Poster Session 8


T-LoHo: A Bayesian Regularization Model for Structured Sparsity and Smoothness on Graphs

Changwoo Lee · Zhao Tang Luo · Huiyan Sang

Graphs have been commonly used to represent complex data structures. In models dealing with graph-structured data, multivariate parameters may not only exhibit sparse patterns but have structured sparsity and smoothness in the sense that both zero and non-zero parameters tend to cluster together. We propose a new prior for high-dimensional parameters with graphical relations, referred to as the Tree-based Low-rank Horseshoe (T-LoHo) model, that generalizes the popular univariate Bayesian horseshoe shrinkage prior to the multivariate setting to detect structured sparsity and smoothness simultaneously. The T-LoHo prior can be embedded in many high-dimensional hierarchical models. To illustrate its utility, we apply it to regularize a Bayesian high-dimensional regression problem where the regression coefficients are linked by a graph, so that the resulting clusters have flexible shapes and satisfy the cluster contiguity constraint with respect to the graph. We design an efficient Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm that delivers full Bayesian inference with uncertainty measures for model parameters such as the number of clusters. We offer theoretical investigations of the clustering effects and posterior concentration results. Finally, we illustrate the performance of the model with simulation studies and a real data application for anomaly detection on a road network. The results indicate substantial improvements over other competing methods such as the sparse fused lasso.

Solving Graph-based Public Goods Games with Tree Search and Imitation Learning

Victor-Alexandru Darvariu · Stephen Hailes · Mirco Musolesi

Public goods games represent insightful settings for studying incentives for individual agents to make contributions that, while costly for each of them, benefit the wider society. In this work, we adopt the perspective of a central planner with a global view of a network of self-interested agents and the goal of maximizing some desired property in the context of a best-shot public goods game. Existing algorithms for this known NP-complete problem find solutions that are sub-optimal and cannot optimize for criteria other than social welfare.In order to efficiently solve public goods games, our proposed method directly exploits the correspondence between equilibria and the Maximal Independent Set (mIS) structural property of graphs. In particular, we define a Markov Decision Process which incrementally generates an mIS, and adopt a planning method to search for equilibria, outperforming existing methods. Furthermore, we devise a graph imitation learning technique that uses demonstrations of the search to obtain a graph neural network parametrized policy which quickly generalizes to unseen game instances. Our evaluation results show that this policy is able to reach 99.5\% of the performance of the planning method while being three orders of magnitude faster to evaluate on the largest graphs tested. The methods presented in this work can be applied to a large class of public goods games of potentially high societal impact and more broadly to other graph combinatorial optimization problems.

Smooth Normalizing Flows

Jonas Köhler · Andreas Krämer · Frank Noe

Normalizing flows are a promising tool for modeling probability distributions in physical systems. While state-of-the-art flows accurately approximate distributions and energies, applications in physics additionally require smooth energies to compute forces and higher-order derivatives. Furthermore, such densities are often defined on non-trivial topologies. A recent example are Boltzmann Generators for generating 3D-structures of peptides and small proteins. These generative models leverage the space of internal coordinates (dihedrals, angles, and bonds), which is a product of hypertori and compact intervals. In this work, we introduce a class of smooth mixture transformations working on both compact intervals and hypertori.Mixture transformations employ root-finding methods to invert them in practice, which has so far prevented bi-directional flow training. To this end, we show that parameter gradients and forces of such inverses can be computed from forward evaluations via the inverse function theorem.We demonstrate two advantages of such smooth flows: they allow training by force matching to simulation data and can be used as potentials in molecular dynamics simulations.

RMM: Reinforced Memory Management for Class-Incremental Learning

Yaoyao Liu · Bernt Schiele · Qianru Sun

Class-Incremental Learning (CIL) [38] trains classifiers under a strict memory budget: in each incremental phase, learning is done for new data, most of which is abandoned to free space for the next phase. The preserved data are exemplars used for replaying. However, existing methods use a static and ad hoc strategy for memory allocation, which is often sub-optimal. In this work, we propose a dynamic memory management strategy that is optimized for the incremental phases and different object classes. We call our method reinforced memory management (RMM), leveraging reinforcement learning. RMM training is not naturally compatible with CIL as the past, and future data are strictly non-accessible during the incremental phases. We solve this by training the policy function of RMM on pseudo CIL tasks, e.g., the tasks built on the data of the zeroth phase, and then applying it to target tasks. RMM propagates two levels of actions: Level-1 determines how to split the memory between old and new classes, and Level-2 allocates memory for each specific class. In essence, it is an optimizable and general method for memory management that can be used in any replaying-based CIL method. For evaluation, we plug RMM into two top-performing baselines (LUCIR+AANets and POD+AANets [28]) and conduct experiments on three benchmarks (CIFAR-100, ImageNet-Subset, and ImageNet-Full). Our results show clear improvements, e.g., boosting POD+AANets by 3.6%, 4.4%, and 1.9% in the 25-Phase settings of the above benchmarks, respectively. The code is available at

Speedy Performance Estimation for Neural Architecture Search

Robin Ru · Clare Lyle · Lisa Schut · Miroslav Fil · Mark van der Wilk · Yarin Gal

Reliable yet efficient evaluation of generalisation performance of a proposed architecture is crucial to the success of neural architecture search (NAS). Traditional approaches face a variety of limitations: training each architecture to completion is prohibitively expensive, early stopped validation accuracy may correlate poorly with fully trained performance, and model-based estimators require large training sets. We instead propose to estimate the final test performance based on a simple measure of training speed. Our estimator is theoretically motivated by the connection between generalisation and training speed, and is also inspired by the reformulation of a PAC-Bayes bound under the Bayesian setting. Our model-free estimator is simple, efficient, and cheap to implement, and does not require hyperparameter-tuning or surrogate training before deployment. We demonstrate on various NAS search spaces that our estimator consistently outperforms other alternatives in achieving better correlation with the true test performance rankings. We further show that our estimator can be easily incorporated into both query-based and one-shot NAS methods to improve the speed or quality of the search.

Compressing Neural Networks: Towards Determining the Optimal Layer-wise Decomposition

Lucas Liebenwein · Alaa Maalouf · Dan Feldman · Daniela Rus

We present a novel global compression framework for deep neural networks that automatically analyzes each layer to identify the optimal per-layer compression ratio, while simultaneously achieving the desired overall compression. Our algorithm hinges on the idea of compressing each convolutional (or fully-connected) layer by slicing its channels into multiple groups and decomposing each group via low-rank decomposition. At the core of our algorithm is the derivation of layer-wise error bounds from the Eckart–Young–Mirsky theorem. We then leverage these bounds to frame the compression problem as an optimization problem where we wish to minimize the maximum compression error across layers and propose an efficient algorithm towards a solution. Our experiments indicate that our method outperforms existing low-rank compression approaches across a wide range of networks and data sets. We believe that our results open up new avenues for future research into the global performance-size trade-offs of modern neural networks.

Learning to Draw: Emergent Communication through Sketching

Daniela Mihai · Jonathon Hare

Evidence that visual communication preceded written language and provided a basis for it goes back to prehistory, in forms such as cave and rock paintings depicting traces of our distant ancestors. Emergent communication research has sought to explore how agents can learn to communicate in order to collaboratively solve tasks. Existing research has focused on language, with a learned communication channel transmitting sequences of discrete tokens between the agents. In this work, we explore a visual communication channel between agents that are allowed to draw with simple strokes. Our agents are parameterised by deep neural networks, and the drawing procedure is differentiable, allowing for end-to-end training. In the framework of a referential communication game, we demonstrate that agents can not only successfully learn to communicate by drawing, but with appropriate inductive biases, can do so in a fashion that humans can interpret. We hope to encourage future research to consider visual communication as a more flexible and directly interpretable alternative of training collaborative agents.

To The Point: Correspondence-driven monocular 3D category reconstruction

Filippos Kokkinos · Iasonas Kokkinos

We present To The Point (TTP), a method for reconstructing 3D objects from a single image using 2D to 3D correspondences given only foreground masks, a category specific template and optionally sparse keypoints for supervision. We recover a 3D shape from a 2D image by first regressing the 2D positions corresponding to the 3D template vertices and then jointly estimating a rigid camera transform and non-rigid template deformation that optimally explain the 2D positions through the 3D shape projection. By relying on correspondences we use a simple per-sample optimization problem to replace CNN-based regression of camera pose and non-rigid deformation and thereby obtain substantially more accurate 3D reconstructions. We treat this optimization as a differentiable layer and train the whole system in an end-to-end manner using geometry-driven losses. We report systematic quantitative improvements on multiple categories and provide qualitative results comprising diverse shape, poses and texture prediction examples.

Distributed Deep Learning In Open Collaborations

Michael Diskin · Alexey Bukhtiyarov · Max Ryabinin · Lucile Saulnier · quentin lhoest · Anton Sinitsin · Dmitry Popov · Dmitry V. Pyrkin · Maxim Kashirin · Alexander Borzunov · Albert Villanova del Moral · Denis Mazur · Ilia Kobelev · Yacine Jernite · Thomas Wolf · Gennady Pekhimenko

Modern deep learning applications require increasingly more compute to train state-of-the-art models. To address this demand, large corporations and institutions use dedicated High-Performance Computing clusters, whose construction and maintenance are both environmentally costly and well beyond the budget of most organizations. As a result, some research directions become the exclusive domain of a few large industrial and even fewer academic actors. To alleviate this disparity, smaller groups may pool their computational resources and run collaborative experiments that benefit all participants. This paradigm, known as grid- or volunteer computing, has seen successful applications in numerous scientific areas. However, using this approach for machine learning is difficult due to high latency, asymmetric bandwidth, and several challenges unique to volunteer computing. In this work, we carefully analyze these constraints and propose a novel algorithmic framework designed specifically for collaborative training. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach for SwAV and ALBERT pretraining in realistic conditions and achieve performance comparable to traditional setups at a fraction of the cost. Finally, we provide a detailed report of successful collaborative language model pretraining with nearly 50 participants.

Learning Graph Models for Retrosynthesis Prediction

Vignesh Ram Somnath · Charlotte Bunne · Connor Coley · Andreas Krause · Regina Barzilay

Retrosynthesis prediction is a fundamental problem in organic synthesis, where the task is to identify precursor molecules that can be used to synthesize a target molecule. A key consideration in building neural models for this task is aligning model design with strategies adopted by chemists. Building on this viewpoint, this paper introduces a graph-based approach that capitalizes on the idea that the graph topology of precursor molecules is largely unaltered during a chemical reaction. The model first predicts the set of graph edits transforming the target into incomplete molecules called synthons. Next, the model learns to expand synthons into complete molecules by attaching relevant leaving groups. This decomposition simplifies the architecture, making its predictions more interpretable, and also amenable to manual correction. Our model achieves a top-1 accuracy of 53.7%, outperforming previous template-free and semi-template-based methods.

Robust Implicit Networks via Non-Euclidean Contractions

Saber Jafarpour · Alexander Davydov · Anton Proskurnikov · Francesco Bullo

Implicit neural networks, a.k.a., deep equilibrium networks, are a class of implicit-depth learning models where function evaluation is performed by solving a fixed point equation. They generalize classic feedforward models and are equivalent to infinite-depth weight-tied feedforward networks. While implicit models show improved accuracy and significant reduction in memory consumption, they can suffer from ill-posedness and convergence instability.This paper provides a new framework, which we call Non-Euclidean Monotone Operator Network (NEMON), to design well-posed and robust implicit neural networks based upon contraction theory for the non-Euclidean norm $\ell_\infty$. Our framework includes (i) a novel condition for well-posedness based on one-sided Lipschitz constants, (ii) an average iteration for computing fixed-points, and (iii) explicit estimates on input-output Lipschitz constants. Additionally, we design a training problem with the well-posedness condition and the average iteration as constraints and, to achieve robust models, with the input-output Lipschitz constant as a regularizer. Our $\ell_\infty$ well-posedness condition leads to a larger polytopic training search space than existing conditions and our average iteration enjoys accelerated convergence. Finally, we evaluate our framework in image classification through the MNIST and the CIFAR-10 datasets. Our numerical results demonstrate improved accuracy and robustness of the implicit models with smaller input-output Lipschitz bounds. Code is available at

Sparse is Enough in Scaling Transformers

Sebastian Jaszczur · Aakanksha Chowdhery · Afroz Mohiuddin · LUKASZ KAISER · Wojciech Gajewski · Henryk Michalewski · Jonni Kanerva

Large Transformer models yield impressive results on many tasks, but are expensive to train, or even fine-tune, and so slow at decoding that their use and study becomes out of reach. We address this problem by leveraging sparsity. We study sparse variants for all layers in the Transformer and propose Scaling Transformers, a family of next generation Transformer models that use sparse layers to scale efficiently and perform unbatched decoding much faster than the standard Transformer as we scale up the model size. Surprisingly, the sparse layers are enough to obtain the same perplexity as the standard Transformer with the same number of parameters. We also integrate with prior sparsity approaches to attention and enable fast inference on long sequences even with limited memory. This results in performance competitive to the state-of-the-art on long text summarization.

Adversarial Feature Desensitization

Pouya Bashivan · Reza Bayat · Adam Ibrahim · Kartik Ahuja · Mojtaba Faramarzi · Touraj Laleh · Blake Richards · Irina Rish

Neural networks are known to be vulnerable to adversarial attacks -- slight but carefully constructed perturbations of the inputs which can drastically impair the network's performance. Many defense methods have been proposed for improving robustness of deep networks by training them on adversarially perturbed inputs. However, these models often remain vulnerable to new types of attacks not seen during training, and even to slightly stronger versions of previously seen attacks. In this work, we propose a novel approach to adversarial robustness, which builds upon the insights from the domain adaptation field. Our method, called Adversarial Feature Desensitization (AFD), aims at learning features that are invariant towards adversarial perturbations of the inputs. This is achieved through a game where we learn features that are both predictive and robust (insensitive to adversarial attacks), i.e. cannot be used to discriminate between natural and adversarial data. Empirical results on several benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach against a wide range of attack types and attack strengths. Our code is available at

Intriguing Properties of Contrastive Losses

Ting Chen · Calvin Luo · Lala Li

We study three intriguing properties of contrastive learning. First, we generalize the standard contrastive loss to a broader family of losses, and we find that various instantiations of the generalized loss perform similarly under the presence of a multi-layer non-linear projection head. Second, we study if instance-based contrastive learning (with a global image representation) can learn well on images with multiple objects present. We find that meaningful hierarchical local features can be learned despite the fact that these objectives operate on global instance-level features. Finally, we study the phenomenon of feature suppression among competing features shared across augmented views, such as "color distribution" vs "object class". We construct datasets with explicit and controllable competing features, and show that, for contrastive learning, a few bits of easy-to-learn shared features can suppress, and even fully prevent, the learning of other sets of competing features. In scenarios where there are multiple objects in an image, the dominant object would suppress the learning of smaller objects. Existing contrastive learning methods critically rely on data augmentation to favor certain sets of features over others, and could suffer from learning saturation for scenarios where existing augmentations cannot fully address the feature suppression. This poses open challenges to existing contrastive learning techniques.

Detecting Anomalous Event Sequences with Temporal Point Processes

Oleksandr Shchur · Ali Caner Turkmen · Tim Januschowski · Jan Gasthaus · Stephan Günnemann

Automatically detecting anomalies in event data can provide substantial value in domains such as healthcare, DevOps, and information security. In this paper, we frame the problem of detecting anomalous continuous-time event sequences as out-of-distribution (OOD) detection for temporal point processes (TPPs). First, we show how this problem can be approached using goodness-of-fit (GoF) tests. We then demonstrate the limitations of popular GoF statistics for TPPs and propose a new test that addresses these shortcomings. The proposed method can be combined with various TPP models, such as neural TPPs, and is easy to implement. In our experiments, we show that the proposed statistic excels at both traditional GoF testing, as well as at detecting anomalies in simulated and real-world data.

Parametric Complexity Bounds for Approximating PDEs with Neural Networks

Tanya Marwah · Zachary Lipton · Andrej Risteski

Recent experiments have shown that deep networks can approximate solutions to high-dimensional PDEs, seemingly escaping the curse of dimensionality. However, questions regarding the theoretical basis for such approximations, including the required network size remain open. In this paper, we investigate the representational power of neural networks for approximating solutions to linear elliptic PDEs with Dirichlet boundary conditions. We prove that when a PDE's coefficients are representable by small neural networks, the parameters required to approximate its solution scale polynomially with the input dimension $d$ and proportionally to the parameter counts of the coefficient networks. To this end, we develop a proof technique that simulates gradient descent (in an appropriate Hilbert space) by growing a neural network architecture whose iterates each participate as sub-networks in their (slightly larger) successors, and converge to the solution of the PDE.

ResT: An Efficient Transformer for Visual Recognition

Qinglong Zhang · Yu-Bin Yang

This paper presents an efficient multi-scale vision Transformer, called ResT, that capably served as a general-purpose backbone for image recognition. Unlike existing Transformer methods, which employ standard Transformer blocks to tackle raw images with a fixed resolution, our ResT have several advantages: (1) A memory-efficient multi-head self-attention is built, which compresses the memory by a simple depth-wise convolution, and projects the interaction across the attention-heads dimension while keeping the diversity ability of multi-heads; (2) Positional encoding is constructed as spatial attention, which is more flexible and can tackle with input images of arbitrary size without interpolation or fine-tune; (3) Instead of the straightforward tokenization at the beginning of each stage, we design the patch embedding as a stack of overlapping convolution operation with stride on the token map. We comprehensively validate ResT on image classification and downstream tasks. Experimental results show that the proposed ResT can outperform the recently state-of-the-art backbones by a large margin, demonstrating the potential of ResT as strong backbones. The code and models will be made publicly available at

Combinatorial Optimization for Panoptic Segmentation: A Fully Differentiable Approach

Ahmed Abbas · Paul Swoboda

We propose a fully differentiable architecture for simultaneous semantic and instance segmentation (a.k.a. panoptic segmentation) consisting of a convolutional neural network and an asymmetric multiway cut problem solver. The latter solves a combinatorial optimization problem that elegantly incorporates semantic and boundary predictions to produce a panoptic labeling. Our formulation allows to directly maximize a smooth surrogate of the panoptic quality metric by backpropagating the gradient through the optimization problem. Experimental evaluation shows improvement by backpropagating through the optimization problem w.r.t. comparable approaches on Cityscapes and COCO datasets. Overall, our approach of combinatorial optimization for panoptic segmentation (COPS) shows the utility of using optimization in tandem with deep learning in a challenging large scale real-world problem and showcases benefits and insights into training such an architecture.

Risk-averse Heteroscedastic Bayesian Optimization

Anastasia Makarova · Ilnura Usmanova · Ilija Bogunovic · Andreas Krause

Many black-box optimization tasks arising in high-stakes applications require risk-averse decisions. The standard Bayesian optimization (BO) paradigm, however, optimizes the expected value only. We generalize BO to trade mean and input-dependent variance of the objective, both of which we assume to be unknown a priori. In particular, we propose a novel risk-averse heteroscedastic Bayesian optimization algorithm (RAHBO) that aims to identify a solution with high return and low noise variance, while learning the noise distribution on the fly. To this end, we model both expectation and variance as (unknown) RKHS functions, and propose a novel risk-aware acquisition function. We bound the regret for our approach and provide a robust rule to report the final decision point for applications where only a single solution must be identified. We demonstrate the effectiveness of RAHBO on synthetic benchmark functions and hyperparameter tuning tasks.

Improving Transferability of Representations via Augmentation-Aware Self-Supervision

Hankook Lee · Kibok Lee · Kimin Lee · Honglak Lee · Jinwoo Shin

Recent unsupervised representation learning methods have shown to be effective in a range of vision tasks by learning representations invariant to data augmentations such as random cropping and color jittering. However, such invariance could be harmful to downstream tasks if they rely on the characteristics of the data augmentations, e.g., location- or color-sensitive. This is not an issue just for unsupervised learning; we found that this occurs even in supervised learning because it also learns to predict the same label for all augmented samples of an instance. To avoid such failures and obtain more generalizable representations, we suggest to optimize an auxiliary self-supervised loss, coined AugSelf, that learns the difference of augmentation parameters (e.g., cropping positions, color adjustment intensities) between two randomly augmented samples. Our intuition is that AugSelf encourages to preserve augmentation-aware information in learned representations, which could be beneficial for their transferability. Furthermore, AugSelf can easily be incorporated into recent state-of-the-art representation learning methods with a negligible additional training cost. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our simple idea consistently improves the transferability of representations learned by supervised and unsupervised methods in various transfer learning scenarios. The code is available at

Learning Fast-Inference Bayesian Networks

Vaidyanathan Peruvemba Ramaswamy · Stefan Szeider

We propose new methods for learning Bayesian networks (BNs) that reliably support fast inference. We utilize maximum state space size as a more fine-grained measure for the BN's reasoning complexity than the standard treewidth measure, thereby accommodating the possibility that variables range over domains of different sizes. Our methods combine heuristic BN structure learning algorithms with the recently introduced MaxSAT-powered local improvement method (Peruvemba Ramaswamy and Szeider, AAAI'21). Our experiments show that our new learning methods produce BNs that support significantly faster exact probabilistic inference than BNs learned with treewidth bounds.

Explainable Semantic Space by Grounding Language to Vision with Cross-Modal Contrastive Learning

Yizhen Zhang · Minkyu Choi · Kuan Han · Zhongming Liu

In natural language processing, most models try to learn semantic representations merely from texts. The learned representations encode the “distributional semantics” but fail to connect to any knowledge about the physical world. In contrast, humans learn language by grounding concepts in perception and action and the brain encodes “grounded semantics” for cognition. Inspired by this notion and recent work in vision-language learning, we design a two-stream model for grounding language learning in vision. The model includes a VGG-based visual stream and a Bert-based language stream. The two streams merge into a joint representational space. Through cross-modal contrastive learning, the model first learns to align visual and language representations with the MS COCO dataset. The model further learns to retrieve visual objects with language queries through a cross-modal attention module and to infer the visual relations between the retrieved objects through a bilinear operator with the Visual Genome dataset. After training, the model’s language stream is a stand-alone language model capable of embedding concepts in a visually grounded semantic space. This semantic space manifests principal dimensions explainable with human intuition and neurobiological knowledge. Word embeddings in this semantic space are predictive of human-defined norms of semantic features and are segregated into perceptually distinctive clusters. Furthermore, the visually grounded language model also enables compositional language understanding based on visual knowledge and multimodal image search with queries based on images, texts, or their combinations.

SIMILAR: Submodular Information Measures Based Active Learning In Realistic Scenarios

Suraj Kothawade · Nathan Beck · Krishnateja Killamsetty · Rishabh Iyer

Active learning has proven to be useful for minimizing labeling costs by selecting the most informative samples. However, existing active learning methods do not work well in realistic scenarios such as imbalance or rare classes,out-of-distribution data in the unlabeled set, and redundancy. In this work, we propose SIMILAR (Submodular Information Measures based actIve LeARning), a unified active learning framework using recently proposed submodular information measures (SIM) as acquisition functions. We argue that SIMILAR not only works in standard active learning but also easily extends to the realistic settings considered above and acts as a one-stop solution for active learning that is scalable to large real-world datasets. Empirically, we show that SIMILAR significantly outperforms existing active learning algorithms by as much as ~5%−18%in the case of rare classes and ~5%−10%in the case of out-of-distribution data on several image classification tasks like CIFAR-10, MNIST, and ImageNet.

Explanation-based Data Augmentation for Image Classification

Sandareka Wickramanayake · Wynne Hsu · Mong Li Lee

Existing works have generated explanations for deep neural network decisions to provide insights into model behavior. We observe that these explanations can also be used to identify concepts that caused misclassifications. This allows us to understand the possible limitations of the dataset used to train the model, particularly the under-represented regions in the dataset. This work proposes a framework that utilizes concept-based explanations to automatically augment the dataset with new images that can cover these under-represented regions to improve the model performance. The framework is able to use the explanations generated by both interpretable classifiers and post-hoc explanations from black-box classifiers. Experiment results demonstrate that the proposed approach improves the accuracy of classifiers compared to state-of-the-art augmentation strategies.

Predicting Deep Neural Network Generalization with Perturbation Response Curves

Yair Schiff · Brian Quanz · Payel Das · Pin-Yu Chen

The field of Deep Learning is rich with empirical evidence of human-like performance on a variety of prediction tasks. However, despite these successes, the recent Predicting Generalization in Deep Learning (PGDL) NeurIPS 2020 competition suggests that there is a need for more robust and efficient measures of network generalization. In this work, we propose a new framework for evaluating the generalization capabilities of trained networks. We use perturbation response (PR) curves that capture the accuracy change of a given network as a function of varying levels of training sample perturbation. From these PR curves, we derive novel statistics that capture generalization capability. Specifically, we introduce two new measures for accurately predicting generalization gaps: the Gi-score and Pal-score, which are inspired by the Gini coefficient and Palma ratio (measures of income inequality), that accurately predict generalization gaps. Using our framework applied to intra and inter-class sample mixup, we attain better predictive scores than the current state-of-the-art measures on a majority of tasks in the PGDL competition. In addition, we show that our framework and the proposed statistics can be used to capture to what extent a trained network is invariant to a given parametric input transformation, such as rotation or translation. Therefore, these generalization gap prediction statistics also provide a useful means for selecting optimal network architectures and hyperparameters that are invariant to a certain perturbation.

Last iterate convergence of SGD for Least-Squares in the Interpolation regime.

Aditya Vardhan Varre · Loucas Pillaud-Vivien · Nicolas Flammarion

Motivated by the recent successes of neural networks that have the ability to fit the data perfectly \emph{and} generalize well, we study the noiseless model in the fundamental least-squares setup. We assume that an optimum predictor perfectly fits the inputs and outputs $\langle \theta_* , \phi(X) \rangle = Y$, where $\phi(X)$ stands for a possibly infinite dimensional non-linear feature map. To solve this problem, we consider the estimator given by the last iterate of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) with constant step-size. In this context, our contribution is two fold: (i) \emph{from a (stochastic) optimization perspective}, we exhibit an archetypal problem where we can show explicitly the convergence of SGD final iterate for a non-strongly convex problem with constant step-size whereas usual results use some form of average and (ii) \emph{from a statistical perspective}, we give explicit non-asymptotic convergence rates in the over-parameterized setting and leverage a \emph{fine-grained} parameterization of the problem to exhibit polynomial rates that can be faster than $O(1/T)$. The link with reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces is established.

CoFrNets: Interpretable Neural Architecture Inspired by Continued Fractions

Isha Puri · Amit Dhurandhar · Tejaswini Pedapati · Karthikeyan Shanmugam · Dennis Wei · Kush Varshney

In recent years there has been a considerable amount of research on local post hoc explanations for neural networks. However, work on building interpretable neural architectures has been relatively sparse. In this paper, we present a novel neural architecture, CoFrNet, inspired by the form of continued fractions which are known to have many attractive properties in number theory, such as fast convergence of approximations to real numbers. We show that CoFrNets can be efficiently trained as well as interpreted leveraging their particular functional form. Moreover, we prove that such architectures are universal approximators based on a proof strategy that is different than the typical strategy used to prove universal approximation results for neural networks based on infinite width (or depth), which is likely to be of independent interest. We experiment on nonlinear synthetic functions and are able to accurately model as well as estimate feature attributions and even higher order terms in some cases, which is a testament to the representational power as well as interpretability of such architectures. To further showcase the power of CoFrNets, we experiment on seven real datasets spanning tabular, text and image modalities, and show that they are either comparable or significantly better than other interpretable models and multilayer perceptrons, sometimes approaching the accuracies of state-of-the-art models.

Novel Visual Category Discovery with Dual Ranking Statistics and Mutual Knowledge Distillation

Bingchen Zhao · Kai Han

In this paper, we tackle the problem of novel visual category discovery, i.e., grouping unlabelled images from new classes into different semantic partitions by leveraging a labelled dataset that contains images from other different but relevant categories. This is a more realistic and challenging setting than conventional semi-supervised learning. We propose a two-branch learning framework for this problem, with one branch focusing on local part-level information and the other branch focusing on overall characteristics. To transfer knowledge from the labelled data to the unlabelled, we propose using dual ranking statistics on both branches to generate pseudo labels for training on the unlabelled data. We further introduce a mutual knowledge distillation method to allow information exchange and encourage agreement between the two branches for discovering new categories, allowing our model to enjoy the benefits of global and local features. We comprehensively evaluate our method on public benchmarks for generic object classification, as well as the more challenging datasets for fine-grained visual recognition, achieving state-of-the-art performance.

Intriguing Properties of Vision Transformers

Muhammad Muzammal Naseer · Kanchana Ranasinghe · Salman H Khan · Munawar Hayat · Fahad Shahbaz Khan · Ming-Hsuan Yang

Vision transformers (ViT) have demonstrated impressive performance across numerous machine vision tasks. These models are based on multi-head self-attention mechanisms that can flexibly attend to a sequence of image patches to encode contextual cues. An important question is how such flexibility (in attending image-wide context conditioned on a given patch) can facilitate handling nuisances in natural images e.g., severe occlusions, domain shifts, spatial permutations, adversarial and natural perturbations. We systematically study this question via an extensive set of experiments encompassing three ViT families and provide comparisons with a high-performing convolutional neural network (CNN). We show and analyze the following intriguing properties of ViT: (a)Transformers are highly robust to severe occlusions, perturbations and domain shifts, e.g., retain as high as 60% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet even after randomly occluding 80% of the image content. (b)The robustness towards occlusions is not due to texture bias, instead we show that ViTs are significantly less biased towards local textures, compared to CNNs. When properly trained to encode shape-based features, ViTs demonstrate shape recognition capability comparable to that of human visual system, previously unmatched in the literature. (c)Using ViTs to encode shape representation leads to an interesting consequence of accurate semantic segmentation without pixel-level supervision. (d)Off-the-shelf features from a single ViT model can be combined to create a feature ensemble, leading to high accuracy rates across a range of classification datasets in both traditional and few-shot learning paradigms. We show effective features of ViTs are due to flexible and dynamic receptive fields possible via self-attention mechanisms. Our code will be publicly released.

Active Learning of Convex Halfspaces on Graphs

Maximilian Thiessen · Thomas Gaertner

We systematically study the query complexity of learning geodesically convex halfspaces on graphs. Geodesic convexity is a natural generalisation of Euclidean convexity and allows the definition of convex sets and halfspaces on graphs. We prove an upper bound on the query complexity linear in the treewidth and the minimum hull set size but only logarithmic in the diameter. We show tight lower bounds along well-established separation axioms and identify the Radon number as a central parameter of the query complexity and the VC dimension. While previous bounds typically depend on the cut size of the labelling, all parameters in our bounds can be computed from the unlabelled graph. We provide evidence that ground-truth communities in real-world graphs are often convex and empirically compare our proposed approach with other active learning algorithms.

End-to-End Training of Multi-Document Reader and Retriever for Open-Domain Question Answering

Devendra Singh · Siva Reddy · Will Hamilton · Chris Dyer · Dani Yogatama

We present an end-to-end differentiable training method for retrieval-augmented open-domain question answering systems that combine information from multiple retrieved documents when generating answers. We model retrieval decisions as latent variables over sets of relevant documents. Since marginalizing over sets of retrieved documents is computationally hard, we approximate this using an expectation-maximization algorithm. We iteratively estimate the value of our latent variable (the set of relevant documents for a given question) and then use this estimate to update the retriever and reader parameters. We hypothesize that such end-to-end training allows training signals to flow to the reader and then to the retriever better than staged-wise training. This results in a retriever that is able to select more relevant documents for a question and a reader that is trained on more accurate documents to generate an answer. Experiments on three benchmark datasets demonstrate that our proposed method outperforms all existing approaches of comparable size by 2-3% absolute exact match points, achieving new state-of-the-art results. Our results also demonstrate the feasibility of learning to retrieve to improve answer generation without explicit supervision of retrieval decisions.

