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Poster Session 5


From Canonical Correlation Analysis to Self-supervised Graph Neural Networks

Hengrui Zhang · Qitian Wu · Junchi Yan · David Wipf · Philip S Yu

We introduce a conceptually simple yet effective model for self-supervised representation learning with graph data. It follows the previous methods that generate two views of an input graph through data augmentation. However, unlike contrastive methods that focus on instance-level discrimination, we optimize an innovative feature-level objective inspired by classical Canonical Correlation Analysis. Compared with other works, our approach requires none of the parameterized mutual information estimator, additional projector, asymmetric structures, and most importantly, negative samples which can be costly. We show that the new objective essentially 1) aims at discarding augmentation-variant information by learning invariant representations, and 2) can prevent degenerated solutions by decorrelating features in different dimensions. Our theoretical analysis further provides an understanding for the new objective which can be equivalently seen as an instantiation of the Information Bottleneck Principle under the self-supervised setting. Despite its simplicity, our method performs competitively on seven public graph datasets.

Fast Tucker Rank Reduction for Non-Negative Tensors Using Mean-Field Approximation

Kazu Ghalamkari · Mahito Sugiyama

We present an efficient low-rank approximation algorithm for non-negative tensors. The algorithm is derived from our two findings: First, we show that rank-1 approximation for tensors can be viewed as a mean-field approximation by treating each tensor as a probability distribution. Second, we theoretically provide a sufficient condition for distribution parameters to reduce Tucker ranks of tensors; interestingly, this sufficient condition can be achieved by iterative application of the mean-field approximation. Since the mean-field approximation is always given as a closed formula, our findings lead to a fast low-rank approximation algorithm without using a gradient method. We empirically demonstrate that our algorithm is faster than the existing non-negative Tucker rank reduction methods and achieves competitive or better approximation of given tensors.

ImageBART: Bidirectional Context with Multinomial Diffusion for Autoregressive Image Synthesis

Patrick Esser · Robin Rombach · Andreas Blattmann · Bjorn Ommer

Autoregressive models and their sequential factorization of the data likelihood have recently demonstrated great potential for image representation and synthesis. Nevertheless, they incorporate image context in a linear 1D order by attending only to previously synthesized image patches above or to the left. Not only is this unidirectional, sequential bias of attention unnatural for images as it disregards large parts of a scene until synthesis is almost complete. It also processes the entire image on a single scale, thus ignoring more global contextual information up to the gist of the entire scene. As a remedy we incorporate a coarse-to-fine hierarchy of context by combining the autoregressive formulation with a multinomial diffusion process: Whereas a multistage diffusion process successively compresses and removes information to coarsen an image, we train a Markov chain to invert this process. In each stage, the resulting autoregressive ImageBART model progressively incorporates context from previous stages in a coarse-to-fine manner. Experiments demonstrate the gain over current autoregressive models, continuous diffusion probabilistic models, and latent variable models. Moreover, the approach enables to control the synthesis process and to trade compression rate against reconstruction accuracy, while still guaranteeing visually plausible results.

See More for Scene: Pairwise Consistency Learning for Scene Classification

Gongwei Chen · Xinhang Song · Bohan Wang · Shuqiang Jiang

Scene classification is a valuable classification subtask and has its own characteristics which still needs more in-depth studies. Basically, scene characteristics are distributed over the whole image, which cause the need of “seeing” comprehensive and informative regions. Previous works mainly focus on region discovery and aggregation, while rarely involves the inherent properties of CNN along with its potential ability to satisfy the requirements of scene classification. In this paper, we propose to understand scene images and the scene classification CNN models in terms of the focus area. From this new perspective, we find that large focus area is preferred in scene classification CNN models as a consequence of learning scene characteristics. Meanwhile, the analysis about existing training schemes helps us to understand the effects of focus area, and also raises the question about optimal training method for scene classification. Pursuing the better usage of scene characteristics, we propose a new learning scheme with a tailored loss in the goal of activating larger focus area on scene images. Since the supervision of the target regions to be enlarged is usually lacked, our alternative learning scheme is to erase already activated area, and allow the CNN models to activate more area during training. The proposed scheme is implemented by keeping the pairwise consistency between the output of the erased image and its original one. In particular, a tailored loss is proposed to keep such pairwise consistency by leveraging category-relevance information. Experiments on Places365 show the significant improvements of our method with various CNNs. Our method shows an inferior result on the object-centric dataset, ImageNet, which experimentally indicates that it captures the unique characteristics of scenes.

PlayVirtual: Augmenting Cycle-Consistent Virtual Trajectories for Reinforcement Learning

Tao Yu · Cuiling Lan · Wenjun Zeng · Mingxiao Feng · Zhizheng Zhang · Zhibo Chen

Learning good feature representations is important for deep reinforcement learning (RL). However, with limited experience, RL often suffers from data inefficiency for training. For un-experienced or less-experienced trajectories (i.e., state-action sequences), the lack of data limits the use of them for better feature learning. In this work, we propose a novel method, dubbed PlayVirtual, which augments cycle-consistent virtual trajectories to enhance the data efficiency for RL feature representation learning. Specifically, PlayVirtual predicts future states in a latent space based on the current state and action by a dynamics model and then predicts the previous states by a backward dynamics model, which forms a trajectory cycle. Based on this, we augment the actions to generate a large amount of virtual state-action trajectories. Being free of groudtruth state supervision, we enforce a trajectory to meet the cycle consistency constraint, which can significantly enhance the data efficiency. We validate the effectiveness of our designs on the Atari and DeepMind Control Suite benchmarks. Our method achieves the state-of-the-art performance on both benchmarks. Our code is available at

Faster Non-asymptotic Convergence for Double Q-learning

Lin Zhao · Huaqing Xiong · Yingbin Liang

Double Q-learning (Hasselt, 2010) has gained significant success in practice due to its effectiveness in overcoming the overestimation issue of Q-learning. However, the theoretical understanding of double Q-learning is rather limited. The only existing finite-time analysis was recently established in (Xiong et al. 2020), where the polynomial learning rate adopted in the analysis typically yields a slower convergence rate. This paper tackles the more challenging case of a constant learning rate, and develops new analytical tools that improve the existing convergence rate by orders of magnitude. Specifically, we show that synchronous double Q-learning attains an $\epsilon$-accurate global optimum with a time complexity of $\tilde{\Omega}\left(\frac{\ln D}{(1-\gamma)^7\epsilon^2} \right)$, and the asynchronous algorithm achieves a time complexity of $\tilde{\Omega}\left(\frac{L}{(1-\gamma)^7\epsilon^2} \right)$, where $D$ is the cardinality of the state-action space, $\gamma$ is the discount factor, and $L$ is a parameter related to the sampling strategy for asynchronous double Q-learning. These results improve the existing convergence rate by the order of magnitude in terms of its dependence on all major parameters $(\epsilon,1-\gamma, D, L)$. This paper presents a substantial step toward the full understanding of the fast convergence of double-Q learning.

Manifold Topology Divergence: a Framework for Comparing Data Manifolds.

Serguei Barannikov · Ilya Trofimov · Grigorii Sotnikov · Ekaterina Trimbach · Alexander Korotin · Alexander Filippov · Evgeny Burnaev

We propose a framework for comparing data manifolds, aimed, in particular, towards the evaluation of deep generative models. We describe a novel tool, Cross-Barcode(P,Q), that, given a pair of distributions in a high-dimensional space, tracks multiscale topology spacial discrepancies between manifolds on which the distributions are concentrated. Based on the Cross-Barcode, we introduce the Manifold Topology Divergence score (MTop-Divergence) and apply it to assess the performance of deep generative models in various domains: images, 3D-shapes, time-series, and on different datasets: MNIST, Fashion MNIST, SVHN, CIFAR10, FFHQ, market stock data, ShapeNet. We demonstrate that the MTop-Divergence accurately detects various degrees of mode-dropping, intra-mode collapse, mode invention, and image disturbance. Our algorithm scales well (essentially linearly) with the increase of the dimension of the ambient high-dimensional space. It is one of the first TDA-based methodologies that can be applied universally to datasets of different sizes and dimensions, including the ones on which the most recent GANs in the visual domain are trained. The proposed method is domain agnostic and does not rely on pre-trained networks.

Diversity Matters When Learning From Ensembles

Giung Nam · Jongmin Yoon · Yoonho Lee · Juho Lee

Deep ensembles excel in large-scale image classification tasks both in terms of prediction accuracy and calibration. Despite being simple to train, the computation and memory cost of deep ensembles limits their practicability. While some recent works propose to distill an ensemble model into a single model to reduce such costs, there is still a performance gap between the ensemble and distilled models. We propose a simple approach for reducing this gap, i.e., making the distilled performance close to the full ensemble. Our key assumption is that a distilled model should absorb as much function diversity inside the ensemble as possible. We first empirically show that the typical distillation procedure does not effectively transfer such diversity, especially for complex models that achieve near-zero training error. To fix this, we propose a perturbation strategy for distillation that reveals diversity by seeking inputs for which ensemble member outputs disagree. We empirically show that a model distilled with such perturbed samples indeed exhibits enhanced diversity, leading to improved performance.

What can linearized neural networks actually say about generalization?

Guillermo Ortiz-Jimenez · Seyed-Mohsen Moosavi-Dezfooli · Pascal Frossard

For certain infinitely-wide neural networks, the neural tangent kernel (NTK) theory fully characterizes generalization, but for the networks used in practice, the empirical NTK only provides a rough first-order approximation. Still, a growing body of work keeps leveraging this approximation to successfully analyze important deep learning phenomena and design algorithms for new applications. In our work, we provide strong empirical evidence to determine the practical validity of such approximation by conducting a systematic comparison of the behavior of different neural networks and their linear approximations on different tasks. We show that the linear approximations can indeed rank the learning complexity of certain tasks for neural networks, even when they achieve very different performances. However, in contrast to what was previously reported, we discover that neural networks do not always perform better than their kernel approximations, and reveal that the performance gap heavily depends on architecture, dataset size and training task. We discover that networks overfit to these tasks mostly due to the evolution of their kernel during training, thus, revealing a new type of implicit bias.

Integrating Tree Path in Transformer for Code Representation

Han Peng · Ge Li · Wenhan Wang · YunFei Zhao · Zhi Jin

Learning distributed representation of source code requires modelling its syntax and semantics. Recent state-of-the-art models leverage highly structured source code representations, such as the syntax trees and paths therein. In this paper, we investigate two representative path encoding methods shown in previous research work and integrate them into the attention module of Transformer. We draw inspiration from the ideas of positional encoding and modify them to incorporate these path encoding. Specifically, we encode both the pairwise path between tokens of source code and the path from the leaf node to the tree root for each token in the syntax tree. We explore the interaction between these two kinds of paths by integrating them into the unified Transformer framework. The detailed empirical study for path encoding methods also leads to our novel state-of-the-art representation model TPTrans, which finally outperforms strong baselines. Extensive experiments and ablation studies on code summarization across four different languages demonstrate the effectiveness of our approaches. We release our code at \url{}.

Variational Automatic Curriculum Learning for Sparse-Reward Cooperative Multi-Agent Problems

Jiayu Chen · Yuanxin Zhang · Yuanfan Xu · Huimin Ma · Huazhong Yang · Jiaming Song · Yu Wang · Yi Wu

We introduce an automatic curriculum algorithm, Variational Automatic Curriculum Learning (VACL), for solving challenging goal-conditioned cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning problems. We motivate our curriculum learning paradigm through a variational perspective, where the learning objective can be decomposed into two terms: task learning on the current curriculum, and curriculum update to a new task distribution. Local optimization over the second term suggests that the curriculum should gradually expand the training tasks from easy to hard. Our VACL algorithm implements this variational paradigm with two practical components, task expansion and entity curriculum, which produces a series of training tasks over both the task configurations as well as the number of entities in the task. Experiment results show that VACL solves a collection of sparse-reward problems with a large number of agents. Particularly, using a single desktop machine, VACL achieves 98% coverage rate with 100 agents in the simple-spread benchmark and reproduces the ramp-use behavior originally shown in OpenAI’s hide-and-seek project.

Scalable Quasi-Bayesian Inference for Instrumental Variable Regression

Ziyu Wang · Yuhao Zhou · Tongzheng Ren · Jun Zhu

Recent years have witnessed an upsurge of interest in employing flexible machine learning models for instrumental variable (IV) regression, but the development of uncertainty quantification methodology is still lacking. In this work we present a scalable quasi-Bayesian procedure for IV regression, building upon the recently developed kernelized IV models. Contrary to Bayesian modeling for IV, our approach does not require additional assumptions on the data generating process, and leads to a scalable approximate inference algorithm with time cost comparable to the corresponding point estimation methods. Our algorithm can be further extended to work with neural network models. We analyze the theoretical properties of the proposed quasi-posterior, and demonstrate through empirical evaluation the competitive performance of our method.

Learning interaction rules from multi-animal trajectories via augmented behavioral models

Keisuke Fujii · Naoya Takeishi · Kazushi Tsutsui · Emyo Fujioka · Nozomi Nishiumi · Ryoya Tanaka · Mika Fukushiro · Kaoru Ide · Hiroyoshi Kohno · Ken Yoda · Susumu Takahashi · Shizuko Hiryu · Yoshinobu Kawahara

Extracting the interaction rules of biological agents from movement sequences pose challenges in various domains. Granger causality is a practical framework for analyzing the interactions from observed time-series data; however, this framework ignores the structures and assumptions of the generative process in animal behaviors, which may lead to interpretational problems and sometimes erroneous assessments of causality. In this paper, we propose a new framework for learning Granger causality from multi-animal trajectories via augmented theory-based behavioral models with interpretable data-driven models. We adopt an approach for augmenting incomplete multi-agent behavioral models described by time-varying dynamical systems with neural networks. For efficient and interpretable learning, our model leverages theory-based architectures separating navigation and motion processes, and the theory-guided regularization for reliable behavioral modeling. This can provide interpretable signs of Granger-causal effects over time, i.e., when specific others cause the approach or separation. In experiments using synthetic datasets, our method achieved better performance than various baselines. We then analyzed multi-animal datasets of mice, flies, birds, and bats, which verified our method and obtained novel biological insights.

Overlapping Spaces for Compact Graph Representations

Kirill Shevkunov · Liudmila Prokhorenkova

Various non-trivial spaces are becoming popular for embedding structured data such as graphs, texts, or images. Following spherical and hyperbolic spaces, more general product spaces have been proposed. However, searching for the best configuration of a product space is a resource-intensive procedure, which reduces the practical applicability of the idea. We generalize the concept of product space and introduce an overlapping space that does not have the configuration search problem. The main idea is to allow subsets of coordinates to be shared between spaces of different types (Euclidean, hyperbolic, spherical). As a result, we often need fewer coordinates to store the objects. Additionally, we propose an optimization algorithm that automatically learns the optimal configuration. Our experiments confirm that overlapping spaces outperform the competitors in graph embedding tasks with different evaluation metrics. We also perform an empirical analysis in a realistic information retrieval setup, where we compare all spaces by incorporating them into DSSM. In this case, the proposed overlapping space consistently achieves nearly optimal results without any configuration tuning. This allows for reducing training time, which can be essential in large-scale applications.

Tactical Optimism and Pessimism for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Ted Moskovitz · Jack Parker-Holder · Aldo Pacchiano · Michael Arbel · Michael Jordan

In recent years, deep off-policy actor-critic algorithms have become a dominant approach to reinforcement learning for continuous control. One of the primary drivers of this improved performance is the use of pessimistic value updates to address function approximation errors, which previously led to disappointing performance. However, a direct consequence of pessimism is reduced exploration, running counter to theoretical support for the efficacy of optimism in the face of uncertainty. So which approach is best? In this work, we show that the most effective degree of optimism can vary both across tasks and over the course of learning. Inspired by this insight, we introduce a novel deep actor-critic framework, Tactical Optimistic and Pessimistic (TOP) estimation, which switches between optimistic and pessimistic value learning online. This is achieved by formulating the selection as a multi-arm bandit problem. We show in a series of continuous control tasks that TOP outperforms existing methods which rely on a fixed degree of optimism, setting a new state of the art in challenging pixel-based environments. Since our changes are simple to implement, we believe these insights can easily be incorporated into a multitude of off-policy algorithms.

CANITA: Faster Rates for Distributed Convex Optimization with Communication Compression

Zhize Li · Peter Richtarik

Due to the high communication cost in distributed and federated learning, methods relying on compressed communication are becoming increasingly popular. Besides, the best theoretically and practically performing gradient-type methods invariably rely on some form of acceleration/momentum to reduce the number of communications (faster convergence), e.g., Nesterov's accelerated gradient descent [31, 32] and Adam [14]. In order to combine the benefits of communication compression and convergence acceleration, we propose a \emph{compressed and accelerated} gradient method based on ANITA [20] for distributed optimization, which we call CANITA. Our CANITA achieves the \emph{first accelerated rate} $O\bigg(\sqrt{\Big(1+\sqrt{\frac{\omega^3}{n}}\Big)\frac{L}{\epsilon}} + \omega\big(\frac{1}{\epsilon}\big)^{\frac{1}{3}}\bigg)$, which improves upon the state-of-the-art non-accelerated rate $O\left((1+\frac{\omega}{n})\frac{L}{\epsilon} + \frac{\omega^2+\omega}{\omega+n}\frac{1}{\epsilon}\right)$ of DIANA [12] for distributed general convex problems, where $\epsilon$ is the target error, $L$ is the smooth parameter of the objective, $n$ is the number of machines/devices, and $\omega$ is the compression parameter (larger $\omega$ means more compression can be applied, and no compression implies $\omega=0$). Our results show that as long as the number of devices $n$ is large (often true in distributed/federated learning), or the compression $\omega$ is not very high, CANITA achieves the faster convergence rate $O\Big(\sqrt{\frac{L}{\epsilon}}\Big)$, i.e., the number of communication rounds is $O\Big(\sqrt{\frac{L}{\epsilon}}\Big)$ (vs. $O\big(\frac{L}{\epsilon}\big)$ achieved by previous works). As a result, CANITA enjoys the advantages of both compression (compressed communication in each round) and acceleration (much fewer communication rounds).

Co-evolution Transformer for Protein Contact Prediction

He Zhang · Fusong Ju · Jianwei Zhu · Liang He · Bin Shao · Nanning Zheng · Tie-Yan Liu

Proteins are the main machinery of life and protein functions are largely determined by their 3D structures. The measurement of the pairwise proximity between amino acids of a protein, known as inter-residue contact map, well characterizes the structural information of a protein. Protein contact prediction (PCP) is an essential building block of many protein structure related applications. The prevalent approach to contact prediction is based on estimating the inter-residue contacts using hand-crafted coevolutionary features derived from multiple sequence alignments (MSAs). To mitigate the information loss caused by hand-crafted features, some recently proposed methods try to learn residue co-evolutions directly from MSAs. These methods generally derive coevolutionary features by aggregating the learned residue representations from individual sequences with equal weights, which is inconsistent with the premise that residue co-evolutions are a reflection of collective covariation patterns of numerous homologous proteins. Moreover, non-homologous residues and gaps commonly exist in MSAs. By aggregating features from all homologs equally, the non-homologous information may cause misestimation of the residue co-evolutions. To overcome these issues, we propose an attention-based architecture, Co-evolution Transformer (CoT), for PCP. CoT jointly considers the information from all homologous sequences in the MSA to better capture global coevolutionary patterns. To mitigate the influence of the non-homologous information, CoT selectively aggregates the features from different homologs by assigning smaller weights to non-homologous sequences or residue pairs. Extensive experiments on two rigorous benchmark datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of CoT. In particular, CoT achieves a $51.6\%$ top-L long-range precision score for the Free Modeling (FM) domains on the CASP14 benchmark, which outperforms the winner group of CASP14 contact prediction challenge by $9.8\%$.

Revisit Multimodal Meta-Learning through the Lens of Multi-Task Learning

Milad Abdollahzadeh · Touba Malekzadeh · Ngai-Man (Man) Cheung

Multimodal meta-learning is a recent problem that extends conventional few-shot meta-learning by generalizing its setup to diverse multimodal task distributions. This setup makes a step towards mimicking how humans make use of a diverse set of prior skills to learn new skills. Previous work has achieved encouraging performance. In particular, in spite of the diversity of the multimodal tasks, previous work claims that a single meta-learner trained on a multimodal distribution can sometimes outperform multiple specialized meta-learners trained on individual unimodal distributions. The improvement is attributed to knowledge transfer between different modes of task distributions. However, there is no deep investigation to verify and understand the knowledge transfer between multimodal tasks. Our work makes two contributions to multimodal meta-learning. First, we propose a method to quantify knowledge transfer between tasks of different modes at a micro-level. Our quantitative, task-level analysis is inspired by the recent transference idea from multi-task learning. Second, inspired by hard parameter sharing in multi-task learning and a new interpretation of related work, we propose a new multimodal meta-learner that outperforms existing work by considerable margins. While the major focus is on multimodal meta-learning, our work also attempts to shed light on task interaction in conventional meta-learning. The code for this project is available at

Adversarial Reweighting for Partial Domain Adaptation

Xiang Gu · Xi Yu · Yan Yang · Jian Sun · Zongben Xu

Partial domain adaptation (PDA) has gained much attention due to its practical setting. The current PDA methods usually adapt the feature extractor by aligning the target and reweighted source domain distributions. In this paper, we experimentally find that the feature adaptation by the reweighted distribution alignment in some state-of-the-art PDA methods is not robust to the ``noisy'' weights of source domain data, leading to negative domain transfer on some challenging benchmarks. To tackle the challenge of negative domain transfer, we propose a novel Adversarial Reweighting (AR) approach that adversarially learns the weights of source domain data to align the source and target domain distributions, and the transferable deep recognition network is learned on the reweighted source domain data. Based on this idea, we propose a training algorithm that alternately updates the parameters of the network and optimizes the weights of source domain data. Extensive experiments show that our method achieves state-of-the-art results on the benchmarks of ImageNet-Caltech, Office-Home, VisDA-2017, and DomainNet. Ablation studies also confirm the effectiveness of our approach.

Anti-Backdoor Learning: Training Clean Models on Poisoned Data

Yige Li · Xixiang Lyu · Nodens Koren · Lingjuan Lyu · Bo Li · Xingjun Ma

Backdoor attack has emerged as a major security threat to deep neural networks (DNNs). While existing defense methods have demonstrated promising results on detecting or erasing backdoors, it is still not clear whether robust training methods can be devised to prevent the backdoor triggers being injected into the trained model in the first place. In this paper, we introduce the concept of \emph{anti-backdoor learning}, aiming to train \emph{clean} models given backdoor-poisoned data. We frame the overall learning process as a dual-task of learning the \emph{clean} and the \emph{backdoor} portions of data. From this view, we identify two inherent characteristics of backdoor attacks as their weaknesses: 1) the models learn backdoored data much faster than learning with clean data, and the stronger the attack the faster the model converges on backdoored data; 2) the backdoor task is tied to a specific class (the backdoor target class). Based on these two weaknesses, we propose a general learning scheme, Anti-Backdoor Learning (ABL), to automatically prevent backdoor attacks during training. ABL introduces a two-stage \emph{gradient ascent} mechanism for standard training to 1) help isolate backdoor examples at an early training stage, and 2) break the correlation between backdoor examples and the target class at a later training stage. Through extensive experiments on multiple benchmark datasets against 10 state-of-the-art attacks, we empirically show that ABL-trained models on backdoor-poisoned data achieve the same performance as they were trained on purely clean data. Code is available at \url{}.

Necessary and sufficient graphical conditions for optimal adjustment sets in causal graphical models with hidden variables

Jakob Runge

The problem of selecting optimal backdoor adjustment sets to estimate causal effects in graphical models with hidden and conditioned variables is addressed. Previous work has defined optimality as achieving the smallest asymptotic estimation variance and derived an optimal set for the case without hidden variables. For the case with hidden variables there can be settings where no optimal set exists and currently only a sufficient graphical optimality criterion of limited applicability has been derived. In the present work optimality is characterized as maximizing a certain adjustment information which allows to derive a necessary and sufficient graphical criterion for the existence of an optimal adjustment set and a definition and algorithm to construct it. Further, the optimal set is valid if and only if a valid adjustment set exists and has higher (or equal) adjustment information than the Adjust-set proposed in Perkovi{\'c} et~al. [Journal of Machine Learning Research, 18: 1--62, 2018] for any graph. The results translate to minimal asymptotic estimation variance for a class of estimators whose asymptotic variance follows a certain information-theoretic relation. Numerical experiments indicate that the asymptotic results also hold for relatively small sample sizes and that the optimal adjustment set or minimized variants thereof often yield better variance also beyond that estimator class. Surprisingly, among the randomly created setups more than 90\% fulfill the optimality conditions indicating that also in many real-world scenarios graphical optimality may hold.

Uncertainty-Driven Loss for Single Image Super-Resolution

Qian Ning · Weisheng Dong · Xin Li · Jinjian Wu · GUANGMING Shi

In low-level vision such as single image super-resolution (SISR), traditional MSE or L1 loss function treats every pixel equally with the assumption that the importance of all pixels is the same. However, it has been long recognized that texture and edge areas carry more important visual information than smooth areas in photographic images. How to achieve such spatial adaptation in a principled manner has been an open problem in both traditional model-based and modern learning-based approaches toward SISR. In this paper, we propose a new adaptive weighted loss for SISR to train deep networks focusing on challenging situations such as textured and edge pixels with high uncertainty. Specifically, we introduce variance estimation characterizing the uncertainty on a pixel-by-pixel basis into SISR solutions so the targeted pixels in a high-resolution image (mean) and their corresponding uncertainty (variance) can be learned simultaneously. Moreover, uncertainty estimation allows us to leverage conventional wisdom such as sparsity prior for regularizing SISR solutions. Ultimately, pixels with large certainty (e.g., texture and edge pixels) will be prioritized for SISR according to their importance to visual quality. For the first time, we demonstrate that such uncertainty-driven loss can achieve better results than MSE or L1 loss for a wide range of network architectures. Experimental results on three popular SISR networks show that our proposed uncertainty-driven loss has achieved better PSNR performance than traditional loss functions without any increased computation during testing. The code is available at

NEO: Non Equilibrium Sampling on the Orbits of a Deterministic Transform

Achille Thin · Yazid Janati El Idrissi · Sylvain Le Corff · Charles Ollion · Eric Moulines · Arnaud Doucet · Alain Durmus · Christian X Robert

Sampling from a complex distribution $\pi$ and approximating its intractable normalizing constant $\mathrm{Z}$ are challenging problems. In this paper, a novel family of importance samplers (IS) and Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) samplers is derived. Given an invertible map $\mathrm{T}$, these schemes combine (with weights) elements from the forward and backward Orbits through points sampled from a proposal distribution $\rho$. The map $\mathrm{T}$ does not leave the target $\pi$ invariant, hence the name NEO, standing for Non-Equilibrium Orbits. NEO-IS provides unbiased estimators of the normalizing constant and self-normalized IS estimators of expectations under $\pi$ while NEO-MCMC combines multiple NEO-IS estimates of the normalizing constant and an iterated sampling-importance resampling mechanism to sample from $\pi$. For $\mathrm{T}$ chosen as a discrete-time integrator of a conformal Hamiltonian system, NEO-IS achieves state-of-the art performance on difficult benchmarks and NEO-MCMC is able to explore highly multimodal targets. Additionally, we provide detailed theoretical results for both methods. In particular, we show that NEO-MCMC is uniformly geometrically ergodic and establish explicit mixing time estimates under mild conditions.

Deep Contextual Video Compression

Jiahao Li · Bin Li · Yan Lu

Most of the existing neural video compression methods adopt the predictive coding framework, which first generates the predicted frame and then encodes its residue with the current frame. However, as for compression ratio, predictive coding is only a sub-optimal solution as it uses simple subtraction operation to remove the redundancy across frames. In this paper, we propose a deep contextual video compression framework to enable a paradigm shift from predictive coding to conditional coding. In particular, we try to answer the following questions: how to define, use, and learn condition under a deep video compression framework. To tap the potential of conditional coding, we propose using feature domain context as condition. This enables us to leverage the high dimension context to carry rich information to both the encoder and the decoder, which helps reconstruct the high-frequency contents for higher video quality. Our framework is also extensible, in which the condition can be flexibly designed. Experiments show that our method can significantly outperform the previous state-of-the-art (SOTA) deep video compression methods. When compared with x265 using veryslow preset, we can achieve 26.0% bitrate saving for 1080P standard test videos.

Graphical Models in Heavy-Tailed Markets

José Vinícius de Miranda Cardoso · Jiaxi Ying · Daniel Palomar

Heavy-tailed statistical distributions have long been considered a more realistic statistical model for the data generating process in financial markets in comparison to their Gaussian counterpart. Nonetheless, mathematical nuisances, including nonconvexities, involved in estimating graphs in heavy-tailed settings pose a significant challenge to the practical design of algorithms for graph learning. In this work, we present graph learning estimators based on the Markov random field framework that assume a Student-$t$ data generating process. We design scalable numerical algorithms, via the alternating direction method of multipliers, to learn both connected and $k$-component graphs along with their theoretical convergence guarantees. The proposed methods outperform state-of-the-art benchmarks in an extensive series of practical experiments with publicly available data from the S\&P500 index, foreign exchanges, and cryptocurrencies.

Hessian Eigenspectra of More Realistic Nonlinear Models

Zhenyu Liao · Michael Mahoney

Given an optimization problem, the Hessian matrix and its eigenspectrum can be used in many ways, ranging from designing more efficient second-order algorithms to performing model analysis and regression diagnostics. When nonlinear models and non-convex problems are considered, strong simplifying assumptions are often made to make Hessian spectral analysis more tractable.This leads to the question of how relevant the conclusions of such analyses are for realistic nonlinear models. In this paper, we exploit tools from random matrix theory to make a precise characterization of the Hessian eigenspectra for a broad family of nonlinear models that extends the classical generalized linear models, without relying on strong simplifying assumptions used previously. We show that, depending on the data properties, the nonlinear response model, and the loss function, the Hessian can have qualitatively different spectral behaviors: of bounded or unbounded support, with single- or multi-bulk, and with isolated eigenvalues on the left- or right-hand side of the main eigenvalue bulk. By focusing on such a simple but nontrivial model, our analysis takes a step forward to unveil the theoretical origin of many visually striking features observed in more realistic machine learning models.

Counterexample Guided RL Policy Refinement Using Bayesian Optimization

Briti Gangopadhyay · Pallab Dasgupta

Constructing Reinforcement Learning (RL) policies that adhere to safety requirements is an emerging field of study. RL agents learn via trial and error with an objective to optimize a reward signal. Often policies that are designed to accumulate rewards do not satisfy safety specifications. We present a methodology for counterexample guided refinement of a trained RL policy against a given safety specification. Our approach has two main components. The first component is an approach to discover failure trajectories using Bayesian optimization over multiple parameters of uncertainty from a policy learnt in a model-free setting. The second component selectively modifies the failure points of the policy using gradient-based updates. The approach has been tested on several RL environments, and we demonstrate that the policy can be made to respect the safety specifications through such targeted changes.

LLC: Accurate, Multi-purpose Learnt Low-dimensional Binary Codes

Aditya Kusupati · Matthew Wallingford · Vivek Ramanujan · Raghav Somani · Jae Sung Park · Krishna Pillutla · Prateek Jain · Sham Kakade · Ali Farhadi

Learning binary representations of instances and classes is a classical problem with several high potential applications. In modern settings, the compression of high-dimensional neural representations to low-dimensional binary codes is a challenging task and often require large bit-codes to be accurate. In this work, we propose a novel method for $\textbf{L}$earning $\textbf{L}$ow-dimensional binary $\textbf{C}$odes $(\textbf{LLC})$ for instances as well as classes. Our method does ${\textit{not}}$ require any side-information, like annotated attributes or label meta-data, and learns extremely low-dimensional binary codes ($\approx 20$ bits for ImageNet-1K). The learnt codes are super-efficient while still ensuring $\textit{nearly optimal}$ classification accuracy for ResNet50 on ImageNet-1K. We demonstrate that the learnt codes capture intrinsically important features in the data, by discovering an intuitive taxonomy over classes. We further quantitatively measure the quality of our codes by applying it to the efficient image retrieval as well as out-of-distribution (OOD) detection problems. For ImageNet-100 retrieval problem, our learnt binary codes outperform $16$ bit HashNet using only $10$ bits and also are as accurate as $10$ dimensional real representations. Finally, our learnt binary codes can perform OOD detection, out-of-the-box, as accurately as a baseline that needs $\approx3000$ samples to tune its threshold, while we require ${\textit{none}}$. Code is open-sourced at

Intermediate Layers Matter in Momentum Contrastive Self Supervised Learning

Aakash Kaku · Sahana Upadhya · Narges Razavian

We show that bringing intermediate layers' representations of two augmented versions of an image closer together in self-supervised learning helps to improve the momentum contrastive (MoCo) method. To this end, in addition to the contrastive loss, we minimize the mean squared error between the intermediate layer representations or make their cross-correlation matrix closer to an identity matrix. Both loss objectives either outperform standard MoCo, or achieve similar performances on three diverse medical imaging datasets: NIH-Chest Xrays, Breast Cancer Histopathology, and Diabetic Retinopathy. The gains of the improved MoCo are especially large in a low-labeled data regime (e.g. 1% labeled data) with an average gain of 5% across three datasets. We analyze the models trained using our novel approach via feature similarity analysis and layer-wise probing. Our analysis reveals that models trained via our approach have higher feature reuse compared to a standard MoCo and learn informative features earlier in the network. Finally, by comparing the output probability distribution of models fine-tuned on small versus large labeled data, we conclude that our proposed method of pre-training leads to lower Kolmogorov–Smirnov distance, as compared to a standard MoCo. This provides additional evidence that our proposed method learns more informative features in the pre-training phase which could be leveraged in a low-labeled data regime.

Analyzing the Generalization Capability of SGLD Using Properties of Gaussian Channels

Hao Wang · Yizhe Huang · Rui Gao · Flavio Calmon

Optimization is a key component for training machine learning models and has a strong impact on their generalization. In this paper, we consider a particular optimization method---the stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics (SGLD) algorithm---and investigate the generalization of models trained by SGLD. We derive a new generalization bound by connecting SGLD with Gaussian channels found in information and communication theory. Our bound can be computed from the training data and incorporates the variance of gradients for quantifying a particular kind of "sharpness" of the loss landscape. We also consider a closely related algorithm with SGLD, namely differentially private SGD (DP-SGD). We prove that the generalization capability of DP-SGD can be amplified by iteration. Specifically, our bound can be sharpened by including a time-decaying factor if the DP-SGD algorithm outputs the last iterate while keeping other iterates hidden. This decay factor enables the contribution of early iterations to our bound to reduce with time and is established by strong data processing inequalities---a fundamental tool in information theory. We demonstrate our bound through numerical experiments, showing that it can predict the behavior of the true generalization gap.

One Loss for All: Deep Hashing with a Single Cosine Similarity based Learning Objective

Jiun Tian Hoe · Kam Woh Ng · Tianyu Zhang · Chee Seng Chan · Yi-Zhe Song · Tao Xiang

A deep hashing model typically has two main learning objectives: to make the learned binary hash codes discriminative and to minimize a quantization error. With further constraints such as bit balance and code orthogonality, it is not uncommon for existing models to employ a large number (>4) of losses. This leads to difficulties in model training and subsequently impedes their effectiveness. In this work, we propose a novel deep hashing model with only $\textit{a single learning objective}$. Specifically, we show that maximizing the cosine similarity between the continuous codes and their corresponding $\textit{binary orthogonal codes}$ can ensure both hash code discriminativeness and quantization error minimization. Further, with this learning objective, code balancing can be achieved by simply using a Batch Normalization (BN) layer and multi-label classification is also straightforward with label smoothing. The result is a one-loss deep hashing model that removes all the hassles of tuning the weights of various losses. Importantly, extensive experiments show that our model is highly effective, outperforming the state-of-the-art multi-loss hashing models on three large-scale instance retrieval benchmarks, often by significant margins.

