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Poster Session 2


UniDoc: Unified Pretraining Framework for Document Understanding

Jiuxiang Gu · Jason Kuen · Vlad I Morariu · Handong Zhao · Rajiv Jain · Nikolaos Barmpalios · Ani Nenkova · Tong Sun

Document intelligence automates the extraction of information from documents and supports many business applications. Recent self-supervised learning methods on large-scale unlabeled document datasets have opened up promising directions towards reducing annotation efforts by training models with self-supervised objectives. However, most of the existing document pretraining methods are still language-dominated. We present UDoc, a new unified pretraining framework for document understanding. UDoc is designed to support most document understanding tasks, extending the Transformer to take multimodal embeddings as input. Each input element is composed of words and visual features from a semantic region of the input document image. An important feature of UDoc is that it learns a generic representation by making use of three self-supervised losses, encouraging the representation to model sentences, learn similarities, and align modalities. Extensive empirical analysis demonstrates that the pretraining procedure learns better joint representations and leads to improvements in downstream tasks.

AugMax: Adversarial Composition of Random Augmentations for Robust Training

Haotao Wang · Chaowei Xiao · Jean Kossaifi · Zhiding Yu · Anima Anandkumar · Zhangyang Wang

Data augmentation is a simple yet effective way to improve the robustness of deep neural networks (DNNs). Diversity and hardness are two complementary dimensions of data augmentation to achieve robustness. For example, AugMix explores random compositions of a diverse set of augmentations to enhance broader coverage, while adversarial training generates adversarially hard samples to spot the weakness. Motivated by this, we propose a data augmentation framework, termed AugMax, to unify the two aspects of diversity and hardness. AugMax first randomly samples multiple augmentation operators and then learns an adversarial mixture of the selected operators. Being a stronger form of data augmentation, AugMax leads to a significantly augmented input distribution which makes model training more challenging. To solve this problem, we further design a disentangled normalization module, termed DuBIN (Dual-Batch-and-Instance Normalization), that disentangles the instance-wise feature heterogeneity arising from AugMax. Experiments show that AugMax-DuBIN leads to significantly improved out-of-distribution robustness, outperforming prior arts by 3.03%, 3.49%, 1.82% and 0.71% on CIFAR10-C, CIFAR100-C, Tiny ImageNet-C and ImageNet-C. Codes and pretrained models are available:

Transfer Learning of Graph Neural Networks with Ego-graph Information Maximization

Qi Zhu · Carl Yang · Yidan Xu · Haonan Wang · Chao Zhang · Jiawei Han

Graph neural networks (GNNs) have achieved superior performance in various applications, but training dedicated GNNs can be costly for large-scale graphs. Some recent work started to study the pre-training of GNNs. However, none of them provide theoretical insights into the design of their frameworks, or clear requirements and guarantees towards their transferability. In this work, we establish a theoretically grounded and practically useful framework for the transfer learning of GNNs. Firstly, we propose a novel view towards the essential graph information and advocate the capturing of it as the goal of transferable GNN training, which motivates the design of EGI (Ego-Graph Information maximization) to analytically achieve this goal. Secondly,when node features are structure-relevant, we conduct an analysis of EGI transferability regarding the difference between the local graph Laplacians of the source and target graphs. We conduct controlled synthetic experiments to directly justify our theoretical conclusions. Comprehensive experiments on two real-world network datasets show consistent results in the analyzed setting of direct-transfering, while those on large-scale knowledge graphs show promising results in the more practical setting of transfering with fine-tuning.

Self-Diagnosing GAN: Diagnosing Underrepresented Samples in Generative Adversarial Networks

Jinhee Lee · Haeri Kim · Youngkyu Hong · Hye Won Chung

Despite remarkable performance in producing realistic samples, Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) often produce low-quality samples near low-density regions of the data manifold, e.g., samples of minor groups. Many techniques have been developed to improve the quality of generated samples, either by post-processing generated samples or by pre-processing the empirical data distribution, but at the cost of reduced diversity. To promote diversity in sample generation without degrading the overall quality, we propose a simple yet effective method to diagnose and emphasize underrepresented samples during training of a GAN. The main idea is to use the statistics of the discrepancy between the data distribution and the model distribution at each data instance. Based on the observation that the underrepresented samples have a high average discrepancy or high variability in discrepancy, we propose a method to emphasize those samples during training of a GAN. Our experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method improves GAN performance on various datasets, and it is especially effective in improving the quality and diversity of sample generation for minor groups.

Goal-Aware Cross-Entropy for Multi-Target Reinforcement Learning

Kibeom Kim · Min Whoo Lee · Yoonsung Kim · JeHwan Ryu · Minsu Lee · Byoung-Tak Zhang

Learning in a multi-target environment without prior knowledge about the targets requires a large amount of samples and makes generalization difficult. To solve this problem, it is important to be able to discriminate targets through semantic understanding. In this paper, we propose goal-aware cross-entropy (GACE) loss, that can be utilized in a self-supervised way using auto-labeled goal states alongside reinforcement learning. Based on the loss, we then devise goal-discriminative attention networks (GDAN) which utilize the goal-relevant information to focus on the given instruction. We evaluate the proposed methods on visual navigation and robot arm manipulation tasks with multi-target environments and show that GDAN outperforms the state-of-the-art methods in terms of task success ratio, sample efficiency, and generalization. Additionally, qualitative analyses demonstrate that our proposed method can help the agent become aware of and focus on the given instruction clearly, promoting goal-directed behavior.

Multi-Person 3D Motion Prediction with Multi-Range Transformers

Jiashun Wang · Huazhe Xu · Medhini Narasimhan · Xiaolong Wang

We propose a novel framework for multi-person 3D motion trajectory prediction. Our key observation is that a human's action and behaviors may highly depend on the other persons around. Thus, instead of predicting each human pose trajectory in isolation, we introduce a Multi-Range Transformers model which contains of a local-range encoder for individual motion and a global-range encoder for social interactions. The Transformer decoder then performs prediction for each person by taking a corresponding pose as a query which attends to both local and global-range encoder features. Our model not only outperforms state-of-the-art methods on long-term 3D motion prediction, but also generates diverse social interactions. More interestingly, our model can even predict 15-person motion simultaneously by automatically dividing the persons into different interaction groups. Project page with code is available at

Imitating Deep Learning Dynamics via Locally Elastic Stochastic Differential Equations

Jiayao Zhang · Hua Wang · Weijie Su

Understanding the training dynamics of deep learning models is perhaps a necessary step toward demystifying the effectiveness of these models. In particular, how do training data from different classes gradually become separable in their feature spaces when training neural networks using stochastic gradient descent? In this paper, we model the evolution of features during deep learning training using a set of stochastic differential equations (SDEs) that each corresponding to a training sample. As a crucial ingredient in our modeling strategy, each SDE contains a drift term that reflects the impact of backpropagation at an input on the features of all samples. Our main finding uncovers a sharp phase transition phenomenon regarding the intra-class impact: if the SDEs are locally elastic in the sense that the impact is more significant on samples from the same class as the input, the features of training data become linearly separable---meaning vanishing training loss; otherwise, the features are not separable, no matter how long the training time is. In the presence of local elasticity, moreover, an analysis of our SDEs shows the emergence of a simple geometric structure called neural collapse of the features. Taken together, our results shed light on the decisive role of local elasticity underlying the training dynamics of neural networks. We corroborate our theoretical analysis with experiments on a synthesized dataset of geometric shapes as well as on CIFAR-10.

When Expressivity Meets Trainability: Fewer than $n$ Neurons Can Work

Jiawei Zhang · Yushun Zhang · Mingyi Hong · Ruoyu Sun · Zhi-Quan Luo

Modern neural networks are often quite wide, causing large memory and computation costs. It is thus of great interest to train a narrower network. However, training narrow neural nets remains a challenging task. We ask two theoretical questions: Can narrow networks have as strong expressivity as wide ones? If so, does the loss function exhibit a benign optimization landscape? In this work, we provide partially affirmative answers to both questions for 1-hidden-layer networks with fewer than $n$ (sample size) neurons when the activation is smooth. First, we prove that as long as the width $m \geq 2n/d$ (where $d$ is the input dimension), its expressivity is strong, i.e., there exists at least one global minimizer with zero training loss. Second, we identify a nice local region with no local-min or saddle points. Nevertheless, it is not clear whether gradient descent can stay in this nice region. Third, we consider a constrained optimization formulation where the feasible region is the nice local region, and prove that every KKT point is a nearly global minimizer. It is expected that projected gradient methods converge to KKT points under mild technical conditions, but we leave the rigorous convergence analysis to future work. Thorough numerical results show that projected gradient methods on this constrained formulation significantly outperform SGD for training narrow neural nets.

Co-Adaptation of Algorithmic and Implementational Innovations in Inference-based Deep Reinforcement Learning

Hiroki Furuta · Tadashi Kozuno · Tatsuya Matsushima · Yutaka Matsuo · Shixiang (Shane) Gu

Recently many algorithms were devised for reinforcement learning (RL) with function approximation. While they have clear algorithmic distinctions, they also have many implementation differences that are algorithm-independent and sometimes under-emphasized. Such mixing of algorithmic novelty and implementation craftsmanship makes rigorous analyses of the sources of performance improvements across algorithms difficult. In this work, we focus on a series of off-policy inference-based actor-critic algorithms -- MPO, AWR, and SAC -- to decouple their algorithmic innovations and implementation decisions. We present unified derivations through a single control-as-inference objective, where we can categorize each algorithm as based on either Expectation-Maximization (EM) or direct Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence minimization and treat the rest of specifications as implementation details. We performed extensive ablation studies, and identified substantial performance drops whenever implementation details are mismatched for algorithmic choices. These results show which implementation or code details are co-adapted and co-evolved with algorithms, and which are transferable across algorithms: as examples, we identified that tanh Gaussian policy and network sizes are highly adapted to algorithmic types, while layer normalization and ELU are critical for MPO's performances but also transfer to noticeable gains in SAC. We hope our work can inspire future work to further demystify sources of performance improvements across multiple algorithms and allow researchers to build on one another's both algorithmic and implementational innovations.

Pareto-Optimal Learning-Augmented Algorithms for Online Conversion Problems

Bo Sun · Russell Lee · Mohammad Hajiesmaili · Adam Wierman · Danny Tsang

This paper leverages machine-learned predictions to design competitive algorithms for online conversion problems with the goal of improving the competitive ratio when predictions are accurate (i.e., consistency), while also guaranteeing a worst-case competitive ratio regardless of the prediction quality (i.e., robustness). We unify the algorithmic design of both integral and fractional conversion problems, which are also known as the 1-max-search and one-way trading problems, into a class of online threshold-based algorithms (OTA). By incorporating predictions into design of OTA, we achieve the Pareto-optimal trade-off of consistency and robustness, i.e., no online algorithm can achieve a better consistency guarantee given for a robustness guarantee. We demonstrate the performance of OTA using numerical experiments on Bitcoin conversion.

Conservative Data Sharing for Multi-Task Offline Reinforcement Learning

Tianhe Yu · Aviral Kumar · Yevgen Chebotar · Karol Hausman · Sergey Levine · Chelsea Finn

Offline reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms have shown promising results in domains where abundant pre-collected data is available. However, prior methods focus on solving individual problems from scratch with an offline dataset without considering how an offline RL agent can acquire multiple skills. We argue that a natural use case of offline RL is in settings where we can pool large amounts of data collected in various scenarios for solving different tasks, and utilize all of this data to learn behaviors for all the tasks more effectively rather than training each one in isolation. However, sharing data across all tasks in multi-task offline RL performs surprisingly poorly in practice. Thorough empirical analysis, we find that sharing data can actually exacerbate the distributional shift between the learned policy and the dataset, which in turn can lead to divergence of the learned policy and poor performance. To address this challenge, we develop a simple technique for data- sharing in multi-task offline RL that routes data based on the improvement over the task-specific data. We call this approach conservative data sharing (CDS), and it can be applied with multiple single-task offline RL methods. On a range of challenging multi-task locomotion, navigation, and vision-based robotic manipulation problems, CDS achieves the best or comparable performance compared to prior offline multi- task RL methods and previous data sharing approaches.

Accommodating Picky Customers: Regret Bound and Exploration Complexity for Multi-Objective Reinforcement Learning

Jingfeng Wu · Vladimir Braverman · Lin Yang

In this paper we consider multi-objective reinforcement learning where the objectives are balanced using preferences. In practice, the preferences are often given in an adversarial manner, e.g., customers can be picky in many applications. We formalize this problem as an episodic learning problem on a Markov decision process, where transitions are unknown and a reward function is the inner product of a preference vector with pre-specified multi-objective reward functions. We consider two settings. In the online setting, the agent receives a (adversarial) preference every episode and proposes policies to interact with the environment. We provide a model-based algorithm that achieves a nearly minimax optimal regret bound $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}\bigl(\sqrt{\min\{d,S\}\cdot H^2 SAK}\bigr)$, where $d$ is the number of objectives, $S$ is the number of states, $A$ is the number of actions, $H$ is the length of the horizon, and $K$ is the number of episodes. Furthermore, we consider preference-free exploration, i.e., the agent first interacts with the environment without specifying any preference and then is able to accommodate arbitrary preference vector up to $\epsilon$ error. Our proposed algorithm is provably efficient with a nearly optimal trajectory complexity $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}\bigl({\min\{d,S\}\cdot H^3 SA}/{\epsilon^2}\bigr)$. This result partly resolves an open problem raised by \citet{jin2020reward}.

The Emergence of Objectness: Learning Zero-shot Segmentation from Videos

Runtao Liu · Zhirong Wu · Stella Yu · Stephen Lin

Humans can easily detect and segment moving objects simply by observing how they move, even without knowledge of object semantics. Inspired by this, we develop a zero-shot unsupervised approach for learning object segmentations. The model comprises two visual pathways: an appearance pathway that segments individual RGB images into coherent object regions, and a motion pathway that predicts the flow vector for each region between consecutive video frames. The two pathways jointly reconstruct a new representation called segment flow. This decoupled representation of appearance and motion is trained in a self-supervised manner to reconstruct one frame from another.When pretrained on an unlabeled video corpus, the model can be useful for a variety of applications, including 1) primary object segmentation from a single image in a zero-shot fashion; 2) moving object segmentation from a video with unsupervised test-time adaptation; 3) image semantic segmentation by supervised fine-tuning on a labeled image dataset. We demonstrate encouraging experimental results on all of these tasks using pretrained models.

Provably Efficient Reinforcement Learning with Linear Function Approximation under Adaptivity Constraints

Tianhao Wang · Dongruo Zhou · Quanquan Gu

We study reinforcement learning (RL) with linear function approximation under the adaptivity constraint. We consider two popular limited adaptivity models: the batch learning model and the rare policy switch model, and propose two efficient online RL algorithms for episodic linear Markov decision processes, where the transition probability and the reward function can be represented as a linear function of some known feature mapping. In specific, for the batch learning model, our proposed LSVI-UCB-Batch algorithm achieves an $\tilde O(\sqrt{d^3H^3T} + dHT/B)$ regret, where $d$ is the dimension of the feature mapping, $H$ is the episode length, $T$ is the number of interactions and $B$ is the number of batches. Our result suggests that it suffices to use only $\sqrt{T/dH}$ batches to obtain $\tilde O(\sqrt{d^3H^3T})$ regret. For the rare policy switch model, our proposed LSVI-UCB-RareSwitch algorithm enjoys an $\tilde O(\sqrt{d^3H^3T[1+T/(dH)]^{dH/B}})$ regret, which implies that $dH\log T$ policy switches suffice to obtain the $\tilde O(\sqrt{d^3H^3T})$ regret. Our algorithms achieve the same regret as the LSVI-UCB algorithm \citep{jin2020provably}, yet with a substantially smaller amount of adaptivity. We also establish a lower bound for the batch learning model, which suggests that the dependency on $B$ in our regret bound is tight.

Self-Supervised Multi-Object Tracking with Cross-input Consistency

Favyen Bastani · Songtao He · Samuel Madden

In this paper, we propose a self-supervised learning procedure for training a robust multi-object tracking (MOT) model given only unlabeled video. While several self-supervisory learning signals have been proposed in prior work on single-object tracking, such as color propagation and cycle-consistency, these signals are not effective for training RNN models, which are needed to achieve accurate MOT: they yield degenerate models that, for instance, always match new detections to tracks with the closest initial detections. We propose a novel self-supervisory signal that we call cross-input consistency: we construct two distinct inputs for the same sequence of video, by hiding different information about the sequence in each input. We then compute tracks in that sequence by applying an RNN model independently on each input, and train the model to produce consistent tracks across the two inputs. We evaluate our unsupervised method on MOT17 and KITTI --- remarkably, we find that, despite training only on unlabeled video, our unsupervised approach outperforms four supervised methods published in the last 1--2 years, including Tracktor++, FAMNet, GSM, and mmMOT.

Exponential Graph is Provably Efficient for Decentralized Deep Training

Bicheng Ying · Kun Yuan · Yiming Chen · Hanbin Hu · PAN PAN · Wotao Yin

Decentralized SGD is an emerging training method for deep learning known for its much less (thus faster) communication per iteration, which relaxes the averaging step in parallel SGD to inexact averaging. The less exact the averaging is, however, the more the total iterations the training needs to take. Therefore, the key to making decentralized SGD efficient is to realize nearly-exact averaging using little communication. This requires a skillful choice of communication topology, which is an under-studied topic in decentralized optimization.In this paper, we study so-called exponential graphs where every node is connected to $O(\log(n))$ neighbors and $n$ is the total number of nodes. This work proves such graphs can lead to both fast communication and effective averaging simultaneously. We also discover that a sequence of $\log(n)$ one-peer exponential graphs, in which each node communicates to one single neighbor per iteration, can together achieve exact averaging. This favorable property enables one-peer exponential graph to average as effective as its static counterpart but communicates more efficiently. We apply these exponential graphs in decentralized (momentum) SGD to obtain the state-of-the-art balance between per-iteration communication and iteration complexity among all commonly-used topologies. Experimental results on a variety of tasks and models demonstrate that decentralized (momentum) SGD over exponential graphs promises both fast and high-quality training. Our code is implemented through BlueFog and available at

Better Safe Than Sorry: Preventing Delusive Adversaries with Adversarial Training

Lue Tao · Lei Feng · Jinfeng Yi · Sheng-Jun Huang · Songcan Chen

Delusive attacks aim to substantially deteriorate the test accuracy of the learning model by slightly perturbing the features of correctly labeled training examples. By formalizing this malicious attack as finding the worst-case training data within a specific $\infty$-Wasserstein ball, we show that minimizing adversarial risk on the perturbed data is equivalent to optimizing an upper bound of natural risk on the original data. This implies that adversarial training can serve as a principled defense against delusive attacks. Thus, the test accuracy decreased by delusive attacks can be largely recovered by adversarial training. To further understand the internal mechanism of the defense, we disclose that adversarial training can resist the delusive perturbations by preventing the learner from overly relying on non-robust features in a natural setting. Finally, we complement our theoretical findings with a set of experiments on popular benchmark datasets, which show that the defense withstands six different practical attacks. Both theoretical and empirical results vote for adversarial training when confronted with delusive adversaries.

Weighted model estimation for offline model-based reinforcement learning

Toru Hishinuma · Kei Senda

This paper discusses model estimation in offline model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL), which is important for subsequent policy improvement using an estimated model. From the viewpoint of covariate shift, a natural idea is model estimation weighted by the ratio of the state-action distributions of offline data and real future data. However, estimating such a natural weight is one of the main challenges for off-policy evaluation, which is not easy to use. As an artificial alternative, this paper considers weighting with the state-action distribution ratio of offline data and simulated future data, which can be estimated relatively easily by standard density ratio estimation techniques for supervised learning. Based on the artificial weight, this paper defines a loss function for offline MBRL and presents an algorithm to optimize it. Weighting with the artificial weight is justified as evaluating an upper bound of the policy evaluation error. Numerical experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of weighting with the artificial weight.

Improved Transformer for High-Resolution GANs

Long Zhao · Zizhao Zhang · Ting Chen · Dimitris Metaxas · Han Zhang

Attention-based models, exemplified by the Transformer, can effectively model long range dependency, but suffer from the quadratic complexity of self-attention operation, making them difficult to be adopted for high-resolution image generation based on Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). In this paper, we introduce two key ingredients to Transformer to address this challenge. First, in low-resolution stages of the generative process, standard global self-attention is replaced with the proposed multi-axis blocked self-attention which allows efficient mixing of local and global attention. Second, in high-resolution stages, we drop self-attention while only keeping multi-layer perceptrons reminiscent of the implicit neural function. To further improve the performance, we introduce an additional self-modulation component based on cross-attention. The resulting model, denoted as HiT, has a nearly linear computational complexity with respect to the image size and thus directly scales to synthesizing high definition images. We show in the experiments that the proposed HiT achieves state-of-the-art FID scores of 30.83 and 2.95 on unconditional ImageNet $128 \times 128$ and FFHQ $256 \times 256$, respectively, with a reasonable throughput. We believe the proposed HiT is an important milestone for generators in GANs which are completely free of convolutions. Our code is made publicly available at

Understanding the Effect of Stochasticity in Policy Optimization

Jincheng Mei · Bo Dai · Chenjun Xiao · Csaba Szepesvari · Dale Schuurmans

We study the effect of stochasticity in on-policy policy optimization, and make the following four contributions. \emph{First}, we show that the preferability of optimization methods depends critically on whether stochastic versus exact gradients are used. In particular, unlike the true gradient setting, geometric information cannot be easily exploited in the stochastic case for accelerating policy optimization without detrimental consequences or impractical assumptions. \emph{Second}, to explain these findings we introduce the concept of committal rate for stochastic policy optimization, and show that this can serve as a criterion for determining almost sure convergence to global optimality. \emph{Third}, we show that in the absence of external oracle information, which allows an algorithm to determine the difference between optimal and sub-optimal actions given only on-policy samples, there is an inherent trade-off between exploiting geometry to accelerate convergence versus achieving optimality almost surely. That is, an uninformed algorithm either converges to a globally optimal policy with probability $1$ but at a rate no better than $O(1/t)$, or it achieves faster than $O(1/t)$ convergence but then must fail to converge to the globally optimal policy with some positive probability. \emph{Finally}, we use the committal rate theory to explain why practical policy optimization methods are sensitive to random initialization, then develop an ensemble method that can be guaranteed to achieve near-optimal solutions with high probability.

Excess Capacity and Backdoor Poisoning

Naren Manoj · Avrim Blum

A backdoor data poisoning attack is an adversarial attack wherein the attacker injects several watermarked, mislabeled training examples into a training set. The watermark does not impact the test-time performance of the model on typical data; however, the model reliably errs on watermarked examples.To gain a better foundational understanding of backdoor data poisoning attacks, we present a formal theoretical framework within which one can discuss backdoor data poisoning attacks for classification problems. We then use this to analyze important statistical and computational issues surrounding these attacks.On the statistical front, we identify a parameter we call the memorization capacity that captures the intrinsic vulnerability of a learning problem to a backdoor attack. This allows us to argue about the robustness of several natural learning problems to backdoor attacks. Our results favoring the attacker involve presenting explicit constructions of backdoor attacks, and our robustness results show that some natural problem settings cannot yield successful backdoor attacks.From a computational standpoint, we show that under certain assumptions, adversarial training can detect the presence of backdoors in a training set. We then show that under similar assumptions, two closely related problems we call backdoor filtering and robust generalization are nearly equivalent. This implies that it is both asymptotically necessary and sufficient to design algorithms that can identify watermarked examples in the training set in order to obtain a learning algorithm that both generalizes well to unseen data and is robust to backdoors.

Amortized Variational Inference for Simple Hierarchical Models

Abhinav Agrawal · Justin Domke

It is difficult to use subsampling with variational inference in hierarchical models since the number of local latent variables scales with the dataset. Thus, inference in hierarchical models remains a challenge at a large scale. It is helpful to use a variational family with a structure matching the posterior, but optimization is still slow due to the huge number of local distributions. Instead, this paper suggests an amortized approach where shared parameters simultaneously represent all local distributions. This approach is similarly accurate as using a given joint distribution (e.g., a full-rank Gaussian) but is feasible on datasets that are several orders of magnitude larger. It is also dramatically faster than using a structured variational distribution.

Deceive D: Adaptive Pseudo Augmentation for GAN Training with Limited Data

Liming Jiang · Bo Dai · Wayne Wu · Chen Change Loy

Generative adversarial networks (GANs) typically require ample data for training in order to synthesize high-fidelity images. Recent studies have shown that training GANs with limited data remains formidable due to discriminator overfitting, the underlying cause that impedes the generator's convergence. This paper introduces a novel strategy called Adaptive Pseudo Augmentation (APA) to encourage healthy competition between the generator and the discriminator. As an alternative method to existing approaches that rely on standard data augmentations or model regularization, APA alleviates overfitting by employing the generator itself to augment the real data distribution with generated images, which deceives the discriminator adaptively. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of APA in improving synthesis quality in the low-data regime. We provide a theoretical analysis to examine the convergence and rationality of our new training strategy. APA is simple and effective. It can be added seamlessly to powerful contemporary GANs, such as StyleGAN2, with negligible computational cost. Code:

Predicting Event Memorability from Contextual Visual Semantics

Qianli Xu · Fen Fang · Ana Molino · Vigneshwaran Subbaraju · Joo-Hwee Lim

Episodic event memory is a key component of human cognition. Predicting event memorability,i.e., to what extent an event is recalled, is a tough challenge in memory research and has profound implications for artificial intelligence. In this study, we investigate factors that affect event memorability according to a cued recall process. Specifically, we explore whether event memorability is contingent on the event context, as well as the intrinsic visual attributes of image cues. We design a novel experiment protocol and conduct a large-scale experiment with 47 elder subjects over 3 months. Subjects’ memory of life events is tested in a cued recall process. Using advanced visual analytics methods, we build a first-of-its-kind event memorability dataset (called R3) with rich information about event context and visual semantic features. Furthermore, we propose a contextual event memory network (CEMNet) that tackles multi-modal input to predict item-wise event memorability, which outperforms competitive benchmarks. The findings inform deeper understanding of episodic event memory, and open up a new avenue for prediction of human episodic memory. Source code is available at

Representer Point Selection via Local Jacobian Expansion for Post-hoc Classifier Explanation of Deep Neural Networks and Ensemble Models

Yi Sui · Ga Wu · Scott Sanner

Explaining the influence of training data on deep neural network predictions is a critical tool for debugging models through data curation. A recent tractable and appealing approach for this task was provided via the concept of Representer Point Selection (RPS), i.e. a method the leverages the dual form of $l_2$ regularized optimization in the last layer of the neural network to identify the contribution of training points to the prediction. However, two key drawbacks of RPS are that they (i) lead to disagreement between the originally trained network and the RP regularized network modification and (ii) often yield a static ranking of training data for the same class, independent of the data being classified. Inspired by the RPS approach, we propose an alternative method based on a local Jacobian Taylor expansion (LJE) of the Jacobian.We empirically compared RPS-LJE with the original RPS-$l_2$ on image classification (with ResNet), text classification recurrent neural networks (with Bi-LSTM), and tabular classification (with XGBoost) tasks.Quantitatively, we show that RPS-LJE slightly outperforms RPS-$l_2$ and other state-of-the-art data explanation methods by up to 3\% on a data debugging task. Qualitatively, we observe that RPS-LJE provides individualized explanations for each test data point rather than the class-specific static ranking of points in the original approach. Overall, RPS-LJE represents a novel approach to RPS that provides a powerful tool for data-oriented explanation and debugging.

Densely connected normalizing flows

Matej Grcić · Ivan Grubišić · Siniša Šegvić

Normalizing flows are bijective mappings between inputs and latent representations with a fully factorized distribution. They are very attractive due to exact likelihood evaluation and efficient sampling. However, their effective capacity is often insufficient since the bijectivity constraint limits the model width. We address this issue by incrementally padding intermediate representations with noise. We precondition the noise in accordance with previous invertible units, which we describe as cross-unit coupling. Our invertible glow-like modules increase the model expressivity by fusing a densely connected block with Nyström self-attention. We refer to our architecture as DenseFlow since both cross-unit and intra-module couplings rely on dense connectivity. Experiments show significant improvements due to the proposed contributions and reveal state-of-the-art density estimation under moderate computing budgets.