To Beam Or Not To Beam: That is a Question of Cooperation for Language GANs

Thomas Scialom · Paul-Alexis Dray · Jacopo Staiano · Sylvain Lamprier · Benjamin Piwowarski

Due to the discrete nature of words, language GANs require to be optimized from rewards provided by discriminator networks, via reinforcement learning methods. This is a much harder setting than for continuous tasks, which enjoy gradient flows from discriminators to generators, usually leading to dramatic learning instabilities. However, we claim that this can be solved by making discriminator and generator networks cooperate to produce output sequences during training. These cooperative outputs, inherently built to obtain higher discrimination scores, not only provide denser rewards for training but also form a more compact artificial set for discriminator training, hence improving its accuracy and stability.In this paper, we show that our SelfGAN framework, built on this cooperative principle, outperforms Teacher Forcing and obtains state-of-the-art results on two challenging tasks, Summarization and Question Generation.

DNN-based Topology Optimisation: Spatial Invariance and Neural Tangent Kernel

Benjamin Dupuis · Arthur Jacot

We study the Solid Isotropic Material Penalization (SIMP) method with a density field generated by a fully-connected neural network, taking the coordinates as inputs. In the large width limit, we show that the use of DNNs leads to a filtering effect similar to traditional filtering techniques for SIMP, with a filter described by the Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK). This filter is however not invariant under translation, leading to visual artifacts and non-optimal shapes. We propose two embeddings of the input coordinates, which lead to (approximate) spatial invariance of the NTK and of the filter. We empirically confirm our theoretical observations and study how the filter size is affected by the architecture of the network. Our solution can easily be applied to any other coordinates-based generation method.

Conditional Generation Using Polynomial Expansions

Grigorios Chrysos · Markos Georgopoulos · Yannis Panagakis

Generative modeling has evolved to a notable field of machine learning. Deep polynomial neural networks (PNNs) have demonstrated impressive results in unsupervised image generation, where the task is to map an input vector (i.e., noise) to a synthesized image. However, the success of PNNs has not been replicated in conditional generation tasks, such as super-resolution. Existing PNNs focus on single-variable polynomial expansions which do not fare well to two-variable inputs, i.e., the noise variable and the conditional variable. In this work, we introduce a general framework, called CoPE, that enables a polynomial expansion of two input variables and captures their auto- and cross-correlations. We exhibit how CoPE can be trivially augmented to accept an arbitrary number of input variables. CoPE is evaluated in five tasks (class-conditional generation, inverse problems, edges-to-image translation, image-to-image translation, attribute-guided generation) involving eight datasets. The thorough evaluation suggests that CoPE can be useful for tackling diverse conditional generation tasks. The source code of CoPE is available at

How Powerful are Performance Predictors in Neural Architecture Search?

Colin White · Arber Zela · Robin Ru · Yang Liu · Frank Hutter

Early methods in the rapidly developing field of neural architecture search (NAS) required fully training thousands of neural networks. To reduce this extreme computational cost, dozens of techniques have since been proposed to predict the final performance of neural architectures. Despite the success of such performance prediction methods, it is not well-understood how different families of techniques compare to one another, due to the lack of an agreed-upon evaluation metric and optimization for different constraints on the initialization time and query time. In this work, we give the first large-scale study of performance predictors by analyzing 31 techniques ranging from learning curve extrapolation, to weight-sharing, to supervised learning, to zero-cost proxies. We test a number of correlation- and rank-based performance measures in a variety of settings, as well as the ability of each technique to speed up predictor-based NAS frameworks. Our results act as recommendations for the best predictors to use in different settings, and we show that certain families of predictors can be combined to achieve even better predictive power, opening up promising research directions. We release our code, featuring a library of 31 performance predictors.

Beyond Value-Function Gaps: Improved Instance-Dependent Regret Bounds for Episodic Reinforcement Learning

Christoph Dann · Teodor Vanislavov Marinov · Mehryar Mohri · Julian Zimmert

We provide improved gap-dependent regret bounds for reinforcement learning in finite episodic Markov decision processes. Compared to prior work, our bounds depend on alternative definitions of gaps. These definitions are based on the insight that, in order to achieve a favorable regret, an algorithm does not need to learn how to behave optimally in states that are not reached by an optimal policy. We prove tighter upper regret bounds for optimistic algorithms and accompany them with new information-theoretic lower bounds for a large class of MDPs. Our results show that optimistic algorithms can not achieve the information-theoretic lower bounds even in deterministic MDPs unless there is a unique optimal policy.

Progressive Feature Interaction Search for Deep Sparse Network

Chen Gao · Yinfeng Li · Quanming Yao · Depeng Jin · Yong Li

Deep sparse networks (DSNs), of which the crux is exploring the high-order feature interactions, have become the state-of-the-art on the prediction task with high-sparsity features. However, these models suffer from low computation efficiency, including large model size and slow model inference, which largely limits these models' application value. In this work, we approach this problem with neural architecture search by automatically searching the critical component in DSNs, the feature-interaction layer. We propose a distilled search space to cover the desired architectures with fewer parameters. We then develop a progressive search algorithm for efficient search on the space and well capture the order-priority property in sparse prediction tasks. Experiments on three real-world benchmark datasets show promising results of PROFIT in both accuracy and efficiency. Further studies validate the feasibility of our designed search space and search algorithm.

Local Explanation of Dialogue Response Generation

Yi-Lin Tuan · Connor Pryor · Wenhu Chen · Lise Getoor · William Yang Wang

In comparison to the interpretation of classification models, the explanation of sequence generation models is also an important problem, however it has seen little attention. In this work, we study model-agnostic explanations of a representative text generation task -- dialogue response generation. Dialog response generation is challenging with its open-ended sentences and multiple acceptable responses. To gain insights into the reasoning process of a generation model, we propose a new method, local explanation of response generation (LERG) that regards the explanations as the mutual interaction of segments in input and output sentences. LERG views the sequence prediction as uncertainty estimation of a human response and then creates explanations by perturbing the input and calculating the certainty change over the human response. We show that LERG adheres to desired properties of explanations for text generation including unbiased approximation, consistency and cause identification. Empirically, our results show that our method consistently improves other widely used methods on proposed automatic- and human- evaluation metrics for this new task by $4.4$-$12.8$\%. Our analysis demonstrates that LERG can extract both explicit and implicit relations between input and output segments.

The Utility of Explainable AI in Ad Hoc Human-Machine Teaming

Rohan Paleja · Muyleng Ghuy · Nadun Ranawaka Arachchige · Reed Jensen · Matthew Gombolay

Recent advances in machine learning have led to growing interest in Explainable AI (xAI) to enable humans to gain insight into the decision-making of machine learning models. Despite this recent interest, the utility of xAI techniques has not yet been characterized in human-machine teaming. Importantly, xAI offers the promise of enhancing team situational awareness (SA) and shared mental model development, which are the key characteristics of effective human-machine teams. Rapidly developing such mental models is especially critical in ad hoc human-machine teaming, where agents do not have a priori knowledge of others' decision-making strategies. In this paper, we present two novel human-subject experiments quantifying the benefits of deploying xAI techniques within a human-machine teaming scenario. First, we show that xAI techniques can support SA ($p<0.05)$. Second, we examine how different SA levels induced via a collaborative AI policy abstraction affect ad hoc human-machine teaming performance. Importantly, we find that the benefits of xAI are not universal, as there is a strong dependence on the composition of the human-machine team. Novices benefit from xAI providing increased SA ($p<0.05$) but are susceptible to cognitive overhead ($p<0.05$). On the other hand, expert performance degrades with the addition of xAI-based support ($p<0.05$), indicating that the cost of paying attention to the xAI outweighs the benefits obtained from being provided additional information to enhance SA. Our results demonstrate that researchers must deliberately design and deploy the right xAI techniques in the right scenario by carefully considering human-machine team composition and how the xAI method augments SA.

Fuzzy Clustering with Similarity Queries

Wasim Huleihel · Arya Mazumdar · Soumyabrata Pal

The fuzzy or soft $k$-means objective is a popular generalization of the well-known $k$-means problem, extending the clustering capability of the $k$-means to datasets that are uncertain, vague and otherwise hard to cluster. In this paper, we propose a semi-supervised active clustering framework, where the learner is allowed to interact with an oracle (domain expert), asking for the similarity between a certain set of chosen items. We study the query and computational complexities of clustering in this framework. We prove that having a few of such similarity queries enables one to get a polynomial-time approximation algorithm to an otherwise conjecturally NP-hard problem. In particular, we provide algorithms for fuzzy clustering in this setting that ask $O(\mathsf{poly}(k)\log n)$ similarity queries and run with polynomial-time-complexity, where $n$ is the number of items. The fuzzy $k$-means objective is nonconvex, with $k$-means as a special case, and is equivalent to some other generic nonconvex problem such as non-negative matrix factorization. The ubiquitous Lloyd-type algorithms (or alternating-minimization algorithms) can get stuck at a local minima. Our results show that by making few similarity queries, the problem becomes easier to solve. Finally, we test our algorithms over real-world datasets, showing their effectiveness in real-world applications.

Noise2Score: Tweedie’s Approach to Self-Supervised Image Denoising without Clean Images

Kwanyoung Kim · Jong Chul Ye

Recently, there has been extensive research interest in training deep networks to denoise images without clean reference.However, the representative approaches such as Noise2Noise, Noise2Void, Stein's unbiased risk estimator (SURE), etc. seem to differ from one another and it is difficult to find the coherent mathematical structure. To address this, here we present a novel approach, called Noise2Score, which reveals a missing link in order to unite these seemingly different approaches.Specifically, we show that image denoising problems without clean images can be addressed by finding the mode of the posterior distribution and that the Tweedie's formula offers an explicit solution through the score function (i.e. the gradient of loglikelihood). Our method then uses the recent finding that the score function can be stably estimated from the noisy images using the amortized residual denoising autoencoder, the method of which is closely related to Noise2Noise or Nose2Void. Our Noise2Score approach is so universal that the same network training can be used to remove noises from images that are corrupted by any exponential family distributions and noise parameters. Using extensive experiments with Gaussian, Poisson, and Gamma noises, we show that Noise2Score significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art self-supervised denoising methods in the benchmark data set such as (C)BSD68, Set12, and Kodak, etc.

Towards Unifying Behavioral and Response Diversity for Open-ended Learning in Zero-sum Games

Xiangyu Liu · Hangtian Jia · Ying Wen · Yujing Hu · Yingfeng Chen · Changjie Fan · ZHIPENG HU · Yaodong Yang

Measuring and promoting policy diversity is critical for solving games with strong non-transitive dynamics where strategic cycles exist, and there is no consistent winner (e.g., Rock-Paper-Scissors). With that in mind, maintaining a pool of diverse policies via open-ended learning is an attractive solution, which can generate auto-curricula to avoid being exploited. However, in conventional open-ended learning algorithms, there are no widely accepted definitions for diversity, making it hard to construct and evaluate the diverse policies. In this work, we summarize previous concepts of diversity and work towards offering a unified measure of diversity in multi-agent open-ended learning to include all elements in Markov games, based on both Behavioral Diversity (BD) and Response Diversity (RD). At the trajectory distribution level, we re-define BD in the state-action space as the discrepancies of occupancy measures. For the reward dynamics, we propose RD to characterize diversity through the responses of policies when encountering different opponents. We also show that many current diversity measures fall in one of the categories of BD or RD but not both. With this unified diversity measure, we design the corresponding diversity-promoting objective and population effectivity when seeking the best responses in open-ended learning. We validate our methods in both relatively simple games like matrix game, non-transitive mixture model, and the complex \textit{Google Research Football} environment. The population found by our methods reveals the lowest exploitability, highest population effectivity in matrix game and non-transitive mixture model, as well as the largest goal difference when interacting with opponents of various levels in \textit{Google Research Football}.

Near Optimal Policy Optimization via REPS

Aldo Pacchiano · Jonathan N Lee · Peter Bartlett · Ofir Nachum

Since its introduction a decade ago, relative entropy policy search (REPS) has demonstrated successful policy learning on a number of simulated and real-world robotic domains, not to mention providing algorithmic components used by many recently proposed reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms. While REPS is commonly known in the community, there exist no guarantees on its performance when using stochastic and gradient-based solvers. In this paper we aim to fill this gap by providing guarantees and convergence rates for the sub-optimality of a policy learned using first-order optimization methods applied to the REPS objective. We first consider the setting in which we are given access to exact gradients and demonstrate how near-optimality of the objective translates to near-optimality of the policy. We then consider the practical setting of stochastic gradients, and introduce a technique that uses generative access to the underlying Markov decision process to compute parameter updates that maintain favorable convergence to the optimal regularized policy.

Algorithmic Instabilities of Accelerated Gradient Descent

Amit Attia · Tomer Koren

We study the algorithmic stability of Nesterov's accelerated gradient method. For convex quadratic objectives, Chen et al. (2018) proved that the uniform stability of the method grows quadratically with the number of optimization steps, and conjectured that the same is true for the general convex and smooth case. We disprove this conjecture and show, for two notions of algorithmic stability (including uniform stability), that the stability of Nesterov's accelerated method in fact deteriorates exponentially fast with the number of gradient steps. This stands in sharp contrast to the bounds in the quadratic case, but also to known results for non-accelerated gradient methods where stability typically grows linearly with the number of steps.

TransformerFusion: Monocular RGB Scene Reconstruction using Transformers

Aljaz Bozic · Pablo Palafox · Justus Thies · Angela Dai · Matthias Niessner

We introduce TransformerFusion, a transformer-based 3D scene reconstruction approach. From an input monocular RGB video, the video frames are processed by a transformer network that fuses the observations into a volumetric feature grid representing the scene; this feature grid is then decoded into an implicit 3D scene representation. Key to our approach is the transformer architecture that enables the network to learn to attend to the most relevant image frames for each 3D location in the scene, supervised only by the scene reconstruction task. Features are fused in a coarse-to-fine fashion, storing fine-level features only where needed, requiring lower memory storage and enabling fusion at interactive rates. The feature grid is then decoded to a higher-resolution scene reconstruction, using an MLP-based surface occupancy prediction from interpolated coarse-to-fine 3D features. Our approach results in an accurate surface reconstruction, outperforming state-of-the-art multi-view stereo depth estimation methods, fully-convolutional 3D reconstruction approaches, and approaches using LSTM- or GRU-based recurrent networks for video sequence fusion.

Play to Grade: Testing Coding Games as Classifying Markov Decision Process

Allen Nie · Emma Brunskill · Chris Piech

Contemporary coding education often presents students with the task of developing programs that have user interaction and complex dynamic systems, such as mouse based games. While pedagogically compelling, there are no contemporary autonomous methods for providing feedback. Notably, interactive programs are impossible to grade by traditional unit tests. In this paper we formalize the challenge of providing feedback to interactive programs as a task of classifying Markov Decision Processes (MDPs). Each student's program fully specifies an MDP where the agent needs to operate and decide, under reasonable generalization, if the dynamics and reward model of the input MDP should be categorized as correct or broken. We demonstrate that by designing a cooperative objective between an agent and an autoregressive model, we can use the agent to sample differential trajectories from the input MDP that allows a classifier to determine membership: Play to Grade. Our method enables an automatic feedback system for interactive code assignments. We release a dataset of 711,274 anonymized student submissions to a single assignment with hand-coded bug labels to support future research.

Think Big, Teach Small: Do Language Models Distil Occam’s Razor?

Gonzalo Jaimovitch-Lopez · David Castellano Falcón · Cesar Ferri · José Hernández-Orallo

Large language models have recently shown a remarkable ability for few-shot learning, including patterns of algorithmic nature. However, it is still an open question to determine what kind of patterns these models can capture and how many examples they need in their prompts. We frame this question as a teaching problem with strong priors, and study whether language models can identify simple algorithmic concepts from small witness sets. In particular, we explore how several GPT architectures, program induction systems and humans perform in terms of the complexity of the concept and the number of additional examples, and how much their behaviour differs. This first joint analysis of language models and machine teaching can address key questions for artificial intelligence and machine learning, such as whether some strong priors, and Occam’s razor in particular, can be distilled from data, making learning from a few examples possible.

Early-stopped neural networks are consistent

Ziwei Ji · Justin Li · Matus Telgarsky

This work studies the behavior of shallow ReLU networks trained with the logistic loss via gradient descent on binary classification data where the underlying data distribution is general, and the (optimal) Bayes risk is not necessarily zero. In this setting, it is shown that gradient descent with early stopping achieves population risk arbitrarily close to optimal in terms of not just logistic and misclassification losses, but also in terms of calibration, meaning the sigmoid mapping of its outputs approximates the true underlying conditional distribution arbitrarily finely. Moreover, the necessary iteration, sample, and architectural complexities of this analysis all scale naturally with a certain complexity measure of the true conditional model. Lastly, while it is not shown that early stopping is necessary, it is shown that any classifier satisfying a basic local interpolation property is inconsistent.

Shift Invariance Can Reduce Adversarial Robustness

Vasu Singla · Songwei Ge · Basri Ronen · David Jacobs

Shift invariance is a critical property of CNNs that improves performance on classification. However, we show that invariance to circular shifts can also lead to greater sensitivity to adversarial attacks. We first characterize the margin between classes when a shift-invariant {\em linear} classifier is used. We show that the margin can only depend on the DC component of the signals. Then, using results about infinitely wide networks, we show that in some simple cases, fully connected and shift-invariant neural networks produce linear decision boundaries. Using this, we prove that shift invariance in neural networks produces adversarial examples for the simple case of two classes, each consisting of a single image with a black or white dot on a gray background. This is more than a curiosity; we show empirically that with real datasets and realistic architectures, shift invariance reduces adversarial robustness. Finally, we describe initial experiments using synthetic data to probe the source of this connection.

Multi-Objective SPIBB: Seldonian Offline Policy Improvement with Safety Constraints in Finite MDPs

harsh satija · Philip Thomas · Joelle Pineau · Romain Laroche

We study the problem of Safe Policy Improvement (SPI) under constraints in the offline Reinforcement Learning (RL) setting. We consider the scenario where: (i) we have a dataset collected under a known baseline policy, (ii) multiple reward signals are received from the environment inducing as many objectives to optimize. We present an SPI formulation for this RL setting that takes into account the preferences of the algorithm’s user for handling the trade-offs for different reward signals while ensuring that the new policy performs at least as well as the baseline policy along each individual objective. We build on traditional SPI algorithms and propose a novel method based on Safe Policy Iteration with Baseline Bootstrapping (SPIBB, Laroche et al., 2019) that provides high probability guarantees on the performance of the agent in the true environment. We show the effectiveness of our method on a synthetic grid-world safety task as well as in a real-world critical care context to learn a policy for the administration of IV fluids and vasopressors to treat sepsis.

Is Automated Topic Model Evaluation Broken? The Incoherence of Coherence

Alexander Hoyle · Pranav Goel · Andrew Hian-Cheong · Denis Peskov · Jordan Boyd-Graber · Philip Resnik

Topic model evaluation, like evaluation of other unsupervised methods, can be contentious. However, the field has coalesced around automated estimates of topic coherence, which rely on the frequency of word co-occurrences in a reference corpus. Contemporary neural topic models surpass classical ones according to these metrics. At the same time, topic model evaluation suffers from a validation gap: automated coherence, developed for classical models, has not been validated using human experimentation for neural models. In addition, a meta-analysis of topic modeling literature reveals a substantial standardization gap in automated topic modeling benchmarks. To address the validation gap, we compare automated coherence with the two most widely accepted human judgment tasks: topic rating and word intrusion. To address the standardization gap, we systematically evaluate a dominant classical model and two state-of-the-art neural models on two commonly used datasets. Automated evaluations declare a winning model when corresponding human evaluations do not, calling into question the validity of fully automatic evaluations independent of human judgments.

Multi-view Contrastive Graph Clustering

ErLin Pan · Zhao Kang

With the explosive growth of information technology, multi-view graph data have become increasingly prevalent and valuable. Most existing multi-view clustering techniques either focus on the scenario of multiple graphs or multi-view attributes. In this paper, we propose a generic framework to cluster multi-view attributed graph data. Specifically, inspired by the success of contrastive learning, we propose multi-view contrastive graph clustering (MCGC) method to learn a consensus graph since the original graph could be noisy or incomplete and is not directly applicable. Our method composes of two key steps: we first filter out the undesirable high-frequency noise while preserving the graph geometric features via graph filtering and obtain a smooth representation of nodes; we then learn a consensus graph regularized by graph contrastive loss. Results on several benchmark datasets show the superiority of our method with respect to state-of-the-art approaches. In particular, our simple approach outperforms existing deep learning-based methods.

Memory-efficient Patch-based Inference for Tiny Deep Learning

Ji Lin · Wei-Ming Chen · Han Cai · Chuang Gan · Song Han

Tiny deep learning on microcontroller units (MCUs) is challenging due to the limited memory size. We find that the memory bottleneck is due to the imbalanced memory distribution in convolutional neural network (CNN) designs: the first several blocks have an order of magnitude larger memory usage than the rest of the network. To alleviate this issue, we propose a generic patch-by-patch inference scheduling, which operates only on a small spatial region of the feature map and significantly cuts down the peak memory. However, naive implementation brings overlapping patches and computation overhead. We further propose receptive field redistribution to shift the receptive field and FLOPs to the later stage and reduce the computation overhead. Manually redistributing the receptive field is difficult. We automate the process with neural architecture search to jointly optimize the neural architecture and inference scheduling, leading to MCUNetV2. Patch-based inference effectively reduces the peak memory usage of existing networks by4-8×. Co-designed with neural networks, MCUNetV2 sets a record ImageNetaccuracy on MCU (71.8%) and achieves >90% accuracy on the visual wake words dataset under only 32kB SRAM. MCUNetV2 also unblocks object detection on tiny devices, achieving 16.9% higher mAP on Pascal VOC compared to the state-of-the-art result. Our study largely addressed the memory bottleneck in tinyML and paved the way for various vision applications beyond image classification.

Luna: Linear Unified Nested Attention

Xuezhe Ma · Xiang Kong · Sinong Wang · Chunting Zhou · Jonathan May · Hao Ma · Luke Zettlemoyer

The quadratic computational and memory complexities of the Transformer's attention mechanism have limited its scalability for modeling long sequences. In this paper, we propose Luna, a linear unified nested attention mechanism that approximates softmax attention with two nested linear attention functions, yielding only linear (as opposed to quadratic) time and space complexity. Specifically, with the first attention function, Luna packs the input sequence into a sequence of fixed length. Then, the packed sequence is unpacked using the second attention function. As compared to a more traditional attention mechanism, Luna introduces an additional sequence with a fixed length as input and an additional corresponding output, which allows Luna to perform attention operation linearly, while also storing adequate contextual information. We perform extensive evaluations on three benchmarks of sequence modeling tasks: long-context sequence modelling, neural machine translation and masked language modeling for large-scale pretraining. Competitive or even better experimental results demonstrate both the effectiveness and efficiency of Luna compared to a variety of strong baseline methods including the full-rank attention and other efficient sparse and dense attention methods.

Hindsight Task Relabelling: Experience Replay for Sparse Reward Meta-RL

Charles Packer · Pieter Abbeel · Joseph Gonzalez

Meta-reinforcement learning (meta-RL) has proven to be a successful framework for leveraging experience from prior tasks to rapidly learn new related tasks, however, current meta-RL approaches struggle to learn in sparse reward environments. Although existing meta-RL algorithms can learn strategies for adapting to new sparse reward tasks, the actual adaptation strategies are learned using hand-shaped reward functions, or require simple environments where random exploration is sufficient to encounter sparse reward. In this paper we present a formulation of hindsight relabelling for meta-RL, which relabels experience during meta-training to enable learning to learn entirely using sparse reward. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on a suite of challenging sparse reward environments that previously required dense reward during meta-training to solve. Our approach solves these environments using the true sparse reward function, with performance comparable to training with a proxy dense reward function.

Zero Time Waste: Recycling Predictions in Early Exit Neural Networks

Maciej Wołczyk · Bartosz Wójcik · Klaudia Bałazy · Igor T Podolak · Jacek Tabor · Marek Śmieja · Tomasz Trzcinski

The problem of reducing processing time of large deep learning models is a fundamental challenge in many real-world applications. Early exit methods strive towards this goal by attaching additional Internal Classifiers (ICs) to intermediate layers of a neural network. ICs can quickly return predictions for easy examples and, as a result, reduce the average inference time of the whole model. However, if a particular IC does not decide to return an answer early, its predictions are discarded, with its computations effectively being wasted. To solve this issue, we introduce Zero Time Waste (ZTW), a novel approach in which each IC reuses predictions returned by its predecessors by (1) adding direct connections between ICs and (2) combining previous outputs in an ensemble-like manner. We conduct extensive experiments across various datasets and architectures to demonstrate that ZTW achieves a significantly better accuracy vs. inference time trade-off than other recently proposed early exit methods.

On the Existence of The Adversarial Bayes Classifier

Pranjal Awasthi · Natalie Frank · Mehryar Mohri

Adversarial robustness is a critical property in a variety of modern machine learning applications. While it has been the subject of several recent theoretical studies, many important questions related to adversarial robustness are still open. In this work, we study a fundamental question regarding Bayes optimality for adversarial robustness. We provide general sufficient conditions under which the existence of a Bayes optimal classifier can be guaranteed for adversarial robustness. Our results can provide a useful tool for a subsequent study of surrogate losses in adversarial robustness and their consistency properties.

Visual Adversarial Imitation Learning using Variational Models

Rafael Rafailov · Tianhe Yu · Aravind Rajeswaran · Chelsea Finn

Reward function specification, which requires considerable human effort and iteration, remains a major impediment for learning behaviors through deep reinforcement learning. In contrast, providing visual demonstrations of desired behaviors presents an easier and more natural way to teach agents. We consider a setting where an agent is provided a fixed dataset of visual demonstrations illustrating how to perform a task, and must learn to solve the task using the provided demonstrations and unsupervised environment interactions. This setting presents a number of challenges including representation learning for visual observations, sample complexity due to high dimensional spaces, and learning instability due to the lack of a fixed reward or learning signal. Towards addressing these challenges, we develop a variational model-based adversarial imitation learning (V-MAIL) algorithm. The model-based approach provides a strong signal for representation learning, enables sample efficiency, and improves the stability of adversarial training by enabling on-policy learning. Through experiments involving several vision-based locomotion and manipulation tasks, we find that V-MAIL learns successful visuomotor policies in a sample-efficient manner, has better stability compared to prior work, and also achieves higher asymptotic performance. We further find that by transferring the learned models, V-MAIL can learn new tasks from visual demonstrations without any additional environment interactions. All results including videos can be found online at

Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning for Active Voltage Control on Power Distribution Networks

Jianhong Wang · Wangkun Xu · Yunjie Gu · Wenbin Song · Tim C Green

This paper presents a problem in power networks that creates an exciting and yet challenging real-world scenario for application of multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL). The emerging trend of decarbonisation is placing excessive stress on power distribution networks. Active voltage control is seen as a promising solution to relieve power congestion and improve voltage quality without extra hardware investment, taking advantage of the controllable apparatuses in the network, such as roof-top photovoltaics (PVs) and static var compensators (SVCs). These controllable apparatuses appear in a vast number and are distributed in a wide geographic area, making MARL a natural candidate. This paper formulates the active voltage control problem in the framework of Dec-POMDP and establishes an open-source environment. It aims to bridge the gap between the power community and the MARL community and be a drive force towards real-world applications of MARL algorithms. Finally, we analyse the special characteristics of the active voltage control problems that cause challenges (e.g. interpretability) for state-of-the-art MARL approaches, and summarise the potential directions.

Towards Lower Bounds on the Depth of ReLU Neural Networks

Christoph Hertrich · Amitabh Basu · Marco Di Summa · Martin Skutella

We contribute to a better understanding of the class of functions that is represented by a neural network with ReLU activations and a given architecture. Using techniques from mixed-integer optimization, polyhedral theory, and tropical geometry, we provide a mathematical counterbalance to the universal approximation theorems which suggest that a single hidden layer is sufficient for learning tasks. In particular, we investigate whether the class of exactly representable functions strictly increases by adding more layers (with no restrictions on size). This problem has potential impact on algorithmic and statistical aspects because of the insight it provides into the class of functions represented by neural hypothesis classes. However, to the best of our knowledge, this question has not been investigated in the neural network literature. We also present upper bounds on the sizes of neural networks required to represent functions in these neural hypothesis classes.

The Out-of-Distribution Problem in Explainability and Search Methods for Feature Importance Explanations

Peter Hase · Harry Xie · Mohit Bansal

Feature importance (FI) estimates are a popular form of explanation, and they are commonly created and evaluated by computing the change in model confidence caused by removing certain input features at test time. For example, in the standard Sufficiency metric, only the top-k most important tokens are kept. In this paper, we study several under-explored dimensions of FI explanations, providing conceptual and empirical improvements for this form of explanation. First, we advance a new argument for why it can be problematic to remove features from an input when creating or evaluating explanations: the fact that these counterfactual inputs are out-of-distribution (OOD) to models implies that the resulting explanations are socially misaligned. The crux of the problem is that the model prior and random weight initialization influence the explanations (and explanation metrics) in unintended ways. To resolve this issue, we propose a simple alteration to the model training process, which results in more socially aligned explanations and metrics. Second, we compare among five approaches for removing features from model inputs. We find that some methods produce more OOD counterfactuals than others, and we make recommendations for selecting a feature-replacement function. Finally, we introduce four search-based methods for identifying FI explanations and compare them to strong baselines, including LIME, Anchors, and Integrated Gradients. Through experiments with six diverse text classification datasets, we find that the only method that consistently outperforms random search is a Parallel Local Search (PLS) that we introduce. Improvements over the second best method are as large as 5.4 points for Sufficiency and 17 points for Comprehensiveness.

Learning Knowledge Graph-based World Models of Textual Environments

Prithviraj Ammanabrolu · Mark Riedl

World models improve a learning agent's ability to efficiently operate in interactive and situated environments. This work focuses on the task of building world models of text-based game environments. Text-based games, or interactive narratives, are reinforcement learning environments in which agents perceive and interact with the world using textual natural language. These environments contain long, multi-step puzzles or quests woven through a world that is filled with hundreds of characters, locations, and objects. Our world model learns to simultaneously: (1) predict changes in the world caused by an agent's actions when representing the world as a knowledge graph; and (2) generate the set of contextually relevant natural language actions required to operate in the world. We frame this task as a Set of Sequences generation problem by exploiting the inherent structure of knowledge graphs and actions and introduce both a transformer-based multi-task architecture and a loss function to train it. A zero-shot ablation study on never-before-seen textual worlds shows that our methodology significantly outperforms existing textual world modeling techniques as well as the importance of each of our contributions.

Damped Anderson Mixing for Deep Reinforcement Learning: Acceleration, Convergence, and Stabilization

Ke Sun · Yafei Wang · Yi Liu · yingnan zhao · Bo Pan · Shangling Jui · Bei Jiang · Linglong Kong

Anderson mixing has been heuristically applied to reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms for accelerating convergence and improving the sampling efficiency of deep RL. Despite its heuristic improvement of convergence, a rigorous mathematical justification for the benefits of Anderson mixing in RL has not yet been put forward. In this paper, we provide deeper insights into a class of acceleration schemes built on Anderson mixing that improve the convergence of deep RL algorithms. Our main results establish a connection between Anderson mixing and quasi-Newton methods and prove that Anderson mixing increases the convergence radius of policy iteration schemes by an extra contraction factor. The key focus of the analysis roots in the fixed-point iteration nature of RL. We further propose a stabilization strategy by introducing a stable regularization term in Anderson mixing and a differentiable, non-expansive MellowMax operator that can allow both faster convergence and more stable behavior. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our proposed method enhances the convergence, stability, and performance of RL algorithms.