Width-based Lookaheads with Learnt Base Policies and Heuristics Over the Atari-2600 Benchmark

Stefan O'Toole · Nir Lipovetzky · Miquel Ramirez · Adrian Pearce

We propose new width-based planning and learning algorithms inspired from a careful analysis of the design decisions made by previous width-based planners. The algorithms are applied over the Atari-2600 games and our best performing algorithm, Novelty guided Critical Path Learning (N-CPL), outperforms the previously introduced width-based planning and learning algorithms $\pi$-IW(1), $\pi$-IW(1)+ and $\pi$-HIW(n, 1). Furthermore, we present a taxonomy of the Atari-2600 games according to some of their defining characteristics. This analysis of the games provides further insight into the behaviour and performance of the algorithms introduced. Namely, for games with large branching factors, and games with sparse meaningful rewards, N-CPL outperforms $\pi$-IW, $\pi$-IW(1)+ and $\pi$-HIW(n, 1).

Universal Off-Policy Evaluation

Yash Chandak · Scott Niekum · Bruno da Silva · Erik Learned-Miller · Emma Brunskill · Philip Thomas

When faced with sequential decision-making problems, it is often useful to be able to predict what would happen if decisions were made using a new policy. Those predictions must often be based on data collected under some previously used decision-making rule. Many previous methods enable such off-policy (or counterfactual) estimation of the expected value of a performance measure called the return. In this paper, we take the first steps towards a 'universal off-policy estimator' (UnO)---one that provides off-policy estimates and high-confidence bounds for any parameter of the return distribution. We use UnO for estimating and simultaneously bounding the mean, variance, quantiles/median, inter-quantile range, CVaR, and the entire cumulative distribution of returns. Finally, we also discuss UnO's applicability in various settings, including fully observable, partially observable (i.e., with unobserved confounders), Markovian, non-Markovian, stationary, smoothly non-stationary, and discrete distribution shifts.

Learning Interpretable Decision Rule Sets: A Submodular Optimization Approach

Fan Yang · Kai He · Linxiao Yang · Hongxia Du · Jingbang Yang · Bo Yang · Liang Sun

Rule sets are highly interpretable logical models in which the predicates for decision are expressed in disjunctive normal form (DNF, OR-of-ANDs), or, equivalently, the overall model comprises an unordered collection of if-then decision rules. In this paper, we consider a submodular optimization based approach for learning rule sets. The learning problem is framed as a subset selection task in which a subset of all possible rules needs to be selected to form an accurate and interpretable rule set. We employ an objective function that exhibits submodularity and thus is amenable to submodular optimization techniques. To overcome the difficulty arose from dealing with the exponential-sized ground set of rules, the subproblem of searching a rule is casted as another subset selection task that asks for a subset of features. We show it is possible to write the induced objective function for the subproblem as a difference of two submodular (DS) functions to make it approximately solvable by DS optimization algorithms. Overall, the proposed approach is simple, scalable, and likely to be benefited from further research on submodular optimization. Experiments on real datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

Transformers Generalize DeepSets and Can be Extended to Graphs & Hypergraphs

Jinwoo Kim · Saeyoon Oh · Seunghoon Hong

We present a generalization of Transformers to any-order permutation invariant data (sets, graphs, and hypergraphs). We begin by observing that Transformers generalize DeepSets, or first-order (set-input) permutation invariant MLPs. Then, based on recently characterized higher-order invariant MLPs, we extend the concept of self-attention to higher orders and propose higher-order Transformers for order-$k$ data ($k=2$ for graphs and $k>2$ for hypergraphs). Unfortunately, higher-order Transformers turn out to have prohibitive complexity $\mathcal{O}(n^{2k})$ to the number of input nodes $n$. To address this problem, we present sparse higher-order Transformers that have quadratic complexity to the number of input hyperedges, and further adopt the kernel attention approach to reduce the complexity to linear. In particular, we show that the sparse second-order Transformers with kernel attention are theoretically more expressive than message passing operations while having an asymptotically identical complexity. Our models achieve significant performance improvement over invariant MLPs and message-passing graph neural networks in large-scale graph regression and set-to-(hyper)graph prediction tasks. Our implementation is available at

CorticalFlow: A Diffeomorphic Mesh Transformer Network for Cortical Surface Reconstruction

Leo Lebrat · Rodrigo Santa Cruz · Frederic de Gournay · Darren Fu · Pierrick Bourgeat · Jurgen Fripp · Clinton Fookes · Olivier Salvado

In this paper, we introduce CorticalFlow, a new geometric deep-learning model that, given a 3-dimensional image, learns to deform a reference template towards a targeted object. To conserve the template mesh’s topological properties, we train our model over a set of diffeomorphic transformations. This new implementation of a flow Ordinary Differential Equation (ODE) framework benefits from a small GPU memory footprint, allowing the generation of surfaces with several hundred thousand vertices. To reduce topological errors introduced by its discrete resolution, we derive numeric conditions which improve the manifoldness of the predicted triangle mesh. To exhibit the utility of CorticalFlow, we demonstrate its performance for the challenging task of brain cortical surface reconstruction. In contrast to the current state-of-the-art, CorticalFlow produces superior surfaces while reducing the computation time from nine and a half minutes to one second. More significantly, CorticalFlow enforces the generation of anatomically plausible surfaces; the absence of which has been a major impediment restricting the clinical relevance of such surface reconstruction methods.

Bridging the Gap Between Practice and PAC-Bayes Theory in Few-Shot Meta-Learning

Nan Ding · Xi Chen · Tomer Levinboim · Sebastian Goodman · Radu Soricut

Despite recent advances in its theoretical understanding, there still remains a significant gap in the ability of existing PAC-Bayesian theories on meta-learning to explain performance improvements in the few-shot learning setting, where the number of training examples in the target tasks is severely limited. This gap originates from an assumption in the existing theories which supposes that the number of training examples in the observed tasks and the number of training examples in the target tasks follow the same distribution, an assumption that rarely holds in practice. By relaxing this assumption, we develop two PAC-Bayesian bounds tailored for the few-shot learning setting and show that two existing meta-learning algorithms (MAML and Reptile) can be derived from our bounds, thereby bridging the gap between practice and PAC-Bayesian theories. Furthermore, we derive a new computationally-efficient PACMAML algorithm, and show it outperforms existing meta-learning algorithms on several few-shot benchmark datasets.

Gradient Inversion with Generative Image Prior

Jinwoo Jeon · jaechang Kim · Kangwook Lee · Sewoong Oh · Jungseul Ok

Federated Learning (FL) is a distributed learning framework, in which the local data never leaves clients’ devices to preserve privacy, and the server trains models on the data via accessing only the gradients of those local data. Without further privacy mechanisms such as differential privacy, this leaves the system vulnerable against an attacker who inverts those gradients to reveal clients’ sensitive data. However, a gradient is often insufficient to reconstruct the user data without any prior knowledge. By exploiting a generative model pretrained on the data distribution, we demonstrate that data privacy can be easily breached. Further, when such prior knowledge is unavailable, we investigate the possibility of learning the prior from a sequence of gradients seen in the process of FL training. We experimentally show that the prior in a form of generative model is learnable from iterative interactions in FL. Our findings demonstrate that additional mechanisms are necessary to prevent privacy leakage in FL.

Truncated Marginal Neural Ratio Estimation

Benjamin K Miller · Alex Cole · Patrick Forré · Gilles Louppe · Christoph Weniger

Parametric stochastic simulators are ubiquitous in science, often featuring high-dimensional input parameters and/or an intractable likelihood. Performing Bayesian parameter inference in this context can be challenging. We present a neural simulation-based inference algorithm which simultaneously offers simulation efficiency and fast empirical posterior testability, which is unique among modern algorithms. Our approach is simulation efficient by simultaneously estimating low-dimensional marginal posteriors instead of the joint posterior and by proposing simulations targeted to an observation of interest via a prior suitably truncated by an indicator function. Furthermore, by estimating a locally amortized posterior our algorithm enables efficient empirical tests of the robustness of the inference results. Since scientists cannot access the ground truth, these tests are necessary for trusting inference in real-world applications. We perform experiments on a marginalized version of the simulation-based inference benchmark and two complex and narrow posteriors, highlighting the simulator efficiency of our algorithm as well as the quality of the estimated marginal posteriors.

Habitat 2.0: Training Home Assistants to Rearrange their Habitat

Andrew Szot · Alexander Clegg · Eric Undersander · Erik Wijmans · Yili Zhao · John Turner · Noah Maestre · Mustafa Mukadam · Devendra Singh Chaplot · Oleksandr Maksymets · Aaron Gokaslan · Vladimír Vondruš · Sameer Dharur · Franziska Meier · Wojciech Galuba · Angel Chang · Zsolt Kira · Vladlen Koltun · Jitendra Malik · Manolis Savva · Dhruv Batra

We introduce Habitat 2.0 (H2.0), a simulation platform for training virtual robots in interactive 3D environments and complex physics-enabled scenarios. We make comprehensive contributions to all levels of the embodied AI stack – data, simulation, and benchmark tasks. Specifically, we present: (i) ReplicaCAD: an artist-authored, annotated, reconfigurable 3D dataset of apartments (matching real spaces) with articulated objects (e.g. cabinets and drawers that can open/close); (ii) H2.0: a high-performance physics-enabled 3D simulator with speeds exceeding 25,000 simulation steps per second (850x real-time) on an 8-GPU node, representing 100x speed-ups over prior work; and, (iii) Home Assistant Benchmark (HAB): a suite of common tasks for assistive robots (tidy the house, stock groceries, set the table) that test a range of mobile manipulation capabilities. These large-scale engineering contributions allow us to systematically compare deep reinforcement learning (RL) at scale and classical sense-plan-act (SPA) pipelines in long-horizon structured tasks, with an emphasis on generalization to new objects, receptacles, and layouts. We find that (1) flat RL policies struggle on HAB compared to hierarchical ones; (2) a hierarchy with independent skills suffers from ‘hand-off problems’, and (3) SPA pipelines are more brittle than RL policies.

Oracle Complexity in Nonsmooth Nonconvex Optimization

Guy Kornowski · Ohad Shamir

It is well-known that given a smooth, bounded-from-below, and possibly nonconvex function, standard gradient-based methods can find $\epsilon$-stationary points (with gradient norm less than $\epsilon$) in $\mathcal{O}(1/\epsilon^2)$ iterations. However, many important nonconvex optimization problems, such as those associated with training modern neural networks, are inherently not smooth, making these results inapplicable. In this paper, we study nonsmooth nonconvex optimization from an oracle complexity viewpoint, where the algorithm is assumed to be given access only to local information about the function at various points. We provide two main results (under mild assumptions): First, we consider the problem of getting \emph{near} $\epsilon$-stationary points. This is perhaps the most natural relaxation of \emph{finding} $\epsilon$-stationary points, which is impossible in the nonsmooth nonconvex case. We prove that this relaxed goal cannot be achieved efficiently, for any distance and $\epsilon$ smaller than some constants. Our second result deals with the possibility of tackling nonsmooth nonconvex optimization by reduction to smooth optimization: Namely, applying smooth optimization methods on a smooth approximation of the objective function. For this approach, we prove an inherent trade-off between oracle complexity and smoothness: On the one hand, smoothing a nonsmooth nonconvex function can be done very efficiently (e.g., by randomized smoothing), but with dimension-dependent factors in the smoothness parameter, which can strongly affect iteration complexity when plugging into standard smooth optimization methods. On the other hand, these dimension factors can be eliminated with suitable smoothing methods, but only by making the oracle complexity of the smoothing process exponentially large.

The Complexity of Bayesian Network Learning: Revisiting the Superstructure

Robert Ganian · Viktoriia Korchemna

We investigate the parameterized complexity of Bayesian Network Structure Learning (BNSL), a classical problem that has received significant attention in empirical but also purely theoretical studies. We follow up on previous works that have analyzed the complexity of BNSL w.r.t. the so-called superstructure of the input. While known results imply that BNSL is unlikely to be fixed-parameter tractable even when parameterized by the size of a vertex cover in the superstructure, here we show that a different kind of parameterization - notably by the size of a feedback edge set - yields fixed-parameter tractability. We proceed by showing that this result can be strengthened to a localized version of the feedback edge set, and provide corresponding lower bounds that complement previous results to provide a complexity classification of BNSL w.r.t. virtually all well-studied graph parameters.We then analyze how the complexity of BNSL depends on the representation of the input. In particular, while the bulk of past theoretical work on the topic assumed the use of the so-called non-zero representation, here we prove that if an additive representation can be used instead then BNSL becomes fixed-parameter tractable even under significantly milder restrictions to the superstructure, notably when parameterized by the treewidth alone. Last but not least, we show how our results can be extended to the closely related problem of Polytree Learning.

Subgoal Search For Complex Reasoning Tasks

Konrad Czechowski · Tomasz Odrzygóźdź · Marek Zbysiński · Michał Zawalski · Krzysztof Olejnik · Yuhuai Wu · Łukasz Kuciński · Piotr Miłoś

Humans excel in solving complex reasoning tasks through a mental process of moving from one idea to a related one. Inspired by this, we propose Subgoal Search (kSubS) method. Its key component is a learned subgoal generator that produces a diversity of subgoals that are both achievable and closer to the solution. Using subgoals reduces the search space and induces a high-level search graph suitable for efficient planning. In this paper, we implement kSubS using a transformer-based subgoal module coupled with the classical best-first search framework. We show that a simple approach of generating $k$-th step ahead subgoals is surprisingly efficient on three challenging domains: two popular puzzle games, Sokoban and the Rubik's Cube, and an inequality proving benchmark INT. kSubS achieves strong results including state-of-the-art on INT within a modest computational budget.

Do Different Tracking Tasks Require Different Appearance Models?

Zhongdao Wang · Hengshuang Zhao · Ya-Li Li · Shengjin Wang · Philip Torr · Luca Bertinetto

Tracking objects of interest in a video is one of the most popular and widely applicable problems in computer vision. However, with the years, a Cambrian explosion of use cases and benchmarks has fragmented the problem in a multitude of different experimental setups. As a consequence, the literature has fragmented too, and now novel approaches proposed by the community are usually specialised to fit only one specific setup. To understand to what extent this specialisation is necessary, in this work we present UniTrack, a solution to address five different tasks within the same framework. UniTrack consists of a single and task-agnostic appearance model, which can be learned in a supervised or self-supervised fashion, and multiple ``heads'' that address individual tasks and do not require training. We show how most tracking tasks can be solved within this framework, and that the same appearance model can be successfully used to obtain results that are competitive against specialised methods for most of the tasks considered. The framework also allows us to analyse appearance models obtained with the most recent self-supervised methods, thus extending their evaluation and comparison to a larger variety of important problems.

Near-Optimal Multi-Perturbation Experimental Design for Causal Structure Learning

Scott Sussex · Caroline Uhler · Andreas Krause

Causal structure learning is a key problem in many domains. Causal structures can be learnt by performing experiments on the system of interest. We address the largely unexplored problem of designing a batch of experiments that each simultaneously intervene on multiple variables. While potentially more informative than the commonly considered single-variable interventions, selecting such interventions is algorithmically much more challenging, due to the doubly-exponential combinatorial search space over sets of composite interventions. In this paper, we develop efficient algorithms for optimizing different objective functions quantifying the informativeness of a budget-constrained batch of experiments. By establishing novel submodularity properties of these objectives, we provide approximation guarantees for our algorithms. Our algorithms empirically perform superior to both random interventions and algorithms that only select single-variable interventions.

Continuous Mean-Covariance Bandits

Yihan Du · Siwei Wang · Zhixuan Fang · Longbo Huang

Existing risk-aware multi-armed bandit models typically focus on risk measures of individual options such as variance. As a result, they cannot be directly applied to important real-world online decision making problems with correlated options. In this paper, we propose a novel Continuous Mean-Covariance Bandit (CMCB) model to explicitly take into account option correlation. Specifically, in CMCB, there is a learner who sequentially chooses weight vectors on given options and observes random feedback according to the decisions. The agent's objective is to achieve the best trade-off between reward and risk, measured with option covariance. To capture different reward observation scenarios in practice, we consider three feedback settings, i.e., full-information, semi-bandit and full-bandit feedback. We propose novel algorithms with optimal regrets (within logarithmic factors), and provide matching lower bounds to validate their optimalities. The experimental results also demonstrate the superiority of our algorithms. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that considers option correlation in risk-aware bandits and explicitly quantifies how arbitrary covariance structures impact the learning performance.The novel analytical techniques we developed for exploiting the estimated covariance to build concentration and bounding the risk of selected actions based on sampling strategy properties can likely find applications in other bandit analysis and be of independent interests.

Solving Soft Clustering Ensemble via $k$-Sparse Discrete Wasserstein Barycenter

Ruizhe Qin · Mengying Li · Hu Ding

Clustering ensemble is one of the most important problems in ensemble learning. Though it has been extensively studied in the past decades, the existing methods often suffer from the issues like high computational complexity and the difficulty on understanding the consensus. In this paper, we study the more general soft clustering ensemble problem where each individual solution is a soft clustering. We connect it to the well-known discrete Wasserstein barycenter problem in geometry. Based on some novel geometric insights in high dimensions, we propose the sampling-based algorithms with provable quality guarantees. We also provide the systematical analysis on the consensus of our model. Finally, we conduct the experiments to evaluate our proposed algorithms.

The Adaptive Doubly Robust Estimator and a Paradox Concerning Logging Policy

Masahiro Kato · Kenichiro McAlinn · Shota Yasui

The doubly robust (DR) estimator, which consists of two nuisance parameters, the conditional mean outcome and the logging policy (the probability of choosing an action), is crucial in causal inference. This paper proposes a DR estimator for dependent samples obtained from adaptive experiments. To obtain an asymptotically normal semiparametric estimator from dependent samples without non-Donsker nuisance estimators, we propose adaptive-fitting as a variant of sample-splitting. We also report an empirical paradox that our proposed DR estimator tends to show better performances compared to other estimators utilizing the true logging policy. While a similar phenomenon is known for estimators with i.i.d. samples, traditional explanations based on asymptotic efficiency cannot elucidate our case with dependent samples. We confirm this hypothesis through simulation studies.

Adaptive Data Augmentation on Temporal Graphs

Yiwei Wang · Yujun Cai · Yuxuan Liang · Henghui Ding · Changhu Wang · Siddharth Bhatia · Bryan Hooi

Temporal Graph Networks (TGNs) are powerful on modeling temporal graph data based on their increased complexity. Higher complexity carries with it a higher risk of overfitting, which makes TGNs capture random noise instead of essential semantic information. To address this issue, our idea is to transform the temporal graphs using data augmentation (DA) with adaptive magnitudes, so as to effectively augment the input features and preserve the essential semantic information. Based on this idea, we present the MeTA (Memory Tower Augmentation) module: a multi-level module that processes the augmented graphs of different magnitudes on separate levels, and performs message passing across levels to provide adaptively augmented inputs for every prediction. MeTA can be flexibly applied to the training of popular TGNs to improve their effectiveness without increasing their time complexity. To complement MeTA, we propose three DA strategies to realistically model noise by modifying both the temporal and topological features. Empirical results on standard datasets show that MeTA yields significant gains for the popular TGN models on edge prediction and node classification in an efficient manner.

Distributional Reinforcement Learning for Multi-Dimensional Reward Functions

Pushi Zhang · Xiaoyu Chen · Li Zhao · Wei Xiong · Tao Qin · Tie-Yan Liu

A growing trend for value-based reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms is to capture more information than scalar value functions in the value network. One of the most well-known methods in this branch is distributional RL, which models return distribution instead of scalar value. In another line of work, hybrid reward architectures (HRA) in RL have studied to model source-specific value functions for each source of reward, which is also shown to be beneficial in performance. To fully inherit the benefits of distributional RL and hybrid reward architectures, we introduce Multi-Dimensional Distributional DQN (MD3QN), which extends distributional RL to model the joint return distribution from multiple reward sources. As a by-product of joint distribution modeling, MD3QN can capture not only the randomness in returns for each source of reward, but also the rich reward correlation between the randomness of different sources. We prove the convergence for the joint distributional Bellman operator and build our empirical algorithm by minimizing the Maximum Mean Discrepancy between joint return distribution and its Bellman target. In experiments, our method accurately models the joint return distribution in environments with richly correlated reward functions, and outperforms previous RL methods utilizing multi-dimensional reward functions in the control setting.

KS-GNN: Keywords Search over Incomplete Graphs via Graphs Neural Network

YU HAO · Xin Cao · Yufan Sheng · Yixiang Fang · Wei Wang

Keyword search is a fundamental task to retrieve information that is the most relevant to the query keywords. Keyword search over graphs aims to find subtrees or subgraphs containing all query keywords ranked according to some criteria. Existing studies all assume that the graphs have complete information. However, real-world graphs may contain some missing information (such as edges or keywords), thus making the problem much more challenging. To solve the problem of keyword search over incomplete graphs, we propose a novel model named KS-GNN based on the graph neural network and the auto-encoder. By considering the latent relationships and the frequency of different keywords, the proposed KS-GNN aims to alleviate the effect of missing information and is able to learn low-dimensional representative node embeddings that preserve both graph structure and keyword features. Our model can effectively answer keyword search queries with linear time complexity over incomplete graphs. The experiments on four real-world datasets show that our model consistently achieves better performance than state-of-the-art baseline methods in graphs having missing information.

There Is No Turning Back: A Self-Supervised Approach for Reversibility-Aware Reinforcement Learning

Nathan Grinsztajn · Johan Ferret · Olivier Pietquin · philippe preux · Matthieu Geist

We propose to learn to distinguish reversible from irreversible actions for better informed decision-making in Reinforcement Learning (RL). From theoretical considerations, we show that approximate reversibility can be learned through a simple surrogate task: ranking randomly sampled trajectory events in chronological order. Intuitively, pairs of events that are always observed in the same order are likely to be separated by an irreversible sequence of actions. Conveniently, learning the temporal order of events can be done in a fully self-supervised way, which we use to estimate the reversibility of actions from experience, without any priors.We propose two different strategies that incorporate reversibility in RL agents, one strategy for exploration (RAE) and one strategy for control (RAC). We demonstrate the potential of reversibility-aware agents in several environments, including the challenging Sokoban game. In synthetic tasks, we show that we can learn control policies that never fail and reduce to zero the side-effects of interactions, even without access to the reward function.

TransMatcher: Deep Image Matching Through Transformers for Generalizable Person Re-identification

Shengcai Liao · Ling Shao

Transformers have recently gained increasing attention in computer vision. However, existing studies mostly use Transformers for feature representation learning, e.g. for image classification and dense predictions, and the generalizability of Transformers is unknown. In this work, we further investigate the possibility of applying Transformers for image matching and metric learning given pairs of images. We find that the Vision Transformer (ViT) and the vanilla Transformer with decoders are not adequate for image matching due to their lack of image-to-image attention. Thus, we further design two naive solutions, i.e. query-gallery concatenation in ViT, and query-gallery cross-attention in the vanilla Transformer. The latter improves the performance, but it is still limited. This implies that the attention mechanism in Transformers is primarily designed for global feature aggregation, which is not naturally suitable for image matching. Accordingly, we propose a new simplified decoder, which drops the full attention implementation with the softmax weighting, keeping only the query-key similarity computation. Additionally, global max pooling and a multilayer perceptron (MLP) head are applied to decode the matching result. This way, the simplified decoder is computationally more efficient, while at the same time more effective for image matching. The proposed method, called TransMatcher, achieves state-of-the-art performance in generalizable person re-identification, with up to 6.1% and 5.7% performance gains in Rank-1 and mAP, respectively, on several popular datasets. Code is available at

INDIGO: GNN-Based Inductive Knowledge Graph Completion Using Pair-Wise Encoding

Shuwen Liu · Bernardo Grau · Ian Horrocks · Egor Kostylev

The aim of knowledge graph (KG) completion is to extend an incomplete KG with missing triples. Popular approaches based on graph embeddings typically work by first representing the KG in a vector space, and then applying a predefined scoring function to the resulting vectors to complete the KG. These approaches work well in transductive settings, where predicted triples involve only constants seen during training; however, they are not applicable in inductive settings, where the KG on which the model was trained is extended with new constants or merged with other KGs. The use of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) has recently been proposed as a way to overcome these limitations; however, existing approaches do not fully exploit the capabilities of GNNs and still rely on heuristics and ad-hoc scoring functions. In this paper, we propose a novel approach, where the KG is fully encoded into a GNN in a transparent way, and where the predicted triples can be read out directly from the last layer of the GNN without the need for additional components or scoring functions. Our experiments show that our model outperforms state-of-the-art approaches on inductive KG completion benchmarks.

Robustifying Algorithms of Learning Latent Trees with Vector Variables

Fengzhuo Zhang · Vincent Tan

We consider learning the structures of Gaussian latent tree models with vector observations when a subset of them are arbitrarily corrupted. First, we present the sample complexities of Recursive Grouping (RG) and Chow-Liu Recursive Grouping (CLRG) without the assumption that the effective depth is bounded in the number of observed nodes, significantly generalizing the results in Choi et al. (2011). We show that Chow-Liu initialization in CLRG greatly reduces the sample complexity of RG from being exponential in the diameter of the tree to only logarithmic in the diameter for the hidden Markov model (HMM). Second, we robustify RG, CLRG, Neighbor Joining (NJ) and Spectral NJ (SNJ) by using the truncated inner product. These robustified algorithms can tolerate a number of corruptions up to the square root of the number of clean samples. Finally, we derive the first known instance-dependent impossibility result for structure learning of latent trees. The optimalities of the robust version of CLRG and NJ are verified by comparing their sample complexities and the impossibility result.

Preserved central model for faster bidirectional compression in distributed settings

Constantin Philippenko · Aymeric Dieuleveut

We develop a new approach to tackle communication constraints in a distributed learning problem with a central server. We propose and analyze a new algorithm that performs bidirectional compression and achieves the same convergence rate as algorithms using only uplink (from the local workers to the central server) compression. To obtain this improvement, we design MCM, an algorithm such that the downlink compression only impacts local models, while the global model is preserved. As a result, and contrary to previous works, the gradients on local servers are computed on perturbed models. Consequently, convergence proofs are more challenging and require a precise control of this perturbation. To ensure it, MCM additionally combines model compression with a memory mechanism. This analysis opens new doors, e.g. incorporating worker dependent randomized-models and partial participation.

Iterative Causal Discovery in the Possible Presence of Latent Confounders and Selection Bias

Raanan Rohekar · Shami Nisimov · Yaniv Gurwicz · Gal Novik

We present a sound and complete algorithm, called iterative causal discovery (ICD), for recovering causal graphs in the presence of latent confounders and selection bias. ICD relies on the causal Markov and faithfulness assumptions and recovers the equivalence class of the underlying causal graph. It starts with a complete graph, and consists of a single iterative stage that gradually refines this graph by identifying conditional independence (CI) between connected nodes. Independence and causal relations entailed after any iteration are correct, rendering ICD anytime. Essentially, we tie the size of the CI conditioning set to its distance on the graph from the tested nodes, and increase this value in the successive iteration. Thus, each iteration refines a graph that was recovered by previous iterations having smaller conditioning sets---a higher statistical power---which contributes to stability. We demonstrate empirically that ICD requires significantly fewer CI tests and learns more accurate causal graphs compared to FCI, FCI+, and RFCI algorithms.

A Bayesian-Symbolic Approach to Reasoning and Learning in Intuitive Physics

Kai Xu · Akash Srivastava · Dan Gutfreund · Felix Sosa · Tomer Ullman · Josh Tenenbaum · Charles Sutton

Humans can reason about intuitive physics in fully or partially observed environments even after being exposed to a very limited set of observations. This sample-efficient intuitive physical reasoning is considered a core domain of human common sense knowledge. One hypothesis to explain this remarkable capacity, posits that humans quickly learn approximations to the laws of physics that govern the dynamics of the environment. In this paper, we propose a Bayesian-symbolic framework (BSP) for physical reasoning and learning that is close to human-level sample-efficiency and accuracy. In BSP, the environment is represented by a top-down generative model of entities, which are assumed to interact with each other under unknown force laws over their latent and observed properties. BSP models each of these entities as random variables, and uses Bayesian inference to estimate their unknown properties. For learning the unknown forces, BSP leverages symbolic regression on a novel grammar of Newtonian physics in a bilevel optimization setup. These inference and regression steps are performed in an iterative manner using expectation-maximization, allowing BSP to simultaneously learn force laws while maintaining uncertainty over entity properties. We show that BSP is more sample-efficient compared to neural alternatives on controlled synthetic datasets, demonstrate BSP's applicability to real-world common sense scenes and study BSP's performance on tasks previously used to study human physical reasoning.

Associating Objects with Transformers for Video Object Segmentation

Zongxin Yang · Yunchao Wei · Yi Yang

This paper investigates how to realize better and more efficient embedding learning to tackle the semi-supervised video object segmentation under challenging multi-object scenarios. The state-of-the-art methods learn to decode features with a single positive object and thus have to match and segment each target separately under multi-object scenarios, consuming multiple times computing resources. To solve the problem, we propose an Associating Objects with Transformers (AOT) approach to match and decode multiple objects uniformly. In detail, AOT employs an identification mechanism to associate multiple targets into the same high-dimensional embedding space. Thus, we can simultaneously process multiple objects' matching and segmentation decoding as efficiently as processing a single object. For sufficiently modeling multi-object association, a Long Short-Term Transformer is designed for constructing hierarchical matching and propagation. We conduct extensive experiments on both multi-object and single-object benchmarks to examine AOT variant networks with different complexities. Particularly, our R50-AOT-L outperforms all the state-of-the-art competitors on three popular benchmarks, i.e., YouTube-VOS (84.1% J&F), DAVIS 2017 (84.9%), and DAVIS 2016 (91.1%), while keeping more than 3X faster multi-object run-time. Meanwhile, our AOT-T can maintain real-time multi-object speed on the above benchmarks. Based on AOT, we ranked 1st in the 3rd Large-scale VOS Challenge.

Lip to Speech Synthesis with Visual Context Attentional GAN

Minsu Kim · Joanna Hong · Yong Man Ro

In this paper, we propose a novel lip-to-speech generative adversarial network, Visual Context Attentional GAN (VCA-GAN), which can jointly model local and global lip movements during speech synthesis. Specifically, the proposed VCA-GAN synthesizes the speech from local lip visual features by finding a mapping function of viseme-to-phoneme, while global visual context is embedded into the intermediate layers of the generator to clarify the ambiguity in the mapping induced by homophene. To achieve this, a visual context attention module is proposed where it encodes global representations from the local visual features, and provides the desired global visual context corresponding to the given coarse speech representation to the generator through audio-visual attention. In addition to the explicit modelling of local and global visual representations, synchronization learning is introduced as a form of contrastive learning that guides the generator to synthesize a speech in sync with the given input lip movements. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed VCA-GAN outperforms existing state-of-the-art and is able to effectively synthesize the speech from multi-speaker that has been barely handled in the previous works.

Non-convex Distributionally Robust Optimization: Non-asymptotic Analysis

Jikai Jin · Bohang Zhang · Haiyang Wang · Liwei Wang

Distributionally robust optimization (DRO) is a widely-used approach to learn models that are robust against distribution shift. Compared with the standard optimization setting, the objective function in DRO is more difficult to optimize, and most of the existing theoretical results make strong assumptions on the loss function. In this work we bridge the gap by studying DRO algorithms for general smooth non-convex losses. By carefully exploiting the specific form of the DRO objective, we are able to provide non-asymptotic convergence guarantees even though the objective function is possibly non-convex, non-smooth and has unbounded gradient noise. In particular, we prove that a special algorithm called the mini-batch normalized gradient descent with momentum, can find an $\epsilon$-first-order stationary point within $\mathcal O(\epsilon^{-4})$ gradient complexity. We also discuss the conditional value-at-risk (CVaR) setting, where we propose a penalized DRO objective based on a smoothed version of the CVaR that allows us to obtain a similar convergence guarantee. We finally verify our theoretical results in a number of tasks and find that the proposed algorithm can consistently achieve prominent acceleration.

Dual Progressive Prototype Network for Generalized Zero-Shot Learning

Chaoqun Wang · Shaobo Min · Xuejin Chen · Xiaoyan Sun · Houqiang Li

Generalized Zero-Shot Learning (GZSL) aims to recognize new categories with auxiliary semantic information, e.g., category attributes. In this paper, we handle the critical issue of domain shift problem, i.e., confusion between seen and unseen categories, by progressively improving cross-domain transferability and category discriminability of visual representations. Our approach, named Dual Progressive Prototype Network (DPPN), constructs two types of prototypes that record prototypical visual patterns for attributes and categories, respectively. With attribute prototypes, DPPN alternately searches attribute-related local regions and updates corresponding attribute prototypes to progressively explore accurate attribute-region correspondence. This enables DPPN to produce visual representations with accurate attribute localization ability, which benefits the semantic-visual alignment and representation transferability. Besides, along with progressive attribute localization, DPPN further projects category prototypes into multiple spaces to progressively repel visual representations from different categories, which boosts category discriminability. Both attribute and category prototypes are collaboratively learned in a unified framework, which makes visual representations of DPPN transferable and distinctive.Experiments on four benchmarks prove that DPPN effectively alleviates the domain shift problem in GZSL.

Partition-Based Formulations for Mixed-Integer Optimization of Trained ReLU Neural Networks

Calvin Tsay · Jan Kronqvist · Alexander Thebelt · Ruth Misener

This paper introduces a class of mixed-integer formulations for trained ReLU neural networks. The approach balances model size and tightness by partitioning node inputs into a number of groups and forming the convex hull over the partitions via disjunctive programming. At one extreme, one partition per input recovers the convex hull of a node, i.e., the tightest possible formulation for each node. For fewer partitions, we develop smaller relaxations that approximate the convex hull, and show that they outperform existing formulations. Specifically, we propose strategies for partitioning variables based on theoretical motivations and validate these strategies using extensive computational experiments. Furthermore, the proposed scheme complements known algorithmic approaches, e.g., optimization-based bound tightening captures dependencies within a partition.

A Constant Approximation Algorithm for Sequential Random-Order No-Substitution k-Median Clustering

Tom Hess · Michal Moshkovitz · Sivan Sabato

We study k-median clustering under the sequential no-substitution setting. In this setting, a data stream is sequentially observed, and some of the points are selected by the algorithm as cluster centers. However, a point can be selected as a center only immediately after it is observed, before observing the next point. In addition, a selected center cannot be substituted later. We give the first algorithm for this setting that obtains a constant approximation factor on the optimal cost under a random arrival order, an exponential improvement over previous work. This is also the first constant approximation guarantee that holds without any structural assumptions on the input data. Moreover, the number of selected centers is only quasi-linear in k. Our algorithm and analysis are based on a careful cost estimation that avoids outliers, a new concept of a linear bin division, and a multi-scale approach to center selection.

Repulsive Deep Ensembles are Bayesian

Francesco D'Angelo · Vincent Fortuin

Deep ensembles have recently gained popularity in the deep learning community for their conceptual simplicity and efficiency. However, maintaining functional diversity between ensemble members that are independently trained with gradient descent is challenging. This can lead to pathologies when adding more ensemble members, such as a saturation of the ensemble performance, which converges to the performance of a single model. Moreover, this does not only affect the quality of its predictions, but even more so the uncertainty estimates of the ensemble, and thus its performance on out-of-distribution data. We hypothesize that this limitation can be overcome by discouraging different ensemble members from collapsing to the same function. To this end, we introduce a kernelized repulsive term in the update rule of the deep ensembles. We show that this simple modification not only enforces and maintains diversity among the members but, even more importantly, transforms the maximum a posteriori inference into proper Bayesian inference. Namely, we show that the training dynamics of our proposed repulsive ensembles follow a Wasserstein gradient flow of the KL divergence with the true posterior. We study repulsive terms in weight and function space and empirically compare their performance to standard ensembles and Bayesian baselines on synthetic and real-world prediction tasks.

Hypergraph Propagation and Community Selection for Objects Retrieval

Guoyuan An · Yuchi Huo · Sung-eui Yoon

Spatial verification is a crucial technique for particular object retrieval. It utilizes spatial information for the accurate detection of true positive images. However, existing query expansion and diffusion methods cannot efficiently propagate the spatial information in an ordinary graph with scalar edge weights, resulting in low recall or precision. To tackle these problems, we propose a novel hypergraph-based framework that efficiently propagates spatial information in query time and retrieves an object in the database accurately. Additionally, we propose using the image graph's structure information through community selection technique, to measure the accuracy of the initial search result and to provide correct starting points for hypergraph propagation without heavy spatial verification computations. Experiment results on ROxford and RParis show that our method significantly outperforms the existing query expansion and diffusion methods.