CSDI: Conditional Score-based Diffusion Models for Probabilistic Time Series Imputation

Yusuke Tashiro · Jiaming Song · Yang Song · Stefano Ermon

The imputation of missing values in time series has many applications in healthcare and finance. While autoregressive models are natural candidates for time series imputation, score-based diffusion models have recently outperformed existing counterparts including autoregressive models in many tasks such as image generation and audio synthesis, and would be promising for time series imputation. In this paper, we propose Conditional Score-based Diffusion model (CSDI), a novel time series imputation method that utilizes score-based diffusion models conditioned on observed data. Unlike existing score-based approaches, the conditional diffusion model is explicitly trained for imputation and can exploit correlations between observed values. On healthcare and environmental data, CSDI improves by 40-65% over existing probabilistic imputation methods on popular performance metrics. In addition, deterministic imputation by CSDI reduces the error by 5-20% compared to the state-of-the-art deterministic imputation methods. Furthermore, CSDI can also be applied to time series interpolation and probabilistic forecasting, and is competitive with existing baselines. The code is available at

Symbolic Regression via Deep Reinforcement Learning Enhanced Genetic Programming Seeding

Terrell Mundhenk · Mikel Landajuela · Ruben Glatt · Claudio P Santiago · Daniel faissol · Brenden K Petersen

Symbolic regression is the process of identifying mathematical expressions that fit observed output from a black-box process. It is a discrete optimization problem generally believed to be NP-hard. Prior approaches to solving the problem include neural-guided search (e.g. using reinforcement learning) and genetic programming. In this work, we introduce a hybrid neural-guided/genetic programming approach to symbolic regression and other combinatorial optimization problems. We propose a neural-guided component used to seed the starting population of a random restart genetic programming component, gradually learning better starting populations. On a number of common benchmark tasks to recover underlying expressions from a dataset, our method recovers 65% more expressions than a recently published top-performing model using the same experimental setup. We demonstrate that running many genetic programming generations without interdependence on the neural-guided component performs better for symbolic regression than alternative formulations where the two are more strongly coupled. Finally, we introduce a new set of 22 symbolic regression benchmark problems with increased difficulty over existing benchmarks. Source code is provided at

Choose a Transformer: Fourier or Galerkin

Shuhao Cao

In this paper, we apply the self-attention from the state-of-the-art Transformer in Attention Is All You Need for the first time to a data-driven operator learning problem related to partial differential equations. An effort is put together to explain the heuristics of, and to improve the efficacy of the attention mechanism. By employing the operator approximation theory in Hilbert spaces, it is demonstrated for the first time that the softmax normalization in the scaled dot-product attention is sufficient but not necessary. Without softmax, the approximation capacity of a linearized Transformer variant can be proved to be comparable to a Petrov-Galerkin projection layer-wise, and the estimate is independent with respect to the sequence length. A new layer normalization scheme mimicking the Petrov-Galerkin projection is proposed to allow a scaling to propagate through attention layers, which helps the model achieve remarkable accuracy in operator learning tasks with unnormalized data. Finally, we present three operator learning experiments, including the viscid Burgers' equation, an interface Darcy flow, and an inverse interface coefficient identification problem. The newly proposed simple attention-based operator learner, Galerkin Transformer, shows significant improvements in both training cost and evaluation accuracy over its softmax-normalized counterparts.

Fine-grained Generalization Analysis of Inductive Matrix Completion

Antoine Ledent · Rodrigo Alves · Yunwen Lei · Marius Kloft

In this paper, we bridge the gap between the state-of-the-art theoretical results for matrix completion with the nuclear norm and their equivalent in \textit{inductive matrix completion}: (1) In the distribution-free setting, we prove bounds improving the previously best scaling of $O(rd^2)$ to $\widetilde{O}(d^{3/2}\sqrt{r})$, where $d$ is the dimension of the side information and $r$ is the rank. (2) We introduce the (smoothed) \textit{adjusted trace-norm minimization} strategy, an inductive analogue of the weighted trace norm, for which we show guarantees of the order $\widetilde{O}(dr)$ under arbitrary sampling. In the inductive case, a similar rate was previously achieved only under uniform sampling and for exact recovery. Both our results align with the state of the art in the particular case of standard (non-inductive) matrix completion, where they are known to be tight up to log terms. Experiments further confirm that our strategy outperforms standard inductive matrix completion on various synthetic datasets and real problems, justifying its place as an important tool in the arsenal of methods for matrix completion using side information.

MagNet: A Neural Network for Directed Graphs

Xitong Zhang · Yixuan He · Nathan Brugnone · Michael Perlmutter · Matthew Hirn

The prevalence of graph-based data has spurred the rapid development of graph neural networks (GNNs) and related machine learning algorithms. Yet, despite the many datasets naturally modeled as directed graphs, including citation, website, and traffic networks, the vast majority of this research focuses on undirected graphs. In this paper, we propose MagNet, a GNN for directed graphs based on a complex Hermitian matrix known as the magnetic Laplacian. This matrix encodes undirected geometric structure in the magnitude of its entries and directional information in their phase. A charge parameter attunes spectral information to variation among directed cycles. We apply our network to a variety of directed graph node classification and link prediction tasks showing that MagNet performs well on all tasks and that its performance exceeds all other methods on a majority of such tasks. The underlying principles of MagNet are such that it can be adapted to other GNN architectures.

Flow Network based Generative Models for Non-Iterative Diverse Candidate Generation

Emmanuel Bengio · Moksh Jain · Maksym Korablyov · Doina Precup · Yoshua Bengio

This paper is about the problem of learning a stochastic policy for generating an object (like a molecular graph) from a sequence of actions, such that the probability of generating an object is proportional to a given positive reward for that object. Whereas standard return maximization tends to converge to a single return-maximizing sequence, there are cases where we would like to sample a diverse set of high-return solutions. These arise, for example, in black-box function optimization when few rounds are possible, each with large batches of queries, where the batches should be diverse, e.g., in the design of new molecules. One can also see this as a problem of approximately converting an energy function to a generative distribution. While MCMC methods can achieve that, they are expensive and generally only perform local exploration. Instead, training a generative policy amortizes the cost of search during training and yields to fast generation. Using insights from Temporal Difference learning, we propose GFlowNet, based on a view of the generative process as a flow network, making it possible to handle the tricky case where different trajectories can yield the same final state, e.g., there are many ways to sequentially add atoms to generate some molecular graph. We cast the set of trajectories as a flow and convert the flow consistency equations into a learning objective, akin to the casting of the Bellman equations into Temporal Difference methods. We prove that any global minimum of the proposed objectives yields a policy which samples from the desired distribution, and demonstrate the improved performance and diversity of GFlowNet on a simple domain where there are many modes to the reward function, and on a molecule synthesis task.

AC-GC: Lossy Activation Compression with Guaranteed Convergence

R David Evans · Tor Aamodt

Parallel hardware devices (e.g., graphics processor units) have limited high-bandwidth memory capacity.This negatively impacts the training of deep neural networks (DNNs) by increasing runtime and/or decreasing accuracy when reducing model and/or batch size to fit this capacity. Lossy compression is a promising approach to tackling memory capacity constraints, but prior approaches rely on hyperparameter search to achieve a suitable trade-off between convergence and compression, negating runtime benefits. In this paper we build upon recent developments on Stochastic Gradient Descent convergence to prove an upper bound on the expected loss increase when training with compressed activation storage. We then express activation compression error in terms of this bound, allowing the compression rate to adapt to training conditions automatically. The advantage of our approach, called AC-GC, over existing lossy compression frameworks is that, given a preset allowable increase in loss, significant compression without significant increase in error can be achieved with a single training run. When combined with error-bounded methods, AC-GC achieves 15.1x compression with an average accuracy change of 0.1% on text and image datasets. AC-GC functions on any model composed of the layers analyzed and, by avoiding compression rate search, reduces overall training time by 4.6x over SuccessiveHalving.

Shift-Robust GNNs: Overcoming the Limitations of Localized Graph Training data

Qi Zhu · Natalia Ponomareva · Jiawei Han · Bryan Perozzi

There has been a recent surge of interest in designing Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) for semi-supervised learning tasks. Unfortunately this work has assumed that the nodes labeled for use in training were selected uniformly at random (i.e. are an IID sample). However in many real world scenarios gathering labels for graph nodes is both expensive and inherently biased -- so this assumption can not be met. GNNs can suffer poor generalization when this occurs, by overfitting to superfluous regularities present in the training data. In this work we present a method, Shift-Robust GNN (SR-GNN), designed to account for distributional differences between biased training data and the graph's true inference distribution. SR-GNN adapts GNN models for the presence of distributional shifts between the nodes which have had labels provided for training and the rest of the dataset. We illustrate the effectiveness of SR-GNN in a variety of experiments with biased training datasets on common GNN benchmark datasets for semi-supervised learning, where we see that SR-GNN outperforms other GNN baselines by accuracy, eliminating at least (~40%) of the negative effects introduced by biased training data. On the largest dataset we consider, ogb-arxiv, we observe an 2% absolute improvement over the baseline and reduce 30% of the negative effects.

On Pathologies in KL-Regularized Reinforcement Learning from Expert Demonstrations

Tim G. J. Rudner · Cong Lu · Michael A Osborne · Yarin Gal · Yee Teh

KL-regularized reinforcement learning from expert demonstrations has proved successful in improving the sample efficiency of deep reinforcement learning algorithms, allowing them to be applied to challenging physical real-world tasks. However, we show that KL-regularized reinforcement learning with behavioral reference policies derived from expert demonstrations can suffer from pathological training dynamics that can lead to slow, unstable, and suboptimal online learning. We show empirically that the pathology occurs for commonly chosen behavioral policy classes and demonstrate its impact on sample efficiency and online policy performance. Finally, we show that the pathology can be remedied by non-parametric behavioral reference policies and that this allows KL-regularized reinforcement learning to significantly outperform state-of-the-art approaches on a variety of challenging locomotion and dexterous hand manipulation tasks.

Do Transformers Really Perform Badly for Graph Representation?

Chengxuan Ying · Tianle Cai · Shengjie Luo · Shuxin Zheng · Guolin Ke · Di He · Yanming Shen · Tie-Yan Liu

The Transformer architecture has become a dominant choice in many domains, such as natural language processing and computer vision. Yet, it has not achieved competitive performance on popular leaderboards of graph-level prediction compared to mainstream GNN variants. Therefore, it remains a mystery how Transformers could perform well for graph representation learning. In this paper, we solve this mystery by presenting Graphormer, which is built upon the standard Transformer architecture, and could attain excellent results on a broad range of graph representation learning tasks, especially on the recent OGB Large-Scale Challenge. Our key insight to utilizing Transformer in the graph is the necessity of effectively encoding the structural information of a graph into the model. To this end, we propose several simple yet effective structural encoding methods to help Graphormer better model graph-structured data. Besides, we mathematically characterize the expressive power of Graphormer and exhibit that with our ways of encoding the structural information of graphs, many popular GNN variants could be covered as the special cases of Graphormer. The code and models of Graphormer will be made publicly available at \url{}.

Learning Space Partitions for Path Planning

Kevin Yang · Tianjun Zhang · Chris Cummins · Brandon Cui · Benoit Steiner · Linnan Wang · Joseph Gonzalez · Dan Klein · Yuandong Tian

Path planning, the problem of efficiently discovering high-reward trajectories, often requires optimizing a high-dimensional and multimodal reward function. Popular approaches like CEM and CMA-ES greedily focus on promising regions of the search space and may get trapped in local maxima. DOO and VOOT balance exploration and exploitation, but use space partitioning strategies independent of the reward function to be optimized. Recently, LaMCTS empirically learns to partition the search space in a reward-sensitive manner for black-box optimization. In this paper, we develop a novel formal regret analysis for when and why such an adaptive region partitioning scheme works. We also propose a new path planning method LaP3 which improves the function value estimation within each sub-region, and uses a latent representation of the search space. Empirically, LaP3 outperforms existing path planning methods in 2D navigation tasks, especially in the presence of difficult-to-escape local optima, and shows benefits when plugged into the planning components of model-based RL such as PETS. These gains transfer to highly multimodal real-world tasks, where we outperform strong baselines in compiler phase ordering by up to 39% on average across 9 tasks, and in molecular design by up to 0.4 on properties on a 0-1 scale. Code is available at

TopicNet: Semantic Graph-Guided Topic Discovery

Zhibin Duan · Yi.shi Xu · Bo Chen · Dongsheng Wang · Chaojie Wang · Mingyuan Zhou

Existing deep hierarchical topic models are able to extract semantically meaningful topics from a text corpus in an unsupervised manner and automatically organize them into a topic hierarchy. However, it is unclear how to incorporate prior belief such as knowledge graph to guide the learning of the topic hierarchy. To address this issue, we introduce TopicNet as a deep hierarchical topic model that can inject prior structural knowledge as inductive bias to influence the learning. TopicNet represents each topic as a Gaussian-distributed embedding vector, projects the topics of all layers into a shared embedding space, and explores both the symmetric and asymmetric similarities between Gaussian embedding vectors to incorporate prior semantic hierarchies. With a variational auto-encoding inference network, the model parameters are optimized by minimizing the evidence lower bound and supervised loss via stochastic gradient descent. Experiments on widely used benchmark show that TopicNet outperforms related deep topic models on discovering deeper interpretable topics and mining better document representations.

Subgroup Generalization and Fairness of Graph Neural Networks

Jiaqi Ma · Junwei Deng · Qiaozhu Mei

Despite enormous successful applications of graph neural networks (GNNs), theoretical understanding of their generalization ability, especially for node-level tasks where data are not independent and identically-distributed (IID), has been sparse. The theoretical investigation of the generalization performance is beneficial for understanding fundamental issues (such as fairness) of GNN models and designing better learning methods. In this paper, we present a novel PAC-Bayesian analysis for GNNs under a non-IID semi-supervised learning setup. Moreover, we analyze the generalization performances on different subgroups of unlabeled nodes, which allows us to further study an accuracy-(dis)parity-style (un)fairness of GNNs from a theoretical perspective. Under reasonable assumptions, we demonstrate that the distance between a test subgroup and the training set can be a key factor affecting the GNN performance on that subgroup, which calls special attention to the training node selection for fair learning. Experiments across multiple GNN models and datasets support our theoretical results.

Reconstruction for Powerful Graph Representations

Leonardo Cotta · Christopher Morris · Bruno Ribeiro

Graph neural networks (GNNs) have limited expressive power, failing to represent many graph classes correctly. While more expressive graph representation learning (GRL) alternatives can distinguish some of these classes, they are significantly harder to implement, may not scale well, and have not been shown to outperform well-tuned GNNs in real-world tasks. Thus, devising simple, scalable, and expressive GRL architectures that also achieve real-world improvements remains an open challenge. In this work, we show the extent to which graph reconstruction---reconstructing a graph from its subgraphs---can mitigate the theoretical and practical problems currently faced by GRL architectures. First, we leverage graph reconstruction to build two new classes of expressive graph representations. Secondly, we show how graph reconstruction boosts the expressive power of any GNN architecture while being a (provably) powerful inductive bias for invariances to vertex removals. Empirically, we show how reconstruction can boost GNN's expressive power---while maintaining its invariance to permutations of the vertices---by solving seven graph property tasks not solvable by the original GNN. Further, we demonstrate how it boosts state-of-the-art GNN's performance across nine real-world benchmark datasets.

Efficient Truncated Linear Regression with Unknown Noise Variance

Constantinos Daskalakis · Patroklos Stefanou · Rui Yao · Emmanouil Zampetakis

Truncated linear regression is a classical challenge in Statistics, wherein a label, $y = w^T x + \varepsilon$, and its corresponding feature vector, $x \in \mathbb{R}^k$, are only observed if the label falls in some subset $S \subseteq \mathbb{R}$; otherwise the existence of the pair $(x, y)$ is hidden from observation. Linear regression with truncated observations has remained a challenge, in its general form, since the early works of [Tobin'58, Amemiya '73]. When the distribution of the error is normal with known variance, recent work of [Daskalakis et al. '19] provides computationally and statistically efficient estimators of the linear model, $w$. In this paper, we provide the first computationally and statistically efficient estimators for truncated linear regression when the noise variance is unknown, estimating both the linear model and the variance of the noise. Our estimator is based on an efficient implementation of Projected Stochastic Gradient Descent on the negative log-likelihood of the truncated sample. Importantly, we show that the error of our estimates is asymptotically normal, and we use this to provide explicit confidence regions for our estimates.

Inverse-Weighted Survival Games

Xintian Han · Mark Goldstein · Aahlad Puli · Thomas Wies · Adler Perotte · Rajesh Ranganath

Deep models trained through maximum likelihood have achieved state-of-the-art results for survival analysis. Despite this training scheme, practitioners evaluate models under other criteria, such as binary classification losses at a chosen set of time horizons, e.g. Brier score (BS) and Bernoulli log likelihood (BLL). Models trained with maximum likelihood may have poor BS or BLL since maximum likelihood does not directly optimize these criteria. Directly optimizing criteria like BS requires inverse-weighting by the censoring distribution. However, estimating the censoring model under these metrics requires inverse-weighting by the failure distribution. The objective for each model requires the other, but neither are known. To resolve this dilemma, we introduce Inverse-Weighted Survival Games. In these games, objectives for each model are built from re-weighted estimates featuring the other model, where the latter is held fixed during training. When the loss is proper, we show that the games always have the true failure and censoring distributions as a stationary point. This means models in the game do not leave the correct distributions once reached. We construct one case where this stationary point is unique. We show that these games optimize BS on simulations and then apply these principles on real world cancer and critically-ill patient data.

Representation Learning on Spatial Networks

Zheng Zhang · Liang Zhao

Spatial networks are networks for which the nodes and edges are constrained by geometry and embedded in real space, which has crucial effects on their topological properties. Although tremendous success has been achieved in spatial and network representation separately in recent years, there exist very little works on the representation of spatial networks. Extracting powerful representations from spatial networks requires the development of appropriate tools to uncover the pairing of both spatial and network information in the appearance of node permutation invariant, and rotation and translation invariant. Hence it can not be modeled merely with either spatial or network models individually. To address these challenges, this paper proposes a generic framework for spatial network representation learning. Specifically, a provably information-lossless and roto-translation invariant representation of spatial information on networks is presented. Then a higher-order spatial network convolution operation that adapts to our proposed representation is introduced. To ensure efficiency, we also propose a new approach that relied on sampling random spanning trees to reduce the time and memory complexity from $O(N^3)$ to $O(N)$. We demonstrate the strength of our proposed framework through extensive experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets. The code for the proposed model is available at \url{}.

Iteratively Reweighted Least Squares for Basis Pursuit with Global Linear Convergence Rate

Christian Kümmerle · Claudio Mayrink Verdun · Dominik Stöger

The recovery of sparse data is at the core of many applications in machine learning and signal processing. While such problems can be tackled using $\ell_1$-regularization as in the LASSO estimator and in the Basis Pursuit approach, specialized algorithms are typically required to solve the corresponding high-dimensional non-smooth optimization for large instances.Iteratively Reweighted Least Squares (IRLS) is a widely used algorithm for this purpose due to its excellent numerical performance. However, while existing theory is able to guarantee convergence of this algorithm to the minimizer, it does not provide a global convergence rate. In this paper, we prove that a variant of IRLS converges \emph{with a global linear rate} to a sparse solution, i.e., with a linear error decrease occurring immediately from any initialization if the measurements fulfill the usual null space property assumption. We support our theory by numerical experiments showing that our linear rate captures the correct dimension dependence. We anticipate that our theoretical findings will lead to new insights for many other use cases of the IRLS algorithm, such as in low-rank matrix recovery.

Low-Rank Constraints for Fast Inference in Structured Models

Justin Chiu · Yuntian Deng · Alexander Rush

Structured distributions, i.e. distributions over combinatorial spaces, are commonly used to learn latent probabilistic representations from observed data. However, scaling these models is bottlenecked by the high computational and memory complexity with respect to the size of the latent representations. Common models such as Hidden Markov Models (HMMs) and Probabilistic Context-Free Grammars (PCFGs) require time and space quadratic and cubic in the number of hidden states respectively. This work demonstrates a simple approach to reduce the computational and memory complexity of a large class of structured models. We show that by viewing the central inference step as a matrix-vector product and using a low-rank constraint, we can trade off model expressivity and speed via the rank. Experiments with neural parameterized structured models for language modeling, polyphonic music modeling, unsupervised grammar induction, and video modeling show that our approach matches the accuracy of standard models at large state spaces while providing practical speedups.

Accumulative Poisoning Attacks on Real-time Data

Tianyu Pang · Xiao Yang · Yinpeng Dong · Hang Su · Jun Zhu

Collecting training data from untrusted sources exposes machine learning services to poisoning adversaries, who maliciously manipulate training data to degrade the model accuracy. When trained on offline datasets, poisoning adversaries have to inject the poisoned data in advance before training, and the order of feeding these poisoned batches into the model is stochastic. In contrast, practical systems are more usually trained/fine-tuned on sequentially captured real-time data, in which case poisoning adversaries could dynamically poison each data batch according to the current model state. In this paper, we focus on the real-time settings and propose a new attacking strategy, which affiliates an accumulative phase with poisoning attacks to secretly (i.e., without affecting accuracy) magnify the destructive effect of a (poisoned) trigger batch. By mimicking online learning and federated learning on MNIST and CIFAR-10, we show that model accuracy significantly drops by a single update step on the trigger batch after the accumulative phase. Our work validates that a well-designed but straightforward attacking strategy can dramatically amplify the poisoning effects, with no need to explore complex techniques.

An Improved Analysis and Rates for Variance Reduction under Without-replacement Sampling Orders

Xinmeng Huang · Kun Yuan · Xianghui Mao · Wotao Yin

When applying a stochastic algorithm, one must choose an order to draw samples. The practical choices are without-replacement sampling orders, which are empirically faster and more cache-friendly than uniform-iid-sampling but often have inferior theoretical guarantees. Without-replacement sampling is well understood only for SGD without variance reduction. In this paper, we will improve the convergence analysis and rates of variance reduction under without-replacement sampling orders for composite finite-sum minimization.Our results are in two-folds. First, we develop a damped variant of Finito called Prox-DFinito and establish its convergence rates with random reshuffling, cyclic sampling, and shuffling-once, under both generally and strongly convex scenarios. These rates match full-batch gradient descent and are state-of-the-art compared to the existing results for without-replacement sampling with variance-reduction. Second, our analysis can gauge how the cyclic order will influence the rate of cyclic sampling and, thus, allows us to derive the optimal fixed ordering. In the highly data-heterogeneous scenario, Prox-DFinito with optimal cyclic sampling can attain a sample-size-independent convergence rate, which, to our knowledge, is the first result that can match with uniform-iid-sampling with variance reduction. We also propose a practical method to discover the optimal cyclic ordering numerically.

Exploring Forensic Dental Identification with Deep Learning

Yuan Liang · Weikun Han · Liang Qiu · Chen Wu · Yiting Shao · Kun Wang · Lei He

Dental forensic identification targets to identify persons with dental traces.The task is vital for the investigation of criminal scenes and mass disasters because of the resistance of dental structures and the wide-existence of dental imaging. However, no widely accepted automated solution is available for this labour-costly task. In this work, we pioneer to study deep learning for dental forensic identification based on panoramic radiographs. We construct a comprehensive benchmark with various dental variations that can adequately reflect the difficulties of the task. By considering the task's unique challenges, we propose FoID, a deep learning method featured by: (\textit{i}) clinical-inspired attention localization, (\textit{ii}) domain-specific augmentations that enable instance discriminative learning, and (\textit{iii}) transformer-based self-attention mechanism that dynamically reasons the relative importance of attentions. We show that FoID can outperform traditional approaches by at least \textbf{22.98\%} in terms of Rank-1 accuracy, and outperform strong CNN baselines by at least \textbf{10.50\%} in terms of mean Average Precision (mAP). Moreover, extensive ablation studies verify the effectiveness of each building blocks of FoID. Our work can be a first step towards the automated system for forensic identification among large-scale multi-site databases. Also, the proposed techniques, \textit{e.g.}, self-attention mechanism, can also be meaningful for other identification tasks, \textit{e.g.}, pedestrian re-identification.Related data and codes can be found at \href{}{}.

Learning Compact Representations of Neural Networks using DiscriminAtive Masking (DAM)

Jie Bu · Arka Daw · M. Maruf · Anuj Karpatne

A central goal in deep learning is to learn compact representations of features at every layer of a neural network, which is useful for both unsupervised representation learning and structured network pruning. While there is a growing body of work in structured pruning, current state-of-the-art methods suffer from two key limitations: (i) instability during training, and (ii) need for an additional step of fine-tuning, which is resource-intensive. At the core of these limitations is the lack of a systematic approach that jointly prunes and refines weights during training in a single stage, and does not require any fine-tuning upon convergence to achieve state-of-the-art performance. We present a novel single-stage structured pruning method termed DiscriminAtive Masking (DAM). The key intuition behind DAM is to discriminatively prefer some of the neurons to be refined during the training process, while gradually masking out other neurons. We show that our proposed DAM approach has remarkably good performance over a diverse range of applications in representation learning and structured pruning, including dimensionality reduction, recommendation system, graph representation learning, and structured pruning for image classification. We also theoretically show that the learning objective of DAM is directly related to minimizing the L_0 norm of the masking layer. All of our codes and datasets are available

On Interaction Between Augmentations and Corruptions in Natural Corruption Robustness

Eric Mintun · Alexander Kirillov · Saining Xie

Invariance to a broad array of image corruptions, such as warping, noise, or color shifts, is an important aspect of building robust models in computer vision. Recently, several new data augmentations have been proposed that significantly improve performance on ImageNet-C, a benchmark of such corruptions. However, there is still a lack of basic understanding on the relationship between data augmentations and test-time corruptions. To this end, we develop a feature space for image transforms, and then use a new measure in this space between augmentations and corruptions called the Minimal Sample Distance to demonstrate there is a strong correlation between similarity and performance. We then investigate recent data augmentations and observe a significant degradation in corruption robustness when the test-time corruptions are sampled to be perceptually dissimilar from ImageNet-C in this feature space. Our results suggest that test error can be improved by training on perceptually similar augmentations, and data augmentations may not generalize well beyond the existing benchmark. We hope our results and tools will allow for more robust progress towards improving robustness to image corruptions. We provide code at

QuPeD: Quantized Personalization via Distillation with Applications to Federated Learning

Kaan Ozkara · Navjot Singh · Deepesh Data · Suhas Diggavi

Traditionally, federated learning (FL) aims to train a single global model while collaboratively using multiple clients and a server. Two natural challenges that FL algorithms face are heterogeneity in data across clients and collaboration of clients with diverse resources. In this work, we introduce a quantized and personalized FL algorithm QuPeD that facilitates collective (personalized model compression) training via knowledge distillation (KD) among clients who have access to heterogeneous data and resources. For personalization, we allow clients to learn compressed personalized models with different quantization parameters and model dimensions/structures. Towards this, first we propose an algorithm for learning quantized models through a relaxed optimization problem, where quantization values are also optimized over. When each client participating in the (federated) learning process has different requirements of the compressed model (both in model dimension and precision), we formulate a compressed personalization framework by introducing knowledge distillation loss for local client objectives collaborating through a global model. We develop an alternating proximal gradient update for solving this compressed personalization problem, and analyze its convergence properties. Numerically, we validate that QuPeD outperforms competing personalized FL methods, FedAvg, and local training of clients in various heterogeneous settings.

Exploiting Local Convergence of Quasi-Newton Methods Globally: Adaptive Sample Size Approach

Qiujiang Jin · Aryan Mokhtari

In this paper, we study the application of quasi-Newton methods for solving empirical risk minimization (ERM) problems defined over a large dataset. Traditional deterministic and stochastic quasi-Newton methods can be executed to solve such problems; however, it is known that their global convergence rate may not be better than first-order methods, and their local superlinear convergence only appears towards the end of the learning process. In this paper, we use an adaptive sample size scheme that exploits the superlinear convergence of quasi-Newton methods globally and throughout the entire learning process. The main idea of the proposed adaptive sample size algorithms is to start with a small subset of data points and solve their corresponding ERM problem within its statistical accuracy, and then enlarge the sample size geometrically and use the optimal solution of the problem corresponding to the smaller set as an initial point for solving the subsequent ERM problem with more samples. We show that if the initial sample size is sufficiently large and we use quasi-Newton methods to solve each subproblem, the subproblems can be solved superlinearly fast (after at most three iterations), as we guarantee that the iterates always stay within a neighborhood that quasi-Newton methods converge superlinearly. Numerical experiments on various datasets confirm our theoretical results and demonstrate the computational advantages of our method.