Two Sides of Meta-Learning Evaluation: In vs. Out of Distribution

Amrith Setlur · Oscar Li · Virginia Smith

We categorize meta-learning evaluation into two settings: $\textit{in-distribution}$ [ID], in which the train and test tasks are sampled $\textit{iid}$ from the same underlying task distribution, and $\textit{out-of-distribution}$ [OOD], in which they are not. While most meta-learning theory and some FSL applications follow the ID setting, we identify that most existing few-shot classification benchmarks instead reflect OOD evaluation, as they use disjoint sets of train (base) and test (novel) classes for task generation. This discrepancy is problematic because -- as we show on numerous benchmarks -- meta-learning methods that perform better on existing OOD datasets may perform significantly worse in the ID setting. In addition, in the OOD setting, even though current FSL benchmarks seem befitting, our study highlights concerns in 1) reliably performing model selection for a given meta-learning method, and 2) consistently comparing the performance of different methods. To address these concerns, we provide suggestions on how to construct FSL benchmarks to allow for ID evaluation as well as more reliable OOD evaluation. Our work aims to inform the meta-learning community about the importance and distinction of ID vs. OOD evaluation, as well as the subtleties of OOD evaluation with current benchmarks.

Invariant Causal Imitation Learning for Generalizable Policies

Ioana Bica · Daniel Jarrett · Mihaela van der Schaar

Consider learning an imitation policy on the basis of demonstrated behavior from multiple environments, with an eye towards deployment in an unseen environment. Since the observable features from each setting may be different, directly learning individual policies as mappings from features to actions is prone to spurious correlations---and may not generalize well. However, the expert’s policy is often a function of a shared latent structure underlying those observable features that is invariant across settings. By leveraging data from multiple environments, we propose Invariant Causal Imitation Learning (ICIL), a novel technique in which we learn a feature representation that is invariant across domains, on the basis of which we learn an imitation policy that matches expert behavior. To cope with transition dynamics mismatch, ICIL learns a shared representation of causal features (for all training environments), that is disentangled from the specific representations of noise variables (for each of those environments). Moreover, to ensure that the learned policy matches the observation distribution of the expert's policy, ICIL estimates the energy of the expert's observations and uses a regularization term that minimizes the imitator policy's next state energy. Experimentally, we compare our methods against several benchmarks in control and healthcare tasks and show its effectiveness in learning imitation policies capable of generalizing to unseen environments.

Task-Agnostic Undesirable Feature Deactivation Using Out-of-Distribution Data

Dongmin Park · Hwanjun Song · Minseok Kim · Jae-Gil Lee

A deep neural network (DNN) has achieved great success in many machine learning tasks by virtue of its high expressive power. However, its prediction can be easily biased to undesirable features, which are not essential for solving the target task and are even imperceptible to a human, thereby resulting in poor generalization. Leveraging plenty of undesirable features in out-of-distribution (OOD) examples has emerged as a potential solution for de-biasing such features, and a recent study shows that softmax-level calibration of OOD examples can successfully remove the contribution of undesirable features to the last fully-connected layer of a classifier. However, its applicability is confined to the classification task, and its impact on a DNN feature extractor is not properly investigated. In this paper, we propose Taufe, a novel regularizer that deactivates many undesirable features using OOD examples in the feature extraction layer and thus removes the dependency on the task-specific softmax layer. To show the task-agnostic nature of Taufe, we rigorously validate its performance on three tasks, classification, regression, and a mix of them, on CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, ImageNet, CUB200, and CAR datasets. The results demonstrate that Taufe consistently outperforms the state-of-the-art method as well as the baselines without regularization.

Private Non-smooth ERM and SCO in Subquadratic Steps

Janardhan Kulkarni · Yin Tat Lee · Daogao Liu

We study the differentially private Empirical Risk Minimization (ERM) and Stochastic Convex Optimization (SCO) problems for non-smooth convex functions. We get a (nearly) optimal bound on the excess empirical risk for ERM with $O(\frac{N^{3/2}}{d^{1/8}}+ \frac{N^2}{d})$ gradient queries, which is achieved with the help of subsampling and smoothing the function via convolution. Combining this result with the iterative localization technique of Feldman et al. \cite{fkt20}, we achieve the optimal excess population loss for the SCO problem with $O(\min\{N^{5/4}d^{1/8},\frac{ N^{3/2}}{d^{1/8}}\})$ gradient queries.Our work makes progress towards resolving a question raised by Bassily et al. \cite{bfgt20}, giving first algorithms for private SCO with subquadratic steps. In a concurrent work, Asi et al. \cite{afkt21} gave other algorithms for private ERM and SCO with subquadratic steps.

Dynamic Analysis of Higher-Order Coordination in Neuronal Assemblies via De-Sparsified Orthogonal Matching Pursuit

Shoutik Mukherjee · Behtash Babadi

Coordinated ensemble spiking activity is widely observable in neural recordings and central in the study of population codes, with hypothesized roles including robust stimulus representation, interareal communication of neural information, and learning and memory formation. Model-free measures of synchrony characterize the coherence of pairwise activity, but not higher-order interactions; this limitation is transcended by statistical models of ensemble spiking activity. However, existing model-based analyses often impose assumptions about the relevance of higher-order interactions and require multiple repeated trials in order to characterize dynamics in the correlational structure of ensemble activity. To address these shortcomings, we propose an adaptive greedy filtering algorithm based on a discretized mark point-process model of ensemble spiking and a corresponding precise statistical inference framework to identify significant coordinated higher-order spiking activity. In the course of developing the statistical inference procedures, we also show that confidence intervals can be constructed for greedily estimated parameters. We demonstrate the utility of our proposed methods on simulated neuronal assemblies. Applied to multi-electrode recordings of human cortical ensembles, our proposed methods provide new insights into the dynamics underlying localized population activity during transitions between brain states.

Influence Patterns for Explaining Information Flow in BERT

Kaiji Lu · Zifan Wang · Piotr Mardziel · Anupam Datta

While attention is all you need may be proving true, we do not know why: attention-based transformer models such as BERT are superior but how information flows from input tokens to output predictions are unclear. We introduce influence patterns, abstractions of sets of paths through a transformer model. Patterns quantify and localize the flow of information to paths passing through a sequence of model nodes. Experimentally, we find that significant portion of information flow in BERT goes through skip connections instead of attention heads. We further show that consistency of patterns across instances is an indicator of BERT’s performance. Finally, we demonstrate that patterns account for far more model performance than previous attention-based and layer-based methods.

Localization, Convexity, and Star Aggregation

Suhas Vijaykumar

Offset Rademacher complexities have been shown to provide tight upper bounds for the square loss in a broad class of problems including improper statistical learning and online learning. We show that the offset complexity can be generalized to any loss that satisfies a certain general convexity condition. Further, we show that this condition is closely related to both exponential concavity and self-concordance, unifying apparently disparate results. By a novel geometric argument, many of our bounds translate to improper learning in a non-convex class with Audibert's star algorithm. Thus, the offset complexity provides a versatile analytic tool that covers both convex empirical risk minimization and improper learning under entropy conditions. Applying the method, we recover the optimal rates for proper and improper learning with the $p$-loss for $1 < p < \infty$, and show that improper variants of empirical risk minimization can attain fast rates for logistic regression and other generalized linear models.

Online Facility Location with Multiple Advice

Matteo Almanza · Flavio Chierichetti · Silvio Lattanzi · Alessandro Panconesi · Giuseppe Re

Clustering is a central topic in unsupervised learning and its online formulation has received a lot of attention in recent years. In this paper, we study the classic facility location problem in the presence of multiple machine-learned advice. We design an algorithm with provable performance guarantees such that, if the advice is good, it outperforms the best-known online algorithms for the problem, and if it is bad it still matches their performance.We complement our theoretical analysis with an in-depth study of the performance of our algorithm, showing its effectiveness on synthetic and real-world data sets.

Robust Online Correlation Clustering

Silvio Lattanzi · Benjamin Moseley · Sergei Vassilvitskii · Yuyan Wang · Rudy Zhou

In correlation clustering we are given a set of points along with recommendations whether each pair of points should be placed in the same cluster or into separate clusters. The goal cluster the points to minimize disagreements from the recommendations. We study the correlation clustering problem in the online setting., where points arrive one at a time, and upon arrival the algorithm must make an irrevocable cluster assignment decision. While the online version is natural, there is a simple lower bound that rules out any algorithm with a non-trivial competitive ratio. In this work we go beyond worst case analysis, and show that the celebrated Pivot algorithm performs well when given access to a small number of random samples from the input. Moreover, we prove that Pivot is robust to additional adversarial perturbations of the sample set in this setting. We conclude with an empirical analysis validating our theoretical findings.

Can contrastive learning avoid shortcut solutions?

Joshua Robinson · Li Sun · Ke Yu · Kayhan Batmanghelich · Stefanie Jegelka · Suvrit Sra

The generalization of representations learned via contrastive learning depends crucially on what features of the data are extracted. However, we observe that the contrastive loss does not always sufficiently guide which features are extracted, a behavior that can negatively impact the performance on downstream tasks via “shortcuts", i.e., by inadvertently suppressing important predictive features. We find that feature extraction is influenced by the difficulty of the so-called instance discrimination task (i.e., the task of discriminating pairs of similar points from pairs of dissimilar ones). Although harder pairs improve the representation of some features, the improvement comes at the cost of suppressing previously well represented features. In response, we propose implicit feature modification (IFM), a method for altering positive and negative samples in order to guide contrastive models towards capturing a wider variety of predictive features. Empirically, we observe that IFM reduces feature suppression, and as a result improves performance on vision and medical imaging tasks.

When False Positive is Intolerant: End-to-End Optimization with Low FPR for Multipartite Ranking

Peisong Wen · Qianqian Xu · Zhiyong Yang · Yuan He · Qingming Huang

Multipartite ranking is a basic task in machine learning, where the Area Under the receiver operating characteristics Curve (AUC) is generally applied as the evaluation metric. Despite that AUC reflects the overall performance of the model, it is inconsistent with the expected performance in some application scenarios, where only a low False Positive Rate (FPR) is meaningful. To leverage high performance under low FPRs, we consider an alternative metric for multipartite ranking evaluating the True Positive Rate (TPR) at a given FPR, denoted as TPR@FPR. Unfortunately, the key challenge of direct TPR@FPR optimization is two-fold: \textbf{a)} the original objective function is not differentiable, making gradient backpropagation impossible; \textbf{b)} the loss function could not be written as a sum of independent instance-wise terms, making mini-batch based optimization infeasible. To address these issues, we propose a novel framework on top of the deep learning framework named \textit{Cross-Batch Approximation for Multipartite Ranking (CBA-MR)}. In face of \textbf{a)}, we propose a differentiable surrogate optimization problem where the instances having a short-time effect on FPR are rendered with different weights based on the random walk hypothesis. To tackle \textbf{b)}, we propose a fast ranking estimation method, where the full-batch loss evaluation is replaced by a delayed update scheme with the help of an embedding cache. Finally, experimental results on four real-world benchmarks are provided to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

Breaking the Linear Iteration Cost Barrier for Some Well-known Conditional Gradient Methods Using MaxIP Data-structures

Zhaozhuo Xu · Zhao Song · Anshumali Shrivastava

Conditional gradient methods (CGM) are widely used in modern machine learning. CGM's overall running time usually consists of two parts: the number of iterations and the cost of each iteration. Most efforts focus on reducing the number of iterations as a means to reduce the overall running time. In this work, we focus on improving the per iteration cost of CGM. The bottleneck step in most CGM is maximum inner product search (MaxIP), which requires a linear scan over the parameters. In practice, approximate MaxIP data-structures are found to be helpful heuristics. However, theoretically, nothing is known about the combination of approximate MaxIP data-structures and CGM. In this work, we answer this question positively by providing a formal framework to combine the locality sensitive hashing type approximate MaxIP data-structures with CGM algorithms. As a result, we show the first algorithm, where the cost per iteration is sublinear in the number of parameters, for many fundamental optimization algorithms, e.g., Frank-Wolfe, Herding algorithm, and policy gradient.

COHESIV: Contrastive Object and Hand Embedding Segmentation In Video

Dandan Shan · Richard Higgins · David Fouhey

In this paper we learn to segment hands and hand-held objects from motion. Our system takes a single RGB image and hand location as input to segment the hand and hand-held object. For learning, we generate responsibility maps that show how well a hand's motion explains other pixels' motion in video. We use these responsibility maps as pseudo-labels to train a weakly-supervised neural network using an attention-based similarity loss and contrastive loss. Our system outperforms alternate methods, achieving good performance on the 100DOH, EPIC-KITCHENS, and HO3D datasets.

Improving Contrastive Learning on Imbalanced Data via Open-World Sampling

Ziyu Jiang · Tianlong Chen · Ting Chen · Zhangyang Wang

Contrastive learning approaches have achieved great success in learning visual representations with few labels of the target classes. That implies a tantalizing possibility of scaling them up beyond a curated “seed" benchmark, to incorporating more unlabeled images from the internet-scale external sources to enhance its performance. However, in practice, larger amount of unlabeled data will require more computing resources due to the bigger model size and longer training needed. Moreover, open-world unlabeled data usually follows an implicit long-tail class or attribute distribution, many of which also do not belong to the target classes. Blindly leveraging all unlabeled data hence can lead to the data imbalance as well as distraction issues. This motivates us to seek a principled approach to strategically select unlabeled data from an external source, in order to learn generalizable, balanced and diverse representations for relevant classes. In this work, we present an open-world unlabeled data sampling framework called Model-Aware K-center (MAK), which follows three simple principles: (1) tailness, which encourages sampling of examples from tail classes, by sorting the empirical contrastive loss expectation (ECLE) of samples over random data augmentations; (2) proximity, which rejects the out-of-distribution outliers that may distract training; and (3) diversity, which ensures diversity in the set of sampled examples. Empirically, using ImageNet-100-LT (without labels) as the seed dataset and two “noisy” external data sources, we demonstrate that MAK can consistently improve both the overall representation quality and the class balancedness of the learned features, as evaluated via linear classifier evaluation on full-shot and few-shot settings. Thecode is available at:

Deep Marching Tetrahedra: a Hybrid Representation for High-Resolution 3D Shape Synthesis

Tianchang Shen · Jun Gao · Kangxue Yin · Ming-Yu Liu · Sanja Fidler

We introduce DMTet, a deep 3D conditional generative model that can synthesize high-resolution 3D shapes using simple user guides such as coarse voxels. It marries the merits of implicit and explicit 3D representations by leveraging a novel hybrid 3D representation. Compared to the current implicit approaches, which are trained to regress the signed distance values, DMTet directly optimizes for the reconstructed surface, which enables us to synthesize finer geometric details with fewer artifacts. Unlike deep 3D generative models that directly generate explicit representations such as meshes, our model can synthesize shapes with arbitrary topology. The core of DMTet includes a deformable tetrahedral grid that encodes a discretized signed distance function and a differentiable marching tetrahedra layer that converts the implicit signed distance representation to the explicit surface mesh representation. This combination allows joint optimization of the surface geometry and topology as well as generation of the hierarchy of subdivisions using reconstruction and adversarial losses defined explicitly on the surface mesh. Our approach significantly outperforms existing work on conditional shape synthesis from coarse voxel inputs, trained on a dataset of complex 3D animal shapes. Project page:

ParK: Sound and Efficient Kernel Ridge Regression by Feature Space Partitions

Luigi Carratino · Stefano Vigogna · Daniele Calandriello · Lorenzo Rosasco

We introduce ParK, a new large-scale solver for kernel ridge regression. Our approach combines partitioning with random projections and iterative optimization to reduce space and time complexity while provably maintaining the same statistical accuracy. In particular, constructing suitable partitions directly in the feature space rather than in the input space, we promote orthogonality between the local estimators, thus ensuring that key quantities such as local effective dimension and bias remain under control. We characterize the statistical-computational tradeoff of our model, and demonstrate the effectiveness of our method by numerical experiments on large-scale datasets.

Sparse Uncertainty Representation in Deep Learning with Inducing Weights

Hippolyt Ritter · Martin Kukla · Cheng Zhang · Yingzhen Li

Bayesian Neural Networks and deep ensembles represent two modern paradigms of uncertainty quantification in deep learning. Yet these approaches struggle to scale mainly due to memory inefficiency, requiring parameter storage several times that of their deterministic counterparts. To address this, we augment each weight matrix with a small inducing weight matrix, projecting the uncertainty quantification into a lower dimensional space. We further extend Matheron’s conditional Gaussian sampling rule to enable fast weight sampling, which enables our inference method to maintain reasonable run-time as compared with ensembles. Importantly, our approach achieves competitive performance to the state-of-the-art in prediction and uncertainty estimation tasks with fully connected neural networks and ResNets, while reducing the parameter size to $\leq 24.3\%$ of that of a single neural network.

Bellman-consistent Pessimism for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Tengyang Xie · Ching-An Cheng · Nan Jiang · Paul Mineiro · Alekh Agarwal

The use of pessimism, when reasoning about datasets lacking exhaustive exploration has recently gained prominence in offline reinforcement learning. Despite the robustness it adds to the algorithm, overly pessimistic reasoning can be equally damaging in precluding the discovery of good policies, which is an issue for the popular bonus-based pessimism. In this paper, we introduce the notion of Bellman-consistent pessimism for general function approximation: instead of calculating a point-wise lower bound for the value function, we implement pessimism at the initial state over the set of functions consistent with the Bellman equations. Our theoretical guarantees only require Bellman closedness as standard in the exploratory setting, in which case bonus-based pessimism fails to provide guarantees. Even in the special case of linear function approximation where stronger expressivity assumptions hold, our result improves upon a recent bonus-based approach by $\mathcal O(d)$ in its sample complexity (when the action space is finite). Remarkably, our algorithms automatically adapt to the best bias-variance tradeoff in the hindsight, whereas most prior approaches require tuning extra hyperparameters a priori.

Can You Learn an Algorithm? Generalizing from Easy to Hard Problems with Recurrent Networks

Avi Schwarzschild · Eitan Borgnia · Arjun Gupta · Furong Huang · Uzi Vishkin · Micah Goldblum · Tom Goldstein

Deep neural networks are powerful machines for visual pattern recognition, but reasoning tasks that are easy for humans may still be difficult for neural models. Humans possess the ability to extrapolate reasoning strategies learned on simple problems to solve harder examples, often by thinking for longer. For example, a person who has learned to solve small mazes can easily extend the very same search techniques to solve much larger mazes by spending more time. In computers, this behavior is often achieved through the use of algorithms, which scale to arbitrarily hard problem instances at the cost of more computation. In contrast, the sequential computing budget of feed-forward neural networks is limited by their depth, and networks trained on simple problems have no way of extending their reasoning to accommodate harder problems. In this work, we show that recurrent networks trained to solve simple problems with few recurrent steps can indeed solve much more complex problems simply by performing additional recurrences during inference. We demonstrate this algorithmic behavior of recurrent networks on prefix sum computation, mazes, and chess. In all three domains, networks trained on simple problem instances are able to extend their reasoning abilities at test time simply by "thinking for longer."

GemNet: Universal Directional Graph Neural Networks for Molecules

Johannes Gasteiger · Florian Becker · Stephan Günnemann

Effectively predicting molecular interactions has the potential to accelerate molecular dynamics by multiple orders of magnitude and thus revolutionize chemical simulations. Graph neural networks (GNNs) have recently shown great successes for this task, overtaking classical methods based on fixed molecular kernels. However, they still appear very limited from a theoretical perspective, since regular GNNs cannot distinguish certain types of graphs. In this work we close this gap between theory and practice. We show that GNNs with directed edge embeddings and two-hop message passing are indeed universal approximators for predictions that are invariant to translation, and equivariant to permutation and rotation. We then leverage these insights and multiple structural improvements to propose the geometric message passing neural network (GemNet). We demonstrate the benefits of the proposed changes in multiple ablation studies. GemNet outperforms previous models on the COLL, MD17, and OC20 datasets by 34%, 41%, and 20%, respectively, and performs especially well on the most challenging molecules. Our implementation is available online.

Antipodes of Label Differential Privacy: PATE and ALIBI

Mani Malek Esmaeili · Ilya Mironov · Karthik Prasad · Igor Shilov · Florian Tramer

We consider the privacy-preserving machine learning (ML) setting where the trained model must satisfy differential privacy (DP) with respect to the labels of the training examples. We propose two novel approaches based on, respectively, the Laplace mechanism and the PATE framework, and demonstrate their effectiveness on standard benchmarks.While recent work by Ghazi et al. proposed Label DP schemes based on a randomized response mechanism, we argue that additive Laplace noise coupled with Bayesian inference (ALIBI) is a better fit for typical ML tasks. Moreover, we show how to achieve very strong privacy levels in some regimes, with our adaptation of the PATE framework that builds on recent advances in semi-supervised learning.We complement theoretical analysis of our algorithms' privacy guarantees with empirical evaluation of their memorization properties. Our evaluation suggests that comparing different algorithms according to their provable DP guarantees can be misleading and favor a less private algorithm with a tighter analysis.Code for implementation of algorithms and memorization attacks is available from

Contrastive Learning of Global and Local Video Representations

shuang ma · Zhaoyang Zeng · Daniel McDuff · Yale Song

Contrastive learning has delivered impressive results for various tasks in the self-supervised regime. However, existing approaches optimize for learning representations specific to downstream scenarios, i.e., global representations suitable for tasks such as classification or local representations for tasks such as detection and localization. While they produce satisfactory results in the intended downstream scenarios, they often fail to generalize to tasks that they were not originally designed for. In this work, we propose to learn video representations that generalize to both the tasks which require global semantic information (e.g., classification) and the tasks that require local fine-grained spatio-temporal information (e.g., localization). We achieve this by optimizing two contrastive objectives that together encourage our model to learn global-local visual information given audio signals. We show that the two objectives mutually improve the generalizability of the learned global-local representations, significantly outperforming their disjointly learned counterparts. We demonstrate our approach on various tasks including action/sound classification, lipreading, deepfake detection, event and sound localization.

Exploring the Limits of Out-of-Distribution Detection

Stanislav Fort · Jie Ren · Balaji Lakshminarayanan

Near out-of-distribution detection (OOD) is a major challenge for deep neural networks. We demonstrate that large-scale pre-trained transformers can significantly improve the state-of-the-art (SOTA) on a range of near OOD tasks across different data modalities. For instance, on CIFAR-100 vs CIFAR-10 OOD detection, we improve the AUROC from 85% (current SOTA) to more than 96% using Vision Transformers pre-trained on ImageNet21k. On a challenging genomics OOD detection benchmark, we improve the AUROC from 66% to 77% using transformer and unsupervised pre-training. To further improve performance, we explore the few-shot outlier exposure setting where a few examples from outlier classes may be available; we show that pre-trained transformers are particularly well-suited for outlier exposure, and that the AUROC of OOD detection on CIFAR-100 vs CIFAR-10 can be improved to 98.7% with just 1 image per OOD class, and 99.46% with 10 images per OOD class. For multi-modal image-text pre-trained transformers such as CLIP, we explore a new way of using just the names of outlier classes as a sole source of information without any accompanying images, and show that this outperforms previous SOTA on standard OOD benchmark tasks.

A Normative and Biologically Plausible Algorithm for Independent Component Analysis

Yanis Bahroun · Dmitri Chklovskii · Anirvan Sengupta

The brain effortlessly solves blind source separation (BSS) problems, but the algorithm it uses remains elusive. In signal processing, linear BSS problems are often solved by Independent Component Analysis (ICA). To serve as a model of a biological circuit, the ICA neural network (NN) must satisfy at least the following requirements: 1. The algorithm must operate in the online setting where data samples are streamed one at a time, and the NN computes the sources on the fly without storing any significant fraction of the data in memory. 2. The synaptic weight update is local, i.e., it depends only on the biophysical variables present in the vicinity of a synapse. Here, we propose a novel objective function for ICA from which we derive a biologically plausible NN, including both the neural architecture and the synaptic learning rules. Interestingly, our algorithm relies on modulating synaptic plasticity by the total activity of the output neurons. In the brain, this could be accomplished by neuromodulators, extracellular calcium, local field potential, or nitric oxide.

LSH-SMILE: Locality Sensitive Hashing Accelerated Simulation and Learning

Chonghao Sima · Yexiang Xue

The advancement of deep neural networks over the last decade has enabled progress in scientific knowledge discovery in the form of learning Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) directly from experiment data. Nevertheless, forward simulation and backward learning of large-scale dynamic systems require handling billions of mutually interacting elements, the scale of which overwhelms current computing architectures. We propose Locality Sensitive Hashing Accelerated Simulation and Learning (LSH-SMILE), a unified framework to scale up both forward simulation and backward learning of physics systems. LSH-SMILE takes advantage of (i) the locality of PDE updates, (ii) similar temporal dynamics shared by multiple elements. LSH-SMILE hashes elements with similar dynamics into a single hash bucket and handles their updates at once. This allows LSH-SMILE to scale with respect to the number of non-empty hash buckets, a drastic improvement over conventional approaches. Theoretically, we prove a novel bound on the errors introduced by LSH-SMILE. Experimentally, we demonstrate that LSH-SMILE simulates physics systems at comparable quality with exact approaches, but with way less time and space complexity. Such savings also translate to better learning performance due to LSH-SMILE's ability to propagate gradients over a long duration.

Edge Representation Learning with Hypergraphs

Jaehyeong Jo · Jinheon Baek · Seul Lee · Dongki Kim · Minki Kang · Sung Ju Hwang

Graph neural networks have recently achieved remarkable success in representing graph-structured data, with rapid progress in both the node embedding and graph pooling methods. Yet, they mostly focus on capturing information from the nodes considering their connectivity, and not much work has been done in representing the edges, which are essential components of a graph. However, for tasks such as graph reconstruction and generation, as well as graph classification tasks for which the edges are important for discrimination, accurately representing edges of a given graph is crucial to the success of the graph representation learning. To this end, we propose a novel edge representation learning framework based on Dual Hypergraph Transformation (DHT), which transforms the edges of a graph into the nodes of a hypergraph. This dual hypergraph construction allows us to apply message-passing techniques for node representations to edges. After obtaining edge representations from the hypergraphs, we then cluster or drop edges to obtain holistic graph-level edge representations. We validate our edge representation learning method with hypergraphs on diverse graph datasets for graph representation and generation performance, on which our method largely outperforms existing graph representation learning methods. Moreover, our edge representation learning and pooling method also largely outperforms state-of-the-art graph pooling methods on graph classification, not only because of its accurate edge representation learning, but also due to its lossless compression of the nodes and removal of irrelevant edges for effective message-passing.

Concentration inequalities under sub-Gaussian and sub-exponential conditions

Andreas Maurer · Massimiliano Pontil

We prove analogues of the popular bounded difference inequality (also called McDiarmid's inequality) for functions of independent random variables under sub-gaussian and sub-exponential conditions. Applied to vector-valued concentration and the method of Rademacher complexities these inequalities allow an easy extension of uniform convergence results for PCA and linear regression to the case potentially unbounded input- and output variables.

Robustness of Graph Neural Networks at Scale

Simon Geisler · Tobias Schmidt · Hakan Şirin · Daniel Zügner · Aleksandar Bojchevski · Stephan Günnemann

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are increasingly important given their popularity and the diversity of applications. Yet, existing studies of their vulnerability to adversarial attacks rely on relatively small graphs. We address this gap and study how to attack and defend GNNs at scale. We propose two sparsity-aware first-order optimization attacks that maintain an efficient representation despite optimizing over a number of parameters which is quadratic in the number of nodes. We show that common surrogate losses are not well-suited for global attacks on GNNs. Our alternatives can double the attack strength. Moreover, to improve GNNs' reliability we design a robust aggregation function, Soft Median, resulting in an effective defense at all scales. We evaluate our attacks and defense with standard GNNs on graphs more than 100 times larger compared to previous work. We even scale one order of magnitude further by extending our techniques to a scalable GNN.

Going Beyond Linear Transformers with Recurrent Fast Weight Programmers

Kazuki Irie · Imanol Schlag · Róbert Csordás · Jürgen Schmidhuber

Transformers with linearised attention (''linear Transformers'') have demonstrated the practical scalability and effectiveness of outer product-based Fast Weight Programmers (FWPs) from the '90s. However, the original FWP formulation is more general than the one of linear Transformers: a slow neural network (NN) continually reprograms the weights of a fast NN with arbitrary architecture. In existing linear Transformers, both NNs are feedforward and consist of a single layer. Here we explore new variations by adding recurrence to the slow and fast nets. We evaluate our novel recurrent FWPs (RFWPs) on two synthetic algorithmic tasks (code execution and sequential ListOps), Wikitext-103 language models, and on the Atari 2600 2D game environment. Our models exhibit properties of Transformers and RNNs. In the reinforcement learning setting, we report large improvements over LSTM in several Atari games. Our code is public.

Outstanding Paper
On the Expressivity of Markov Reward

David Abel · Will Dabney · Anna Harutyunyan · Mark Ho · Michael Littman · Doina Precup · Satinder Singh

Reward is the driving force for reinforcement-learning agents. This paper is dedicated to understanding the expressivity of reward as a way to capture tasks that we would want an agent to perform. We frame this study around three new abstract notions of “task” that might be desirable: (1) a set of acceptable behaviors, (2) a partial ordering over behaviors, or (3) a partial ordering over trajectories. Our main results prove that while reward can express many of these tasks, there exist instances of each task type that no Markov reward function can capture. We then provide a set of polynomial-time algorithms that construct a Markov reward function that allows an agent to optimize tasks of each of these three types, and correctly determine when no such reward function exists. We conclude with an empirical study that corroborates and illustrates our theoretical findings.

Neural Scene Flow Prior

Xueqian Li · Jhony Kaesemodel Pontes · Simon Lucey

Before the deep learning revolution, many perception algorithms were based on runtime optimization in conjunction with a strong prior/regularization penalty. A prime example of this in computer vision is optical and scene flow. Supervised learning has largely displaced the need for explicit regularization. Instead, they rely on large amounts of labeled data to capture prior statistics, which are not always readily available for many problems. Although optimization is employed to learn the neural network, at runtime, the weights of this network are frozen. As a result, these learning solutions are domain-specific and do not generalize well to other statistically different scenarios. This paper revisits the scene flow problem that relies predominantly on runtime optimization and strong regularization. A central innovation here is the inclusion of a neural scene flow prior, which utilizes the architecture of neural networks as a new type of implicit regularizer. Unlike learning-based scene flow methods, optimization occurs at runtime, and our approach needs no offline datasets---making it ideal for deployment in new environments such as autonomous driving. We show that an architecture based exclusively on multilayer perceptrons (MLPs) can be used as a scene flow prior. Our method attains competitive---if not better---results on scene flow benchmarks. Also, our neural prior's implicit and continuous scene flow representation allows us to estimate dense long-term correspondences across a sequence of point clouds. The dense motion information is represented by scene flow fields where points can be propagated through time by integrating motion vectors. We demonstrate such a capability by accumulating a sequence of lidar point clouds.

Hit and Lead Discovery with Explorative RL and Fragment-based Molecule Generation

Soojung Yang · Doyeong Hwang · Seul Lee · Seongok Ryu · Sung Ju Hwang

Recently, utilizing reinforcement learning (RL) to generate molecules with desired properties has been highlighted as a promising strategy for drug design. Molecular docking program -- a physical simulation that estimates protein-small molecule binding affinity -- can be an ideal reward scoring function for RL, as it is a straightforward proxy of the therapeutic potential. Still, two imminent challenges exist for this task. First, the models often fail to generate chemically realistic and pharmacochemically acceptable molecules. Second, the docking score optimization is a difficult exploration problem that involves many local optima and less smooth surface with respect to molecular structure. To tackle these challenges, we propose a novel RL framework that generates pharmacochemically acceptable molecules with large docking scores. Our method -- Fragment-based generative RL with Explorative Experience replay for Drug design (FREED) -- constrains the generated molecules to a realistic and qualified chemical space and effectively explores the space to find drugs by coupling our fragment-based generation method and a novel error-prioritized experience replay (PER). We also show that our model performs well on both de novo and scaffold-based schemes. Our model produces molecules of higher quality compared to existing methods while achieving state-of-the-art performance on two of three targets in terms of the docking scores of the generated molecules. We further show with ablation studies that our method, predictive error-PER (FREED(PE)), significantly improves the model performance.