Information Directed Reward Learning for Reinforcement Learning

David Lindner · Matteo Turchetta · Sebastian Tschiatschek · Kamil Ciosek · Andreas Krause

For many reinforcement learning (RL) applications, specifying a reward is difficult. In this paper, we consider an RL setting where the agent can obtain information about the reward only by querying an expert that can, for example, evaluate individual states or provide binary preferences over trajectories. From such expensive feedback, we aim to learn a model of the reward function that allows standard RL algorithms to achieve high expected return with as few expert queries as possible. For this purpose, we propose Information Directed Reward Learning (IDRL), which uses a Bayesian model of the reward function and selects queries that maximize the information gain about the difference in return between potentially optimal policies. In contrast to prior active reward learning methods designed for specific types of queries, IDRL naturally accommodates different query types. Moreover, by shifting the focus from reducing the reward approximation error to improving the policy induced by the reward model, it achieves similar or better performance with significantly fewer queries. We support our findings with extensive evaluations in multiple environments and with different types of queries.

How Tight Can PAC-Bayes be in the Small Data Regime?

Andrew Foong · Wessel Bruinsma · David Burt · Richard Turner

In this paper, we investigate the question: _Given a small number of datapoints, for example $N = 30$, how tight can PAC-Bayes and test set bounds be made?_ For such small datasets, test set bounds adversely affect generalisation performance by withholding data from the training procedure. In this setting, PAC-Bayes bounds are especially attractive, due to their ability to use all the data to simultaneously learn a posterior and bound its generalisation risk. We focus on the case of i.i.d. data with a bounded loss and consider the generic PAC-Bayes theorem of Germain et al. While their theorem is known to recover many existing PAC-Bayes bounds, it is unclear what the tightest bound derivable from their framework is. For a fixed learning algorithm and dataset, we show that the tightest possible bound coincides with a bound considered by Catoni; and, in the more natural case of distributions over datasets, we establish a lower bound on the best bound achievable in expectation. Interestingly, this lower bound recovers the Chernoff test set bound if the posterior is equal to the prior. Moreover, to illustrate how tight these bounds can be, we study synthetic one-dimensional classification tasks in which it is feasible to meta-learn both the prior and the form of the bound to numerically optimise for the tightest bounds possible. We find that in this simple, controlled scenario, PAC-Bayes bounds are competitive with comparable, commonly used Chernoff test set bounds. However, the sharpest test set bounds still lead to better guarantees on the generalisation error than the PAC-Bayes bounds we consider.

Understanding Partial Multi-Label Learning via Mutual Information

Xiuwen Gong · Dong Yuan · Wei Bao

To deal with ambiguities in partial multilabel learning (PML), state-of-the-art methods perform disambiguation by identifying ground-truth labels directly. However, there is an essential question:“Can the ground-truth labels be identified precisely?". If yes, “How can the ground-truth labels be found?". This paper provides affirmative answers to these questions. Instead of adopting hand-made heuristic strategy, we propose a novel Mutual Information Label Identification for Partial Multilabel Learning (MILI-PML), which is derived from a clear probabilistic formulation and could be easily interpreted theoretically from the mutual information perspective, as well as naturally incorporates the feature/label relevancy considerations. Extensive experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets clearly demonstrate the superiorities of the proposed MILI-PML.

E(n) Equivariant Normalizing Flows

Victor Garcia Satorras · Emiel Hoogeboom · Fabian Fuchs · Ingmar Posner · Max Welling

This paper introduces a generative model equivariant to Euclidean symmetries: E(n) Equivariant Normalizing Flows (E-NFs). To construct E-NFs, we take the discriminative E(n) graph neural networks and integrate them as a differential equation to obtain an invertible equivariant function: a continuous-time normalizing flow. We demonstrate that E-NFs considerably outperform baselines and existing methods from the literature on particle systems such as DW4 and LJ13, and on molecules from QM9 in terms of log-likelihood. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first flow that jointly generates molecule features and positions in 3D.

An Analysis of Constant Step Size SGD in the Non-convex Regime: Asymptotic Normality and Bias

Lu Yu · Krishnakumar Balasubramanian · Stanislav Volgushev · Murat Erdogdu

Structured non-convex learning problems, for which critical points have favorable statistical properties, arise frequently in statistical machine learning. Algorithmic convergence and statistical estimation rates are well-understood for such problems. However, quantifying the uncertainty associated with the underlying training algorithm is not well-studied in the non-convex setting. In order to address this shortcoming, in this work, we establish an asymptotic normality result for the constant step size stochastic gradient descent (SGD) algorithm---a widely used algorithm in practice. Specifically, based on the relationship between SGD and Markov Chains [DDB19], we show that the average of SGD iterates is asymptotically normally distributed around the expected value of their unique invariant distribution, as long as the non-convex and non-smooth objective function satisfies a dissipativity property. We also characterize the bias between this expected value and the critical points of the objective function under various local regularity conditions. Together, the above two results could be leveraged to construct confidence intervals for non-convex problems that are trained using the SGD algorithm.

Learning to Learn Graph Topologies

Xingyue Pu · Tianyue Cao · Xiaoyun Zhang · Xiaowen Dong · Siheng Chen

Learning a graph topology to reveal the underlying relationship between data entities plays an important role in various machine learning and data analysis tasks. Under the assumption that structured data vary smoothly over a graph, the problem can be formulated as a regularised convex optimisation over a positive semidefinite cone and solved by iterative algorithms. Classic methods require an explicit convex function to reflect generic topological priors, e.g. the $\ell_1$ penalty for enforcing sparsity, which limits the flexibility and expressiveness in learning rich topological structures. We propose to learn a mapping from node data to the graph structure based on the idea of learning to optimise (L2O). Specifically, our model first unrolls an iterative primal-dual splitting algorithm into a neural network. The key structural proximal projection is replaced with a variational autoencoder that refines the estimated graph with enhanced topological properties. The model is trained in an end-to-end fashion with pairs of node data and graph samples. Experiments on both synthetic and real-world data demonstrate that our model is more efficient than classic iterative algorithms in learning a graph with specific topological properties.

Improved Variance-Aware Confidence Sets for Linear Bandits and Linear Mixture MDP

Zihan Zhang · Jiaqi Yang · Xiangyang Ji · Simon Du

This paper presents new \emph{variance-aware} confidence sets for linear bandits and linear mixture Markov Decision Processes (MDPs).With the new confidence sets, we obtain the follow regret bounds:For linear bandits, we obtain an $\widetilde{O}(\mathrm{poly}(d)\sqrt{1 + \sum_{k=1}^{K}\sigma_k^2})$ data-dependent regret bound, where $d$ is the feature dimension, $K$ is the number of rounds, and $\sigma_k^2$ is the \emph{unknown} variance of the reward at the $k$-th round. This is the first regret bound that only scales with the variance and the dimension but \emph{no explicit polynomial dependency on $K$}.When variances are small, this bound can be significantly smaller than the $\widetilde{\Theta}\left(d\sqrt{K}\right)$ worst-case regret bound.For linear mixture MDPs, we obtain an $\widetilde{O}(\mathrm{poly}(d, \log H)\sqrt{K})$ regret bound, where $d$ is the number of base models, $K$ is the number of episodes, and $H$ is the planning horizon. This is the first regret bound that only scales \emph{logarithmically} with $H$ in the reinforcement learning with linear function approximation setting, thus \emph{exponentially improving} existing results, and resolving an open problem in \citep{zhou2020nearly}.We develop three technical ideas that may be of independent interest:1) applications of the peeling technique to both the input norm and the variance magnitude, 2) a recursion-based estimator for the variance, and 3) a new convex potential lemma that generalizes the seminal elliptical potential lemma.

EF21: A New, Simpler, Theoretically Better, and Practically Faster Error Feedback

Peter Richtarik · Igor Sokolov · Ilyas Fatkhullin

Error feedback (EF), also known as error compensation, is an immensely popular convergence stabilization mechanism in the context of distributed training of supervised machine learning models enhanced by the use of contractive communication compression mechanisms, such as Top-$k$. First proposed by Seide et al [2014] as a heuristic, EF resisted any theoretical understanding until recently [Stich et al., 2018, Alistarh et al., 2018]. While these early breakthroughs were followed by a steady stream of works offering various improvements and generalizations, the current theoretical understanding of EF is still very limited. Indeed, to the best of our knowledge, all existing analyses either i) apply to the single node setting only, ii) rely on very strong and often unreasonable assumptions, such as global boundedness of the gradients, or iterate-dependent assumptions that cannot be checked a-priori and may not hold in practice, or iii) circumvent these issues via the introduction of additional unbiased compressors, which increase the communication cost. In this work we fix all these deficiencies by proposing and analyzing a new EF mechanism, which we call EF21, which consistently and substantially outperforms EF in practice. Moreover, our theoretical analysis relies on standard assumptions only, works in the distributed heterogeneous data setting, and leads to better and more meaningful rates. In particular, we prove that EF21 enjoys a fast $\mathcal{O}(1/T)$ convergence rate for smooth nonconvex problems, beating the previous bound of $\mathcal{O}(1/T^{2/3})$, which was shown under a strong bounded gradients assumption. We further improve this to a fast linear rate for Polyak-Lojasiewicz functions, which is the first linear convergence result for an error feedback method not relying on unbiased compressors. Since EF has a large number of applications where it reigns supreme, we believe that our 2021 variant, EF21, will have a large impact on the practice of communication efficient distributed learning.

Kernel Functional Optimisation

Arun Kumar Anjanapura Venkatesh · Alistair Shilton · Santu Rana · Sunil Gupta · Svetha Venkatesh

Traditional methods for kernel selection rely on parametric kernel functions or a combination thereof and although the kernel hyperparameters are tuned, these methods often provide sub-optimal results due to the limitations induced by the parametric forms. In this paper, we propose a novel formulation for kernel selection using efficient Bayesian optimisation to find the best fitting non-parametric kernel. The kernel is expressed using a linear combination of functions sampled from a prior Gaussian Process (GP) defined by a hyperkernel. We also provide a mechanism to ensure the positive definiteness of the Gram matrix constructed using the resultant kernels. Our experimental results on GP regression and Support Vector Machine (SVM) classification tasks involving both synthetic functions and several real-world datasets show the superiority of our approach over the state-of-the-art.

Beyond BatchNorm: Towards a Unified Understanding of Normalization in Deep Learning

Ekdeep S Lubana · Robert Dick · Hidenori Tanaka

Inspired by BatchNorm, there has been an explosion of normalization layers in deep learning. Recent works have identified a multitude of beneficial properties in BatchNorm to explain its success. However, given the pursuit of alternative normalization layers, these properties need to be generalized so that any given layer's success/failure can be accurately predicted. In this work, we take a first step towards this goal by extending known properties of BatchNorm in randomly initialized deep neural networks (DNNs) to several recently proposed normalization layers. Our primary findings follow: (i) similar to BatchNorm, activations-based normalization layers can prevent exponential growth of activations in ResNets, but parametric techniques require explicit remedies; (ii) use of GroupNorm can ensure an informative forward propagation, with different samples being assigned dissimilar activations, but increasing group size results in increasingly indistinguishable activations for different samples, explaining slow convergence speed in models with LayerNorm; and (iii) small group sizes result in large gradient norm in earlier layers, hence explaining training instability issues in Instance Normalization and illustrating a speed-stability tradeoff in GroupNorm. Overall, our analysis reveals a unified set of mechanisms that underpin the success of normalization methods in deep learning, providing us with a compass to systematically explore the vast design space of DNN normalization layers.

CLDA: Contrastive Learning for Semi-Supervised Domain Adaptation

Ankit Singh

Unsupervised Domain Adaptation (UDA) aims to align the labeled source distribution with the unlabeled target distribution to obtain domain invariant predictive models. However, the application of well-known UDA approaches does not generalize well in Semi-Supervised Domain Adaptation (SSDA) scenarios where few labeled samples from the target domain are available.This paper proposes a simple Contrastive Learning framework for semi-supervised Domain Adaptation (CLDA) that attempts to bridge the intra-domain gap between the labeled and unlabeled target distributions and the inter-domain gap between source and unlabeled target distribution in SSDA. We suggest employing class-wise contrastive learning to reduce the inter-domain gap and instance-level contrastive alignment between the original(input image) and strongly augmented unlabeled target images to minimize the intra-domain discrepancy. We have empirically shown that both of these modules complement each other to achieve superior performance. Experiments on three well-known domain adaptation benchmark datasets, namely DomainNet, Office-Home, and Office31, demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach. CLDA achieves state-of-the-art results on all the above datasets.

Automatic Data Augmentation for Generalization in Reinforcement Learning

Roberta Raileanu · Maxwell Goldstein · Denis Yarats · Ilya Kostrikov · Rob Fergus

Deep reinforcement learning (RL) agents often fail to generalize beyond their training environments. To alleviate this problem, recent work has proposed the use of data augmentation. However, different tasks tend to benefit from different types of augmentations and selecting the right one typically requires expert knowledge. In this paper, we introduce three approaches for automatically finding an effective augmentation for any RL task. These are combined with two novel regularization terms for the policy and value function, required to make the use of data augmentation theoretically sound for actor-critic algorithms. Our method achieves a new state-of-the-art on the Procgen benchmark and outperforms popular RL algorithms on DeepMind Control tasks with distractors. In addition, our agent learns policies and representations which are more robust to changes in the environment that are irrelevant for solving the task, such as the background.

Redesigning the Transformer Architecture with Insights from Multi-particle Dynamical Systems

Subhabrata Dutta · Tanya Gautam · Soumen Chakrabarti · Tanmoy Chakraborty

The Transformer and its variants have been proven to be efficient sequence learners in many different domains. Despite their staggering success, a critical issue has been the enormous number of parameters that must be trained (ranging from $10^7$ to $10^{11}$) along with the quadratic complexity of dot-product attention. In this work, we investigate the problem of approximating the two central components of the Transformer --- multi-head self-attention and point-wise feed-forward transformation, with reduced parameter space and computational complexity. We build upon recent developments in analyzing deep neural networks as numerical solvers of ordinary differential equations. Taking advantage of an analogy between Transformer stages and the evolution of a dynamical system of multiple interacting particles, we formulate a temporal evolution scheme, \name, to bypass costly dot-product attention over multiple stacked layers. We perform exhaustive experiments with \name\ on well-known encoder-decoder as well as encoder-only tasks. We observe that the degree of approximation (or inversely, the degree of parameter reduction) has different effects on the performance, depending on the task. While in the encoder-decoder regime, \name\ delivers performances comparable to the original Transformer, in encoder-only tasks it consistently outperforms Transformer along with several subsequent variants.

A$^2$-Net: Learning Attribute-Aware Hash Codes for Large-Scale Fine-Grained Image Retrieval

Xiu-Shen Wei · Yang Shen · Xuhao Sun · Han-Jia Ye · Jian Yang

Our work focuses on tackling large-scale fine-grained image retrieval as ranking the images depicting the concept of interests (i.e., the same sub-category labels) highest based on the fine-grained details in the query. It is desirable to alleviate the challenges of both fine-grained nature of small inter-class variations with large intra-class variations and explosive growth of fine-grained data for such a practical task. In this paper, we propose an Attribute-Aware hashing Network (A$^2$-Net) for generating attribute-aware hash codes to not only make the retrieval process efficient, but also establish explicit correspondences between hash codes and visual attributes. Specifically, based on the captured visual representations by attention, we develop an encoder-decoder structure network of a reconstruction task to unsupervisedly distill high-level attribute-specific vectors from the appearance-specific visual representations without attribute annotations. A$^2$-Net is also equipped with a feature decorrelation constraint upon these attribute vectors to enhance their representation abilities. Finally, the required hash codes are generated by the attribute vectors driven by preserving original similarities. Qualitative experiments on five benchmark fine-grained datasets show our superiority over competing methods. More importantly, quantitative results demonstrate the obtained hash codes can strongly correspond to certain kinds of crucial properties of fine-grained objects.

Brick-by-Brick: Combinatorial Construction with Deep Reinforcement Learning

Hyunsoo Chung · Jungtaek Kim · Boris Knyazev · Jinhwi Lee · Graham Taylor · Jaesik Park · Minsu Cho

Discovering a solution in a combinatorial space is prevalent in many real-world problems but it is also challenging due to diverse complex constraints and the vast number of possible combinations. To address such a problem, we introduce a novel formulation, combinatorial construction, which requires a building agent to assemble unit primitives (i.e., LEGO bricks) sequentially -- every connection between two bricks must follow a fixed rule, while no bricks mutually overlap. To construct a target object, we provide incomplete knowledge about the desired target (i.e., 2D images) instead of exact and explicit volumetric information to the agent. This problem requires a comprehensive understanding of partial information and long-term planning to append a brick sequentially, which leads us to employ reinforcement learning. The approach has to consider a variable-sized action space where a large number of invalid actions, which would cause overlap between bricks, exist. To resolve these issues, our model, dubbed Brick-by-Brick, adopts an action validity prediction network that efficiently filters invalid actions for an actor-critic network. We demonstrate that the proposed method successfully learns to construct an unseen object conditioned on a single image or multiple views of a target object.

iFlow: Numerically Invertible Flows for Efficient Lossless Compression via a Uniform Coder

Shifeng Zhang · Ning Kang · Tom Ryder · Zhenguo Li

It was estimated that the world produced $59 ZB$ ($5.9 \times 10^{13} GB$) of data in 2020, resulting in the enormous costs of both data storage and transmission. Fortunately, recent advances in deep generative models have spearheaded a new class of so-called "neural compression" algorithms, which significantly outperform traditional codecs in terms of compression ratio. Unfortunately, the application of neural compression garners little commercial interest due to its limited bandwidth; therefore, developing highly efficient frameworks is of critical practical importance. In this paper, we discuss lossless compression using normalizing flows which have demonstrated a great capacity for achieving high compression ratios. As such, we introduce iFlow, a new method for achieving efficient lossless compression. We first propose Modular Scale Transform (MST) and a novel family of numerically invertible flow transformations based on MST. Then we introduce the Uniform Base Conversion System (UBCS), a fast uniform-distribution codec incorporated into iFlow, enabling efficient compression. iFlow achieves state-of-the-art compression ratios and is $5 \times$ quicker than other high-performance schemes. Furthermore, the techniques presented in this paper can be used to accelerate coding time for a broad class of flow-based algorithms.

History Aware Multimodal Transformer for Vision-and-Language Navigation

Shizhe Chen · Pierre-Louis Guhur · Cordelia Schmid · Ivan Laptev

Vision-and-language navigation (VLN) aims to build autonomous visual agents that follow instructions and navigate in real scenes. To remember previously visited locations and actions taken, most approaches to VLN implement memory using recurrent states. Instead, we introduce a History Aware Multimodal Transformer (HAMT) to incorporate a long-horizon history into multimodal decision making. HAMT efficiently encodes all the past panoramic observations via a hierarchical vision transformer (ViT), which first encodes individual images with ViT, then models spatial relation between images in a panoramic observation and finally takes into account temporal relation between panoramas in the history. It, then, jointly combines text, history and current observation to predict the next action. We first train HAMT end-to-end using several proxy tasks including single step action prediction and spatial relation prediction, and then use reinforcement learning to further improve the navigation policy. HAMT achieves new state of the art on a broad range of VLN tasks, including VLN with fine-grained instructions (R2R, RxR), high-level instructions (R2R-Last, REVERIE), dialogs (CVDN) as well as long-horizon VLN (R4R, R2R-Back). We demonstrate HAMT to be particularly effective for navigation tasks with longer trajectories.

No Fear of Heterogeneity: Classifier Calibration for Federated Learning with Non-IID Data

Mi Luo · Fei Chen · Dapeng Hu · Yifan Zhang · Jian Liang · Jiashi Feng

A central challenge in training classification models in the real-world federated system is learning with non-IID data. To cope with this, most of the existing works involve enforcing regularization in local optimization or improving the model aggregation scheme at the server. Other works also share public datasets or synthesized samples to supplement the training of under-represented classes or introduce a certain level of personalization. Though effective, they lack a deep understanding of how the data heterogeneity affects each layer of a deep classification model. In this paper, we bridge this gap by performing an experimental analysis of the representations learned by different layers. Our observations are surprising: (1) there exists a greater bias in the classifier than other layers, and (2) the classification performance can be significantly improved by post-calibrating the classifier after federated training. Motivated by the above findings, we propose a novel and simple algorithm called Classifier Calibration with Virtual Representations (CCVR), which adjusts the classifier using virtual representations sampled from an approximated gaussian mixture model. Experimental results demonstrate that CCVR achieves state-of-the-art performance on popular federated learning benchmarks including CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and CINIC-10. We hope that our simple yet effective method can shed some light on the future research of federated learning with non-IID data.

Learning to Combine Per-Example Solutions for Neural Program Synthesis

Disha Shrivastava · Hugo Larochelle · Daniel Tarlow

The goal of program synthesis from examples is to find a computer program that is consistent with a given set of input-output examples. Most learning-based approaches try to find a program that satisfies all examples at once. Our work, by contrast, considers an approach that breaks the problem into two stages: (a) find programs that satisfy only one example, and (b) leverage these per-example solutions to yield a program that satisfies all examples. We introduce the Cross Aggregator neural network module based on a multi-head attention mechanism that learns to combine the cues present in these per-example solutions to synthesize a global solution. Evaluation across programs of different lengths and under two different experimental settings reveal that when given the same time budget, our technique significantly improves the success rate over PCCoder [Zohar et. al 2018] and other ablation baselines.

Refined Learning Bounds for Kernel and Approximate $k$-Means

Yong Liu

Kernel $k$-means is one of the most popular approaches to clustering and its theoretical properties have been investigated for decades. However, the existing state-of-the-art risk bounds are of order $\mathcal{O}(k/\sqrt{n})$, which do not match with the stated lower bound $\Omega(\sqrt{k/n})$ in terms of $k$, where $k$ is the number of clusters and $n$ is the size of the training set. In this paper, we study the statistical properties of kernel $k$-means and Nystr\"{o}m-based kernel $k$-means, and obtain optimal clustering risk bounds, which improve the existing risk bounds. Particularly, based on a refined upper bound of Rademacher complexity [21], we first derive an optimal risk bound of rate $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{k/n})$ for empirical risk minimizer (ERM), and further extend it to general cases beyond ERM. Then, we analyze the statistical effect of computational approximations of Nystr\"{o}m kernel $k$-means, and prove that it achieves the same statistical accuracy as the original kernel $k$-means considering only $\Omega(\sqrt{nk})$ Nystr\"{o}m landmark points. We further relax the restriction of landmark points from $\Omega(\sqrt{nk})$ to $\Omega(\sqrt{n})$ under a mild condition. Finally, we validate the theoretical findings via numerical experiments.

Conformal Time-series Forecasting

Kamile Stankeviciute · Ahmed M. Alaa · Mihaela van der Schaar

Current approaches for multi-horizon time series forecasting using recurrent neural networks (RNNs) focus on issuing point estimates, which is insufficient for decision-making in critical application domains where an uncertainty estimate is also required. Existing approaches for uncertainty quantification in RNN-based time-series forecasts are limited as they may require significant alterations to the underlying model architecture, may be computationally complex, may be difficult to calibrate, may incur high sample complexity, and may not provide theoretical guarantees on frequentist coverage. In this paper, we extend the inductive conformal prediction framework to the time-series forecasting setup, and propose a lightweight algorithm to address all of the above limitations, providing uncertainty estimates with theoretical guarantees for any multi-horizon forecast predictor and any dataset with minimal exchangeability assumptions. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach by comparing it with existing benchmarks on a variety of synthetic and real-world datasets.

Conformal Prediction using Conditional Histograms

Matteo Sesia · Yaniv Romano

This paper develops a conformal method to compute prediction intervals for non-parametric regression that can automatically adapt to skewed data. Leveraging black-box machine learning algorithms to estimate the conditional distribution of the outcome using histograms, it translates their output into the shortest prediction intervals with approximate conditional coverage. The resulting prediction intervals provably have marginal coverage in finite samples, while asymptotically achieving conditional coverage and optimal length if the black-box model is consistent. Numerical experiments with simulated and real data demonstrate improved performance compared to state-of-the-art alternatives, including conformalized quantile regression and other distributional conformal prediction approaches.

Network-to-Network Regularization: Enforcing Occam's Razor to Improve Generalization

Rohan Ghosh · Mehul Motani

What makes a classifier have the ability to generalize? There have been a lot of important attempts to address this question, but a clear answer is still elusive. Proponents of complexity theory find that the complexity of the classifier's function space is key to deciding generalization, whereas other recent work reveals that classifiers which extract invariant feature representations are likely to generalize better. Recent theoretical and empirical studies, however, have shown that even within a classifier's function space, there can be significant differences in the ability to generalize. Specifically, empirical studies have shown that among functions which have a good training data fit, functions with lower Kolmogorov complexity (KC) are likely to generalize better, while the opposite is true for functions of higher KC. Motivated by these findings, we propose, in this work, a novel measure of complexity called Kolmogorov Growth (KG), which we use to derive new generalization error bounds that only depend on the final choice of the classification function. Guided by the bounds, we propose a novel way of regularizing neural networks by constraining the network trajectory to remain in the low KG zone during training. Minimizing KG while learning is akin to applying the Occam's razor to neural networks. The proposed approach, called network-to-network regularization, leads to clear improvements in the generalization ability of classifiers. We verify this for three popular image datasets (MNIST, CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100) across varying training data sizes. Empirical studies find that conventional training of neural networks, unlike network-to-network regularization, leads to networks of high KG and lower test accuracies. Furthermore, we present the benefits of N2N regularization in the scenario where the training data labels are noisy. Using N2N regularization, we achieve competitive performance on MNIST, CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100 datasets with corrupted training labels, significantly improving network performance compared to standard cross-entropy baselines in most cases. These findings illustrate the many benefits obtained from imposing a function complexity prior like Kolmogorov Growth during the training process.

Spherical Motion Dynamics: Learning Dynamics of Normalized Neural Network using SGD and Weight Decay

Ruosi Wan · Zhanxing Zhu · Xiangyu Zhang · Jian Sun

In this paper, we comprehensively reveal the learning dynamics of normalized neural network using Stochastic Gradient Descent (with momentum) and Weight Decay (WD), named as Spherical Motion Dynamics (SMD). Most related works focus on studying behavior of effective learning rate" inequilibrium" state, i.e. assuming weight norm remains unchanged. However, their discussion on why this equilibrium can be reached is either absent or less convincing. Our work directly explores the cause of equilibrium, as a special state of SMD. Specifically, 1) we introduce the assumptions that can lead to equilibrium state in SMD, and prove equilibrium can be reached in a linear rate regime under given assumptions; 2) we propose ``angular update" as a substitute for effective learning rate to depict the state of SMD, and derive the theoretical value of angular update in equilibrium state; 3) we verify our assumptions and theoretical results on various large-scale computer vision tasks including ImageNet and MSCOCO with standard settings. Experiment results show our theoretical findings agree well with empirical observations. We also show that the behavior of angular update in SMD can produce interesting effect to the optimization of neural network in practice.

Efficient Learning of Discrete-Continuous Computation Graphs

David Friede · Mathias Niepert

Numerous models for supervised and reinforcement learning benefit from combinations of discrete and continuous model components. End-to-end learnable discrete-continuous models are compositional, tend to generalize better, and are more interpretable. A popular approach to building discrete-continuous computation graphs is that of integrating discrete probability distributions into neural networks using stochastic softmax tricks. Prior work has mainly focused on computation graphs with a single discrete component on each of the graph's execution paths. We analyze the behavior of more complex stochastic computations graphs with multiple sequential discrete components. We show that it is challenging to optimize the parameters of these models, mainly due to small gradients and local minima. We then propose two new strategies to overcome these challenges. First, we show that increasing the scale parameter of the Gumbel noise perturbations during training improves the learning behavior. Second, we propose dropout residual connections specifically tailored to stochastic, discrete-continuous computation graphs. With an extensive set of experiments, we show that we can train complex discrete-continuous models which one cannot train with standard stochastic softmax tricks. We also show that complex discrete-stochastic models generalize better than their continuous counterparts on several benchmark datasets.

Overcoming Catastrophic Forgetting in Incremental Few-Shot Learning by Finding Flat Minima

Guangyuan SHI · JIAXIN CHEN · Wenlong Zhang · Li-Ming Zhan · Xiao-Ming Wu

This paper considers incremental few-shot learning, which requires a model to continually recognize new categories with only a few examples provided. Our study shows that existing methods severely suffer from catastrophic forgetting, a well-known problem in incremental learning, which is aggravated due to data scarcity and imbalance in the few-shot setting. Our analysis further suggests that to prevent catastrophic forgetting, actions need to be taken in the primitive stage -- the training of base classes instead of later few-shot learning sessions. Therefore, we propose to search for flat local minima of the base training objective function and then fine-tune the model parameters within the flat region on new tasks. In this way, the model can efficiently learn new classes while preserving the old ones. Comprehensive experimental results demonstrate that our approach outperforms all prior state-of-the-art methods and is very close to the approximate upper bound. The source code is available at

Intrinsic Dimension, Persistent Homology and Generalization in Neural Networks

Tolga Birdal · Aaron Lou · Leonidas Guibas · Umut Simsekli

Disobeying the classical wisdom of statistical learning theory, modern deep neural networks generalize well even though they typically contain millions of parameters. Recently, it has been shown that the trajectories of iterative optimization algorithms can possess \emph{fractal structures}, and their generalization error can be formally linked to the complexity of such fractals. This complexity is measured by the fractal's \emph{intrinsic dimension}, a quantity usually much smaller than the number of parameters in the network. Even though this perspective provides an explanation for why overparametrized networks would not overfit, computing the intrinsic dimension (\eg, for monitoring generalization during training) is a notoriously difficult task, where existing methods typically fail even in moderate ambient dimensions. In this study, we consider this problem from the lens of topological data analysis (TDA) and develop a generic computational tool that is built on rigorous mathematical foundations. By making a novel connection between learning theory and TDA, we first illustrate that the generalization error can be equivalently bounded in terms of a notion called the 'persistent homology dimension' (PHD), where, compared with prior work, our approach does not require any additional geometrical or statistical assumptions on the training dynamics. Then, by utilizing recently established theoretical results and TDA tools, we develop an efficient algorithm to estimate PHD in the scale of modern deep neural networks and further provide visualization tools to help understand generalization in deep learning. Our experiments show that the proposed approach can efficiently compute a network's intrinsic dimension in a variety of settings, which is predictive of the generalization error.

Asynchronous Decentralized SGD with Quantized and Local Updates

Giorgi Nadiradze · Amirmojtaba Sabour · Peter Davies · Shigang Li · Dan Alistarh

Decentralized optimization is emerging as a viable alternative for scalable distributed machine learning, but also introduces new challenges in terms of synchronization costs. To this end, several communication-reduction techniques, such as non-blocking communication, quantization, and local steps, have been explored in the decentralized setting. Due to the complexity of analyzing optimization in such a relaxed setting, this line of work often assumes \emph{global} communication rounds, which require additional synchronization. In this paper, we consider decentralized optimization in the simpler, but harder to analyze, \emph{asynchronous gossip} model, in which communication occurs in discrete, randomly chosen pairings among nodes. Perhaps surprisingly, we show that a variant of SGD called \emph{SwarmSGD} still converges in this setting, even if \emph{non-blocking communication}, \emph{quantization}, and \emph{local steps} are all applied \emph{in conjunction}, and even if the node data distributions and underlying graph topology are both \emph{heterogenous}. Our analysis is based on a new connection with multi-dimensional load-balancing processes. We implement this algorithm and deploy it in a super-computing environment, showing that it can outperform previous decentralized methods in terms of end-to-end training time, and that it can even rival carefully-tuned large-batch SGD for certain tasks.

Stochastic Shortest Path: Minimax, Parameter-Free and Towards Horizon-Free Regret

Jean Tarbouriech · Runlong Zhou · Simon Du · Matteo Pirotta · Michal Valko · Alessandro Lazaric

We study the problem of learning in the stochastic shortest path (SSP) setting, where an agent seeks to minimize the expected cost accumulated before reaching a goal state. We design a novel model-based algorithm EB-SSP that carefully skews the empirical transitions and perturbs the empirical costs with an exploration bonus to induce an optimistic SSP problem whose associated value iteration scheme is guaranteed to converge. We prove that EB-SSP achieves the minimax regret rate $\widetilde{O}(B_{\star} \sqrt{S A K})$, where $K$ is the number of episodes, $S$ is the number of states, $A$ is the number of actions and $B_{\star}$ bounds the expected cumulative cost of the optimal policy from any state, thus closing the gap with the lower bound. Interestingly, EB-SSP obtains this result while being parameter-free, i.e., it does not require any prior knowledge of $B_{\star}$, nor of $T_{\star}$, which bounds the expected time-to-goal of the optimal policy from any state. Furthermore, we illustrate various cases (e.g., positive costs, or general costs when an order-accurate estimate of $T_{\star}$ is available) where the regret only contains a logarithmic dependence on $T_{\star}$, thus yielding the first (nearly) horizon-free regret bound beyond the finite-horizon MDP setting.

Sim and Real: Better Together

Shirli Di-Castro · Dotan Di Castro · Shie Mannor

Simulation is used extensively in autonomous systems, particularly in robotic manipulation. By far, the most common approach is to train a controller in simulation, and then use it as an initial starting point for the real system. We demonstrate how to learn simultaneously from both simulation and interaction with the real environment. We propose an algorithm for balancing the large number of samples from the high throughput but less accurate simulation and the low-throughput, high-fidelity and costly samples from the real environment. We achieve that by maintaining a replay buffer for each environment the agent interacts with. We analyze such multi-environment interaction theoretically, and provide convergence properties, through a novel theoretical replay buffer analysis. We demonstrate the efficacy of our method on a sim-to-real environment.

Trustworthy Multimodal Regression with Mixture of Normal-inverse Gamma Distributions

Huan Ma · Zongbo Han · Changqing Zhang · Huazhu Fu · Joey Tianyi Zhou · Qinghua Hu

Multimodal regression is a fundamental task, which integrates the information from different sources to improve the performance of follow-up applications. However, existing methods mainly focus on improving the performance and often ignore the confidence of prediction for diverse situations. In this study, we are devoted to trustworthy multimodal regression which is critical in cost-sensitive domains. To this end, we introduce a novel Mixture of Normal-Inverse Gamma distributions (MoNIG) algorithm, which efficiently estimates uncertainty in principle for adaptive integration of different modalities and produces a trustworthy regression result. Our model can be dynamically aware of uncertainty for each modality, and also robust for corrupted modalities. Furthermore, the proposed MoNIG ensures explicitly representation of (modality-specific/global) epistemic and aleatoric uncertainties, respectively. Experimental results on both synthetic and different real-world data demonstrate the effectiveness and trustworthiness of our method on various multimodal regression tasks (e.g., temperature prediction for superconductivity, relative location prediction for CT slices, and multimodal sentiment analysis).

Visual Search Asymmetry: Deep Nets and Humans Share Similar Inherent Biases

Shashi Kant Gupta · Mengmi Zhang · CHIA-CHIEN WU · Jeremy Wolfe · Gabriel Kreiman

Visual search is a ubiquitous and often challenging daily task, exemplified by looking for the car keys at home or a friend in a crowd. An intriguing property of some classical search tasks is an asymmetry such that finding a target A among distractors B can be easier than finding B among A. To elucidate the mechanisms responsible for asymmetry in visual search, we propose a computational model that takes a target and a search image as inputs and produces a sequence of eye movements until the target is found. The model integrates eccentricity-dependent visual recognition with target-dependent top-down cues. We compared the model against human behavior in six paradigmatic search tasks that show asymmetry in humans. Without prior exposure to the stimuli or task-specific training, the model provides a plausible mechanism for search asymmetry. We hypothesized that the polarity of search asymmetry arises from experience with the natural environment. We tested this hypothesis by training the model on augmented versions of ImageNet where the biases of natural images were either removed or reversed. The polarity of search asymmetry disappeared or was altered depending on the training protocol. This study highlights how classical perceptual properties can emerge in neural network models, without the need for task-specific training, but rather as a consequence of the statistical properties of the developmental diet fed to the model. All source code and data are publicly available at

BooVI: Provably Efficient Bootstrapped Value Iteration

Boyi Liu · Qi Cai · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang

Despite the tremendous success of reinforcement learning (RL) with function approximation, efficient exploration remains a significant challenge, both practically and theoretically. In particular, existing theoretically grounded RL algorithms based on upper confidence bounds (UCBs), such as optimistic least-squares value iteration (LSVI), are often incompatible with practically powerful function approximators, such as neural networks. In this paper, we develop a variant of \underline{boo}tstrapped LS\underline{VI}, namely BooVI, which bridges such a gap between practice and theory. Practically, BooVI drives exploration through (re)sampling, making it compatible with general function approximators. Theoretically, BooVI inherits the worst-case $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{d^3 H^3 T})$-regret of optimistic LSVI in the episodic linear setting. Here $d$ is the feature dimension, $H$ is the episode horizon, and $T$ is the total number of steps.