SSMF: Shifting Seasonal Matrix Factorization

Koki Kawabata · Siddharth Bhatia · Rui Liu · Mohit Wadhwa · Bryan Hooi

Given taxi-ride counts information between departure and destination locations, how can we forecast their future demands? In general, given a data stream of events with seasonal patterns that innovate over time, how can we effectively and efficiently forecast future events? In this paper, we propose Shifting Seasonal Matrix Factorization approach, namely SSMF, that can adaptively learn multiple seasonal patterns (called regimes), as well as switching between them. Our proposed method has the following properties: (a) it accurately forecasts future events by detecting regime shifts in seasonal patterns as the data stream evolves; (b) it works in an online setting, i.e., processes each observation in constant time and memory; (c) it effectively realizes regime shifts without human intervention by using a lossless data compression scheme. We demonstrate that our algorithm outperforms state-of-the-art baseline methods by accurately forecasting upcoming events on three real-world data streams.

Sample Complexity of Tree Search Configuration: Cutting Planes and Beyond

Maria-Florina Balcan · Siddharth Prasad · Tuomas Sandholm · Ellen Vitercik

Cutting-plane methods have enabled remarkable successes in integer programming over the last few decades. State-of-the-art solvers integrate a myriad of cutting-plane techniques to speed up the underlying tree-search algorithm used to find optimal solutions. In this paper we provide sample complexity bounds for cut-selection in branch-and-cut (B&C). Given a training set of integer programs sampled from an application-specific input distribution and a family of cut selection policies, these guarantees bound the number of samples sufficient to ensure that using any policy in the family, the size of the tree B&C builds on average over the training set is close to the expected size of the tree B&C builds. We first bound the sample complexity of learning cutting planes from the canonical family of Chvátal-Gomory cuts. Our bounds handle any number of waves of any number of cuts and are fine tuned to the magnitudes of the constraint coefficients. Next, we prove sample complexity bounds for more sophisticated cut selection policies that use a combination of scoring rules to choose from a family of cuts. Finally, beyond the realm of cutting planes for integer programming, we develop a general abstraction of tree search that captures key components such as node selection and variable selection. For this abstraction, we bound the sample complexity of learning a good policy for building the search tree.

Understanding the Generalization Benefit of Model Invariance from a Data Perspective

Sicheng Zhu · Bang An · Furong Huang

Machine learning models that are developed to be invariant under certain types of data transformations have shown improved generalization in practice. However, a principled understanding of why invariance benefits generalization is limited. Given a dataset, there is often no principled way to select "suitable" data transformations under which model invariance guarantees better generalization. This paper studies the generalization benefit of model invariance by introducing the sample cover induced by transformations, i.e., a representative subset of a dataset that can approximately recover the whole dataset using transformations. For any data transformations, we provide refined generalization bounds for invariant models based on the sample cover. We also characterize the "suitability" of a set of data transformations by the sample covering number induced by transformations, i.e., the smallest size of its induced sample covers. We show that we may tighten the generalization bounds for "suitable" transformations that have a small sample covering number. In addition, our proposed sample covering number can be empirically evaluated and thus provides a guidance for selecting transformations to develop model invariance for better generalization. In experiments on multiple datasets, we evaluate sample covering numbers for some commonly used transformations and show that the smaller sample covering number for a set of transformations (e.g., the 3D-view transformation) indicates a smaller gap between the test and training error for invariant models, which verifies our propositions.

Robust Regression Revisited: Acceleration and Improved Estimation Rates

Arun Jambulapati · Jerry Li · Tselil Schramm · Kevin Tian

We study fast algorithms for statistical regression problems under the strong contamination model, where the goal is to approximately optimize a generalized linear model (GLM) given adversarially corrupted samples. Prior works in this line of research were based on the \emph{robust gradient descent} framework of \cite{PrasadSBR20}, a first-order method using biased gradient queries, or the \emph{Sever} framework of \cite{DiakonikolasKK019}, an iterative outlier-removal method calling a stationary point finder. We present nearly-linear time algorithms for robust regression problems with improved runtime or estimation guarantees compared to the state-of-the-art. For the general case of smooth GLMs (e.g.\ logistic regression), we show that the robust gradient descent framework of \cite{PrasadSBR20} can be \emph{accelerated}, and show our algorithm extends to optimizing the Moreau envelopes of Lipschitz GLMs (e.g.\ support vector machines), answering several open questions in the literature. For the well-studied case of robust linear regression, we present an alternative approach obtaining improved estimation rates over prior nearly-linear time algorithms. Interestingly, our algorithm starts with an identifiability proof introduced in the context of the sum-of-squares algorithm of \cite{BakshiP21}, which achieved optimal error rates while requiring large polynomial runtime and sample complexity. We reinterpret their proof within the Sever framework and obtain a dramatically faster and more sample-efficient algorithm under fewer distributional assumptions.

Regime Switching Bandits

Xiang Zhou · Yi Xiong · Ningyuan Chen · Xuefeng GAO

We study a multi-armed bandit problem where the rewards exhibit regime switching. Specifically, the distributions of the random rewards generated from all arms are modulated by a common underlying state modeled as a finite-state Markov chain. The agent does not observe the underlying state and has to learn the transition matrix and the reward distributions. We propose a learning algorithm for this problem, building on spectral method-of-moments estimations for hidden Markov models, belief error control in partially observable Markov decision processes and upper-confidence-bound methods for online learning. We also establish an upper bound $O(T^{2/3}\sqrt{\log T})$ for the proposed learning algorithm where $T$ is the learning horizon. Finally, we conduct proof-of-concept experiments to illustrate the performance of the learning algorithm.

Towards Robust Bisimulation Metric Learning

Mete Kemertas · Tristan Aumentado-Armstrong

Learned representations in deep reinforcement learning (DRL) have to extract task-relevant information from complex observations, balancing between robustness to distraction and informativeness to the policy. Such stable and rich representations, often learned via modern function approximation techniques, can enable practical application of the policy improvement theorem, even in high-dimensional continuous state-action spaces. Bisimulation metrics offer one solution to this representation learning problem, by collapsing functionally similar states together in representation space, which promotes invariance to noise and distractors. In this work, we generalize value function approximation bounds for on-policy bisimulation metrics to non-optimal policies and approximate environment dynamics. Our theoretical results help us identify embedding pathologies that may occur in practical use. In particular, we find that these issues stem from an underconstrained dynamics model and an unstable dependence of the embedding norm on the reward signal in environments with sparse rewards. Further, we propose a set of practical remedies: (i) a norm constraint on the representation space, and (ii) an extension of prior approaches with intrinsic rewards and latent space regularization. Finally, we provide evidence that the resulting method is not only more robust to sparse reward functions, but also able to solve challenging continuous control tasks with observational distractions, where prior methods fail.

Limiting fluctuation and trajectorial stability of multilayer neural networks with mean field training

Huy Tuan Pham · Phan-Minh Nguyen

The mean field theory of multilayer neural networks centers around a particular infinite-width scaling, in which the learning dynamics is shown to be closely tracked by the mean field limit. A random fluctuation around this infinite-width limit is expected from a large-width expansion to the next order. This fluctuation has been studied only in the case of shallow networks, where previous works employ heavily technical notions or additional formulation ideas amenable only to that case. Treatment of the multilayer case has been missing, with the chief difficulty in finding a formulation that must capture the stochastic dependency across not only time but also depth.In this work, we initiate the study of the fluctuation in the case of multilayer networks, at any network depth. Leveraging on the neuronal embedding framework recently introduced by Nguyen and Pham, we systematically derive a system of dynamical equations, called the second-order mean field limit, that captures the limiting fluctuation distribution. We demonstrate through the framework the complex interaction among neurons in this second-order mean field limit, the stochasticity with cross-layer dependency and the nonlinear time evolution inherent in the limiting fluctuation. A limit theorem is proven to relate quantitatively this limit to the fluctuation realized by large-width networks.We apply the result to show a stability property of gradient descent mean field training: in the large-width regime, along the training trajectory, it progressively biases towards a solution with "minimal fluctuation" (in fact, vanishing fluctuation) in the learned output function, even after the network has been initialized at or has converged (sufficiently fast) to a global optimum. This extends a similar phenomenon previously shown only for shallow networks with a squared loss in the empirical risk minimization setting, to multilayer networks with a loss function that is not necessarily convex in a more general setting.

Learning where to learn: Gradient sparsity in meta and continual learning

Johannes von Oswald · Dominic Zhao · Seijin Kobayashi · Simon Schug · Massimo Caccia · Nicolas Zucchet · João Sacramento

Finding neural network weights that generalize well from small datasets is difficult. A promising approach is to learn a weight initialization such that a small number of weight changes results in low generalization error. We show that this form of meta-learning can be improved by letting the learning algorithm decide which weights to change, i.e., by learning where to learn. We find that patterned sparsity emerges from this process, with the pattern of sparsity varying on a problem-by-problem basis. This selective sparsity results in better generalization and less interference in a range of few-shot and continual learning problems. Moreover, we find that sparse learning also emerges in a more expressive model where learning rates are meta-learned. Our results shed light on an ongoing debate on whether meta-learning can discover adaptable features and suggest that learning by sparse gradient descent is a powerful inductive bias for meta-learning systems.

Simple steps are all you need: Frank-Wolfe and generalized self-concordant functions

Alejandro Carderera · Mathieu Besançon · Sebastian Pokutta

Generalized self-concordance is a key property present in the objective function of many important learning problems. We establish the convergence rate of a simple Frank-Wolfe variant that uses the open-loop step size strategy $\gamma_t = 2/(t+2)$, obtaining a $\mathcal{O}(1/t)$ convergence rate for this class of functions in terms of primal gap and Frank-Wolfe gap, where $t$ is the iteration count. This avoids the use of second-order information or the need to estimate local smoothness parameters of previous work. We also show improved convergence rates for various common cases, e.g., when the feasible region under consideration is uniformly convex or polyhedral.

Exploring Architectural Ingredients of Adversarially Robust Deep Neural Networks

Hanxun Huang · Yisen Wang · Sarah Erfani · Quanquan Gu · James Bailey · Xingjun Ma

Deep neural networks (DNNs) are known to be vulnerable to adversarial attacks. A range of defense methods have been proposed to train adversarially robust DNNs, among which adversarial training has demonstrated promising results. However, despite preliminary understandings developed for adversarial training, it is still not clear, from the architectural perspective, what configurations can lead to more robust DNNs. In this paper, we address this gap via a comprehensive investigation on the impact of network width and depth on the robustness of adversarially trained DNNs. Specifically, we make the following key observations: 1) more parameters (higher model capacity) does not necessarily help adversarial robustness; 2) reducing capacity at the last stage (the last group of blocks) of the network can actually improve adversarial robustness; and 3) under the same parameter budget, there exists an optimal architectural configuration for adversarial robustness. We also provide a theoretical analysis explaning why such network configuration can help robustness. These architectural insights can help design adversarially robust DNNs.

Machine learning structure preserving brackets for forecasting irreversible processes

Kookjin Lee · Nathaniel Trask · Panos Stinis

Forecasting of time-series data requires imposition of inductive biases to obtain predictive extrapolation, and recent works have imposed Hamiltonian/Lagrangian form to preserve structure for systems with \emph{reversible} dynamics. In this work we present a novel parameterization of dissipative brackets from metriplectic dynamical systems appropriate for learning \emph{irreversible} dynamics with unknown a priori model form. The process learns generalized Casimirs for energy and entropy guaranteed to be conserved and nondecreasing, respectively. Furthermore, for the case of added thermal noise, we guarantee exact preservation of a fluctuation-dissipation theorem, ensuring thermodynamic consistency. We provide benchmarks for dissipative systems demonstrating learned dynamics are more robust and generalize better than either "black-box" or penalty-based approaches.

On the Variance of the Fisher Information for Deep Learning

Alexander Soen · Ke Sun

In the realm of deep learning, the Fisher information matrix (FIM) gives novel insights and useful tools to characterize the loss landscape, perform second-order optimization, and build geometric learning theories. The exact FIM is either unavailable in closed form or too expensive to compute. In practice, it is almost always estimated based on empirical samples. We investigate two such estimators based on two equivalent representations of the FIM --- both unbiased and consistent. Their estimation quality is naturally gauged by their variance given in closed form. We analyze how the parametric structure of a deep neural network can affect the variance. The meaning of this variance measure and its upper bounds are then discussed in the context of deep learning.

ByPE-VAE: Bayesian Pseudocoresets Exemplar VAE

Qingzhong Ai · LIRONG HE · SHIYU LIU · Zenglin Xu

Recent studies show that advanced priors play a major role in deep generative models. Exemplar VAE, as a variant of VAE with an exemplar-based prior, has achieved impressive results. However, due to the nature of model design, an exemplar-based model usually requires vast amounts of data to participate in training, which leads to huge computational complexity. To address this issue, we propose Bayesian Pseudocoresets Exemplar VAE (ByPE-VAE), a new variant of VAE with a prior based on Bayesian pseudocoreset. The proposed prior is conditioned on a small-scale pseudocoreset rather than the whole dataset for reducing the computational cost and avoiding overfitting. Simultaneously, we obtain the optimal pseudocoreset via a stochastic optimization algorithm during VAE training aiming to minimize the Kullback-Leibler divergence between the prior based on the pseudocoreset and that based on the whole dataset. Experimental results show that ByPE-VAE can achieve competitive improvements over the state-of-the-art VAEs in the tasks of density estimation, representation learning, and generative data augmentation. Particularly, on a basic VAE architecture, ByPE-VAE is up to 3 times faster than Exemplar VAE while almost holding the performance. Code is available at \url{}.

A Theory-Driven Self-Labeling Refinement Method for Contrastive Representation Learning

Pan Zhou · Caiming Xiong · Xiaotong Yuan · Steven Chu Hong Hoi

For an image query, unsupervised contrastive learning labels crops of the same image as positives, and other image crops as negatives. Although intuitive, such a native label assignment strategy cannot reveal the underlying semantic similarity between a query and its positives and negatives, and impairs performance, since some negatives are semantically similar to the query or even share the same semantic class as the query. In this work, we first prove that for contrastive learning, inaccurate label assignment heavily impairs its generalization for semantic instance discrimination, while accurate labels benefit its generalization. Inspired by this theory, we propose a novel self-labeling refinement approach for contrastive learning. It improves the label quality via two complementary modules: (i) self-labeling refinery (SLR) to generate accurate labels and (ii) momentum mixup (MM) to enhance similarity between query and its positive. SLR uses a positive of a query to estimate semantic similarity between a query and its positive and negatives, and combines estimated similarity with vanilla label assignment in contrastive learning to iteratively generate more accurate and informative soft labels. We theoretically show that our SLR can exactly recover the true semantic labels of label-corrupted data, and supervises networks to achieve zero prediction error on classification tasks. MM randomly combines queries and positives to increase semantic similarity between the generated virtual queries and their positives so as to improves label accuracy. Experimental results on CIFAR10, ImageNet, VOC and COCO show the effectiveness of our method.

Visualizing the Emergence of Intermediate Visual Patterns in DNNs

Mingjie Li · Shaobo Wang · Quanshi Zhang

This paper proposes a method to visualize the discrimination power of intermediate-layer visual patterns encoded by a DNN. Specifically, we visualize (1) how the DNN gradually learns regional visual patterns in each intermediate layer during the training process, and (2) the effects of the DNN using non-discriminative patterns in low layers to construct disciminative patterns in middle/high layers through the forward propagation. Based on our visualization method, we can quantify knowledge points (i.e. the number of discriminative visual patterns) learned by the DNN to evaluate the representation capacity of the DNN. Furthermore, this method also provides new insights into signal-processing behaviors of existing deep-learning techniques, such as adversarial attacks and knowledge distillation.

Functional Neural Networks for Parametric Image Restoration Problems

Fangzhou Luo · Xiaolin Wu · Yanhui Guo

Almost every single image restoration problem has a closely related parameter, such as the scale factor in super-resolution, the noise level in image denoising, and the quality factor in JPEG deblocking. Although recent studies on image restoration problems have achieved great success due to the development of deep neural networks, they handle the parameter involved in an unsophisticated way. Most previous researchers either treat problems with different parameter levels as independent tasks, and train a specific model for each parameter level; or simply ignore the parameter, and train a single model for all parameter levels. The two popular approaches have their own shortcomings. The former is inefficient in computing and the latter is ineffective in performance. In this work, we propose a novel system called functional neural network (FuncNet) to solve a parametric image restoration problem with a single model. Unlike a plain neural network, the smallest conceptual element of our FuncNet is no longer a floating-point variable, but a function of the parameter of the problem. This feature makes it both efficient and effective for a parametric problem. We apply FuncNet to super-resolution, image denoising, and JPEG deblocking. The experimental results show the superiority of our FuncNet on all three parametric image restoration tasks over the state of the arts.

Does Knowledge Distillation Really Work?

Samuel Stanton · Pavel Izmailov · Polina Kirichenko · Alexander Alemi · Andrew Wilson

Knowledge distillation is a popular technique for training a small student network to emulate a larger teacher model, such as an ensemble of networks. We show that while knowledge distillation can improve student generalization, it does not typically work as it is commonly understood: there often remains a surprisingly large discrepancy between the predictive distributions of the teacher and the student, even in cases when the student has the capacity to perfectly match the teacher. We identify difficulties in optimization as a key reason for why the student is unable to match the teacher. We also show how the details of the dataset used for distillation play a role in how closely the student matches the teacher --- and that more closely matching the teacher paradoxically does not always lead to better student generalization.

argmax centroid

Chengyue Gong · Mao Ye · Qiang Liu

We propose a general method to construct centroid approximation for the distribution of maximum points of a random function (a.k.a. argmax distribution), which finds broad applications in machine learning. Our method optimizes a set of centroid points to compactly approximate the argmax distribution with a simple objective function, without explicitly drawing exact samples from the argmax distribution. Theoretically, the argmax centroid method can be shown to minimize a surrogate of Wasserstein distance between the ground-truth argmax distribution and the centroid approximation under proper conditions. We demonstrate the applicability and effectiveness of our method on a variety of real-world multi-task learning applications, including few-shot image classification, personalized dialogue systems and multi-target domain adaptation.

On the Value of Infinite Gradients in Variational Autoencoder Models

Bin Dai · Li Wenliang · David Wipf

A number of recent studies of continuous variational autoencoder (VAE) models have noted, either directly or indirectly, the tendency of various parameter gradients to drift towards infinity during training. Because such gradients could potentially contribute to numerical instabilities, and are often framed as a problematic phenomena to be avoided, it may be tempting to shift to alternative energy functions that guarantee bounded gradients. But it remains an open question: What might the unintended consequences of such a restriction be? To address this issue, we examine how unbounded gradients relate to the regularization of a broad class of autoencoder-based architectures, including VAE models, as applied to data lying on or near a low-dimensional manifold (e.g., natural images). Our main finding is that, if the ultimate goal is to simultaneously avoid over-regularization (high reconstruction errors, sometimes referred to as posterior collapse) and under-regularization (excessive latent dimensions are not pruned from the model), then an autoencoder-based energy function with infinite gradients around optimal representations is provably required per a certain technical sense which we carefully detail. Given that both over- and under-regularization can directly lead to poor generated sample quality or suboptimal feature selection, this result suggests that heuristic modifications to or constraints on the VAE energy function may at times be ill-advised, and large gradients should be accommodated to the extent possible.

Meta-learning with an Adaptive Task Scheduler

Huaxiu Yao · Yu Wang · Ying Wei · Peilin Zhao · Mehrdad Mahdavi · Defu Lian · Chelsea Finn

To benefit the learning of a new task, meta-learning has been proposed to transfer a well-generalized meta-model learned from various meta-training tasks. Existing meta-learning algorithms randomly sample meta-training tasks with a uniform probability, under the assumption that tasks are of equal importance. However, it is likely that tasks are detrimental with noise or imbalanced given a limited number of meta-training tasks. To prevent the meta-model from being corrupted by such detrimental tasks or dominated by tasks in the majority, in this paper, we propose an adaptive task scheduler (ATS) for the meta-training process. In ATS, for the first time, we design a neural scheduler to decide which meta-training tasks to use next by predicting the probability being sampled for each candidate task, and train the scheduler to optimize the generalization capacity of the meta-model to unseen tasks. We identify two meta-model-related factors as the input of the neural scheduler, which characterize the difficulty of a candidate task to the meta-model. Theoretically, we show that a scheduler taking the two factors into account improves the meta-training loss and also the optimization landscape. Under the setting of meta-learning with noise and limited budgets, ATS improves the performance on both miniImageNet and a real-world drug discovery benchmark by up to 13% and 18%, respectively, compared to state-of-the-art task schedulers.

Joint Modeling of Visual Objects and Relations for Scene Graph Generation

Minghao Xu · Meng Qu · Bingbing Ni · Jian Tang

An in-depth scene understanding usually requires recognizing all the objects and their relations in an image, encoded as a scene graph. Most existing approaches for scene graph generation first independently recognize each object and then predict their relations independently. Though these approaches are very efficient, they ignore the dependency between different objects as well as between their relations. In this paper, we propose a principled approach to jointly predict the entire scene graph by fully capturing the dependency between different objects and between their relations. Specifically, we establish a unified conditional random field (CRF) to model the joint distribution of all the objects and their relations in a scene graph. We carefully design the potential functions to enable relational reasoning among different objects according to knowledge graph embedding methods. We further propose an efficient and effective algorithm for inference based on mean-field variational inference, in which we first provide a warm initialization by independently predicting the objects and their relations according to the current model, followed by a few iterations of relational reasoning. Experimental results on both the relationship retrieval and zero-shot relationship retrieval tasks prove the efficiency and efficacy of our proposed approach.

Open-set Label Noise Can Improve Robustness Against Inherent Label Noise

Hongxin Wei · Lue Tao · RENCHUNZI XIE · Bo An

Learning with noisy labels is a practically challenging problem in weakly supervised learning. In the existing literature, open-set noises are always considered to be poisonous for generalization, similar to closed-set noises. In this paper, we empirically show that open-set noisy labels can be non-toxic and even benefit the robustness against inherent noisy labels. Inspired by the observations, we propose a simple yet effective regularization by introducing Open-set samples with Dynamic Noisy Labels (ODNL) into training. With ODNL, the extra capacity of the neural network can be largely consumed in a way that does not interfere with learning patterns from clean data. Through the lens of SGD noise, we show that the noises induced by our method are random-direction, conflict-free and biased, which may help the model converge to a flat minimum with superior stability and enforce the model to produce conservative predictions on Out-of-Distribution instances. Extensive experimental results on benchmark datasets with various types of noisy labels demonstrate that the proposed method not only enhances the performance of many existing robust algorithms but also achieves significant improvement on Out-of-Distribution detection tasks even in the label noise setting.

Learning to Elect

Cem Anil · Xuchan Bao

Voting systems have a wide range of applications including recommender systems, web search, product design and elections. Limited by the lack of general-purpose analytical tools, it is difficult to hand-engineer desirable voting rules for each use case. For this reason, it is appealing to automatically discover voting rules geared towards each scenario. In this paper, we show that set-input neural network architectures such as Set Transformers, fully-connected graph networks and DeepSets are both theoretically and empirically well-suited for learning voting rules. In particular, we show that these network models can not only mimic a number of existing voting rules to compelling accuracy --- both position-based (such as Plurality and Borda) and comparison-based (such as Kemeny, Copeland and Maximin) --- but also discover near-optimal voting rules that maximize different social welfare functions. Furthermore, the learned voting rules generalize well to different voter utility distributions and election sizes unseen during training.

How Data Augmentation affects Optimization for Linear Regression

Boris Hanin · Yi Sun

Though data augmentation has rapidly emerged as a key tool for optimization in modern machine learning, a clear picture of how augmentation schedules affect optimization and interact with optimization hyperparameters such as learning rate is nascent. In the spirit of classical convex optimization and recent work on implicit bias, the present work analyzes the effect of augmentation on optimization in the simple convex setting of linear regression with MSE loss.We find joint schedules for learning rate and data augmentation scheme under which augmented gradient descent provably converges and characterize the resulting minimum. Our results apply to arbitrary augmentation schemes, revealing complex interactions between learning rates and augmentations even in the convex setting. Our approach interprets augmented (S)GD as a stochastic optimization method for a time-varying sequence of proxy losses. This gives a unified way to analyze learning rate, batch size, and augmentations ranging from additive noise to random projections. From this perspective, our results, which also give rates of convergence, can be viewed as Monro-Robbins type conditions for augmented (S)GD.

Gradual Domain Adaptation without Indexed Intermediate Domains

Hong-You Chen · Wei-Lun Chao

The effectiveness of unsupervised domain adaptation degrades when there is a large discrepancy between the source and target domains. Gradual domain adaption (GDA) is one promising way to mitigate such an issue, by leveraging additional unlabeled data that gradually shift from the source to the target. Through sequentially adapting the model along the "indexed" intermediate domains, GDA substantially improves the overall adaptation performance. In practice, however, the extra unlabeled data may not be separated into intermediate domains and indexed properly, limiting the applicability of GDA. In this paper, we investigate how to discover the sequence of intermediate domains when it is not already available. Concretely, we propose a coarse-to-fine framework, which starts with a coarse domain discovery step via progressive domain discriminator training. This coarse domain sequence then undergoes a fine indexing step via a novel cycle-consistency loss, which encourages the next intermediate domain to preserve sufficient discriminative knowledge of the current intermediate domain. The resulting domain sequence can then be used by a GDA algorithm. On benchmark data sets of GDA, we show that our approach, which we name Intermediate DOmain Labeler (IDOL), can lead to comparable or even better adaptation performance compared to the pre-defined domain sequence, making GDA more applicable and robust to the quality of domain sequences. Codes are available at

K-level Reasoning for Zero-Shot Coordination in Hanabi

Brandon Cui · Hengyuan Hu · Luis Pineda · Jakob Foerster

The standard problem setting in cooperative multi-agent settings is \emph{self-play} (SP), where the goal is to train a \emph{team} of agents that works well together.     However, optimal SP policies commonly contain arbitrary conventions  (``handshakes'') and are not compatible with other, independently trained agents or humans.     This latter desiderata was recently formalized by \cite{Hu2020-OtherPlay} as the \emph{zero-shot coordination} (ZSC) setting and partially addressed with their \emph{Other-Play} (OP) algorithm, which showed improved ZSC and human-AI performance in the card game Hanabi.     OP assumes access to the symmetries of the environment and prevents agents from breaking these in a mutually \emph{incompatible} way during training. However, as the authors point out, discovering symmetries for a given environment is a computationally hard problem.    Instead, we show that through a simple adaption of k-level reasoning (KLR) \cite{Costa-Gomes2006-K-level}, synchronously training all levels, we can obtain competitive ZSC and ad-hoc teamplay performance in Hanabi, including when paired with a human-like proxy bot. We also introduce a new method, synchronous-k-level reasoning with a best response (SyKLRBR), which further improves performance on our synchronous KLR by co-training a best response.

Near-optimal Offline and Streaming Algorithms for Learning Non-Linear Dynamical Systems

Suhas Kowshik · Dheeraj Nagaraj · Prateek Jain · Praneeth Netrapalli

We consider the setting of vector valued non-linear dynamical systems $X_{t+1} = \phi(A^{*} X_t) + \eta_t$, where $\eta_t$ is unbiased noise and $\phi : \mathbb{R} \to \mathbb{R}$ is a known link function that satisfies certain {\em expansivity property}. The goal is to learn $A^{*}$ from a single trajectory $X_1,\cdots , X_T$ of {\em dependent or correlated} samples.While the problem is well-studied in the linear case, where $\phi$ is identity, with optimal error rates even for non-mixing systems, existing results in the non-linear case hold only for mixing systems. In this work, we improve existing results for learning nonlinear systems in a number of ways: a) we provide the first offline algorithm that can learn non-linear dynamical systems without the mixing assumption, b) we significantly improve upon the sample complexity of existing results for mixing systems, c) in the much harder one-pass, streaming setting we study a SGD with Reverse Experience Replay (SGD-RER) method, and demonstrate that for mixing systems, it achieves the same sample complexity as our offline algorithm, d) we justify the expansivity assumption by showing that for the popular ReLU link function --- a non-expansive but easy to learn link function with i.i.d. samples --- any method would require exponentially many samples (with respect to dimension of $X_t$) from the dynamical system. We validate our results via. simulations and demonstrate that a naive application of SGD can be highly sub-optimal. Indeed, our work demonstrates that for correlated data, specialized methods designed for the dependency structure in data can significantly outperform standard SGD based methods.