Label consistency in overfitted generalized $k$-means

Linfan Zhang · Arash Amini

We provide theoretical guarantees for label consistency in generalized $k$-means problems, with an emphasis on the overfitted case where the number of clusters used by the algorithm is more than the ground truth. We provide conditions under which the estimated labels are close to a refinement of the true cluster labels. We consider both exact and approximate recovery of the labels. Our results hold for any constant-factor approximation to the $k$-means problem. The results are also model-free and only based on bounds on the maximum or average distance of the data points to the true cluster centers. These centers themselves are loosely defined and can be taken to be any set of points for which the aforementioned distances can be controlled. We show the usefulness of the results with applications to some manifold clustering problems.

KALE Flow: A Relaxed KL Gradient Flow for Probabilities with Disjoint Support

Pierre Glaser · Michael Arbel · Arthur Gretton

We study the gradient flow for a relaxed approximation to the Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergencebetween a moving source and a fixed target distribution.This approximation, termed theKALE (KL approximate lower-bound estimator), solves a regularized version ofthe Fenchel dual problem defining the KL over a restricted class of functions.When using a Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space (RKHS) to define the functionclass, we show that the KALE continuously interpolates between the KL and theMaximum Mean Discrepancy (MMD). Like the MMD and other Integral ProbabilityMetrics, the KALE remains well defined for mutually singulardistributions. Nonetheless, the KALE inherits from the limiting KL a greater sensitivity to mismatch in the support of the distributions, compared with the MMD. These two properties make theKALE gradient flow particularly well suited when the target distribution is supported on a low-dimensional manifold. Under an assumption of sufficient smoothness of the trajectories, we show the global convergence of the KALE flow. We propose a particle implementation of the flow given initial samples from the source and the target distribution, which we use to empirically confirm the KALE's properties.

Towards Deeper Deep Reinforcement Learning with Spectral Normalization

Nils Bjorck · Carla Gomes · Kilian Weinberger

In computer vision and natural language processing, innovations in model architecture that increase model capacity have reliably translated into gains in performance. In stark contrast with this trend, state-of-the-art reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms often use small MLPs, and gains in performance typically originate from algorithmic innovations. It is natural to hypothesize that small datasets in RL necessitate simple models to avoid overfitting; however, this hypothesis is untested. In this paper we investigate how RL agents are affected by exchanging the small MLPs with larger modern networks with skip connections and normalization, focusing specifically on actor-critic algorithms. We empirically verify that naively adopting such architectures leads to instabilities and poor performance, likely contributing to the popularity of simple models in practice. However, we show that dataset size is not the limiting factor, and instead argue that instability from taking gradients through the critic is the culprit. We demonstrate that spectral normalization (SN) can mitigate this issue and enable stable training with large modern architectures. After smoothing with SN, larger models yield significant performance improvements --- suggesting that more ``easy'' gains may be had by focusing on model architectures in addition to algorithmic innovations.

Memory-Efficient Approximation Algorithms for Max-k-Cut and Correlation Clustering

Nimita Shinde · Vishnu Narayanan · James Saunderson

Max-k-Cut and correlation clustering are fundamental graph partitioning problems. For a graph $G=(V,E)$ with $n$ vertices, the methods with the best approximation guarantees for Max-k-Cut and the Max-Agree variant of correlation clustering involve solving SDPs with $\mathcal{O}(n^2)$ constraints and variables. Large-scale instances of SDPs, thus, present a memory bottleneck. In this paper, we develop simple polynomial-time Gaussian sampling-based algorithms for these two problems that use $\mathcal{O}(n+|E|)$ memory and nearly achieve the best existing approximation guarantees. For dense graphs arriving in a stream, we eliminate the dependence on $|E|$ in the storage complexity at the cost of a slightly worse approximation ratio by combining our approach with sparsification.

Uniform Concentration Bounds toward a Unified Framework for Robust Clustering

Debolina Paul · Saptarshi Chakraborty · Swagatam Das · Jason Xu

Recent advances in center-based clustering continue to improve upon the drawbacks of Lloyd's celebrated $k$-means algorithm over $60$ years after its introduction. Various methods seek to address poor local minima, sensitivity to outliers, and data that are not well-suited to Euclidean measures of fit, but many are supported largely empirically. Moreover, combining such approaches in a piecemeal manner can result in ad hoc methods, and the limited theoretical results supporting each individual contribution may no longer hold. Toward addressing these issues in a principled way, this paper proposes a cohesive robust framework for center-based clustering under a general class of dissimilarity measures. In particular, we present a rigorous theoretical treatment within a Median-of-Means (MoM) estimation framework, showing that it subsumes several popular $k$-means variants. In addition to unifying existing methods, we derive uniform concentration bounds that complete their analyses, and bridge these results to the MoM framework via Dudley's chaining arguments. Importantly, we neither require any assumptions on the distribution of the outlying observations nor on the relative number of observations $n$ to features $p$. We establish strong consistency and an error rate of $O(n^{-1/2})$ under mild conditions, surpassing the best-known results in the literature. The methods are empirically validated thoroughly on real and synthetic datasets.

Active clustering for labeling training data

Quentin Lutz · Elie de Panafieu · Maya Stein · Alex Scott

Gathering training data is a key step of any supervised learning task, and it is both critical and expensive. Critical, because the quantity and quality of the training data has a high impact on the performance of the learned function. Expensive, because most practical cases rely on humans-in-the-loop to label the data. The process of determining the correct labels is much more expensive than comparing two items to see whether they belong to the same class. Thus motivated, we propose a setting for training data gathering where the human experts perform the comparatively cheap task of answering pairwise queries, and the computer groups the items into classes (which can be labeled cheaply at the very end of the process). Given the items, we consider two random models for the classes: one where the set partition they form is drawn uniformly, the other one where each item chooses its class independently following a fixed distribution. In the first model, we characterize the algorithms that minimize the average number of queries required to cluster the items and analyze their complexity. In the second model, we analyze a specific algorithm family, propose as a conjecture that they reach the minimum average number of queries and compare their performance to a random approach. We also propose solutions to handle errors or inconsistencies in the experts' answers.

Adversarial Intrinsic Motivation for Reinforcement Learning

Ishan Durugkar · Mauricio Tec · Scott Niekum · Peter Stone

Learning with an objective to minimize the mismatch with a reference distribution has been shown to be useful for generative modeling and imitation learning. In this paper, we investigate whether one such objective, the Wasserstein-1 distance between a policy's state visitation distribution and a target distribution, can be utilized effectively for reinforcement learning (RL) tasks. Specifically, this paper focuses on goal-conditioned reinforcement learning where the idealized (unachievable) target distribution has full measure at the goal. This paper introduces a quasimetric specific to Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) and uses this quasimetric to estimate the above Wasserstein-1 distance. It further shows that the policy that minimizes this Wasserstein-1 distance is the policy that reaches the goal in as few steps as possible. Our approach, termed Adversarial Intrinsic Motivation (AIM), estimates this Wasserstein-1 distance through its dual objective and uses it to compute a supplemental reward function. Our experiments show that this reward function changes smoothly with respect to transitions in the MDP and directs the agent's exploration to find the goal efficiently. Additionally, we combine AIM with Hindsight Experience Replay (HER) and show that the resulting algorithm accelerates learning significantly on several simulated robotics tasks when compared to other rewards that encourage exploration or accelerate learning.

Multi-Facet Clustering Variational Autoencoders

Fabian Falck · Haoting Zhang · Matthew Willetts · George Nicholson · Christopher Yau · Chris C Holmes

Work in deep clustering focuses on finding a single partition of data. However, high-dimensional data, such as images, typically feature multiple interesting characteristics one could cluster over. For example, images of objects against a background could be clustered over the shape of the object and separately by the colour of the background. In this paper, we introduce Multi-Facet Clustering Variational Autoencoders (MFCVAE), a novel class of variational autoencoders with a hierarchy of latent variables, each with a Mixture-of-Gaussians prior, that learns multiple clusterings simultaneously, and is trained fully unsupervised and end-to-end. MFCVAE uses a progressively-trained ladder architecture which leads to highly stable performance. We provide novel theoretical results for optimising the ELBO analytically with respect to the categorical variational posterior distribution, correcting earlier influential theoretical work. On image benchmarks, we demonstrate that our approach separates out and clusters over different aspects of the data in a disentangled manner. We also show other advantages of our model: the compositionality of its latent space and that it provides controlled generation of samples.

How Fine-Tuning Allows for Effective Meta-Learning

Kurtland Chua · Qi Lei · Jason Lee

Representation learning has served as a key tool for meta-learning, enabling rapid learning of new tasks. Recent works like MAML learn task-specific representations by finding an initial representation requiring minimal per-task adaptation (i.e. a fine-tuning-based objective). We present a theoretical framework for analyzing a MAML-like algorithm, assuming all available tasks require approximately the same representation. We then provide risk bounds on predictors found by fine-tuning via gradient descent, demonstrating that the method provably leverages the shared structure. We illustrate these bounds in the logistic regression and neural network settings. In contrast, we establish settings where learning one representation for all tasks (i.e. using a "frozen representation" objective) fails. Notably, any such algorithm cannot outperform directly learning the target task with no other information, in the worst case. This separation underscores the benefit of fine-tuning-based over “frozen representation” objectives in few-shot learning.

Scalable Neural Data Server: A Data Recommender for Transfer Learning

Tianshi Cao · Sasha (Alexandre) Doubov · David Acuna · Sanja Fidler

Absence of large-scale labeled data in the practitioner's target domain can be a bottleneck to applying machine learning algorithms in practice. Transfer learning is a popular strategy for leveraging additional data to improve the downstream performance, but finding the most relevant data to transfer from can be challenging. Neural Data Server (NDS), a search engine that recommends relevant data for a given downstream task, has been previously proposed to address this problem (Yan et al., 2020). NDS uses a mixture of experts trained on data sources to estimate similarity between each source and the downstream task. Thus, the computational cost to each user grows with the number of sources and requires an expensive training step for each data provider.To address these issues, we propose Scalable Neural Data Server (SNDS), a large-scale search engine that can theoretically index thousands of datasets to serve relevant ML data to end users. SNDS trains the mixture of experts on intermediary datasets during initialization, and represents both data sources and downstream tasks by their proximity to the intermediary datasets. As such, computational cost incurred by users of SNDS remains fixed as new datasets are added to the server, without pre-training for the data providers.We validate SNDS on a plethora of real world tasks and find that data recommended by SNDS improves downstream task performance over baselines. We also demonstrate the scalability of our system by demonstrating its ability to select relevant data for transfer outside of the natural image setting.

High Probability Complexity Bounds for Line Search Based on Stochastic Oracles

Billy Jin · Katya Scheinberg · Miaolan Xie

We consider a line-search method for continuous optimization under a stochastic setting where the function values and gradients are available only through inexact probabilistic zeroth and first-order oracles. These oracles capture multiple standard settings including expected loss minimization and zeroth-order optimization. Moreover, our framework is very general and allows the function and gradient estimates to be biased. The proposed algorithm is simple to describe, easy to implement, and uses these oracles in a similar way as the standard deterministic line search uses exact function and gradient values. Under fairly general conditions on the oracles, we derive a high probability tail bound on the iteration complexity of the algorithm when applied to non-convex smooth functions. These results are stronger than those for other existing stochastic line search methods and apply in more general settings.

Hierarchical Clustering: $O(1)$-Approximation for Well-Clustered Graphs

Bogdan-Adrian Manghiuc · He Sun

Hierarchical clustering studies a recursive partition of a data set into clusters of successively smaller size, and is a fundamental problem in data analysis. In this work we study the cost function for hierarchical clustering introduced by Dasgupta, and present two polynomial-time approximation algorithms: Our first result is an $O(1)$-approximation algorithm for graphs of high conductance. Our simple construction bypasses complicated recursive routines of finding sparse cuts known in the literature. Our second and main result is an $O(1)$-approximation algorithm for a wide family of graphs that exhibit a well-defined structure of clusters. This result generalises the previous state-of-the-art, which holds only for graphs generated from stochastic models. The significance of our work is demonstrated by the empirical analysis on both synthetic and real-world data sets, on which our presented algorithm outperforms the previously proposed algorithm for graphs with a well-defined cluster structure.

The Value of Information When Deciding What to Learn

Dilip Arumugam · Benjamin Van Roy

All sequential decision-making agents explore so as to acquire knowledge about a particular target. It is often the responsibility of the agent designer to construct this target which, in rich and complex environments, constitutes a onerous burden; without full knowledge of the environment itself, a designer may forge a sub-optimal learning target that poorly balances the amount of information an agent must acquire to identify the target against the target's associated performance shortfall. While recent work has developed a connection between learning targets and rate-distortion theory to address this challenge and empower agents that decide what to learn in an automated fashion, the proposed algorithm does not optimally tackle the equally important challenge of efficient information acquisition. In this work, building upon the seminal design principle of information-directed sampling (Russo & Van Roy, 2014), we address this shortcoming directly to couple optimal information acquisition with the optimal design of learning targets. Along the way, we offer new insights into learning targets from the literature on rate-distortion theory before turning to empirical results that confirm the value of information when deciding what to learn.

Sparse Training via Boosting Pruning Plasticity with Neuroregeneration

Shiwei Liu · Tianlong Chen · Xiaohan Chen · Zahra Atashgahi · Lu Yin · Huanyu Kou · Li Shen · Mykola Pechenizkiy · Zhangyang Wang · Decebal Constantin Mocanu

Works on lottery ticket hypothesis (LTH) and single-shot network pruning (SNIP) have raised a lot of attention currently on post-training pruning (iterative magnitude pruning), and before-training pruning (pruning at initialization). The former method suffers from an extremely large computation cost and the latter usually struggles with insufficient performance. In comparison, during-training pruning, a class of pruning methods that simultaneously enjoys the training/inference efficiency and the comparable performance, temporarily, has been less explored. To better understand during-training pruning, we quantitatively study the effect of pruning throughout training from the perspective of pruning plasticity (the ability of the pruned networks to recover the original performance). Pruning plasticity can help explain several other empirical observations about neural network pruning in literature. We further find that pruning plasticity can be substantially improved by injecting a brain-inspired mechanism called neuroregeneration, i.e., to regenerate the same number of connections as pruned. We design a novel gradual magnitude pruning (GMP) method, named gradual pruning with zero-cost neuroregeneration (GraNet), that advances state of the art. Perhaps most impressively, its sparse-to-sparse version for the first time boosts the sparse-to-sparse training performance over various dense-to-sparse methods with ResNet-50 on ImageNet without extending the training time. We release all codes in

Practical Near Neighbor Search via Group Testing

Joshua Engels · Benjamin Coleman · Anshumali Shrivastava

We present a new algorithm for the approximate near neighbor problem that combines classical ideas from group testing with locality-sensitive hashing (LSH). We reduce the near neighbor search problem to a group testing problem by designating neighbors as "positives," non-neighbors as "negatives," and approximate membership queries as group tests. We instantiate this framework using distance-sensitive Bloom Filters to Identify Near-Neighbor Groups (FLINNG). We prove that FLINNG has sub-linear query time and show that our algorithm comes with a variety of practical advantages. For example, FLINNG can be constructed in a single pass through the data, consists entirely of efficient integer operations, and does not require any distance computations. We conduct large-scale experiments on high-dimensional search tasks such as genome search, URL similarity search, and embedding search over the massive YFCC100M dataset. In our comparison with leading algorithms such as HNSW and FAISS, we find that FLINNG can provide up to a 10x query speedup with substantially smaller indexing time and memory.

Fast Projection onto the Capped Simplex with Applications to Sparse Regression in Bioinformatics

Man Shun Ang · Jianzhu Ma · Nianjun Liu · Kun Huang · Yijie Wang

We consider the problem of projecting a vector onto the so-called k-capped simplex, which is a hyper-cube cut by a hyperplane.For an n-dimensional input vector with bounded elements, we found that a simple algorithm based on Newton's method is able to solve the projection problem to high precision with a complexity roughly about O(n), which has a much lower computational cost compared with the existing sorting-based methods proposed in the literature.We provide a theory for partial explanation and justification of the method.We demonstrate that the proposed algorithm can produce a solution of the projection problem with high precision on large scale datasets, and the algorithm is able to significantly outperform the state-of-the-art methods in terms of runtime (about 6-8 times faster than a commercial software with respect to CPU time for input vector with 1 million variables or more).We further illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm on solving sparse regression in a bioinformatics problem.Empirical results on the GWAS dataset (with 1,500,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms) show that, when using the proposed method to accelerate the Projected Quasi-Newton (PQN) method, the accelerated PQN algorithm is able to handle huge-scale regression problem and it is more efficient (about 3-6 times faster) than the current state-of-the-art methods.

Infinite Time Horizon Safety of Bayesian Neural Networks

Mathias Lechner · Đorđe Žikelić · Krishnendu Chatterjee · Thomas Henzinger

Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) place distributions over the weights of a neural network to model uncertainty in the data and the network's prediction.We consider the problem of verifying safety when running a Bayesian neural network policy in a feedback loop with infinite time horizon systems.Compared to the existing sampling-based approaches, which are inapplicable to the infinite time horizon setting, we train a separate deterministic neural network that serves as an infinite time horizon safety certificate.In particular, we show that the certificate network guarantees the safety of the system over a subset of the BNN weight posterior's support. Our method first computes a safe weight set and then alters the BNN's weight posterior to reject samples outside this set. Moreover, we show how to extend our approach to a safe-exploration reinforcement learning setting, in order to avoid unsafe trajectories during the training of the policy. We evaluate our approach on a series of reinforcement learning benchmarks, including non-Lyapunovian safety specifications.

NTopo: Mesh-free Topology Optimization using Implicit Neural Representations

Jonas Zehnder · Yue Li · Stelian Coros · Bernhard Thomaszewski

Recent advances in implicit neural representations show great promise when it comes to generating numerical solutions to partial differential equations. Compared to conventional alternatives, such representations employ parameterized neural networks to define, in a mesh-free manner, signals that are highly-detailed, continuous, and fully differentiable. In this work, we present a novel machine learning approach for topology optimization---an important class of inverse problems with high-dimensional parameter spaces and highly nonlinear objective landscapes. To effectively leverage neural representations in the context of mesh-free topology optimization, we use multilayer perceptrons to parameterize both density and displacement fields. Our experiments indicate that our method is highly competitive for minimizing structural compliance objectives, and it enables self-supervised learning of continuous solution spaces for topology optimization problems.

Curriculum Design for Teaching via Demonstrations: Theory and Applications

Gaurav Yengera · Rati Devidze · Parameswaran Kamalaruban · Adish Singla

We consider the problem of teaching via demonstrations in sequential decision-making settings. In particular, we study how to design a personalized curriculum over demonstrations to speed up the learner's convergence. We provide a unified curriculum strategy for two popular learner models: Maximum Causal Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning (MaxEnt-IRL) and Cross-Entropy Behavioral Cloning (CrossEnt-BC). Our unified strategy induces a ranking over demonstrations based on a notion of difficulty scores computed w.r.t. the teacher's optimal policy and the learner's current policy. Compared to the state of the art, our strategy doesn't require access to the learner's internal dynamics and still enjoys similar convergence guarantees under mild technical conditions. Furthermore, we adapt our curriculum strategy to the setting where no teacher agent is present using task-specific difficulty scores. Experiments on a synthetic car driving environment and navigation-based environments demonstrate the effectiveness of our curriculum strategy.

Dynamic Causal Bayesian Optimization

Virginia Aglietti · Neil Dhir · Javier González · Theodoros Damoulas

We study the problem of performing a sequence of optimal interventions in a dynamic causal system where both the target variable of interest, and the inputs, evolve over time. This problem arises in a variety of domains including healthcare, operational research and policy design. Our approach, which we call Dynamic Causal Bayesian Optimisation (DCBO), brings together ideas from decision making, causal inference and Gaussian process (GP) emulation. DCBO is useful in scenarios where the causal effects are changing over time. Indeed, at every time step, DCBO identifies a local optimal intervention by integrating both observational and past interventional data collected from the system. We give theoretical results detailing how one can transfer interventional information across time steps and define a dynamic causal GP model which can be used to find optimal interventions in practice. Finally, we demonstrate how DCBO identifies optimal interventions faster than competing approaches in multiple settings and applications.

Drop, Swap, and Generate: A Self-Supervised Approach for Generating Neural Activity

Ran Liu · Mehdi Azabou · Max Dabagia · Chi-Heng Lin · Mohammad Gheshlaghi Azar · Keith Hengen · Michal Valko · Eva Dyer

Meaningful and simplified representations of neural activity can yield insights into how and what information is being processed within a neural circuit. However, without labels, finding representations that reveal the link between the brain and behavior can be challenging. Here, we introduce a novel unsupervised approach for learning disentangled representations of neural activity called Swap-VAE. Our approach combines a generative modeling framework with an instance-specific alignment loss that tries to maximize the representational similarity between transformed views of the input (brain state). These transformed (or augmented) views are created by dropping out neurons and jittering samples in time, which intuitively should lead the network to a representation that maintains both temporal consistency and invariance to the specific neurons used to represent the neural state. Through evaluations on both synthetic data and neural recordings from hundreds of neurons in different primate brains, we show that it is possible to build representations that disentangle neural datasets along relevant latent dimensions linked to behavior.

Independent Prototype Propagation for Zero-Shot Compositionality

Frank Ruis · Gertjan Burghouts · Doina Bucur

Humans are good at compositional zero-shot reasoning; someone who has never seen a zebra before could nevertheless recognize one when we tell them it looks like a horse with black and white stripes. Machine learning systems, on the other hand, usually leverage spurious correlations in the training data, and while such correlations can help recognize objects in context, they hurt generalization. To be able to deal with underspecified datasets while still leveraging contextual clues during classification, we propose ProtoProp, a novel prototype propagation graph method. First we learn prototypical representations of objects (e.g., zebra) that are independent w.r.t. their attribute labels (e.g., stripes) and vice versa. Next we propagate the independent prototypes through a compositional graph, to learn compositional prototypes of novel attribute-object combinations that reflect the dependencies of the target distribution. The method does not rely on any external data, such as class hierarchy graphs or pretrained word embeddings. We evaluate our approach on AO-Clevr, a synthetic and strongly visual dataset with clean labels, UT-Zappos, a noisy real-world dataset of fine-grained shoe types, and C-GQA, a large-scale object detection dataset modified for compositional zero-shot learning. We show that in the generalized compositional zero-shot setting we outperform state-of-the-art results, and through ablations we show the importance of each part of the method and their contribution to the final results. The code is available on github.

Risk Monotonicity in Statistical Learning

Zakaria Mhammedi

Acquisition of data is a difficult task in many applications of machine learning, and it is only natural that one hopes and expects the population risk to decrease (better performance) monotonically with increasing data points. It turns out, somewhat surprisingly, that this is not the case even for the most standard algorithms that minimize the empirical risk. Non-monotonic behavior of the risk and instability in training have manifested and appeared in the popular deep learning paradigm under the description of double descent. These problems highlight the current lack of understanding of learning algorithms and generalization. It is, therefore, crucial to pursue this concern and provide a characterization of such behavior. In this paper, we derive the first consistent and risk-monotonic (in high probability) algorithms for a general statistical learning setting under weak assumptions, consequently answering some questions posed by Viering et. al. 2019 on how to avoid non-monotonic behavior of risk curves. We further show that risk monotonicity need not necessarily come at the price of worse excess risk rates. To achieve this, we derive new empirical Bernstein-like concentration inequalities of independent interest that hold for certain non-i.i.d.~processes such as Martingale Difference Sequences.

Leveraging Recursive Gumbel-Max Trick for Approximate Inference in Combinatorial Spaces

Kirill Struminsky · Artyom Gadetsky · Denis Rakitin · Danil Karpushkin · Dmitry Vetrov

Structured latent variables allow incorporating meaningful prior knowledge into deep learning models. However, learning with such variables remains challenging because of their discrete nature. Nowadays, the standard learning approach is to define a latent variable as a perturbed algorithm output and to use a differentiable surrogate for training. In general, the surrogate puts additional constraints on the model and inevitably leads to biased gradients. To alleviate these shortcomings, we extend the Gumbel-Max trick to define distributions over structured domains. We avoid the differentiable surrogates by leveraging the score function estimators for optimization. In particular, we highlight a family of recursive algorithms with a common feature we call stochastic invariant. The feature allows us to construct reliable gradient estimates and control variates without additional constraints on the model. In our experiments, we consider various structured latent variable models and achieve results competitive with relaxation-based counterparts.

Entropic Desired Dynamics for Intrinsic Control

Steven Hansen · Guillaume Desjardins · Kate Baumli · David Warde-Farley · Nicolas Heess · Simon Osindero · Volodymyr Mnih

An agent might be said, informally, to have mastery of its environment when it has maximised the effective number of states it can reliably reach. In practice, this often means maximizing the number of latent codes that can be discriminated from future states under some short time horizon (e.g. \cite{eysenbach2018diversity}). By situating these latent codes in a globally consistent coordinate system, we show that agents can reliably reach more states in the long term while still optimizing a local objective. A simple instantiation of this idea, \textbf{E}ntropic \textbf{D}esired \textbf{D}ynamics for \textbf{I}ntrinsic \textbf{C}on\textbf{T}rol (EDDICT), assumes fixed additive latent dynamics, which results in tractable learning and an interpretable latent space. Compared to prior methods, EDDICT's globally consistent codes allow it to be far more exploratory, as demonstrated by improved state coverage and increased unsupervised performance on hard exploration games such as Montezuma's Revenge.

Dual Parameterization of Sparse Variational Gaussian Processes

Vincent ADAM · Paul Chang · Mohammad Emtiyaz Khan · Arno Solin

Sparse variational Gaussian process (SVGP) methods are a common choice for non-conjugate Gaussian process inference because of their computational benefits. In this paper, we improve their computational efficiency by using a dual parameterization where each data example is assigned dual parameters, similarly to site parameters used in expectation propagation. Our dual parameterization speeds-up inference using natural gradient descent, and provides a tighter evidence lower bound for hyperparameter learning. The approach has the same memory cost as the current SVGP methods, but it is faster and more accurate.

Universal Rate-Distortion-Perception Representations for Lossy Compression

George Zhang · Jingjing Qian · Jun Chen · Ashish Khisti

In the context of lossy compression, Blau \& Michaeli (2019) adopt a mathematical notion of perceptual quality and define the information rate-distortion-perception function, generalizing the classical rate-distortion tradeoff. We consider the notion of universal representations in which one may fix an encoder and vary the decoder to achieve any point within a collection of distortion and perception constraints. We prove that the corresponding information-theoretic universal rate-distortion-perception function is operationally achievable in an approximate sense. Under MSE distortion, we show that the entire distortion-perception tradeoff of a Gaussian source can be achieved by a single encoder of the same rate asymptotically. We then characterize the achievable distortion-perception region for a fixed representation in the case of arbitrary distributions, and identify conditions under which the aforementioned results continue to hold approximately. This motivates the study of practical constructions that are approximately universal across the RDP tradeoff, thereby alleviating the need to design a new encoder for each objective. We provide experimental results on MNIST and SVHN suggesting that on image compression tasks, the operational tradeoffs achieved by machine learning models with a fixed encoder suffer only a small penalty when compared to their variable encoder counterparts.

Hierarchical Skills for Efficient Exploration

Jonas Gehring · Gabriel Synnaeve · Andreas Krause · Nicolas Usunier

In reinforcement learning, pre-trained low-level skills have the potential to greatly facilitate exploration. However, prior knowledge of the downstream task is required to strike the right balance between generality (fine-grained control) and specificity (faster learning) in skill design. In previous work on continuous control, the sensitivity of methods to this trade-off has not been addressed explicitly, as locomotion provides a suitable prior for navigation tasks, which have been of foremost interest. In this work, we analyze this trade-off for low-level policy pre-training with a new benchmark suite of diverse, sparse-reward tasks for bipedal robots. We alleviate the need for prior knowledge by proposing a hierarchical skill learning framework that acquires skills of varying complexity in an unsupervised manner. For utilization on downstream tasks, we present a three-layered hierarchical learning algorithm to automatically trade off between general and specific skills as required by the respective task. In our experiments, we show that our approach performs this trade-off effectively and achieves better results than current state-of-the-art methods for end-to-end hierarchical reinforcement learning and unsupervised skill discovery.

Sequential Algorithms for Testing Closeness of Distributions

Aadil Oufkir · Omar Fawzi · Nicolas Flammarion · Aurélien Garivier

What advantage do sequential procedures provide over batch algorithms for testing properties of unknown distributions? Focusing on the problem of testing whether two distributions $\mathcal{D}_1$ and $\mathcal{D}_2$ on $\{1,\dots, n\}$ are equal or $\epsilon$-far, we give several answers to this question. We show that for a small alphabet size $n$, there is a sequential algorithm that outperforms any batch algorithm by a factor of at least $4$ in terms sample complexity. For a general alphabet size $n$, we give a sequential algorithm that uses no more samples than its batch counterpart, and possibly fewer if the actual distance between $\mathcal{D}_1$ and $\mathcal{D}_2$ is larger than $\epsilon$. As a corollary, letting $\epsilon$ go to $0$, we obtain a sequential algorithm for testing closeness (with no a priori bound on the distance between $\mathcal{D}_1$ and $\mathcal{D}_2$) with a sample complexity $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\frac{n^{2/3}}{TV(\mathcal{D}_1, \mathcal{D}_2)^{4/3}})$: this improves over the $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\frac{n/\log n}{TV(\mathcal{D}_1, \mathcal{D}_2)^{2} })$ tester of [Daskalakis and Kawase 2017] and is optimal up to multiplicative constants. We also establish limitations of sequential algorithms for the problem of testing closeness: they can improve the worst case number of samples by at most a constant factor.

Foundations of Symbolic Languages for Model Interpretability

Marcelo Arenas · Daniel Báez · Pablo Barceló · Jorge Pérez · Bernardo Subercaseaux

Several queries and scores have recently been proposed to explain individual predictions over ML models. Examples include queries based on “anchors”, which are parts of an instance that are sufficient to justify its classification, and “feature-perturbation” scores such as SHAP. Given the need for flexible, reliable, and easy-to-apply interpretability methods for ML models, we foresee the need for developing declarative languages to naturally specify different explainability queries. We do this in a principled way by rooting such a language in a logic called FOIL, which allows for expressing many simple but important explainability queries, and might serve as a core for more expressive interpretability languages. We study the computational complexity of FOIL queries over two classes of ML models often deemed to be easily interpretable: decision trees and more general decision diagrams. Since the number of possible inputs for an ML model is exponential in its dimension, tractability of the FOIL evaluation problem is delicate but can be achieved by either restricting the structure of the models, or the fragment of FOIL being evaluated. We also present a prototype implementation of FOIL wrapped in a high-level declarative language and perform experiments showing that such a language can be used in practice.

How Well do Feature Visualizations Support Causal Understanding of CNN Activations?

Roland S. Zimmermann · Judy Borowski · Robert Geirhos · Matthias Bethge · Thomas Wallis · Wieland Brendel

A precise understanding of why units in an artificial network respond to certain stimuli would constitute a big step towards explainable artificial intelligence. One widely used approach towards this goal is to visualize unit responses via activation maximization. These feature visualizations are purported to provide humans with precise information about the image features that cause a unit to be activated - an advantage over other alternatives like strongly activating dataset samples. If humans indeed gain causal insight from visualizations, this should enable them to predict the effect of an intervention, such as how occluding a certain patch of the image (say, a dog's head) changes a unit's activation. Here, we test this hypothesis by asking humans to decide which of two square occlusions causes a larger change to a unit's activation.Both a large-scale crowdsourced experiment and measurements with experts show that on average the extremely activating feature visualizations by Olah et al. (2017) indeed help humans on this task ($68 \pm 4$% accuracy; baseline performance without any visualizations is $60 \pm 3$%). However, they do not provide any substantial advantage over other visualizations (such as e.g. dataset samples), which yield similar performance ($66\pm3$% to $67 \pm3$% accuracy). Taken together, we propose an objective psychophysical task to quantify the benefit of unit-level interpretability methods for humans, and find no evidence that a widely-used feature visualization method provides humans with better "causal understanding" of unit activations than simple alternative visualizations.

