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Weakly Supervised Representation Learning with Sparse Perturbations
Kartik Ahuja · Jason Hartford · Yoshua Bengio

Thu Dec 01 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Hall J #508

The theory of representation learning aims to build methods that provably invert the data generating process with minimal domain knowledge or any source of supervision. Most prior approaches require strong distributional assumptions on the latent variables and weak supervision (auxiliary information such as timestamps) to provide provable identification guarantees. In this work, we show that if one has weak supervision from observations generated by sparse perturbations of the latent variables--e.g. images in a reinforcement learning environment where actions move individual sprites--identification is achievable under unknown continuous latent distributions. We show that if the perturbations are applied only on mutually exclusive blocks of latents, we identify the latents up to those blocks. We also show that if these perturbation blocks overlap, we identify latents up to the smallest blocks shared across perturbations. Consequently, if there are blocks that intersect in one latent variable only, then such latents are identified up to permutation and scaling. We propose a natural estimation procedure based on this theory and illustrate it on low-dimensional synthetic and image-based experiments.

Author Information

Kartik Ahuja (Mila)
Jason Hartford (Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, University of Montreal, University of Montreal)
Yoshua Bengio (Mila / U. Montreal)

Yoshua Bengio is Full Professor in the computer science and operations research department at U. Montreal, scientific director and founder of Mila and of IVADO, Turing Award 2018 recipient, Canada Research Chair in Statistical Learning Algorithms, as well as a Canada AI CIFAR Chair. He pioneered deep learning and has been getting the most citations per day in 2018 among all computer scientists, worldwide. He is an officer of the Order of Canada, member of the Royal Society of Canada, was awarded the Killam Prize, the Marie-Victorin Prize and the Radio-Canada Scientist of the year in 2017, and he is a member of the NeurIPS advisory board and co-founder of the ICLR conference, as well as program director of the CIFAR program on Learning in Machines and Brains. His goal is to contribute to uncover the principles giving rise to intelligence through learning, as well as favour the development of AI for the benefit of all.

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