L2ight: Enabling On-Chip Learning for Optical Neural Networks via Efficient in-situ Subspace Optimization

Jiaqi Gu · Hanqing Zhu · Chenghao Feng · Zixuan Jiang · Ray Chen · David Pan

Silicon-photonics-based optical neural network (ONN) is a promising hardware platform that could represent a paradigm shift in efficient AI with its CMOS-compatibility, flexibility, ultra-low execution latency, and high energy efficiency. In-situ training on the online programmable photonic chips is appealing but still encounters challenging issues in on-chip implementability, scalability, and efficiency. In this work, we propose a closed-loop ONN on-chip learning framework L2ight to enable scalable ONN mapping and efficient in-situ learning. L2ight adopts a three-stage learning flow that first calibrates the complicated photonic circuit states under challenging physical constraints, then performs photonic core mapping via combined analytical solving and zeroth-order optimization. A subspace learning procedure with multi-level sparsity is integrated into L2ight to enable in-situ gradient evaluation and fast adaptation, unleashing the power of optics for real on-chip intelligence. Extensive experiments demonstrate our proposed L2ight outperforms prior ONN training protocols with 3-order-of-magnitude higher scalability and over 30x better efficiency, when benchmarked on various models and learning tasks. This synergistic framework is the first scalable on-chip learning solution that pushes this emerging field from intractable to scalable and further to efficient for next-generation self-learnable photonic neural chips. From a co-design perspective, L2ight also provides essential insights for hardware-restricted unitary subspace optimization and efficient sparse training. We open-source our framework at the link.

Pay Attention to MLPs

Hanxiao Liu · Zihang Dai · David So · Quoc V Le

Transformers have become one of the most important architectural innovations in deep learning and have enabled many breakthroughs over the past few years. Here we propose a simple network architecture, gMLP, based solely on MLPs with gating, and show that it can perform as well as Transformers in key language and vision applications. Our comparisons show that self-attention is not critical for Vision Transformers, as gMLP can achieve the same accuracy. For BERT, our model achieves parity with Transformers on pretraining perplexity and is better on some downstream NLP tasks. On finetuning tasks where gMLP performs worse, making the gMLP model substantially larger can close the gap with Transformers. In general, our experiments show that gMLP can scale as well as Transformers over increased data and compute.

A Highly-Efficient Group Elastic Net Algorithm with an Application to Function-On-Scalar Regression

Tobia Boschi · Matthew Reimherr · Francesca Chiaromonte

Feature Selection and Functional Data Analysis are two dynamic areas of research, with important applications in the analysis of large and complex data sets. Straddling these two areas, we propose a new highly efficient algorithm to perform Group Elastic Net with application to function-on-scalar feature selection, where a functional response is modeled against a very large number of potential scalar predictors. First, we introduce a new algorithm to solve Group Elastic Net in ultra-high dimensional settings, which exploits the sparsity structure of the Augmented Lagrangian to greatly reduce the computational burden. Next, taking advantage of the properties of Functional Principal Components, we extend our algorithm to the function-on-scalar regression framework. We use simulations to demonstrate the CPU time gains afforded by our approach compared to its best existing competitors, and present an application to data from a Genome-Wide Association Study on childhood obesity.

Evaluating State-of-the-Art Classification Models Against Bayes Optimality

Ryan Theisen · Huan Wang · Lav Varshney · Caiming Xiong · Richard Socher

Evaluating the inherent difficulty of a given data-driven classification problem is important for establishing absolute benchmarks and evaluating progress in the field. To this end, a natural quantity to consider is the \emph{Bayes error}, which measures the optimal classification error theoretically achievable for a given data distribution. While generally an intractable quantity, we show that we can compute the exact Bayes error of generative models learned using normalizing flows. Our technique relies on a fundamental result, which states that the Bayes error is invariant under invertible transformation. Therefore, we can compute the exact Bayes error of the learned flow models by computing it for Gaussian base distributions, which can be done efficiently using Holmes-Diaconis-Ross integration. Moreover, we show that by varying the temperature of the learned flow models, we can generate synthetic datasets that closely resemble standard benchmark datasets, but with almost any desired Bayes error. We use our approach to conduct a thorough investigation of state-of-the-art classification models, and find that in some --- but not all --- cases, these models are capable of obtaining accuracy very near optimal. Finally, we use our method to evaluate the intrinsic "hardness" of standard benchmark datasets.

Novel Upper Bounds for the Constrained Most Probable Explanation Task

Tahrima Rahman · Sara Rouhani · Vibhav Gogate

We propose several schemes for upper bounding the optimal value of the constrained most probable explanation (CMPE) problem. Given a set of discrete random variables, two probabilistic graphical models defined over them and a real number $q$, this problem involves finding an assignment of values to all the variables such that the probability of the assignment is maximized according to the first model and is bounded by $q$ w.r.t. the second model. In prior work, it was shown that CMPE is a unifying problem with several applications and special cases including the nearest assignment problem, the decision preserving most probable explanation task and robust estimation. It was also shown that CMPE is NP-hard even on tractable models such as bounded treewidth networks and is hard for integer linear programming methods because it includes a dense global constraint. The main idea in our approach is to simplify the problem via Lagrange relaxation and decomposition to yield either a knapsack problem or the unconstrained most probable explanation (MPE) problem, and then solving the two problems, respectively using specialized knapsack algorithms and mini-buckets based upper bounding schemes. We evaluate our proposed scheme along several dimensions including quality of the bounds and computation time required on various benchmark graphical models and how it can be used to find heuristic, near-optimal feasible solutions in an example application pertaining to robust estimation and adversarial attacks on classifiers.

MADE: Exploration via Maximizing Deviation from Explored Regions

Tianjun Zhang · Paria Rashidinejad · Jiantao Jiao · Yuandong Tian · Joseph Gonzalez · Stuart Russell

In online reinforcement learning (RL), efficient exploration remains particularly challenging in high-dimensional environments with sparse rewards. In low-dimensional environments, where tabular parameterization is possible, count-based upper confidence bound (UCB) exploration methods achieve minimax near-optimal rates. However, it remains unclear how to efficiently implement UCB in realistic RL tasks that involve non-linear function approximation. To address this, we propose a new exploration approach via maximizing the deviation of the occupancy of the next policy from the explored regions. We add this term as an adaptive regularizer to the standard RL objective to balance exploration vs. exploitation. We pair the new objective with a provably convergent algorithm, giving rise to a new intrinsic reward that adjusts existing bonuses. The proposed intrinsic reward is easy to implement and combine with other existing RL algorithms to conduct exploration. As a proof of concept, we evaluate the new intrinsic reward on tabular examples across a variety of model-based and model-free algorithms, showing improvements over count-only exploration strategies. When tested on navigation and locomotion tasks from MiniGrid and DeepMind Control Suite benchmarks, our approach significantly improves sample efficiency over state-of-the-art methods.

Variational Model Inversion Attacks

Kuan-Chieh Wang · YAN FU · Ke Li · Ashish Khisti · Richard Zemel · Alireza Makhzani

Given the ubiquity of deep neural networks, it is important that these models do not reveal information about sensitive data that they have been trained on. In model inversion attacks, a malicious user attempts to recover the private dataset used to train a supervised neural network. A successful model inversion attack should generate realistic and diverse samples that accurately describe each of the classes in the private dataset. In this work, we provide a probabilistic interpretation of model inversion attacks, and formulate a variational objective that accounts for both diversity and accuracy. In order to optimize this variational objective, we choose a variational family defined in the code space of a deep generative model, trained on a public auxiliary dataset that shares some structural similarity with the target dataset. Empirically, our method substantially improves performance in terms of target attack accuracy, sample realism, and diversity on datasets of faces and chest X-ray images.

Baby Intuitions Benchmark (BIB): Discerning the goals, preferences, and actions of others

Kanishk Gandhi · Gala Stojnic · Brenden Lake · Moira R. Dillon

To achieve human-like common sense about everyday life, machine learning systems must understand and reason about the goals, preferences, and actions of other agents in the environment. By the end of their first year of life, human infants intuitively achieve such common sense, and these cognitive achievements lay the foundation for humans' rich and complex understanding of the mental states of others. Can machines achieve generalizable, commonsense reasoning about other agents like human infants? The Baby Intuitions Benchmark (BIB) challenges machines to predict the plausibility of an agent's behavior based on the underlying causes of its actions. Because BIB's content and paradigm are adopted from developmental cognitive science, BIB allows for direct comparison between human and machine performance. Nevertheless, recently proposed, deep-learning-based agency reasoning models fail to show infant-like reasoning, leaving BIB an open challenge.

List-Decodable Mean Estimation in Nearly-PCA Time

Ilias Diakonikolas · Daniel Kane · Daniel Kongsgaard · Jerry Li · Kevin Tian

Robust statistics has traditionally focused on designing estimators tolerant to a minority of contaminated data. {\em List-decodable learning}~\cite{CharikarSV17} studies the more challenging regime where only a minority $\tfrac 1 k$ fraction of the dataset, $k \geq 2$, is drawn from the distribution of interest, and no assumptions are made on the remaining data. We study the fundamental task of list-decodable mean estimation in high dimensions. Our main result is a new algorithm for bounded covariance distributions with optimal sample complexity and near-optimal error guarantee, running in {\em nearly-PCA time}. Assuming the ground truth distribution on $\mathbb{R}^d$ has identity-bounded covariance, our algorithm outputs $O(k)$ candidate means, one of which is within distance $O(\sqrt{k\log k})$ from the truth. Our algorithm runs in time $\widetilde{O}(ndk)$, where $n$ is the dataset size. This runtime nearly matches the cost of performing $k$-PCA on the data, a natural bottleneck of known algorithms for (very) special cases of our problem, such as clustering well-separated mixtures. Prior to our work, the fastest runtimes were $\widetilde{O}(n^2 d k^2)$~\cite{DiakonikolasKK20}, and $\widetilde{O}(nd k^C)$ \cite{CherapanamjeriMY20} for an unspecified constant $C \geq 6$. Our approach builds on a novel soft downweighting method we term SIFT, arguably the simplest known polynomial-time mean estimator in the list-decodable setting. To develop our fast algorithms, we boost the computational cost of SIFT via a careful ``win-win-win'' analysis of an approximate Ky Fan matrix multiplicative weights procedure we develop, which may be of independent interest.

Escaping Saddle Points with Compressed SGD

Dmitrii Avdiukhin · Grigory Yaroslavtsev

Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) is a prevalent optimization technique for large-scale distributed machine learning. While SGD computation can be efficiently divided between multiple machines, communication typically becomes a bottleneck in the distributed setting. Gradient compression methods can be used to alleviate this problem, and a recent line of work shows that SGD augmented with gradient compression converges to an $\varepsilon$-first-order stationary point. In this paper we extend these results to convergence to an $\varepsilon$-second-order stationary point ($\varepsilon$-SOSP), which is to the best of our knowledge the first result of this type. In addition, we show that, when the stochastic gradient is not Lipschitz, compressed SGD with RandomK compressor converges to an $\varepsilon$-SOSP with the same number of iterations as uncompressed SGD [Jin et al.,2021] (JACM), while improving the total communication by a factor of $\tilde \Theta(\sqrt{d} \varepsilon^{-3/4})$, where $d$ is the dimension of the optimization problem. We present additional results for the cases when the compressor is arbitrary and when the stochastic gradient is Lipschitz.

Faster Matchings via Learned Duals

Michael Dinitz · Sungjin Im · Thomas Lavastida · Benjamin Moseley · Sergei Vassilvitskii

A recent line of research investigates how algorithms can be augmented with machine-learned predictions to overcome worst case lower bounds. This area has revealed interesting algorithmic insights into problems, with particular success in the design of competitive online algorithms. However, the question of improving algorithm running times with predictions has largely been unexplored. We take a first step in this direction by combining the idea of machine-learned predictions with the idea of ``warm-starting" primal-dual algorithms. We consider one of the most important primitives in combinatorial optimization: weighted bipartite matching and its generalization to $b$-matching. We identify three key challenges when using learned dual variables in a primal-dual algorithm. First, predicted duals may be infeasible, so we give an algorithm that efficiently maps predicted infeasible duals to nearby feasible solutions. Second, once the duals are feasible, they may not be optimal, so we show that they can be used to quickly find an optimal solution. Finally, such predictions are useful only if they can be learned, so we show that the problem of learning duals for matching has low sample complexity. We validate our theoretical findings through experiments on both real and synthetic data. As a result we give a rigorous, practical, and empirically effective method to compute bipartite matchings.

Equivariant Manifold Flows

Isay Katsman · Aaron Lou · Derek Lim · Qingxuan Jiang · Ser Nam Lim · Christopher De Sa

Tractably modelling distributions over manifolds has long been an important goal in the natural sciences. Recent work has focused on developing general machine learning models to learn such distributions. However, for many applications these distributions must respect manifold symmetries—a trait which most previous models disregard. In this paper, we lay the theoretical foundations for learning symmetry-invariant distributions on arbitrary manifolds via equivariant manifold flows. We demonstrate the utility of our approach by learning quantum field theory-motivated invariant SU(n) densities and by correcting meteor impact dataset bias.

Few-Shot Data-Driven Algorithms for Low Rank Approximation

Piotr Indyk · Tal Wagner · David Woodruff

Recently, data-driven and learning-based algorithms for low rank matrix approximation were shown to outperform classical data-oblivious algorithms by wide margins in terms of accuracy. Those algorithms are based on the optimization of sparse sketching matrices, which lead to large savings in time and memory during testing. However, they require long training times on a large amount of existing data, and rely on access to specialized hardware and software. In this work, we develop new data-driven low rank approximation algorithms with better computational efficiency in the training phase, alleviating these drawbacks. Furthermore, our methods are interpretable: while previous algorithms choose the sketching matrix either at random or by black-box learning, we show that it can be set (or initialized) to clearly interpretable values extracted from the dataset. Our experiments show that our algorithms, either by themselves or in combination with previous methods, achieve significant empirical advantage over previous work, improving training times by up to an order of magnitude toward achieving the same target accuracy.

Information is Power: Intrinsic Control via Information Capture

Nicholas Rhinehart · Jenny Wang · Glen Berseth · John Co-Reyes · Danijar Hafner · Chelsea Finn · Sergey Levine

Humans and animals explore their environment and acquire useful skills even in the absence of clear goals, exhibiting intrinsic motivation. The study of intrinsic motivation in artificial agents is concerned with the following question: what is a good general-purpose objective for an agent? We study this question in dynamic partially-observed environments, and argue that a compact and general learning objective is to minimize the entropy of the agent's state visitation estimated using a latent state-space model. This objective induces an agent to both gather information about its environment, corresponding to reducing uncertainty, and to gain control over its environment, corresponding to reducing the unpredictability of future world states. We instantiate this approach as a deep reinforcement learning agent equipped with a deep variational Bayes filter. We find that our agent learns to discover, represent, and exercise control of dynamic objects in a variety of partially-observed environments sensed with visual observations without extrinsic reward.

SSUL: Semantic Segmentation with Unknown Label for Exemplar-based Class-Incremental Learning

Sungmin Cha · beomyoung kim · YoungJoon Yoo · Taesup Moon

We consider a class-incremental semantic segmentation (CISS) problem. While some recently proposed algorithms utilized variants of knowledge distillation (KD) technique to tackle the problem, they only partially addressed the key additional challenges in CISS that causes the catastrophic forgetting; \textit{i.e.}, the semantic drift of the background class and multi-label prediction issue. To better address these challenges, we propose a new method, dubbed as SSUL-M (Semantic Segmentation with Unknown Label with Memory), by carefully combining several techniques tailored for semantic segmentation. More specifically, we make three main contributions; (1) modeling \textit{unknown} class within the background class to help learning future classes (help plasticity), (2) \textit{freezing} backbone network and past classifiers with binary cross-entropy loss and pseudo-labeling to overcome catastrophic forgetting (help stability), and (3) utilizing \textit{tiny exemplar memory} for the first time in CISS to improve \textit{both} plasticity and stability. As a result, we show our method achieves significantly better performance than the recent state-of-the-art baselines on the standard benchmark datasets. Furthermore, we justify our contributions with thorough and extensive ablation analyses and discuss different natures of the CISS problem compared to the standard class-incremental learning for classification. The official code is available at

Quantifying and Improving Transferability in Domain Generalization

Guojun Zhang · Han Zhao · Yaoliang Yu · Pascal Poupart

Out-of-distribution generalization is one of the key challenges when transferring a model from the lab to the real world. Existing efforts mostly focus on building invariant features among source and target domains. Based on invariant features, a high-performing classifier on source domains could hopefully behave equally well on a target domain. In other words, we hope the invariant features to be \emph{transferable}. However, in practice, there are no perfectly transferable features, and some algorithms seem to learn ``more transferable'' features than others. How can we understand and quantify such \emph{transferability}? In this paper, we formally define transferability that one can quantify and compute in domain generalization. We point out the difference and connection with common discrepancy measures between domains, such as total variation and Wasserstein distance. We then prove that our transferability can be estimated with enough samples and give a new upper bound for the target error based on our transferability. Empirically, we evaluate the transferability of the feature embeddings learned by existing algorithms for domain generalization. Surprisingly, we find that many algorithms are not quite learning transferable features, although few could still survive. In light of this, we propose a new algorithm for learning transferable features and test it over various benchmark datasets, including RotatedMNIST, PACS, Office-Home and WILDS-FMoW. Experimental results show that the proposed algorithm achieves consistent improvement over many state-of-the-art algorithms, corroborating our theoretical findings.

Hamiltonian Dynamics with Non-Newtonian Momentum for Rapid Sampling

Greg Ver Steeg · Aram Galstyan

Sampling from an unnormalized probability distribution is a fundamental problem in machine learning with applications including Bayesian modeling, latent factor inference, and energy-based model training. After decades of research, variations of MCMC remain the default approach to sampling despite slow convergence. Auxiliary neural models can learn to speed up MCMC, but the overhead for training the extra model can be prohibitive. We propose a fundamentally different approach to this problem via a new Hamiltonian dynamics with a non-Newtonian momentum. In contrast to MCMC approaches like Hamiltonian Monte Carlo, no stochastic step is required. Instead, the proposed deterministic dynamics in an extended state space exactly sample the target distribution, specified by an energy function, under an assumption of ergodicity. Alternatively, the dynamics can be interpreted as a normalizing flow that samples a specified energy model without training. The proposed Energy Sampling Hamiltonian (ESH) dynamics have a simple form that can be solved with existing ODE solvers, but we derive a specialized solver that exhibits much better performance. ESH dynamics converge faster than their MCMC competitors enabling faster, more stable training of neural network energy models.

Dynamic Normalization and Relay for Video Action Recognition

Dongqi Cai · Anbang Yao · Yurong Chen

Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have been the dominant model for video action recognition. Due to the huge memory and compute demand, popular action recognition networks need to be trained with small batch sizes, which makes learning discriminative spatial-temporal representations for videos become a challenging problem. In this paper, we present Dynamic Normalization and Relay (DNR), an improved normalization design, to augment the spatial-temporal representation learning of any deep action recognition model, adapting to small batch size training settings. We observe that state-of-the-art action recognition networks usually apply the same normalization parameters to all video data, and ignore the dependencies of the estimated normalization parameters between neighboring frames (at the same layer) and between neighboring layers (with all frames of a video clip). Inspired by this, DNR introduces two dynamic normalization relay modules to explore the potentials of cross-temporal and cross-layer feature distribution dependencies for estimating accurate layer-wise normalization parameters. These two DNR modules are instantiated as a light-weight recurrent structure conditioned on the current input features, and the normalization parameters estimated from the neighboring frames based features at the same layer or from the whole video clip based features at the preceding layers. We first plug DNR into prevailing 2D CNN backbones and test its performance on public action recognition datasets including Kinetics and Something-Something. Experimental results show that DNR brings large performance improvements to the baselines, achieving over 4.4% absolute margins in top-1 accuracy without training bells and whistles. More experiments on 3D backbones and several latest 2D spatial-temporal networks further validate its effectiveness. Code will be available at

An Improved Analysis of Gradient Tracking for Decentralized Machine Learning

Anastasiia Koloskova · Tao Lin · Sebastian Stich

We consider decentralized machine learning over a network where the training data is distributed across $n$ agents, each of which can compute stochastic model updates on their local data. The agent's common goal is to find a model that minimizes the average of all local loss functions. While gradient tracking (GT) algorithms can overcome a key challenge, namely accounting for differences between workers' local data distributions, the known convergence rates for GT algorithms are not optimal with respect to their dependence on the mixing parameter $p$ (related to the spectral gap of the connectivity matrix).We provide a tighter analysis of the GT method in the stochastic strongly convex, convex and non-convex settings. We improve the dependency on $p$ from $\mathcal{O}(p^{-2})$ to $\mathcal{O}(p^{-1}c^{-1})$ in the noiseless case and from $\mathcal{O}(p^{-3/2})$ to $\mathcal{O}(p^{-1/2}c^{-1})$ in the general stochastic case, where $c \geq p$ is related to the negative eigenvalues of the connectivity matrix (and is a constant in most practical applications). This improvement was possible due to a new proof technique which could be of independent interest.

DeepGEM: Generalized Expectation-Maximization for Blind Inversion

Angela Gao · Jorge Castellanos · Yisong Yue · Zachary Ross · Katherine Bouman

Typically, inversion algorithms assume that a forward model, which relates a source to its resulting measurements, is known and fixed. Using collected indirect measurements and the forward model, the goal becomes to recover the source. When the forward model is unknown, or imperfect, artifacts due to model mismatch occur in the recovery of the source. In this paper, we study the problem of blind inversion: solving an inverse problem with unknown or imperfect knowledge of the forward model parameters. We propose DeepGEM, a variational Expectation-Maximization (EM) framework that can be used to solve for the unknown parameters of the forward model in an unsupervised manner. DeepGEM makes use of a normalizing flow generative network to efficiently capture complex posterior distributions, which leads to more accurate evaluation of the source's posterior distribution used in EM. We showcase the effectiveness of our DeepGEM approach by achieving strong performance on the challenging problem of blind seismic tomography, where we significantly outperform the standard method used in seismology. We also demonstrate the generality of DeepGEM by applying it to a simple case of blind deconvolution.

Generalized Proximal Policy Optimization with Sample Reuse

James Queeney · Yannis Paschalidis · Christos G Cassandras

In real-world decision making tasks, it is critical for data-driven reinforcement learning methods to be both stable and sample efficient. On-policy methods typically generate reliable policy improvement throughout training, while off-policy methods make more efficient use of data through sample reuse. In this work, we combine the theoretically supported stability benefits of on-policy algorithms with the sample efficiency of off-policy algorithms. We develop policy improvement guarantees that are suitable for the off-policy setting, and connect these bounds to the clipping mechanism used in Proximal Policy Optimization. This motivates an off-policy version of the popular algorithm that we call Generalized Proximal Policy Optimization with Sample Reuse. We demonstrate both theoretically and empirically that our algorithm delivers improved performance by effectively balancing the competing goals of stability and sample efficiency.

Delayed Propagation Transformer: A Universal Computation Engine towards Practical Control in Cyber-Physical Systems

Wenqing Zheng · Qiangqiang Guo · Hao Yang · Peihao Wang · Zhangyang Wang

Multi-agent control is a central theme in the Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). However, current control methods either receive non-Markovian states due to insufficient sensing and decentralized design, or suffer from poor convergence. This paper presents the Delayed Propagation Transformer (DePT), a new transformer-based model that specializes in the global modeling of CPS while taking into account the immutable constraints from the physical world. DePT induces a cone-shaped spatial-temporal attention prior, which injects the information propagation and aggregation principles and enables a global view. With physical constraint inductive bias baked into its design, our DePT is ready to plug and play for a broad class of multi-agent systems. The experimental results on one of the most challenging CPS -- network-scale traffic signal control system in the open world -- show that our model outperformed the state-of-the-art expert methods on synthetic and real-world datasets. Our codes are released at:

Confidence-Aware Imitation Learning from Demonstrations with Varying Optimality

Songyuan Zhang · ZHANGJIE CAO · Dorsa Sadigh · Yanan Sui

Most existing imitation learning approaches assume the demonstrations are drawn from experts who are optimal, but relaxing this assumption enables us to use a wider range of data. Standard imitation learning may learn a suboptimal policy from demonstrations with varying optimality. Prior works use confidence scores or rankings to capture beneficial information from demonstrations with varying optimality, but they suffer from many limitations, e.g., manually annotated confidence scores or high average optimality of demonstrations. In this paper, we propose a general framework to learn from demonstrations with varying optimality that jointly learns the confidence score and a well-performing policy. Our approach, Confidence-Aware Imitation Learning (CAIL) learns a well-performing policy from confidence-reweighted demonstrations, while using an outer loss to track the performance of our model and to learn the confidence. We provide theoretical guarantees on the convergence of CAIL and evaluate its performance in both simulated and real robot experiments.Our results show that CAIL significantly outperforms other imitation learning methods from demonstrations with varying optimality. We further show that even without access to any optimal demonstrations, CAIL can still learn a successful policy, and outperforms prior work.

Out-of-Distribution Generalization in Kernel Regression

Abdulkadir Canatar · Blake Bordelon · Cengiz Pehlevan

In real word applications, data generating process for training a machine learning model often differs from what the model encounters in the test stage. Understanding how and whether machine learning models generalize under such distributional shifts have been a theoretical challenge. Here, we study generalization in kernel regression when the training and test distributions are different using methods from statistical physics. Using the replica method, we derive an analytical formula for the out-of-distribution generalization error applicable to any kernel and real datasets. We identify an overlap matrix that quantifies the mismatch between distributions for a given kernel as a key determinant of generalization performance under distribution shift. Using our analytical expressions we elucidate various generalization phenomena including possible improvement in generalization when there is a mismatch. We develop procedures for optimizing training and test distributions for a given data budget to find best and worst case generalizations under the shift. We present applications of our theory to real and synthetic datasets and for many kernels. We compare results of our theory applied to Neural Tangent Kernel with simulations of wide networks and show agreement. We analyze linear regression in further depth.

A Multi-Implicit Neural Representation for Fonts

Pradyumna Reddy · Zhifei Zhang · Zhaowen Wang · Matthew Fisher · Hailin Jin · Niloy Mitra

Fonts are ubiquitous across documents and come in a variety of styles. They are either represented in a native vector format or rasterized to produce fixed resolution images. In the first case, the non-standard representation prevents benefiting from latest network architectures for neural representations; while, in the latter case, the rasterized representation, when encoded via networks, results in loss of data fidelity, as font-specific discontinuities like edges and corners are difficult to represent using neural networks. Based on the observation that complex fonts can be represented by a superposition of a set of simpler occupancy functions, we introduce multi-implicits to represent fonts as a permutation-invariant set of learned implict functions, without losing features (e.g., edges and corners). However, while multi-implicits locally preserve font features, obtaining supervision in the form of ground truth multi-channel signals is a problem in itself. Instead, we propose how to train such a representation with only local supervision, while the proposed neural architecture directly finds globally consistent multi-implicits for font families. We extensively evaluate the proposed representation for various tasks including reconstruction, interpolation, and synthesis to demonstrate clear advantages with existing alternatives. Additionally, the representation naturally enables glyph completion, wherein a single characteristic font is used to synthesize a whole font family in the target style.