Towards Calibrated Model for Long-Tailed Visual Recognition from Prior Perspective

Zhengzhuo Xu · Zenghao Chai · Chun Yuan

Real-world data universally confronts a severe class-imbalance problem and exhibits a long-tailed distribution, i.e., most labels are associated with limited instances. The naïve models supervised by such datasets would prefer dominant labels, encounter a serious generalization challenge and become poorly calibrated. We propose two novel methods from the prior perspective to alleviate this dilemma. First, we deduce a balance-oriented data augmentation named Uniform Mixup (UniMix) to promote mixup in long-tailed scenarios, which adopts advanced mixing factor and sampler in favor of the minority. Second, motivated by the Bayesian theory, we figure out the Bayes Bias (Bayias), an inherent bias caused by the inconsistency of prior, and compensate it as a modification on standard cross-entropy loss. We further prove that both the proposed methods ensure the classification calibration theoretically and empirically. Extensive experiments verify that our strategies contribute to a better-calibrated model, and their combination achieves state-of-the-art performance on CIFAR-LT, ImageNet-LT, and iNaturalist 2018.

Self-Supervised Learning of Event-Based Optical Flow with Spiking Neural Networks

Jesse Hagenaars · Federico Paredes-Valles · Guido de Croon

The field of neuromorphic computing promises extremely low-power and low-latency sensing and processing. Challenges in transferring learning algorithms from traditional artificial neural networks (ANNs) to spiking neural networks (SNNs) have so far prevented their application to large-scale, complex regression tasks. Furthermore, realizing a truly asynchronous and fully neuromorphic pipeline that maximally attains the abovementioned benefits involves rethinking the way in which this pipeline takes in and accumulates information. In the case of perception, spikes would be passed as-is and one-by-one between an event camera and an SNN, meaning all temporal integration of information must happen inside the network. In this article, we tackle these two problems. We focus on the complex task of learning to estimate optical flow from event-based camera inputs in a self-supervised manner, and modify the state-of-the-art ANN training pipeline to encode minimal temporal information in its inputs. Moreover, we reformulate the self-supervised loss function for event-based optical flow to improve its convexity. We perform experiments with various types of recurrent ANNs and SNNs using the proposed pipeline. Concerning SNNs, we investigate the effects of elements such as parameter initialization and optimization, surrogate gradient shape, and adaptive neuronal mechanisms. We find that initialization and surrogate gradient width play a crucial part in enabling learning with sparse inputs, while the inclusion of adaptivity and learnable neuronal parameters can improve performance. We show that the performance of the proposed ANNs and SNNs are on par with that of the current state-of-the-art ANNs trained in a self-supervised manner.

An Even More Optimal Stochastic Optimization Algorithm: Minibatching and Interpolation Learning

Blake Woodworth · Nathan Srebro

We present and analyze an algorithm for optimizing smooth and convex or strongly convex objectives using minibatch stochastic gradient estimates. The algorithm is optimal with respect to its dependence on both the minibatch size and minimum expected loss simultaneously. This improves over the optimal method of Lan, which is insensitive to the minimum expected loss; over the optimistic acceleration of Cotter et al., which has suboptimal dependence on the minibatch size; and over the algorithm of Liu and Belkin, which is limited to least squares problems and is also similarly suboptimal. Applied to interpolation learning, the improvement over Cotter et al.~and Liu and Belkin translates to a linear, rather than square-root, parallelization speedup.

A Gradient Method for Multilevel Optimization

Ryo Sato · Mirai Tanaka · Akiko Takeda

Although application examples of multilevel optimization have already been discussed since the 1990s, the development of solution methods was almost limited to bilevel cases due to the difficulty of the problem. In recent years, in machine learning, Franceschi et al. have proposed a method for solving bilevel optimization problems by replacing their lower-level problems with the $T$ steepest descent update equations with some prechosen iteration number $T$. In this paper, we have developed a gradient-based algorithm for multilevel optimization with $n$ levels based on their idea and proved that our reformulation asymptotically converges to the original multilevel problem. As far as we know, this is one of the first algorithms with some theoretical guarantee for multilevel optimization. Numerical experiments show that a trilevel hyperparameter learning model considering data poisoning produces more stable prediction results than an existing bilevel hyperparameter learning model in noisy data settings.

A Provably Efficient Sample Collection Strategy for Reinforcement Learning

Jean Tarbouriech · Matteo Pirotta · Michal Valko · Alessandro Lazaric

One of the challenges in online reinforcement learning (RL) is that the agent needs to trade off the exploration of the environment and the exploitation of the samples to optimize its behavior. Whether we optimize for regret, sample complexity, state-space coverage or model estimation, we need to strike a different exploration-exploitation trade-off. In this paper, we propose to tackle the exploration-exploitation problem following a decoupled approach composed of: 1) An "objective-specific" algorithm that (adaptively) prescribes how many samples to collect at which states, as if it has access to a generative model (i.e., a simulator of the environment); 2) An "objective-agnostic" sample collection exploration strategy responsible for generating the prescribed samples as fast as possible. Building on recent methods for exploration in the stochastic shortest path problem, we first provide an algorithm that, given as input the number of samples $b(s,a)$ needed in each state-action pair, requires $\widetilde{O}(B D + D^{3/2} S^2 A)$ time steps to collect the $B=\sum_{s,a} b(s,a)$ desired samples, in any unknown communicating MDP with $S$ states, $A$ actions and diameter $D$. Then we show how this general-purpose exploration algorithm can be paired with "objective-specific" strategies that prescribe the sample requirements to tackle a variety of settings — e.g., model estimation, sparse reward discovery, goal-free cost-free exploration in communicating MDPs — for which we obtain improved or novel sample complexity guarantees.

Reinforced Few-Shot Acquisition Function Learning for Bayesian Optimization

Bing-Jing Hsieh · Ping-Chun Hsieh · Xi Liu

Bayesian optimization (BO) conventionally relies on handcrafted acquisition functions (AFs) to sequentially determine the sample points. However, it has been widely observed in practice that the best-performing AF in terms of regret can vary significantly under different types of black-box functions. It has remained a challenge to design one AF that can attain the best performance over a wide variety of black-box functions. This paper aims to attack this challenge through the perspective of reinforced few-shot AF learning (FSAF). Specifically, we first connect the notion of AFs with Q-functions and view a deep Q-network (DQN) as a surrogate differentiable AF. While it serves as a natural idea to combine DQN and an existing few-shot learning method, we identify that such a direct combination does not perform well due to severe overfitting, which is particularly critical in BO due to the need of a versatile sampling policy. To address this, we present a Bayesian variant of DQN with the following three features: (i) It learns a distribution of Q-networks as AFs based on the Kullback-Leibler regularization framework. This inherently provides the uncertainty required in sampling for BO and mitigates overfitting. (ii) For the prior of the Bayesian DQN, we propose to use a demo policy induced by an off-the-shelf AF for better training stability. (iii) On the meta-level, we leverage the meta-loss of Bayesian model-agnostic meta-learning, which serves as a natural companion to the proposed FSAF. Moreover, with the proper design of the Q-networks, FSAF is general-purpose in that it is agnostic to the dimension and the cardinality of the input domain. Through extensive experiments, we demonstrate that the FSAF achieves comparable or better regrets than the state-of-the-art benchmarks on a wide variety of synthetic and real-world test functions.

The Complexity of Sparse Tensor PCA

Davin Choo · Tommaso d'Orsi

We study the problem of sparse tensor principal component analysis: given a tensor $\pmb Y = \pmb W + \lambda x^{\otimes p}$ with $\pmb W \in \otimes^p \mathbb{R}^n$ having i.i.d. Gaussian entries, the goal is to recover the $k$-sparse unit vector $x \in \mathbb{R}^n$. The model captures both sparse PCA (in its Wigner form) and tensor PCA.For the highly sparse regime of $k \leq \sqrt{n}$, we present a family of algorithms that smoothly interpolates between a simple polynomial-time algorithm and the exponential-time exhaustive search algorithm. For any $1 \leq t \leq k$, our algorithms recovers the sparse vector for signal-to-noise ratio $\lambda \geq \tilde{\mathcal{O}} (\sqrt{t} \cdot (k/t)^{p/2})$ in time $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(n^{p+t})$, capturing the state-of-the-art guarantees for the matrix settings (in both the polynomial-time and sub-exponential time regimes).Our results naturally extend to the case of $r$ distinct $k$-sparse signals with disjoint supports, with guarantees that are independent of the number of spikes. Even in the restricted case of sparse PCA, known algorithms only recover the sparse vectors for $\lambda \geq \tilde{\mathcal{O}}(k \cdot r)$ while our algorithms require $\lambda \geq \tilde{\mathcal{O}}(k)$.Finally, by analyzing the low-degree likelihood ratio, we complement these algorithmic results with rigorous evidence illustrating the trade-offs between signal-to-noise ratio and running time. This lower bound captures the known lower bounds for both sparse PCA and tensor PCA. In this general model, we observe a more intricate three-way trade-off between the number of samples $n$, the sparsity $k$, and the tensor power $p$.

Rethinking gradient sparsification as total error minimization

Atal Sahu · Aritra Dutta · Ahmed M. Abdelmoniem · Trambak Banerjee · Marco Canini · Panos Kalnis

Gradient compression is a widely-established remedy to tackle the communication bottleneck in distributed training of large deep neural networks (DNNs). Under the error-feedback framework, Top-$k$ sparsification, sometimes with $k$ as little as 0.1% of the gradient size, enables training to the same model quality as the uncompressed case for a similar iteration count. From the optimization perspective, we find that Top-$k$ is the communication-optimal sparsifier given a per-iteration $k$ element budget.We argue that to further the benefits of gradient sparsification, especially for DNNs, a different perspective is necessary — one that moves from per-iteration optimality to consider optimality for the entire training.We identify that the total error — the sum of the compression errors for all iterations — encapsulates sparsification throughout training. Then, we propose a communication complexity model that minimizes the total error under a communication budget for the entire training. We find that the hard-threshold sparsifier, a variant of the Top-$k$ sparsifier with $k$ determined by a constant hard-threshold, is the optimal sparsifier for this model. Motivated by this, we provide convex and non-convex convergence analyses for the hard-threshold sparsifier with error-feedback. We show that hard-threshold has the same asymptotic convergence and linear speedup property as SGD in both the case, and unlike with Top-$k$ sparsifier, has no impact due to data-heterogeneity. Our diverse experiments on various DNNs and a logistic regression model demonstrate that the hard-threshold sparsifier is more communication-efficient than Top-$k$.

Personalized Federated Learning With Gaussian Processes

Idan Achituve · Aviv Shamsian · Aviv Navon · Gal Chechik · Ethan Fetaya

Federated learning aims to learn a global model that performs well on client devices with limited cross-client communication. Personalized federated learning (PFL) further extends this setup to handle data heterogeneity between clients by learning personalized models. A key challenge in this setting is to learn effectively across clients even though each client has unique data that is often limited in size. Here we present pFedGP, a solution to PFL that is based on Gaussian processes (GPs) with deep kernel learning. GPs are highly expressive models that work well in the low data regime due to their Bayesian nature.However, applying GPs to PFL raises multiple challenges. Mainly, GPs performance depends heavily on access to a good kernel function, and learning a kernel requires a large training set. Therefore, we propose learning a shared kernel function across all clients, parameterized by a neural network, with a personal GP classifier for each client. We further extend pFedGP to include inducing points using two novel methods, the first helps to improve generalization in the low data regime and the second reduces the computational cost. We derive a PAC-Bayes generalization bound on novel clients and empirically show that it gives non-vacuous guarantees. Extensive experiments on standard PFL benchmarks with CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and CINIC-10, and on a new setup of learning under input noise show that pFedGP achieves well-calibrated predictions while significantly outperforming baseline methods, reaching up to 21% in accuracy gain.

Parameter-free HE-friendly Logistic Regression

Junyoung Byun · Woojin Lee · Jaewook Lee

Privacy in machine learning has been widely recognized as an essential ethical and legal issue, because the data used for machine learning may contain sensitive information. Homomorphic encryption has recently attracted attention as a key solution to preserve privacy in machine learning applications. However, current approaches on the training of encrypted machine learning have relied heavily on hyperparameter selection, which should be avoided owing to the extreme difficulty of conducting validation on encrypted data. In this study, we propose an effective privacy-preserving logistic regression method that is free from the approximation of the sigmoid function and hyperparameter selection. In our framework, a logistic regression model can be transformed into the corresponding ridge regression for the logit function. We provide a theoretical background for our framework by suggesting a new generalization error bound on the encrypted data. Experiments on various real-world data show that our framework achieves better classification results while reducing latency by $\sim68\%$, compared to the previous models.

Towards Gradient-based Bilevel Optimization with Non-convex Followers and Beyond

Risheng Liu · Yaohua Liu · Shangzhi Zeng · Jin Zhang

In recent years, Bi-Level Optimization (BLO) techniques have received extensive attentions from both learning and vision communities. A variety of BLO models in complex and practical tasks are of non-convex follower structure in nature (a.k.a., without Lower-Level Convexity, LLC for short). However, this challenging class of BLOs is lack of developments on both efficient solution strategies and solid theoretical guarantees. In this work, we propose a new algorithmic framework, named Initialization Auxiliary and Pessimistic Trajectory Truncated Gradient Method (IAPTT-GM), to partially address the above issues. In particular, by introducing an auxiliary as initialization to guide the optimization dynamics and designing a pessimistic trajectory truncation operation, we construct a reliable approximate version of the original BLO in the absence of LLC hypothesis. Our theoretical investigations establish the convergence of solutions returned by IAPTT-GM towards those of the original BLO without LLC. As an additional bonus, we also theoretically justify the quality of our IAPTT-GM embedded with Nesterov's accelerated dynamics under LLC. The experimental results confirm both the convergence of our algorithm without LLC, and the theoretical findings under LLC.

Going Beyond Linear RL: Sample Efficient Neural Function Approximation

Baihe Huang · Kaixuan Huang · Sham Kakade · Jason Lee · Qi Lei · Runzhe Wang · Jiaqi Yang

Deep Reinforcement Learning (RL) powered by neural net approximation of the Q function has had enormous empirical success. While the theory of RL has traditionally focused on linear function approximation (or eluder dimension) approaches, little is known about nonlinear RL with neural net approximations of the Q functions. This is the focus of this work, where we study function approximation with two-layer neural networks (considering both ReLU and polynomial activation functions). Our first result is a computationally and statistically efficient algorithm in the generative model setting under completeness for two-layer neural networks. Our second result considers this setting but under only realizability of the neural net function class. Here, assuming deterministic dynamics, the sample complexity scales linearly in the algebraic dimension. In all cases, our results significantly improve upon what can be attained with linear (or eluder dimension) methods.

CATs: Cost Aggregation Transformers for Visual Correspondence

Seokju Cho · Sunghwan Hong · Sangryul Jeon · Yunsung Lee · Kwanghoon Sohn · Seungryong Kim

We propose a novel cost aggregation network, called Cost Aggregation Transformers (CATs), to find dense correspondences between semantically similar images with additional challenges posed by large intra-class appearance and geometric variations. Cost aggregation is a highly important process in matching tasks, which the matching accuracy depends on the quality of its output. Compared to hand-crafted or CNN-based methods addressing the cost aggregation, in that either lacks robustness to severe deformations or inherit the limitation of CNNs that fail to discriminate incorrect matches due to limited receptive fields, CATs explore global consensus among initial correlation map with the help of some architectural designs that allow us to fully leverage self-attention mechanism. Specifically, we include appearance affinity modeling to aid the cost aggregation process in order to disambiguate the noisy initial correlation maps and propose multi-level aggregation to efficiently capture different semantics from hierarchical feature representations. We then combine with swapping self-attention technique and residual connections not only to enforce consistent matching, but also to ease the learning process, which we find that these result in an apparent performance boost. We conduct experiments to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed model over the latest methods and provide extensive ablation studies. Code and trained models are available at

Generalizable Multi-linear Attention Network

Tao Jin · Zhou Zhao

The majority of existing multimodal sequential learning methods focus on how to obtain effective representations and ignore the importance of multimodal fusion. Bilinear attention network (BAN) is a commonly used fusion method, which leverages tensor operations to associate the features of different modalities. However, BAN has a poor compatibility for more modalities, since the computational complexity of the attention map increases exponentially with the number of modalities. Based on this concern, we propose a new method called generalizable multi-linear attention network (MAN), which can associate as many modalities as possible in linear complexity with hierarchical approximation decomposition (HAD). Besides, considering the fact that softmax attention kernels cannot be decomposed as linear operation directly, we adopt the addition random features (ARF) mechanism to approximate the non-linear softmax functions with enough theoretical analysis. We conduct extensive experiments on four datasets of three tasks (multimodal sentiment analysis, multimodal speaker traits recognition, and video retrieval), the experimental results show that MAN could achieve competitive results compared with the state-of-the-art methods, showcasing the effectiveness of the approximation decomposition and addition random features mechanism.

Denoising Normalizing Flow

Christian Horvat · Jean-Pascal Pfister

Normalizing flows (NF) are expressive as well as tractable density estimation methods whenever the support of the density is diffeomorphic to the entire data-space. However, real-world data sets typically live on (or very close to) low-dimensional manifolds thereby challenging the applicability of standard NF on real-world problems. Here we propose a novel method - called Denoising Normalizing Flow (DNF) - that estimates the density on the low-dimensional manifold while learning the manifold as well. The DNF works in 3 steps. First, it inflates the manifold - making it diffeomorphic to the entire data-space. Secondly, it learns an NF on the inflated manifold and finally it learns a denoising mapping - similarly to denoising autoencoders. The DNF relies on a single cost function and does not require to alternate between a density estimation phase and a manifold learning phase - as it is the case with other recent methods. Furthermore, we show that the DNF can learn meaningful low-dimensional representations from naturalistic images as well as generate high-quality samples.

ROI Maximization in Stochastic Online Decision-Making

Nicolò Cesa-Bianchi · Tom Cesari · Yishay Mansour · Vianney Perchet

We introduce a novel theoretical framework for Return On Investment (ROI) maximization in repeated decision-making. Our setting is motivated by the use case of companies that regularly receive proposals for technological innovations and want to quickly decide whether they are worth implementing. We design an algorithm for learning ROI-maximizing decision-making policies over a sequence of innovation proposals. Our algorithm provably converges to an optimal policy in class $\Pi$ at a rate of order $\min\big\{1/(N\Delta^2),N^{-1/3}\}$, where $N$ is the number of innovations and $\Delta$ is the suboptimality gap in $\Pi$. A significant hurdle of our formulation, which sets it aside from other online learning problems such as bandits, is that running a policy does not provide an unbiased estimate of its performance.

Twins: Revisiting the Design of Spatial Attention in Vision Transformers

Xiangxiang Chu · Zhi Tian · Yuqing Wang · Bo Zhang · Haibing Ren · Xiaolin Wei · Huaxia Xia · Chunhua Shen

Very recently, a variety of vision transformer architectures for dense prediction tasks have been proposed and they show that the design of spatial attention is critical to their success in these tasks. In this work, we revisit the design of the spatial attention and demonstrate that a carefully devised yet simple spatial attention mechanism performs favorably against the state-of-the-art schemes. As a result, we propose two vision transformer architectures, namely, Twins- PCPVT and Twins-SVT. Our proposed architectures are highly efficient and easy to implement, only involving matrix multiplications that are highly optimized in modern deep learning frameworks. More importantly, the proposed architectures achieve excellent performance on a wide range of visual tasks including image-level classification as well as dense detection and segmentation. The simplicity and strong performance suggest that our proposed architectures may serve as stronger backbones for many vision tasks.

Causal Identification with Matrix Equations

Sanghack Lee · Elias Bareinboim

Causal effect identification is concerned with determining whether a causal effect is computable from a combination of qualitative assumptions about the underlying system (e.g., a causal graph) and distributions collected from this system. Many identification algorithms exclusively rely on graphical criteria made of a non-trivial combination of probability axioms, do-calculus, and refined c-factorization (e.g., Lee & Bareinboim, 2020). In a sequence of increasingly sophisticated results, it has been shown how proxy variables can be used to identify certain effects that would not be otherwise recoverable in challenging scenarios through solving matrix equations (e.g., Kuroki & Pearl, 2014; Miao et al., 2018). In this paper, we develop a new causal identification algorithm which utilizes both graphical criteria and matrix equations. Specifically, we first characterize the relationships between certain graphically-driven formulae and matrix multiplications. With such characterizations, we broaden the spectrum of proxy variable based identification conditions and further propose novel intermediary criteria based on the pseudoinverse of a matrix. Finally, we devise a causal effect identification algorithm, which accepts as input a collection of marginal, conditional, and interventional distributions, integrating enriched matrix-based criteria into a graphical identification approach.

Model-Based Reinforcement Learning via Imagination with Derived Memory

Yao Mu · Yuzheng Zhuang · Bin Wang · Guangxiang Zhu · Wulong Liu · Jianyu Chen · Ping Luo · Shengbo Li · Chongjie Zhang · Jianye Hao

Model-based reinforcement learning aims to improve the sample efficiency of policy learning by modeling the dynamics of the environment. Recently, the latent dynamics model is further developed to enable fast planning in a compact space. It summarizes the high-dimensional experiences of an agent, which mimics the memory function of humans. Learning policies via imagination with the latent model shows great potential for solving complex tasks. However, only considering memories from the true experiences in the process of imagination could limit its advantages. Inspired by the memory prosthesis proposed by neuroscientists, we present a novel model-based reinforcement learning framework called Imagining with Derived Memory (IDM). It enables the agent to learn policy from enriched diverse imagination with prediction-reliability weight, thus improving sample efficiency and policy robustness. Experiments on various high-dimensional visual control tasks in the DMControl benchmark demonstrate that IDM outperforms previous state-of-the-art methods in terms of policy robustness and further improves the sample efficiency of the model-based method.

Reducing the Covariate Shift by Mirror Samples in Cross Domain Alignment

Yin Zhao · minquan wang · Longjun Cai

Eliminating the covariate shift cross domains is one of the common methods to deal with the issue of domain shift in visual unsupervised domain adaptation. However, current alignment methods, especially the prototype based or sample-level based methods neglect the structural properties of the underlying distribution and even break the condition of covariate shift. To relieve the limitations and conflicts, we introduce a novel concept named (virtual) mirror, which represents the equivalent sample in another domain. The equivalent sample pairs, named mirror pairs reflect the natural correspondence of the empirical distributions. Then a mirror loss, which aligns the mirror pairs cross domains, is constructed to enhance the alignment of the domains. The proposed method does not distort the internal structure of the underlying distribution. We also provide theoretical proof that the mirror samples and mirror loss have better asymptotic properties in reducing the domain shift. By applying the virtual mirror and mirror loss to the generic unsupervised domain adaptation model, we achieved consistently superior performance on several mainstream benchmarks.

Low-Fidelity Video Encoder Optimization for Temporal Action Localization

Mengmeng Xu · Juan Manuel Perez Rua · Xiatian Zhu · Bernard Ghanem · Brais Martinez

Most existing temporal action localization (TAL) methods rely on a transfer learning pipeline: by first optimizing a video encoder on a large action classification dataset (i.e., source domain), followed by freezing the encoder and training a TAL head on the action localization dataset (i.e., target domain). This results in a task discrepancy problem for the video encoder – trained for action classification, but used for TAL. Intuitively, joint optimization with both the video encoder and TAL head is a strong baseline solution to this discrepancy. However, this is not operable for TAL subject to the GPU memory constraints, due to the prohibitive computational cost in processing long untrimmed videos. In this paper, we resolve this challenge by introducing a novel low-fidelity (LoFi) video encoder optimization method. Instead of always using the full training configurations in TAL learning, we propose to reduce the mini-batch composition in terms of temporal, spatial, or spatio-temporal resolution so that jointly optimizing the video encoder and TAL head becomes operable under the same memory conditions of a mid-range hardware budget. Crucially, this enables the gradients to flow backwards through the video encoder conditioned on a TAL supervision loss, favourably solving the task discrepancy problem and providing more effective feature representations. Extensive experiments show that the proposed LoFi optimization approach can significantly enhance the performance of existing TAL methods. Encouragingly, even with a lightweight ResNet18 based video encoder in a single RGB stream, our method surpasses two-stream (RGB + optical-flow) ResNet50 based alternatives, often by a good margin. Our code is publicly available at

Compositional Reinforcement Learning from Logical Specifications

Kishor Jothimurugan · Suguman Bansal · Osbert Bastani · Rajeev Alur

We study the problem of learning control policies for complex tasks given by logical specifications. Recent approaches automatically generate a reward function from a given specification and use a suitable reinforcement learning algorithm to learn a policy that maximizes the expected reward. These approaches, however, scale poorly to complex tasks that require high-level planning. In this work, we develop a compositional learning approach, called DIRL, that interleaves high-level planning and reinforcement learning. First, DIRL encodes the specification as an abstract graph; intuitively, vertices and edges of the graph correspond to regions of the state space and simpler sub-tasks, respectively. Our approach then incorporates reinforcement learning to learn neural network policies for each edge (sub-task) within a Dijkstra-style planning algorithm to compute a high-level plan in the graph. An evaluation of the proposed approach on a set of challenging control benchmarks with continuous state and action spaces demonstrates that it outperforms state-of-the-art baselines.

Latent Matters: Learning Deep State-Space Models

Alexej Klushyn · Richard Kurle · Maximilian Soelch · Botond Cseke · Patrick van der Smagt

Deep state-space models (DSSMs) enable temporal predictions by learning the underlying dynamics of observed sequence data. They are often trained by maximising the evidence lower bound. However, as we show, this does not ensure the model actually learns the underlying dynamics. We therefore propose a constrained optimisation framework as a general approach for training DSSMs. Building upon this, we introduce the extended Kalman VAE (EKVAE), which combines amortised variational inference with classic Bayesian filtering/smoothing to model dynamics more accurately than RNN-based DSSMs. Our results show that the constrained optimisation framework significantly improves system identification and prediction accuracy on the example of established state-of-the-art DSSMs. The EKVAE outperforms previous models w.r.t. prediction accuracy, achieves remarkable results in identifying dynamical systems, and can furthermore successfully learn state-space representations where static and dynamic features are disentangled.

On the Estimation Bias in Double Q-Learning

Zhizhou Ren · Guangxiang Zhu · Hao Hu · Beining Han · Jianglun Chen · Chongjie Zhang

Double Q-learning is a classical method for reducing overestimation bias, which is caused by taking maximum estimated values in the Bellman operation. Its variants in the deep Q-learning paradigm have shown great promise in producing reliable value prediction and improving learning performance. However, as shown by prior work, double Q-learning is not fully unbiased and suffers from underestimation bias. In this paper, we show that such underestimation bias may lead to multiple non-optimal fixed points under an approximate Bellman operator. To address the concerns of converging to non-optimal stationary solutions, we propose a simple but effective approach as a partial fix for the underestimation bias in double Q-learning. This approach leverages an approximate dynamic programming to bound the target value. We extensively evaluate our proposed method in the Atari benchmark tasks and demonstrate its significant improvement over baseline algorithms.

Scalable Bayesian GPFA with automatic relevance determination and discrete noise models

Kristopher Jensen · Ta-Chu Kao · Jasmine Stone · Guillaume Hennequin

Latent variable models are ubiquitous in the exploratory analysis of neural population recordings, where they allow researchers to summarize the activity of large populations of neurons in lower dimensional ‘latent’ spaces. Existing methods can generally be categorized into (i) Bayesian methods that facilitate flexible incorporation of prior knowledge and uncertainty estimation, but which typically do not scale to large datasets; and (ii) highly parameterized methods without explicit priors that scale better but often struggle in the low-data regime. Here, we bridge this gap by developing a fully Bayesian yet scalable version of Gaussian process factor analysis (bGPFA), which models neural data as arising from a set of inferred latent processes with a prior that encourages smoothness over time. Additionally, bGPFA uses automatic relevance determination to infer the dimensionality of neural activity directly from the training data during optimization. To enable the analysis of continuous recordings without trial structure, we introduce a novel variational inference strategy that scales near-linearly in time and also allows for non-Gaussian noise models appropriate for electrophysiological recordings. We apply bGPFA to continuous recordings spanning 30 minutes with over 14 million data points from primate motor and somatosensory cortices during a self-paced reaching task. We show that neural activity progresses from an initial state at target onset to a reach- specific preparatory state well before movement onset. The distance between these initial and preparatory latent states is predictive of reaction times across reaches, suggesting that such preparatory dynamics have behavioral relevance despite the lack of externally imposed delay periods. Additionally, bGPFA discovers latent processes that evolve over slow timescales on the order of several seconds and contain complementary information about reaction time. These timescales are longer than those revealed by methods which focus on individual movement epochs and may reflect fluctuations in e.g. task engagement.

Recurrence along Depth: Deep Convolutional Neural Networks with Recurrent Layer Aggregation

Jingyu Zhao · Yanwen Fang · Guodong Li

This paper introduces a concept of layer aggregation to describe how information from previous layers can be reused to better extract features at the current layer. While DenseNet is a typical example of the layer aggregation mechanism, its redundancy has been commonly criticized in the literature. This motivates us to propose a very light-weighted module, called recurrent layer aggregation (RLA), by making use of the sequential structure of layers in a deep CNN. Our RLA module is compatible with many mainstream deep CNNs, including ResNets, Xception and MobileNetV2, and its effectiveness is verified by our extensive experiments on image classification, object detection and instance segmentation tasks. Specifically, improvements can be uniformly observed on CIFAR, ImageNet and MS COCO datasets, and the corresponding RLA-Nets can surprisingly boost the performances by 2-3% on the object detection task. This evidences the power of our RLA module in helping main CNNs better learn structural information in images.

Making the most of your day: online learning for optimal allocation of time

Etienne Boursier · Tristan Garrec · Vianney Perchet · Marco Scarsini

We study online learning for optimal allocation when the resource to be allocated is time. An agent receives task proposals sequentially according to a Poisson process and can either accept or reject a proposed task. If she accepts the proposal, she is busy for the duration of the task and obtains a reward that depends on the task duration. If she rejects it, she remains on hold until a new task proposal arrives. We study the regret incurred by the agent first when she knows her reward function but does not know the distribution of the task duration, and then when she does not know her reward function, either. Faster rates are finally obtained by adding structural assumptions on the distribution of rides or on the reward function. This natural setting bears similarities with contextual (one-armed) bandits, but with the crucial difference that the normalized reward associated to a context depends on the whole distribution of contexts.

Subquadratic Overparameterization for Shallow Neural Networks

ChaeHwan Song · Ali Ramezani-Kebrya · Thomas Pethick · Armin Eftekhari · Volkan Cevher

Overparameterization refers to the important phenomenon where the width of a neural network is chosen such that learning algorithms can provably attain zero loss in nonconvex training. The existing theory establishes such global convergence using various initialization strategies, training modifications, and width scalings. In particular, the state-of-the-art results require the width to scale quadratically with the number of training data under standard initialization strategies used in practice for best generalization performance. In contrast, the most recent results obtain linear scaling either with requiring initializations that lead to the "lazy-training", or training only a single layer. In this work, we provide an analytical framework that allows us to adopt standard initialization strategies, possibly avoid lazy training, and train all layers simultaneously in basic shallow neural networks while attaining a desirable subquadratic scaling on the network width. We achieve the desiderata via Polyak-Lojasiewicz condition, smoothness, and standard assumptions on data, and use tools from random matrix theory.

Deep Conditional Gaussian Mixture Model for Constrained Clustering

Laura Manduchi · Kieran Chin-Cheong · Holger Michel · Sven Wellmann · Julia Vogt

Constrained clustering has gained significant attention in the field of machine learning as it can leverage prior information on a growing amount of only partially labeled data. Following recent advances in deep generative models, we propose a novel framework for constrained clustering that is intuitive, interpretable, and can be trained efficiently in the framework of stochastic gradient variational inference. By explicitly integrating domain knowledge in the form of probabilistic relations, our proposed model (DC-GMM) uncovers the underlying distribution of data conditioned on prior clustering preferences, expressed as \textit{pairwise constraints}. These constraints guide the clustering process towards a desirable partition of the data by indicating which samples should or should not belong to the same cluster. We provide extensive experiments to demonstrate that DC-GMM shows superior clustering performances and robustness compared to state-of-the-art deep constrained clustering methods on a wide range of data sets. We further demonstrate the usefulness of our approach on two challenging real-world applications.

What’s a good imputation to predict with missing values?

Marine Le Morvan · Julie Josse · Erwan Scornet · Gael Varoquaux

How to learn a good predictor on data with missing values? Most efforts focus on first imputing as well as possible and second learning on the completed data to predict the outcome. Yet, this widespread practice has no theoretical grounding. Here we show that for almost all imputation functions, an impute-then-regress procedure with a powerful learner is Bayes optimal. This result holds for all missing-values mechanisms, in contrast with the classic statistical results that require missing-at-random settings to use imputation in probabilistic modeling. Moreover, it implies that perfect conditional imputation is not needed for good prediction asymptotically. In fact, we show that on perfectly imputed data the best regression function will generally be discontinuous, which makes it hard to learn. Crafting instead the imputation so as to leave the regression function unchanged simply shifts the problem to learning discontinuous imputations. Rather, we suggest that it is easier to learn imputation and regression jointly. We propose such a procedure, adapting NeuMiss, a neural network capturing the conditional links across observed and unobserved variables whatever the missing-value pattern. Our experiments confirm that joint imputation and regression through NeuMiss is better than various two step procedures in a finite-sample regime.

Numerical Composition of Differential Privacy

Sivakanth Gopi · Yin Tat Lee · Lukas Wutschitz

We give a fast algorithm to compose privacy guarantees of differentially private (DP) algorithms to arbitrary accuracy. Our method is based on the notion of privacy loss random variables to quantify the privacy loss of DP algorithms. The running time and memory needed for our algorithm to approximate the privacy curve of a DP algorithm composed with itself $k$ times is $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{k})$. This improves over the best prior method by Koskela et al. (2020) which requires $\tilde{\Omega}(k^{1.5})$ running time. We demonstrate the utility of our algorithm by accurately computing the privacy loss of DP-SGD algorithm of Abadi et al. (2016) and showing that our algorithm speeds up the privacy computations by a few orders of magnitude compared to prior work, while maintaining similar accuracy.

Sparse Spiking Gradient Descent

Nicolas Perez-Nieves · Dan Goodman

There is an increasing interest in emulating Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) on neuromorphic computing devices due to their low energy consumption. Recent advances have allowed training SNNs to a point where they start to compete with traditional Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) in terms of accuracy, while at the same time being energy efficient when run on neuromorphic hardware. However, the process of training SNNs is still based on dense tensor operations originally developed for ANNs which do not leverage the spatiotemporally sparse nature of SNNs. We present here the first sparse SNN backpropagation algorithm which achieves the same or better accuracy as current state of the art methods while being significantly faster and more memory efficient. We show the effectiveness of our method on real datasets of varying complexity (Fashion-MNIST, Neuromophic-MNIST and Spiking Heidelberg Digits) achieving a speedup in the backward pass of up to $150$x, and $85\%$ more memory efficient, without losing accuracy.

Rethinking Calibration of Deep Neural Networks: Do Not Be Afraid of Overconfidence

Deng-Bao Wang · Lei Feng · Min-Ling Zhang

Capturing accurate uncertainty quantification of the prediction from deep neural networks is important in many real-world decision-making applications. A reliable predictor is expected to be accurate when it is confident about its predictions and indicate high uncertainty when it is likely to be inaccurate. However, modern neural networks have been found to be poorly calibrated, primarily in the direction of overconfidence. In recent years, there is a surge of research on model calibration by leveraging implicit or explicit regularization techniques during training, which obtain well calibration by avoiding overconfident outputs. In our study, we empirically found that despite the predictions obtained from these regularized models are better calibrated, they suffer from not being as calibratable, namely, it is harder to further calibrate their predictions with post-hoc calibration methods like temperature scaling and histogram binning. We conduct a series of empirical studies showing that overconfidence may not hurt final calibration performance if post-hoc calibration is allowed, rather, the penalty of confident outputs will compress the room of potential improvements in post-hoc calibration phase. Our experimental findings point out a new direction to improve calibration of DNNs by considering main training and post-hoc calibration as a unified framework.

