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Real-world scene understanding requires recognizing object categories in novel visual scenes. This paper describes a composition system that automatically learns structured, hierarchical object representations in an unsupervised manner without requiring manual segmentation or manual object localization. A central concept for learning object models in the challenging, general case of unconstrained scenes, large intraclass variations, large numbers of categories, and lacking supervision information is to exploit the compositional nature of our (visual) world. The compositional nature of visual objects significantly limits their representation complexity and renders learning of structured object models statistically and computationally tractable. We propose a robust descriptor for local image parts and show how characteristic compositions of parts can be learned that are based on an unspecific part vocabulary shared between all categories. Moreover, a Bayesian network is presented that comprises all the compositional constituents together with scene context and object shape. Object recognition is then formulated as a statistical inference problem in this probabilistic model.