Direct Multi-view Multi-person 3D Pose Estimation

tao wang · Jianfeng Zhang · Yujun Cai · Shuicheng Yan · Jiashi Feng

We present Multi-view Pose transformer (MvP) for estimating multi-person 3D poses from multi-view images. Instead of estimating 3D joint locations from costly volumetric representation or reconstructing the per-person 3D pose from multiple detected 2D poses as in previous methods, MvP directly regresses the multi-person 3D poses in a clean and efficient way, without relying on intermediate tasks. Specifically, MvP represents skeleton joints as learnable query embeddings and let them progressively attend to and reason over the multi-view information from the input images to directly regress the actual 3D joint locations. To improve the accuracy of such a simple pipeline, MvP presents a hierarchical scheme to concisely represent query embeddings of multi-person skeleton joints and introduces an input-dependent query adaptation approach. Further, MvP designs a novel geometrically guided attention mechanism, called projective attention, to more precisely fuse the cross-view information for each joint. MvP also introduces a RayConv operation to integrate the view-dependent camera geometry into the feature representations for augmenting the projective attention. We show experimentally that our MvP model outperforms the state-of-the-art methods on several benchmarks while being much more efficient. Notably, it achieves 92.3% AP25 on the challenging Panoptic dataset, improving upon the previous best approach [35] by 9.8%. MvP is general and also extendable to recovering human mesh represented by the SMPL model, thus useful for modeling multi-person body shapes. Code and models are available at

Curriculum Learning for Vision-and-Language Navigation

Jiwen Zhang · zhongyu wei · Jianqing Fan · Jiajie Peng

Vision-and-Language Navigation (VLN) is a task where an agent navigates in an embodied indoor environment under human instructions. Previous works ignore the distribution of sample difficulty and we argue that this potentially degrade their agent performance. To tackle this issue, we propose a novel curriculum- based training paradigm for VLN tasks that can balance human prior knowledge and agent learning progress about training samples. We develop the principle of curriculum design and re-arrange the benchmark Room-to-Room (R2R) dataset to make it suitable for curriculum training. Experiments show that our method is model-agnostic and can significantly improve the performance, the generalizability, and the training efficiency of current state-of-the-art navigation agents without increasing model complexity.

Bellman Eluder Dimension: New Rich Classes of RL Problems, and Sample-Efficient Algorithms

Chi Jin · Qinghua Liu · Sobhan Miryoosefi

Finding the minimal structural assumptions that empower sample-efficient learning is one of the most important research directions in Reinforcement Learning (RL). This paper advances our understanding of this fundamental question by introducing a new complexity measure—Bellman Eluder (BE) dimension. We show that the family of RL problems of low BE dimension is remarkably rich, which subsumes a vast majority of existing tractable RL problems including but not limited to tabular MDPs, linear MDPs, reactive POMDPs, low Bellman rank problems as well as low Eluder dimension problems. This paper further designs a new optimization-based algorithm— GOLF, and reanalyzes a hypothesis elimination-based algorithm—OLIVE (proposed in Jiang et al. (2017)). We prove that both algorithms learn the near-optimal policies of low BE dimension problems in a number of samples that is polynomial in all relevant parameters, but independent of the size of state-action space. Our regret and sample complexity results match or improve the best existing results for several well-known subclasses of low BE dimension problems.

Temporal-attentive Covariance Pooling Networks for Video Recognition

Zilin Gao · Qilong Wang · Bingbing Zhang · Qinghua Hu · Peihua Li

For video recognition task, a global representation summarizing the whole contents of the video snippets plays an important role for the final performance. However, existing video architectures usually generate it by using a simple, global average pooling (GAP) method, which has limited ability to capture complex dynamics of videos. For image recognition task, there exist evidences showing that covariance pooling has stronger representation ability than GAP. Unfortunately, such plain covariance pooling used in image recognition is an orderless representative, which cannot model spatio-temporal structure inherent in videos. Therefore, this paper proposes a Temporal-attentive Covariance Pooling (TCP), inserted at the end of deep architectures, to produce powerful video representations. Specifically, our TCP first develops a temporal attention module to adaptively calibrate spatio-temporal features for the succeeding covariance pooling, approximatively producing attentive covariance representations. Then, a temporal covariance pooling performs temporal pooling of the attentive covariance representations to characterize both intra-frame correlations and inter-frame cross-correlations of the calibrated features. As such, the proposed TCP can capture complex temporal dynamics. Finally, a fast matrix power normalization is introduced to exploit geometry of covariance representations. Note that our TCP is model-agnostic and can be flexibly integrated into any video architectures, resulting in TCPNet for effective video recognition. The extensive experiments on six benchmarks (e.g., Kinetics, Something-Something V1 and Charades) using various video architectures show our TCPNet is clearly superior to its counterparts, while having strong generalization ability. The source code is publicly available.

Neo-GNNs: Neighborhood Overlap-aware Graph Neural Networks for Link Prediction

Seongjun Yun · Seoyoon Kim · Junhyun Lee · Jaewoo Kang · Hyunwoo Kim

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have been widely applied to various fields for learning over graph-structured data. They have shown significant improvements over traditional heuristic methods in various tasks such as node classification and graph classification. However, since GNNs heavily rely on smoothed node features rather than graph structure, they often show poor performance than simple heuristic methods in link prediction where the structural information, e.g., overlapped neighborhoods, degrees, and shortest paths, is crucial. To address this limitation, we propose Neighborhood Overlap-aware Graph Neural Networks (Neo-GNNs) that learn useful structural features from an adjacency matrix and estimate overlapped neighborhoods for link prediction. Our Neo-GNNs generalize neighborhood overlap-based heuristic methods and handle overlapped multi-hop neighborhoods. Our extensive experiments on Open Graph Benchmark datasets (OGB) demonstrate that Neo-GNNs consistently achieve state-of-the-art performance in link prediction.

Prior-independent Dynamic Auctions for a Value-maximizing Buyer

Yuan Deng · Hanrui Zhang

We study prior-independent dynamic auction design with production costs for a value-maximizing buyer, a paradigm that is becoming prevalent recently following the development of automatic bidding algorithms in advertising platforms. In contrast to a utility-maximizing buyer, who maximizes the difference between her total value and total payment, a value-maximizing buyer aims to maximize her total value subject to a return on investment (ROI) constraint. Our main result is a dynamic mechanism with regret $\tilde{O}(T^{2/3})$, where $T$ is the time horizon, against the first-best benchmark, i.e., the maximum amount of revenue the seller can extract assuming all values of the buyer are publicly known.

Overparameterization Improves Robustness to Covariate Shift in High Dimensions

Nilesh Tripuraneni · Ben Adlam · Jeffrey Pennington

A significant obstacle in the development of robust machine learning models is \emph{covariate shift}, a form of distribution shift that occurs when the input distributions of the training and test sets differ while the conditional label distributions remain the same. Despite the prevalence of covariate shift in real-world applications, a theoretical understanding in the context of modern machine learning has remained lacking. In this work, we examine the exact high-dimensional asymptotics of random feature regression under covariate shift and present a precise characterization of the limiting test error, bias, and variance in this setting. Our results motivate a natural partial order over covariate shifts that provides a sufficient condition for determining when the shift will harm (or even help) test performance. We find that overparameterized models exhibit enhanced robustness to covariate shift, providing one of the first theoretical explanations for this ubiquitous empirical phenomenon. Additionally, our analysis reveals an exact linear relationship between the in-distribution and out-of-distribution generalization performance, offering an explanation for this surprising recent observation.

Towards Biologically Plausible Convolutional Networks

Roman Pogodin · Yash Mehta · Timothy Lillicrap · Peter E Latham

Convolutional networks are ubiquitous in deep learning. They are particularly useful for images, as they reduce the number of parameters, reduce training time, and increase accuracy. However, as a model of the brain they are seriously problematic, since they require weight sharing - something real neurons simply cannot do. Consequently, while neurons in the brain can be locally connected (one of the features of convolutional networks), they cannot be convolutional. Locally connected but non-convolutional networks, however, significantly underperform convolutional ones. This is troublesome for studies that use convolutional networks to explain activity in the visual system. Here we study plausible alternatives to weight sharing that aim at the same regularization principle, which is to make each neuron within a pool react similarly to identical inputs. The most natural way to do that is by showing the network multiple translations of the same image, akin to saccades in animal vision. However, this approach requires many translations, and doesn't remove the performance gap. We propose instead to add lateral connectivity to a locally connected network, and allow learning via Hebbian plasticity. This requires the network to pause occasionally for a sleep-like phase of "weight sharing". This method enables locally connected networks to achieve nearly convolutional performance on ImageNet and improves their fit to the ventral stream data, thus supporting convolutional networks as a model of the visual stream.

CLIP-It! Language-Guided Video Summarization

Medhini Narasimhan · Anna Rohrbach · Trevor Darrell

A generic video summary is an abridged version of a video that conveys the whole story and features the most important scenes. Yet the importance of scenes in a video is often subjective, and users should have the option of customizing the summary by using natural language to specify what is important to them. Further, existing models for fully automatic generic summarization have not exploited available language models, which can serve as an effective prior for saliency. This work introduces CLIP-It, a single framework for addressing both generic and query-focused video summarization, typically approached separately in the literature. We propose a language-guided multimodal transformer that learns to score frames in a video based on their importance relative to one another and their correlation with a user-defined query (for query-focused summarization) or an automatically generated dense video caption (for generic video summarization). Our model can be extended to the unsupervised setting by training without ground-truth supervision. We outperform baselines and prior work by a significant margin on both standard video summarization datasets (TVSum and SumMe) and a query-focused video summarization dataset (QFVS). Particularly, we achieve large improvements in the transfer setting, attesting to our method's strong generalization capabilities.

Lossy Compression for Lossless Prediction

Yann Dubois · Benjamin Bloem-Reddy · Karen Ullrich · Chris Maddison

Most data is automatically collected and only ever "seen" by algorithms. Yet, data compressors preserve perceptual fidelity rather than just the information needed by algorithms performing downstream tasks. In this paper, we characterize the bit-rate required to ensure high performance on all predictive tasks that are invariant under a set of transformations, such as data augmentations. Based on our theory, we design unsupervised objectives for training neural compressors. Using these objectives, we train a generic image compressor that achieves substantial rate savings (more than 1000x on ImageNet) compared to JPEG on 8 datasets, without decreasing downstream classification performance.

Generalized DataWeighting via Class-Level Gradient Manipulation

Can Chen · Shuhao Zheng · Xi Chen · Erqun Dong · Xue (Steve) Liu · Hao Liu · Dejing Dou

Label noise and class imbalance are two major issues coexisting in real-world datasets. To alleviate the two issues, state-of-the-art methods reweight each instance by leveraging a small amount of clean and unbiased data. Yet, these methods overlook class-level information within each instance, which can be further utilized to improve performance. To this end, in this paper, we propose Generalized Data Weighting (GDW) to simultaneously mitigate label noise and class imbalance by manipulating gradients at the class level. To be specific, GDW unrolls the loss gradient to class-level gradients by the chain rule and reweights the flow of each gradient separately. In this way, GDW achieves remarkable performance improvement on both issues. Aside from the performance gain, GDW efficiently obtains class-level weights without introducing any extra computational cost compared with instance weighting methods. Specifically, GDW performs a gradient descent step on class-level weights, which only relies on intermediate gradients. Extensive experiments in various settings verify the effectiveness of GDW. For example, GDW outperforms state-of-the-art methods by $2.56\%$ under the $60\%$ uniform noise setting in CIFAR10. Our code is available at

Unsupervised Foreground Extraction via Deep Region Competition

Peiyu Yu · Sirui Xie · Xiaojian (Shawn) Ma · Yixin Zhu · Ying Nian Wu · Song-Chun Zhu

We present Deep Region Competition (DRC), an algorithm designed to extract foreground objects from images in a fully unsupervised manner. Foreground extraction can be viewed as a special case of generic image segmentation that focuses on identifying and disentangling objects from the background. In this work, we rethink the foreground extraction by reconciling energy-based prior with generative image modeling in the form of Mixture of Experts (MoE), where we further introduce the learned pixel re-assignment as the essential inductive bias to capture the regularities of background regions. With this modeling, the foreground-background partition can be naturally found through Expectation-Maximization (EM). We show that the proposed method effectively exploits the interaction between the mixture components during the partitioning process, which closely connects to region competition, a seminal approach for generic image segmentation. Experiments demonstrate that DRC exhibits more competitive performances on complex real-world data and challenging multi-object scenes compared with prior methods. Moreover, we show empirically that DRC can potentially generalize to novel foreground objects even from categories unseen during training.

Modified Frank Wolfe in Probability Space

Carson Kent · Jiajin Li · Jose Blanchet · Peter W Glynn

We propose a novel Frank-Wolfe (FW) procedure for the optimization of infinite-dimensional functionals of probability measures - a task which arises naturally in a wide range of areas including statistical learning (e.g. variational inference) and artificial intelligence (e.g. generative adversarial networks). Our FW procedure takes advantage of Wasserstein gradient flows and strong duality results recently developed in Distributionally Robust Optimization so that gradient steps (in the Wasserstein space) can be efficiently computed using finite-dimensional, convex optimization methods. We show how to choose the step sizes in order to guarantee exponentially fast iteration convergence, under mild assumptions on the functional to optimize. We apply our algorithm to a range of functionals arising from applications in nonparametric estimation.

Profiling Pareto Front With Multi-Objective Stein Variational Gradient Descent

Xingchao Liu · Xin Tong · Qiang Liu

Finding diverse and representative Pareto solutions from the Pareto front is a key challenge in multi-objective optimization (MOO). In this work, we propose a novel gradient-based algorithm for profiling Pareto front by using Stein variational gradient descent (SVGD). We also provide a counterpart of our method based on Langevin dynamics. Our methods iteratively update a set of points in a parallel fashion to push them towards the Pareto front using multiple gradient descent, while encouraging the diversity between the particles by using the repulsive force mechanism in SVGD, or diffusion noise in Langevin dynamics. Compared with existing gradient-based methods that require predefined preference functions, our method can work efficiently in high dimensional problems, and can obtain more diverse solutions evenly distributed in the Pareto front. Moreover, our methods are theoretically guaranteed to converge to the Pareto front. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method, especially the SVGD algorithm, through extensive experiments, showing its superiority over existing gradient-based algorithms.

TransGAN: Two Pure Transformers Can Make One Strong GAN, and That Can Scale Up

Yifan Jiang · Shiyu Chang · Zhangyang Wang

The recent explosive interest on transformers has suggested their potential to become powerful ``universal" models for computer vision tasks, such as classification, detection, and segmentation. While those attempts mainly study the discriminative models, we explore transformers on some more notoriously difficult vision tasks, e.g., generative adversarial networks (GANs). Our goal is to conduct the first pilot study in building a GAN \textit{completely free of convolutions}, using only pure transformer-based architectures. Our vanilla GAN architecture, dubbed \textbf{TransGAN}, consists of a memory-friendly transformer-based generator that progressively increases feature resolution, and correspondingly a multi-scale discriminator to capture simultaneously semantic contexts and low-level textures. On top of them, we introduce the new module of grid self-attention for alleviating the memory bottleneck further, in order to scale up TransGAN to high-resolution generation. We also develop a unique training recipe including a series of techniques that can mitigate the training instability issues of TransGAN, such as data augmentation, modified normalization, and relative position encoding. Our best architecture achieves highly competitive performance compared to current state-of-the-art GANs using convolutional backbones. Specifically, TransGAN sets \textbf{new state-of-the-art} inception score of 10.43 and FID of 18.28 on STL-10. It also reaches the inception score of 9.02 and FID of 9.26 on CIFAR-10, and 5.28 FID on CelebA $\mathbf{128} \times \mathbf{128}$, respectively: both on par with the current best results and outperforming StyleGAN-V2. When it comes to higher-resolution (e.g. $\mathbf{256} \times \mathbf{256}$) generation tasks, such as on CelebA-HQ and LSUN-Church, TransGAN continues to produce diverse visual examples with high fidelity and impressive texture details. In addition, we dive deep into the transformer-based generation models to understand how their behaviors differ from convolutional ones, by visualizing training dynamics. The code is available at:

Automorphic Equivalence-aware Graph Neural Network

Fengli Xu · Quanming Yao · Pan Hui · Yong Li

Distinguishing the automorphic equivalence of nodes in a graph plays an essential role in many scientific domains, e.g., computational biologist and social network analysis. However, existing graph neural networks (GNNs) fail to capture such an important property. To make GNN aware of automorphic equivalence, we first introduce a localized variant of this concept --- ego-centered automorphic equivalence (Ego-AE). Then, we design a novel variant of GNN, i.e., GRAPE, that uses learnable AE-aware aggregators to explicitly differentiate the Ego-AE of each node's neighbors with the aids of various subgraph templates. While the design of subgraph templates can be hard, we further propose a genetic algorithm to automatically search them from graph data. Moreover, we theoretically prove that GRAPE is expressive in terms of generating distinct representations for nodes with different Ego-AE features, which fills in a fundamental gap of existing GNN variants. Finally, we empirically validate our model on eight real-world graph data, including social network, e-commerce co-purchase network, and citation network, and show that it consistently outperforms existing GNNs. The source code is public available at

Unadversarial Examples: Designing Objects for Robust Vision

Hadi Salman · Andrew Ilyas · Logan Engstrom · Sai Vemprala · Aleksander Madry · Ashish Kapoor

We study a class of computer vision settings wherein one can modify the design of the objects being recognized. We develop a framework that leverages this capability---and deep networks' unusual sensitivity to input perturbations---to design ``robust objects,'' i.e., objects that are explicitly optimized to be confidently classified. Our framework yields improved performance on standard benchmarks, a simulated robotics environment, and physical-world experiments.

Deep Jump Learning for Off-Policy Evaluation in Continuous Treatment Settings

Hengrui Cai · Chengchun Shi · Rui Song · Wenbin Lu

We consider off-policy evaluation (OPE) in continuous treatment settings, such as personalized dose-finding. In OPE, one aims to estimate the mean outcome under a new treatment decision rule using historical data generated by a different decision rule. Most existing works on OPE focus on discrete treatment settings. To handle continuous treatments, we develop a novel estimation method for OPE using deep jump learning. The key ingredient of our method lies in adaptively discretizing the treatment space using deep discretization, by leveraging deep learning and multi-scale change point detection. This allows us to apply existing OPE methods in discrete treatments to handle continuous treatments. Our method is further justified by theoretical results, simulations, and a real application to Warfarin Dosing.

Augmented Shortcuts for Vision Transformers

Yehui Tang · Kai Han · Chang Xu · An Xiao · Yiping Deng · Chao Xu · Yunhe Wang

Transformer models have achieved great progress on computer vision tasks recently. The rapid development of vision transformers is mainly contributed by their high representation ability for extracting informative features from input images. However, the mainstream transformer models are designed with deep architectures, and the feature diversity will be continuously reduced as the depth increases, \ie, feature collapse. In this paper, we theoretically analyze the feature collapse phenomenon and study the relationship between shortcuts and feature diversity in these transformer models. Then, we present an augmented shortcut scheme, which inserts additional paths with learnable parameters in parallel on the original shortcuts. To save the computational costs, we further explore an efficient approach that uses the block-circulant projection to implement augmented shortcuts. Extensive experiments conducted on benchmark datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method, which brings about 1% accuracy increase of the state-of-the-art visual transformers without obviously increasing their parameters and FLOPs.

Leveraging SE(3) Equivariance for Self-supervised Category-Level Object Pose Estimation from Point Clouds

Xiaolong Li · Yijia Weng · Li Yi · Leonidas Guibas · A. Abbott · Shuran Song · He Wang

Category-level object pose estimation aims to find 6D object poses of previously unseen object instances from known categories without access to object CAD models. To reduce the huge amount of pose annotations needed for category-level learning, we propose for the first time a self-supervised learning framework to estimate category-level 6D object pose from single 3D point clouds. During training, our method assumes no ground-truth pose annotations, no CAD models, and no multi-view supervision. The key to our method is to disentangle shape and pose through an invariant shape reconstruction module and an equivariant pose estimation module, empowered by SE(3) equivariant point cloud networks. The invariant shape reconstruction module learns to perform aligned reconstructions, yielding a category-level reference frame without using any annotations. In addition, the equivariant pose estimation module achieves category-level pose estimation accuracy that is comparable to some fully supervised methods. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on both complete and partial depth point clouds from the ModelNet40 benchmark, and on real depth point clouds from the NOCS-REAL 275 dataset. The project page with code and visualizations can be found at:

Self-Supervised Learning with Kernel Dependence Maximization

Yazhe Li · Roman Pogodin · Danica J. Sutherland · Arthur Gretton

We approach self-supervised learning of image representations from a statistical dependence perspective, proposing Self-Supervised Learning with the Hilbert-Schmidt Independence Criterion (SSL-HSIC). SSL-HSIC maximizes dependence between representations of transformations of an image and the image identity, while minimizing the kernelized variance of those representations. This framework yields a new understanding of InfoNCE, a variational lower bound on the mutual information (MI) between different transformations. While the MI itself is known to have pathologies which can result in learning meaningless representations, its bound is much better behaved: we show that it implicitly approximates SSL-HSIC (with a slightly different regularizer).Our approach also gives us insight into BYOL, a negative-free SSL method, since SSL-HSIC similarly learns local neighborhoods of samples. SSL-HSIC allows us to directly optimize statistical dependence in time linear in the batch size, without restrictive data assumptions or indirect mutual information estimators. Trained with or without a target network, SSL-HSIC matches the current state-of-the-art for standard linear evaluation on ImageNet, semi-supervised learning and transfer to other classification and vision tasks such as semantic segmentation, depth estimation and object recognition. Code is available at

Dimensionality Reduction for Wasserstein Barycenter

Zachary Izzo · Sandeep Silwal · Samson Zhou

The Wasserstein barycenter is a geometric construct which captures the notion of centrality among probability distributions, and which has found many applications in machine learning. However, most algorithms for finding even an approximate barycenter suffer an exponential dependence on the dimension $d$ of the underlying space of the distributions. In order to cope with this ``curse of dimensionality,'' we study dimensionality reduction techniques for the Wasserstein barycenter problem. When the barycenter is restricted to support of size $n$, we show that randomized dimensionality reduction can be used to map the problem to a space of dimension $O(\log n)$ independent of both $d$ and $k$, and that \emph{any} solution found in the reduced dimension will have its cost preserved up to arbitrary small error in the original space. We provide matching upper and lower bounds on the size of the reduced dimension, showing that our methods are optimal up to constant factors. We also provide a coreset construction for the Wasserstein barycenter problem that significantly decreases the number of input distributions. The coresets can be used in conjunction with random projections and thus further improve computation time. Lastly, our experimental results validate the speedup provided by dimensionality reduction while maintaining solution quality.

Nearly Horizon-Free Offline Reinforcement Learning

Tongzheng Ren · Jialian Li · Bo Dai · Simon Du · Sujay Sanghavi

We revisit offline reinforcement learning on episodic time-homogeneous Markov Decision Processes (MDP). For tabular MDP with $S$ states and $A$ actions, or linear MDP with anchor points and feature dimension $d$, given the collected $K$ episodes data with minimum visiting probability of (anchor) state-action pairs $d_m$, we obtain nearly horizon $H$-free sample complexity bounds for offline reinforcement learning when the total reward is upper bounded by 1. Specifically:• For offline policy evaluation, we obtain an $\tilde{O}\left(\sqrt{\frac{1}{Kd_m}} \right)$ error bound for the plug-in estimator, which matches the lower bound up to logarithmic factors and does not have additional dependency on $\mathrm{poly}(H, S, A, d)$ in higher-order term.• For offline policy optimization, we obtain an $\tilde{O}\left(\sqrt{\frac{1}{Kd_m}} + \frac{\min(S, d)}{Kd_m}\right)$ sub-optimality gap for the empirical optimal policy, which approaches the lower bound up to logarithmic factors and a high-order term, improving upon the best known result by [Cui and Yang 2020] that has additional $\mathrm{poly} (H, S, d)$ factors in the main term.To the best of our knowledge, these are the first set of nearly horizon-free bounds for episodic time-homogeneous offline tabular MDP and linear MDP with anchor points. Central to our analysis is a simple yet effective recursion based method to bound a "total variance" term in the offline scenarios, which could be of individual interest.

Rethinking Neural Operations for Diverse Tasks

Nicholas Roberts · Mikhail Khodak · Tri Dao · Liam Li · Christopher Ré · Ameet Talwalkar

An important goal of AutoML is to automate-away the design of neural networks on new tasks in under-explored domains. Motivated by this goal, we study the problem of enabling users to discover the right neural operations given data from their specific domain. We introduce a search space of operations called XD-Operations that mimic the inductive bias of standard multi-channel convolutions while being much more expressive: we prove that it includes many named operations across multiple application areas. Starting with any standard backbone such as ResNet, we show how to transform it into a search space over XD-operations and how to traverse the space using a simple weight sharing scheme. On a diverse set of tasks—solving PDEs, distance prediction for protein folding, and music modeling—our approach consistently yields models with lower error than baseline networks and often even lower error than expert-designed domain-specific approaches.

Motif-based Graph Self-Supervised Learning for Molecular Property Prediction

ZAIXI ZHANG · Qi Liu · Hao Wang · Chengqiang Lu · Chee-Kong Lee

Predicting molecular properties with data-driven methods has drawn much attention in recent years. Particularly, Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have demonstrated remarkable success in various molecular generation and prediction tasks. In cases where labeled data is scarce, GNNs can be pre-trained on unlabeled molecular data to first learn the general semantic and structural information before being finetuned for specific tasks. However, most existing self-supervised pretraining frameworks for GNNs only focus on node-level or graph-level tasks. These approaches cannot capture the rich information in subgraphs or graph motifs. For example, functional groups (frequently-occurred subgraphs in molecular graphs) often carry indicative information about the molecular properties. To bridge this gap, we propose Motif-based Graph Self-supervised Learning (MGSSL) by introducing a novel self-supervised motif generation framework for GNNs. First, for motif extraction from molecular graphs, we design a molecule fragmentation method that leverages a retrosynthesis-based algorithm BRICS and additional rules for controlling the size of motif vocabulary. Second, we design a general motif-based generative pretraining framework in which GNNs are asked to make topological and label predictions. This generative framework can be implemented in two different ways, i.e., breadth-first or depth-first. Finally, to take the multi-scale information in molecular graphs into consideration, we introduce a multi-level self-supervised pre-training. Extensive experiments on various downstream benchmark tasks show that our methods outperform all state-of-the-art baselines.

Neural Analysis and Synthesis: Reconstructing Speech from Self-Supervised Representations

Hyeong-Seok Choi · Juheon Lee · Wansoo Kim · Jie Lee · Hoon Heo · Kyogu Lee

We present a neural analysis and synthesis (NANSY) framework that can manipulate the voice, pitch, and speed of an arbitrary speech signal. Most of the previous works have focused on using information bottleneck to disentangle analysis features for controllable synthesis, which usually results in poor reconstruction quality. We address this issue by proposing a novel training strategy based on information perturbation. The idea is to perturb information in the original input signal (e.g., formant, pitch, and frequency response), thereby letting synthesis networks selectively take essential attributes to reconstruct the input signal. Because NANSY does not need any bottleneck structures, it enjoys both high reconstruction quality and controllability. Furthermore, NANSY does not require any labels associated with speech data such as text and speaker information, but rather uses a new set of analysis features, i.e., wav2vec feature and newly proposed pitch feature, Yingram, which allows for fully self-supervised training. Taking advantage of fully self-supervised training, NANSY can be easily extended to a multilingual setting by simply training it with a multilingual dataset. The experiments show that NANSY can achieve significant improvement in performance in several applications such as zero-shot voice conversion, pitch shift, and time-scale modification.

Diffusion Normalizing Flow

Qinsheng Zhang · Yongxin Chen

We present a novel generative modeling method called diffusion normalizing flow based on stochastic differential equations (SDEs). The algorithm consists of two neural SDEs: a forward SDE that gradually adds noise to the data to transform the data into Gaussian random noise, and a backward SDE that gradually removes the noise to sample from the data distribution. By jointly training the two neural SDEs to minimize a common cost function that quantifies the difference between the two, the backward SDE converges to a diffusion process the starts with a Gaussian distribution and ends with the desired data distribution. Our method is closely related to normalizing flow and diffusion probabilistic models, and can be viewed as a combination of the two. Compared with normalizing flow, diffusion normalizing flow is able to learn distributions with sharp boundaries. Compared with diffusion probabilistic models, diffusion normalizing flow requires fewer discretization steps and thus has better sampling efficiency. Our algorithm demonstrates competitive performance in both high-dimension data density estimation and image generation tasks.

Learned Robust PCA: A Scalable Deep Unfolding Approach for High-Dimensional Outlier Detection

HanQin Cai · Jialin Liu · Wotao Yin

Robust principal component analysis (RPCA) is a critical tool in modern machine learning, which detects outliers in the task of low-rank matrix reconstruction. In this paper, we propose a scalable and learnable non-convex approach for high-dimensional RPCA problems, which we call Learned Robust PCA (LRPCA). LRPCA is highly efficient, and its free parameters can be effectively learned to optimize via deep unfolding. Moreover, we extend deep unfolding from finite iterations to infinite iterations via a novel feedforward-recurrent-mixed neural network model. We establish the recovery guarantee of LRPCA under mild assumptions for RPCA. Numerical experiments show that LRPCA outperforms the state-of-the-art RPCA algorithms, such as ScaledGD and AltProj, on both synthetic datasets and real-world applications.