Learning Stable Deep Dynamics Models for Partially Observed or Delayed Dynamical Systems

Andreas Schlaginhaufen · Philippe Wenk · Andreas Krause · Florian Dorfler

Learning how complex dynamical systems evolve over time is a key challenge in system identification. For safety critical systems, it is often crucial that the learned model is guaranteed to converge to some equilibrium point. To this end, neural ODEs regularized with neural Lyapunov functions are a promising approach when states are fully observed. For practical applications however, {\em partial observations} are the norm. As we will demonstrate, initialization of unobserved augmented states can become a key problem for neural ODEs. To alleviate this issue, we propose to augment the system's state with its history. Inspired by state augmentation in discrete-time systems, we thus obtain {\em neural delay differential equations}. Based on classical time delay stability analysis, we then show how to ensure stability of the learned models, and theoretically analyze our approach. Our experiments demonstrate its applicability to stable system identification of partially observed systems and learning a stabilizing feedback policy in delayed feedback control.

Mosaicking to Distill: Knowledge Distillation from Out-of-Domain Data

Gongfan Fang · Yifan Bao · Jie Song · Xinchao Wang · Donglin Xie · Chengchao Shen · Mingli Song

Knowledge distillation~(KD) aims to craft a compact student model that imitates the behavior of a pre-trained teacher in a target domain. Prior KD approaches, despite their gratifying results, have largely relied on the premise that \emph{in-domain} data is available to carry out the knowledge transfer. Such an assumption, unfortunately, in many cases violates the practical setting, since the original training data or even the data domain is often unreachable due to privacy or copyright reasons. In this paper, we attempt to tackle an ambitious task, termed as \emph{out-of-domain} knowledge distillation~(OOD-KD), which allows us to conduct KD using only OOD data that can be readily obtained at a very low cost. Admittedly, OOD-KD is by nature a highly challenging task due to the agnostic domain gap. To this end, we introduce a handy yet surprisingly efficacious approach, dubbed as~\textit{MosaicKD}. The key insight behind MosaicKD lies in that, samples from various domains share common local patterns, even though their global semantic may vary significantly; these shared local patterns, in turn, can be re-assembled analogous to mosaic tiling, to approximate the in-domain data and to further alleviating the domain discrepancy. In MosaicKD, this is achieved through a four-player min-max game, in which a generator, a discriminator, a student network, are collectively trained in an adversarial manner, partially under the guidance of a pre-trained teacher. We validate MosaicKD over {classification and semantic segmentation tasks} across various benchmarks, and demonstrate that it yields results much superior to the state-of-the-art counterparts on OOD data. Our code is available at \url{}.

Beyond Smoothness: Incorporating Low-Rank Analysis into Nonparametric Density Estimation

Robert Vandermeulen · Antoine Ledent

The construction and theoretical analysis of the most popular universally consistent nonparametric density estimators hinge on one functional property: smoothness. In this paper we investigate the theoretical implications of incorporating a multi-view latent variable model, a type of low-rank model, into nonparametric density estimation. To do this we perform extensive analysis on histogram-style estimators that integrate a multi-view model. Our analysis culminates in showing that there exists a universally consistent histogram-style estimator that converges to any multi-view model with a finite number of Lipschitz continuous components at a rate of $\widetilde{O}(1/\sqrt[3]{n})$ in $L^1$ error. In contrast, the standard histogram estimator can converge at a rate slower than $1/\sqrt[d]{n}$ on the same class of densities. We also introduce a new nonparametric latent variable model based on the Tucker decomposition. A rudimentary implementation of our estimators experimentally demonstrates a considerable performance improvement over the standard histogram estimator. We also provide a thorough analysis of the sample complexity of our Tucker decomposition-based model and a variety of other results. Thus, our paper provides solid theoretical foundations for extending low-rank techniques to the nonparametric setting.

Identifiability in inverse reinforcement learning

Haoyang Cao · Samuel Cohen · Lukasz Szpruch

Inverse reinforcement learning attempts to reconstruct the reward function in a Markov decision problem, using observations of agent actions. As already observed in Russell [1998] the problem is ill-posed, and the reward function is not identifiable, even under the presence of perfect information about optimal behavior. We provide a resolution to this non-identifiability for problems with entropy regularization. For a given environment, we fully characterize the reward functions leading to a given policy and demonstrate that, given demonstrations of actions for the same reward under two distinct discount factors, or under sufficiently different environments, the unobserved reward can be recovered up to a constant. We also give general necessary and sufficient conditions for reconstruction of time-homogeneous rewards on finite horizons, and for action-independent rewards, generalizing recent results of Kim et al. [2021] and Fu et al. [2018].

A Probabilistic State Space Model for Joint Inference from Differential Equations and Data

Jonathan Schmidt · Nicholas Krämer · Philipp Hennig

Mechanistic models with differential equations are a key component of scientific applications of machine learning. Inference in such models is usually computationally demanding because it involves repeatedly solving the differential equation. The main problem here is that the numerical solver is hard to combine with standard inference techniques. Recent work in probabilistic numerics has developed a new class of solvers for ordinary differential equations (ODEs) that phrase the solution process directly in terms of Bayesian filtering. We here show that this allows such methods to be combined very directly, with conceptual and numerical ease, with latent force models in the ODE itself. It then becomes possible to perform approximate Bayesian inference on the latent force as well as the ODE solution in a single, linear complexity pass of an extended Kalman filter / smoother — that is, at the cost of computing a single ODE solution. We demonstrate the expressiveness and performance of the algorithm by training, among others, a non-parametric SIRD model on data from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Global Convergence of Online Optimization for Nonlinear Model Predictive Control

Sen Na

We study a real-time iteration (RTI) scheme for solving online optimization problem appeared in nonlinear optimal control. The proposed RTI scheme modifies the existing RTI-based model predictive control (MPC) algorithm, by selecting the stepsize of each Newton step at each sampling time using a differentiable exact augmented Lagrangian. The scheme can adaptively select the penalty parameters of augmented Lagrangian on the fly, which are shown to be stabilized after certain time periods. We prove under generic assumptions that, by involving stepsize selection instead of always using a full Newton step (like what most of the existing RTIs do), the scheme converges globally: for any initial point, the KKT residuals of the subproblems converge to zero. A key step is to show that augmented Lagrangian keeps decreasing as horizon moves forward. We demonstrate the global convergence behavior of the proposed RTI scheme in a numerical experiment.

Variational Bayesian Optimistic Sampling

Brendan O'Donoghue · Tor Lattimore

We consider online sequential decision problems where an agent must balance exploration and exploitation. We derive a set of Bayesian `optimistic' policies which, in the stochastic multi-armed bandit case, includes the Thompson sampling policy. We provide a new analysis showing that any algorithm producing policies in the optimistic set enjoys $\tilde O(\sqrt{AT})$ Bayesian regret for a problem with $A$ actions after $T$ rounds. We extend the regret analysis for optimistic policies to bilinear saddle-point problems which include zero-sum matrix games and constrained bandits as special cases. In this case we show that Thompson sampling can produce policies outside of the optimistic set and suffer linear regret in some instances. Finding a policy inside the optimistic set amounts to solving a convex optimization problem and we call the resulting algorithm `variational Bayesian optimistic sampling' (VBOS). The procedure works for any posteriors, \ie, it does not require the posterior to have any special properties, such as log-concavity, unimodality, or smoothness. The variational view of the problem has many useful properties, including the ability to tune the exploration-exploitation tradeoff, add regularization, incorporate constraints, and linearly parameterize the policy.

Cross-modal Domain Adaptation for Cost-Efficient Visual Reinforcement Learning

Xiong-Hui Chen · Shengyi Jiang · Feng Xu · Zongzhang Zhang · Yang Yu

In visual-input sim-to-real scenarios, to overcome the reality gap between images rendered in simulators and those from the real world, domain adaptation, i.e., learning an aligned representation space between simulators and the real world, then training and deploying policies in the aligned representation, is a promising direction. Previous methods focus on same-modal domain adaptation. However, those methods require building and running simulators that render high-quality images, which can be difficult and costly. In this paper, we consider a more cost-efficient setting of visual-input sim-to-real where only low-dimensional states are simulated. We first point out that the objective of learning mapping functions in previous methods that align the representation spaces is ill-posed, prone to yield an incorrect mapping. When the mapping crosses modalities, previous methods are easier to fail. Our algorithm, Cross-mOdal Domain Adaptation with Sequential structure (CODAS), mitigates the ill-posedness by utilizing the sequential nature of the data sampling process in RL tasks. Experiments on MuJoCo and Hand Manipulation Suite tasks show that the agents deployed with our method achieve similar performance as it has in the source domain, while those deployed with previous methods designed for same-modal domain adaptation suffer a larger performance gap.

Chebyshev-Cantelli PAC-Bayes-Bennett Inequality for the Weighted Majority Vote

Yi-Shan Wu · Andres Masegosa · Stephan Lorenzen · Christian Igel · Yevgeny Seldin

We present a new second-order oracle bound for the expected risk of a weighted majority vote. The bound is based on a novel parametric form of the Chebyshev-Cantelli inequality (a.k.a. one-sided Chebyshev’s), which is amenable to efficient minimization. The new form resolves the optimization challenge faced by prior oracle bounds based on the Chebyshev-Cantelli inequality, the C-bounds [Germain et al., 2015], and, at the same time, it improves on the oracle bound based on second order Markov’s inequality introduced by Masegosa et al. [2020]. We also derive a new concentration of measure inequality, which we name PAC-Bayes-Bennett, since it combines PAC-Bayesian bounding with Bennett’s inequality. We use it for empirical estimation of the oracle bound. The PAC-Bayes-Bennett inequality improves on the PAC-Bayes-Bernstein inequality of Seldin et al. [2012]. We provide an empirical evaluation demonstrating that the new bounds can improve on the work of Masegosa et al. [2020]. Both the parametric form of the Chebyshev-Cantelli inequality and the PAC-Bayes-Bennett inequality may be of independent interest for the study of concentration of measure in other domains.

Proportional Participatory Budgeting with Additive Utilities

Grzegorz Pierczyński · Piotr Skowron · Dominik Peters

We study voting rules for participatory budgeting, where a group of voters collectively decides which projects should be funded using a common budget. We allow the projects to have arbitrary costs, and the voters to have arbitrary additive valuations over the projects. We formulate two axioms that guarantee proportional representation to groups of voters with common interests. To the best of our knowledge, all known rules for participatory budgeting do not satisfy either of the two axioms; in addition we show that the most prominent proportional rule for committee elections, Proportional Approval Voting, cannot be adapted to arbitrary costs nor to additive valuations so that it would satisfy our axioms of proportionality. We construct a simple and attractive voting rule that satisfies one of our axioms (for arbitrary costs and arbitrary additive valuations), and that can be evaluated in polynomial time. We prove that our other stronger axiom is also satisfiable, though by a computationally more expensive and less natural voting rule.

MixSeq: Connecting Macroscopic Time Series Forecasting with Microscopic Time Series Data

Zhibo Zhu · Ziqi Liu · Ge Jin · Zhiqiang Zhang · Lei Chen · Jun Zhou · Jianyong Zhou

Time series forecasting is widely used in business intelligence, e.g., forecast stock market price, sales, and help the analysis of data trend. Most time series of interest are macroscopic time series that are aggregated from microscopic data. However, instead of directly modeling the macroscopic time series, rare literature studied the forecasting of macroscopic time series by leveraging data on the microscopic level. In this paper, we assume that the microscopic time series follow some unknown mixture probabilistic distributions. We theoretically show that as we identify the ground truth latent mixture components, the estimation of time series from each component could be improved because of lower variance, thus benefitting the estimation of macroscopic time series as well. Inspired by the power of Seq2seq and its variants on the modeling of time series data, we propose Mixture of Seq2seq (MixSeq), an end2end mixture model to cluster microscopic time series, where all the components come from a family of Seq2seq models parameterized by different parameters. Extensive experiments on both synthetic and real-world data show the superiority of our approach.

Rectifying the Shortcut Learning of Background for Few-Shot Learning

Xu Luo · Longhui Wei · Liangjian Wen · Jinrong Yang · Lingxi Xie · Zenglin Xu · Qi Tian

The category gap between training and evaluation has been characterised as one of the main obstacles to the success of Few-Shot Learning (FSL). In this paper, we for the first time empirically identify image background, common in realistic images, as a shortcut knowledge helpful for in-class classification but ungeneralizable beyond training categories in FSL. A novel framework, COSOC, is designed to tackle this problem by extracting foreground objects in images at both training and evaluation without any extra supervision. Extensive experiments carried on inductive FSL tasks demonstrate the effectiveness of our approaches.

Uncertainty Calibration for Ensemble-Based Debiasing Methods

Ruibin Xiong · Yimeng Chen · Liang Pang · Xueqi Cheng · Zhi-Ming Ma · Yanyan Lan

Ensemble-based debiasing methods have been shown effective in mitigating the reliance of classifiers on specific dataset bias, by exploiting the output of a bias-only model to adjust the learning target. In this paper, we focus on the bias-only model in these ensemble-based methods, which plays an important role but has not gained much attention in the existing literature. Theoretically, we prove that the debiasing performance can be damaged by inaccurate uncertainty estimations of the bias-only model. Empirically, we show that existing bias-only models fall short in producing accurate uncertainty estimations. Motivated by these findings, we propose to conduct calibration on the bias-only model, thus achieving a three-stage ensemble-based debiasing framework, including bias modeling, model calibrating, and debiasing. Experimental results on NLI and fact verification tasks show that our proposed three-stage debiasing framework consistently outperforms the traditional two-stage one in out-of-distribution accuracy.

ToAlign: Task-Oriented Alignment for Unsupervised Domain Adaptation

Guoqiang Wei · Cuiling Lan · Wenjun Zeng · Zhizheng Zhang · Zhibo Chen

Unsupervised domain adaptive classifcation intends to improve the classifcation performance on unlabeled target domain. To alleviate the adverse effect of domain shift, many approaches align the source and target domains in the feature space. However, a feature is usually taken as a whole for alignment without explicitly making domain alignment proactively serve the classifcation task, leading to sub-optimal solution. In this paper, we propose an effective Task-oriented Alignment (ToAlign) for unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA). We study what features should be aligned across domains and propose to make the domain alignment proactively serve classifcation by performing feature decomposition and alignment under the guidance of the prior knowledge induced from the classifcation task itself. Particularly, we explicitly decompose a feature in the source domain into a task-related/discriminative feature that should be aligned, and a task-irrelevant feature that should be avoided/ignored, based on the classifcation meta-knowledge. Extensive experimental results on various benchmarks (e.g., Offce-Home, Visda-2017, and DomainNet) under different domain adaptation settings demonstrate the effectiveness of ToAlign which helps achieve the state-of-the-art performance. The code is publicly available at

PortaSpeech: Portable and High-Quality Generative Text-to-Speech

Yi Ren · Jinglin Liu · Zhou Zhao

Non-autoregressive text-to-speech (NAR-TTS) models such as FastSpeech 2 and Glow-TTS can synthesize high-quality speech from the given text in parallel. After analyzing two kinds of generative NAR-TTS models (VAE and normalizing flow), we find that: VAE is good at capturing the long-range semantics features (e.g., prosody) even with small model size but suffers from blurry and unnatural results; and normalizing flow is good at reconstructing the frequency bin-wise details but performs poorly when the number of model parameters is limited. Inspired by these observations, to generate diverse speech with natural details and rich prosody using a lightweight architecture, we propose PortaSpeech, a portable and high-quality generative text-to-speech model. Specifically, 1) to model both the prosody and mel-spectrogram details accurately, we adopt a lightweight VAE with an enhanced prior followed by a flow-based post-net with strong conditional inputs as the main architecture. 2) To further compress the model size and memory footprint, we introduce the grouped parameter sharing mechanism to the affine coupling layers in the post-net. 3) To improve the expressiveness of synthesized speech and reduce the dependency on accurate fine-grained alignment between text and speech, we propose a linguistic encoder with mixture alignment combining hard word-level alignment and soft phoneme-level alignment, which explicitly extracts word-level semantic information. Experimental results show that PortaSpeech outperforms other TTS models in both voice quality and prosody modeling in terms of subjective and objective evaluation metrics, and shows only a slight performance degradation when reducing the model parameters to 6.7M (about 4x model size and 3x runtime memory compression ratio compared with FastSpeech 2). Our extensive ablation studies demonstrate that each design in PortaSpeech is effective.

BernNet: Learning Arbitrary Graph Spectral Filters via Bernstein Approximation

Mingguo He · Zhewei Wei · zengfeng Huang · Hongteng Xu

Many representative graph neural networks, $e.g.$, GPR-GNN and ChebNet, approximate graph convolutions with graph spectral filters. However, existing work either applies predefined filter weights or learns them without necessary constraints, which may lead to oversimplified or ill-posed filters. To overcome these issues, we propose $\textit{BernNet}$, a novel graph neural network with theoretical support that provides a simple but effective scheme for designing and learning arbitrary graph spectral filters. In particular, for any filter over the normalized Laplacian spectrum of a graph, our BernNet estimates it by an order-$K$ Bernstein polynomial approximation and designs its spectral property by setting the coefficients of the Bernstein basis. Moreover, we can learn the coefficients (and the corresponding filter weights) based on observed graphs and their associated signals and thus achieve the BernNet specialized for the data. Our experiments demonstrate that BernNet can learn arbitrary spectral filters, including complicated band-rejection and comb filters, and it achieves superior performance in real-world graph modeling tasks. Code is available at

Rethinking the Variational Interpretation of Accelerated Optimization Methods

Peiyuan Zhang · Antonio Orvieto · Hadi Daneshmand

The continuous-time model of Nesterov's momentum provides a thought-provoking perspective for understanding the nature of the acceleration phenomenon in convex optimization. One of the main ideas in this line of research comes from the field of classical mechanics and proposes to link Nesterov's trajectory to the solution of a set of Euler-Lagrange equations relative to the so-called Bregman Lagrangian. In the last years, this approach led to the discovery of many new (stochastic) accelerated algorithms and provided a solid theoretical foundation for the design of structure-preserving accelerated methods. In this work, we revisit this idea and provide an in-depth analysis of the action relative to the Bregman Lagrangian from the point of view of calculus of variations. Our main finding is that, while Nesterov's method is a stationary point for the action, it is often not a minimizer but instead a saddle point for this functional in the space of differentiable curves. This finding challenges the main intuition behind the variational interpretation of Nesterov's method and provides additional insights into the intriguing geometry of accelerated paths.

On the Convergence of Prior-Guided Zeroth-Order Optimization Algorithms

Shuyu Cheng · Guoqiang Wu · Jun Zhu

Zeroth-order (ZO) optimization is widely used to handle challenging tasks, such as query-based black-box adversarial attacks and reinforcement learning. Various attempts have been made to integrate prior information into the gradient estimation procedure based on finite differences, with promising empirical results. However, their convergence properties are not well understood. This paper makes an attempt to fill up this gap by analyzing the convergence of prior-guided ZO algorithms under a greedy descent framework with various gradient estimators. We provide a convergence guarantee for the prior-guided random gradient-free (PRGF) algorithms. Moreover, to further accelerate over greedy descent methods, we present a new accelerated random search (ARS) algorithm that incorporates prior information, together with a convergence analysis. Finally, our theoretical results are confirmed by experiments on several numerical benchmarks as well as adversarial attacks.

Fast Routing under Uncertainty: Adaptive Learning in Congestion Games via Exponential Weights

Dong Quan Vu · Kimon Antonakopoulos · Panayotis Mertikopoulos

We examine an adaptive learning framework for nonatomic congestion games where the players' cost functions may be subject to exogenous fluctuations (e.g., due to disturbances in the network, variations in the traffic going through a link). In this setting, the popular multiplicative/ exponential weights algorithm enjoys an $\mathcal{O}(1/\sqrt{T})$ equilibrium convergence rate; however, this rate is suboptimal in static environments---i.e., when the network is not subject to randomness. In this static regime, accelerated algorithms achieve an $\mathcal{O}(1/T^{2})$ convergence speed, but they fail to converge altogether in stochastic problems. To fill this gap, we propose a novel, adaptive exponential weights method---dubbed AdaWeight---that seamlessly interpolates between the $\mathcal{O}(1/T^{2})$ and $\mathcal{O}(1/\sqrt{T})$ rates in the static and stochastic regimes respectively. Importantly, this "best-of-both-worlds" guarantee does not require any prior knowledge of the problem's parameters or tuning by the optimizer; in addition, the method's convergence speed depends subquadratically on the size of the network (number of vertices and edges), so it scales gracefully to large, real-life urban networks.

Online Meta-Learning via Learning with Layer-Distributed Memory

Sudarshan Babu · Pedro Savarese · Michael Maire

We demonstrate that efficient meta-learning can be achieved via end-to-end training of deep neural networks with memory distributed across layers. The persistent state of this memory assumes the entire burden of guiding task adaptation. Moreover, its distributed nature is instrumental in orchestrating adaptation. Ablation experiments demonstrate that providing relevant feedback to memory units distributed across the depth of the network enables them to guide adaptation throughout the entire network. Our results show that this is a successful strategy for simplifying meta-learning -- often cast as a bi-level optimization problem -- to standard end-to-end training, while outperforming gradient-based, prototype-based, and other memory-based meta-learning strategies. Additionally, our adaptation strategy naturally handles online learning scenarios with a significant delay between observing a sample and its corresponding label -- a setting in which other approaches struggle. Adaptation via distributed memory is effective across a wide range of learning tasks, ranging from classification to online few-shot semantic segmentation.

Actively Identifying Causal Effects with Latent Variables Given Only Response Variable Observable

Tian-Zuo Wang · Zhi-Hua Zhou

In many real tasks, it is generally desired to study the causal effect on a specific target (response variable) only, with no need to identify the thorough causal effects involving all variables. In this paper, we attempt to identify such effects by a few active interventions where only the response variable is observable. This task is challenging because the causal graph is unknown and even there may exist latent confounders. To learn the necessary structure for identifying the effects, we provide the graphical characterization that allows us to efficiently estimate all possible causal effects in a partially mixed ancestral graph (PMAG) by generalized back-door criterion. The characterization guides learning a local structure with the interventional data. Theoretical analysis and empirical studies validate the effectiveness and efficiency of our proposed approach.

Interventional Sum-Product Networks: Causal Inference with Tractable Probabilistic Models

Matej Zečević · Devendra Dhami · Athresh Karanam · Sriraam Natarajan · Kristian Kersting

While probabilistic models are an important tool for studying causality, doing so suffers from the intractability of inference. As a step towards tractable causal models, we consider the problem of learning interventional distributions using sum-product networks (SPNs) that are over-parameterized by gate functions, e.g., neural networks. Providing an arbitrarily intervened causal graph as input, effectively subsuming Pearl's do-operator, the gate function predicts the parameters of the SPN. The resulting interventional SPNs are motivated and illustrated by a structural causal model themed around personal health. Our empirical evaluation against competing methods from both generative and causal modelling demonstrates that interventional SPNs indeed are both expressive and causally adequate.

Breaking the Moments Condition Barrier: No-Regret Algorithm for Bandits with Super Heavy-Tailed Payoffs

Han Zhong · Jiayi Huang · Lin Yang · Liwei Wang

Despite a large amount of effort in dealing with heavy-tailed error in machine learning, little is known when moments of the error can become non-existential: the random noise $\eta$ satisfies Pr$\left[|\eta| > |y|\right] \le 1/|y|^{\alpha}$ for some $\alpha > 0$. We make the first attempt to actively handle such super heavy-tailed noise in bandit learning problems: We propose a novel robust statistical estimator, mean of medians, which estimates a random variable by computing the empirical mean of a sequence of empirical medians. We then present a generic reductionist algorithmic framework for solving bandit learning problems (including multi-armed and linear bandit problem): the mean of medians estimator can be applied to nearly any bandit learning algorithm as a black-box filtering for its reward signals and obtain similar regret bound as if the reward is sub-Gaussian. We show that the regret bound is near-optimal even with very heavy-tailed noise. We also empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm, which further corroborates our theoretical results.

Doubly Robust Thompson Sampling with Linear Payoffs

Wonyoung Kim · Gi-Soo Kim · Myunghee Cho Paik

A challenging aspect of the bandit problem is that a stochastic reward is observed only for the chosen arm and the rewards of other arms remain missing. The dependence of the arm choice on the past context and reward pairs compounds the complexity of regret analysis.We propose a novel multi-armed contextual bandit algorithm called Doubly Robust Thompson Sampling (DRTS) employing the doubly-robust estimator used in missing data literature to Thompson Sampling with contexts (\texttt{LinTS}).Different from previous works relying on missing data techniques (Dimakopoulou et al. [2019], Kim and Paik [2019]), the proposed algorithm is designed to allow a novel additive regret decomposition leading to an improved regret bound with the order of $\tilde{O}(\phi^{-2}\sqrt{T})$, where $\phi^2$ is the minimum eigenvalue of the covariance matrix of contexts.This is the first regret bound of \texttt{LinTS} using $\phi^2$ without $d$, where $d$ is the dimension of the context.Applying the relationship between $\phi^2$ and $d$, the regret bound of the proposed algorithm is $\tilde{O}(d\sqrt{T})$ in many practical scenarios, improving the bound of \texttt{LinTS} by a factor of $\sqrt{d}$.A benefit of the proposed method is that it uses all the context data, chosen or not chosen, thus allowing to circumvent the technical definition of unsaturated arms used in theoretical analysis of \texttt{LinTS}.Empirical studies show the advantage of the proposed algorithm over \texttt{LinTS}.

Spatial Ensemble: a Novel Model Smoothing Mechanism for Student-Teacher Framework

Tengteng Huang · Yifan Sun · Xun Wang · Haotian Yao · Chi Zhang

Model smoothing is of central importance for obtaining a reliable teacher model in the student-teacher framework, where the teacher generates surrogate supervision signals to train the student. A popular model smoothing method is the Temporal Moving Average (TMA), which continuously averages the teacher parameters with the up-to-date student parameters. In this paper, we propose ''Spatial Ensemble'', a novel model smoothing mechanism in parallel with TMA. Spatial Ensemble randomly picks up a small fragment of the student model to directly replace the corresponding fragment of the teacher model. Consequentially, it stitches different fragments of historical student models into a unity, yielding the ''Spatial Ensemble'' effect. Spatial Ensemble obtains comparable student-teacher learning performance by itself and demonstrates valuable complementarity with temporal moving average. Their integration, named Spatial-Temporal Smoothing, brings general (sometimes significant) improvement to the student-teacher learning framework on a variety of state-of-the-art methods. For example, based on the self-supervised method BYOL, it yields +0.9% top-1 accuracy improvement on ImageNet, while based on the semi-supervised approach FixMatch, it increases the top-1 accuracy by around +6% on CIFAR-10 when only few training labels are available. Codes and models are available at:

Wasserstein Flow Meets Replicator Dynamics: A Mean-Field Analysis of Representation Learning in Actor-Critic

Yufeng Zhang · Siyu Chen · Zhuoran Yang · Michael Jordan · Zhaoran Wang

Actor-critic (AC) algorithms, empowered by neural networks, have had significant empirical success in recent years. However, most of the existing theoretical support for AC algorithms focuses on the case of linear function approximations, or linearized neural networks, where the feature representation is fixed throughout training. Such a limitation fails to capture the key aspect of representation learning in neural AC, which is pivotal in practical problems. In this work, we take a mean-field perspective on the evolution and convergence of feature-based neural AC. Specifically, we consider a version of AC where the actor and critic are represented by overparameterized two-layer neural networks and are updated with two-timescale learning rates. The critic is updated by temporal-difference (TD) learning with a larger stepsize while the actor is updated via proximal policy optimization (PPO) with a smaller stepsize. In the continuous-time and infinite-width limiting regime, when the timescales are properly separated, we prove that neural AC finds the globally optimal policy at a sublinear rate. Additionally, we prove that the feature representation induced by the critic network is allowed to evolve within a neighborhood of the initial one.

Gradient Driven Rewards to Guarantee Fairness in Collaborative Machine Learning

Xinyi Xu · Lingjuan Lyu · Xingjun Ma · Chenglin Miao · Chuan Sheng Foo · Bryan Kian Hsiang Low

In collaborative machine learning(CML), multiple agents pool their resources(e.g., data) together for a common learning task. In realistic CML settings where the agents are self-interested and not altruistic, they may be unwilling to share data or model information without adequate rewards. Furthermore, as the data/model information shared by the agents may differ in quality, designing rewards which are fair to them is important so that they would not feel exploited nor discouraged from sharing. In this paper, we adopt federated learning as the CML paradigm, propose a novel cosine gradient Shapley value(CGSV) to fairly evaluate the expected marginal contribution of each agent’s uploaded model parameter update/gradient without needing an auxiliary validation dataset, and based on the CGSV, design a novel training-time gradient reward mechanism with a fairness guarantee by sparsifying the aggregated parameter update/gradient downloaded from the server as reward to each agent such that its resulting quality is commensurate to that of the agent’s uploaded parameter update/gradient. We empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of our fair gradient reward mechanism on multiple benchmark datasets in terms of fairness, predictive performance, and time overhead.

Auto-Encoding Knowledge Graph for Unsupervised Medical Report Generation

Fenglin Liu · Chenyu You · Xian Wu · Shen Ge · Sheng wang · Xu Sun

Medical report generation, which aims to automatically generate a long and coherent report of a given medical image, has been receiving growing research interests. Existing approaches mainly adopt a supervised manner and heavily rely on coupled image-report pairs. However, in the medical domain, building a large-scale image-report paired dataset is both time-consuming and expensive. To relax the dependency on paired data, we propose an unsupervised model Knowledge Graph Auto-Encoder (KGAE) which accepts independent sets of images and reports in training. KGAE consists of a pre-constructed knowledge graph, a knowledge-driven encoder and a knowledge-driven decoder. The knowledge graph works as the shared latent space to bridge the visual and textual domains; The knowledge-driven encoder projects medical images and reports to the corresponding coordinates in this latent space and the knowledge-driven decoder generates a medical report given a coordinate in this space. Since the knowledge-driven encoder and decoder can be trained with independent sets of images and reports, KGAE is unsupervised. The experiments show that the unsupervised KGAE generates desirable medical reports without using any image-report training pairs. Moreover, KGAE can also work in both semi-supervised and supervised settings, and accept paired images and reports in training. By further fine-tuning with image-report pairs, KGAE consistently outperforms the current state-of-the-art models on two datasets.

Global-aware Beam Search for Neural Abstractive Summarization

Ye Ma · Zixun Lan · Lu Zong · Kaizhu Huang

This study develops a calibrated beam-based algorithm with awareness of the global attention distribution for neural abstractive summarization, aiming to improve the local optimality problem of the original beam search in a rigorous way. Specifically, a novel global protocol is proposed based on the attention distribution to stipulate how a global optimal hypothesis should attend to the source. A global scoring mechanism is then developed to regulate beam search to generate summaries in a near-global optimal fashion. This novel design enjoys a distinctive property, i.e., the global attention distribution could be predicted before inference, enabling step-wise improvements on the beam search through the global scoring mechanism. Extensive experiments on nine datasets show that the global (attention)-aware inference significantly improves state-of-the-art summarization models even using empirical hyper-parameters. The algorithm is also proven robust as it remains to generate meaningful texts with corrupted attention distributions. The codes and a comprehensive set of examples are available.

HSVA: Hierarchical Semantic-Visual Adaptation for Zero-Shot Learning

Shiming Chen · Guosen Xie · Yang Liu · Qinmu Peng · Baigui Sun · Hao Li · Xinge You · Ling Shao

Zero-shot learning (ZSL) tackles the unseen class recognition problem, transferring semantic knowledge from seen classes to unseen ones. Typically, to guarantee desirable knowledge transfer, a common (latent) space is adopted for associating the visual and semantic domains in ZSL. However, existing common space learning methods align the semantic and visual domains by merely mitigating distribution disagreement through one-step adaptation. This strategy is usually ineffective due to the heterogeneous nature of the feature representations in the two domains, which intrinsically contain both distribution and structure variations. To address this and advance ZSL, we propose a novel hierarchical semantic-visual adaptation (HSVA) framework. Specifically, HSVA aligns the semantic and visual domains by adopting a hierarchical two-step adaptation, i.e., structure adaptation and distribution adaptation. In the structure adaptation step, we take two task-specific encoders to encode the source data (visual domain) and the target data (semantic domain) into a structure-aligned common space. To this end, a supervised adversarial discrepancy (SAD) module is proposed to adversarially minimize the discrepancy between the predictions of two task-specific classifiers, thus making the visual and semantic feature manifolds more closely aligned. In the distribution adaptation step, we directly minimize the Wasserstein distance between the latent multivariate Gaussian distributions to align the visual and semantic distributions using a common encoder. Finally, the structure and distribution adaptation are derived in a unified framework under two partially-aligned variational autoencoders. Extensive experiments on four benchmark datasets demonstrate that HSVA achieves superior performance on both conventional and generalized ZSL. The code is available at \url{}.

Low-Rank Subspaces in GANs

Jiapeng Zhu · Ruili Feng · Yujun Shen · Deli Zhao · Zheng-Jun Zha · Jingren Zhou · Qifeng Chen

The latent space of a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) has been shown to encode rich semantics within some subspaces. To identify these subspaces, researchers typically analyze the statistical information from a collection of synthesized data, and the identified subspaces tend to control image attributes globally (i.e., manipulating an attribute causes the change of an entire image). By contrast, this work introduces low-rank subspaces that enable more precise control of GAN generation. Concretely, given an arbitrary image and a region of interest (e.g., eyes of face images), we manage to relate the latent space to the image region with the Jacobian matrix and then use low-rank factorization to discover steerable latent subspaces. There are three distinguishable strengths of our approach that can be aptly called LowRankGAN. First, compared to analytic algorithms in prior work, our low-rank factorization of Jacobians is able to find the low-dimensional representation of attribute manifold, making image editing more precise and controllable. Second, low-rank factorization naturally yields a null space of attributes such that moving the latent code within it only affects the outer region of interest. Therefore, local image editing can be simply achieved by projecting an attribute vector into the null space without relying on a spatial mask as existing methods do. Third, our method can robustly work with a local region from one image for analysis yet well generalize to other images, making it much easy to use in practice. Extensive experiments on state-of-the-art GAN models (including StyleGAN2 and BigGAN) trained on various datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our LowRankGAN.

Self-Paced Contrastive Learning for Semi-supervised Medical Image Segmentation with Meta-labels

Jizong Peng · Ping Wang · Christian Desrosiers · Marco Pedersoli

The contrastive pre-training of a recognition model on a large dataset of unlabeled data often boosts the model’s performance on downstream tasks like image classification. However, in domains such as medical imaging, collecting unlabeled data can be challenging and expensive. In this work, we consider the task of medical image segmentation and adapt contrastive learning with meta-label annotations to scenarios where no additional unlabeled data is available. Meta-labels, such as the location of a 2D slice in a 3D MRI scan, often come for free during the acquisition process. We use these meta-labels to pre-train the image encoder, as well as in a semi-supervised learning step that leverages a reduced set of annotated data. A self-paced learning strategy exploiting the weak annotations is proposed to furtherhelp the learning process and discriminate useful labels from noise. Results on five medical image segmentation datasets show that our approach: i) highly boosts the performance of a model trained on a few scans, ii) outperforms previous contrastive and semi-supervised approaches, and iii) reaches close to the performance of a model trained on the full data.

Learning Equivariant Energy Based Models with Equivariant Stein Variational Gradient Descent

Priyank Jaini · Lars Holdijk · Max Welling

We focus on the problem of efficient sampling and learning of probability densities by incorporating symmetries in probabilistic models. We first introduce Equivariant Stein Variational Gradient Descent algorithm -- an equivariant sampling method based on Stein's identity for sampling from densities with symmetries. Equivariant SVGD explicitly incorporates symmetry information in a density through equivariant kernels which makes the resultant sampler efficient both in terms of sample complexity and the quality of generated samples. Subsequently, we define equivariant energy based models to model invariant densities that are learned using contrastive divergence. By utilizing our equivariant SVGD for training equivariant EBMs, we propose new ways of improving and scaling up training of energy based models. We apply these equivariant energy models for modelling joint densities in regression and classification tasks for image datasets, many-body particle systems and molecular structure generation.

