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Scalable Infomin Learning
Yanzhi Chen · weihao sun · Yingzhen Li · Adrian Weller


The task of infomin learning aims to learn a representation with high utility while being uninformative about a specified target, with the latter achieved by minimising the mutual information between the representation and the target. It has broad applications, ranging from training fair prediction models against protected attributes, to unsupervised learning with disentangled representations. Recent works on infomin learning mainly use adversarial training, which involves training a neural network to estimate mutual information or its proxy and thus is slow and difficult to optimise. Drawing on recent advances in slicing techniques, we propose a new infomin learning approach, which uses a novel proxy metric to mutual information. We further derive an accurate and analytically computable approximation to this proxy metric, thereby removing the need of constructing neural network-based mutual information estimators. Compared to baselines, experiments on algorithmic fairness, disentangled representation learning and domain adaptation verify that our method can more effectively remove unwanted information with limited time budget.

Author Information

Yanzhi Chen (University of Cambridge)
weihao sun (Apple)
Yingzhen Li (Imperial College London)

Yingzhen Li is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge. She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge, and previously she has interned at Disney Research. She is passionate about building reliable machine learning systems, and her approach combines both Bayesian statistics and deep learning. Her contributions to the approximate inference field include: (1) algorithmic advances, such as variational inference with different divergences, combining variational inference with MCMC and approximate inference with implicit distributions; (2) applications of approximate inference, such as uncertainty estimation in Bayesian neural networks and algorithms to train deep generative models. She has served as area chairs at NeurIPS/ICML/ICLR/AISTATS on related research topics, and she is a co-organizer of the AABI2020 symposium, a flagship event of approximate inference.

Adrian Weller (Cambridge, Alan Turing Institute)

Adrian Weller is Programme Director for AI at The Alan Turing Institute, the UK national institute for data science and AI, where he is also a Turing Fellow leading work on safe and ethical AI. He is a Principal Research Fellow in Machine Learning at the University of Cambridge, and at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence where he is Programme Director for Trust and Society. His interests span AI, its commercial applications and helping to ensure beneficial outcomes for society. He serves on several boards including the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. Previously, Adrian held senior roles in finance.

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