An Efficient Transfer Learning Framework for Multiagent Reinforcement Learning

Tianpei Yang · Weixun Wang · Hongyao Tang · Jianye Hao · Zhaopeng Meng · Hangyu Mao · Dong Li · Wulong Liu · Yingfeng Chen · Yujing Hu · Changjie Fan · Chengwei Zhang

Transfer Learning has shown great potential to enhance single-agent Reinforcement Learning (RL) efficiency. Similarly, Multiagent RL (MARL) can also be accelerated if agents can share knowledge with each other. However, it remains a problem of how an agent should learn from other agents. In this paper, we propose a novel Multiagent Policy Transfer Framework (MAPTF) to improve MARL efficiency. MAPTF learns which agent's policy is the best to reuse for each agent and when to terminate it by modeling multiagent policy transfer as the option learning problem. Furthermore, in practice, the option module can only collect all agent's local experiences for update due to the partial observability of the environment. While in this setting, each agent's experience may be inconsistent with each other, which may cause the inaccuracy and oscillation of the option-value's estimation. Therefore, we propose a novel option learning algorithm, the successor representation option learning to solve it by decoupling the environment dynamics from rewards and learning the option-value under each agent's preference. MAPTF can be easily combined with existing deep RL and MARL approaches, and experimental results show it significantly boosts the performance of existing methods in both discrete and continuous state spaces.

Relaxing Local Robustness

Klas Leino · Matt Fredrikson

Certifiable local robustness, which rigorously precludes small-norm adversarial examples, has received significant attention as a means of addressing security concerns in deep learning. However, for some classification problems, local robustness is not a natural objective, even in the presence of adversaries; for example, if an image contains two classes of subjects, the correct label for the image may be considered arbitrary between the two, and thus enforcing strict separation between them is unnecessary. In this work, we introduce two relaxed safety properties for classifiers that address this observation: (1) relaxed top-k robustness, which serves as the analogue of top-k accuracy; and (2) affinity robustness, which specifies which sets of labels must be separated by a robustness margin, and which can be $\epsilon$-close in $\ell_p$ space. We show how to construct models that can be efficiently certified against each relaxed robustness property, and trained with very little overhead relative to standard gradient descent. Finally, we demonstrate experimentally that these relaxed variants of robustness are well-suited to several significant classification problems, leading to lower rejection rates and higher certified accuracies than can be obtained when certifying "standard" local robustness.

Tuning Large Neural Networks via Zero-Shot Hyperparameter Transfer

Ge Yang · Edward Hu · Igor Babuschkin · Szymon Sidor · Xiaodong Liu · David Farhi · Nick Ryder · Jakub Pachocki · Weizhu Chen · Jianfeng Gao

Hyperparameter (HP) tuning in deep learning is an expensive process, prohibitively so for neural networks (NNs) with billions of parameters.We show that, in the recently discovered Maximal Update Parametrization ($\mu$P), many optimal HPs remain stable even as model size changes. This leads to a new HP tuning paradigm we call *$\mu$Transfer*: parametrize the target model in $\mu$P, tune the HP indirectly on a smaller model, and *zero-shot transfer* them to the full-sized model, i.e., without directly tuning the latter at all.We verify $\mu$Transfer on Transformer and ResNet. For example, 1) by transferring pretraining HPs from a model of 13M parameters, we outperform published numbers of BERT-large (350M parameters), with a total tuning cost equivalent to pretraining BERT-large once; 2) by transferring from 40M parameters, we outperform published numbers of the 6.7B GPT-3 model, with tuning cost only 7% of total pretraining cost. A Pytorch implementation of our technique can be found at See for the full, up-to-date version of this work.

Differentiable Simulation of Soft Multi-body Systems

Yi-Ling Qiao · Junbang Liang · Vladlen Koltun · Ming Lin

We present a method for differentiable simulation of soft articulated bodies. Our work enables the integration of differentiable physical dynamics into gradient-based pipelines. We develop a top-down matrix assembly algorithm within Projective Dynamics and derive a generalized dry friction model for soft continuum using a new matrix splitting strategy. We derive a differentiable control framework for soft articulated bodies driven by muscles, joint torques, or pneumatic tubes. The experiments demonstrate that our designs make soft body simulation more stable and realistic compared to other frameworks. Our method accelerates the solution of system identification problems by more than an order of magnitude, and enables efficient gradient-based learning of motion control with soft robots.

A Prototype-Oriented Framework for Unsupervised Domain Adaptation

Korawat Tanwisuth · Xinjie Fan · Huangjie Zheng · Shujian Zhang · Hao Zhang · Bo Chen · Mingyuan Zhou

Existing methods for unsupervised domain adaptation often rely on minimizing some statistical distance between the source and target samples in the latent space. To avoid the sampling variability, class imbalance, and data-privacy concerns that often plague these methods, we instead provide a memory and computation-efficient probabilistic framework to extract class prototypes and align the target features with them. We demonstrate the general applicability of our method on a wide range of scenarios, including single-source, multi-source, class-imbalance, and source-private domain adaptation. Requiring no additional model parameters and having a moderate increase in computation over the source model alone, the proposed method achieves competitive performance with state-of-the-art methods.

Dynamic Neural Representational Decoders for High-Resolution Semantic Segmentation

Bowen Zhang · Yifan liu · Zhi Tian · Chunhua Shen

Semantic segmentation requires per-pixel prediction for a given image. Typically, the output resolution of a segmentation network is severely reduced due to the downsampling operations in the CNN backbone. Most previous methods employ upsampling decoders to recover the spatial resolution.Various decoders were designed in the literature. Here, we propose a novel decoder, termed dynamic neural representational decoder (NRD), which is simple yet significantly more efficient. As each location on the encoder's output corresponds to a local patch of the semantic labels, in this work, we represent these local patches of labels with compact neural networks. This neural representation enables our decoder to leverage the smoothness prior in the semantic label space, and thus makes our decoder more efficient. Furthermore, these neural representations are dynamically generated and conditioned on the outputs of the encoder networks. The desired semantic labels can be efficiently decoded from the neural representations, resulting in high-resolution semantic segmentation predictions.We empirically show that our proposed decoder can outperform the decoder in DeeplabV3+ with only $\sim$$30\%$ computational complexity, and achieve competitive performance with the methods using dilated encoders with only $\sim$$15\% $ computation. Experiments on Cityscapes, ADE20K, and Pascal Context demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of our proposed method.

Robust Auction Design in the Auto-bidding World

Santiago Balseiro · Yuan Deng · Jieming Mao · Vahab Mirrokni · Song Zuo

In classic auction theory, reserve prices are known to be effective for improving revenue for the auctioneer against quasi-linear utility maximizing bidders. The introduction of reserve prices, however, usually do not help improve total welfare of the auctioneer and the bidders. In this paper, we focus on value maximizing bidders with return on spend constraints---a paradigm that has drawn considerable attention recently as more advertisers adopt auto-bidding algorithms in advertising platforms---and show that the introduction of reserve prices has a novel impact on the market. Namely, by choosing reserve prices appropriately the auctioneer can improve not only the total revenue but also the total welfare. Our results also demonstrate that reserve prices are robust to bidder types, i.e., reserve prices work well for different bidder types, such as value maximizers and utility maximizers, without using bidder type information. We generalize these results for a variety of auction mechanisms such as VCG, GSP, and first-price auctions. Moreover, we show how to combine these results with additive boosts to improve the welfare of the outcomes of the auction further. Finally, we complement our theoretical observations with an empirical study confirming the effectiveness of these ideas using data from online advertising auctions.

MOMA: Multi-Object Multi-Actor Activity Parsing

Zelun Luo · Wanze Xie · Siddharth Kapoor · Yiyun Liang · Michael Cooper · Juan Carlos Niebles · Ehsan Adeli · Fei-Fei Li

Complex activities often involve multiple humans utilizing different objects to complete actions (e.g., in healthcare settings, physicians, nurses, and patients interact with each other and various medical devices). Recognizing activities poses a challenge that requires a detailed understanding of actors' roles, objects' affordances, and their associated relationships. Furthermore, these purposeful activities are composed of multiple achievable steps, including sub-activities and atomic actions, which jointly define a hierarchy of action parts. This paper introduces Activity Parsing as the overarching task of temporal segmentation and classification of activities, sub-activities, atomic actions, along with an instance-level understanding of actors, objects, and their relationships in videos. Involving multiple entities (actors and objects), we argue that traditional pair-wise relationships, often used in scene or action graphs, do not appropriately represent the dynamics between them. Hence, we introduce Action Hypergraph, a spatial-temporal graph containing hyperedges (i.e., edges with higher-order relationships), as a new representation. In addition, we introduce Multi-Object Multi-Actor (MOMA), the first benchmark and dataset dedicated to activity parsing. Lastly, to parse a video, we propose the HyperGraph Activity Parsing (HGAP) network, which outperforms several baselines, including those based on regular graphs and raw video data.

No-Press Diplomacy from Scratch

Anton Bakhtin · David Wu · Adam Lerer · Noam Brown

Prior AI successes in complex games have largely focused on settings with at most hundreds of actions at each decision point. In contrast, Diplomacy is a game with more than 10^20 possible actions per turn. Previous attempts to address games with large branching factors, such as Diplomacy, StarCraft, and Dota, used human data to bootstrap the policy or used handcrafted reward shaping. In this paper, we describe an algorithm for action exploration and equilibrium approximation in games with combinatorial action spaces. This algorithm simultaneously performs value iteration while learning a policy proposal network. A double oracle step is used to explore additional actions to add to the policy proposals. At each state, the target state value and policy for the model training are computed via an equilibrium search procedure. Using this algorithm, we train an agent, DORA, completely from scratch for a popular two-player variant of Diplomacy and show that it achieves superhuman performance. Additionally, we extend our methods to full-scale no-press Diplomacy and for the first time train an agent from scratch with no human data. We present evidence that this agent plays a strategy that is incompatible with human-data bootstrapped agents. This presents the first strong evidence of multiple equilibria in Diplomacy and suggests that self play alone may be insufficient for achieving superhuman performance in Diplomacy.

Remember What You Want to Forget: Algorithms for Machine Unlearning

Ayush Sekhari · Jayadev Acharya · Gautam Kamath · Ananda Theertha Suresh

We study the problem of unlearning datapoints from a learnt model. The learner first receives a dataset $S$ drawn i.i.d. from an unknown distribution, and outputs a model $\widehat{w}$ that performs well on unseen samples from the same distribution. However, at some point in the future, any training datapoint $z \in S$ can request to be unlearned, thus prompting the learner to modify its output model while still ensuring the same accuracy guarantees. We initiate a rigorous study of generalization in machine unlearning, where the goal is to perform well on previously unseen datapoints. Our focus is on both computational and storage complexity. For the setting of convex losses, we provide an unlearning algorithm that can unlearn up to $O(n/d^{1/4})$ samples, where $d$ is the problem dimension. In comparison, in general, differentially private learning (which implies unlearning) only guarantees deletion of $O(n/d^{1/2})$ samples. This demonstrates a novel separation between differential privacy and machine unlearning.

Understanding the Under-Coverage Bias in Uncertainty Estimation

Yu Bai · Song Mei · Huan Wang · Caiming Xiong

Estimating the data uncertainty in regression tasks is often done by learning a quantile function or a prediction interval of the true label conditioned on the input. It is frequently observed that quantile regression---a vanilla algorithm for learning quantiles with asymptotic guarantees---tends to *under-cover* than the desired coverage level in reality. While various fixes have been proposed, a more fundamental understanding of why this under-coverage bias happens in the first place remains elusive.In this paper, we present a rigorous theoretical study on the coverage of uncertainty estimation algorithms in learning quantiles. We prove that quantile regression suffers from an inherent under-coverage bias, in a vanilla setting where we learn a realizable linear quantile function and there is more data than parameters. More quantitatively, for $\alpha>0.5$ and small $d/n$, the $\alpha$-quantile learned by quantile regression roughly achieves coverage $\alpha - (\alpha-1/2)\cdot d/n$ regardless of the noise distribution, where $d$ is the input dimension and $n$ is the number of training data. Our theory reveals that this under-coverage bias stems from a certain high-dimensional parameter estimation error that is not implied by existing theories on quantile regression. Experiments on simulated and real data verify our theory and further illustrate the effect of various factors such as sample size and model capacity on the under-coverage bias in more practical setups.

Heavy Ball Neural Ordinary Differential Equations

Hedi Xia · Vai Suliafu · Hangjie Ji · Tan Nguyen · Andrea Bertozzi · Stanley Osher · Bao Wang

We propose heavy ball neural ordinary differential equations (HBNODEs), leveraging the continuous limit of the classical momentum accelerated gradient descent, to improve neural ODEs (NODEs) training and inference. HBNODEs have two properties that imply practical advantages over NODEs: (i) The adjoint state of an HBNODE also satisfies an HBNODE, accelerating both forward and backward ODE solvers, thus significantly reducing the number of function evaluations (NFEs) and improving the utility of the trained models. (ii) The spectrum of HBNODEs is well structured, enabling effective learning of long-term dependencies from complex sequential data. We verify the advantages of HBNODEs over NODEs on benchmark tasks, including image classification, learning complex dynamics, and sequential modeling. Our method requires remarkably fewer forward and backward NFEs, is more accurate, and learns long-term dependencies more effectively than the other ODE-based neural network models. Code is available at \url{}.

Taxonomizing local versus global structure in neural network loss landscapes

Yaoqing Yang · Liam Hodgkinson · Ryan Theisen · Joe Zou · Joseph Gonzalez · Kannan Ramchandran · Michael Mahoney

Viewing neural network models in terms of their loss landscapes has a long history in the statistical mechanics approach to learning, and in recent years it has received attention within machine learning proper. Among other things, local metrics (such as the smoothness of the loss landscape) have been shown to correlate with global properties of the model (such as good generalization performance). Here, we perform a detailed empirical analysis of the loss landscape structure of thousands of neural network models, systematically varying learning tasks, model architectures, and/or quantity/quality of data. By considering a range of metrics that attempt to capture different aspects of the loss landscape, we demonstrate that the best test accuracy is obtained when: the loss landscape is globally well-connected; ensembles of trained models are more similar to each other; and models converge to locally smooth regions. We also show that globally poorly-connected landscapes can arise when models are small or when they are trained to lower quality data; and that, if the loss landscape is globally poorly-connected, then training to zero loss can actually lead to worse test accuracy. Our detailed empirical results shed light on phases of learning (and consequent double descent behavior), fundamental versus incidental determinants of good generalization, the role of load-like and temperature-like parameters in the learning process, different influences on the loss landscape from model and data, and the relationships between local and global metrics, all topics of recent interest.

EIGNN: Efficient Infinite-Depth Graph Neural Networks

Juncheng Liu · Kenji Kawaguchi · Bryan Hooi · Yiwei Wang · Xiaokui Xiao

Graph neural networks (GNNs) are widely used for modelling graph-structured data in numerous applications. However, with their inherently finite aggregation layers, existing GNN models may not be able to effectively capture long-range dependencies in the underlying graphs. Motivated by this limitation, we propose a GNN model with infinite depth, which we call Efficient Infinite-Depth Graph Neural Networks (EIGNN), to efficiently capture very long-range dependencies. We theoretically derive a closed-form solution of EIGNN which makes training an infinite-depth GNN model tractable. We then further show that we can achieve more efficient computation for training EIGNN by using eigendecomposition. The empirical results of comprehensive experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets show that EIGNN has a better ability to capture long-range dependencies than recent baselines, and consistently achieves state-of-the-art performance. Furthermore, we show that our model is also more robust against both noise and adversarial perturbations on node features.

Convergence Rates of Stochastic Gradient Descent under Infinite Noise Variance

Hongjian Wang · Mert Gurbuzbalaban · Lingjiong Zhu · Umut Simsekli · Murat Erdogdu

Recent studies have provided both empirical and theoretical evidence illustrating that heavy tails can emerge in stochastic gradient descent (SGD) in various scenarios. Such heavy tails potentially result in iterates with diverging variance, which hinders the use of conventional convergence analysis techniques that rely on the existence of the second-order moments. In this paper, we provide convergence guarantees for SGD under a state-dependent and heavy-tailed noise with a potentially infinite variance, for a class of strongly convex objectives. In the case where the $p$-th moment of the noise exists for some $p\in [1,2)$, we first identify a condition on the Hessian, coined `$p$-positive (semi-)definiteness', that leads to an interesting interpolation between the positive semi-definite cone ($p=2$) and the cone of diagonally dominant matrices with non-negative diagonal entries ($p=1$). Under this condition, we provide a convergence rate for the distance to the global optimum in $L^p$. Furthermore, we provide a generalized central limit theorem, which shows that the properly scaled Polyak-Ruppert averaging converges weakly to a multivariate $\alpha$-stable random vector.Our results indicate that even under heavy-tailed noise with infinite variance, SGD can converge to the global optimum without necessitating any modification neither to the loss function nor to the algorithm itself, as typically required in robust statistics.We demonstrate the implications of our resultsover misspecified models, in the presence of heavy-tailed data.

Amortized Synthesis of Constrained Configurations Using a Differentiable Surrogate

Xingyuan Sun · Tianju Xue · Szymon Rusinkiewicz · Ryan Adams

In design, fabrication, and control problems, we are often faced with the task of synthesis, in which we must generate an object or configuration that satisfies a set of constraints while maximizing one or more objective functions. The synthesis problem is typically characterized by a physical process in which many different realizations may achieve the goal. This many-to-one map presents challenges to the supervised learning of feed-forward synthesis, as the set of viable designs may have a complex structure. In addition, the non-differentiable nature of many physical simulations prevents efficient direct optimization. We address both of these problems with a two-stage neural network architecture that we may consider to be an autoencoder. We first learn the decoder: a differentiable surrogate that approximates the many-to-one physical realization process. We then learn the encoder, which maps from goal to design, while using the fixed decoder to evaluate the quality of the realization. We evaluate the approach on two case studies: extruder path planning in additive manufacturing and constrained soft robot inverse kinematics. We compare our approach to direct optimization of the design using the learned surrogate, and to supervised learning of the synthesis problem. We find that our approach produces higher quality solutions than supervised learning, while being competitive in quality with direct optimization, at a greatly reduced computational cost.

Scheduling jobs with stochastic holding costs

Dabeen Lee · Milan Vojnovic

This paper proposes a learning and scheduling algorithm to minimize the expected cumulative holding cost incurred by jobs, where statistical parameters defining their individual holding costs are unknown a priori. In each time slot, the server can process a job while receiving the realized random holding costs of the jobs remaining in the system. Our algorithm is a learning-based variant of the $c\mu$ rule for scheduling: it starts with a preemption period of fixed length which serves as a learning phase, and after accumulating enough data about individual jobs, it switches to nonpreemptive scheduling mode. The algorithm is designed to handle instances with large or small gaps in jobs' parameters and achieves near-optimal performance guarantees. The performance of our algorithm is captured by its regret, where the benchmark is the minimum possible cost attained when the statistical parameters of jobs are fully known. We prove upper bounds on the regret of our algorithm, and we derive a regret lower bound that is almost matching the proposed upper bounds. Our numerical results demonstrate the effectiveness of our algorithm and show that our theoretical regret analysis is nearly tight.

Rethinking conditional GAN training: An approach using geometrically structured latent manifolds

Sameera Ramasinghe · Moshiur Farazi · Salman H Khan · Nick Barnes · Stephen Gould

Conditional GANs (cGAN), in their rudimentary form, suffer from critical drawbacks such as the lack of diversity in generated outputs and distortion between the latent and output manifolds. Although efforts have been made to improve results, they can suffer from unpleasant side-effects such as the topology mismatch between latent and output spaces. In contrast, we tackle this problem from a geometrical perspective and propose a novel training mechanism that increases both the diversity and the visual quality of a vanilla cGAN, by systematically encouraging a bi-lipschitz mapping between the latent and the output manifolds. We validate the efficacy of our solution on a baseline cGAN (i.e., Pix2Pix) which lacks diversity, and show that by only modifying its training mechanism (i.e., with our proposed Pix2Pix-Geo), one can achieve more diverse and realistic outputs on a broad set of image-to-image translation tasks.

Learning Tree Interpretation from Object Representation for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Guiliang Liu · Xiangyu Sun · Oliver Schulte · Pascal Poupart

Interpreting Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) models is important to enhance trust and comply with transparency regulations. Existing methods typically explain a DRL model by visualizing the importance of low-level input features with super-pixels, attentions, or saliency maps. Our approach provides an interpretation based on high-level latent object features derived from a disentangled representation. We propose a Represent And Mimic (RAMi) framework for training 1) an identifiable latent representation to capture the independent factors of variation for the objects and 2) a mimic tree that extracts the causal impact of the latent features on DRL action values. To jointly optimize both the fidelity and the simplicity of a mimic tree, we derive a novel Minimum Description Length (MDL) objective based on the Information Bottleneck (IB) principle. Based on this objective, we describe a Monte Carlo Regression Tree Search (MCRTS) algorithm that explores different splits to find the IB-optimal mimic tree. Experiments show that our mimic tree achieves strong approximation performance with significantly fewer nodes than baseline models. We demonstrate the interpretability of our mimic tree by showing latent traversals, decision rules, causal impacts, and human evaluation results.

Provably efficient multi-task reinforcement learning with model transfer

Chicheng Zhang · Zhi Wang

We study multi-task reinforcement learning (RL) in tabular episodic Markov decision processes (MDPs). We formulate a heterogeneous multi-player RL problem, in which a group of players concurrently face similar but not necessarily identical MDPs, with a goal of improving their collective performance through inter-player information sharing. We design and analyze a model-based algorithm, and provide gap-dependent and gap-independent regret upper and lower bounds that characterize the intrinsic complexity of the problem.

Reverse engineering learned optimizers reveals known and novel mechanisms

Niru Maheswaranathan · David Sussillo · Luke Metz · Ruoxi Sun · Jascha Sohl-Dickstein

Learned optimizers are parametric algorithms that can themselves be trained to solve optimization problems. In contrast to baseline optimizers (such as momentum or Adam) that use simple update rules derived from theoretical principles, learned optimizers use flexible, high-dimensional, nonlinear parameterizations. Although this can lead to better performance, their inner workings remain a mystery. How is a given learned optimizer able to outperform a well tuned baseline? Has it learned a sophisticated combination of existing optimization techniques, or is it implementing completely new behavior? In this work, we address these questions by careful analysis and visualization of learned optimizers. We study learned optimizers trained from scratch on four disparate tasks, and discover that they have learned interpretable behavior, including: momentum, gradient clipping, learning rate schedules, and new forms of learning rate adaptation. Moreover, we show how dynamics and mechanisms inside of learned optimizers orchestrate these computations. Our results help elucidate the previously murky understanding of how learned optimizers work, and establish tools for interpreting future learned optimizers.

Model-Based Domain Generalization

Alexander Robey · George J. Pappas · Hamed Hassani

Despite remarkable success in a variety of applications, it is well-known that deep learning can fail catastrophically when presented with out-of-distribution data. Toward addressing this challenge, we consider the \emph{domain generalization} problem, wherein predictors are trained using data drawn from a family of related training domains and then evaluated on a distinct and unseen test domain. We show that under a natural model of data generation and a concomitant invariance condition, the domain generalization problem is equivalent to an infinite-dimensional constrained statistical learning problem; this problem forms the basis of our approach, which we call Model-Based Domain Generalization. Due to the inherent challenges in solving constrained optimization problems in deep learning, we exploit nonconvex duality theory to develop unconstrained relaxations of this statistical problem with tight bounds on the duality gap. Based on this theoretical motivation, we propose a novel domain generalization algorithm with convergence guarantees. In our experiments, we report improvements of up to 30% over state-of-the-art domain generalization baselines on several benchmarks including ColoredMNIST, Camelyon17-WILDS, FMoW-WILDS, and PACS.

Differentiable Spline Approximations

Minsu Cho · Aditya Balu · Ameya Joshi · Anjana Deva Prasad · Biswajit Khara · Soumik Sarkar · Baskar Ganapathysubramanian · Adarsh Krishnamurthy · Chinmay Hegde

The paradigm of differentiable programming has significantly enhanced the scope of machine learning via the judicious use of gradient-based optimization. However, standard differentiable programming methods (such as autodiff) typically require that the machine learning models be differentiable, limiting their applicability. Our goal in this paper is to use a new, principled approach to extend gradient-based optimization to functions well modeled by splines, which encompass a large family of piecewise polynomial models. We derive the form of the (weak) Jacobian of such functions and show that it exhibits a block-sparse structure that can be computed implicitly and efficiently. Overall, we show that leveraging this redesigned Jacobian in the form of a differentiable "layer'' in predictive models leads to improved performance in diverse applications such as image segmentation, 3D point cloud reconstruction, and finite element analysis. We also open-source the code at \url{}.

Deep Residual Learning in Spiking Neural Networks

Wei Fang · Zhaofei Yu · Yanqi Chen · Tiejun Huang · Timothée Masquelier · Yonghong Tian

Deep Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) present optimization difficulties for gradient-based approaches due to discrete binary activation and complex spatial-temporal dynamics. Considering the huge success of ResNet in deep learning, it would be natural to train deep SNNs with residual learning. Previous Spiking ResNet mimics the standard residual block in ANNs and simply replaces ReLU activation layers with spiking neurons, which suffers the degradation problem and can hardly implement residual learning. In this paper, we propose the spike-element-wise (SEW) ResNet to realize residual learning in deep SNNs. We prove that the SEW ResNet can easily implement identity mapping and overcome the vanishing/exploding gradient problems of Spiking ResNet. We evaluate our SEW ResNet on ImageNet, DVS Gesture, and CIFAR10-DVS datasets, and show that SEW ResNet outperforms the state-of-the-art directly trained SNNs in both accuracy and time-steps. Moreover, SEW ResNet can achieve higher performance by simply adding more layers, providing a simple method to train deep SNNs. To our best knowledge, this is the first time that directly training deep SNNs with more than 100 layers becomes possible. Our codes are available at

Learning and Generalization in RNNs

Abhishek Panigrahi · Navin Goyal

Simple recurrent neural networks (RNNs) and their more advanced cousins LSTMs etc. have been very successful in sequence modeling. Their theoretical understanding, however, is lacking and has not kept pace with the progress for feedforward networks, where a reasonably complete understanding in the special case of highly overparametrized one-hidden-layer networks has emerged. In this paper, we make progress towards remedying this situation by proving that RNNs can learn functions of sequences. In contrast to the previous work that could only deal with functions of sequences that are sums of functions of individual tokens in the sequence, we allow general functions. Conceptually and technically, we introduce new ideas which enable us to extract information from the hidden state of the RNN in our proofs---addressing a crucial weakness in previous work. We illustrate our results on some regular language recognition problems.

Improving Visual Quality of Image Synthesis by A Token-based Generator with Transformers

Yanhong Zeng · Huan Yang · Hongyang Chao · Jianbo Wang · Jianlong Fu

We present a new perspective of achieving image synthesis by viewing this task as a visual token generation problem. Different from existing paradigms that directly synthesize a full image from a single input (e.g., a latent code), the new formulation enables a flexible local manipulation for different image regions, which makes it possible to learn content-aware and fine-grained style control for image synthesis. Specifically, it takes as input a sequence of latent tokens to predict the visual tokens for synthesizing an image. Under this perspective, we propose a token-based generator (i.e., TokenGAN). Particularly, the TokenGAN inputs two semantically different visual tokens, i.e., the learned constant content tokens and the style tokens from the latent space. Given a sequence of style tokens, the TokenGAN is able to control the image synthesis by assigning the styles to the content tokens by attention mechanism with a Transformer. We conduct extensive experiments and show that the proposed TokenGAN has achieved state-of-the-art results on several widely-used image synthesis benchmarks, including FFHQ and LSUN CHURCH with different resolutions. In particular, the generator is able to synthesize high-fidelity images with (1024x1024) size, dispensing with convolutions entirely.