An Uncertainty Principle is a Price of Privacy-Preserving Microdata

John Abowd · Robert Ashmead · Ryan Cumings-Menon · Simson Garfinkel · Daniel Kifer · Philip Leclerc · William Sexton · Ashley Simpson · Christine Task · Pavel Zhuravlev

Privacy-protected microdata are often the desired output of a differentially private algorithm since microdata is familiar and convenient for downstream users. However, there is a statistical price for this kind of convenience. We show that an uncertainty principle governs the trade-off between accuracy for a population of interest (``sum query'') vs. accuracy for its component sub-populations (``point queries''). Compared to differentially private query answering systems that are not required to produce microdata, accuracy can degrade by a logarithmic factor. For example, in the case of pure differential privacy, without the microdata requirement, one can provide noisy answers to the sum query and all point queries while guaranteeing that each answer has squared error $O(1/\epsilon^2)$. With the microdata requirement, one must choose between allowing an additional $\log^2(d)$ factor ($d$ is the number of point queries) for some point queries or allowing an extra $O(d^2)$ factor for the sum query. We present lower bounds for pure, approximate, and concentrated differential privacy. We propose mitigation strategies and create a collection of benchmark datasets that can be used for public study of this problem.

Batch Active Learning at Scale

Gui Citovsky · Giulia DeSalvo · Claudio Gentile · Lazaros Karydas · Anand Rajagopalan · Afshin Rostamizadeh · Sanjiv Kumar

The ability to train complex and highly effective models often requires an abundance of training data, which can easily become a bottleneck in cost, time, and computational resources. Batch active learning, which adaptively issues batched queries to a labeling oracle, is a common approach for addressing this problem. The practical benefits of batch sampling come with the downside of less adaptivity and the risk of sampling redundant examples within a batch -- a risk that grows with the batch size. In this work, we analyze an efficient active learning algorithm, which focuses on the large batch setting. In particular, we show that our sampling method, which combines notions of uncertainty and diversity, easily scales to batch sizes (100K-1M) several orders of magnitude larger than used in previous studies and provides significant improvements in model training efficiency compared to recent baselines. Finally, we provide an initial theoretical analysis, proving label complexity guarantees for a related sampling method, which we show is approximately equivalent to our sampling method in specific settings.

Joint Semantic Mining for Weakly Supervised RGB-D Salient Object Detection

Jingjing Li · Wei Ji · Qi Bi · Cheng Yan · Miao Zhang · Yongri Piao · Huchuan Lu · Li cheng

Training saliency detection models with weak supervisions, e.g., image-level tags or captions, is appealing as it removes the costly demand of per-pixel annotations. Despite the rapid progress of RGB-D saliency detection in fully-supervised setting, it however remains an unexplored territory when only weak supervision signals are available. This paper is set to tackle the problem of weakly-supervised RGB-D salient object detection. The key insight in this effort is the idea of maintaining per-pixel pseudo-labels with iterative refinements by reconciling the multimodal input signals in our joint semantic mining (JSM). Considering the large variations in the raw depth map and the lack of explicit pixel-level supervisions, we propose spatial semantic modeling (SSM) to capture saliency-specific depth cues from the raw depth and produce depth-refined pseudo-labels. Moreover, tags and captions are incorporated via a fill-in-the-blank training in our textual semantic modeling (TSM) to estimate the confidences of competing pseudo-labels. At test time, our model involves only a light-weight sub-network of the training pipeline, i.e., it requires only an RGB image as input, thus allowing efficient inference. Extensive evaluations demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach under the weakly-supervised setting. Importantly, our method could also be adapted to work in both fully-supervised and unsupervised paradigms. In each of these scenarios, superior performance has been attained by our approach with comparing to the state-of-the-art dedicated methods. As a by-product, a CapS dataset is constructed by augmenting existing benchmark training set with additional image tags and captions.

Contrastive Learning for Neural Topic Model

Thong Nguyen · Anh Tuan Luu

Recent empirical studies show that adversarial topic models (ATM) can successfully capture semantic patterns of the document by differentiating a document with another dissimilar sample. However, utilizing that discriminative-generative architecture has two important drawbacks: (1) the architecture does not relate similar documents, which has the same document-word distribution of salient words; (2) it restricts the ability to integrate external information, such as sentiments of the document, which has been shown to benefit the training of neural topic model. To address those issues, we revisit the adversarial topic architecture in the view point of mathematical analysis, propose a novel approach to re-formulate discriminative goal as an optimization problem, and design a novel sampling method which facilitates the integration of external variables. The reformulation encourages the model to incorporate the relations among similar samples and enforces the constraint on the similarity among dissimilar ones; while the sampling method, which is based on the internal input and reconstructed output, helps inform the model of salient words contributing to the main topic. Experimental results show that our framework outperforms other state-of-the-art neural topic models in three common benchmark datasets that belong to various domains, vocabulary sizes, and document lengths in terms of topic coherence.

A Provably Efficient Model-Free Posterior Sampling Method for Episodic Reinforcement Learning

Christoph Dann · Mehryar Mohri · Tong Zhang · Julian Zimmert

Thompson Sampling is one of the most effective methods for contextual bandits and has been generalized to posterior sampling for certain MDP settings. However, existing posterior sampling methods for reinforcement learning are limited by being model-based or lack worst-case theoretical guarantees beyond linear MDPs. This paper proposes a new model-free formulation of posterior sampling that applies to more general episodic reinforcement learning problems with theoretical guarantees. We introduce novel proof techniques to show that under suitable conditions, the worst-case regret of our posterior sampling method matches the best known results of optimization based methods. In the linear MDP setting with dimension, the regret of our algorithm scales linearly with the dimension as compared to a quadratic dependence of the existing posterior sampling-based exploration algorithms.

Optimization-Based Algebraic Multigrid Coarsening Using Reinforcement Learning

Ali Taghibakhshi · Scott MacLachlan · Luke Olson · Matthew West

Large sparse linear systems of equations are ubiquitous in science and engineering, such as those arising from discretizations of partial differential equations. Algebraic multigrid (AMG) methods are one of the most common methods of solving such linear systems, with an extensive body of underlying mathematical theory. A system of linear equations defines a graph on the set of unknowns and each level of a multigrid solver requires the selection of an appropriate coarse graph along with restriction and interpolation operators that map to and from the coarse representation. The efficiency of the multigrid solver depends critically on this selection and many selection methods have been developed over the years. Recently, it has been demonstrated that it is possible to directly learn the AMG interpolation and restriction operators, given a coarse graph selection. In this paper, we consider the complementary problem of learning to coarsen graphs for a multigrid solver, a necessary step in developing fully learnable AMG methods. We propose a method using a reinforcement learning (RL) agent based on graph neural networks (GNNs), which can learn to perform graph coarsening on small planar training graphs and then be applied to unstructured large planar graphs, assuming bounded node degree. We demonstrate that this method can produce better coarse graphs than existing algorithms, even as the graph size increases and other properties of the graph are varied. We also propose an efficient inference procedure for performing graph coarsening that results in linear time complexity in graph size.

Explaining Latent Representations with a Corpus of Examples

Jonathan Crabbe · Zhaozhi Qian · Fergus Imrie · Mihaela van der Schaar

Modern machine learning models are complicated. Most of them rely on convoluted latent representations of their input to issue a prediction. To achieve greater transparency than a black-box that connects inputs to predictions, it is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of these latent representations. To that aim, we propose SimplEx: a user-centred method that provides example-based explanations with reference to a freely selected set of examples, called the corpus. SimplEx uses the corpus to improve the user’s understanding of the latent space with post-hoc explanations answering two questions: (1) Which corpus examples explain the prediction issued for a given test example? (2) What features of these corpus examples are relevant for the model to relate them to the test example? SimplEx provides an answer by reconstructing the test latent representation as a mixture of corpus latent representations. Further, we propose a novel approach, the integrated Jacobian, that allows SimplEx to make explicit the contribution of each corpus feature in the mixture. Through experiments on tasks ranging from mortality prediction to image classification, we demonstrate that these decompositions are robust and accurate. With illustrative use cases in medicine, we show that SimplEx empowers the user by highlighting relevant patterns in the corpus that explain model representations. Moreover, we demonstrate how the freedom in choosing the corpus allows the user to have personalized explanations in terms of examples that are meaningful for them.

EDGE: Explaining Deep Reinforcement Learning Policies

Wenbo Guo · Xian Wu · Usmann Khan · Xinyu Xing

With the rapid development of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) techniques, there is an increasing need to understand and interpret DRL policies. While recent research has developed explanation methods to interpret how an agent determines its moves, they cannot capture the importance of actions/states to a game's final result. In this work, we propose a novel self-explainable model that augments a Gaussian process with a customized kernel function and an interpretable predictor. Together with the proposed model, we also develop a parameter learning procedure that leverages inducing points and variational inference to improve learning efficiency. Using our proposed model, we can predict an agent's final rewards from its game episodes and extract time step importance within episodes as strategy-level explanations for that agent. Through experiments on Atari and MuJoCo games, we verify the explanation fidelity of our method and demonstrate how to employ interpretation to understand agent behavior, discover policy vulnerabilities, remediate policy errors, and even defend against adversarial attacks.

On Plasticity, Invariance, and Mutually Frozen Weights in Sequential Task Learning

Julian Zilly · Alessandro Achille · Andrea Censi · Emilio Frazzoli

Plastic neural networks have the ability to adapt to new tasks. However, in a continual learning setting, the configuration of parameters learned in previous tasks can severely reduce the adaptability to future tasks. In particular, we show that, when using weight decay, weights in successive layers of a deep network may become "mutually frozen". This has a double effect: on the one hand, it makes the network updates more invariant to nuisance factors, providing a useful bias for future tasks. On the other hand, it can prevent the network from learning new tasks that require significantly different features. In this context, we find that the local input sensitivity of a deep model is correlated with its ability to adapt, thus leading to an intriguing trade-off between adaptability and invariance when training a deep model more than once. We then show that a simple intervention that "resets" the mutually frozen connections can improve transfer learning on a variety of visual classification tasks. The efficacy of "resetting" itself depends on the size of the target dataset and the difference of the pre-training and target domains, allowing us to achieve state-of-the-art results on some datasets.

Argmax Flows and Multinomial Diffusion: Learning Categorical Distributions

Emiel Hoogeboom · Didrik Nielsen · Priyank Jaini · Patrick Forré · Max Welling

Generative flows and diffusion models have been predominantly trained on ordinal data, for example natural images. This paper introduces two extensions of flows and diffusion for categorical data such as language or image segmentation: Argmax Flows and Multinomial Diffusion. Argmax Flows are defined by a composition of a continuous distribution (such as a normalizing flow), and an argmax function. To optimize this model, we learn a probabilistic inverse for the argmax that lifts the categorical data to a continuous space. Multinomial Diffusion gradually adds categorical noise in a diffusion process, for which the generative denoising process is learned. We demonstrate that our method outperforms existing dequantization approaches on text modelling and modelling on image segmentation maps in log-likelihood.

Keeping Your Eye on the Ball: Trajectory Attention in Video Transformers

Mandela Patrick · Dylan Campbell · Yuki Asano · Ishan Misra · Florian Metze · Christoph Feichtenhofer · Andrea Vedaldi · João Henriques

In video transformers, the time dimension is often treated in the same way as the two spatial dimensions. However, in a scene where objects or the camera may move, a physical point imaged at one location in frame $t$ may be entirely unrelated to what is found at that location in frame $t+k$. These temporal correspondences should be modeled to facilitate learning about dynamic scenes. To this end, we propose a new drop-in block for video transformers - trajectory attention - that aggregates information along implicitly determined motion paths. We additionally propose a new method to address the quadratic dependence of computation and memory on the input size, which is particularly important for high resolution or long videos. While these ideas are useful in a range of settings, we apply them to the specific task of video action recognition with a transformer model and obtain state-of-the-art results on the Kinetics, Something-Something V2, and Epic-Kitchens datasets.

Constrained Two-step Look-Ahead Bayesian Optimization

Yunxiang Zhang · Xiangyu Zhang · Peter Frazier

Recent advances in computationally efficient non-myopic Bayesian optimization offer improved query efficiency over traditional myopic methods like expected improvement, with only a modest increase in computational cost. These advances have been largely limited to unconstrained BO methods with only a few exceptions which require heavy computation. For instance, one existing multi-step lookahead constrained BO method (Lam & Willcox, 2017) relies on computationally expensive unreliable brute force derivative-free optimization of a Monte Carlo rollout acquisition function. Methods that use the reparameterization trick for more efficient derivative-based optimization of non-myopic acquisition functions in the unconstrained setting, like sample average approximation and infinitesimal perturbation analysis, do not extend: constraints introduce discontinuities in the sampled acquisition function surface. Moreover, we argue here that being non-myopic is even more important in constrained problems because fear of violating constraints pushes myopic methods away from sampling the boundary between feasible and infeasible regions, slowing the discovery of optimal solutions with tight constraints. In this paper, we propose a computationally efficient two-step lookahead constrained Bayesian optimization acquisition function (2-OPT-C) supporting both sequential and batch settings. To enable fast acquisition function optimization, we develop a novel likelihood ratio-based unbiased estimator of the gradient of the two-step optimal acquisition function that does not use the reparameterization trick. In numerical experiments, 2-OPT-C typically improves query efficiency by 2x or more over previous methods, and in some cases by 10x or more.

Learning with Labeling Induced Abstentions

Kareem Amin · Giulia DeSalvo · Afshin Rostamizadeh

Consider a setting where we wish to automate an expensive task with a machine learning algorithm using a limited labeling resource. In such settings, examples routed for labeling are often out of scope for the machine learning algorithm. For example, in a spam detection setting, human reviewers not only provide labeled data but are such high-quality detectors of spam that examples routed to them no longer require machine evaluation. As a consequence, the distribution of examples routed to the machine is intimately tied to the process generating labels. We introduce a formalization of this setting, and give an algorithm that simultaneously learns a model and decides when to request a label by leveraging ideas from both the abstention and active learning literatures. We prove an upper bound on the algorithm's label complexity and a matching lower bound for any algorithm in this setting. We conduct a thorough set of experiments including an ablation study to test different components of our algorithm. We demonstrate the effectiveness of an efficient version of our algorithm over margin sampling on a variety of datasets.

On the Validity of Modeling SGD with Stochastic Differential Equations (SDEs)

Zhiyuan Li · Sadhika Malladi · Sanjeev Arora

It is generally recognized that finite learning rate (LR), in contrast to infinitesimal LR, is important for good generalization in real-life deep nets. Most attempted explanations propose approximating finite-LR SGD with Itô Stochastic Differential Equations (SDEs), but formal justification for this approximation (e.g., Li et al., 2019) only applies to SGD with tiny LR. Experimental verification of the approximation appears computationally infeasible. The current paper clarifies the picture with the following contributions: (a) An efficient simulation algorithm SVAG that provably converges to the conventionally used Itô SDE approximation. (b) A theoretically motivated testable necessary condition for the SDE approximation and its most famous implication, the linear scaling rule (Goyal et al., 2017), to hold.(c) Experiments using this simulation to demonstrate that the previously proposed SDE approximation can meaningfully capture the training and generalization properties of common deep nets.

Towards Hyperparameter-free Policy Selection for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Siyuan Zhang · Nan Jiang

How to select between policies and value functions produced by different training algorithms in offline reinforcement learning (RL)---which is crucial for hyperparameter tuning---is an important open question. Existing approaches based on off-policy evaluation (OPE) often require additional function approximation and hence hyperparameters, creating a chicken-and-egg situation. In this paper, we design hyperparameter-free algorithms for policy selection based on BVFT [XJ21], a recent theoretical advance in value-function selection, and demonstrate their effectiveness in discrete-action benchmarks such as Atari. To address performance degradation due to poor critics in continuous-action domains, we further combine BVFT with OPE to get the best of both worlds, and obtain a hyperparameter-tuning method for $Q$-function based OPE with theoretical guarantees as a side product.

Consistency Regularization for Variational Auto-Encoders

Samarth Sinha · Adji Bousso Dieng

Variational Auto-Encoders (VAEs) are a powerful approach to unsupervised learning. They enable scalable approximate posterior inference in latent-variable models using variational inference. A VAE posits a variational family parameterized by a deep neural network---called an encoder---that takes data as input. This encoder is shared across all the observations, which amortizes the cost of inference. However the encoder of a VAE has the undesirable property that it maps a given observation and a semantics-preserving transformation of it to different latent representations. This "inconsistency" of the encoder lowers the quality of the learned representations, especially for downstream tasks, and also negatively affects generalization. In this paper, we propose a regularization method to enforce consistency in VAEs. The idea is to minimize the Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence between the variational distribution when conditioning on the observation and the variational distribution when conditioning on a random semantics-preserving transformation of this observation. This regularization is applicable to any VAE. In our experiments we apply it to four different VAE variants on several benchmark datasets and found it always improves the quality of the learned representations but also leads to better generalization. In particular, when applied to the Nouveau VAE (NVAE), our regularization method yields state-of-the-art performance on MNIST, CIFAR-10, and CELEBA. We also applied our method to 3D data and found it learns representations of superior quality as measured by accuracy on a downstream classification task. Finally, we show our method can even outperform the triplet loss, an advanced and popular contrastive learning-based method for representation learning.

Interactive Label Cleaning with Example-based Explanations

Stefano Teso · Andrea Bontempelli · Fausto Giunchiglia · Andrea Passerini

We tackle sequential learning under label noise in applications where a human supervisor can be queried to relabel suspicious examples. Existing approaches are flawed, in that they only relabel incoming examples that look "suspicious" to the model. As a consequence, those mislabeled examples that elude (or don't undergo) this cleaning step end up tainting the training data and the model with no further chance of being cleaned. We propose CINCER, a novel approach that cleans both new and past data by identifying \emph{pairs of mutually incompatible examples}. Whenever it detects a suspicious example, CINCER identifies a counter-example in the training set that - according to the model - is maximally incompatible with the suspicious example, and asks the annotator to relabel either or both examples, resolving this possible inconsistency. The counter-examples are chosen to be maximally incompatible, so to serve as \emph{explanations} of the model's suspicion, and highly influential, so to convey as much information as possible if relabeled. CINCER achieves this by leveraging an efficient and robust approximation of influence functions based on the Fisher information matrix (FIM). Our extensive empirical evaluation shows that clarifying the reasons behind the model's suspicions by cleaning the counter-examples helps in acquiring substantially better data and models, especially when paired with our FIM approximation.

A Compositional Atlas of Tractable Circuit Operations for Probabilistic Inference

Antonio Vergari · YooJung Choi · Anji Liu · Stefano Teso · Guy Van den Broeck

Circuit representations are becoming the lingua franca to express and reason about tractable generative and discriminative models. In this paper, we show how complex inference scenarios for these models that commonly arise in machine learning---from computing the expectations of decision tree ensembles to information-theoretic divergences of sum-product networks---can be represented in terms of tractable modular operations over circuits. Specifically, we characterize the tractability of simple transformations---sums, products, quotients, powers, logarithms, and exponentials---in terms of sufficient structural constraints of the circuits they operate on, and present novel hardness results for the cases in which these properties are not satisfied. Building on these operations, we derive a unified framework for reasoning about tractable models that generalizes several results in the literature and opens up novel tractable inference scenarios.

Better Algorithms for Individually Fair $k$-Clustering

Maryam Negahbani · Deeparnab Chakrabarty

We study data clustering problems with $\ell_p$-norm objectives (e.g. \textsc{$k$-Median} and \textsc{$k$-Means}) in the context of individual fairness. The dataset consists of $n$ points, and we want to find $k$ centers such that (a) the objective is minimized, while (b) respecting the individual fairness constraint that every point $v$ has a center within a distance at most $r(v)$, where $r(v)$ is $v$'s distance to its $(n/k)$th nearest point. Jung, Kannan, and Lutz [FORC 2020] introduced this concept and designed a clustering algorithm with provable (approximate) fairness and objective guarantees for the $\ell_\infty$ or \textsc{$k$-Center} objective. Mahabadi and Vakilian [ICML 2020] revisited this problem to give a local-search algorithm for all $\ell_p$-norms. Empirically, their algorithms outperform Jung et. al.'s by a large margin in terms of cost (for \textsc{$k$-Median} and \textsc{$k$-Means}), but they incur a reasonable loss in fairness. In this paper, our main contribution is to use Linear Programming (LP) techniques to obtain better algorithms for this problem, both in theory and in practice. We prove that by modifying known LP rounding techniques, one gets a worst-case guarantee on the objective which is much better than in MV20, and empirically, this objective is extremely close to the optimal. Furthermore, our theoretical fairness guarantees are comparable with MV20 in theory, and empirically, we obtain noticeably fairer solutions.Although solving the LP {\em exactly} might be prohibitive, we demonstrate that in practice, a simple sparsification technique drastically improves the run-time of our algorithm.

HNPE: Leveraging Global Parameters for Neural Posterior Estimation

Pedro Rodrigues · Thomas Moreau · Gilles Louppe · Alexandre Gramfort

Inferring the parameters of a stochastic model based on experimental observations is central to the scientific method. A particularly challenging setting is when the model is strongly indeterminate, i.e. when distinct sets of parameters yield identical observations. This arises in many practical situations, such as when inferring the distance and power of a radio source (is the source close and weak or far and strong?) or when estimating the amplifier gain and underlying brain activity of an electrophysiological experiment. In this work, we present hierarchical neural posterior estimation (HNPE), a novel method for cracking such indeterminacy by exploiting additional information conveyed by an auxiliary set of observations sharing global parameters. Our method extends recent developments in simulation-based inference (SBI) based on normalizing flows to Bayesian hierarchical models. We validate quantitatively our proposal on a motivating example amenable to analytical solutions and then apply it to invert a well known non-linear model from computational neuroscience, using both simulated and real EEG data.

Contrastive Active Inference

Pietro Mazzaglia · Tim Verbelen · Bart Dhoedt

Active inference is a unifying theory for perception and action resting upon the idea that the brain maintains an internal model of the world by minimizing free energy. From a behavioral perspective, active inference agents can be seen as self-evidencing beings that act to fulfill their optimistic predictions, namely preferred outcomes or goals. In contrast, reinforcement learning requires human-designed rewards to accomplish any desired outcome. Although active inference could provide a more natural self-supervised objective for control, its applicability has been limited because of the shortcomings in scaling the approach to complex environments. In this work, we propose a contrastive objective for active inference that strongly reduces the computational burden in learning the agent's generative model and planning future actions. Our method performs notably better than likelihood-based active inference in image-based tasks, while also being computationally cheaper and easier to train. We compare to reinforcement learning agents that have access to human-designed reward functions, showing that our approach closely matches their performance. Finally, we also show that contrastive methods perform significantly better in the case of distractors in the environment and that our method is able to generalize goals to variations in the background.

CCVS: Context-aware Controllable Video Synthesis

Guillaume Le Moing · Jean Ponce · Cordelia Schmid

This presentation introduces a self-supervised learning approach to the synthesis of new videos clips from old ones, with several new key elements for improved spatial resolution and realism: It conditions the synthesis process on contextual information for temporal continuity and ancillary information for fine control. The prediction model is doubly autoregressive, in the latent space of an autoencoder for forecasting, and in image space for updating contextual information, which is also used to enforce spatio-temporal consistency through a learnable optical flow module. Adversarial training of the autoencoder in the appearance and temporal domains is used to further improve the realism of its output. A quantizer inserted between the encoder and the transformer in charge of forecasting future frames in latent space (and its inverse inserted between the transformer and the decoder) adds even more flexibility by affording simple mechanisms for handling multimodal ancillary information for controlling the synthesis process (e.g., a few sample frames, an audio track, a trajectory in image space) and taking into account the intrinsically uncertain nature of the future by allowing multiple predictions. Experiments with an implementation of the proposed approach give very good qualitative and quantitative results on multiple tasks and standard benchmarks.

Convergence of adaptive algorithms for constrained weakly convex optimization

Ahmet Alacaoglu · Yura Malitsky · Volkan Cevher

We analyze the adaptive first order algorithm AMSGrad, for solving a constrained stochastic optimization problem with a weakly convex objective. We prove the $\mathcal{\tilde O}(t^{-1/2})$ rate of convergence for the squared norm of the gradient of Moreau envelope, which is the standard stationarity measure for this class of problems. It matches the known rates that adaptive algorithms enjoy for the specific case of unconstrained smooth nonconvex stochastic optimization. Our analysis works with mini-batch size of $1$, constant first and second order moment parameters, and possibly unbounded optimization domains. Finally, we illustrate the applications and extensions of our results to specific problems and algorithms.

Scaling up Continuous-Time Markov Chains Helps Resolve Underspecification

Alkis Gotovos · Rebekka Burkholz · John Quackenbush · Stefanie Jegelka

Modeling the time evolution of discrete sets of items (e.g., genetic mutations) is a fundamental problem in many biomedical applications. We approach this problem through the lens of continuous-time Markov chains, and show that the resulting learning task is generally underspecified in the usual setting of cross-sectional data. We explore a perhaps surprising remedy: including a number of additional independent items can help determine time order, and hence resolve underspecification. This is in sharp contrast to the common practice of limiting the analysis to a small subset of relevant items, which is followed largely due to poor scaling of existing methods. To put our theoretical insight into practice, we develop an approximate likelihood maximization method for learning continuous-time Markov chains, which can scale to hundreds of items and is orders of magnitude faster than previous methods. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on synthetic and real cancer data.

M-FAC: Efficient Matrix-Free Approximations of Second-Order Information

Elias Frantar · Eldar Kurtic · Dan Alistarh

Efficiently approximating local curvature information of the loss function is a useful tool for the optimization and compression of deep neural networks. Yet, most existing methods to approximate second-order information have high computational or storage costs, limiting their practicality. In this work, we investigate matrix-free approaches for estimating Inverse-Hessian Vector Products (IHVPs) for the case when the Hessian can be approximated as a sum of rank-one matrices, as in the classic approximation of the Hessian by the empirical Fisher matrix. The first algorithm we propose is tailored towards network compression and can compute the IHVP for dimension $d$ given a fixed set of $m$ rank-one matrices using $O(dm^2)$ precomputation, $O(dm)$ cost for computing the IHVP and query cost $O(m)$ for computing any single element of the inverse Hessian approximation. The second algorithm targets an optimization setting, where we wish to compute the product between the inverse Hessian, estimated over a sliding window of optimization steps, and a given gradient direction. We give an algorithm with cost $O(dm + m^2)$ for computing the IHVP and $O(dm + m^3)$ for adding or removing any gradient from the sliding window. We show that both algorithms yield competitive results for network pruning and optimization, respectively, with significantly lower computational overhead relative to existing second-order methods.

Analytic Study of Families of Spurious Minima in Two-Layer ReLU Neural Networks: A Tale of Symmetry II

Yossi Arjevani · Michael Field

We study the optimization problem associated with fitting two-layer ReLU neural networks with respect to the squared loss, where labels are generated by a target network. We make use of the rich symmetry structure to develop a novel set of tools for studying families of spurious minima. In contrast to existing approaches which operate in limiting regimes, our technique directly addresses the nonconvex loss landscape for finite number of inputs $d$ and neurons $k$, and provides analytic, rather than heuristic, information. In particular, we derive analytic estimates for the loss at different minima, and prove that, modulo $O(d^{-1/2})$-terms, the Hessian spectrum concentrates near small positive constants, with the exception of $\Theta(d)$ eigenvalues which grow linearly with~$d$. We further show that the Hessian spectrum at global and spurious minima coincide to $O(d^{-1/2})$-order, thus challenging our ability to argue about statistical generalization through local curvature. Lastly, our technique provides the exact \emph{fractional} dimensionality at which families of critical points turn from saddles into spurious minima. This makes possible the study of the creation and the annihilation of spurious minima using powerful tools from equivariant bifurcation theory.

Learning to Ground Multi-Agent Communication with Autoencoders

Toru Lin · Jacob Huh · Christopher Stauffer · Ser Nam Lim · Phillip Isola

Communication requires having a common language, a lingua franca, between agents. This language could emerge via a consensus process, but it may require many generations of trial and error. Alternatively, the lingua franca can be given by the environment, where agents ground their language in representations of the observed world. We demonstrate a simple way to ground language in learned representations, which facilitates decentralized multi-agent communication and coordination. We find that a standard representation learning algorithm -- autoencoding -- is sufficient for arriving at a grounded common language. When agents broadcast these representations, they learn to understand and respond to each other's utterances and achieve surprisingly strong task performance across a variety of multi-agent communication environments.

A Theoretical Analysis of Fine-tuning with Linear Teachers

Gal Shachaf · Alon Brutzkus · Amir Globerson

Fine-tuning is a common practice in deep learning, achieving excellent generalization results on downstream tasks using relatively little training data. Although widely used in practice, it is not well understood theoretically. Here we analyze the sample complexity of this scheme for regression with linear teachers in several settings. Intuitively, the success of fine-tuning depends on the similarity between the source tasks and the target task. But what is the right way of measuring this similarity? We show that the relevant measure has to do with the relation between the source task, the target task and the covariance structure of the target data. In the setting of linear regression, we show that under realistic settings there can be substantial sample complexity reduction when the above measure is low. For deep linear regression, we propose a novel result regarding the inductive bias of gradient-based training when the network is initialized with pretrained weights. Using this result we show that the similarity measure for this setting is also affected by the depth of the network. We conclude with results on shallow ReLU models, and analyze the dependence of sample complexity there on source and target tasks. We empirically demonstrate our results for both synthetic and realistic data.

Directional Message Passing on Molecular Graphs via Synthetic Coordinates

Johannes Gasteiger · Chandan Yeshwanth · Stephan Günnemann

Graph neural networks that leverage coordinates via directional message passing have recently set the state of the art on multiple molecular property prediction tasks. However, they rely on atom position information that is often unavailable, and obtaining it is usually prohibitively expensive or even impossible. In this paper we propose synthetic coordinates that enable the use of advanced GNNs without requiring the true molecular configuration. We propose two distances as synthetic coordinates: Distance bounds that specify the rough range of molecular configurations, and graph-based distances using a symmetric variant of personalized PageRank. To leverage both distance and angular information we propose a method of transforming normal graph neural networks into directional MPNNs. We show that with this transformation we can reduce the error of a normal graph neural network by 55% on the ZINC benchmark. We furthermore set the state of the art on ZINC and coordinate-free QM9 by incorporating synthetic coordinates in the SMP and DimeNet++ models. Our implementation is available online.

Regularization in ResNet with Stochastic Depth

Soufiane Hayou · Fadhel Ayed

Regularization plays a major role in modern deep learning. From classic techniques such as L1, L2 penalties to other noise-based methods such as Dropout, regularization often yields better generalization properties by avoiding overfitting. Recently, Stochastic Depth (SD) has emerged as an alternative regularization technique for residual neural networks (ResNets) and has proven to boost the performance of ResNet on many tasks [Huang et al., 2016]. Despite the recent success of SD, little is known about this technique from a theoretical perspective. This paper provides a hybrid analysis combining perturbation analysis and signal propagation to shed light on different regularization effects of SD. Our analysis allows us to derive principled guidelines for choosing the survival rates used for training with SD.

CROCS: Clustering and Retrieval of Cardiac Signals Based on Patient Disease Class, Sex, and Age

Dani Kiyasseh · Tingting Zhu · David Clifton

The process of manually searching for relevant instances in, and extracting information from, clinical databases underpin a multitude of clinical tasks. Such tasks include disease diagnosis, clinical trial recruitment, and continuing medical education. This manual search-and-extract process, however, has been hampered by the growth of large-scale clinical databases and the increased prevalence of unlabelled instances. To address this challenge, we propose a supervised contrastive learning framework, CROCS, where representations of cardiac signals associated with a set of patient-specific attributes (e.g., disease class, sex, age) are attracted to learnable embeddings entitled clinical prototypes. We exploit such prototypes for both the clustering and retrieval of unlabelled cardiac signals based on multiple patient attributes. We show that CROCS outperforms the state-of-the-art method, DTC, when clustering and also retrieves relevant cardiac signals from a large database. We also show that clinical prototypes adopt a semantically meaningful arrangement based on patient attributes and thus confer a high degree of interpretability.

