric solve section

Standardized Factor Serialization

To take advantage of features like DFG.saveDFG and DFG.loadDFG a user specified type should be able to serialize via JSON standards. The decision was taken to require bespoke factor types to always be converted into a JSON friendly struct which must be prefixed as type name with PackedMyPrior{T}. Similarly, the user must also overload Base.convert as follows:

# necessary for overloading Base.convert
import Base: convert

struct PackedMyPrior <: PackedInferenceType

# IIF provides convert methods for `SamplableBelief` types
convert(::Type{PackedMyPrior}, pr::MyPrior{<:SamplableBelief}) = PackedMyPrior(convert(PackedSamplableBelief, pr.Z))
convert(::Type{MyPrior}, pr::PackedMyPrior) = MyPrior(IIF.convert(SamplableBelief, pr.Z))

Now you should be able to saveDFG and loadDFG your own factor graph types to Caesar.jl / FileDFG standard .tar.gz format.

fg = initfg()
addVariable!(fg, :x0, ContinuousScalar)
addFactor!(fg, [:x0], MyPrior(Normal()))

# generate /tmp/myfg.tar.gz
saveDFG("/tmp/myfg", fg)

# test loading the .tar.gz (extension optional)
fg2 = loadDFG("/tmp/myfg")

# list the contents
ls(fg2), lsf(fg2)
# should see :x0 and :x0f1 listed