Rethinking Graph Transformers with Spectral Attention

Devin Kreuzer · Dominique Beaini · Will Hamilton · Vincent Létourneau · Prudencio Tossou

In recent years, the Transformer architecture has proven to be very successful in sequence processing, but its application to other data structures, such as graphs, has remained limited due to the difficulty of properly defining positions. Here, we present the \textit{Spectral Attention Network} (SAN), which uses a learned positional encoding (LPE) that can take advantage of the full Laplacian spectrum to learn the position of each node in a given graph.This LPE is then added to the node features of the graph and passed to a fully-connected Transformer.By leveraging the full spectrum of the Laplacian, our model is theoretically powerful in distinguishing graphs, and can better detect similar sub-structures from their resonance.Further, by fully connecting the graph, the Transformer does not suffer from over-squashing, an information bottleneck of most GNNs, and enables better modeling of physical phenomenons such as heat transfer and electric interaction.When tested empirically on a set of 4 standard datasets, our model performs on par or better than state-of-the-art GNNs, and outperforms any attention-based model by a wide margin, becoming the first fully-connected architecture to perform well on graph benchmarks.

PiRank: Scalable Learning To Rank via Differentiable Sorting

Robin Swezey · Aditya Grover · Bruno Charron · Stefano Ermon

A key challenge with machine learning approaches for ranking is the gap between the performance metrics of interest and the surrogate loss functions that can be optimized with gradient-based methods. This gap arises because ranking metrics typically involve a sorting operation which is not differentiable w.r.t. the model parameters. Prior works have proposed surrogates that are loosely related to ranking metrics or simple smoothed versions thereof, and often fail to scale to real-world applications. We propose PiRank, a new class of differentiable surrogates for ranking, which employ a continuous, temperature-controlled relaxation to the sorting operator based on NeuralSort [1]. We show that PiRank exactly recovers the desired metrics in the limit of zero temperature and further propose a divide-and-conquer extension that scales favorably to large list sizes, both in theory and practice. Empirically, we demonstrate the role of larger list sizes during training and show that PiRank significantly improves over comparable approaches on publicly available Internet-scale learning-to-rank benchmarks.

Iterative Teaching by Label Synthesis

Weiyang Liu · Zhen Liu · Hanchen Wang · Liam Paull · Bernhard Schölkopf · Adrian Weller

In this paper, we consider the problem of iterative machine teaching, where a teacher provides examples sequentially based on the current iterative learner. In contrast to previous methods that have to scan over the entire pool and select teaching examples from it in each iteration, we propose a label synthesis teaching framework where the teacher randomly selects input teaching examples (e.g., images) and then synthesizes suitable outputs (e.g., labels) for them. We show that this framework can avoid costly example selection while still provably achieving exponential teachability. We propose multiple novel teaching algorithms in this framework. Finally, we empirically demonstrate the value of our framework.

Unifying lower bounds on prediction dimension of convex surrogates

Jessica Finocchiaro · Rafael Frongillo · Bo Waggoner

The convex consistency dimension of a supervised learning task is the lowest prediction dimension $d$ such that there exists a convex surrogate $L : \mathbb{R}^d \times \mathcal Y \to \mathbb R$ that is consistent for the given task. We present a new tool based on property elicitation, $d$-flats, for lower-bounding convex consistency dimension. This tool unifies approaches from a variety of domains, including continuous and discrete prediction problems. We use $d$-flats to obtain a new lower bound on the convex consistency dimension of risk measures, resolving an open question due to Frongillo and Kash (NeurIPS 2015). In discrete prediction settings, we show that the $d$-flats approach recovers and even tightens previous lower bounds using feasible subspace dimension.

Reinforcement Learning with Latent Flow

Wenling Shang · Xiaofei Wang · Aravind Srinivas · Aravind Rajeswaran · Yang Gao · Pieter Abbeel · Misha Laskin

Temporal information is essential to learning effective policies with Reinforcement Learning (RL). However, current state-of-the-art RL algorithms either assume that such information is given as part of the state space or, when learning from pixels, use the simple heuristic of frame-stacking to implicitly capture temporal information present in the image observations. This heuristic is in contrast to the current paradigm in video classification architectures, which utilize explicit encodings of temporal information through methods such as optical flow and two-stream architectures to achieve state-of-the-art performance. Inspired by leading video classification architectures, we introduce the Flow of Latents for Reinforcement Learning (Flare), a network architecture for RL that explicitly encodes temporal information through latent vector differences. We show that Flare recovers optimal performance in state-based RL without explicit access to the state velocity, solely with positional state information. Flare is the most sample efficient model-free pixel-based RL algorithm on the DeepMind Control suite when evaluated on the 500k and 1M step benchmarks across 5 challenging control tasks, and, when used with Rainbow DQN, outperforms the competitive baseline on Atari games at 100M time step benchmark across 8 challenging games.

Understanding How Encoder-Decoder Architectures Attend

Kyle Aitken · Vinay Ramasesh · Yuan Cao · Niru Maheswaranathan

Encoder-decoder networks with attention have proven to be a powerful way to solve many sequence-to-sequence tasks. In these networks, attention aligns encoder and decoder states and is often used for visualizing network behavior. However, the mechanisms used by networks to generate appropriate attention matrices are still mysterious. Moreover, how these mechanisms vary depending on the particular architecture used for the encoder and decoder (recurrent, feed-forward, etc.) are also not well understood. In this work, we investigate how encoder-decoder networks solve different sequence-to-sequence tasks. We introduce a way of decomposing hidden states over a sequence into temporal (independent of input) and input-driven (independent of sequence position) components. This reveals how attention matrices are formed: depending on the task requirements, networks rely more heavily on either the temporal or input-driven components. These findings hold across both recurrent and feed-forward architectures despite their differences in forming the temporal components. Overall, our results provide new insight into the inner workings of attention-based encoder-decoder networks.

Testing Probabilistic Circuits

Yash Pote · Kuldeep S Meel

Probabilistic circuits (PCs) are a powerful modeling framework for representing tractable probability distributions over combinatorial spaces. In machine learning and probabilistic programming, one is often interested in understanding whether the distributions learned using PCs are close to the desired distribution. Thus, given two probabilistic circuits, a fundamental problem of interest is to determine whether their distributions are close to each other.The primary contribution of this paper is a closeness test for PCs with respect to the total variation distance metric. Our algorithm utilizes two common PC queries, counting and sampling. In particular, we provide a poly-time probabilistic algorithm to check the closeness of two PCs, when the PCs support tractable approximate counting and sampling. We demonstrate the practical efficiency of our algorithmic framework via a detailed experimental evaluation of a prototype implementation against a set of 375 PC benchmarks. We find that our test correctly decides the closeness of all 375 PCs within 3600 seconds.

Autoformer: Decomposition Transformers with Auto-Correlation for Long-Term Series Forecasting

Haixu Wu · Jiehui Xu · Jianmin Wang · Mingsheng Long

Extending the forecasting time is a critical demand for real applications, such as extreme weather early warning and long-term energy consumption planning. This paper studies the long-term forecasting problem of time series. Prior Transformer-based models adopt various self-attention mechanisms to discover the long-range dependencies. However, intricate temporal patterns of the long-term future prohibit the model from finding reliable dependencies. Also, Transformers have to adopt the sparse versions of point-wise self-attentions for long series efficiency, resulting in the information utilization bottleneck. Going beyond Transformers, we design Autoformer as a novel decomposition architecture with an Auto-Correlation mechanism. We break with the pre-processing convention of series decomposition and renovate it as a basic inner block of deep models. This design empowers Autoformer with progressive decomposition capacities for complex time series. Further, inspired by the stochastic process theory, we design the Auto-Correlation mechanism based on the series periodicity, which conducts the dependencies discovery and representation aggregation at the sub-series level. Auto-Correlation outperforms self-attention in both efficiency and accuracy. In long-term forecasting, Autoformer yields state-of-the-art accuracy, with a 38% relative improvement on six benchmarks, covering five practical applications: energy, traffic, economics, weather and disease. Code is available at this repository:

Analysis of Sensing Spectral for Signal Recovery under a Generalized Linear Model

Junjie Ma · Ji Xu · Arian Maleki

We consider a nonlinear inverse problem $\mathbf{y}= f(\mathbf{Ax})$, where observations $\mathbf{y} \in \mathbb{R}^m$ are the componentwise nonlinear transformation of $\mathbf{Ax} \in \mathbb{R}^m$, $\mathbf{x} \in \mathbb{R}^n$ is the signal of interest and $\mathbf{A}$ is a known linear mapping. By properly specifying the nonlinear processing function, this model can be particularized to many signal processing problems, including compressed sensing and phase retrieval. Our main goal in this paper is to understand the impact of sensing matrices, or more specifically the spectrum of sensing matrices, on the difficulty of recovering $\mathbf{x}$ from $\mathbf{y}$. Towards this goal, we study the performance of one of the most successful recovery methods, i.e. the expectation propagation algorithm (EP). We define a notion for the spikiness of the spectrum of $\mathbf{A}$ and show the importance of this measure in the performance of the EP. Whether the spikiness of the spectrum can hurt or help the recovery performance of EP depends on $f$. We define certain quantities based on the function $f$ that enables us to describe the impact of the spikiness of the spectrum on EP recovery. Based on our framework, we are able to show that for instance, in phase-retrieval problems, matrices with spikier spectrums are better for EP, while in 1-bit compressed sensing problems, less spiky (flatter) spectrums offer better recoveries. Our results unify and substantially generalize the existing results that compare sub-Gaussian and orthogonal matrices, and provide a platform toward designing optimal sensing systems.

Training Certifiably Robust Neural Networks with Efficient Local Lipschitz Bounds

Yujia Huang · Huan Zhang · Yuanyuan Shi · J. Zico Kolter · Anima Anandkumar

Certified robustness is a desirable property for deep neural networks in safety-critical applications, and popular training algorithms can certify robustness of a neural network by computing a global bound on its Lipschitz constant. However, such a bound is often loose: it tends to over-regularize the neural network and degrade its natural accuracy. A tighter Lipschitz bound may provide a better tradeoff between natural and certified accuracy, but is generally hard to compute exactly due to non-convexity of the network. In this work, we propose an efficient and trainable \emph{local} Lipschitz upper bound by considering the interactions between activation functions (e.g. ReLU) and weight matrices. Specifically, when computing the induced norm of a weight matrix, we eliminate the corresponding rows and columns where the activation function is guaranteed to be a constant in the neighborhood of each given data point, which provides a provably tighter bound than the global Lipschitz constant of the neural network. Our method can be used as a plug-in module to tighten the Lipschitz bound in many certifiable training algorithms. Furthermore, we propose to clip activation functions (e.g., ReLU and MaxMin) with a learnable upper threshold and a sparsity loss to assist the network to achieve an even tighter local Lipschitz bound. Experimentally, we show that our method consistently outperforms state-of-the-art methods in both clean and certified accuracy on MNIST, CIFAR-10 and TinyImageNet datasets with various network architectures.

Policy Optimization in Adversarial MDPs: Improved Exploration via Dilated Bonuses

Haipeng Luo · Chen-Yu Wei · Chung-Wei Lee

Policy optimization is a widely-used method in reinforcement learning. Due to its local-search nature, however, theoretical guarantees on global optimality often rely on extra assumptions on the Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) that bypass the challenge of global exploration. To eliminate the need of such assumptions, in this work, we develop a general solution that adds dilated bonuses to the policy update to facilitate global exploration. To showcase the power and generality of this technique, we apply it to several episodic MDP settings with adversarial losses and bandit feedback, improving and generalizing the state-of-the-art. Specifically, in the tabular case, we obtain $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{T})$ regret where $T$ is the number of episodes, improving the $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}({T}^{\frac{2}{3}})$ regret bound by Shani et al. [2020]. When the number of states is infinite, under the assumption that the state-action values are linear in some low-dimensional features, we obtain $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}({T}^{\frac{2}{3}})$ regret with the help of a simulator, matching the result of Neu and Olkhovskaya [2020] while importantly removing the need of an exploratory policy that their algorithm requires. To our knowledge, this is the first algorithm with sublinear regret for linear function approximation with adversarial losses, bandit feedback, and no exploratory assumptions. Finally, we also discuss how to further improve the regret or remove the need of a simulator using dilated bonuses, when an exploratory policy is available.

NN-Baker: A Neural-network Infused Algorithmic Framework for Optimization Problems on Geometric Intersection Graphs

Evan McCarty · Qi Zhao · Anastasios Sidiropoulos · Yusu Wang

Recent years have witnessed a surge of approaches to use neural networks to help tackle combinatorial optimization problems, including graph optimization problems. However, theoretical understanding of such approaches remains limited. In this paper, we consider the geometric setting, where graphs are induced by points in a fixed dimensional Euclidean space. We show that several graph optimization problems can be approximated by an algorithm that is polynomial in graph size n via a framework we propose, call the Baker-paradigm. More importantly, a key advantage of the Baker-paradigm is that it decomposes the input problem into (at most linear number of) small sub-problems of fixed sizes (independent of the size of the input). For the family of such fixed-size sub-problems, we can now design neural networks with universal approximation guarantees to solve them. This leads to a mixed algorithmic-ML framework, which we call NN-Baker that has the capacity to approximately solve a family of graph optimization problems (e.g, maximum independent set and minimum vertex cover) in time linear to input graph size, and only polynomial to approximation parameter. We instantiate our NN-Baker by a CNN version and GNN version, and demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of our approach via a range of experiments.

PLUR: A Unifying, Graph-Based View of Program Learning, Understanding, and Repair

Zimin Chen · Vincent J Hellendoorn · Pascal Lamblin · Petros Maniatis · Pierre-Antoine Manzagol · Daniel Tarlow · Subhodeep Moitra

Machine learning for understanding and editing source code has recently attracted significant interest, with many developments in new models, new code representations, and new tasks.This proliferation can appear disparate and disconnected, making each approach seemingly unique and incompatible, thus obscuring the core machine learning challenges and contributions.In this work, we demonstrate that the landscape can be significantly simplified by taking a general approach of mapping a graph to a sequence of tokens and pointers.Our main result is to show that 16 recently published tasks of different shapes can be cast in this form, based on which a single model architecture achieves near or above state-of-the-art results on nearly all tasks, outperforming custom models like code2seq and alternative generic models like Transformers.This unification further enables multi-task learning and a series of cross-cutting experiments about the importance of different modeling choices for code understanding and repair tasks.The full framework, called PLUR, is easily extensible to more tasks, and will be open-sourced (

XDO: A Double Oracle Algorithm for Extensive-Form Games

Stephen McAleer · JB Lanier · Kevin A Wang · Pierre Baldi · Roy Fox

Policy Space Response Oracles (PSRO) is a reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm for two-player zero-sum games that has been empirically shown to find approximate Nash equilibria in large games. Although PSRO is guaranteed to converge to an approximate Nash equilibrium and can handle continuous actions, it may take an exponential number of iterations as the number of information states (infostates) grows. We propose Extensive-Form Double Oracle (XDO), an extensive-form double oracle algorithm for two-player zero-sum games that is guaranteed to converge to an approximate Nash equilibrium linearly in the number of infostates. Unlike PSRO, which mixes best responses at the root of the game, XDO mixes best responses at every infostate. We also introduce Neural XDO (NXDO), where the best response is learned through deep RL. In tabular experiments on Leduc poker, we find that XDO achieves an approximate Nash equilibrium in a number of iterations an order of magnitude smaller than PSRO. Experiments on a modified Leduc poker game and Oshi-Zumo show that tabular XDO achieves a lower exploitability than CFR with the same amount of computation. We also find that NXDO outperforms PSRO and NFSP on a sequential multidimensional continuous-action game. NXDO is the first deep RL method that can find an approximate Nash equilibrium in high-dimensional continuous-action sequential games.

A mechanistic multi-area recurrent network model of decision-making

Michael Kleinman · Chandramouli Chandrasekaran · Jonathan Kao

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) trained on neuroscience-based tasks have been widely used as models for cortical areas performing analogous tasks. However, very few tasks involve a single cortical area, and instead require the coordination of multiple brain areas. Despite the importance of multi-area computation, there is a limited understanding of the principles underlying such computation. We propose to use multi-area RNNs with neuroscience-inspired architecture constraints to derive key features of multi-area computation. In particular, we show that incorporating multiple areas and Dale's Law is critical for biasing the networks to learn biologically plausible solutions. Additionally, we leverage the full observability of the RNNs to show that output-relevant information is preferentially propagated between areas. These results suggest that cortex uses modular computation to generate minimal sufficient representations of task information. More broadly, our results suggest that constrained multi-area RNNs can produce experimentally testable hypotheses for computations that occur within and across multiple brain areas, enabling new insights into distributed computation in neural systems.

Differentiable Spike: Rethinking Gradient-Descent for Training Spiking Neural Networks

Yuhang Li · Yufei Guo · Shanghang Zhang · Shikuang Deng · Yongqing Hai · Shi Gu

Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) have emerged as a biology-inspired method mimicking the spiking nature of brain neurons. This bio-mimicry derives SNNs' energy efficiency of inference on neuromorphic hardware. However, it also causes an intrinsic disadvantage in training high-performing SNNs from scratch since the discrete spike prohibits the gradient calculation. To overcome this issue, the surrogate gradient (SG) approach has been proposed as a continuous relaxation. Yet the heuristic choice of SG leaves it vacant how the SG benefits the SNN training. In this work, we first theoretically study the gradient descent problem in SNN training and introduce finite difference gradient to quantitatively analyze the training behavior of SNN. Based on the introduced finite difference gradient, we propose a new family of Differentiable Spike (Dspike) functions that can adaptively evolve during training to find the optimal shape and smoothness for gradient estimation. Extensive experiments over several popular network structures show that training SNN with Dspike consistently outperforms the state-of-the-art training methods. For example, on the CIFAR10-DVS classification task, we can train a spiking ResNet-18 and achieve 75.4% top-1 accuracy with 10 time steps.

Towards a Theoretical Framework of Out-of-Distribution Generalization

Haotian Ye · Chuanlong Xie · Tianle Cai · Ruichen Li · Zhenguo Li · Liwei Wang

Generalization to out-of-distribution (OOD) data is one of the central problems in modern machine learning. Recently, there is a surge of attempts to propose algorithms that mainly build upon the idea of extracting invariant features. Although intuitively reasonable, theoretical understanding of what kind of invariance can guarantee OOD generalization is still limited, and generalization to arbitrary out-of-distribution is clearly impossible. In this work, we take the first step towards rigorous and quantitative definitions of 1) what is OOD; and 2) what does it mean by saying an OOD problem is learnable. We also introduce a new concept of expansion function, which characterizes to what extent the variance is amplified in the test domains over the training domains, and therefore give a quantitative meaning of invariant features. Based on these, we prove an OOD generalization error bound. It turns out that OOD generalization largely depends on the expansion function. As recently pointed out by Gulrajani & Lopez-Paz (2020), any OOD learning algorithm without a model selection module is incomplete. Our theory naturally induces a model selection criterion. Extensive experiments on benchmark OOD datasets demonstrate that our model selection criterion has a significant advantage over baselines.

Learning State Representations from Random Deep Action-conditional Predictions

Zeyu Zheng · Vivek Veeriah · Risto Vuorio · Richard L Lewis · Satinder Singh

Our main contribution in this work is an empirical finding that random General Value Functions (GVFs), i.e., deep action-conditional predictions---random both in what feature of observations they predict as well as in the sequence of actions the predictions are conditioned upon---form good auxiliary tasks for reinforcement learning (RL) problems. In particular, we show that random deep action-conditional predictions when used as auxiliary tasks yield state representations that produce control performance competitive with state-of-the-art hand-crafted auxiliary tasks like value prediction, pixel control, and CURL in both Atari and DeepMind Lab tasks. In another set of experiments we stop the gradients from the RL part of the network to the state representation learning part of the network and show, perhaps surprisingly, that the auxiliary tasks alone are sufficient to learn state representations good enough to outperform an end-to-end trained actor-critic baseline. We opensourced our code at

Adaptive Denoising via GainTuning

Sreyas Mohan · Joshua L Vincent · Ramon Manzorro · Peter Crozier · Carlos Fernandez-Granda · Eero Simoncelli

Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for image denoising are typically trained on large datasets. These models achieve the current state of the art, but they do not generalize well to data that deviate from the training distribution. Recent work has shown that it is possible to train denoisers on a single noisy image. These models adapt to the features of the test image, but their performance is limited by the small amount of information used to train them. Here we propose "GainTuning'', a methodology by which CNN models pre-trained on large datasets can be adaptively and selectively adjusted for individual test images. To avoid overfitting, GainTuning optimizes a single multiplicative scaling parameter (the “Gain”) of each channel in the convolutional layers of the CNN. We show that GainTuning improves state-of-the-art CNNs on standard image-denoising benchmarks, boosting their denoising performance on nearly every image in a held-out test set. These adaptive improvements are even more substantial for test images differing systematically from the training data, either in noise level or image type. We illustrate the potential of adaptive GainTuning in a scientific application to transmission-electron-microscope images, using a CNN that is pre-trained on synthetic data. In contrast to the existing methodology, GainTuning is able to faithfully reconstruct the structure of catalytic nanoparticles from these data at extremely low signal-to-noise ratios.

Be Confident! Towards Trustworthy Graph Neural Networks via Confidence Calibration

Xiao Wang · Hongrui Liu · Chuan Shi · Cheng Yang

Despite Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have achieved remarkable accuracy, whether the results are trustworthy is still unexplored. Previous studies suggest that many modern neural networks are over-confident on the predictions, however, surprisingly, we discover that GNNs are primarily in the opposite direction, i.e., GNNs are under-confident. Therefore, the confidence calibration for GNNs is highly desired. In this paper, we propose a novel trustworthy GNN model by designing a topology-aware post-hoc calibration function. Specifically, we first verify that the confidence distribution in a graph has homophily property, and this finding inspires us to design a calibration GNN model (CaGCN) to learn the calibration function. CaGCN is able to obtain a unique transformation from logits of GNNs to the calibrated confidence for each node, meanwhile, such transformation is able to preserve the order between classes, satisfying the accuracy-preserving property. Moreover, we apply the calibration GNN to self-training framework, showing that more trustworthy pseudo labels can be obtained with the calibrated confidence and further improve the performance. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed model in terms of both calibration and accuracy.

Particle Cloud Generation with Message Passing Generative Adversarial Networks

Raghav Kansal · Javier Duarte · Hao Su · Breno Orzari · Thiago Tomei · Maurizio Pierini · Mary Touranakou · jean-roch vlimant · Dimitrios Gunopulos

In high energy physics (HEP), jets are collections of correlated particles produced ubiquitously in particle collisions such as those at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Machine learning (ML)-based generative models, such as generative adversarial networks (GANs), have the potential to significantly accelerate LHC jet simulations. However, despite jets having a natural representation as a set of particles in momentum-space, a.k.a. a particle cloud, there exist no generative models applied to such a dataset. In this work, we introduce a new particle cloud dataset (JetNet), and apply to it existing point cloud GANs. Results are evaluated using (1) 1-Wasserstein distances between high- and low-level feature distributions, (2) a newly developed Fréchet ParticleNet Distance, and (3) the coverage and (4) minimum matching distance metrics. Existing GANs are found to be inadequate for physics applications, hence we develop a new message passing GAN (MPGAN), which outperforms existing point cloud GANs on virtually every metric and shows promise for use in HEP. We propose JetNet as a novel point-cloud-style dataset for the ML community to experiment with, and set MPGAN as a benchmark to improve upon for future generative models. Additionally, to facilitate research and improve accessibility and reproducibility in this area, we release the open-source JetNet Python package with interfaces for particle cloud datasets, implementations for evaluation and loss metrics, and more tools for ML in HEP development.

Dual Adaptivity: A Universal Algorithm for Minimizing the Adaptive Regret of Convex Functions

Lijun Zhang · Guanghui Wang · Wei-Wei Tu · Wei Jiang · Zhi-Hua Zhou

To deal with changing environments, a new performance measure—adaptive regret, defined as the maximum static regret over any interval, was proposed in online learning. Under the setting of online convex optimization, several algorithms have been successfully developed to minimize the adaptive regret. However, existing algorithms lack universality in the sense that they can only handle one type of convex functions and need apriori knowledge of parameters. By contrast, there exist universal algorithms, such as MetaGrad, that attain optimal static regret for multiple types of convex functions simultaneously. Along this line of research, this paper presents the first universal algorithm for minimizing the adaptive regret of convex functions. Specifically, we borrow the idea of maintaining multiple learning rates in MetaGrad to handle the uncertainty of functions, and utilize the technique of sleeping experts to capture changing environments. In this way, our algorithm automatically adapts to the property of functions (convex, exponentially concave, or strongly convex), as well as the nature of environments (stationary or changing). As a by product, it also allows the type of functions to switch between rounds.

NovelD: A Simple yet Effective Exploration Criterion

Tianjun Zhang · Huazhe Xu · Xiaolong Wang · Yi Wu · Kurt Keutzer · Joseph Gonzalez · Yuandong Tian

Efficient exploration under sparse rewards remains a key challenge in deep reinforcement learning. Previous exploration methods (e.g., RND) have achieved strong results in multiple hard tasks. However, if there are multiple novel areas to explore, these methods often focus quickly on one without sufficiently trying others (like a depth-wise first search manner). In some scenarios (e.g., four corridor environment in Sec 4.2), we observe they explore in one corridor for long and fail to cover all the states. On the other hand, in theoretical RL, with optimistic initialization and the inverse square root of visitation count as a bonus, it won't suffer from this and explores different novel regions alternatively (like a breadth-first search manner). In this paper, inspired by this, we propose a simple but effective criterion called NovelD by weighting every novel area approximately equally. Our algorithm is very simple but yet shows comparable performance or even outperforms multiple SOTA exploration methods in many hard exploration tasks. Specifically, NovelD solves all the static procedurally-generated tasks in Mini-Grid with just 120M environment steps, without any curriculum learning. In comparison, the previous SOTA only solves 50% of them. NovelD also achieves SOTA on multiple tasks in NetHack, a rogue-like game that contains more challenging procedurally-generated environments. In multiple Atari games (e.g., MonteZuma's Revenge, Venture, Gravitar), NovelD outperforms RND. We analyze NovelD thoroughly in MiniGrid and found that empirically it helps the agent explore the environment more uniformly with a focus on exploring beyond the boundary.

Machine versus Human Attention in Deep Reinforcement Learning Tasks

Sihang Guo · Ruohan Zhang · Bo Liu · Yifeng Zhu · Dana Ballard · Mary Hayhoe · Peter Stone

Deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms are powerful tools for solving visuomotor decision tasks. However, the trained models are often difficult to interpret, because they are represented as end-to-end deep neural networks. In this paper, we shed light on the inner workings of such trained models by analyzing the pixels that they attend to during task execution, and comparing them with the pixels attended to by humans executing the same tasks. To this end, we investigate the following two questions that, to the best of our knowledge, have not been previously studied. 1) How similar are the visual representations learned by RL agents and humans when performing the same task? and, 2) How do similarities and differences in these learned representations explain RL agents' performance on these tasks? Specifically, we compare the saliency maps of RL agents against visual attention models of human experts when learning to play Atari games. Further, we analyze how hyperparameters of the deep RL algorithm affect the learned representations and saliency maps of the trained agents. The insights provided have the potential to inform novel algorithms for closing the performance gap between human experts and RL agents.

Absolute Neighbour Difference based Correlation Test for Detecting Heteroscedastic Relationships

Lifeng Zhang

It is a challenge to detect complicated data relationships thoroughly. Here, we propose a new statistical measure, named the absolute neighbour difference based neighbour correlation coefficient, to detect the associations between variables through examining the heteroscedasticity of the unpredictable variation of dependent variables. Different from previous studies, the new method concentrates on measuring nonfunctional relationships rather than functional or mixed associations. Either used alone or in combination with other measures, it enables not only a convenient test of heteroscedasticity, but also measuring functional and nonfunctional relationships separately that obviously leads to a deeper insight into the data associations. The method is concise and easy to implement that does not rely on explicitly estimating the regression residuals or the dependencies between variables so that it is not restrict to any kind of model assumption. The mechanisms of the correlation test are proved in theory and demonstrated with numerical analyses.