Graph Differentiable Architecture Search with Structure Learning

Yijian Qin · Xin Wang · Zeyang Zhang · Wenwu Zhu

Discovering ideal Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) architectures for different tasks is labor intensive and time consuming. To save human efforts, Neural Architecture Search (NAS) recently has been used to automatically discover adequate GNN architectures for certain tasks in order to achieve competitive or even better performance compared with manually designed architectures. However, existing works utilizing NAS to search GNN structures fail to answer the question: how NAS is able to select the desired GNN architectures? In this paper, we investigate this question to solve the problem, for the first time. We conduct a measurement study with experiments to discover that gradient based NAS methods tend to select proper architectures based on the usefulness of different types of information with respect to the target task. Our explorations further show that gradient based NAS also suffers from noises hidden in the graph, resulting in searching suboptimal GNN architectures. Based on our findings, we propose a Graph differentiable Architecture Search model with Structure Optimization (GASSO), which allows differentiable search of the architecture with gradient descent and is able to discover graph neural architectures with better performance through employing graph structure learning as a denoising process in the search procedure. The proposed GASSO model is capable of simultaneously searching the optimal architecture and adaptively adjusting graph structure by jointly optimizing graph architecture search and graph structure denoising. Extensive experiments on real-world graph datasets demonstrate that our proposed GASSO model is able to achieve state-of-the-art performance compared with existing baselines.

Neural Rule-Execution Tracking Machine For Transformer-Based Text Generation

Yufei Wang · Can Xu · Huang Hu · Chongyang Tao · Stephen Wan · Mark Dras · Mark Johnson · Daxin Jiang

Sequence-to-Sequence (Seq2Seq) neural text generation models, especially the pre-trained ones (e.g., BART and T5), have exhibited compelling performance on various natural language generation tasks. However, the black-box nature of these models limits their application in tasks where specific rules (e.g., controllable constraints, prior knowledge) need to be executed. Previous works either design specific model structures (e.g., Copy Mechanism corresponding to the rule "the generated output should include certain words in the source input'') or implement specialized inference algorithms (e.g., Constrained Beam Search) to execute particular rules through the text generation. These methods require the careful design case-by-case and are difficult to support multiple rules concurrently. In this paper, we propose a novel module named Neural Rule-Execution Tracking Machine (NRETM) that can be equipped into various transformer-based generators to leverage multiple rules simultaneously to guide the neural generation model for superior generation performance in an unified and scalable way. Extensive experiments on several benchmarks verify the effectiveness of our proposed model in both controllable and general text generation tasks.

Discerning Decision-Making Process of Deep Neural Networks with Hierarchical Voting Transformation

Ying Sun · Hengshu Zhu · Chuan Qin · Fuzhen Zhuang · Qing He · Hui Xiong

Neural network based deep learning techniques have shown great success for numerous applications. While it is expected to understand their intrinsic decision-making processes, these deep neural networks often work in a black-box way. To this end, in this paper, we aim to discern the decision-making processes of neural networks through a hierarchical voting strategy by developing an explainable deep learning model, namely Voting Transformation-based Explainable Neural Network (VOTEN). Specifically, instead of relying on massive feature combinations, VOTEN creatively models expressive single-valued voting functions between explicitly modeled latent concepts to achieve high fitting ability. Along this line, we first theoretically analyze the major components of VOTEN and prove the relationship and advantages of VOTEN compared with Multi-Layer Perceptron (MLP), the basic structure of deep neural networks. Moreover, we design efficient algorithms to improve the model usability by explicitly showing the decision processes of VOTEN. Finally, extensive experiments on multiple real-world datasets clearly validate the performances and explainability of VOTEN.

De-randomizing MCMC dynamics with the diffusion Stein operator

Zheyang Shen · Markus Heinonen · Samuel Kaski

Approximate Bayesian inference estimates descriptors of an intractable target distribution - in essence, an optimization problem within a family of distributions. For example, Langevin dynamics (LD) extracts asymptotically exact samples from a diffusion process because the time evolution of its marginal distributions constitutes a curve that minimizes the KL-divergence via steepest descent in the Wasserstein space. Parallel to LD, Stein variational gradient descent (SVGD) similarly minimizes the KL, albeit endowed with a novel Stein-Wasserstein distance, by deterministically transporting a set of particle samples, thus de-randomizes the stochastic diffusion process. We propose de-randomized kernel-based particle samplers to all diffusion-based samplers known as MCMC dynamics. Following previous work in interpreting MCMC dynamics, we equip the Stein-Wasserstein space with a fiber-Riemannian Poisson structure, with the capacity of characterizing a fiber-gradient Hamiltonian flow that simulates MCMC dynamics. Such dynamics discretizes into generalized SVGD (GSVGD), a Stein-type deterministic particle sampler, with particle updates coinciding with applying the diffusion Stein operator to a kernel function. We demonstrate empirically that GSVGD can de-randomize complex MCMC dynamics, which combine the advantages of auxiliary momentum variables and Riemannian structure, while maintaining the high sample quality from an interacting particle system.

Deep Bandits Show-Off: Simple and Efficient Exploration with Deep Networks

Rong Zhu · Mattia Rigotti

Designing efficient exploration is central to Reinforcement Learning due to the fundamental problem posed by the exploration-exploitation dilemma. Bayesian exploration strategies like Thompson Sampling resolve this trade-off in a principled way by modeling and updating the distribution of the parameters of the action-value function, the outcome model of the environment.However, this technique becomes infeasible for complex environments due to the computational intractability of maintaining probability distributions over parameters of outcome models of corresponding complexity.Moreover, the approximation techniques introduced to mitigate this issue typically result in poor exploration-exploitation trade-offs, as observed in the case of deep neural network models with approximate posterior methods that have been shown to underperform in the deep bandit scenario.In this paper we introduce Sample Average Uncertainty (SAU), a simple and efficient uncertainty measure for contextual bandits.While Bayesian approaches like Thompson Sampling estimate outcomes uncertainty indirectly by first quantifying the variability over the parameters of the outcome model, SAU is a frequentist approach that directly estimates the uncertainty of the outcomes based on the value predictions.Importantly, we show theoretically that the uncertainty measure estimated by SAU asymptotically matches the uncertainty provided by Thompson Sampling, as well as its regret bounds.Because of its simplicity SAU can be seamlessly applied to deep contextual bandits as a very scalable drop-in replacement for epsilon-greedy exploration.We confirm empirically our theory by showing that SAU-based exploration outperforms current state-of-the-art deep Bayesian bandit methods on several real-world datasets at modest computation cost, and make the code to reproduce our results available at \url{}.

Towards Sample-Optimal Compressive Phase Retrieval with Sparse and Generative Priors

Zhaoqiang Liu · Subhroshekhar Ghosh · Jonathan Scarlett

Compressive phase retrieval is a popular variant of the standard compressive sensing problem in which the measurements only contain magnitude information. In this paper, motivated by recent advances in deep generative models, we provide recovery guarantees with near-optimal sample complexity for phase retrieval with generative priors. We first show that when using i.i.d. Gaussian measurements and an $L$-Lipschitz continuous generative model with bounded $k$-dimensional inputs, roughly $O(k \log L)$ samples suffice to guarantee that any signal minimizing an amplitude-based empirical loss function is close to the true signal. Attaining this sample complexity with a practical algorithm remains a difficult challenge, and finding a good initialization for gradient-based methods has been observed to pose a major bottleneck. To partially address this, we further show that roughly $O(k \log L)$ samples ensure sufficient closeness between the underlying signal and any {\em globally optimal} solution to an optimization problem designed for spectral initialization (though finding such a solution may still be challenging). We also adapt this result to sparse phase retrieval, and show that $O(s \log n)$ samples are sufficient for a similar guarantee when the underlying signal is $s$-sparse and $n$-dimensional, matching an information-theoretic lower bound. While these guarantees do not directly correspond to a practical algorithm, we propose a practical spectral initialization method motivated by our findings, and experimentally observe performance gains over various existing spectral initialization methods for sparse phase retrieval.

Structure-Aware Random Fourier Kernel for Graphs

Jinyuan Fang · Qiang Zhang · Zaiqiao Meng · Shangsong Liang

Gaussian Processes (GPs) define distributions over functions and their generalization capabilities depend heavily on the choice of kernels. In this paper, we propose a novel structure-aware random Fourier (SRF) kernel for GPs that brings several benefits when modeling graph-structured data. First, SRF kernel is defined with a spectral distribution based on the Fourier duality given by the Bochner's theorem, transforming the kernel learning problem to a distribution inference problem. Second, SRF kernel admits a random Fourier feature formulation that makes the kernel scalable for optimization. Third, SRF kernel enables to leverage geometric structures by taking subgraphs as inputs. To effectively optimize GPs with SRF kernel, we develop a variational EM algorithm, which alternates between an inference procedure (E-step) and a learning procedure (M-step). Experimental results on five real-world datasets show that our model can achieve state-of-the-art performance in two typical graph learning tasks, i.e., object classification and link prediction.

Post-Training Sparsity-Aware Quantization

Gil Shomron · Freddy Gabbay · Samer Kurzum · Uri Weiser

Quantization is a technique used in deep neural networks (DNNs) to increase execution performance and hardware efficiency. Uniform post-training quantization (PTQ) methods are common, since they can be implemented efficiently in hardware and do not require extensive hardware resources or a training set. Mapping FP32 models to INT8 using uniform PTQ yields models with negligible accuracy degradation; however, reducing precision below 8 bits with PTQ is challenging, as accuracy degradation becomes noticeable, due to the increase in quantization noise. In this paper, we propose a sparsity-aware quantization (SPARQ) method, in which the unstructured and dynamic activation sparsity is leveraged in different representation granularities. 4-bit quantization, for example, is employed by dynamically examining the bits of 8-bit values and choosing a window of 4 bits, while first skipping zero-value bits. Moreover, instead of quantizing activation-by-activation to 4 bits, we focus on pairs of 8-bit activations and examine whether one of the two is equal to zero. If one is equal to zero, the second can opportunistically use the other's 4-bit budget; if both do not equal zero, then each is dynamically quantized to 4 bits, as described. SPARQ achieves minor accuracy degradation and a practical hardware implementation.

The Implicit Bias of Minima Stability: A View from Function Space

Rotem Mulayoff · Tomer Michaeli · Daniel Soudry

The loss terrains of over-parameterized neural networks have multiple global minima. However, it is well known that stochastic gradient descent (SGD) can stably converge only to minima that are sufficiently flat w.r.t. SGD's step size. In this paper we study the effect that this mechanism has on the function implemented by the trained model. First, we extend the existing knowledge on minima stability to non-differentiable minima, which are common in ReLU nets. We then use our stability results to study a single hidden layer univariate ReLU network. In this setting, we show that SGD is biased towards functions whose second derivative (w.r.t the input) has a bounded weighted $L_1$ norm, and this is regardless of the initialization. In particular, we show that the function implemented by the network upon convergence gets smoother as the learning rate increases. The weight multiplying the second derivative is larger around the center of the support of the training distribution, and smaller towards its boundaries, suggesting that a trained model tends to be smoother at the center of the training distribution.

Graph Posterior Network: Bayesian Predictive Uncertainty for Node Classification

Maximilian Stadler · Bertrand Charpentier · Simon Geisler · Daniel Zügner · Stephan Günnemann

The interdependence between nodes in graphs is key to improve class prediction on nodes, utilized in approaches like Label Probagation (LP) or in Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). Nonetheless, uncertainty estimation for non-independent node-level predictions is under-explored. In this work, we explore uncertainty quantification for node classification in three ways: (1) We derive three axioms explicitly characterizing the expected predictive uncertainty behavior in homophilic attributed graphs.(2) We propose a new model Graph Posterior Network (GPN) which explicitly performs Bayesian posterior updates for predictions on interdependent nodes. GPN provably obeys the proposed axioms. (3) We extensively evaluate GPN and a strong set of baselines on semi-supervised node classification including detection of anomalous features, and detection of left-out classes. GPN outperforms existing approaches for uncertainty estimation in the experiments.

Learning curves of generic features maps for realistic datasets with a teacher-student model

Bruno Loureiro · Cedric Gerbelot · Hugo Cui · Sebastian Goldt · Florent Krzakala · Marc Mezard · Lenka Zdeborová

Teacher-student models provide a framework in which the typical-case performance of high-dimensional supervised learning can be described in closed form. The assumptions of Gaussian i.i.d. input data underlying the canonical teacher-student model may, however, be perceived as too restrictive to capture the behaviour of realistic data sets. In this paper, we introduce a Gaussian covariate generalisation of the model where the teacher and student can act on different spaces, generated with fixed, but generic feature maps. While still solvable in a closed form, this generalization is able to capture the learning curves for a broad range of realistic data sets, thus redeeming the potential of the teacher-student framework. Our contribution is then two-fold: first, we prove a rigorous formula for the asymptotic training loss and generalisation error. Second, we present a number of situations where the learning curve of the model captures the one of a realistic data set learned with kernel regression and classification, with out-of-the-box feature maps such as random projections or scattering transforms, or with pre-learned ones - such as the features learned by training multi-layer neural networks. We discuss both the power and the limitations of the framework.

It Has Potential: Gradient-Driven Denoisers for Convergent Solutions to Inverse Problems

Regev Cohen · Yochai Blau · Daniel Freedman · Ehud Rivlin

In recent years there has been increasing interest in leveraging denoisers for solving general inverse problems. Two leading frameworks are regularization-by-denoising (RED) and plug-and-play priors (PnP) which incorporate explicit likelihood functions with priors induced by denoising algorithms. RED and PnP have shown state-of-the-art performance in diverse imaging tasks when powerful denoisersare used, such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs). However, the study of their convergence remains an active line of research. Recent works derive the convergence of RED and PnP methods by treating CNN denoisers as approximations for maximum a posteriori (MAP) or minimum mean square error (MMSE) estimators. Yet, state-of-the-art denoisers cannot be interpreted as either MAPor MMSE estimators, since they typically do not exhibit symmetric Jacobians. Furthermore, obtaining stable inverse algorithms often requires controlling the Lipschitz constant of CNN denoisers during training. Precisely enforcing this constraint is impractical, hence, convergence cannot be completely guaranteed. In this work, we introduce image denoisers derived as the gradients of smooth scalar-valued deep neural networks, acting as potentials. This ensures two things: (1) the proposed denoisers display symmetric Jacobians, allowing for MAP and MMSE estimators interpretation; (2) the denoisers may be integrated into RED and PnP schemes with backtracking step size, removing the need for enforcing their Lipschitz constant. To show the latter, we develop a simple inversion method that utilizes the proposed denoisers. We theoretically establish its convergence to stationary points of an underlying objective function consisting of the learned potentials. We numerically validate our method through various imaging experiments, showing improved results compared to standard RED and PnP methods, and with additional provable stability.

IRM—when it works and when it doesn't: A test case of natural language inference

Yana Dranker · He He · Yonatan Belinkov

Invariant Risk Minimization (IRM) is a recently proposed framework for out-of-distribution (o.o.d) generalization. Most of the studies on IRM so far have focused on theoretical results, toy problems, and simple models. In this work, we investigate the applicability of IRM to bias mitigation-a special case of o.o.d generalization-in increasingly naturalistic settings and deep models. Using natural language inference (NLI) as a test case, we start with a setting where both the dataset and the bias are synthetic, continue with a natural dataset and synthetic bias, and end with a fully realistic setting with natural datasets and bias. Our results show that in naturalistic settings, learning complex features in place of the bias proves to be difficult, leading to a rather small improvement over empirical risk minimization. Moreover, we find that in addition to being sensitive to random seeds, the performance of IRM also depends on several critical factors, notably dataset size, bias prevalence, and bias strength, thus limiting IRM's advantage in practical scenarios. Our results highlight key challenges in applying IRM to real-world scenarios, calling for a more naturalistic characterization of the problem setup for o.o.d generalization.

Self-Supervised Learning Disentangled Group Representation as Feature

Tan Wang · Zhongqi Yue · Jianqiang Huang · Qianru Sun · Hanwang Zhang

A good visual representation is an inference map from observations (images) to features (vectors) that faithfully reflects the hidden modularized generative factors (semantics). In this paper, we formulate the notion of "good" representation from a group-theoretic view using Higgins' definition of disentangled representation, and show that existing Self-Supervised Learning (SSL) only disentangles simple augmentation features such as rotation and colorization, thus unable to modularize the remaining semantics. To break the limitation, we propose an iterative SSL algorithm: Iterative Partition-based Invariant Risk Minimization (IP-IRM), which successfully grounds the abstract semantics and the group acting on them into concrete contrastive learning. At each iteration, IP-IRM first partitions the training samples into two subsets that correspond to an entangled group element. Then, it minimizes a subset-invariant contrastive loss, where the invariance guarantees to disentangle the group element. We prove that IP-IRM converges to a fully disentangled representation and show its effectiveness on various benchmarks. Codes are available at

Decentralized Q-learning in Zero-sum Markov Games

Muhammed Sayin · Kaiqing Zhang · David Leslie · Tamer Basar · Asuman Ozdaglar

We study multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) in infinite-horizon discounted zero-sum Markov games. We focus on the practical but challenging setting of decentralized MARL, where agents make decisions without coordination by a centralized controller, but only based on their own payoffs and local actions executed. The agents need not observe the opponent's actions or payoffs, possibly being even oblivious to the presence of the opponent, nor be aware of the zero-sum structure of the underlying game, a setting also referred to as radically uncoupled in the literature of learning in games. In this paper, we develop a radically uncoupled Q-learning dynamics that is both rational and convergent: the learning dynamics converges to the best response to the opponent's strategy when the opponent follows an asymptotically stationary strategy; when both agents adopt the learning dynamics, they converge to the Nash equilibrium of the game. The key challenge in this decentralized setting is the non-stationarity of the environment from an agent's perspective, since both her own payoffs and the system evolution depend on the actions of other agents, and each agent adapts her policies simultaneously and independently. To address this issue, we develop a two-timescale learning dynamics where each agent updates her local Q-function and value function estimates concurrently, with the latter happening at a slower timescale.

Agent Modelling under Partial Observability for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Georgios Papoudakis · Filippos Christianos · Stefano Albrecht

Modelling the behaviours of other agents is essential for understanding how agents interact and making effective decisions. Existing methods for agent modelling commonly assume knowledge of the local observations and chosen actions of the modelled agents during execution. To eliminate this assumption, we extract representations from the local information of the controlled agent using encoder-decoder architectures. Using the observations and actions of the modelled agents during training, our models learn to extract representations about the modelled agents conditioned only on the local observations of the controlled agent. The representations are used to augment the controlled agent's decision policy which is trained via deep reinforcement learning; thus, during execution, the policy does not require access to other agents' information. We provide a comprehensive evaluation and ablations studies in cooperative, competitive and mixed multi-agent environments, showing that our method achieves significantly higher returns than baseline methods which do not use the learned representations.

PSD Representations for Effective Probability Models

Alessandro Rudi · Carlo Ciliberto

Finding a good way to model probability densities is key to probabilistic inference. An ideal model should be able to concisely approximate any probability while being also compatible with two main operations: multiplications of two models (product rule) and marginalization with respect to a subset of the random variables (sum rule). In this work, we show that a recently proposed class of positive semi-definite (PSD) models for non-negative functions is particularly suited to this end. In particular, we characterize both approximation and generalization capabilities of PSD models, showing that they enjoy strong theoretical guarantees. Moreover, we show that we can perform efficiently both sum and product rule in closed form via matrix operations, enjoying the same versatility of mixture models. Our results open the way to applications of PSD models to density estimation, decision theory, and inference.

Towards Open-World Feature Extrapolation: An Inductive Graph Learning Approach

Qitian Wu · Chenxiao Yang · Junchi Yan

We target open-world feature extrapolation problem where the feature space of input data goes through expansion and a model trained on partially observed features needs to handle new features in test data without further retraining. The problem is of much significance for dealing with features incrementally collected from different fields. To this end, we propose a new learning paradigm with graph representation and learning. Our framework contains two modules: 1) a backbone network (e.g., feedforward neural nets) as a lower model takes features as input and outputs predicted labels; 2) a graph neural network as an upper model learns to extrapolate embeddings for new features via message passing over a feature-data graph built from observed data. Based on our framework, we design two training strategies, a self-supervised approach and an inductive learning approach, to endow the model with extrapolation ability and alleviate feature-level over-fitting. We also provide theoretical analysis on the generalization error on test data with new features, which dissects the impact of training features and algorithms on generalization performance. Our experiments over several classification datasets and large-scale advertisement click prediction datasets demonstrate that our model can produce effective embeddings for unseen features and significantly outperforms baseline methods that adopt KNN and local aggregation.

Stochastic bandits with groups of similar arms.

Fabien Pesquerel · Hassan SABER · Odalric-Ambrym Maillard

We consider a variant of the stochastic multi-armed bandit problem where arms are known to be organized into different groups having the same mean. The groups are unknown but a lower bound $q$ on their size is known. This situation typically appears when each arm can be described with a list of categorical attributes, and the (unknown) mean reward function only depends on a subset of them, the others being redundant. In this case, $q$ is linked naturally to the number of attributes considered redundant, and the number of categories of each attribute. For this structured problem of practical relevance, we first derive the asymptotic regret lower bound and corresponding constrained optimization problem. They reveal the achievable regret can be substantially reduced when compared to the unstructured setup, possibly by a factor $q$. However, solving exactly the exact constrained optimization problem involves a combinatorial problem. We introduce a lower-bound inspired strategy involving a computationally efficient relaxation that is based on a sorting mechanism. We further prove it achieves a lower bound close to the optimal one up to a controlled factor, and achieves an asymptotic regret $q$ times smaller than the unstructured one. We believe this shows it is a valuable strategy for the practitioner. Last, we illustrate the performance of the considered strategy on numerical experiments involving a large number of arms.

Boost Neural Networks by Checkpoints

Feng Wang · Guoyizhe Wei · Qiao Liu · Jinxiang Ou · xian wei · Hairong Lv

Training multiple deep neural networks (DNNs) and averaging their outputs is a simple way to improve the predictive performance. Nevertheless, the multiplied training cost prevents this ensemble method to be practical and efficient. Several recent works attempt to save and ensemble the checkpoints of DNNs, which only requires the same computational cost as training a single network. However, these methods suffer from either marginal accuracy improvements due to the low diversity of checkpoints or high risk of divergence due to the cyclical learning rates they adopted. In this paper, we propose a novel method to ensemble the checkpoints, where a boosting scheme is utilized to accelerate model convergence and maximize the checkpoint diversity. We theoretically prove that it converges by reducing exponential loss. The empirical evaluation also indicates our proposed ensemble outperforms single model and existing ensembles in terms of accuracy and efficiency. With the same training budget, our method achieves 4.16% lower error on Cifar-100 and 6.96% on Tiny-ImageNet with ResNet-110 architecture. Moreover, the adaptive sample weights in our method make it an effective solution to address the imbalanced class distribution. In the experiments, it yields up to 5.02% higher accuracy over single EfficientNet-B0 on the imbalanced datasets.

Model Selection for Bayesian Autoencoders

Ba-Hien Tran · Simone Rossi · Dimitrios Milios · Pietro Michiardi · Edwin Bonilla · Maurizio Filippone

We develop a novel method for carrying out model selection for Bayesian autoencoders (BAEs) by means of prior hyper-parameter optimization. Inspired by the common practice of type-II maximum likelihood optimization and its equivalence to Kullback-Leibler divergence minimization, we propose to optimize the distributional sliced-Wasserstein distance (DSWD) between the output of the autoencoder and the empirical data distribution. The advantages of this formulation are that we can estimate the DSWD based on samples and handle high-dimensional problems. We carry out posterior estimation of the BAE parameters via stochastic gradient Hamiltonian Monte Carlo and turn our BAE into a generative model by fitting a flexible Dirichlet mixture model in the latent space. Thanks to this approach, we obtain a powerful alternative to variational autoencoders, which are the preferred choice in modern application of autoencoders for representation learning with uncertainty. We evaluate our approach qualitatively and quantitatively using a vast experimental campaign on a number of unsupervised learning tasks and show that, in small-data regimes where priors matter, our approach provides state-of-the-art results, outperforming multiple competitive baselines.

Knowledge-Adaptation Priors

Mohammad Emtiyaz Khan · Siddharth Swaroop

Humans and animals have a natural ability to quickly adapt to their surroundings, but machine-learning models, when subjected to changes, often require a complete retraining from scratch. We present Knowledge-adaptation priors (K-priors) to reduce the cost of retraining by enabling quick and accurate adaptation for a wide-variety of tasks and models. This is made possible by a combination of weight and function-space priors to reconstruct the gradients of the past, which recovers and generalizes many existing, but seemingly-unrelated, adaptation strategies. Training with simple first-order gradient methods can often recover the exact retrained model to an arbitrary accuracy by choosing a sufficiently large memory of the past data. Empirical results show that adaptation with K-priors achieves performance similar to full retraining, but only requires training on a handful of past examples.

Time-independent Generalization Bounds for SGLD in Non-convex Settings

Tyler Farghly · Patrick Rebeschini

We establish generalization error bounds for stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics (SGLD) with constant learning rate under the assumptions of dissipativity and smoothness, a setting that has received increased attention in the sampling/optimization literature. Unlike existing bounds for SGLD in non-convex settings, ours are time-independent and decay to zero as the sample size increases. Using the framework of uniform stability, we establish time-independent bounds by exploiting the Wasserstein contraction property of the Langevin diffusion, which also allows us to circumvent the need to bound gradients using Lipschitz-like assumptions. Our analysis also supports variants of SGLD that use different discretization methods, incorporate Euclidean projections, or use non-isotropic noise.

On learning sparse vectors from mixture of responses

Nikita Polyanskii

In this paper, we address two learning problems. Suppose a family of $\ell$ unknown sparse vectors is fixed, where each vector has at most $k$ non-zero elements. In the first problem, we concentrate on robust learning the supports of all vectors from the family using a sequence of noisy responses. Each response to a query vector shows the sign of the inner product between a randomly chosen vector from the family and the query vector. In the second problem, we aim at designing queries such that all sparse vectors from the family can be approximately reconstructed based on the error-free responses. This learning model was introduced in the work of Gandikota et al., 2020, and these problems can be seen as generalizations of support recovery and approximate recovery problems, well-studied under the framework of 1-bit compressed sensing. As the main contribution of the paper, we prove the existence of learning algorithms for the first problem which work without any assumptions. Under a mild structural assumption on the unknown vectors, we also show the existence of learning algorithms for the second problem and rigorously analyze their query complexity.

Adder Attention for Vision Transformer

Han Shu · Jiahao Wang · Hanting Chen · Lin Li · Yujiu Yang · Yunhe Wang

Transformer is a new kind of calculation paradigm for deep learning which has shown strong performance on a large variety of computer vision tasks. However, compared with conventional deep models (e.g., convolutional neural networks), vision transformers require more computational resources which cannot be easily deployed on mobile devices. To this end, we present to reduce the energy consumptions using adder neural network (AdderNet). We first theoretically analyze the mechanism of self-attention and the difficulty for applying adder operation into this module. Specifically, the feature diversity, i.e., the rank of attention map using only additions cannot be well preserved. Thus, we develop an adder attention layer that includes an additional identity mapping. With the new operation, vision transformers constructed using additions can also provide powerful feature representations. Experimental results on several benchmarks demonstrate that the proposed approach can achieve highly competitive performance to that of the baselines while achieving an about 2~3× reduction on the energy consumption.

Asynchronous Decentralized Online Learning

Jiyan Jiang · Wenpeng Zhang · Jinjie GU · Wenwu Zhu

Most existing algorithms in decentralized online learning are conducted in the synchronous setting. However, synchronization makes these algorithms suffer from the straggler problem, i.e., fast learners have to wait for slow learners, which significantly reduces such algorithms' overall efficiency. To overcome this problem, we study decentralized online learning in the asynchronous setting, which allows different learners to work at their own pace. We first formulate the framework of Asynchronous Decentralized Online Convex Optimization, which specifies the whole process of asynchronous decentralized online learning using a sophisticated event indexing system. Then we propose the Asynchronous Decentralized Online Gradient-Push (AD-OGP) algorithm, which performs asymmetric gossiping communication and instantaneous model averaging. We further derive a regret bound of AD-OGP, which is a function of the network topology, the levels of processing delays, and the levels of communication delays. Extensive experiments show that AD-OGP runs significantly faster than its synchronous counterpart and also verify the theoretical results.

On the Provable Generalization of Recurrent Neural Networks

Lifu Wang · Bo Shen · Bo Hu · Xing Cao

Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) is a fundamental structure in deep learning. Recently, some works study the training process of over-parameterized neural networks, and show that over-parameterized networks can learn functions in some notable concept classes with a provable generalization error bound. In this paper, we analyze the training and generalization for RNNs with random initialization, and provide the following improvements over recent works:(1) For a RNN with input sequence $x=(X_1,X_2,...,X_L)$, previous works study to learn functions that are summation of $f(\beta^T_lX_l)$ and require normalized conditions that $||X_l||\leq\epsilon$ with some very small $\epsilon$ depending on the complexity of $f$. In this paper, using detailed analysis about the neural tangent kernel matrix, we prove a generalization error bound to learn such functions without normalized conditions and show that some notable concept classes are learnable with the numbers of iterations and samples scaling almost-polynomially in the input length $L$.(2) Moreover, we prove a novel result to learn N-variables functions of input sequence with the form $f(\beta^T[X_{l_1},...,X_{l_N}])$, which do not belong to the ``additive'' concept class, i,e., the summation of function $f(X_l)$. And we show that when either $N$ or $l_0=\max(l_1,..,l_N)-\min(l_1,..,l_N)$ is small, $f(\beta^T[X_{l_1},...,X_{l_N}])$ will be learnable with the number iterations and samples scaling almost-polynomially in the input length $L$.

STORM+: Fully Adaptive SGD with Recursive Momentum for Nonconvex Optimization

Kfir Levy · Ali Kavis · Volkan Cevher

In this work we investigate stochastic non-convex optimization problems where the objective is an expectation over smooth loss functions, and the goal is to find an approximate stationary point. The most popular approach to handling such problems is variance reduction techniques, which are also known to obtain tight convergence rates, matching the lower bounds in this case. Nevertheless, these techniques require a careful maintenance of anchor points in conjunction with appropriately selected ``mega-batchsizes". This leads to a challenging hyperparameter tuning problem, that weakens their practicality. Recently, [Cutkosky and Orabona, 2019] have shown that one can employ recursive momentum in order to avoid the use of anchor points and large batchsizes, and still obtain the optimal rate for this setting. Yet, their method called $\rm{STORM}$ crucially relies on the knowledge of the smoothness, as well a bound on the gradient norms. In this work we propose $\rm{STORM}^{+}$, a new method that is completely parameter-free, does not require large batch-sizes, and obtains the optimal $O(1/T^{1/3})$ rate for finding an approximate stationary point. Our work builds on the $\rm{STORM}$ algorithm, in conjunction with a novel approach to adaptively set the learning rate and momentum parameters.

Meta Internal Learning

Raphael Bensadoun · Shir Gur · Tomer Galanti · Lior Wolf

Internal learning for single-image generation is a framework, where a generator is trained to produce novel images based on a single image. Since these models are trained on a single image, they are limited in their scale and application. To overcome these issues, we propose a meta-learning approach that enables training over a collection of images, in order to model the internal statistics of the sample image more effectively.In the presented meta-learning approach, a single-image GAN model is generated given an input image, via a convolutional feedforward hypernetwork $f$. This network is trained over a dataset of images, allowing for feature sharing among different models, and for interpolation in the space of generative models. The generated single-image model contains a hierarchy of multiple generators and discriminators. It is therefore required to train the meta-learner in an adversarial manner, which requires careful design choices that we justify by a theoretical analysis. Our results show that the models obtained are as suitable as single-image GANs for many common image applications, {significantly reduce the training time per image without loss in performance}, and introduce novel capabilities, such as interpolation and feedforward modeling of novel images.

Precise characterization of the prior predictive distribution of deep ReLU networks

Lorenzo Noci · Gregor Bachmann · Kevin Roth · Sebastian Nowozin · Thomas Hofmann

Recent works on Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) have highlighted the need to better understand the implications of using Gaussian priors in combination with the compositional structure of the network architecture. Similar in spirit to the kind of analysis that has been developed to devise better initialization schemes for neural networks (cf. He- or Xavier initialization), we derive a precise characterization of the prior predictive distribution of finite-width ReLU networks with Gaussian weights.While theoretical results have been obtained for their heavy-tailedness,the full characterization of the prior predictive distribution (i.e. its density, CDF and moments), remained unknown prior to this work. Our analysis, based on the Meijer-G function, allows us to quantify the influence of architectural choices such as the width or depth of the network on the resulting shape of the prior predictive distribution. We also formally connect our results to previous work in the infinite width setting, demonstrating that the moments of the distribution converge to those of a normal log-normal mixture in the infinite depth limit. Finally, our results provide valuable guidance on prior design: for instance, controlling the predictive variance with depth- and width-informed priors on the weights of the network.

Variational Multi-Task Learning with Gumbel-Softmax Priors

Jiayi Shen · Xiantong Zhen · Marcel Worring · Ling Shao

Multi-task learning aims to explore task relatedness to improve individual tasks, which is of particular significance in the challenging scenario that only limited data is available for each task. To tackle this challenge, we propose variational multi-task learning (VMTL), a general probabilistic inference framework for learning multiple related tasks. We cast multi-task learning as a variational Bayesian inference problem, in which task relatedness is explored in a unified manner by specifying priors. To incorporate shared knowledge into each task, we design the prior of a task to be a learnable mixture of the variational posteriors of other related tasks, which is learned by the Gumbel-Softmax technique. In contrast to previous methods, our VMTL can exploit task relatedness for both representations and classifiers in a principled way by jointly inferring their posteriors. This enables individual tasks to fully leverage inductive biases provided by related tasks, therefore improving the overall performance of all tasks. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed VMTL is able to effectively tackle a variety of challenging multi-task learning settings with limited training data for both classification and regression. Our method consistently surpasses previous methods, including strong Bayesian approaches, and achieves state-of-the-art performance on five benchmark datasets.

Generalization Guarantee of SGD for Pairwise Learning

Yunwen Lei · Mingrui Liu · Yiming Ying

Recently, there is a growing interest in studying pairwise learning since it includes many important machine learning tasks as specific examples, e.g., metric learning, AUC maximization and ranking. While stochastic gradient descent (SGD) is an efficient method, there is a lacking study on its generalization behavior for pairwise learning. In this paper, we present a systematic study on the generalization analysis of SGD for pairwise learning to understand the balance between generalization and optimization. We develop a novel high-probability generalization bound for uniformly-stable algorithms to incorporate the variance information for better generalization, based on which we establish the first nonsmooth learning algorithm to achieve almost optimal high-probability and dimension-independent generalization bounds in linear time. We consider both convex and nonconvex pairwise learning problems. Our stability analysis for convex problems shows how the interpolation can help generalization. We establish a uniform convergence of gradients, and apply it to derive the first generalization bounds on population gradients for nonconvex problems. Finally, we develop better generalization bounds for gradient-dominated problems.