Reinforcement Learning with State Observation Costs in Action-Contingent Noiselessly Observable Markov Decision Processes

HyunJi Alex Nam · Scott Fleming · Emma Brunskill

Many real-world problems that require making optimal sequences of decisions under uncertainty involve costs when the agent wishes to obtain information about its environment. We design and analyze algorithms for reinforcement learning (RL) in Action-Contingent Noiselessly Observable MDPs (ACNO-MDPs), a special class of POMDPs in which the agent can choose to either (1) fully observe the state at a cost and then act; or (2) act without any immediate observation information, relying on past observations to infer the underlying state. ACNO-MDPs arise frequently in important real-world application domains like healthcare, in which clinicians must balance the value of information gleaned from medical tests (e.g., blood-based biomarkers) with the costs of gathering that information (e.g., the costs of labor and materials required to administer such tests). We develop a PAC RL algorithm for tabular ACNO-MDPs that provides substantially tighter bounds, compared to generic POMDP-RL algorithms, on the total number of episodes exhibiting worse than near-optimal performance. For continuous-state ACNO-MDPs, we propose a novel method of incorporating observation information that, when coupled with modern RL algorithms, yields significantly faster learning compared to other POMDP-RL algorithms in several simulated environments.

On Blame Attribution for Accountable Multi-Agent Sequential Decision Making

Stelios Triantafyllou · Adish Singla · Goran Radanovic

Blame attribution is one of the key aspects of accountable decision making, as it provides means to quantify the responsibility of an agent for a decision making outcome. In this paper, we study blame attribution in the context of cooperative multi-agent sequential decision making. As a particular setting of interest, we focus on cooperative decision making formalized by Multi-Agent Markov Decision Processes (MMDPs), and we analyze different blame attribution methods derived from or inspired by existing concepts in cooperative game theory. We formalize desirable properties of blame attribution in the setting of interest, and we analyze the relationship between these properties and the studied blame attribution methods. Interestingly, we show that some of the well known blame attribution methods, such as Shapley value, are not performance-incentivizing, while others, such as Banzhaf index, may over-blame agents. To mitigate these value misalignment and fairness issues, we introduce a novel blame attribution method, unique in the set of properties it satisfies, which trade-offs explanatory power (by under-blaming agents) for the aforementioned properties. We further show how to account for uncertainty about agents' decision making policies, and we experimentally: a) validate the qualitative properties of the studied blame attribution methods, and b) analyze their robustness to uncertainty.

Rethinking the Pruning Criteria for Convolutional Neural Network

Zhongzhan Huang · Wenqi Shao · Xinjiang Wang · Liang Lin · Ping Luo

Channel pruning is a popular technique for compressing convolutional neural networks (CNNs), where various pruning criteria have been proposed to remove the redundant filters. From our comprehensive experiments, we found two blind spots of pruning criteria: (1) Similarity: There are some strong similarities among several primary pruning criteria that are widely cited and compared. According to these criteria, the ranks of filters’ Importance Score are almost identical, resulting in similar pruned structures. (2) Applicability: The filters' Importance Score measured by some pruning criteria are too close to distinguish the network redundancy well. In this paper, we analyze the above blind spots on different types of pruning criteria with layer-wise pruning or global pruning. We also break some stereotypes, such as that the results of $\ell_1$ and $\ell_2$ pruning are not always similar. These analyses are based on the empirical experiments and our assumption (Convolutional Weight Distribution Assumption) that the well-trained convolutional filters in each layer approximately follow a Gaussian-alike distribution. This assumption has been verified through systematic and extensive statistical tests.

Capacity and Bias of Learned Geometric Embeddings for Directed Graphs

Michael Boratko · Dongxu Zhang · Nicholas Monath · Luke Vilnis · Kenneth L Clarkson · Andrew McCallum

A wide variety of machine learning tasks such as knowledge base completion, ontology alignment, and multi-label classification can benefit from incorporating into learning differentiable representations of graphs or taxonomies. While vectors in Euclidean space can theoretically represent any graph, much recent work shows that alternatives such as complex, hyperbolic, order, or box embeddings have geometric properties better suited to modeling real-world graphs. Experimentally these gains are seen only in lower dimensions, however, with performance benefits diminishing in higher dimensions. In this work, we introduce a novel variant of box embeddings that uses a learned smoothing parameter to achieve better representational capacity than vector models in low dimensions, while also avoiding performance saturation common to other geometric models in high dimensions. Further, we present theoretical results that prove box embeddings can represent any DAG. We perform rigorous empirical evaluations of vector, hyperbolic, and region-based geometric representations on several families of synthetic and real-world directed graphs. Analysis of these results exposes correlations between different families of graphs, graph characteristics, model size, and embedding geometry, providing useful insights into the inductive biases of various differentiable graph representations.

DROID-SLAM: Deep Visual SLAM for Monocular, Stereo, and RGB-D Cameras

Zachary Teed · Jia Deng

We introduce DROID-SLAM, a new deep learning based SLAM system. DROID-SLAM consists of recurrent iterative updates of camera pose and pixelwise depth through a Dense Bundle Adjustment layer. DROID-SLAM is accurate, achieving large improvements over prior work, and robust, suffering from substantially fewer catastrophic failures. Despite training on monocular video, it can leverage stereo or RGB-D video to achieve improved performance at test time. The URL to our open source code is

Large-Scale Unsupervised Object Discovery

Van Huy Vo · Elena Sizikova · Cordelia Schmid · Patrick Pérez · Jean Ponce

Existing approaches to unsupervised object discovery (UOD) do not scale up to large datasets without approximations that compromise their performance. We propose a novel formulation of UOD as a ranking problem, amenable to the arsenal of distributed methods available for eigenvalue problems and link analysis. Through the use of self-supervised features, we also demonstrate the first effective fully unsupervised pipeline for UOD. Extensive experiments on COCO~\cite{Lin2014cocodataset} and OpenImages~\cite{openimages} show that, in the single-object discovery setting where a single prominent object is sought in each image, the proposed LOD (Large-scale Object Discovery) approach is on par with, or better than the state of the art for medium-scale datasets (up to 120K images), and over 37\% better than the only other algorithms capable of scaling up to 1.7M images. In the multi-object discovery setting where multiple objects are sought in each image, the proposed LOD is over 14\% better in average precision (AP) than all other methods for datasets ranging from 20K to 1.7M images. Using self-supervised features, we also show that the proposed method obtains state-of-the-art UOD performance on OpenImages.

On Linear Stability of SGD and Input-Smoothness of Neural Networks

Chao Ma · Lexing Ying

The multiplicative structure of parameters and input data in the first layer of neural networks is explored to build connection between the landscape of the loss function with respect to parameters and the landscape of the model function with respect to input data. By this connection, it is shown that flat minima regularize the gradient of the model function, which explains the good generalization performance of flat minima. Then, we go beyond the flatness and consider high-order moments of the gradient noise, and show that Stochastic Gradient Dascent (SGD) tends to impose constraints on these moments by a linear stability analysis of SGD around global minima. Together with the multiplicative structure, we identify the Sobolev regularization effect of SGD, i.e. SGD regularizes the Sobolev seminorms of the model function with respect to the input data. Finally, bounds for generalization error and adversarial robustness are provided for solutions found by SGD under assumptions of the data distribution.

Designing Counterfactual Generators using Deep Model Inversion

Jayaraman Thiagarajan · Vivek Sivaraman Narayanaswamy · Deepta Rajan · Jia Liang · Akshay Chaudhari · Andreas Spanias

Explanation techniques that synthesize small, interpretable changes to a given image while producing desired changes in the model prediction have become popular for introspecting black-box models. Commonly referred to as counterfactuals, the synthesized explanations are required to contain discernible changes (for easy interpretability) while also being realistic (consistency to the data manifold). In this paper, we focus on the case where we have access only to the trained deep classifier and not the actual training data. While the problem of inverting deep models to synthesize images from the training distribution has been explored, our goal is to develop a deep inversion approach to generate counterfactual explanations for a given query image. Despite their effectiveness in conditional image synthesis, we show that existing deep inversion methods are insufficient for producing meaningful counterfactuals. We propose DISC (Deep Inversion for Synthesizing Counterfactuals) that improves upon deep inversion by utilizing (a) stronger image priors, (b) incorporating a novel manifold consistency objective and (c) adopting a progressive optimization strategy. We find that, in addition to producing visually meaningful explanations, the counterfactuals from DISC are effective at learning classifier decision boundaries and are robust to unknown test-time corruptions.

A Faster Maximum Cardinality Matching Algorithm with Applications in Machine Learning

Nathaniel Lahn · Sharath Raghvendra · Jiacheng Ye

Maximum cardinality bipartite matching is an important graph optimization problem with several applications. For instance, maximum cardinality matching in a $\delta$-disc graph can be used in the computation of the bottleneck matching as well as the $\infty$-Wasserstein and the Lévy-Prokhorov distances between probability distributions. For any point sets $A, B \subset \mathbb{R}^2$, the $\delta$-disc graph is a bipartite graph formed by connecting every pair of points $(a,b) \in A\times B$ by an edge if the Euclidean distance between them is at most $\delta$. Using the classical Hopcroft-Karp algorithm, a maximum-cardinality matching on any $\delta$-disc graph can be found in $\tilde{O}(n^{3/2})$ time.~\footnote{We use $\tilde{O}(\cdot)$ to suppress poly-logarithmic terms in the complexity.} In this paper, we present a simplification of a recent algorithm (Lahn and Raghvendra, JoCG 2021) for the maximum cardinality matching problem and describe how a maximum cardinality matching in a $\delta$-disc graph can be computed asymptotically faster than $O(n^{3/2})$ time for any moderately dense point set. As applications, we show that if $A$ and $B$ are point sets drawn uniformly at random from a unit square, an exact bottleneck matching can be computed in $\tilde{O}(n^{4/3})$ time. On the other hand, experiments suggest that the Hopcroft-Karp algorithm seems to take roughly $\Theta (n^{3/2})$ time for this case. This translates to substantial improvements in execution time for larger inputs.

Towards Robust and Reliable Algorithmic Recourse

Sohini Upadhyay · Shalmali Joshi · Himabindu Lakkaraju

As predictive models are increasingly being deployed in high-stakes decision making (e.g., loan approvals), there has been growing interest in post-hoc techniques which provide recourse to affected individuals. These techniques generate recourses under the assumption that the underlying predictive model does not change. However, in practice, models are often regularly updated for a variety of reasons (e.g., dataset shifts), thereby rendering previously prescribed recourses ineffective.To address this problem, we propose a novel framework, RObust Algorithmic Recourse (ROAR), that leverages adversarial training for finding recourses that are robust to model shifts. To the best of our knowledge, this work proposes the first ever solution to this critical problem. We also carry out theoretical analysis which underscores the importance of constructing recourses that are robust to model shifts: 1) We quantify the probability of invalidation for recourses generated without accounting for model shifts. 2) We prove that the additional cost incurred due to the robust recourses output by our framework is bounded. Experimental evaluation on multiple synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrates the efficacy of the proposed framework.

Learning to Time-Decode in Spiking Neural Networks Through the Information Bottleneck

Nicolas Skatchkovsky · Osvaldo Simeone · Hyeryung Jang

One of the key challenges in training Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) is that target outputs typically come in the form of natural signals, such as labels for classification or images for generative models, and need to be encoded into spikes. This is done by handcrafting target spiking signals, which in turn implicitly fixes the mechanisms used to decode spikes into natural signals, e.g., rate decoding. The arbitrary choice of target signals and decoding rule generally impairs the capacity of the SNN to encode and process information in the timing of spikes. To address this problem, this work introduces a hybrid variational autoencoder architecture, consisting of an encoding SNN and a decoding Artificial Neural Network (ANN). The role of the decoding ANN is to learn how to best convert the spiking signals output by the SNN into the target natural signal. A novel end-to-end learning rule is introduced that optimizes a directed information bottleneck training criterion via surrogate gradients. We demonstrate the applicability of the technique in an experimental settings on various tasks, including real-life datasets.

Invertible DenseNets with Concatenated LipSwish

Yura Perugachi-Diaz · Jakub Tomczak · Sandjai Bhulai

We introduce Invertible Dense Networks (i-DenseNets), a more parameter efficient extension of Residual Flows. The method relies on an analysis of the Lipschitz continuity of the concatenation in DenseNets, where we enforce invertibility of the network by satisfying the Lipschitz constant. Furthermore, we propose a learnable weighted concatenation, which not only improves the model performance but also indicates the importance of the concatenated weighted representation. Additionally, we introduce the Concatenated LipSwish as activation function, for which we show how to enforce the Lipschitz condition and which boosts performance. The new architecture, i-DenseNet, out-performs Residual Flow and other flow-based models on density estimation evaluated in bits per dimension, where we utilize an equal parameter budget. Moreover, we show that the proposed model out-performs Residual Flows when trained as a hybrid model where the model is both a generative and a discriminative model.

Coresets for Clustering with Missing Values

Vladimir Braverman · Shaofeng Jiang · Robert Krauthgamer · Xuan Wu

We provide the first coreset for clustering points in $\mathbb{R}^d$ that have multiple missing values (coordinates). Previous coreset constructions only allow one missing coordinate. The challenge in this setting is that objective functions, like \kMeans, are evaluated only on the set of available (non-missing) coordinates, which varies across points. Recall that an $\epsilon$-coreset of a large dataset is a small proxy, usually a reweighted subset of points, that $(1+\epsilon)$-approximates the clustering objective for every possible center set.Our coresets for $k$-Means and $k$-Median clustering have size $(jk)^{O(\min(j,k))} (\epsilon^{-1} d \log n)^2$, where $n$ is the number of data points, $d$ is the dimension and $j$ is the maximum number of missing coordinates for each data point. We further design an algorithm to construct these coresets in near-linear time, and consequently improve a recent quadratic-time PTAS for $k$-Means with missing values [Eiben et al., SODA 2021] to near-linear time.We validate our coreset construction, which is based on importance sampling and is easy to implement, on various real data sets. Our coreset exhibits a flexible tradeoff between coreset size and accuracy, and generally outperforms the uniform-sampling baseline. Furthermore, it significantly speeds up a Lloyd's-style heuristic for $k$-Means with missing values.

Scatterbrain: Unifying Sparse and Low-rank Attention

Beidi Chen · Tri Dao · Eric Winsor · Zhao Song · Atri Rudra · Christopher Ré

Recent advances in efficient Transformers have exploited either the sparsity or low-rank properties of attention matrices to reduce the computational and memory bottlenecks of modeling long sequences. However, it is still challenging to balance the trade-off between model quality and efficiency to perform a one-size-fits-all approximation for different tasks. To better understand this trade-off, we observe that sparse and low-rank approximations excel in different regimes, determined by the softmax temperature in attention, and sparse + low-rank can outperform each individually. Inspired by the classical robust-PCA algorithm for sparse and low-rank decomposition, we propose Scatterbrain, a novel way to unify sparse (via locality sensitive hashing) and low-rank (via kernel feature map) attention for accurate and efficient approximation. The estimation is unbiased with provably low error. We empirically show that Scatterbrain can achieve $2.1 \times$ lower error than baselines when serving as a drop-in replacement in BigGAN image generation and pre-trained T2T-ViT. On a pre-trained T2T Vision transformer, even without fine-tuning, Scatterbrain can reduce $98\%$ of attention memory at the cost of only $1\%$ drop in accuracy. We demonstrate Scatterbrain for end-to-end training with up to $4$ points better perplexity and 5 points better average accuracy than sparse or low-rank efficient transformers on language modeling and long-range-arena tasks.

Generating High-Quality Explanations for Navigation in Partially-Revealed Environments

Gregory Stein

We present an approach for generating natural language explanations of high-level behavior of autonomous agents navigating in partially-revealed environments. Our counterfactual explanations communicate changes to interpratable statistics of the belief (e.g., the likelihood an exploratory action will reach the unseen goal) that are estimated from visual input via a deep neural network and used (via a Bellman equation variant) to inform planning far into the future. Additionally, our novel training procedure mimics explanation generation, allowing us to use planning performance as an objective measure of explanation quality. Simulated experiments validate that our explanations are both high quality and can be used in interventions to directly correct bad behavior; agents trained via our training-by-explaining procedure achieve 9.1% lower average cost than a non-learned baseline (12.7% after interventions) in environments derived from real-world floor plans.

Hash Layers For Large Sparse Models

Stephen Roller · Sainbayar Sukhbaatar · arthur szlam · Jason Weston

We investigate the training of sparse layers that use different parameters for different inputs based on hashing in large Transformer models. Specifically, we modify the feedforward layer to hash to different sets of weights depending on the current token, over all tokens in the sequence. We show that this procedure either outperforms or is competitive with learning-to-route mixture-of-expert methods such as Switch Transformers and BASE Layers, while requiring no routing parameters or extra terms in the objective function such as a load balancing loss, and no sophisticated assignment algorithm. We study the performance of different hashing techniques, hash sizes and input features, and show that balanced and random hashes focused on the most local features work best, compared to either learning clusters or using longer-range context. We show our approach works well both on large language modeling and dialogue tasks, and on downstream fine-tuning tasks.

An Information-theoretic Approach to Distribution Shifts

Marco Federici · Ryota Tomioka · Patrick Forré

Safely deploying machine learning models to the real world is often a challenging process. For example, models trained with data obtained from a specific geographic location tend to fail when queried with data obtained elsewhere, agents trained in a simulation can struggle to adapt when deployed in the real world or novel environments, and neural networks that are fit to a subset of the population might carry some selection bias into their decision process.In this work, we describe the problem of data shift from an information-theoretic perspective by (i) identifying and describing the different sources of error, (ii) comparing some of the most promising objectives explored in the recent domain generalization and fair classification literature. From our theoretical analysis and empirical evaluation, we conclude that the model selection procedure needs to be guided by careful considerations regarding the observed data, the factors used for correction, and the structure of the data-generating process.

Per-Pixel Classification is Not All You Need for Semantic Segmentation

Bowen Cheng · Alex Schwing · Alexander Kirillov

Modern approaches typically formulate semantic segmentation as a per-pixel classification task, while instance-level segmentation is handled with an alternative mask classification. Our key insight: mask classification is sufficiently general to solve both semantic- and instance-level segmentation tasks in a unified manner using the exact same model, loss, and training procedure. Following this observation, we propose MaskFormer, a simple mask classification model which predicts a set of binary masks, each associated with a single global class label prediction. Overall, the proposed mask classification-based method simplifies the landscape of effective approaches to semantic and panoptic segmentation tasks and shows excellent empirical results. In particular, we observe that MaskFormer outperforms per-pixel classification baselines when the number of classes is large. Our mask classification-based method outperforms both current state-of-the-art semantic (55.6 mIoU on ADE20K) and panoptic segmentation (52.7 PQ on COCO) models.

Structured Denoising Diffusion Models in Discrete State-Spaces

Jacob Austin · Daniel D. Johnson · Jonathan Ho · Daniel Tarlow · Rianne van den Berg

Denoising diffusion probabilistic models (DDPMs) [Ho et al. 2021] have shown impressive results on image and waveform generation in continuous state spaces. Here, we introduce Discrete Denoising Diffusion Probabilistic Models (D3PMs), diffusion-like generative models for discrete data that generalize the multinomial diffusion model of Hoogeboom et al. [2021], by going beyond corruption processes with uniform transition probabilities. This includes corruption with transition matrices that mimic Gaussian kernels in continuous space, matrices based on nearest neighbors in embedding space, and matrices that introduce absorbing states. The third allows us to draw a connection between diffusion models and autoregressive and mask-based generative models. We show that the choice of transition matrix is an important design decision that leads to improved results in image and text domains. We also introduce a new loss function that combines the variational lower bound with an auxiliary cross entropy loss. For text, this model class achieves strong results on character-level text generation while scaling to large vocabularies on LM1B. On the image dataset CIFAR-10, our models approach the sample quality and exceed the log-likelihood of the continuous-space DDPM model.

Emergent Communication of Generalizations

Jesse Mu · Noah Goodman

To build agents that can collaborate effectively with others, recent research has trained artificial agents to communicate with each other in Lewis-style referential games. However, this often leads to successful but uninterpretable communication. We argue that this is due to the game objective: communicating about a single object in a shared visual context is prone to overfitting and does not encourage language useful beyond concrete reference. In contrast, human language conveys a rich variety of abstract ideas. To promote such skills, we propose games that require communicating generalizations over sets of objects representing abstract visual concepts, optionally with separate contexts for each agent. We find that these games greatly improve systematicity and interpretability of the learned languages, according to several metrics in the literature. Finally, we propose a method for identifying logical operations embedded in the emergent languages by learning an approximate compositional reconstruction of the language.

Learning latent causal graphs via mixture oracles

Bohdan Kivva · Goutham Rajendran · Pradeep Ravikumar · Bryon Aragam

We study the problem of reconstructing a causal graphical model from data in the presence of latent variables. The main problem of interest is recovering the causal structure over the latent variables while allowing for general, potentially nonlinear dependencies. In many practical problems, the dependence between raw observations (e.g. pixels in an image) is much less relevant than the dependence between certain high-level, latent features (e.g. concepts or objects), and this is the setting of interest. We provide conditions under which both the latent representations and the underlying latent causal model are identifiable by a reduction to a mixture oracle. These results highlight an intriguing connection between the well-studied problem of learning the order of a mixture model and the problem of learning the bipartite structure between observables and unobservables. The proof is constructive, and leads to several algorithms for explicitly reconstructing the full graphical model. We discuss efficient algorithms and provide experiments illustrating the algorithms in practice.

ErrorCompensatedX: error compensation for variance reduced algorithms

Hanlin Tang · Yao Li · Ji Liu · Ming Yan

Communication cost is one major bottleneck for the scalability for distributed learning. One approach to reduce the communication cost is to compress the gradient during communication. However, directly compressing the gradient decelerates the convergence speed, and the resulting algorithm may diverge for biased compression. Recent work addressed this problem for stochastic gradient descent by adding back the compression error from the previous step. This idea was further extended to one class of variance reduced algorithms, where the variance of the stochastic gradient is reduced by taking a moving average over all history gradients. However, our analysis shows that just adding the previous step's compression error, as done in existing work, does not fully compensate the compression error. So, we propose ErrorCompensateX, which uses the compression error from the previous two steps. We show that ErrorCompensateX can achieve the same asymptotic convergence rate with the training without compression. Moreover, we provide a unified theoretical analysis framework for this class of variance reduced algorithms, with or without error compensation.

On the Frequency Bias of Generative Models

Katja Schwarz · Yiyi Liao · Andreas Geiger

The key objective of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) is to generate new data with the same statistics as the provided training data. However, multiple recent works show that state-of-the-art architectures yet struggle to achieve this goal. In particular, they report an elevated amount of high frequencies in the spectral statistics which makes it straightforward to distinguish real and generated images. Explanations for this phenomenon are controversial: While most works attribute the artifacts to the generator, other works point to the discriminator. We take a sober look at those explanations and provide insights on what makes proposed measures against high-frequency artifacts effective. To achieve this, we first independently assess the architectures of both the generator and discriminator and investigate if they exhibit a frequency bias that makes learning the distribution of high-frequency content particularly problematic. Based on these experiments, we make the following four observations: 1) Different upsampling operations bias the generator towards different spectral properties. 2) Checkerboard artifacts introduced by upsampling cannot explain the spectral discrepancies alone as the generator is able to compensate for these artifacts. 3) The discriminator does not struggle with detecting high frequencies per se but rather struggles with frequencies of low magnitude. 4) The downsampling operations in the discriminator can impair the quality of the training signal it provides.In light of these findings, we analyze proposed measures against high-frequency artifacts in state-of-the-art GAN training but find that none of the existing approaches can fully resolve spectral artifacts yet. Our results suggest that there is great potential in improving the discriminator and that this could be key to match the distribution of the training data more closely.

Moshpit SGD: Communication-Efficient Decentralized Training on Heterogeneous Unreliable Devices

Max Ryabinin · Eduard Gorbunov · Vsevolod Plokhotnyuk · Gennady Pekhimenko

Training deep neural networks on large datasets can often be accelerated by using multiple compute nodes. This approach, known as distributed training, can utilize hundreds of computers via specialized message-passing protocols such as Ring All-Reduce.However, running these protocols at scale requires reliable high-speed networking that is only available in dedicated clusters.In contrast, many real-world applications, such as federated learning and cloud-based distributed training, operate on unreliable devices with unstable network bandwidth.As a result, these applications are restricted to using parameter servers or gossip-based averaging protocols.In this work, we lift that restriction by proposing Moshpit All-Reduce — an iterative averaging protocol that exponentially converges to the global average.We demonstrate the efficiency of our protocol for distributed optimization with strong theoretical guarantees.The experiments show 1.3x speedup for ResNet-50 training on ImageNet compared to competitive gossip-based strategies and 1.5x speedup when training ALBERT-large on preemptible compute nodes.

On Locality of Local Explanation Models

Sahra Ghalebikesabi · Lucile Ter-Minassian · Karla DiazOrdaz · Chris C Holmes

Shapley values provide model agnostic feature attributions for model outcome at a particular instance by simulating feature absence under a global population distribution. The use of a global population can lead to potentially misleading results when local model behaviour is of interest. Hence we consider the formulation of neighbourhood reference distributions that improve the local interpretability of Shapley values. By doing so, we find that the Nadaraya-Watson estimator, a well-studied kernel regressor, can be expressed as a self-normalised importance sampling estimator. Empirically, we observe that Neighbourhood Shapley values identify meaningful sparse feature relevance attributions that provide insight into local model behaviour, complimenting conventional Shapley analysis. They also increase on-manifold explainability and robustness to the construction of adversarial classifiers.

Relative Flatness and Generalization

Henning Petzka · Michael Kamp · Linara Adilova · Cristian Sminchisescu · Mario Boley

Flatness of the loss curve is conjectured to be connected to the generalization ability of machine learning models, in particular neural networks. While it has been empirically observed that flatness measures consistently correlate strongly with generalization, it is still an open theoretical problem why and under which circumstances flatness is connected to generalization, in particular in light of reparameterizations that change certain flatness measures but leave generalization unchanged. We investigate the connection between flatness and generalization by relating it to the interpolation from representative data, deriving notions of representativeness, and feature robustness. The notions allow us to rigorously connect flatness and generalization and to identify conditions under which the connection holds. Moreover, they give rise to a novel, but natural relative flatness measure that correlates strongly with generalization, simplifies to ridge regression for ordinary least squares, and solves the reparameterization issue.

SOPE: Spectrum of Off-Policy Estimators

Christina Yuan · Yash Chandak · Stephen Giguere · Philip Thomas · Scott Niekum

Many sequential decision making problems are high-stakes and require off-policy evaluation (OPE) of a new policy using historical data collected using some other policy. One of the most common OPE techniques that provides unbiased estimates is trajectory based importance sampling (IS). However, due to the high variance of trajectory IS estimates, importance sampling methods based on state-action visitation distributions (SIS) have recently been adopted. Unfortunately, while SIS often provides lower variance estimates for long horizons, estimating the state-action distribution ratios can be challenging and lead to biased estimates. In this paper, we present a new perspective on this bias-variance trade-off and show the existence of a spectrum of estimators whose endpoints are SIS and IS. Additionally, we also establish a spectrum for doubly-robust and weighted version of these estimators. We provide empirical evidence that estimators in this spectrum can be used to trade-off between the bias and variance of IS and SIS and can achieve lower mean-squared error than both IS and SIS.

Strategic Behavior is Bliss: Iterative Voting Improves Social Welfare

Joshua Kavner · Lirong Xia

Recent work in iterative voting has defined the additive dynamic price of anarchy (ADPoA) as the difference in social welfare between the truthful and worst-case equilibrium profiles resulting from repeated strategic manipulations. While iterative plurality has been shown to only return alternatives with at most one less initial votes than the truthful winner, it is less understood how agents' welfare changes in equilibrium. To this end, we differentiate agents' utility from their manipulation mechanism and determine iterative plurality's ADPoA in the worst- and average-cases. We first prove that the worst-case ADPoA is linear in the number of agents. To overcome this negative result, we study the average-case ADPoA and prove that equilibrium winners have a constant order welfare advantage over the truthful winner in expectation. Our positive results illustrate the prospect for social welfare to increase due to strategic manipulation.

Support Recovery of Sparse Signals from a Mixture of Linear Measurements

Soumyabrata Pal · Arya Mazumdar · Venkata Gandikota

Recovery of support of a sparse vector from simple measurements is a widely studied problem, considered under the frameworks of compressed sensing, 1-bit compressed sensing, and more general single index models. We consider generalizations of this problem: mixtures of linear regressions, and mixtures of linear classifiers, where the goal is to recover supports of multiple sparse vectors using only a small number of possibly noisy linear, and 1-bit measurements respectively. The key challenge is that the measurements from different vectors are randomly mixed. Both of these problems have also received attention recently. In mixtures of linear classifiers, an observation corresponds to the side of the queried hyperplane a random unknown vector lies in; whereas in mixtures of linear regressions we observe the projection of a random unknown vector on the queried hyperplane. The primary step in recovering the unknown vectors from the mixture is to first identify the support of all the individual component vectors. In this work, we study the number of measurements sufficient for recovering the supports of all the component vectors in a mixture in both these models. We provide algorithms that use a number of measurements polynomial in $k, \log n$ and quasi-polynomial in $\ell$, to recover the support of all the $\ell$ unknown vectors in the mixture with high probability when each individual component is a $k$-sparse $n$-dimensional vector.

Bridging the Imitation Gap by Adaptive Insubordination

Luca Weihs · Unnat Jain · Iou-Jen Liu · Jordi Salvador · Svetlana Lazebnik · Aniruddha Kembhavi · Alex Schwing

In practice, imitation learning is preferred over pure reinforcement learning whenever it is possible to design a teaching agent to provide expert supervision. However, we show that when the teaching agent makes decisions with access to privileged information that is unavailable to the student, this information is marginalized during imitation learning, resulting in an "imitation gap" and, potentially, poor results. Prior work bridges this gap via a progression from imitation learning to reinforcement learning. While often successful, gradual progression fails for tasks that require frequent switches between exploration and memorization. To better address these tasks and alleviate the imitation gap we propose 'Adaptive Insubordination' (ADVISOR). ADVISOR dynamically weights imitation and reward-based reinforcement learning losses during training, enabling on-the-fly switching between imitation and exploration. On a suite of challenging tasks set within gridworlds, multi-agent particle environments, and high-fidelity 3D simulators, we show that on-the-fly switching with ADVISOR outperforms pure imitation, pure reinforcement learning, as well as their sequential and parallel combinations.

Tracking Without Re-recognition in Humans and Machines

Drew Linsley · Girik Malik · Junkyung Kim · Lakshmi Narasimhan Govindarajan · Ennio Mingolla · Thomas Serre

Imagine trying to track one particular fruitfly in a swarm of hundreds. Higher biological visual systems have evolved to track moving objects by relying on both their appearance and their motion trajectories. We investigate if state-of-the-art spatiotemporal deep neural networks are capable of the same. For this, we introduce PathTracker, a synthetic visual challenge that asks human observers and machines to track a target object in the midst of identical-looking "distractor" objects. While humans effortlessly learn PathTracker and generalize to systematic variations in task design, deep networks struggle. To address this limitation, we identify and model circuit mechanisms in biological brains that are implicated in tracking objects based on motion cues. When instantiated as a recurrent network, our circuit model learns to solve PathTracker with a robust visual strategy that rivals human performance and explains a significant proportion of their decision-making on the challenge. We also show that the success of this circuit model extends to object tracking in natural videos. Adding it to a transformer-based architecture for object tracking builds tolerance to visual nuisances that affect object appearance, establishing the new state of the art on the large-scale TrackingNet challenge. Our work highlights the importance of understanding human vision to improve computer vision.