Learning Frequency Domain Approximation for Binary Neural Networks

Yixing Xu · Kai Han · Chang Xu · Yehui Tang · Chunjing XU · Yunhe Wang

Binary neural networks (BNNs) represent original full-precision weights and activations into 1-bit with sign function. Since the gradient of the conventional sign function is almost zero everywhere which cannot be used for back-propagation, several attempts have been proposed to alleviate the optimization difficulty by using approximate gradient. However, those approximations corrupt the main direction of factual gradient. To this end, we propose to estimate the gradient of sign function in the Fourier frequency domain using the combination of sine functions for training BNNs, namely frequency domain approximation (FDA). The proposed approach does not affect the low-frequency information of the original sign function which occupies most of the overall energy, and high-frequency coefficients will be ignored to avoid the huge computational overhead. In addition, we embed a noise adaptation module into the training phase to compensate the approximation error. The experiments on several benchmark datasets and neural architectures illustrate that the binary network learned using our method achieves the state-of-the-art accuracy. Code will be available at

A Faster Decentralized Algorithm for Nonconvex Minimax Problems

Wenhan Xian · Feihu Huang · Yanfu Zhang · Heng Huang

In this paper, we study the nonconvex-strongly-concave minimax optimization problem on decentralized setting. The minimax problems are attracting increasing attentions because of their popular practical applications such as policy evaluation and adversarial training. As training data become larger, distributed training has been broadly adopted in machine learning tasks. Recent research works show that the decentralized distributed data-parallel training techniques are specially promising, because they can achieve the efficient communications and avoid the bottleneck problem on the central node or the latency of low bandwidth network. However, the decentralized minimax problems were seldom studied in literature and the existing methods suffer from very high gradient complexity. To address this challenge, we propose a new faster decentralized algorithm, named as DM-HSGD, for nonconvex minimax problems by using the variance reduced technique of hybrid stochastic gradient descent. We prove that our DM-HSGD algorithm achieves stochastic first-order oracle (SFO) complexity of $O(\kappa^3 \epsilon^{-3})$ for decentralized stochastic nonconvex-strongly-concave problem to search an $\epsilon$-stationary point, which improves the exiting best theoretical results. Moreover, we also prove that our algorithm achieves linear speedup with respect to the number of workers. Our experiments on decentralized settings show the superior performance of our new algorithm.

Revisiting 3D Object Detection From an Egocentric Perspective

Boyang Deng · Charles R Qi · Mahyar Najibi · Thomas Funkhouser · Yin Zhou · Dragomir Anguelov

3D object detection is a key module for safety-critical robotics applications such as autonomous driving. For these applications, we care most about how the detections affect the ego-agent’s behavior and safety (the egocentric perspective). Intuitively, we seek more accurate descriptions of object geometry when it’s more likely to interfere with the ego-agent’s motion trajectory. However, current detection metrics, based on box Intersection-over-Union (IoU), are object-centric and aren’t designed to capture the spatio-temporal relationship between objects and the ego-agent. To address this issue, we propose a new egocentric measure to evaluate 3D object detection, namely Support Distance Error (SDE). Our analysis based on SDE reveals that the egocentric detection quality is bounded by the coarse geometry of the bounding boxes. Given the insight that SDE would benefit from more accurate geometry descriptions, we propose to represent objects as amodal contours, specifically amodal star-shaped polygons, and devise a simple model, StarPoly, to predict such contours. Our experiments on the large-scale Waymo Open Dataset show that SDE better reflects the impact of detection quality on the ego-agent’s safety compared to IoU; and the estimated contours from StarPoly consistently improve the egocentric detection quality over recent 3D object detectors.

Gradient-Free Adversarial Training Against Image Corruption for Learning-based Steering

Yu Shen · Laura Zheng · Manli Shu · Weizi Li · Tom Goldstein · Ming Lin

We introduce a simple yet effective framework for improving the robustness of learning algorithms against image corruptions for autonomous driving. These corruptions can occur due to both internal (e.g., sensor noises and hardware abnormalities) and external factors (e.g., lighting, weather, visibility, and other environmental effects). Using sensitivity analysis with FID-based parameterization, we propose a novel algorithm exploiting basis perturbations to improve the overall performance of autonomous steering and other image processing tasks, such as classification and detection, for self-driving cars. Our model not only improves the performance on the original dataset, but also achieves significant performance improvement on datasets with multiple and unseen perturbations, up to 87% and 77%, respectively. A comparison between our approach and other SOTA techniques confirms the effectiveness of our technique in improving the robustness of neural network training for learning-based steering and other image processing tasks.

The Elastic Lottery Ticket Hypothesis

Xiaohan Chen · Yu Cheng · Shuohang Wang · Zhe Gan · Jingjing Liu · Zhangyang Wang

Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH) raises keen attention to identifying sparse trainable subnetworks, or winning tickets, which can be trained in isolation to achieve similar or even better performance compared to the full models. Despite many efforts being made, the most effective method to identify such winning tickets is still Iterative Magnitude-based Pruning (IMP), which is computationally expensive and has to be run thoroughly for every different network. A natural question that comes in is: can we “transform” the winning ticket found in one network to another with a different architecture, yielding a winning ticket for the latter at the beginning, without re-doing the expensive IMP? Answering this question is not only practically relevant for efficient “once-for-all” winning ticket finding, but also theoretically appealing for uncovering inherently scalable sparse patterns in networks. We conduct extensive experiments on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet, and propose a variety of strategies to tweak the winning tickets found from different networks of the same model family (e.g., ResNets). Based on these results, we articulate the Elastic Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (E-LTH): by mindfully replicating (or dropping) and re-ordering layers for one network, its corresponding winning ticket could be stretched (or squeezed) into a subnetwork for another deeper (or shallower) network from the same family, whose performance is nearly the same competitive as the latter’s winning ticket directly found by IMP. We have also extensively compared E-LTH with pruning-at-initialization and dynamic sparse training methods, as well as discussed the generalizability of E-LTH to different model families, layer types, and across datasets. Code is available at

Bandit Learning with Delayed Impact of Actions

Wei Tang · Chien-Ju Ho · Yang Liu

We consider a stochastic multi-armed bandit (MAB) problem with delayed impact of actions. In our setting, actions taken in the pastimpact the arm rewards in the subsequent future. This delayed impact of actions is prevalent in the real world. For example, the capability to pay back a loan for people in a certain social group might depend on historically how frequently that group has been approved loan applications. If banks keep rejecting loan applications to people in a disadvantaged group, it could create a feedback loop and further damage the chance of getting loans for people in that group. In this paper, we formulate this delayed and long-term impact of actions within the context of multi-armed bandits. We generalize the bandit setting to encode the dependency of this ``bias" due to the action history during learning. The goal is to maximize the collected utilities over time while taking into account the dynamics created by the delayed impacts of historical actions. We propose an algorithm that achieves a regret of $\tilde{O}(KT^{2/3})$ and show a matching regret lower bound of $\Omega(KT^{2/3})$, where $K$ is the number of arms and $T$ is the learning horizon. Our results complement the bandit literature by adding techniques to deal with actions with long-term impacts and have implications in designing fair algorithms.

Teaching via Best-Case Counterexamples in the Learning-with-Equivalence-Queries Paradigm

Akash Kumar · Yuxin Chen · Adish Singla

We study the sample complexity of teaching, termed as "teaching dimension" (TD) in the literature, for the learning-with-equivalence-queries (LwEQ) paradigm. More concretely, we consider a learner who asks equivalence queries (i.e., "is the queried hypothesis the target hypothesis?"), and a teacher responds either "yes" or "no" along with a counterexample to the queried hypothesis. This learning paradigm has been extensively studied when the learner receives worst-case or random counterexamples; in this paper, we consider the optimal teacher who picks best-case counterexamples to teach the target hypothesis within a hypothesis class. For this optimal teacher, we introduce LwEQ-TD, a notion of TD capturing the teaching complexity (i.e., the number of queries made) in this paradigm. We show that a significant reduction in queries can be achieved with best-case counterexamples, in contrast to worst-case or random counterexamples, for different hypothesis classes. Furthermore, we establish new connections of LwEQ-TD to the well-studied notions of TD in the learning-from-samples paradigm.

The Role of Global Labels in Few-Shot Classification and How to Infer Them

Ruohan Wang · Massimiliano Pontil · Carlo Ciliberto

Few-shot learning is a central problem in meta-learning, where learners must quickly adapt to new tasks given limited training data. Recently, feature pre-training has become a ubiquitous component in state-of-the-art meta-learning methods and is shown to provide significant performance improvement. However, there is limited theoretical understanding of the connection between pre-training and meta-learning. Further, pre-training requires global labels shared across tasks, which may be unavailable in practice. In this paper, we show why exploiting pre-training is theoretically advantageous for meta-learning, and in particular the critical role of global labels. This motivates us to propose Meta Label Learning (MeLa), a novel meta-learning framework that automatically infers global labels to obtains robust few-shot models. Empirically, we demonstrate that MeLa is competitive with existing methods and provide extensive ablation experiments to highlight its key properties.

Baleen: Robust Multi-Hop Reasoning at Scale via Condensed Retrieval

Omar Khattab · Christopher Potts · Matei Zaharia

Multi-hop reasoning (i.e., reasoning across two or more documents) is a key ingredient for NLP models that leverage large corpora to exhibit broad knowledge. To retrieve evidence passages, multi-hop models must contend with a fast-growing search space across the hops, represent complex queries that combine multiple information needs, and resolve ambiguity about the best order in which to hop between training passages. We tackle these problems via Baleen, a system that improves the accuracy of multi-hop retrieval while learning robustly from weak training signals in the many-hop setting. To tame the search space, we propose condensed retrieval, a pipeline that summarizes the retrieved passages after each hop into a single compact context. To model complex queries, we introduce a focused late interaction retriever that allows different parts of the same query representation to match disparate relevant passages. Lastly, to infer the hopping dependencies among unordered training passages, we devise latent hop ordering, a weak-supervision strategy in which the trained retriever itself selects the sequence of hops. We evaluate Baleen on retrieval for two-hop question answering and many-hop claim verification, establishing state-of-the-art performance.

On Learning Domain-Invariant Representations for Transfer Learning with Multiple Sources

Trung Phung · Trung Le · Tung-Long Vuong · Toan Tran · Anh Tran · Hung Bui · Dinh Phung

Domain adaptation (DA) benefits from the rigorous theoretical works that study its insightful characteristics and various aspects, e.g., learning domain-invariant representations and its trade-off. However, it seems not the case for the multiple source DA and domain generalization (DG) settings which are remarkably more complicated and sophisticated due to the involvement of multiple source domains and potential unavailability of target domain during training. In this paper, we develop novel upper-bounds for the target general loss which appeal us to define two kinds of domain-invariant representations. We further study the pros and cons as well as the trade-offs of enforcing learning each domain-invariant representation. Finally, we conduct experiments to inspect the trade-off of these representations for offering practical hints regarding how to use them in practice and explore other interesting properties of our developed theory.

You Are the Best Reviewer of Your Own Papers: An Owner-Assisted Scoring Mechanism

Weijie Su

I consider the setting where reviewers offer very noisy scores for a number of items for the selection of high-quality ones (e.g., peer review of large conference proceedings) whereas the owner of these items knows the true underlying scores but prefers not to provide this information. To address this withholding of information, in this paper, I introduce the Isotonic Mechanism, a simple and efficient approach to improving on the imprecise raw scores by leveraging certain information that the owner is incentivized to provide. This mechanism takes as input the ranking of the items from best to worst provided by the owner, in addition to the raw scores provided by the reviewers. It reports adjusted scores for the items by solving a convex optimization problem. Under certain conditions, I show that the owner's optimal strategy is to honestly report the true ranking of the items to her best knowledge in order to maximize the expected utility. Moreover, I prove that the adjusted scores provided by this owner-assisted mechanism are indeed significantly moreaccurate than the raw scores provided by the reviewers. This paper concludes with several extensions of the Isotonic Mechanism and some refinements of the mechanism for practical considerations.

CBP: backpropagation with constraint on weight precision using a pseudo-Lagrange multiplier method

Guhyun Kim · Doo Seok Jeong

Backward propagation of errors (backpropagation) is a method to minimize objective functions (e.g., loss functions) of deep neural networks by identifying optimal sets of weights and biases. Imposing constraints on weight precision is often required to alleviate prohibitive workloads on hardware. Despite the remarkable success of backpropagation, the algorithm itself is not capable of considering such constraints unless additional algorithms are applied simultaneously. To address this issue, we propose the constrained backpropagation (CBP) algorithm based on the pseudo-Lagrange multiplier method to obtain the optimal set of weights that satisfy a given set of constraints. The defining characteristic of the proposed CBP algorithm is the utilization of a Lagrangian function (loss function plus constraint function) as its objective function. We considered various types of constraints — binary, ternary, one-bit shift, and two-bit shift weight constraints. As a post-training method, CBP applied to AlexNet, ResNet-18, ResNet-50, and GoogLeNet on ImageNet, which were pre-trained using the conventional backpropagation. For most cases, the proposed algorithm outperforms the state-of-the-art methods on ImageNet, e.g., 66.6\%, 74.4\%, and 64.0\% top-1 accuracy for ResNet-18, ResNet-50, and GoogLeNet with binary weights, respectively. This highlights CBP as a learning algorithm to address diverse constraints with the minimal performance loss by employing appropriate constraint functions. The code for CBP is publicly available at \url{}.

Stateful Strategic Regression

Keegan Harris · Hoda Heidari · Steven Wu

Automated decision-making tools increasingly assess individuals to determine if they qualify for high-stakes opportunities. A recent line of research investigates how strategic agents may respond to such scoring tools to receive favorable assessments. While prior work has focused on the short-term strategic interactions between a decision-making institution (modeled as a principal) and individual decision-subjects (modeled as agents), we investigate interactions spanning multiple time-steps. In particular, we consider settings in which the agent's effort investment today can accumulate over time in the form of an internal state - impacting both his future rewards and that of the principal. We characterize the Stackelberg equilibrium of the resulting game and provide novel algorithms for computing it. Our analysis reveals several intriguing insights about the role of multiple interactions in shaping the game's outcome: First, we establish that in our stateful setting, the class of all linear assessment policies remains as powerful as the larger class of all monotonic assessment policies. While recovering the principal's optimal policy requires solving a non-convex optimization problem, we provide polynomial-time algorithms for recovering both the principal and agent's optimal policies under common assumptions about the process by which effort investments convert to observable features. Most importantly, we show that with multiple rounds of interaction at her disposal, the principal is more effective at incentivizing the agent to accumulate effort in her desired direction. Our work addresses several critical gaps in the growing literature on the societal impacts of automated decision-making - by focusing on longer time horizons and accounting for the compounding nature of decisions individuals receive over time.

Unsupervised Domain Adaptation with Dynamics-Aware Rewards in Reinforcement Learning

Jinxin Liu · Hao Shen · Donglin Wang · Yachen Kang · Qiangxing Tian

Unsupervised reinforcement learning aims to acquire skills without prior goal representations, where an agent automatically explores an open-ended environment to represent goals and learn the goal-conditioned policy. However, this procedure is often time-consuming, limiting the rollout in some potentially expensive target environments. The intuitive approach of training in another interaction-rich environment disrupts the reproducibility of trained skills in the target environment due to the dynamics shifts and thus inhibits direct transferring. Assuming free access to a source environment, we propose an unsupervised domain adaptation method to identify and acquire skills across dynamics. Particularly, we introduce a KL regularized objective to encourage emergence of skills, rewarding the agent for both discovering skills and aligning its behaviors respecting dynamics shifts. This suggests that both dynamics (source and target) shape the reward to facilitate the learning of adaptive skills. We also conduct empirical experiments to demonstrate that our method can effectively learn skills that can be smoothly deployed in target.

Unsupervised Object-Level Representation Learning from Scene Images

Jiahao Xie · Xiaohang Zhan · Ziwei Liu · Yew Soon Ong · Chen Change Loy

Contrastive self-supervised learning has largely narrowed the gap to supervised pre-training on ImageNet. However, its success highly relies on the object-centric priors of ImageNet, i.e., different augmented views of the same image correspond to the same object. Such a heavily curated constraint becomes immediately infeasible when pre-trained on more complex scene images with many objects. To overcome this limitation, we introduce Object-level Representation Learning (ORL), a new self-supervised learning framework towards scene images. Our key insight is to leverage image-level self-supervised pre-training as the prior to discover object-level semantic correspondence, thus realizing object-level representation learning from scene images. Extensive experiments on COCO show that ORL significantly improves the performance of self-supervised learning on scene images, even surpassing supervised ImageNet pre-training on several downstream tasks. Furthermore, ORL improves the downstream performance when more unlabeled scene images are available, demonstrating its great potential of harnessing unlabeled data in the wild. We hope our approach can motivate future research on more general-purpose unsupervised representation learning from scene data.

Differentiable Optimization of Generalized Nondecomposable Functions using Linear Programs

Zihang Meng · Lopamudra Mukherjee · Yichao Wu · Vikas Singh · Sathya Ravi

We propose a framework which makes it feasible to directly train deep neural networks with respect to popular families of task-specific non-decomposable performance measures such as AUC, multi-class AUC, $F$-measure and others. A common feature of the optimization model that emerges from these tasks is that it involves solving a Linear Programs (LP) during training where representations learned by upstream layers characterize the constraints or the feasible set. The constraint matrix is not only large but the constraints are also modified at each iteration. We show how adopting a set of ingenious ideas proposed by Mangasarian for 1-norm SVMs -- which advocates for solving LPs with a generalized Newton method -- provides a simple and effective solution that can be run on the GPU. In particular, this strategy needs little unrolling, which makes it more efficient during backward pass. Further, even when the constraint matrix is too large to fit on the GPU memory (say large minibatch settings), we show that running the Newton method in a lower dimensional space yields accurate gradients for training, by utilizing a statistical concept called {\em sufficient} dimension reduction. While a number of specialized algorithms have been proposed for the models that we describe here, our module turns out to be applicable without any specific adjustments or relaxations. We describe each use case, study its properties and demonstrate the efficacy of the approach over alternatives which use surrogate lower bounds and often, specialized optimization schemes. Frequently, we achieve superior computational behavior and performance improvements on common datasets used in the literature.

Learning with Noisy Correspondence for Cross-modal Matching

Zhenyu Huang · Guocheng Niu · Xiao Liu · Wenbiao Ding · Xinyan Xiao · Hua Wu · Xi Peng

Cross-modal matching, which aims to establish the correspondence between two different modalities, is fundamental to a variety of tasks such as cross-modal retrieval and vision-and-language understanding. Although a huge number of cross-modal matching methods have been proposed and achieved remarkable progress in recent years, almost all of these methods implicitly assume that the multimodal training data are correctly aligned. In practice, however, such an assumption is extremely expensive even impossible to satisfy. Based on this observation, we reveal and study a latent and challenging direction in cross-modal matching, named noisy correspondence, which could be regarded as a new paradigm of noisy labels. Different from the traditional noisy labels which mainly refer to the errors in category labels, our noisy correspondence refers to the mismatch paired samples. To solve this new problem, we propose a novel method for learning with noisy correspondence, named Noisy Correspondence Rectifier (NCR). In brief, NCR divides the data into clean and noisy partitions based on the memorization effect of neural networks and then rectifies the correspondence via an adaptive prediction model in a co-teaching manner. To verify the effectiveness of our method, we conduct experiments by using the image-text matching as a showcase. Extensive experiments on Flickr30K, MS-COCO, and Conceptual Captions verify the effectiveness of our method. The code could be accessed from .

Parameter Prediction for Unseen Deep Architectures

Boris Knyazev · Michal Drozdzal · Graham Taylor · Adriana Romero Soriano

Deep learning has been successful in automating the design of features in machine learning pipelines. However, the algorithms optimizing neural network parameters remain largely hand-designed and computationally inefficient. We study if we can use deep learning to directly predict these parameters by exploiting the past knowledge of training other networks. We introduce a large-scale dataset of diverse computational graphs of neural architectures - DeepNets-1M - and use it to explore parameter prediction on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet. By leveraging advances in graph neural networks, we propose a hypernetwork that can predict performant parameters in a single forward pass taking a fraction of a second, even on a CPU. The proposed model achieves surprisingly good performance on unseen and diverse networks. For example, it is able to predict all 24 million parameters of a ResNet-50 achieving a 60% accuracy on CIFAR-10. On ImageNet, top-5 accuracy of some of our networks approaches 50%. Our task along with the model and results can potentially lead to a new, more computationally efficient paradigm of training networks. Our model also learns a strong representation of neural architectures enabling their analysis.

FMMformer: Efficient and Flexible Transformer via Decomposed Near-field and Far-field Attention

Tan Nguyen · Vai Suliafu · Stanley Osher · Long Chen · Bao Wang

We propose FMMformers, a class of efficient and flexible transformers inspired by the celebrated fast multipole method (FMM) for accelerating interacting particle simulation. FMM decomposes particle-particle interaction into near-field and far-field components and then performs direct and coarse-grained computation, respectively. Similarly, FMMformers decompose the attention into near-field and far-field attention, modeling the near-field attention by a banded matrix and the far-field attention by a low-rank matrix. Computing the attention matrix for FMMformers requires linear complexity in computational time and memory footprint with respect to the sequence length. In contrast, standard transformers suffer from quadratic complexity. We analyze and validate the advantage of FMMformers over the standard transformer on the Long Range Arena and language modeling benchmarks. FMMformers can even outperform the standard transformer in terms of accuracy by a significant margin. For instance, FMMformers achieve an average classification accuracy of $60.74\%$ over the five Long Range Arena tasks, which is significantly better than the standard transformer's average accuracy of $58.70\%$.

ELLA: Exploration through Learned Language Abstraction

Suvir Mirchandani · Siddharth Karamcheti · Dorsa Sadigh

Building agents capable of understanding language instructions is critical to effective and robust human-AI collaboration. Recent work focuses on training these agents via reinforcement learning in environments with synthetic language; however, instructions often define long-horizon, sparse-reward tasks, and learning policies requires many episodes of experience. We introduce ELLA: Exploration through Learned Language Abstraction, a reward shaping approach geared towards boosting sample efficiency in sparse reward environments by correlating high-level instructions with simpler low-level constituents. ELLA has two key elements: 1) A termination classifier that identifies when agents complete low-level instructions, and 2) A relevance classifier that correlates low-level instructions with success on high-level tasks. We learn the termination classifier offline from pairs of instructions and terminal states. Notably, in departure from prior work in language and abstraction, we learn the relevance classifier online, without relying on an explicit decomposition of high-level instructions to low-level instructions. On a suite of complex BabyAI environments with varying instruction complexities and reward sparsity, ELLA shows gains in sample efficiency relative to language-based shaping and traditional RL methods.

On the Cryptographic Hardness of Learning Single Periodic Neurons

Min Jae Song · Ilias Zadik · Joan Bruna

We show a simple reduction which demonstrates the cryptographic hardness of learning a single periodic neuron over isotropic Gaussian distributions in the presence of noise. More precisely, our reduction shows that any polynomial-time algorithm (not necessarily gradient-based) for learning such functions under small noise implies a polynomial-time quantum algorithm for solving worst-case lattice problems, whose hardness form the foundation of lattice-based cryptography. Our core hard family of functions, which are well-approximated by one-layer neural networks, take the general form of a univariate periodic function applied to an affine projection of the data. These functions have appeared in previous seminal works which demonstrate their hardness against gradient-based (Shamir'18), and Statistical Query (SQ) algorithms (Song et al.'17). We show that if (polynomially) small noise is added to the labels, the intractability of learning these functions applies to all polynomial-time algorithms, beyond gradient-based and SQ algorithms, under the aforementioned cryptographic assumptions. Moreover, we demonstrate the necessity of noise in the hardness result by designing a polynomial-time algorithm for learning certain families of such functions under exponentially small adversarial noise. Our proposed algorithm is not a gradient-based or an SQ algorithm, but is rather based on the celebrated Lenstra-Lenstra-Lov\'asz (LLL) lattice basis reduction algorithm. Furthermore, in the absence of noise, this algorithm can be directly applied to solve CLWE detection (Bruna et al.'21) and phase retrieval with an optimal sample complexity of $d+1$ samples. In the former case, this improves upon the quadratic-in-$d$ sample complexity required in (Bruna et al.'21).

Automatic and Harmless Regularization with Constrained and Lexicographic Optimization: A Dynamic Barrier Approach

Chengyue Gong · Xingchao Liu · Qiang Liu

Many machine learning tasks have to make a trade-off between two loss functions, typically the main data-fitness loss and an auxiliary loss. The most widely used approach is to optimize the linear combination of the objectives, which, however, requires manual tuning of the combination coefficient and is theoretically unsuitable for non-convex functions. In this work, we consider constrained optimization as a more principled approach for trading off two losses, with a special emphasis on lexicographic optimization, a degenerated limit of constrained optimization which optimizes a secondary loss inside the optimal set of the main loss. We propose a dynamic barrier gradient descent algorithm which provides a unified solution of both constrained and lexicographic optimization. We establish the convergence of the method for general non-convex functions.

Discovery of Options via Meta-Learned Subgoals

Vivek Veeriah · Tom Zahavy · Matteo Hessel · Zhongwen Xu · Junhyuk Oh · Iurii Kemaev · Hado van Hasselt · David Silver · Satinder Singh

Temporal abstractions in the form of options have been shown to help reinforcement learning (RL) agents learn faster. However, despite prior work on this topic, the problem of discovering options through interaction with an environment remains a challenge. In this paper, we introduce a novel meta-gradient approach for discovering useful options in multi-task RL environments. Our approach is based on a manager-worker decomposition of the RL agent, in which a manager maximises rewards from the environment by learning a task-dependent policy over both a set of task-independent discovered-options and primitive actions. The option-reward and termination functions that define a subgoal for each option are parameterised as neural networks and trained via meta-gradients to maximise their usefulness. Empirical analysis on gridworld and DeepMind Lab tasks show that: (1) our approach can discover meaningful and diverse temporally-extended options in multi-task RL domains, (2) the discovered options are frequently used by the agent while learning to solve the training tasks, and (3) that the discovered options help a randomly initialised manager learn faster in completely new tasks.

Residual Pathway Priors for Soft Equivariance Constraints

Marc Finzi · Gregory Benton · Andrew Wilson

Models such as convolutional neural networks restrict the hypothesis space to a set of functions satisfying equivariance constraints, and improve generalization in problems by capturing relevant symmetries. However, symmetries are often only partially respected, preventing models with restriction biases from fitting the data. We introduce Residual Pathway Priors (RPPs) as a method for converting hard architectural constraints into soft priors, guiding models towards structured solutions while retaining the ability to capture additional complexity. RPPs are resilient to approximate or misspecified symmetries, and are as effective as fully constrained models even when symmetries are exact. We show that RPPs provide compelling performance on both model-free and model-based reinforcement learning problems, where contact forces and directional rewards violate the assumptions of equivariant networks. Finally, we demonstrate that RPPs have broad applicability, including dynamical systems, regression, and classification.

Learning Large Neighborhood Search Policy for Integer Programming

Yaoxin Wu · Wen Song · Zhiguang Cao · Jie Zhang

We propose a deep reinforcement learning (RL) method to learn large neighborhood search (LNS) policy for integer programming (IP). The RL policy is trained as the destroy operator to select a subset of variables at each step, which is reoptimized by an IP solver as the repair operator. However, the combinatorial number of variable subsets prevents direct application of typical RL algorithms. To tackle this challenge, we represent all subsets by factorizing them into binary decisions on each variable. We then design a neural network to learn policies for each variable in parallel, trained by a customized actor-critic algorithm. We evaluate the proposed method on four representative IP problems. Results show that it can find better solutions than SCIP in much less time, and significantly outperform other LNS baselines with the same runtime. Moreover, these advantages notably persist when the policies generalize to larger problems. Further experiments with Gurobi also reveal that our method can outperform this state-of-the-art commercial solver within the same time limit.

Validating the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis with Inertial Manifold Theory

Zeru Zhang · Jiayin Jin · Zijie Zhang · Yang Zhou · Xin Zhao · Jiaxiang Ren · Ji Liu · Lingfei Wu · Ruoming Jin · Dejing Dou

Despite achieving remarkable efficiency, traditional network pruning techniques often follow manually-crafted heuristics to generate pruned sparse networks. Such heuristic pruning strategies are hard to guarantee that the pruned networks achieve test accuracy comparable to the original dense ones. Recent works have empirically identified and verified the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH): a randomly-initialized dense neural network contains an extremely sparse subnetwork, which can be trained to achieve similar accuracy to the former. Due to the lack of theoretical evidence, they often need to run multiple rounds of expensive training and pruning over the original large networks to discover the sparse subnetworks with low accuracy loss. By leveraging dynamical systems theory and inertial manifold theory, this work theoretically verifies the validity of the LTH. We explore the possibility of theoretically lossless pruning as well as one-time pruning, compared with existing neural network pruning and LTH techniques. We reformulate the neural network optimization problem as a gradient dynamical system and reduce this high-dimensional system onto inertial manifolds to obtain a low-dimensional system regarding pruned subnetworks. We demonstrate the precondition and existence of pruned subnetworks and prune the original networks in terms of the gap in their spectrum that make the subnetworks have the smallest dimensions.