Task-Adaptive Neural Network Search with Meta-Contrastive Learning

Wonyong Jeong · Hayeon Lee · Geon Park · Eunyoung Hyung · Jinheon Baek · Sung Ju Hwang

Most conventional Neural Architecture Search (NAS) approaches are limited in that they only generate architectures without searching for the optimal parameters. While some NAS methods handle this issue by utilizing a supernet trained on a large-scale dataset such as ImageNet, they may be suboptimal if the target tasks are highly dissimilar from the dataset the supernet is trained on. To address such limitations, we introduce a novel problem of Neural Network Search (NNS), whose goal is to search for the optimal pretrained network for a novel dataset and constraints (e.g. number of parameters), from a model zoo. Then, we propose a novel framework to tackle the problem, namely Task-Adaptive Neural Network Search (TANS). Given a model-zoo that consists of network pretrained on diverse datasets, we use a novel amortized meta-learning framework to learn a cross-modal latent space with contrastive loss, to maximize the similarity between a dataset and a high-performing network on it, and minimize the similarity between irrelevant dataset-network pairs. We validate the effectiveness and efficiency of our method on ten real-world datasets, against existing NAS/AutoML baselines. The results show that our method instantly retrieves networks that outperform models obtained with the baselines with significantly fewer training steps to reach the target performance, thus minimizing the total cost of obtaining a task-optimal network. Our code and the model-zoo are available at

Efficient and Local Parallel Random Walks

Michael Kapralov · Silvio Lattanzi · Navid Nouri · Jakab Tardos

Random walks are a fundamental primitive used in many machine learning algorithms with several applications in clustering and semi-supervised learning. Despite their relevance, the first efficient parallel algorithm to compute random walks has been introduced very recently (Łącki et al.). Unfortunately their method has a fundamental shortcoming: their algorithm is non-local in that it heavily relies on computing random walks out of all nodes in the input graph, even though in many practical applications one is interested in computing random walks only from a small subset of nodes in the graph. In this paper, we present a new algorithm that overcomes this limitation by building random walks efficiently and locally at the same time. We show that our technique is both memory and round efficient, and in particular yields an efficient parallel local clustering algorithm. Finally, we complement our theoretical analysis with experimental results showing that our algorithm is significantly more scalable than previous approaches.

Model, sample, and epoch-wise descents: exact solution of gradient flow in the random feature model

Antoine Bodin · Nicolas Macris

Recent evidence has shown the existence of a so-called double-descent and even triple-descent behavior for the generalization error of deep-learning models. This important phenomenon commonly appears in implemented neural network architectures, and also seems to emerge in epoch-wise curves during the training process. A recent line of research has highlighted that random matrix tools can be used to obtain precise analytical asymptotics of the generalization (and training) errors of the random feature model. In this contribution, we analyze the whole temporal behavior of the generalization and training errors under gradient flow for the random feature model. We show that in the asymptotic limit of large system size the full time-evolution path of both errors can be calculated analytically. This allows us to observe how the double and triple descents develop over time, if and when early stopping is an option, and also observe time-wise descent structures. Our techniques are based on Cauchy complex integral representations of the errors together with recent random matrix methods based on linear pencils.

Integrated Latent Heterogeneity and Invariance Learning in Kernel Space

Jiashuo Liu · Zheyuan Hu · Peng Cui · Bo Li · Zheyan Shen

The ability to generalize under distributional shifts is essential to reliable machine learning, while models optimized with empirical risk minimization usually fail on non-$i.i.d$ testing data. Recently, invariant learning methods for out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization propose to find causally invariant relationships with multi-environments. However, modern datasets are frequently multi-sourced without explicit source labels, rendering many invariant learning methods inapplicable. In this paper, we propose Kernelized Heterogeneous Risk Minimization (KerHRM) algorithm, which achieves both the latent heterogeneity exploration and invariant learning in kernel space, and then gives feedback to the original neural network by appointing invariant gradient direction. We theoretically justify our algorithm and empirically validate the effectiveness of our algorithm with extensive experiments.

Beyond the Signs: Nonparametric Tensor Completion via Sign Series

Chanwoo Lee · Miaoyan Wang

We consider the problem of tensor estimation from noisy observations with possibly missing entries. A nonparametric approach to tensor completion is developed based on a new model which we coin as sign representable tensors. The model represents the signal tensor of interest using a series of structured sign tensors. Unlike earlier methods, the sign series representation effectively addresses both low- and high-rank signals, while encompassing many existing tensor models---including CP models, Tucker models, single index models, structured tensors with repeating entries---as special cases. We provably reduce the tensor estimation problem to a series of structured classification tasks, and we develop a learning reduction machinery to empower existing low-rank tensor algorithms for more challenging high-rank estimation. Excess risk bounds, estimation errors, and sample complexities are established. We demonstrate the outperformance of our approach over previous methods on two datasets, one on human brain connectivity networks and the other on topic data mining.

Disentangled Contrastive Learning on Graphs

Haoyang Li · Xin Wang · Ziwei Zhang · Zehuan Yuan · Hang Li · Wenwu Zhu

Recently, self-supervised learning for graph neural networks (GNNs) has attracted considerable attention because of their notable successes in learning the representation of graph-structure data. However, the formation of a real-world graph typically arises from the highly complex interaction of many latent factors. The existing self-supervised learning methods for GNNs are inherently holistic and neglect the entanglement of the latent factors, resulting in the learned representations suboptimal for downstream tasks and difficult to be interpreted. Learning disentangled graph representations with self-supervised learning poses great challenges and remains largely ignored by the existing literature. In this paper, we introduce the Disentangled Graph Contrastive Learning (DGCL) method, which is able to learn disentangled graph-level representations with self-supervision. In particular, we first identify the latent factors of the input graph and derive its factorized representations. Each of the factorized representations describes a latent and disentangled aspect pertinent to a specific latent factor of the graph. Then we propose a novel factor-wise discrimination objective in a contrastive learning manner, which can force the factorized representations to independently reflect the expressive information from different latent factors. Extensive experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the superiority of our method against several state-of-the-art baselines.

DropGNN: Random Dropouts Increase the Expressiveness of Graph Neural Networks

Pál András Papp · Karolis Martinkus · Lukas Faber · Roger Wattenhofer

This paper studies Dropout Graph Neural Networks (DropGNNs), a new approach that aims to overcome the limitations of standard GNN frameworks. In DropGNNs, we execute multiple runs of a GNN on the input graph, with some of the nodes randomly and independently dropped in each of these runs. Then, we combine the results of these runs to obtain the final result. We prove that DropGNNs can distinguish various graph neighborhoods that cannot be separated by message passing GNNs. We derive theoretical bounds for the number of runs required to ensure a reliable distribution of dropouts, and we prove several properties regarding the expressive capabilities and limits of DropGNNs. We experimentally validate our theoretical findings on expressiveness. Furthermore, we show that DropGNNs perform competitively on established GNN benchmarks.

Nearly Minimax Optimal Reinforcement Learning for Discounted MDPs

Jiafan He · Dongruo Zhou · Quanquan Gu

We study the reinforcement learning problem for discounted Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) under the tabular setting. We propose a model-based algorithm named UCBVI-$\gamma$, which is based on the \emph{optimism in the face of uncertainty principle} and the Bernstein-type bonus. We show that UCBVI-$\gamma$ achieves an $\tilde{O}\big({\sqrt{SAT}}/{(1-\gamma)^{1.5}}\big)$ regret, where $S$ is the number of states, $A$ is the number of actions, $\gamma$ is the discount factor and $T$ is the number of steps. In addition, we construct a class of hard MDPs and show that for any algorithm, the expected regret is at least $\tilde{\Omega}\big({\sqrt{SAT}}/{(1-\gamma)^{1.5}}\big)$. Our upper bound matches the minimax lower bound up to logarithmic factors, which suggests that UCBVI-$\gamma$ is nearly minimax optimal for discounted MDPs.

SWAD: Domain Generalization by Seeking Flat Minima

Junbum Cha · Sanghyuk Chun · Kyungjae Lee · Han-Cheol Cho · Seunghyun Park · Yunsung Lee · Sungrae Park

Domain generalization (DG) methods aim to achieve generalizability to an unseen target domain by using only training data from the source domains. Although a variety of DG methods have been proposed, a recent study shows that under a fair evaluation protocol, called DomainBed, the simple empirical risk minimization (ERM) approach works comparable to or even outperforms previous methods. Unfortunately, simply solving ERM on a complex, non-convex loss function can easily lead to sub-optimal generalizability by seeking sharp minima. In this paper, we theoretically show that finding flat minima results in a smaller domain generalization gap. We also propose a simple yet effective method, named Stochastic Weight Averaging Densely (SWAD), to find flat minima. SWAD finds flatter minima and suffers less from overfitting than does the vanilla SWA by a dense and overfit-aware stochastic weight sampling strategy. SWAD shows state-of-the-art performances on five DG benchmarks, namely PACS, VLCS, OfficeHome, TerraIncognita, and DomainNet, with consistent and large margins of +1.6% averagely on out-of-domain accuracy. We also compare SWAD with conventional generalization methods, such as data augmentation and consistency regularization methods, to verify that the remarkable performance improvements are originated from by seeking flat minima, not from better in-domain generalizability. Last but not least, SWAD is readily adaptable to existing DG methods without modification; the combination of SWAD and an existing DG method further improves DG performances. Source code is available at

Bandits with many optimal arms

Rianne de Heide · James Cheshire · Pierre Ménard · Alexandra Carpentier

We consider a stochastic bandit problem with a possibly infinite number of arms. We write $p^*$ for the proportion of optimal arms and $\Delta$ for the minimal mean-gap between optimal and sub-optimal arms. We characterize the optimal learning rates both in the cumulative regret setting, and in the best-arm identification setting in terms of the problem parameters $T$ (the budget), $p^*$ and $\Delta$. For the objective of minimizing the cumulative regret, we provide a lower bound of order $\Omega(\log(T)/(p^*\Delta))$ and a UCB-style algorithm with matching upper bound up to a factor of $\log(1/\Delta)$. Our algorithm needs $p^*$ to calibrate its parameters, and we prove that this knowledge is necessary, since adapting to $p^*$ in this setting is impossible. For best-arm identification we also provide a lower bound of order $\Omega(\exp(-cT\Delta^2p^*))$ on the probability of outputting a sub-optimal arm where $c>0$ is an absolute constant. We also provide an elimination algorithm with an upper bound matching the lower bound up to a factor of order $\log(T)$ in the exponential, and that does not need $p^*$ or $\Delta$ as parameter. Our results apply directly to the three related problems of competing against the $j$-th best arm, identifying an $\epsilon$ good arm, and finding an arm with mean larger than a quantile of a known order.

Spectrum-to-Kernel Translation for Accurate Blind Image Super-Resolution

Guangpin Tao · Xiaozhong Ji · Wenzhuo Wang · Shuo Chen · Chuming Lin · Yun Cao · Tong Lu · Donghao Luo · Ying Tai

Deep-learning based Super-Resolution (SR) methods have exhibited promising performance under non-blind setting where blur kernel is known; however, blur kernels of Low-Resolution (LR) images in different practical applications are usually unknown. It may lead to a significant performance drop when degradation process of training images deviates from that of real images. In this paper, we propose a novel blind SR framework to super-resolve LR images degraded by arbitrary blur kernel with accurate kernel estimation in frequency domain. To our best knowledge, this is the first deep learning method which conducts blur kernel estimation in frequency domain. Specifically, we first demonstrate that feature representation in frequency domain is more conducive for blur kernel reconstruction than in spatial domain. Next, we present a Spectrum-to-Kernel (S$2$K) network to estimate general blur kernels in diverse forms. We use a conditional GAN (CGAN) combined with SR-oriented optimization target to learn the end-to-end translation from degraded images' spectra to unknown kernels. Extensive experiments on both synthetic and real-world images demonstrate that our proposed method sufficiently reduces blur kernel estimation error, thus enables the off-the-shelf non-blind SR methods to work under blind setting effectively, and achieves superior performance over state-of-the-art blind SR methods, averagely by 1.39dB, 0.48dB (Gaussian kernels) and 6.15dB, 4.57dB (motion kernels) for scales $2\times$ and $4\times$ respectively.

SSAL: Synergizing between Self-Training and Adversarial Learning for Domain Adaptive Object Detection

Muhammad Akhtar Munir · Muhammad Haris Khan · M. Sarfraz · Mohsen Ali

We study adapting trained object detectors to unseen domains manifesting significant variations of object appearance, viewpoints and backgrounds. Most current methods align domains by either using image or instance-level feature alignment in an adversarial fashion. This often suffers due to the presence of unwanted background and as such lacks class-specific alignment. A common remedy to promote class-level alignment is to use high confidence predictions on the unlabelled domain as pseudo labels. These high confidence predictions are often fallacious since the model is poorly calibrated under domain shift. In this paper, we propose to leverage model’s predictive uncertainty to strike the right balance between adversarial feature alignment and class-level alignment. Specifically, we measure predictive uncertainty on class assignments and the bounding box predictions. Model predictions with low uncertainty are used to generate pseudo-labels for self-supervision, whereas the ones with higher uncertainty are used to generate tiles for an adversarial feature alignment stage. This synergy between tiling around the uncertain object regions and generating pseudo-labels from highly certain object regions allows us to capture both the image and instance level context during the model adaptation stage. We perform extensive experiments covering various domain shift scenarios. Our approach improves upon existing state-of-the-art methods with visible margins.

Coresets for Time Series Clustering

Lingxiao Huang · K Sudhir · Nisheeth Vishnoi

We study the problem of constructing coresets for clustering problems with time series data. This problem has gained importance across many fields including biology, medicine, and economics due to the proliferation of sensors facilitating real-time measurement and rapid drop in storage costs. In particular, we consider the setting where the time series data on $N$ entities is generated from a Gaussian mixture model with autocorrelations over $k$ clusters in $\mathbb{R}^d$. Our main contribution is an algorithm to construct coresets for the maximum likelihood objective for this mixture model. Our algorithm is efficient, and under a mild boundedness assumption on the covariance matrices of the underlying Gaussians, the size of the coreset is independent of the number of entities $N$ and the number of observations for each entity, and depends only polynomially on $k$, $d$ and $1/\varepsilon$, where $\varepsilon$ is the error parameter. We empirically assess the performance of our coreset with synthetic data.

Cycle Self-Training for Domain Adaptation

Hong Liu · Jianmin Wang · Mingsheng Long

Mainstream approaches for unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA) learn domain-invariant representations to narrow the domain shift, which are empirically effective but theoretically challenged by the hardness or impossibility theorems. Recently, self-training has been gaining momentum in UDA, which exploits unlabeled target data by training with target pseudo-labels. However, as corroborated in this work, under distributional shift, the pseudo-labels can be unreliable in terms of their large discrepancy from target ground truth. In this paper, we propose Cycle Self-Training (CST), a principled self-training algorithm that explicitly enforces pseudo-labels to generalize across domains. CST cycles between a forward step and a reverse step until convergence. In the forward step, CST generates target pseudo-labels with a source-trained classifier. In the reverse step, CST trains a target classifier using target pseudo-labels, and then updates the shared representations to make the target classifier perform well on the source data. We introduce the Tsallis entropy as a confidence-friendly regularization to improve the quality of target pseudo-labels. We analyze CST theoretically under realistic assumptions, and provide hard cases where CST recovers target ground truth, while both invariant feature learning and vanilla self-training fail. Empirical results indicate that CST significantly improves over the state-of-the-arts on visual recognition and sentiment analysis benchmarks.

Stochastic Anderson Mixing for Nonconvex Stochastic Optimization

Fuchao Wei · Chenglong Bao · Yang Liu

Anderson mixing (AM) is an acceleration method for fixed-point iterations. Despite its success and wide usage in scientific computing, the convergence theory of AM remains unclear, and its applications to machine learning problems are not well explored. In this paper, by introducing damped projection and adaptive regularization to the classical AM, we propose a Stochastic Anderson Mixing (SAM) scheme to solve nonconvex stochastic optimization problems. Under mild assumptions, we establish the convergence theory of SAM, including the almost sure convergence to stationary points and the worst-case iteration complexity. Moreover, the complexity bound can be improved when randomly choosing an iterate as the output. To further accelerate the convergence, we incorporate a variance reduction technique into the proposed SAM. We also propose a preconditioned mixing strategy for SAM which can empirically achieve faster convergence or better generalization ability. Finally, we apply the SAM method to train various neural networks including the vanilla CNN, ResNets, WideResNet, ResNeXt, DenseNet and LSTM. Experimental results on image classification and language model demonstrate the advantages of our method.

A Note on Sparse Generalized Eigenvalue Problem

Yunfeng Cai · Guanhua Fang · Ping Li

The sparse generalized eigenvalue problem (SGEP) aims to find the leading eigenvector with sparsity structure. SGEP plays an important role in statistical learning and has wide applications including, but not limited to, sparse principal component analysis, sparse canonical correlation analysis and sparse Fisher discriminant analysis, etc. Due to the sparsity constraint, the solution of SGEP entails interesting properties from both numerical and statistical perspectives. In this paper, we provide a detailed sensitivity analysis for SGEP and establish the rate-optimal perturbation bound under the sparse setting. Specifically, we show that the bound is related to the perturbation/noise level and the recovery of the true support of the leading eigenvector as well. We also investigate the estimator of SGEP via imposing a non-convex regularization. Such estimator can achieve the optimal error rate and can recover the sparsity structure as well. Extensive numerical experiments corroborate our theoretical findings via using alternating direction method of multipliers (ADMM)-based computational method.

RMIX: Learning Risk-Sensitive Policies for Cooperative Reinforcement Learning Agents

Wei Qiu · Xinrun Wang · Runsheng Yu · Rundong Wang · Xu He · Bo An · Svetlana Obraztsova · Zinovi Rabinovich

Current value-based multi-agent reinforcement learning methods optimize individual Q values to guide individuals' behaviours via centralized training with decentralized execution (CTDE). However, such expected, i.e., risk-neutral, Q value is not sufficient even with CTDE due to the randomness of rewards and the uncertainty in environments, which causes the failure of these methods to train coordinating agents in complex environments. To address these issues, we propose RMIX, a novel cooperative MARL method with the Conditional Value at Risk (CVaR) measure over the learned distributions of individuals' Q values. Specifically, we first learn the return distributions of individuals to analytically calculate CVaR for decentralized execution. Then, to handle the temporal nature of the stochastic outcomes during executions, we propose a dynamic risk level predictor for risk level tuning. Finally, we optimize the CVaR policies with CVaR values used to estimate the target in TD error during centralized training and the CVaR values are used as auxiliary local rewards to update the local distribution via Quantile Regression loss. Empirically, we show that our method outperforms many state-of-the-art methods on various multi-agent risk-sensitive navigation scenarios and challenging StarCraft II cooperative tasks, demonstrating enhanced coordination and revealing improved sample efficiency.

Catalytic Role Of Noise And Necessity Of Inductive Biases In The Emergence Of Compositional Communication

Łukasz Kuciński · Tomasz Korbak · Paweł Kołodziej · Piotr Miłoś

Communication is compositional if complex signals can be represented as a combination of simpler subparts. In this paper, we theoretically show that inductive biases on both the training framework and the data are needed to develop a compositional communication. Moreover, we prove that compositionality spontaneously arises in the signaling games, where agents communicate over a noisy channel. We experimentally confirm that a range of noise levels, which depends on the model and the data, indeed promotes compositionality. Finally, we provide a comprehensive study of this dependence and report results in terms of recently studied compositionality metrics: topographical similarity, conflict count, and context independence.

Active Assessment of Prediction Services as Accuracy Surface Over Attribute Combinations

Vihari Piratla · Soumen Chakrabarti · Sunita Sarawagi

Our goal is to evaluate the accuracy of a black-box classification model, not as a single aggregate on a given test data distribution, but as a surface over a large number of combinations of attributes characterizing multiple test data distributions. Such attributed accuracy measures become important as machine learning models get deployed as a service, where the training data distribution is hidden from clients, and different clients may be interested in diverse regions of the data distribution. We present Attributed Accuracy Assay (AAA) --- a Gaussian Process (GP)-based probabilistic estimator for such an accuracy surface. Each attribute combination, called an 'arm' is associated with a Beta density from which the service's accuracy is sampled. We expect the GP to smooth the parameters of the Beta density over related arms to mitigate sparsity. We show that obvious application of GPs cannot address the challenge of heteroscedastic uncertainty over a huge attribute space that is sparsely and unevenly populated. In response, we present two enhancements: pooling sparse observations, and regularizing the scale parameter of the Beta densities. After introducing these innovations, we establish the effectiveness of AAA both in terms of its estimation accuracy and exploration efficiency, through extensive experiments and analysis.

PartialFed: Cross-Domain Personalized Federated Learning via Partial Initialization

Benyuan Sun · Hongxing Huo · YI YANG · Bo Bai

The burst of applications empowered by massive data have aroused unprecedented privacy concerns in AI society. Currently, data confidentiality protection has been one core issue during deep model training. Federated Learning (FL), which enables privacy-preserving training across multiple silos, gained rising popularity for its parameter-only communication. However, previous works have shown that FL revealed a significant performance drop if the data distributions are heterogeneous among different clients, especially when the clients have cross-domain characteristic, such as traffic, aerial and in-door. To address this challenging problem, we propose a novel idea, PartialFed, which loads a subset of the global model’s parameters rather than loading the entire model used in most previous works. We first validate our algorithm with manually decided loading strategies inspired by various expert priors, named PartialFed-Fix. Then we develop PartialFed-Adaptive, which automatically selects personalized loading strategy for each client. The superiority of our algorithm is proved by demonstrating the new state-of-the-art results on cross-domain federated classification and detection. In particular, solely by initializing a small fraction of layers locally, we improve the performance of FedAvg on Office-Home and UODB by 4.88% and 2.65%, respectively. Further studies show that the adaptive strategy performs significantly better on domains with large deviation, e.g. improves AP50 by 4.03% and 4.89% on aerial and medical image detection compared to FedAvg.

Multi-Label Learning with Pairwise Relevance Ordering

Ming-Kun Xie · Sheng-Jun Huang

Precisely annotating objects with multiple labels is costly and has become a critical bottleneck in real-world multi-label classification tasks. Instead, deciding the relative order of label pairs is obviously less laborious than collecting exact labels. However, the supervised information of pairwise relevance ordering is less informative than exact labels. It is thus an important challenge to effectively learn with such weak supervision. In this paper, we formalize this problem as a novel learning framework, called multi-label learning with pairwise relevance ordering (PRO). We show that the unbiased estimator of classification risk can be derived with a cost-sensitive loss only from PRO examples. Theoretically, we provide the estimation error bound for the proposed estimator and further prove that it is consistent with respective to the commonly used ranking loss. Empirical studies on multiple datasets and metrics validate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

MIRACLE: Causally-Aware Imputation via Learning Missing Data Mechanisms

Trent Kyono · Yao Zhang · Alexis Bellot · Mihaela van der Schaar

Missing data is an important problem in machine learning practice. Starting from the premise that imputation methods should preserve the causal structure of the data, we develop a regularization scheme that encourages any baseline imputation method to be causally consistent with the underlying data generating mechanism. Our proposal is a causally-aware imputation algorithm (MIRACLE). MIRACLE iteratively refines the imputation of a baseline by simultaneously modeling the missingness generating mechanism, encouraging imputation to be consistent with the causal structure of the data. We conduct extensive experiments on synthetic and a variety of publicly available datasets to show that MIRACLE is able to consistently improve imputation over a variety of benchmark methods across all three missingness scenarios: at random, completely at random, and not at random.

Efficient Combination of Rematerialization and Offloading for Training DNNs

Olivier Beaumont · Lionel Eyraud-Dubois · Alena Shilova

Rematerialization and offloading are two well known strategies to save memory during the training phase of deep neural networks, allowing data scientists to consider larger models, batch sizes or higher resolution data. Rematerialization trades memory for computation time, whereas Offloading trades memory for data movements. As these two resources are independent, it is appealing to consider the simultaneous combination of both strategies to save even more memory. We precisely model the costs and constraints corresponding to Deep Learning frameworks such as PyTorch or Tensorflow, we propose optimal algorithms to find a valid sequence of memory-constrained operations and finally, we evaluate the performance of proposed algorithms on realistic networks and computation platforms. Our experiments show that the possibility to offload can remove one third of the overhead of rematerialization, and that together they can reduce the memory used for activations by a factor 4 to 6, with an overhead below 20%.

Well-tuned Simple Nets Excel on Tabular Datasets

Arlind Kadra · Marius Lindauer · Frank Hutter · Josif Grabocka

Tabular datasets are the last "unconquered castle" for deep learning, with traditional ML methods like Gradient-Boosted Decision Trees still performing strongly even against recent specialized neural architectures. In this paper, we hypothesize that the key to boosting the performance of neural networks lies in rethinking the joint and simultaneous application of a large set of modern regularization techniques. As a result, we propose regularizing plain Multilayer Perceptron (MLP) networks by searching for the optimal combination/cocktail of 13 regularization techniques for each dataset using a joint optimization over the decision on which regularizers to apply and their subsidiary hyperparameters. We empirically assess the impact of these regularization cocktails for MLPs in a large-scale empirical study comprising 40 tabular datasets and demonstrate that (i) well-regularized plain MLPs significantly outperform recent state-of-the-art specialized neural network architectures, and (ii) they even outperform strong traditional ML methods, such as XGBoost.

POODLE: Improving Few-shot Learning via Penalizing Out-of-Distribution Samples

Duong Le · Khoi Duc Nguyen · Khoi Nguyen · Quoc-Huy Tran · Rang Nguyen · Binh-Son Hua

In this work, we propose to use out-of-distribution samples, i.e., unlabeled samples coming from outside the target classes, to improve few-shot learning. Specifically, we exploit the easily available out-of-distribution samples to drive the classifier to avoid irrelevant features by maximizing the distance from prototypes to out-of-distribution samples while minimizing that of in-distribution samples (i.e., support, query data). Our approach is simple to implement, agnostic to feature extractors, lightweight without any additional cost for pre-training, and applicable to both inductive and transductive settings. Extensive experiments on various standard benchmarks demonstrate that the proposed method consistently improves the performance of pretrained networks with different architectures.

Combinatorial Pure Exploration with Bottleneck Reward Function

Yihan Du · Yuko Kuroki · Wei Chen

In this paper, we study the Combinatorial Pure Exploration problem with the Bottleneck reward function (CPE-B) under the fixed-confidence (FC) and fixed-budget (FB) settings.In CPE-B, given a set of base arms and a collection of subsets of base arms (super arms) following a certain combinatorial constraint, a learner sequentially plays a base arm and observes its random reward, with the objective of finding the optimal super arm with the maximum bottleneck value, defined as the minimum expected reward of the base arms contained in the super arm.CPE-B captures a variety of practical scenarios such as network routing in communication networks, and its unique challenges fall on how to utilize the bottleneck property to save samples and achieve the statistical optimality. None of the existing CPE studies (most of them assume linear rewards) can be adapted to solve such challenges, and thus we develop brand-new techniques to handle them.For the FC setting, we propose novel algorithms with optimal sample complexity for a broad family of instances and establish a matching lower bound to demonstrate the optimality (within a logarithmic factor).For the FB setting, we design an algorithm which achieves the state-of-the-art error probability guarantee and is the first to run efficiently on fixed-budget path instances, compared to existing CPE algorithms. Our experimental results on the top-$k$, path and matching instances validate the empirical superiority of the proposed algorithms over their baselines.

Variational Continual Bayesian Meta-Learning

Qiang Zhang · Jinyuan Fang · Zaiqiao Meng · Shangsong Liang · Emine Yilmaz

Conventional meta-learning considers a set of tasks from a stationary distribution. In contrast, this paper focuses on a more complex online setting, where tasks arrive sequentially and follow a non-stationary distribution. Accordingly, we propose a Variational Continual Bayesian Meta-Learning (VC-BML) algorithm. VC-BML maintains a Dynamic Gaussian Mixture Model for meta-parameters, with the number of component distributions determined by a Chinese Restaurant Process. Dynamic mixtures at the meta-parameter level increase the capability to adapt to diverse tasks due to a larger parameter space, alleviating the negative knowledge transfer problem. To infer posteriors of model parameters, compared to the previously used point estimation method, we develop a more robust posterior approximation method -- structured variational inference for the sake of avoiding forgetting knowledge. Experiments on tasks from non-stationary distributions show that VC-BML is superior in transferring knowledge among diverse tasks and alleviating catastrophic forgetting in an online setting.

Understanding Bandits with Graph Feedback

Houshuang Chen · zengfeng Huang · Shuai Li · Chihao Zhang

The bandit problem with graph feedback, proposed in [Mannor and Shamir, NeurIPS 2011], is modeled by a directed graph $G=(V,E)$ where $V$ is the collection of bandit arms, and once an arm is triggered, all its incident arms are observed. A fundamental question is how the structure of the graph affects the min-max regret. We propose the notions of the fractional weak domination number $\delta^*$ and the $k$-packing independence number capturing upper bound and lower bound for the regret respectively. We show that the two notions are inherently connected via aligning them with the linear program of the weakly dominating set and its dual --- the fractional vertex packing set respectively. Based on this connection, we utilize the strong duality theorem to prove a general regret upper bound $O\left(\left(\delta^*\log |V|\right)^{\frac{1}{3}}T^{\frac{2}{3}}\right)$ and a lower bound $\Omega\left(\left(\delta^*/\alpha\right)^{\frac{1}{3}}T^{\frac{2}{3}}\right)$ where $\alpha$ is the integrality gap of the dual linear program. Therefore, our bounds are tight up to a $\left(\log |V|\right)^{\frac{1}{3}}$ factor on graphs with bounded integrality gap for the vertex packing problem including trees and graphs with bounded degree. Moreover, we show that for several special families of graphs, we can get rid of the $\left(\log |V|\right)^{\frac{1}{3}}$ factor and establish optimal regret.

Trash or Treasure? An Interactive Dual-Stream Strategy for Single Image Reflection Separation

Qiming Hu · Xiaojie Guo

Single image reflection separation (SIRS), as a representative blind source separation task, aims to recover two layers, $\textit{i.e.}$, transmission and reflection, from one mixed observation, which is challenging due to the highly ill-posed nature. Existing deep learning based solutions typically restore the target layers individually, or with some concerns at the end of the output, barely taking into account the interaction across the two streams/branches. In order to utilize information more efficiently, this work presents a general yet simple interactive strategy, namely $\textit{your trash is my treasure}$ (YTMT), for constructing dual-stream decomposition networks. To be specific, we explicitly enforce the two streams to communicate with each other block-wisely. Inspired by the additive property between the two components, the interactive path can be easily built via transferring, instead of discarding, deactivated information by the ReLU rectifier from one stream to the other. Both ablation studies and experimental results on widely-used SIRS datasets are conducted to demonstrate the efficacy of YTMT, and reveal its superiority over other state-of-the-art alternatives. The implementation is quite simple and our code is publicly available at

Modular Gaussian Processes for Transfer Learning

Pablo Moreno-Muñoz · Antonio Artes · Mauricio Álvarez

We present a framework for transfer learning based on modular variational Gaussian processes (GP). We develop a module-based method that having a dictionary of well fitted GPs, each model being characterised by its hyperparameters, pseudo-inputs and their corresponding posterior densities, one could build ensemble GP models without revisiting any data. Our method avoids undesired data centralisation, reduces rising computational costs and allows the transfer of learned uncertainty metrics after training. We exploit the augmentation of high-dimensional integral operators based on the Kullback-Leibler divergence between stochastic processes to introduce an efficient lower bound under all the sparse variational GPs, with different complexity and even likelihood distribution. The method is also valid for multi-output GPs, learning correlations a posteriori between independent modules. Extensive results illustrate the usability of our framework in large-scale and multi-task experiments, also compared with the exact inference methods in the literature.

Causal Bandits with Unknown Graph Structure

Yangyi Lu · Amirhossein Meisami · Ambuj Tewari

In causal bandit problems the action set consists of interventions on variables of a causal graph. Several researchers have recently studied such bandit problems and pointed out their practical applications. However, all existing works rely on a restrictive and impractical assumption that the learner is given full knowledge of the causal graph structure upfront. In this paper, we develop novel causal bandit algorithms without knowing the causal graph. Our algorithms work well for causal trees, causal forests and a general class of causal graphs. The regret guarantees of our algorithms greatly improve upon those of standard multi-armed bandit (MAB) algorithms under mild conditions. Lastly, we prove our mild conditions are necessary: without them one cannot do better than standard MAB algorithms.

IA-RED$^2$: Interpretability-Aware Redundancy Reduction for Vision Transformers

Bowen Pan · Rameswar Panda · Yifan Jiang · Zhangyang Wang · Rogerio Feris · Aude Oliva

The self-attention-based model, transformer, is recently becoming the leading backbone in the field of computer vision. In spite of the impressive success made by transformers in a variety of vision tasks, it still suffers from heavy computation and intensive memory costs. To address this limitation, this paper presents an Interpretability-Aware REDundancy REDuction framework (IA-RED$^2$). We start by observing a large amount of redundant computation, mainly spent on uncorrelated input patches, and then introduce an interpretable module to dynamically and gracefully drop these redundant patches. This novel framework is then extended to a hierarchical structure, where uncorrelated tokens at different stages are gradually removed, resulting in a considerable shrinkage of computational cost. We include extensive experiments on both image and video tasks, where our method could deliver up to 1.4x speed-up for state-of-the-art models like DeiT and TimeSformer, by only sacrificing less than 0.7% accuracy. More importantly, contrary to other acceleration approaches, our method is inherently interpretable with substantial visual evidence, making vision transformer closer to a more human-understandable architecture while being lighter. We demonstrate that the interpretability that naturally emerged in our framework can outperform the raw attention learned by the original visual transformer, as well as those generated by off-the-shelf interpretation methods, with both qualitative and quantitative results. Project Page:

Differentially Private Multi-Armed Bandits in the Shuffle Model

Jay Tenenbaum · Haim Kaplan · Yishay Mansour · Uri Stemmer

We give an $(\varepsilon,\delta)$-differentially private algorithm for the Multi-Armed Bandit (MAB) problem in the shuffle model with a distribution-dependent regret of $O\left(\left(\sum_{a:\Delta_a>0}\frac{\log T}{\Delta_a}\right)+\frac{k\sqrt{\log\frac{1}{\delta}}\log T}{\varepsilon}\right)$, and a distribution-independent regret of $O\left(\sqrt{kT\log T}+\frac{k\sqrt{\log\frac{1}{\delta}}\log T}{\varepsilon}\right)$, where $T$ is the number of rounds, $\Delta_a$ is the suboptimality gap of the action $a$, and $k$ is the total number of actions. Our upper bound almost matches the regret of the best known algorithms for the centralized model, and significantly outperforms the best known algorithm in the local model.

Not All Low-Pass Filters are Robust in Graph Convolutional Networks

Heng Chang · Yu Rong · Tingyang Xu · Yatao Bian · Shiji Zhou · Xin Wang · Junzhou Huang · Wenwu Zhu

Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs) are promising deep learning approaches in learning representations for graph-structured data. Despite the proliferation of such methods, it is well known that they are vulnerable to carefully crafted adversarial attacks on the graph structure. In this paper, we first conduct an adversarial vulnerability analysis based on matrix perturbation theory. We prove that the low- frequency components of the symmetric normalized Laplacian, which is usually used as the convolutional filter in GCNs, could be more robust against structural perturbations when their eigenvalues fall into a certain robust interval. Our results indicate that not all low-frequency components are robust to adversarial attacks and provide a deeper understanding of the relationship between graph spectrum and robustness of GCNs. Motivated by the theory, we present GCN-LFR, a general robust co-training paradigm for GCN-based models, that encourages transferring the robustness of low-frequency components with an auxiliary neural network. To this end, GCN-LFR could enhance the robustness of various kinds of GCN-based models against poisoning structural attacks in a plug-and-play manner. Extensive experiments across five benchmark datasets and five GCN-based models also confirm that GCN-LFR is resistant to the adversarial attacks without compromising on performance in the benign situation.

Constrained Optimization to Train Neural Networks on Critical and Under-Represented Classes

Sara Sangalli · Ertunc Erdil · Andeas Hötker · Olivio Donati · Ender Konukoglu

Deep neural networks (DNNs) are notorious for making more mistakes for the classes that have substantially fewer samples than the others during training. Such class imbalance is ubiquitous in clinical applications and very crucial to handle because the classes with fewer samples most often correspond to critical cases (e.g., cancer) where misclassifications can have severe consequences.Not to miss such cases, binary classifiers need to be operated at high True Positive Rates (TPRs) by setting a higher threshold, but this comes at the cost of very high False Positive Rates (FPRs) for problems with class imbalance. Existing methods for learning under class imbalance most often do not take this into account. We argue that prediction accuracy should be improved by emphasizing the reduction of FPRs at high TPRs for problems where misclassification of the positive, i.e. critical, class samples are associated with higher cost.To this end, we pose the training of a DNN for binary classification as a constrained optimization problem and introduce a novel constraint that can be used with existing loss functions to enforce maximal area under the ROC curve (AUC) through prioritizing FPR reduction at high TPR. We solve the resulting constrained optimization problem using an Augmented Lagrangian method (ALM).Going beyond binary, we also propose two possible extensions of the proposed constraint for multi-class classification problems.We present experimental results for image-based binary and multi-class classification applications using an in-house medical imaging dataset, CIFAR10, and CIFAR100. Our results demonstrate that the proposed method improves the baselines in majority of the cases by attaining higher accuracy on critical classes while reducing the misclassification rate for the non-critical class samples.