Directed Graph Contrastive Learning

Zekun Tong · Yuxuan Liang · Henghui Ding · Yongxing Dai · Xinke Li · Changhu Wang

Graph Contrastive Learning (GCL) has emerged to learn generalizable representations from contrastive views. However, it is still in its infancy with two concerns: 1) changing the graph structure through data augmentation to generate contrastive views may mislead the message passing scheme, as such graph changing action deprives the intrinsic graph structural information, especially the directional structure in directed graphs; 2) since GCL usually uses predefined contrastive views with hand-picking parameters, it does not take full advantage of the contrastive information provided by data augmentation, resulting in incomplete structure information for models learning. In this paper, we design a directed graph data augmentation method called Laplacian perturbation and theoretically analyze how it provides contrastive information without changing the directed graph structure. Moreover, we present a directed graph contrastive learning framework, which dynamically learns from all possible contrastive views generated by Laplacian perturbation. Then we train it using multi-task curriculum learning to progressively learn from multiple easy-to-difficult contrastive views. We empirically show that our model can retain more structural features of directed graphs than other GCL models because of its ability to provide complete contrastive information. Experiments on various benchmarks reveal our dominance over the state-of-the-art approaches.

Space-time Mixing Attention for Video Transformer

Adrian Bulat · Juan Manuel Perez Rua · Swathikiran Sudhakaran · Brais Martinez · Georgios Tzimiropoulos

This paper is on video recognition using Transformers. Very recent attempts in this area have demonstrated promising results in terms of recognition accuracy, yet they have been also shown to induce, in many cases, significant computational overheads due to the additional modelling of the temporal information. In this work, we propose a Video Transformer model the complexity of which scales linearly with the number of frames in the video sequence and hence induces no overhead compared to an image-based Transformer model. To achieve this, our model makes two approximations to the full space-time attention used in Video Transformers: (a) It restricts time attention to a local temporal window and capitalizes on the Transformer's depth to obtain full temporal coverage of the video sequence. (b) It uses efficient space-time mixing to attend jointly spatial and temporal locations without inducing any additional cost on top of a spatial-only attention model. We also show how to integrate 2 very lightweight mechanisms for global temporal-only attention which provide additional accuracy improvements at minimal computational cost. We demonstrate that our model produces very high recognition accuracy on the most popular video recognition datasets while at the same time being significantly more efficient than other Video Transformer models.

Algorithmic stability and generalization of an unsupervised feature selection algorithm

xinxing wu · Qiang Cheng

Feature selection, as a vital dimension reduction technique, reduces data dimension by identifying an essential subset of input features, which can facilitate interpretable insights into learning and inference processes. Algorithmic stability is a key characteristic of an algorithm regarding its sensitivity to perturbations of input samples. In this paper, we propose an innovative unsupervised feature selection algorithm attaining this stability with provable guarantees. The architecture of our algorithm consists of a feature scorer and a feature selector. The scorer trains a neural network (NN) to globally score all the features, and the selector adopts a dependent sub-NN to locally evaluate the representation abilities for selecting features. Further, we present algorithmic stability analysis and show that our algorithm has a performance guarantee via a generalization error bound. Extensive experimental results on real-world datasets demonstrate superior generalization performance of our proposed algorithm to strong baseline methods. Also, the properties revealed by our theoretical analysis and the stability of our algorithm-selected features are empirically confirmed.

Fine-Grained Neural Network Explanation by Identifying Input Features with Predictive Information

Yang Zhang · Ashkan Khakzar · Yawei Li · Azade Farshad · Seong Tae Kim · Nassir Navab

One principal approach for illuminating a black-box neural network is feature attribution, i.e. identifying the importance of input features for the network’s prediction. The predictive information of features is recently proposed as a proxy for the measure of their importance. So far, the predictive information is only identified for latent features by placing an information bottleneck within the network. We propose a method to identify features with predictive information in the input domain. The method results in fine-grained identification of input features' information and is agnostic to network architecture. The core idea of our method is leveraging a bottleneck on the input that only lets input features associated with predictive latent features pass through. We compare our method with several feature attribution methods using mainstream feature attribution evaluation experiments. The code is publicly available.

Laplace Redux - Effortless Bayesian Deep Learning

Erik Daxberger · Agustinus Kristiadi · Alexander Immer · Runa Eschenhagen · Matthias Bauer · Philipp Hennig

Bayesian formulations of deep learning have been shown to have compelling theoretical properties and offer practical functional benefits, such as improved predictive uncertainty quantification and model selection. The Laplace approximation (LA) is a classic, and arguably the simplest family of approximations for the intractable posteriors of deep neural networks. Yet, despite its simplicity, the LA is not as popular as alternatives like variational Bayes or deep ensembles. This may be due to assumptions that the LA is expensive due to the involved Hessian computation, that it is difficult to implement, or that it yields inferior results. In this work we show that these are misconceptions: we (i) review the range of variants of the LA including versions with minimal cost overhead; (ii) introduce "laplace", an easy-to-use software library for PyTorch offering user-friendly access to all major flavors of the LA; and (iii) demonstrate through extensive experiments that the LA is competitive with more popular alternatives in terms of performance, while excelling in terms of computational cost. We hope that this work will serve as a catalyst to a wider adoption of the LA in practical deep learning, including in domains where Bayesian approaches are not typically considered at the moment.

Explicable Reward Design for Reinforcement Learning Agents

Rati Devidze · Goran Radanovic · Parameswaran Kamalaruban · Adish Singla

We study the design of explicable reward functions for a reinforcement learning agent while guaranteeing that an optimal policy induced by the function belongs to a set of target policies. By being explicable, we seek to capture two properties: (a) informativeness so that the rewards speed up the agent's convergence, and (b) sparseness as a proxy for ease of interpretability of the rewards. The key challenge is that higher informativeness typically requires dense rewards for many learning tasks, and existing techniques do not allow one to balance these two properties appropriately. In this paper, we investigate the problem from the perspective of discrete optimization and introduce a novel framework, ExpRD, to design explicable reward functions. ExpRD builds upon an informativeness criterion that captures the (sub-)optimality of target policies at different time horizons in terms of actions taken from any given starting state. We provide a mathematical analysis of ExpRD, and show its connections to existing reward design techniques, including potential-based reward shaping. Experimental results on two navigation tasks demonstrate the effectiveness of ExpRD in designing explicable reward functions.

$\alpha$-IoU: A Family of Power Intersection over Union Losses for Bounding Box Regression

JIABO HE · Sarah Erfani · Xingjun Ma · James Bailey · Ying Chi · Xian-Sheng Hua

Bounding box (bbox) regression is a fundamental task in computer vision. So far, the most commonly used loss functions for bbox regression are the Intersection over Union (IoU) loss and its variants. In this paper, we generalize existing IoU-based losses to a new family of power IoU losses that have a power IoU term and an additional power regularization term with a single power parameter $\alpha$. We call this new family of losses the $\alpha$-IoU losses and analyze properties such as order preservingness and loss/gradient reweighting. Experiments on multiple object detection benchmarks and models demonstrate that $\alpha$-IoU losses, 1) can surpass existing IoU-based losses by a noticeable performance margin; 2) offer detectors more flexibility in achieving different levels of bbox regression accuracy by modulating $\alpha$; and 3) are more robust to small datasets and noisy bboxes.

Estimating the Unique Information of Continuous Variables

Ari Pakman · Amin Nejatbakhsh · Dar Gilboa · Abdullah Makkeh · Luca Mazzucato · Michael Wibral · Elad Schneidman

The integration and transfer of information from multiple sources to multiple targets is a core motive of neural systems. The emerging field of partial information decomposition (PID) provides a novel information-theoretic lens into these mechanisms by identifying synergistic, redundant, and unique contributions to the mutual information between one and several variables. While many works have studied aspects of PID for Gaussian and discrete distributions, the case of general continuous distributions is still uncharted territory. In this work we present a method for estimating the unique information in continuous distributions, for the case of one versus two variables. Our method solves the associated optimization problem over the space of distributions with fixed bivariate marginals by combining copula decompositions and techniques developed to optimize variational autoencoders. We obtain excellent agreement with known analytic results for Gaussians, and illustrate the power of our new approach in several brain-inspired neural models. Our method is capable of recovering the effective connectivity of a chaotic network of rate neurons, and uncovers a complex trade-off between redundancy, synergy and unique information in recurrent networks trained to solve a generalized XOR~task.

Parallel and Efficient Hierarchical k-Median Clustering

Vincent Cohen-Addad · Silvio Lattanzi · Ashkan Norouzi-Fard · Christian Sohler · Ola Svensson

As a fundamental unsupervised learning task, hierarchical clustering has been extensively studied in the past decade. In particular, standard metric formulations as hierarchical $k$-center, $k$-means, and $k$-median received a lot of attention and the problems have been studied extensively in different models of computation. Despite all this interest, not many efficient parallel algorithms are known for these problems. In this paper we introduce a new parallel algorithm for the Euclidean hierarchical $k$-median problem that, when using machines with memory $s$ (for $s\in \Omega(\log^2 (n+\Delta+d))$), outputs a hierarchical clustering such that for every fixed value of $k$ the cost of the solution is at most an $O(\min\{d, \log n\} \log \Delta)$ factor larger in expectation than that of an optimal solution. Furthermore, we also get that for all $k$ simultanuously the cost of the solution is at most an $O(\min\{d, \log n\} \log \Delta \log (\Delta d n))$ factor bigger that the corresponding optimal solution. The algorithm requires in $O\left(\log_{s} (nd\log(n+\Delta))\right)$ rounds. Here $d$ is the dimension of the data set and $\Delta$ is the ratio between the maximum and minimum distance of two points in the input dataset. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first \emph{parallel} algorithm for the hierarchical $k$-median problem with theoretical guarantees. We further complement our theoretical results with an empirical study of our algorithm that shows its effectiveness in practice.

Generic Neural Architecture Search via Regression

Yuhong Li · Cong Hao · Pan Li · Jinjun Xiong · Deming Chen

Most existing neural architecture search (NAS) algorithms are dedicated to and evaluated by the downstream tasks, e.g., image classification in computer vision. However, extensive experiments have shown that, prominent neural architectures, such as ResNet in computer vision and LSTM in natural language processing, are generally good at extracting patterns from the input data and perform well on different downstream tasks. In this paper, we attempt to answer two fundamental questions related to NAS. (1) Is it necessary to use the performance of specific downstream tasks to evaluate and search for good neural architectures? (2) Can we perform NAS effectively and efficiently while being agnostic to the downstream tasks? To answer these questions, we propose a novel and generic NAS framework, termed Generic NAS (GenNAS). GenNAS does not use task-specific labels but instead adopts regression on a set of manually designed synthetic signal bases for architecture evaluation. Such a self-supervised regression task can effectively evaluate the intrinsic power of an architecture to capture and transform the input signal patterns, and allow more sufficient usage of training samples. Extensive experiments across 13 CNN search spaces and one NLP space demonstrate the remarkable efficiency of GenNAS using regression, in terms of both evaluating the neural architectures (quantified by the ranking correlation Spearman's rho between the approximated performances and the downstream task performances) and the convergence speed for training (within a few seconds). For example, on NAS-Bench-101, GenNAS achieves 0.85 rho while the existing efficient methods only achieve 0.38. We then propose an automatic task search to optimize the combination of synthetic signals using limited downstream-task-specific labels, further improving the performance of GenNAS. We also thoroughly evaluate GenNAS's generality and end-to-end NAS performance on all search spaces, which outperforms almost all existing works with significant speedup. For example, on NASBench-201, GenNAS can find near-optimal architectures within 0.3 GPU hour.

Implicit Regularization in Matrix Sensing via Mirror Descent

Fan Wu · Patrick Rebeschini

We study discrete-time mirror descent applied to the unregularized empirical risk in matrix sensing. In both the general case of rectangular matrices and the particular case of positive semidefinite matrices, a simple potential-based analysis in terms of the Bregman divergence allows us to establish convergence of mirror descent---with different choices of the mirror maps---to a matrix that, among all global minimizers of the empirical risk, minimizes a quantity explicitly related to the nuclear norm, the Frobenius norm, and the von Neumann entropy. In both cases, this characterization implies that mirror descent, a first-order algorithm minimizing the unregularized empirical risk, recovers low-rank matrices under the same set of assumptions that are sufficient to guarantee recovery for nuclear-norm minimization. When the sensing matrices are symmetric and commute, we show that gradient descent with full-rank factorized parametrization is a first-order approximation to mirror descent, in which case we obtain an explicit characterization of the implicit bias of gradient flow as a by-product.

Exponential Separation between Two Learning Models and Adversarial Robustness

Grzegorz Gluch · Ruediger Urbanke

We prove an exponential separation for the sample/query complexity between the standard PAC-learning model and a version of the Equivalence-Query-learning model. In the PAC model all samples are provided at the beginning of the learning process. In the Equivalence-Query model the samples are acquired through an interaction between a teacher and a learner, where the teacher provides counterexamples to hypotheses given by the learner. It is intuitive that in an interactive setting fewer samples are needed. We make this formal and prove that in order to achieve an error $\epsilon$ {\em exponentially} (in $\epsilon$) fewer samples suffice than what the PAC bound requires. It was shown experimentally by Stutz, Hein, and Schiele that adversarial training with on-manifold adversarial examples aids generalization (compared to standard training). If we think of the adversarial examples as counterexamples to the current hypothesis then our result can be thought of as a theoretical confirmation of those findings. We also discuss how our result relates to adversarial robustness. In the standard adversarial model one restricts the adversary by introducing a norm constraint. An alternative was pioneered by Goldwasser et. al. Rather than restricting the adversary the learner is enhanced. We pursue a third path. We require the adversary to return samples according to the Equivalance-Query model and show that this leads to robustness. Even though our model has its limitations it provides a fresh point of view on adversarial robustness.

Catch-A-Waveform: Learning to Generate Audio from a Single Short Example

Gal Greshler · Tamar Shaham · Tomer Michaeli

Models for audio generation are typically trained on hours of recordings. Here, we illustrate that capturing the essence of an audio source is typically possible from as little as a few tens of seconds from a single training signal. Specifically, we present a GAN-based generative model that can be trained on one short audio signal from any domain (e.g. speech, music, etc.) and does not require pre-training or any other form of external supervision. Once trained, our model can generate random samples of arbitrary duration that maintain semantic similarity to the training waveform, yet exhibit new compositions of its audio primitives. This enables a long line of interesting applications, including generating new jazz improvisations or new a-cappella rap variants based on a single short example, producing coherent modifications to famous songs (e.g. adding a new verse to a Beatles song based solely on the original recording), filling-in of missing parts (inpainting), extending the bandwidth of a speech signal (super-resolution), and enhancing old recordings without access to any clean training example. We show that in all cases, no more than 20 seconds of training audio commonly suffice for our model to achieve state-of-the-art results. This is despite its complete lack of prior knowledge about the nature of audio signals in general.

When Are Solutions Connected in Deep Networks?

Quynh Nguyen · Pierre Bréchet · Marco Mondelli

The question of how and why the phenomenon of mode connectivity occurs in training deep neural networks has gained remarkable attention in the research community. From a theoretical perspective, two possible explanations have been proposed: (i) the loss function has connected sublevel sets, and (ii) the solutions found by stochastic gradient descent are dropout stable. While these explanations provide insights into the phenomenon, their assumptions are not always satisfied in practice. In particular, the first approach requires the network to have one layer with order of $N$ neurons ($N$ being the number of training samples), while the second one requires the loss to be almost invariant after removing half of the neurons at each layer (up to some rescaling of the remaining ones). In this work, we improve both conditions by exploiting the quality of the features at every intermediate layer together with a milder over-parameterization requirement. More specifically, we show that: (i) under generic assumptions on the features of intermediate layers, it suffices that the last two hidden layers have order of $\sqrt{N}$ neurons, and (ii) if subsets of features at each layer are linearly separable, then almost no over-parameterization is needed to show the connectivity. Our experiments confirm that the proposed condition ensures the connectivity of solutions found by stochastic gradient descent, even in settings where the previous requirements do not hold.

Efficient Online Estimation of Causal Effects by Deciding What to Observe

Shantanu Gupta · Zachary Lipton · David Childers

Researchers often face data fusion problems, where multiple data sources are available, each capturing a distinct subset of variables. While problem formulations typically take the data as given, in practice, data acquisition can be an ongoing process. In this paper, we introduce the problem of deciding, at each time, which data source to sample from. Our goal is to estimate a given functional of the parameters of a probabilistic model as efficiently as possible. We propose online moment selection (OMS), a framework in which structural assumptions are encoded as moment conditions. The optimal action at each step depends, in part, on the very moments that identify the functional of interest. Our algorithms balance exploration with choosing the best action as suggested by estimated moments. We propose two selection strategies: (1) explore-then-commit (ETC) and (2) explore-then-greedy (ETG), proving that both achieve zero asymptotic regret as assessed by MSE. We instantiate our setup for average treatment effect estimation, where structural assumptions are given by a causal graph and data sources include subsets of mediators, confounders, and instrumental variables.

Accelerating Quadratic Optimization with Reinforcement Learning

Jeffrey Ichnowski · Paras Jain · Bartolomeo Stellato · Goran Banjac · Michael Luo · Francesco Borrelli · Joseph Gonzalez · Ion Stoica · Ken Goldberg

First-order methods for quadratic optimization such as OSQP are widely used for large-scale machine learning and embedded optimal control, where many related problems must be rapidly solved. These methods face two persistent challenges: manual hyperparameter tuning and convergence time to high-accuracy solutions. To address these, we explore how Reinforcement Learning (RL) can learn a policy to tune parameters to accelerate convergence. In experiments with well-known QP benchmarks we find that our RL policy, RLQP, significantly outperforms state-of-the-art QP solvers by up to 3x. RLQP generalizes surprisingly well to previously unseen problems with varying dimension and structure from different applications, including the QPLIB, Netlib LP and Maros-M{\'e}sz{\'a}ros problems. Code, models, and videos are available at

Improved Coresets and Sublinear Algorithms for Power Means in Euclidean Spaces

Vincent Cohen-Addad · David Saulpic · Chris Schwiegelshohn

In this paper, we consider the problem of finding high dimensional power means: given a set $A$ of $n$ points in $\R^d$, find the point $m$ that minimizes the sum of Euclidean distance, raised to the power $z$, over all input points. Special cases of problem include the well-known Fermat-Weber problem -- or geometric median problem -- where $z = 1$, the mean or centroid where $z=2$, and the Minimum Enclosing Ball problem, where $z = \infty$.We consider these problem in the big data regime.Here, we are interested in sampling as few points as possible such that we can accurately estimate $m$.More specifically, we consider sublinear algorithms as well as coresets for these problems.Sublinear algorithms have a random query access to the $A$ and the goal is to minimize the number of queries.Here, we show that $\tilde{O}(\varepsilon^{-z-3})$ samples are sufficient to achieve a $(1+\varepsilon)$ approximation, generalizing the results from Cohen, Lee, Miller, Pachocki, and Sidford [STOC '16] and Inaba, Katoh, and Imai [SoCG '94] to arbitrary $z$. Moreover, we show that this bound is nearly optimal, as any algorithm requires at least $\Omega(\varepsilon^{-z+1})$ queries to achieve said approximation.The second contribution are coresets for these problems, where we aim to find find a small, weighted subset of the points which approximate cost of every candidate point $c\in \mathbb{R}^d$ up to a $(1\pm\varepsilon)$ factor. Here, we show that $\tilde{O}(\varepsilon^{-2})$ points are sufficient, improving on the $\tilde{O}(d\varepsilon^{-2})$ bound by Feldman and Langberg [STOC '11] and the $\tilde{O}(\varepsilon^{-4})$ bound by Braverman, Jiang, Krauthgamer, and Wu [SODA 21].

The Effect of the Intrinsic Dimension on the Generalization of Quadratic Classifiers

Fabian Latorre · Leello Tadesse Dadi · Paul Rolland · Volkan Cevher

It has been recently observed that neural networks, unlike kernel methods, enjoy a reduced sample complexity when the distribution is isotropic (i.e., when the covariance matrix is the identity). We find that this sensitivity to the data distribution is not exclusive to neural networks, and the same phenomenon can be observed on the class of quadratic classifiers (i.e., the sign of a quadratic polynomial) with a nuclear-norm constraint. We demonstrate this by deriving an upper bound on the Rademacher Complexity that depends on two key quantities: (i) the intrinsic dimension, which is a measure of isotropy, and (ii) the largest eigenvalue of the second moment (covariance) matrix of the distribution. Our result improves the dependence on the dimension over the best previously known bound and precisely quantifies the relation between the sample complexity and the level of isotropy of the distribution.

Neural Flows: Efficient Alternative to Neural ODEs

Marin Biloš · Johanna Sommer · Syama Sundar Rangapuram · Tim Januschowski · Stephan Günnemann

Neural ordinary differential equations describe how values change in time. This is the reason why they gained importance in modeling sequential data, especially when the observations are made at irregular intervals. In this paper we propose an alternative by directly modeling the solution curves - the flow of an ODE - with a neural network. This immediately eliminates the need for expensive numerical solvers while still maintaining the modeling capability of neural ODEs. We propose several flow architectures suitable for different applications by establishing precise conditions on when a function defines a valid flow. Apart from computational efficiency, we also provide empirical evidence of favorable generalization performance via applications in time series modeling, forecasting, and density estimation.

End-to-end reconstruction meets data-driven regularization for inverse problems

Subhadip Mukherjee · Marcello Carioni · Ozan Öktem · Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb

We propose a new approach for learning end-to-end reconstruction operators based on unpaired training data for ill-posed inverse problems. The proposed method combines the classical variational framework with iterative unrolling and essentially seeks to minimize a weighted combination of the expected distortion in the measurement space and the Wasserstein-1 distance between the distributions of the reconstruction and the ground-truth. More specifically, the regularizer in the variational setting is parametrized by a deep neural network and learned simultaneously with the unrolled reconstruction operator. The variational problem is then initialized with the output of the reconstruction network and solved iteratively till convergence. Notably, it takes significantly fewer iterations to converge as compared to variational methods, thanks to the excellent initialization obtained via the unrolled operator. The resulting approach combines the computational efficiency of end-to-end unrolled reconstruction with the well-posedness and noise-stability guarantees of the variational setting. Moreover, we demonstrate with the example of image reconstruction in X-ray computed tomography (CT) that our approach outperforms state-of-the-art unsupervised methods and that it outperforms or is at least on par with state-of-the-art supervised data-driven reconstruction approaches.

SNIPS: Solving Noisy Inverse Problems Stochastically

Bahjat Kawar · Gregory Vaksman · Michael Elad

In this work we introduce a novel stochastic algorithm dubbed SNIPS, which draws samples from the posterior distribution of any linear inverse problem, where the observation is assumed to be contaminated by additive white Gaussian noise. Our solution incorporates ideas from Langevin dynamics and Newton's method, and exploits a pre-trained minimum mean squared error (MMSE) Gaussian denoiser. The proposed approach relies on an intricate derivation of the posterior score function that includes a singular value decomposition (SVD) of the degradation operator, in order to obtain a tractable iterative algorithm for the desired sampling. Due to its stochasticity, the algorithm can produce multiple high perceptual quality samples for the same noisy observation. We demonstrate the abilities of the proposed paradigm for image deblurring, super-resolution, and compressive sensing. We show that the samples produced are sharp, detailed and consistent with the given measurements, and their diversity exposes the inherent uncertainty in the inverse problem being solved.

Dirichlet Energy Constrained Learning for Deep Graph Neural Networks

Kaixiong Zhou · Xiao Huang · Daochen Zha · Rui Chen · Li Li · Soo-Hyun Choi · Xia Hu

Graph neural networks (GNNs) integrate deep architectures and topological structure modeling in an effective way. However, the performance of existing GNNs would decrease significantly when they stack many layers, because of the over-smoothing issue. Node embeddings tend to converge to similar vectors when GNNs keep recursively aggregating the representations of neighbors. To enable deep GNNs, several methods have been explored recently. But they are developed from either techniques in convolutional neural networks or heuristic strategies. There is no generalizable and theoretical principle to guide the design of deep GNNs. To this end, we analyze the bottleneck of deep GNNs by leveraging the Dirichlet energy of node embeddings, and propose a generalizable principle to guide the training of deep GNNs. Based on it, a novel deep GNN framework -- Energetic Graph Neural Networks (EGNN) is designed. It could provide lower and upper constraints in terms of Dirichlet energy at each layer to avoid over-smoothing. Experimental results demonstrate that EGNN achieves state-of-the-art performance by using deep layers.

Accelerating Robotic Reinforcement Learning via Parameterized Action Primitives

Murtaza Dalal · Deepak Pathak · Russ Salakhutdinov

Despite the potential of reinforcement learning (RL) for building general-purpose robotic systems, training RL agents to solve robotics tasks still remains challenging due to the difficulty of exploration in purely continuous action spaces. Addressing this problem is an active area of research with the majority of focus on improving RL methods via better optimization or more efficient exploration. An alternate but important component to consider improving is the interface of the RL algorithm with the robot. In this work, we manually specify a library of robot action primitives (RAPS), parameterized with arguments that are learned by an RL policy. These parameterized primitives are expressive, simple to implement, enable efficient exploration and can be transferred across robots, tasks and environments. We perform a thorough empirical study across challenging tasks in three distinct domains with image input and a sparse terminal reward. We find that our simple change to the action interface substantially improves both the learning efficiency and task performance irrespective of the underlying RL algorithm, significantly outperforming prior methods which learn skills from offline expert data.

A Comprehensively Tight Analysis of Gradient Descent for PCA

Zhiqiang Xu · Ping Li

We study the Riemannian gradient method for PCA on which a crucial fact is that despite the simplicity of the considered setting, i.e., deterministic version of Krasulina's method, the convergence rate has not been well-understood yet. In this work, we provide a general tight analysis for the gap-dependent rate at $O(\frac{1}{\Delta}\log\frac{1}{\epsilon})$ that holds for any real symmetric matrix. More importantly, when the gap $\Delta$ is significantly smaller than the target accuracy $\epsilon$ on the objective sub-optimality of the final solution, the rate of this type is actually not tight any more, which calls for a worst-case rate. We further give the first worst-case analysis that achieves a rate of convergence at $O(\frac{1}{\epsilon}\log\frac{1}{\epsilon})$. The two analyses naturally roll out a comprehensively tight convergence rate at $O(\frac{1}{\max\{\Delta,\epsilon\}}\hskip-.3em\log\frac{1}{\epsilon})$. Particularly, our gap-dependent analysis suggests a new promising learning rate for stochastic variance reduced PCA algorithms. Experiments are conducted to confirm our findings as well.

Three-dimensional spike localization and improved motion correction for Neuropixels recordings

Julien Boussard · Erdem Varol · Hyun Dong Lee · Nishchal Dethe · Liam Paninski

Neuropixels (NP) probes are dense linear multi-electrode arrays that have rapidly become essential tools for studying the electrophysiology of large neural populations. Unfortunately, a number of challenges remain in analyzing the large datasets output by these probes. Here we introduce several new methods for extracting useful spiking information from NP probes. First, we use a simple point neuron model, together with a neural-network denoiser, to efficiently map spikes detected on the probe into three-dimensional localizations. Previous methods localized spikes in two dimensions only; we show that the new localization approach is significantly more robust and provides an improved feature set for clustering spikes according to neural identity (``spike sorting"). Next, we apply a Poisson denoising method to the resulting three-dimensional point-cloud representation of the data, and show that the resulting 3D images can be accurately registered over time, leading to improved tracking of time-varying neural activity over the probe, and in turn, crisper estimates of neural clusters over time. The code to reproduce our results and an example neuropixels dataset is provided in the supplementary material.

Averaging on the Bures-Wasserstein manifold: dimension-free convergence of gradient descent

Jason Altschuler · Sinho Chewi · Patrik R Gerber · Austin Stromme

We study first-order optimization algorithms for computing the barycenter of Gaussian distributions with respect to the optimal transport metric. Although the objective is geodesically non-convex, Riemannian gradient descent empirically converges rapidly, in fact faster than off-the-shelf methods such as Euclidean gradient descent and SDP solvers. This stands in stark contrast to the best-known theoretical results, which depend exponentially on the dimension. In this work, we prove new geodesic convexity results which provide stronger control of the iterates, yielding a dimension-free convergence rate. Our techniques also enable the analysis of two related notions of averaging, the entropically-regularized barycenter and the geometric median, providing the first convergence guarantees for these problems.

Reinforcement Learning in Newcomblike Environments

James Bell · Linda Linsefors · Caspar Oesterheld · Joar Skalse

Newcomblike decision problems have been studied extensively in the decision theory literature, but they have so far been largely absent in the reinforcement learning literature. In this paper we study value-based reinforcement learning algorithms in the Newcomblike setting, and answer some of the fundamental theoretical questions about the behaviour of such algorithms in these environments. We show that a value-based reinforcement learning agent cannot converge to a policy that is not \emph{ratifiable}, i.e., does not only choose actions that are optimal given that policy. This gives us a powerful tool for reasoning about the limit behaviour of agents -- for example, it lets us show that there are Newcomblike environments in which a reinforcement learning agent cannot converge to any optimal policy. We show that a ratifiable policy always exists in our setting, but that there are cases in which a reinforcement learning agent normally cannot converge to it (and hence cannot converge at all). We also prove several results about the possible limit behaviours of agents in cases where they do not converge to any policy.

The Sensory Neuron as a Transformer: Permutation-Invariant Neural Networks for Reinforcement Learning

Yujin Tang · David Ha

In complex systems, we often observe complex global behavior emerge from a collection of agents interacting with each other in their environment, with each individual agent acting only on locally available information, without knowing the full picture. Such systems have inspired development of artificial intelligence algorithms in areas such as swarm optimization and cellular automata. Motivated by the emergence of collective behavior from complex cellular systems, we build systems that feed each sensory input from the environment into distinct, but identical neural networks, each with no fixed relationship with one another. We show that these sensory networks can be trained to integrate information received locally, and through communication via an attention mechanism, can collectively produce a globally coherent policy. Moreover, the system can still perform its task even if the ordering of its inputs is randomly permuted several times during an episode. These permutation invariant systems also display useful robustness and generalization properties that are broadly applicable. Interactive demo and videos of our results:

Sparse Flows: Pruning Continuous-depth Models

Lucas Liebenwein · Ramin Hasani · Alexander Amini · Daniela Rus

Continuous deep learning architectures enable learning of flexible probabilistic models for predictive modeling as neural ordinary differential equations (ODEs), and for generative modeling as continuous normalizing flows. In this work, we design a framework to decipher the internal dynamics of these continuous depth models by pruning their network architectures. Our empirical results suggest that pruning improves generalization for neural ODEs in generative modeling. We empirically show that the improvement is because pruning helps avoid mode-collapse and flatten the loss surface. Moreover, pruning finds efficient neural ODE representations with up to 98% less parameters compared to the original network, without loss of accuracy. We hope our results will invigorate further research into the performance-size trade-offs of modern continuous-depth models.

SLAPS: Self-Supervision Improves Structure Learning for Graph Neural Networks

Bahare Fatemi · Layla El Asri · Seyed Mehran Kazemi

Graph neural networks (GNNs) work well when the graph structure is provided. However, this structure may not always be available in real-world applications. One solution to this problem is to infer a task-specific latent structure and then apply a GNN to the inferred graph. Unfortunately, the space of possible graph structures grows super-exponentially with the number of nodes and so the task-specific supervision may be insufficient for learning both the structure and the GNN parameters. In this work, we propose the Simultaneous Learning of Adjacency and GNN Parameters with Self-supervision, or SLAPS, a method that provides more supervision for inferring a graph structure through self-supervision. A comprehensive experimental study demonstrates that SLAPS scales to large graphs with hundreds of thousands of nodes and outperforms several models that have been proposed to learn a task-specific graph structure on established benchmarks.

