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Discrete Optimization in Machine Learning: Connecting Theory and Practice
Stefanie Jegelka · Andreas Krause · Pradeep Ravikumar · Kazuo Murota · Jeffrey A Bilmes · Yisong Yue · Michael Jordan

Mon Dec 09 07:30 AM -- 06:30 PM (PST) @ Harrah's Sand Harbor I
Event URL: http://discml.cc/ »

Solving optimization problems with ultimately discrete solutions is becoming increasingly important in machine learning. At the core of statistical machine learning is to make inferences from data, and when the variables underlying the data are discrete, both the tasks of inferring the model from data as well as performing predictions using the estimated model are inherently discrete optimization problems. Many of these optimization problems are notoriously hard. As a result, abundant and steadily increasing amounts of data -- despite being statistically beneficial -- quickly render standard off-the-shelf optimization procedures either intractable, or at the very least impractical.

However, while many problems are hard in the worst case, the problems of practical interest are often much more well-behaved, or are well modeled by assuming properties that make them so. Indeed, many discrete problems in machine learning can possess beneficial structure; such structure has been an important ingredient in many successful (approximate) solution strategies. Examples include the marginal polytope, which is determined by the graph structure of the model, or sparsity that makes it possible to handle high dimensions. Symmetry and exchangeability are further exploitable characteristics. In addition, functional properties such as submodularity, a discrete analog of convexity, are proving to be useful to an increasing number of machine learning problems.
One of the primary goals of this workshop is to provide a platform for exchange of ideas -- between machine learning, algorithms, discrete mathematics and combinatorics as well as application areas of computer vision, speech, NLP, biology and network analysis -- on how to discover, exploit, and deploy such structure.

Author Information

Stefanie Jegelka (MIT)
Andreas Krause (ETHZ)
Pradeep Ravikumar (Carnegie Mellon University)
Kazuo Murota (University of Tokyo)
Jeff A Bilmes (University of Washington, Seattle)

Jeffrey A. Bilmes is a professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle Washington. He is also an adjunct professor in Computer Science & Engineering and the department of Linguistics. Prof. Bilmes is the founder of the MELODI (MachinE Learning for Optimization and Data Interpretation) lab here in the department. Bilmes received his Ph.D. from the Computer Science Division of the department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California in Berkeley and a masters degree from MIT. He was also a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute, and a member of the Realization group there. Prof. Bilmes is a 2001 NSF Career award winner, a 2002 CRA Digital Government Fellow, a 2008 NAE Gilbreth Lectureship award recipient, and a 2012/2013 ISCA Distinguished Lecturer. Prof. Bilmes was, along with Andrew Ng, one of the two UAI (Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence) program chairs (2009) and then the general chair (2010). He was also a workshop chair (2011) and the tutorials chair (2014) at NIPS/NeurIPS (Neural Information Processing Systems), and is a regular senior technical chair at NeurIPS/NIPS since then. He was an action editor for JMLR (Journal of Machine Learning Research). Prof. Bilmes's primary interests lie in statistical modeling (particularly graphical model approaches) and signal processing for pattern classification, speech recognition, language processing, bioinformatics, machine learning, submodularity in combinatorial optimization and machine learning, active and semi-supervised learning, and audio/music processing. He is particularly interested in temporal graphical models (or dynamic graphical models, which includes HMMs, DBNs, and CRFs) and ways in which to design efficient algorithms for them and design their structure so that they may perform as better structured classifiers. He also has strong interests in speech-based human-computer interfaces, the statistical properties of natural objects and natural scenes, information theory and its relation to natural computation by humans and pattern recognition by machines, and computational music processing (such as human timing subtleties). He is also quite interested in high performance computing systems, computer architecture, and software techniques to reduce power consumption. Prof. Bilmes has also pioneered (starting in 2003) the development of submodularity within machine learning, and he received a best paper award at ICML 2013, a best paper award at NIPS 2013, and a best paper award at ACMBCB in 2016, all in this area. In 2014, Prof. Bilmes also received a most influential paper in 25 years award from the International Conference on Supercomputing, given to a paper on high-performance matrix optimization. Prof. Bilmes has authored the graphical models toolkit (GMTK), a dynamic graphical-model based software system widely used in speech, language, bioinformatics, and human-activity recognition.

Yisong Yue (Disney Research)
Michael Jordan (UC Berkeley)

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