Offline Constrained Multi-Objective Reinforcement Learning via Pessimistic Dual Value Iteration

Runzhe Wu · Yufeng Zhang · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang

In constrained multi-objective RL, the goal is to learn a policy that achieves the best performance specified by a multi-objective preference function under a constraint. We focus on the offline setting where the RL agent aims to learn the optimal policy from a given dataset. This scenario is common in real-world applications where interactions with the environment are expensive and the constraint violation is dangerous. For such a setting, we transform the original constrained problem into a primal-dual formulation, which is solved via dual gradient ascent. Moreover, we propose to combine such an approach with pessimism to overcome the uncertainty in offline data, which leads to our Pessimistic Dual Iteration (PEDI). We establish upper bounds on both the suboptimality and constraint violation for the policy learned by PEDI based on an arbitrary dataset, which proves that PEDI is provably sample efficient. We also specialize PEDI to the setting with linear function approximation. To the best of our knowledge, we propose the first provably efficient constrained multi-objective RL algorithm with offline data without any assumption on the coverage of the dataset.

Learning Barrier Certificates: Towards Safe Reinforcement Learning with Zero Training-time Violations

Yuping Luo · Tengyu Ma

Training-time safety violations have been a major concern when we deploy reinforcement learning algorithms in the real world.This paper explores the possibility of safe RL algorithms with zero training-time safety violations in the challenging setting where we are only given a safe but trivial-reward initial policy without any prior knowledge of the dynamics and additional offline data.We propose an algorithm, Co-trained Barrier Certificate for Safe RL (CRABS), which iteratively learns barrier certificates, dynamics models, and policies. The barrier certificates are learned via adversarial training and ensure the policy's safety assuming calibrated learned dynamics. We also add a regularization term to encourage larger certified regions to enable better exploration. Empirical simulations show that zero safety violations are already challenging for a suite of simple environments with only 2-4 dimensional state space, especially if high-reward policies have to visit regions near the safety boundary. Prior methods require hundreds of violations to achieve decent rewards on these tasks, whereas our proposed algorithms incur zero violations.

Identification of the Generalized Condorcet Winner in Multi-dueling Bandits

Björn Haddenhorst · Viktor Bengs · Eyke Hüllermeier

The reliable identification of the “best” arm while keeping the sample complexity as low as possible is a common task in the field of multi-armed bandits. In the multi-dueling variant of multi-armed bandits, where feedback is provided in the form of a winning arm among as set of k chosen ones, a reasonable notion of best arm is the generalized Condorcet winner (GCW). The latter is an the arm that has the greatest probability of being the winner in each subset containing it. In this paper, we derive lower bounds on the sample complexity for the task of identifying the GCW under various assumptions. As a by-product, our lower bound results provide new insights for the special case of dueling bandits (k = 2). We propose the Dvoretzky–Kiefer–Wolfowitz tournament (DKWT) algorithm, which we prove to be nearly optimal. In a numerical study, we show that DKWT empirically outperforms current state-of-the-art algorithms, even in the special case of dueling bandits or under a Plackett-Luce assumption on the feedback mechanism.

Re-ranking for image retrieval and transductive few-shot classification

Xi SHEN · Yang Xiao · Shell Xu Hu · Othman Sbai · Mathieu Aubry

In the problems of image retrieval and few-shot classification, the mainstream approaches focus on learning a better feature representation. However, directly tackling the distance or similarity measure between images could also be efficient. To this end, we revisit the idea of re-ranking the top-k retrieved images in the context of image retrieval (e.g., the k-reciprocal nearest neighbors) and generalize this idea to transductive few-shot learning. We propose to meta-learn the re-ranking updates such that the similarity graph converges towards the target similarity graph induced by the image labels. Specifically, the re-ranking module takes as input an initial similarity graph between the query image and the contextual images using a pre-trained feature extractor, and predicts an improved similarity graph by leveraging the structure among the involved images. We show that our re-ranking approach can be applied to unseen images and can further boost existing approaches for both image retrieval and few-shot learning problems. Our approach operates either independently or in conjunction with classical re-ranking approaches, yielding clear and consistent improvements on image retrieval (CUB, Cars, SOP, rOxford5K and rParis6K) and transductive few-shot classification (Mini-ImageNet, tiered-ImageNet and CIFAR-FS) benchmarks. Our code is available at

Instance-optimal Mean Estimation Under Differential Privacy

Ziyue Huang · Yuting Liang · Ke Yi

Mean estimation under differential privacy is a fundamental problem, but worst-case optimal mechanisms do not offer meaningful utility guarantees in practice when the global sensitivity is very large. Instead, various heuristics have been proposed to reduce the error on real-world data that do not resemble the worst-case instance. This paper takes a principled approach, yielding a mechanism that is instance-optimal in a strong sense. In addition to its theoretical optimality, the mechanism is also simple and practical, and adapts to a variety of data characteristics without the need of parameter tuning. It easily extends to the local and shuffle model as well.

Optimizing Information-theoretical Generalization Bound via Anisotropic Noise of SGLD

Bohan Wang · Huishuai Zhang · Jieyu Zhang · Qi Meng · Wei Chen · Tie-Yan Liu

Recently, the information-theoretical framework has been proven to be able to obtain non-vacuous generalization bounds for large models trained by Stochastic Gradient Langevin Dynamics (SGLD) with isotropic noise. In this paper, we optimize the information-theoretical generalization bound by manipulating the noise structure in SGLD. We prove that with constraint to guarantee low empirical risk, the optimal noise covariance is the square root of the expected gradient covariance if both the prior and the posterior are jointly optimized. This validates that the optimal noise is quite close to the empirical gradient covariance. Technically, we develop a new information-theoretical bound that enables such an optimization analysis. We then apply matrix analysis to derive the form of optimal noise covariance. Presented constraint and results are validated by the empirical observations.

Addressing Algorithmic Disparity and Performance Inconsistency in Federated Learning

Sen Cui · Weishen Pan · Jian Liang · Changshui Zhang · Fei Wang

Federated learning (FL) has gain growing interests for its capability of learning from distributed data sources collectively without the need of accessing the raw data samples across different sources. So far FL research has mostly focused on improving the performance, how the algorithmic disparity will be impacted for the model learned from FL and the impact of algorithmic disparity on the utility inconsistency are largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose an FL framework to jointly consider performance consistency and algorithmic fairness across different local clients (data sources). We derive our framework from a constrained multi-objective optimization perspective, in which we learn a model satisfying fairness constraints on all clients with consistent performance. Specifically, we treat the algorithm prediction loss at each local client as an objective and maximize the worst-performing client with fairness constraints through optimizing a surrogate maximum function with all objectives involved. A gradient-based procedure is employed to achieve the Pareto optimality of this optimization problem. Theoretical analysis is provided to prove that our method can converge to a Pareto solution that achieves the min-max performance with fairness constraints on all clients. Comprehensive experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the superiority that our approach over baselines and its effectiveness in achieving both fairness and consistency across all local clients.

Effective Meta-Regularization by Kernelized Proximal Regularization

Weisen Jiang · James Kwok · Yu Zhang

We study the problem of meta-learning, which has proved to be advantageous to accelerate learning new tasks with a few samples. The recent approaches based on deep kernels achieve the state-of-the-art performance. However, the regularizers in their base learners are not learnable. In this paper, we propose an algorithm called MetaProx to learn a proximal regularizer for the base learner. We theoretically establish the convergence of MetaProx. Experimental results confirm the advantage of the proposed algorithm.

Deep Proxy Causal Learning and its Application to Confounded Bandit Policy Evaluation

Ritsugen Jo · Heishiro Kanagawa · Arthur Gretton

Proxy causal learning (PCL) is a method for estimating the causal effect of treatments on outcomes in the presence of unobserved confounding, using proxies (structured side information) for the confounder. This is achieved via two-stage regression: in the first stage, we model relations among the treatment and proxies; in the second stage, we use this model to learn the effect of treatment on the outcome, given the context provided by the proxies. PCL guarantees recovery of the true causal effect, subject to identifiability conditions. We propose a novel method for PCL, the deep feature proxy variable method (DFPV), to address the case where the proxies, treatments, and outcomes are high-dimensional and have nonlinear complex relationships, as represented by deep neural network features. We show that DFPV outperforms recent state-of-the-art PCL methods on challenging synthetic benchmarks, including settings involving high dimensional image data. Furthermore, we show that PCL can be applied to off-policy evaluation for the confounded bandit problem, in which DFPV also exhibits competitive performance.

Artistic Style Transfer with Internal-external Learning and Contrastive Learning

Haibo Chen · lei zhao · Zhizhong Wang · Huiming Zhang · Zhiwen Zuo · Ailin Li · Wei Xing · Dongming Lu

Although existing artistic style transfer methods have achieved significant improvement with deep neural networks, they still suffer from artifacts such as disharmonious colors and repetitive patterns. Motivated by this, we propose an internal-external style transfer method with two contrastive losses. Specifically, we utilize internal statistics of a single style image to determine the colors and texture patterns of the stylized image, and in the meantime, we leverage the external information of the large-scale style dataset to learn the human-aware style information, which makes the color distributions and texture patterns in the stylized image more reasonable and harmonious. In addition, we argue that existing style transfer methods only consider the content-to-stylization and style-to-stylization relations, neglecting the stylization-to-stylization relations. To address this issue, we introduce two contrastive losses, which pull the multiple stylization embeddings closer to each other when they share the same content or style, but push far away otherwise. We conduct extensive experiments, showing that our proposed method can not only produce visually more harmonious and satisfying artistic images, but also promote the stability and consistency of rendered video clips.

Curriculum Disentangled Recommendation with Noisy Multi-feedback

Hong Chen · Yudong Chen · Xin Wang · Ruobing Xie · Rui Wang · Feng Xia · Wenwu Zhu

Learning disentangled representations for user intentions from multi-feedback (i.e., positive and negative feedback) can enhance the accuracy and explainability of recommendation algorithms. However, learning such disentangled representations from multi-feedback data is challenging because i) multi-feedback is complex: there exist complex relations among different types of feedback (e.g., click, unclick, and dislike, etc) as well as various user intentions, and ii) multi-feedback is noisy: there exists noisy (useless) information both in features and labels, which may deteriorate the recommendation performance. Existing works on disentangled representation learning only focus on positive feedback, failing to handle the complex relations and noise hidden in multi-feedback data. To solve this problem, in this work we propose a Curriculum Disentangled Recommendation (CDR) model that is capable of efficiently learning disentangled representations from complex and noisy multi-feedback for better recommendation. Concretely, we design a co-filtering dynamic routing mechanism that simultaneously captures the complex relations among different behavioral feedback and user intentions as well as denoise the representations in the feature level. We then present an adjustable self-evaluating curriculum that is able to evaluate sample difficulties for better model training and conduct denoising in the label level via disregarding useless information. Our extensive experiments on several real-world datasets demonstrate that the proposed CDR model can significantly outperform several state-of-the-art methods in terms of recommendation accuracy.

Hardware-adaptive Efficient Latency Prediction for NAS via Meta-Learning

Hayeon Lee · Sewoong Lee · Song Chong · Sung Ju Hwang

For deployment, neural architecture search should be hardware-aware, in order to satisfy the device-specific constraints (e.g., memory usage, latency and energy consumption) and enhance the model efficiency. Existing methods on hardware-aware NAS collect a large number of samples (e.g., accuracy and latency) from a target device, either builds a lookup table or a latency estimator. However, such approach is impractical in real-world scenarios as there exist numerous devices with different hardware specifications, and collecting samples from such a large number of devices will require prohibitive computational and monetary cost. To overcome such limitations, we propose Hardware-adaptive Efficient Latency Predictor (HELP), which formulates the device-specific latency estimation problem as a meta-learning problem, such that we can estimate the latency of a model's performance for a given task on an unseen device with a few samples. To this end, we introduce novel hardware embeddings to embed any devices considering them as black-box functions that output latencies, and meta-learn the hardware-adaptive latency predictor in a device-dependent manner, using the hardware embeddings. We validate the proposed HELP for its latency estimation performance on unseen platforms, on which it achieves high estimation performance with as few as 10 measurement samples, outperforming all relevant baselines. We also validate end-to-end NAS frameworks using HELP against ones without it, and show that it largely reduces the total time cost of the base NAS method, in latency-constrained settings.

Learning Theory Can (Sometimes) Explain Generalisation in Graph Neural Networks

Pascal Esser · Leena Chennuru Vankadara · Debarghya Ghoshdastidar

In recent years, several results in the supervised learning setting suggested that classical statistical learning-theoretic measures, such as VC dimension, do not adequately explain the performance of deep learning models which prompted a slew of work in the infinite-width and iteration regimes. However, there is little theoretical explanation for the success of neural networks beyond the supervised setting. In this paper we argue that, under some distributional assumptions, classical learning-theoretic measures can sufficiently explain generalization for graph neural networks in the transductive setting. In particular, we provide a rigorous analysis of the performance of neural networks in the context of transductive inference, specifically by analysing the generalisation properties of graph convolutional networks for the problem of node classification. While VC-dimension does result in trivial generalisation error bounds in this setting as well, we show that transductive Rademacher complexity can explain the generalisation properties of graph convolutional networks for stochastic block models. We further use the generalisation error bounds based on transductive Rademacher complexity to demonstrate the role of graph convolutions and network architectures in achieving smaller generalisation error and provide insights into when the graph structure can help in learning. The findings of this paper could re-new the interest in studying generalisation in neural networks in terms of learning-theoretic measures, albeit in specific problems.

GRIN: Generative Relation and Intention Network for Multi-agent Trajectory Prediction

Longyuan Li · Jian Yao · Li Wenliang · Tong He · Tianjun Xiao · Junchi Yan · David Wipf · Zheng Zhang

Learning the distribution of future trajectories conditioned on the past is a crucial problem for understanding multi-agent systems. This is challenging because humans make decisions based on complex social relations and personal intents, resulting in highly complex uncertainties over trajectories. To address this problem, we propose a conditional deep generative model that combines advances in graph neural networks. The prior and recognition model encodes two types of latent codes for each agent: an inter-agent latent code to represent social relations and an intra-agent latent code to represent agent intentions. The decoder is carefully devised to leverage the codes in a disentangled way to predict multi-modal future trajectory distribution. Specifically, a graph attention network built upon inter-agent latent code is used to learn continuous pair-wise relations, and an agent's motion is controlled by its latent intents and its observations of all other agents. Through experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets, we show that our model outperforms previous work in multiple performance metrics. We also show that our model generates realistic multi-modal trajectories.

Semialgebraic Representation of Monotone Deep Equilibrium Models and Applications to Certification

Tong Chen · Jean Lasserre · Victor Magron · Edouard Pauwels

Deep equilibrium models are based on implicitly defined functional relations and have shown competitive performance compared with the traditional deep networks. Monotone operator equilibrium networks (monDEQ) retain interesting performance with additional theoretical guaranties. Existing certification tools for classical deep networks cannot directly be applied to monDEQs for which much fewer tools exist. We introduce a semialgebraic representation for ReLU based monDEQs which allow to approximate the corresponding input output relation by semidefinite programs (SDP). We present several applications to network certification and obtain SDP models for the following problems : robustness certification, Lipschitz constant estimation, ellipsoidal uncertainty propagation. We use these models to certify robustness of monDEQs with respect to a general $L_p$ norm. Experimental results show that the proposed models outperform existing approaches for monDEQ certification. Furthermore, our investigations suggest that monDEQs are much more robust to $L_2$ perturbations than $L_{\infty}$ perturbations.

Towards Understanding Why Lookahead Generalizes Better Than SGD and Beyond

Pan Zhou · Hanshu Yan · Xiaotong Yuan · Jiashi Feng · Shuicheng Yan

To train networks, lookahead algorithm~\cite{zhang2019lookahead} updates its fast weights $k$ times via an inner-loop optimizer before updating its slow weights once by using the latest fast weights. Any optimizer, e.g. SGD, can serve as the inner-loop optimizer, and the derived lookahead generally enjoys remarkable test performance improvement over the vanilla optimizer. But theoretical understandings on the test performance improvement of lookahead remain absent yet. To solve this issue, we theoretically justify the advantages of lookahead in terms of the excess risk error which measures the test performance. Specifically, we prove that lookahead using SGD as its inner-loop optimizer can better balance the optimization error and generalization error to achieve smaller excess risk error than vanilla SGD on (strongly) convex problems and nonconvex problems with Polyak-{\L}ojasiewicz condition which has been observed/proved in neural networks. Moreover, we show the stagewise optimization strategy~\cite{barshan2015stage} which decays learning rate several times during training can also benefit lookahead in improving its optimization and generalization errors on strongly convex problems. Finally, we propose a stagewise locally-regularized lookahead (SLRLA) algorithm which sums up the vanilla objective and a local regularizer to minimize at each stage and provably enjoys optimization and generalization improvement over the conventional (stagewise) lookahead. Experimental results on CIFAR10/100 and ImageNet testify its advantages. Codes is available at \url{}.

Dynamic Resolution Network

Mingjian Zhu · Kai Han · Enhua Wu · Qiulin Zhang · Ying Nie · Zhenzhong Lan · Yunhe Wang

Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are often of sophisticated design with numerous learnable parameters for the accuracy reason. To alleviate the expensive costs of deploying them on mobile devices, recent works have made huge efforts for excavating redundancy in pre-defined architectures. Nevertheless, the redundancy on the input resolution of modern CNNs has not been fully investigated, i.e., the resolution of input image is fixed. In this paper, we observe that the smallest resolution for accurately predicting the given image is different using the same neural network. To this end, we propose a novel dynamic-resolution network (DRNet) in which the input resolution is determined dynamically based on each input sample. Wherein, a resolution predictor with negligible computational costs is explored and optimized jointly with the desired network. Specifically, the predictor learns the smallest resolution that can retain and even exceed the original recognition accuracy for each image. During the inference, each input image will be resized to its predicted resolution for minimizing the overall computation burden. We then conduct extensive experiments on several benchmark networks and datasets. The results show that our DRNet can be embedded in any off-the-shelf network architecture to obtain a considerable reduction in computational complexity. For instance, DR-ResNet-50 achieves similar performance with an about 34% computation reduction, while gaining 1.4% accuracy increase with 10% computation reduction compared to the original ResNet-50 on ImageNet. Code will be available at

Stochastic Multi-Armed Bandits with Control Variates

Arun Verma · Manjesh Kumar Hanawal

This paper studies a new variant of the stochastic multi-armed bandits problem where auxiliary information about the arm rewards is available in the form of control variates. In many applications like queuing and wireless networks, the arm rewards are functions of some exogenous variables. The mean values of these variables are known a priori from historical data and can be used as control variates. Leveraging the theory of control variates, we obtain mean estimates with smaller variance and tighter confidence bounds. We develop an upper confidence bound based algorithm named UCB-CV and characterize the regret bounds in terms of the correlation between rewards and control variates when they follow a multivariate normal distribution. We also extend UCB-CV to other distributions using resampling methods like Jackknifing and Splitting. Experiments on synthetic problem instances validate performance guarantees of the proposed algorithms.

Faster Algorithms and Constant Lower Bounds for the Worst-Case Expected Error

Jonah Brown-Cohen

The study of statistical estimation without distributional assumptions on data values, but with knowledge of data collection methods was recently introduced by Chen, Valiant and Valiant (NeurIPS 2020). In this framework, the goal is to design estimators that minimize the worst-case expected error. Here the expectation is over a known, randomized data collection process from some population, and the data values corresponding to each element of the population are assumed to be worst-case. Chen, Valiant and Valiant show that, when data values are $\ell_{\infty}$-normalized, there is a polynomial time algorithm to compute an estimator for the mean with worst-case expected error that is within a factor $\frac{\pi}{2}$ of the optimum within the natural class of semilinear estimators. However, this algorithm is based on optimizing a somewhat complex concave objective function over a constrained set of positive semidefinite matrices, and thus does not come with explicit runtime guarantees beyond being polynomial time in the input.In this paper we design provably efficient algorithms for approximating the optimal semilinear estimator based on online convex optimization. In the setting where data values are $\ell_{\infty}$-normalized, our algorithm achieves a $\frac{\pi}{2}$-approximation by iteratively solving a sequence of standard SDPs. When data values are $\ell_2$-normalized, our algorithm iteratively computes the top eigenvector of a sequence of matrices, and does not lose any multiplicative approximation factor. Further, using experiments in settings where sample membership is correlated with data values (e.g. "importance sampling" and "snowball sampling"), we show that our $\ell_2$-normalized algorithm gives a similar advantage over standard estimators as the original $\ell_{\infty}$-normalized algorithm of Chen, Valiant and Valiant, but with much lower computational complexity. We complement these positive results by stating a simple combinatorial condition which, if satisfied by a data collection process, implies that any (not necessarily semilinear) estimator for the mean has constant worst-case expected error.

ScaleCert: Scalable Certified Defense against Adversarial Patches with Sparse Superficial Layers

Husheng Han · Kaidi Xu · Xing Hu · Xiaobing Chen · LING LIANG · Zidong Du · Qi Guo · Yanzhi Wang · Yunji Chen

Adversarial patch attacks that craft the pixels in a confined region of the input images show their powerful attack effectiveness in physical environments even with noises or deformations. Existing certified defenses towards adversarial patch attacks work well on small images like MNIST and CIFAR-10 datasets, but achieve very poor certified accuracy on higher-resolution images like ImageNet. It is urgent to design both robust and effective defenses against such a practical and harmful attack in industry-level larger images. In this work, we propose the certified defense methodology that achieves high provable robustness for high-resolution images and largely improves the practicality for real adoption of the certified defense. The basic insight of our work is that the adversarial patch intends to leverage localized superficial important neurons (SIN) to manipulate the prediction results. Hence, we leverage the SIN-based DNN compression techniques to significantly improve the certified accuracy, by reducing the adversarial region searching overhead and filtering the prediction noises. Our experimental results show that the certified accuracy is increased from 36.3%  (the state-of-the-art certified detection)  to 60.4%on the ImageNet dataset, largely pushing the certified defenses for practical use.

Independent mechanism analysis, a new concept?

Luigi Gresele · Julius von Kügelgen · Vincent Stimper · Bernhard Schölkopf · Michel Besserve

Independent component analysis provides a principled framework for unsupervised representation learning, with solid theory on the identifiability of the latent code that generated the data, given only observations of mixtures thereof. Unfortunately, when the mixing is nonlinear, the model is provably nonidentifiable, since statistical independence alone does not sufficiently constrain the problem. Identifiability can be recovered in settings where additional, typically observed variables are included in the generative process. We investigate an alternative path and consider instead including assumptions reflecting the principle of independent causal mechanisms exploited in the field of causality. Specifically, our approach is motivated by thinking of each source as independently influencing the mixing process. This gives rise to a framework which we term independent mechanism analysis. We provide theoretical and empirical evidence that our approach circumvents a number of nonidentifiability issues arising in nonlinear blind source separation.

Landmark-Guided Subgoal Generation in Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning

Junsu Kim · Younggyo Seo · Jinwoo Shin

Goal-conditioned hierarchical reinforcement learning (HRL) has shown promising results for solving complex and long-horizon RL tasks. However, the action space of high-level policy in the goal-conditioned HRL is often large, so it results in poor exploration, leading to inefficiency in training. In this paper, we present HIerarchical reinforcement learning Guided by Landmarks (HIGL), a novel framework for training a high-level policy with a reduced action space guided by landmarks, i.e., promising states to explore. The key component of HIGL is twofold: (a) sampling landmarks that are informative for exploration and (b) encouraging the high level policy to generate a subgoal towards a selected landmark. For (a), we consider two criteria: coverage of the entire visited state space (i.e., dispersion of states) and novelty of states (i.e., prediction error of a state). For (b), we select a landmark as the very first landmark in the shortest path in a graph whose nodes are landmarks. Our experiments demonstrate that our framework outperforms prior-arts across a variety of control tasks, thanks to efficient exploration guided by landmarks.

Stylized Dialogue Generation with Multi-Pass Dual Learning

Jinpeng Li · Yingce Xia · Rui Yan · Hongda Sun · Dongyan Zhao · Tie-Yan Liu

Stylized dialogue generation, which aims to generate a given-style response for an input context, plays a vital role in intelligent dialogue systems. Considering there is no parallel data between the contexts and the responses of target style S1, existing works mainly use back translation to generate stylized synthetic data for training, where the data about context, target style S1 and an intermediate style S0 is used. However, the interaction among these texts is not fully exploited, and the pseudo contexts are not adequately modeled. To overcome the above difficulties, we propose multi-pass dual learning (MPDL), which leverages the duality among the context, response of style S1 and response of style S_0. MPDL builds mappings among the above three domains, where the context should be reconstructed by the MPDL framework, and the reconstruction error is used as the training signal. To evaluate the quality of synthetic data, we also introduce discriminators that effectively measure how a pseudo sequence matches the specific domain, and the evaluation result is used as the weight for that data. Evaluation results indicate that our method obtains significant improvement over previous baselines.

Entropy-based adaptive Hamiltonian Monte Carlo

Marcel Hirt · Michalis Titsias · Petros Dellaportas

Hamiltonian Monte Carlo (HMC) is a popular Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm to sample from an unnormalized probability distribution. A leapfrog integrator is commonly used to implement HMC in practice, but its performance can be sensitive to the choice of mass matrix used therein. We develop a gradient-based algorithm that allows for the adaptation of the mass matrix by encouraging the leapfrog integrator to have high acceptance rates while also exploring all dimensions jointly. In contrast to previous work that adapt the hyperparameters of HMC using some form of expected squared jumping distance, the adaptation strategy suggested here aims to increase sampling efficiency by maximizing an approximation of the proposal entropy. We illustrate that using multiple gradients in the HMC proposal can be beneficial compared to a single gradient-step in Metropolis-adjusted Langevin proposals. Empirical evidence suggests that the adaptation method can outperform different versions of HMC schemes by adjusting the mass matrix to the geometry of the target distribution and by providing some control on the integration time.

Few-Round Learning for Federated Learning

Younghyun Park · Dong-Jun Han · Do-Yeon Kim · Jun Seo · Jaekyun Moon

In federated learning (FL), a number of distributed clients targeting the same task collaborate to train a single global model without sharing their data. The learning process typically starts from a randomly initialized or some pretrained model. In this paper, we aim at designing an initial model based on which an arbitrary group of clients can obtain a global model for its own purpose, within only a few rounds of FL. The key challenge here is that the downstream tasks for which the pretrained model will be used are generally unknown when the initial model is prepared. Our idea is to take a meta-learning approach to construct the initial model so that any group with a possibly unseen task can obtain a high-accuracy global model within only R rounds of FL. Our meta-learning itself could be done via federated learning among willing participants and is based on an episodic arrangement to mimic the R rounds of FL followed by inference in each episode. Extensive experimental results show that our method generalizes well for arbitrary groups of clients and provides large performance improvements given the same overall communication/computation resources, compared to other baselines relying on known pretraining methods.

Learning a Single Neuron with Bias Using Gradient Descent

Gal Vardi · Gilad Yehudai · Ohad Shamir

We theoretically study the fundamental problem of learning a single neuron with a bias term ($\mathbf{x}\mapsto \sigma(\langle\mathbf{w},\mathbf{x}\rangle + b)$) in the realizable setting with the ReLU activation, using gradient descent. Perhaps surprisingly, we show that this is a significantly different and more challenging problem than the bias-less case (which was the focus of previous works on single neurons), both in terms of the optimization geometry as well as the ability of gradient methods to succeed in some scenarios. We provide a detailed study of this problem, characterizing the critical points of the objective, demonstrating failure cases, and providing positive convergence guarantees under different sets of assumptions. To prove our results, we develop some tools which may be of independent interest, and improve previous results on learning single neurons.

Powerpropagation: A sparsity inducing weight reparameterisation

Jonathan Richard Schwarz · Siddhant Jayakumar · Razvan Pascanu · Peter E Latham · Yee Teh

The training of sparse neural networks is becoming an increasingly important tool for reducing the computational footprint of models at training and evaluation, as well enabling the effective scaling up of models. Whereas much work over the years has been dedicated to specialised pruning techniques, little attention has been paid to the inherent effect of gradient based training on model sparsity. Inthis work, we introduce Powerpropagation, a new weight-parameterisation for neural networks that leads to inherently sparse models. Exploiting the behaviour of gradient descent, our method gives rise to weight updates exhibiting a “rich get richer” dynamic, leaving low-magnitude parameters largely unaffected by learning. Models trained in this manner exhibit similar performance, but have a distributionwith markedly higher density at zero, allowing more parameters to be pruned safely. Powerpropagation is general, intuitive, cheap and straight-forward to implement and can readily be combined with various other techniques. To highlight its versatility, we explore it in two very different settings: Firstly, following a recent line of work, we investigate its effect on sparse training for resource-constrained settings. Here, we combine Powerpropagation with a traditional weight-pruning technique as well as recent state-of-the-art sparse-to-sparse algorithms, showing superior performance on the ImageNet benchmark. Secondly, we advocate the useof sparsity in overcoming catastrophic forgetting, where compressed representations allow accommodating a large number of tasks at fixed model capacity. In all cases our reparameterisation considerably increases the efficacy of the off-the-shelf methods.

DRONE: Data-aware Low-rank Compression for Large NLP Models

Patrick Chen · Hsiang-Fu Yu · Inderjit Dhillon · Cho-Jui Hsieh

The representations learned by large-scale NLP models such as BERT have been widely used in various tasks. However, the increasing model size of the pre-trained models also brings efficiency challenges, including inference speed and model size when deploying models on mobile devices. Specifically, most operations in BERT consist of matrix multiplications. These matrices are not low-rank and thus canonical matrix decomposition could not find an efficient approximation. In this paper, we observe that the learned representation of each layer lies in a low-dimensional space. Based on this observation, we propose DRONE (data-aware low-rank compression), a provably optimal low-rank decomposition of weight matrices, which has a simple closed form solution that can be efficiently computed. DRONE can be applied to both fully connected and self-attention layers appearing in the BERT model. In addition to compressing standard models, out method can also be used on distilled BERT models to further improve compression rate. Experimental results show that DRONE is able to improve both model size and inference speed with limited loss in accuracy. Specifically, DRONE alone achieves 1.92x speedup on the MRPC task with only 1.5% loss in accuracy, and when DRONE is combined with distillation, it further achieves over 12.3x speedup on various natural language inference tasks.

Activation Sharing with Asymmetric Paths Solves Weight Transport Problem without Bidirectional Connection

Sunghyeon Woo · Jeongwoo Park · Jiwoo Hong · Dongsuk Jeon

One of the reasons why it is difficult for the brain to perform backpropagation (BP) is the weight transport problem, which argues forward and feedback neurons cannot share the same synaptic weights during learning in biological neural networks. Recently proposed algorithms address the weight transport problem while providing good performance similar to BP in large-scale networks. However, they require bidirectional connections between the forward and feedback neurons to train their weights, which is observed to be rare in the biological brain. In this work, we propose an Activation Sharing algorithm that removes the need for bidirectional connections between the two types of neurons. In this algorithm, hidden layer outputs (activations) are shared across multiple layers during weight updates. By applying this learning rule to both forward and feedback networks, we solve the weight transport problem without the constraint of bidirectional connections, also achieving good performance even on deep convolutional neural networks for various datasets. In addition, our algorithm could significantly reduce memory access overhead when implemented in hardware.

Robust Generalization despite Distribution Shift via Minimum Discriminating Information

Tobias Sutter · Andreas Krause · Daniel Kuhn

Training models that perform well under distribution shifts is a central challenge in machine learning. In this paper, we introduce a modeling framework where, in addition to training data, we have partial structural knowledge of the shifted test distribution. We employ the principle of minimum discriminating information to embed the available prior knowledge, and use distributionally robust optimization to account for uncertainty due to the limited samples. By leveraging large deviation results, we obtain explicit generalization bounds with respect to the unknown shifted distribution. Lastly, we demonstrate the versatility of our framework by demonstrating it on two rather distinct applications: (1) training classifiers on systematically biased data and (2) off-policy evaluation in Markov Decision Processes.

Batched Thompson Sampling

Cem Kalkanli · Ayfer Ozgur

We introduce a novel anytime batched Thompson sampling policy for multi-armed bandits where the agent observes the rewards of her actions and adjusts her policy only at the end of a small number of batches. We show that this policy simultaneously achieves a problem dependent regret of order $O(\log(T))$ and a minimax regret of order $O(\sqrt{T\log(T)})$ while the number of batches can be bounded by $O(\log(T))$ independent of the problem instance over a time horizon $T$. We also prove that in expectation the instance dependent batch complexity of our policy is of order $O(\log\log(T))$. These results indicate that Thompson sampling performs competitively with recently proposed algorithms for the batched setting, which optimize the batch structure for a given time horizon $T$ and prioritize exploration in the beginning of the experiment to eliminate suboptimal actions. Unlike these algorithms, the batched Thompson sampling algorithm we propose is an anytime policy, i.e. it operates without the knowledge of the time horizon $T$, and as such it is the only anytime algorithm that achieves optimal regret with $O(\log\log(T))$ expected batch complexity. This is achieved through a dynamic batching strategy, which uses the agents estimates to adaptively increase the batch duration.

Error Compensated Distributed SGD Can Be Accelerated

Xun Qian · Peter Richtarik · Tong Zhang

Gradient compression is a recent and increasingly popular technique for reducing the communication cost in distributed training of large-scale machine learning models. In this work we focus on developing efficient distributed methods that can work for any compressor satisfying a certain contraction property, which includes both unbiased (after appropriate scaling) and biased compressors such as RandK and TopK. Applied naively, gradient compression introduces errors that either slow down convergence or lead to divergence. A popular technique designed to tackle this issue is error compensation/error feedback. Due to the difficulties associated with analyzing biased compressors, it is not known whether gradient compression with error compensation can be combined with acceleration. In this work, we show for the first time that error compensated gradient compression methods can be accelerated. In particular, we propose and study the error compensated loopless Katyusha method, and establish an accelerated linear convergence rate under standard assumptions. We show through numerical experiments that the proposed method converges with substantially fewer communication rounds than previous error compensated algorithms.

Meta-Learning for Relative Density-Ratio Estimation

Atsutoshi Kumagai · Tomoharu Iwata · Yasuhiro Fujiwara

The ratio of two probability densities, called a density-ratio, is a vital quantity in machine learning. In particular, a relative density-ratio, which is a bounded extension of the density-ratio, has received much attention due to its stability and has been used in various applications such as outlier detection and dataset comparison. Existing methods for (relative) density-ratio estimation (DRE) require many instances from both densities. However, sufficient instances are often unavailable in practice. In this paper, we propose a meta-learning method for relative DRE, which estimates the relative density-ratio from a few instances by using knowledge in related datasets. Specifically, given two datasets that consist of a few instances, our model extracts the datasets' information by using neural networks and uses it to obtain instance embeddings appropriate for the relative DRE. We model the relative density-ratio by a linear model on the embedded space, whose global optimum solution can be obtained as a closed-form solution. The closed-form solution enables fast and effective adaptation to a few instances, and its differentiability enables us to train our model such that the expected test error for relative DRE can be explicitly minimized after adapting to a few instances. We empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method by using three problems: relative DRE, dataset comparison, and outlier detection.

Unlabeled Principal Component Analysis

Yunzhen Yao · Liangzu Peng · Manolis Tsakiris

We introduce robust principal component analysis from a data matrix in which the entries of its columns have been corrupted by permutations, termed Unlabeled Principal Component Analysis (UPCA). Using algebraic geometry, we establish that UPCA is a well-defined algebraic problem in the sense that the only matrices of minimal rank that agree with the given data are row-permutations of the ground-truth matrix, arising as the unique solutions of a polynomial system of equations. Further, we propose an efficient two-stage algorithmic pipeline for UPCA suitable for the practically relevant case where only a fraction of the data have been permuted. Stage-I employs outlier-robust PCA methods to estimate the ground-truth column-space. Equipped with the column-space, Stage-II applies recent methods for unlabeled sensing to restore the permuted data. Experiments on synthetic data, face images, educational and medical records reveal the potential of UPCA for applications such as data privatization and record linkage.