Encoding Spatial Distribution of Convolutional Features for Texture Representation

Yong Xu · Feng Li · Zhile Chen · Jinxiu Liang · Yuhui Quan

Existing convolutional neural networks (CNNs) often use global average pooling (GAP) to aggregate feature maps into a single representation. However, GAP cannot well characterize complex distributive patterns of spatial features while such patterns play an important role in texture-oriented applications, e.g., material recognition and ground terrain classification. In the context of texture representation, this paper addressed the issue by proposing Fractal Encoding (FE), a feature encoding module grounded by multi-fractal geometry. Considering a CNN feature map as a union of level sets of points lying in the 2D space, FE characterizes their spatial layout via a local-global hierarchical fractal analysis which examines the multi-scale power behavior on each level set. This enables a CNN to encode the regularity on the spatial arrangement of image features, leading to a robust yet discriminative spectrum descriptor. In addition, FE has trainable parameters for data adaptivity and can be easily incorporated into existing CNNs for end-to-end training. We applied FE to ResNet-based texture classification and retrieval, and demonstrated its effectiveness on several benchmark datasets.

Online Active Learning with Surrogate Loss Functions

Giulia DeSalvo · Claudio Gentile · Tobias Sommer Thune

We derive a novel active learning algorithm in the streaming setting for binary classification tasks. The algorithm leverages weak labels to minimize the number of label requests, and trains a model to optimize a surrogate loss on a resulting set of labeled and weak-labeled points. Our algorithm jointly admits two crucial properties: theoretical guarantees in the general agnostic setting and a strong empirical performance. Our theoretical analysis shows that the algorithm attains favorable generalization and label complexity bounds, while our empirical study on 18 real-world datasets demonstrate that the algorithm outperforms standard baselines, including the Margin Algorithm, or Uncertainty Sampling, a high-performing active learning algorithm favored by practitioners.

Learning to Compose Visual Relations

Nan Liu · Shuang Li · Yilun Du · Josh Tenenbaum · Antonio Torralba

The visual world around us can be described as a structured set of objects and their associated relations. An image of a room may be conjured given only the description of the underlying objects and their associated relations. While there has been significant work on designing deep neural networks which may compose individual objects together, less work has been done on composing the individual relations between objects. A principal difficulty is that while the placement of objects is mutually independent, their relations are entangled and dependent on each other. To circumvent this issue, existing works primarily compose relations by utilizing a holistic encoder, in the form of text or graphs. In this work, we instead propose to represent each relation as an unnormalized density (an energy-based model), enabling us to compose separate relations in a factorized manner. We show that such a factorized decomposition allows the model to both generate and edit scenes that have multiple sets of relations more faithfully. We further show that decomposition enables our model to effectively understand the underlying relational scene structure.

Small random initialization is akin to spectral learning: Optimization and generalization guarantees for overparameterized low-rank matrix reconstruction

Dominik Stöger · Mahdi Soltanolkotabi

Recently there has been significant theoretical progress on understanding the convergence and generalization of gradient-based methods on nonconvex losses with overparameterized models. Nevertheless, many aspects of optimization and generalization and in particular the critical role of small random initialization are not fully understood. In this paper, we take a step towards demystifying this role by proving that small random initialization followed by a few iterations of gradient descent behaves akin to popular spectral methods. We also show that this implicit spectral bias from small random initialization, which is provably more prominent for overparameterized models, also puts the gradient descent iterations on a particular trajectory towards solutions that are not only globally optimal but also generalize well. Concretely, we focus on the problem of reconstructing a low-rank matrix from a few measurements via a natural nonconvex formulation. In this setting, we show that the trajectory of the gradient descent iterations from small random initialization can be approximately decomposed into three phases: (I) a spectral or alignment phase where we show that that the iterates have an implicit spectral bias akin to spectral initialization allowing us to show that at the end of this phase the column space of the iterates and the underlying low-rank matrix are sufficiently aligned, (II) a saddle avoidance/refinement phase where we show that the trajectory of the gradient iterates moves away from certain degenerate saddle points, and (III) a local refinement phase where we show that after avoiding the saddles the iterates converge quickly to the underlying low-rank matrix. Underlying our analysis are insights for the analysis of overparameterized nonconvex optimization schemes that may have implications for computational problems beyond low-rank reconstruction.

On Training Implicit Models

Zhengyang Geng · Xin-Yu Zhang · Shaojie Bai · Yisen Wang · Zhouchen Lin

This paper focuses on training implicit models of infinite layers. Specifically, previous works employ implicit differentiation and solve the exact gradient for the backward propagation. However, is it necessary to compute such an exact but expensive gradient for training? In this work, we propose a novel gradient estimate for implicit models, named phantom gradient, that 1) forgoes the costly computation of the exact gradient; and 2) provides an update direction empirically preferable to the implicit model training. We theoretically analyze the condition under which an ascent direction of the loss landscape could be found and provide two specific instantiations of the phantom gradient based on the damped unrolling and Neumann series. Experiments on large-scale tasks demonstrate that these lightweight phantom gradients significantly accelerate the backward passes in training implicit models by roughly 1.7 $\times$ and even boost the performance over approaches based on the exact gradient on ImageNet.

Communication-efficient SGD: From Local SGD to One-Shot Averaging

Artin Spiridonoff · Alex Olshevsky · Yannis Paschalidis

We consider speeding up stochastic gradient descent (SGD) by parallelizing it across multiple workers. We assume the same data set is shared among $N$ workers, who can take SGD steps and coordinate with a central server. While it is possible to obtain a linear reduction in the variance by averaging all the stochastic gradients at every step, this requires a lot of communication between the workers and the server, which can dramatically reduce the gains from parallelism.The Local SGD method, proposed and analyzed in the earlier literature, suggests machines should make many local steps between such communications. While the initial analysis of Local SGD showed it needs $\Omega ( \sqrt{T} )$ communications for $T$ local gradient steps in order for the error to scale proportionately to $1/(NT)$, this has been successively improved in a string of papers, with the state of the art requiring $\Omega \left( N \left( \mbox{ poly} (\log T) \right) \right)$ communications. In this paper, we suggest a Local SGD scheme that communicates less overall by communicating less frequently as the number of iterations grows. Our analysis shows that this can achieve an error that scales as $1/(NT)$ with a number of communications that is completely independent of $T$. In particular, we show that $\Omega(N)$ communications are sufficient. Empirical evidence suggests this bound is close to tight as we further show that $\sqrt{N}$ or $N^{3/4}$ communications fail to achieve linear speed-up in simulations. Moreover, we show that under mild assumptions, the main of which is twice differentiability on any neighborhood of the optimal solution, one-shot averaging which only uses a single round of communication can also achieve the optimal convergence rate asymptotically.

On the Power of Differentiable Learning versus PAC and SQ Learning

Emmanuel Abbe · Pritish Kamath · Eran Malach · Colin Sandon · Nathan Srebro

We study the power of learning via mini-batch stochastic gradient descent (SGD) on the loss of a differentiable model or neural network, and ask what learning problems can be learnt using this paradigm. We show that SGD can always simulate learning with statistical queries (SQ), but its ability to go beyond that depends on the precision $\rho$ of the gradients and the minibatch size $b$. With fine enough precision relative to minibatch size, namely when $b \rho$ is small enough, SGD can go beyond SQ learning and simulate any sample-based learning algorithm and thus its learning power is equivalent to that of PAC learning; this extends prior work that achieved this result for $b=1$. Moreover, with polynomially many bits of precision (i.e. when $\rho$ is exponentially small), SGD can simulate PAC learning regardless of the batch size. On the other hand, when $b \rho^2$ is large enough, the power of SGD is equivalent to that of SQ learning.

Adaptive Proximal Gradient Methods for Structured Neural Networks

Jihun Yun · Aurelie Lozano · Eunho Yang

We consider the training of structured neural networks where the regularizer can be non-smooth and possibly non-convex. While popular machine learning libraries have resorted to stochastic (adaptive) subgradient approaches, the use of proximal gradient methods in the stochastic setting has been little explored and warrants further study, in particular regarding the incorporation of adaptivity. Towards this goal, we present a general framework of stochastic proximal gradient descent methods that allows for arbitrary positive preconditioners and lower semi-continuous regularizers. We derive two important instances of our framework: (i) the first proximal version of \textsc{Adam}, one of the most popular adaptive SGD algorithm, and (ii) a revised version of ProxQuant for quantization-specific regularizers, which improves upon the original approach by incorporating the effect of preconditioners in the proximal mapping computations. We provide convergence guarantees for our framework and show that adaptive gradient methods can have faster convergence in terms of constant than vanilla SGD for sparse data. Lastly, we demonstrate the superiority of stochastic proximal methods compared to subgradient-based approaches via extensive experiments. Interestingly, our results indicate that the benefit of proximal approaches over sub-gradient counterparts is more pronounced for non-convex regularizers than for convex ones.

Distributionally Robust Imitation Learning

Mohammad Ali Bashiri · Brian Ziebart · Xinhua Zhang

We consider the imitation learning problem of learning a policy in a Markov Decision Process (MDP) setting where the reward function is not given, but demonstrations from experts are available. Although the goal of imitation learning is to learn a policy that produces behaviors nearly as good as the experts’ for a desired task, assumptions of consistent optimality for demonstrated behaviors are often violated in practice. Finding a policy that is distributionally robust against noisy demonstrations based on an adversarial construction potentially solves this problem by avoiding optimistic generalizations of the demonstrated data. This paper studies Distributionally Robust Imitation Learning (DRoIL) and establishes a close connection between DRoIL and Maximum Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning. We show that DRoIL can be seen as a framework that maximizes a generalized concept of entropy. We develop a novel approach to transform the objective function into a convex optimization problem over a polynomial number of variables for a class of loss functions that are additive over state and action spaces. Our approach lets us optimize both stationary and non-stationary policies and, unlike prevalent previous methods, it does not require repeatedly solving an inner reinforcement learning problem. We experimentally show the significant benefits of DRoIL’s new optimization method on synthetic data and a highway driving environment.

On the Power of Edge Independent Graph Models

Sudhanshu Chanpuriya · Cameron Musco · Konstantinos Sotiropoulos · Charalampos Tsourakakis

Why do many modern neural-network-based graph generative models fail to reproduce typical real-world network characteristics, such as high triangle density? In this work we study the limitations of $edge\ independent\ random\ graph\ models$, in which each edge is added to the graph independently with some probability. Such models include both the classic Erdos-Renyi and stochastic block models, as well as modern generative models such as NetGAN, variational graph autoencoders, and CELL. We prove that subject to a $bounded\ overlap$ condition, which ensures that the model does not simply memorize a single graph, edge independent models are inherently limited in their ability to generate graphs with high triangle and other subgraph densities. Notably, such high densities are known to appear in real-world social networks and other graphs. We complement our negative results with a simple generative model that balances overlap and accuracy, performing comparably to more complex models in reconstructing many graph statistics.

Local Signal Adaptivity: Provable Feature Learning in Neural Networks Beyond Kernels

Stefani Karp · Ezra Winston · Yuanzhi Li · Aarti Singh

Neural networks have been shown to outperform kernel methods in practice (including neural tangent kernels). Most theoretical explanations of this performance gap focus on learning a complex hypothesis class; in some cases, it is unclear whether this hypothesis class captures realistic data. In this work, we propose a related, but alternative, explanation for this performance gap in the image classification setting, based on finding a sparse signal in the presence of noise. Specifically, we prove that, for a simple data distribution with sparse signal amidst high-variance noise, a simple convolutional neural network trained using stochastic gradient descent learns to threshold out the noise and find the signal. On the other hand, the corresponding neural tangent kernel, with a fixed set of predetermined features, is unable to adapt to the signal in this manner. We supplement our theoretical results by demonstrating this phenomenon empirically: in CIFAR-10 and MNIST images with various backgrounds, as the background noise increases in intensity, a CNN's performance stays relatively robust, whereas its corresponding neural tangent kernel sees a notable drop in performance. We therefore propose the "local signal adaptivity" (LSA) phenomenon as one explanation for the superiority of neural networks over kernel methods.

The functional specialization of visual cortex emerges from training parallel pathways with self-supervised predictive learning

Shahab Bakhtiari · Patrick Mineault · Timothy Lillicrap · Christopher Pack · Blake Richards

The visual system of mammals is comprised of parallel, hierarchical specialized pathways. Different pathways are specialized in so far as they use representations that are more suitable for supporting specific downstream behaviours. In particular, the clearest example is the specialization of the ventral ("what") and dorsal ("where") pathways of the visual cortex. These two pathways support behaviours related to visual recognition and movement, respectively. To-date, deep neural networks have mostly been used as models of the ventral, recognition pathway. However, it is unknown whether both pathways can be modelled with a single deep ANN. Here, we ask whether a single model with a single loss function can capture the properties of both the ventral and the dorsal pathways. We explore this question using data from mice, who like other mammals, have specialized pathways that appear to support recognition and movement behaviours. We show that when we train a deep neural network architecture with two parallel pathways using a self-supervised predictive loss function, we can outperform other models in fitting mouse visual cortex. Moreover, we can model both the dorsal and ventral pathways. These results demonstrate that a self-supervised predictive learning approach applied to parallel pathway architectures can account for some of the functional specialization seen in mammalian visual systems.

Adversarial Training Helps Transfer Learning via Better Representations

Zhun Deng · Linjun Zhang · Kailas Vodrahalli · Kenji Kawaguchi · James Zou

Transfer learning aims to leverage models pre-trained on source data to efficiently adapt to target setting, where only limited data are available for model fine-tuning. Recent works empirically demonstrate that adversarial training in the source data can improve the ability of models to transfer to new domains. However, why this happens is not known. In this paper, we provide a theoretical model to rigorously analyze how adversarial training helps transfer learning. We show that adversarial training in the source data generates provably better representations, so fine-tuning on top of this representation leads to a more accurate predictor of the target data. We further demonstrate both theoretically and empirically that semi-supervised learning in the source data can also improve transfer learning by similarly improving the representation. Moreover, performing adversarial training on top of semi-supervised learning can further improve transferability, suggesting that the two approaches have complementary benefits on representations. We support our theories with experiments on popular data sets and deep learning architectures.

SyMetric: Measuring the Quality of Learnt Hamiltonian Dynamics Inferred from Vision

Irina Higgins · Peter Wirnsberger · Andrew Jaegle · Aleksandar Botev

A recently proposed class of models attempts to learn latent dynamics from high-dimensional observations, like images, using priors informed by Hamiltonian mechanics. While these models have important potential applications in areas like robotics or autonomous driving, there is currently no good way to evaluate their performance: existing methods primarily rely on image reconstruction quality, which does not always reflect the quality of the learnt latent dynamics. In this work, we empirically highlight the problems with the existing measures and develop a set of new measures, including a binary indicator of whether the underlying Hamiltonian dynamics have been faithfully captured, which we call Symplecticity Metric or SyMetric. Our measures take advantage of the known properties of Hamiltonian dynamics and are more discriminative of the model's ability to capture the underlying dynamics than reconstruction error. Using SyMetric, we identify a set of architectural choices that significantly improve the performance of a previously proposed model for inferring latent dynamics from pixels, the Hamiltonian Generative Network (HGN). Unlike the original HGN, the new SyMetric is able to discover an interpretable phase space with physically meaningful latents on some datasets. Furthermore, it is stable for significantly longer rollouts on a diverse range of 13 datasets, producing rollouts of essentially infinite length both forward and backwards in time with no degradation in quality on a subset of the datasets.

Smoothness Matrices Beat Smoothness Constants: Better Communication Compression Techniques for Distributed Optimization

Mher Safaryan · Filip Hanzely · Peter Richtarik

Large scale distributed optimization has become the default tool for the training of supervised machine learning models with a large number of parameters and training data. Recent advancements in the field provide several mechanisms for speeding up the training, including {\em compressed communication}, {\em variance reduction} and {\em acceleration}. However, none of these methods is capable of exploiting the inherently rich data-dependent smoothness structure of the local losses beyond standard smoothness constants. In this paper, we argue that when training supervised models, {\em smoothness matrices}---information-rich generalizations of the ubiquitous smoothness constants---can and should be exploited for further dramatic gains, both in theory and practice. In order to further alleviate the communication burden inherent in distributed optimization, we propose a novel communication sparsification strategy that can take full advantage of the smoothness matrices associated with local losses. To showcase the power of this tool, we describe how our sparsification technique can be adapted to three distributed optimization algorithms---DCGD, DIANA and ADIANA---yielding significant savings in terms of communication complexity. The new methods always outperform the baselines, often dramatically so.

Reward is enough for convex MDPs

Tom Zahavy · Brendan O'Donoghue · Guillaume Desjardins · Satinder Singh

Maximising a cumulative reward function that is Markov and stationary, i.e., defined over state-action pairs and independent of time, is sufficient to capture many kinds of goals in a Markov decision process (MDP). However, not all goals can be captured in this manner. In this paper we study convex MDPs in which goals are expressed as convex functions of the stationary distribution and show that they cannot be formulated using stationary reward functions. Convex MDPs generalize the standard reinforcement learning (RL) problem formulation to a larger framework that includes many supervised and unsupervised RL problems, such as apprenticeship learning, constrained MDPs, and so-called pure exploration'. Our approach is to reformulate the convex MDP problem as a min-max game involving policy and cost (negative reward)players', using Fenchel duality. We propose a meta-algorithm for solving this problem and show that it unifies many existing algorithms in the literature.

Does enforcing fairness mitigate biases caused by subpopulation shift?

Subha Maity · Debarghya Mukherjee · Mikhail Yurochkin · Yuekai Sun

Many instances of algorithmic bias are caused by subpopulation shifts. For example, ML models often perform worse on demographic groups that are underrepresented in the training data. In this paper, we study whether enforcing algorithmic fairness during training improves the performance of the trained model in the \emph{target domain}. On one hand, we conceive scenarios in which enforcing fairness does not improve performance in the target domain. In fact, it may even harm performance. On the other hand, we derive necessary and sufficient conditions under which enforcing algorithmic fairness leads to the Bayes model in the target domain. We also illustrate the practical implications of our theoretical results in simulations and on real data.

Shapley Residuals: Quantifying the limits of the Shapley value for explanations

Indra Kumar · Carlos Scheidegger · Suresh Venkatasubramanian · Sorelle Friedler

Popular feature importance techniques compute additive approximations to nonlinear models by first defining a cooperative game describing the value of different subsets of the model's features, then calculating the resulting game's Shapley values to attribute credit additively between the features. However, the specific modeling settings in which the Shapley values are a poor approximation for the true game have not been well-described. In this paper we utilize an interpretation of Shapley values as the result of an orthogonal projection between vector spaces to calculate a residual representing the kernel component of that projection. We provide an algorithm for computing these residuals, characterize different modeling settings based on the value of the residuals, and demonstrate that they capture information about model predictions that Shapley values cannot. Shapley residuals can thus act as a warning to practitioners against overestimating the degree to which Shapley-value-based explanations give them insight into a model.

Tractable Density Estimation on Learned Manifolds with Conformal Embedding Flows

Brendan Ross · Jesse Cresswell

Normalizing flows are generative models that provide tractable density estimation via an invertible transformation from a simple base distribution to a complex target distribution. However, this technique cannot directly model data supported on an unknown low-dimensional manifold, a common occurrence in real-world domains such as image data. Recent attempts to remedy this limitation have introduced geometric complications that defeat a central benefit of normalizing flows: exact density estimation. We recover this benefit with Conformal Embedding Flows, a framework for designing flows that learn manifolds with tractable densities. We argue that composing a standard flow with a trainable conformal embedding is the most natural way to model manifold-supported data. To this end, we present a series of conformal building blocks and apply them in experiments with synthetic and real-world data to demonstrate that flows can model manifold-supported distributions without sacrificing tractable likelihoods.

The Limits of Optimal Pricing in the Dark

Quinlan Dawkins · Minbiao Han · Haifeng Xu

A ubiquitous learning problem in today’s digital market is, during repeated interactions between a seller and a buyer, how a seller can gradually learn optimal pricing decisions based on the buyer’s past purchase responses. A fundamental challenge of learning in such a strategic setup is that the buyer will naturally have incentives to manipulate his responses in order to induce more favorable learning outcomes for him. To understand the limits of the seller’s learning when facing such a strategic and possibly manipulative buyer, we study a natural yet powerful buyer manipulation strategy. That is, before the pricing game starts, the buyer simply commits to “imitate” a different value function by pretending to always react optimally according to this imitative value function. We fully characterize the optimal imitative value function that the buyer should imitate as well as the resultant seller revenue and buyer surplus under this optimal buyer manipulation. Our characterizations reveal many useful insights about what happens at equilibrium. For example, a seller with concave production cost will obtain essentially 0 revenue at equilibrium whereas the revenue for a seller with convex production cost is the Bregman divergence of her cost function between no production and certain production. Finally, and importantly, we show that a more powerful class of pricing schemes does not necessarily increase, in fact, may be harmful to, the seller’s revenue. Our results not only lead to an effective prescriptive way for buyers to manipulate learning algorithms but also shed lights on the limits of what a seller can really achieve when pricing in the dark.

No RL, No Simulation: Learning to Navigate without Navigating

Meera Hahn · Devendra Singh Chaplot · Shubham Tulsiani · Mustafa Mukadam · James Rehg · Abhinav Gupta

Most prior methods for learning navigation policies require access to simulation environments, as they need online policy interaction and rely on ground-truth maps for rewards. However, building simulators is expensive (requires manual effort for each and every scene) and creates challenges in transferring learned policies to robotic platforms in the real-world, due to the sim-to-real domain gap. In this paper, we pose a simple question: Do we really need active interaction, ground-truth maps or even reinforcement-learning (RL) in order to solve the image-goal navigation task? We propose a self-supervised approach to learn to navigate from only passive videos of roaming. Our approach, No RL, No Simulator (NRNS), is simple and scalable, yet highly effective. NRNS outperforms RL-based formulations by a significant margin. We present NRNS as a strong baseline for any future image-based navigation tasks that use RL or Simulation.

Improving Computational Efficiency in Visual Reinforcement Learning via Stored Embeddings

Lili Chen · Kimin Lee · Aravind Srinivas · Pieter Abbeel

Recent advances in off-policy deep reinforcement learning (RL) have led to impressive success in complex tasks from visual observations. Experience replay improves sample-efficiency by reusing experiences from the past, and convolutional neural networks (CNNs) process high-dimensional inputs effectively. However, such techniques demand high memory and computational bandwidth. In this paper, we present Stored Embeddings for Efficient Reinforcement Learning (SEER), a simple modification of existing off-policy RL methods, to address these computational and memory requirements. To reduce the computational overhead of gradient updates in CNNs, we freeze the lower layers of CNN encoders early in training due to early convergence of their parameters. Additionally, we reduce memory requirements by storing the low-dimensional latent vectors for experience replay instead of high-dimensional images, enabling an adaptive increase in the replay buffer capacity, a useful technique in constrained-memory settings. In our experiments, we show that SEER does not degrade the performance of RL agents while significantly saving computation and memory across a diverse set of DeepMind Control environments and Atari games.

Towards Sharper Generalization Bounds for Structured Prediction

Shaojie Li · Yong Liu

In this paper, we investigate the generalization performance of structured prediction learning and obtain state-of-the-art generalization bounds. Our analysis is based on factor graph decomposition of structured prediction algorithms, and we present novel margin guarantees from three different perspectives: Lipschitz continuity, smoothness, and space capacity condition. In the Lipschitz continuity scenario, we improve the square-root dependency on the label set cardinality of existing bounds to a logarithmic dependence. In the smoothness scenario, we provide generalization bounds that are not only a logarithmic dependency on the label set cardinality but a faster convergence rate of order $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{n})$ on the sample size $n$. In the space capacity scenario, we obtain bounds that do not depend on the label set cardinality and have faster convergence rates than $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{\sqrt{n}})$. In each scenario, applications are provided to suggest that these conditions are easy to be satisfied.

Topological Relational Learning on Graphs

Yuzhou Chen · Baris Coskunuzer · Yulia Gel

Graph neural networks (GNNs) have emerged as a powerful tool for graph classification and representation learning. However, GNNs tend to suffer from over-smoothing problems and are vulnerable to graph perturbations. To address these challenges, we propose a novel topological neural framework of topological relational inference (TRI) which allows for integrating higher-order graph information to GNNs and for systematically learning a local graph structure. The key idea is to rewire the original graph by using the persistent homology of the small neighborhoods of the nodes and then to incorporate the extracted topological summaries as the side information into the local algorithm. As a result, the new framework enables us to harness both the conventional information on the graph structure and information on higher order topological properties of the graph. We derive theoretical properties on stability of the new local topological representation of the graph and discuss its implications on the graph algebraic connectivity. The experimental results on node classification tasks demonstrate that the new TRI-GNN outperforms all 14 state-of-the-art baselines on 6 out 7 graphs and exhibit higher robustness to perturbations, yielding up to 10\% better performance under noisy scenarios.

Federated Linear Contextual Bandits

Ruiquan Huang · Weiqiang Wu · Jing Yang · Cong Shen

This paper presents a novel federated linear contextual bandits model, where individual clients face different $K$-armed stochastic bandits coupled through common global parameters. By leveraging the geometric structure of the linear rewards, a collaborative algorithm called Fed-PE is proposed to cope with the heterogeneity across clients without exchanging local feature vectors or raw data. Fed-PE relies on a novel multi-client G-optimal design, and achieves near-optimal regrets for both disjoint and shared parameter cases with logarithmic communication costs. In addition, a new concept called collinearly-dependent policies is introduced, based on which a tight minimax regret lower bound for the disjoint parameter case is derived. Experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed algorithms on both synthetic and real-world datasets.

Improved Regularization and Robustness for Fine-tuning in Neural Networks

Dongyue Li · Hongyang Zhang

A widely used algorithm for transfer learning is fine-tuning, where a pre-trained model is fine-tuned on a target task with a small amount of labeled data. When the capacity of the pre-trained model is much larger than the size of the target data set, fine-tuning is prone to overfitting and "memorizing" the training labels. Hence, an important question is to regularize fine-tuning and ensure its robustness to noise. To address this question, we begin by analyzing the generalization properties of fine-tuning. We present a PAC-Bayes generalization bound that depends on the distance traveled in each layer during fine-tuning and the noise stability of the fine-tuned model. We empirically measure these quantities. Based on the analysis, we propose regularized self-labeling---the interpolation between regularization and self-labeling methods, including (i) layer-wise regularization to constrain the distance traveled in each layer; (ii) self label-correction and label-reweighting to correct mislabeled data points (that the model is confident) and reweight less confident data points. We validate our approach on an extensive collection of image and text data sets using multiple pre-trained model architectures. Our approach improves baseline methods by 1.76% (on average) for seven image classification tasks and 0.75% for a few-shot classification task. When the target data set includes noisy labels, our approach outperforms baseline methods by 3.56% on average in two noisy settings.

Robust Contrastive Learning Using Negative Samples with Diminished Semantics

Songwei Ge · Shlok Mishra · Chun-Liang Li · Haohan Wang · David Jacobs

Unsupervised learning has recently made exceptional progress because of the development of more effective contrastive learning methods. However, CNNs are prone to depend on low-level features that humans deem non-semantic. This dependency has been conjectured to induce a lack of robustness to image perturbations or domain shift. In this paper, we show that by generating carefully designed negative samples, contrastive learning can learn more robust representations with less dependence on such features. Contrastive learning utilizes positive pairs which preserve semantic information while perturbing superficial features in the training images. Similarly, we propose to generate negative samples in a reversed way, where only the superfluous instead of the semantic features are preserved. We develop two methods, texture-based and patch-based augmentations, to generate negative samples. These samples achieve better generalization, especially under out-of-domain settings. We also analyze our method and the generated texture-based samples, showing that texture features are indispensable in classifying particular ImageNet classes and especially finer classes. We also show that the model bias between texture and shape features favors them differently under different test settings.

SGD: The Role of Implicit Regularization, Batch-size and Multiple-epochs

Ayush Sekhari · Karthik Sridharan · Satyen Kale

Multi-epoch, small-batch, Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) has been the method of choice for learning with large over-parameterized models. A popular theory for explaining why SGD works well in practice is that the algorithm has an implicit regularization that biases its output towards a good solution. Perhaps the theoretically most well understood learning setting for SGD is that of Stochastic Convex Optimization (SCO), where it is well known that SGD learns at a rate of $O(1/\sqrt{n})$, where $n$ is the number of samples. In this paper, we consider the problem of SCO and explore the role of implicit regularization, batch size and multiple epochs for SGD. Our main contributions are threefold: * We show that for any regularizer, there is an SCO problem for which Regularized Empirical Risk Minimzation fails to learn. This automatically rules out any implicit regularization based explanation for the success of SGD.* We provide a separation between SGD and learning via Gradient Descent on empirical loss (GD) in terms of sample complexity. We show that there is an SCO problem such that GD with any step size and number of iterations can only learn at a suboptimal rate: at least $\widetilde{\Omega}(1/n^{5/12})$.* We present a multi-epoch variant of SGD commonly used in practice. We prove that this algorithm is at least as good as single pass SGD in the worst case. However, for certain SCO problems, taking multiple passes over the dataset can significantly outperform single pass SGD. We extend our results to the general learning setting by showing a problem which is learnable for any data distribution, and for this problem, SGD is strictly better than RERM for any regularization function. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for deep learning, and show a separation between SGD and ERM for two layer diagonal neural networks.

A Gaussian Process-Bayesian Bernoulli Mixture Model for Multi-Label Active Learning

Weishi Shi · Dayou Yu · Qi Yu

Multi-label classification (MLC) allows complex dependencies among labels, making it more suitable to model many real-world problems. However, data annotation for training MLC models becomes much more labor-intensive due to the correlated (hence non-exclusive) labels and a potential large and sparse label space. We propose to conduct multi-label active learning (ML-AL) through a novel integrated Gaussian Process-Bayesian Bernoulli Mixture model (GP-B$^2$M) to accurately quantify a data sample's overall contribution to a correlated label space and choose the most informative samples for cost-effective annotation. In particular, the B$^2$M encodes label correlations using a Bayesian Bernoulli mixture of label clusters, where each mixture component corresponds to a global pattern of label correlations. To tackle highly sparse labels under AL, the B$^2$M is further integrated with a predictive GP to connect data features as an effective inductive bias and achieve a feature-component-label mapping. The GP predicts coefficients of mixture components that help to recover the final set of labels of a data sample. A novel auxiliary variable based variational inference algorithm is developed to tackle the non-conjugacy introduced along with the mapping process for efficient end-to-end posterior inference. The model also outputs a predictive distribution that provides both the label prediction and their correlations in the form of a label covariance matrix. A principled sampling function is designed accordingly to naturally capture both the feature uncertainty (through GP) and label covariance (through B$^2$M) for effective data sampling. Experiments on real-world multi-label datasets demonstrate the state-of-the-art AL performance of the proposed GP-B$^2$M model.

You Never Cluster Alone

Yuming Shen · Ziyi Shen · Menghan Wang · Jie Qin · Philip Torr · Ling Shao

Recent advances in self-supervised learning with instance-level contrastive objectives facilitate unsupervised clustering. However, a standalone datum is not perceiving the context of the holistic cluster, and may undergo sub-optimal assignment. In this paper, we extend the mainstream contrastive learning paradigm to a cluster-level scheme, where all the data subjected to the same cluster contribute to a unified representation that encodes the context of each data group. Contrastive learning with this representation then rewards the assignment of each datum. To implement this vision, we propose twin-contrast clustering (TCC). We define a set of categorical variables as clustering assignment confidence, which links the instance-level learning track with the cluster-level one. On one hand, with the corresponding assignment variables being the weight, a weighted aggregation along the data points implements the set representation of a cluster. We further propose heuristic cluster augmentation equivalents to enable cluster-level contrastive learning. On the other hand, we derive the evidence lower-bound of the instance-level contrastive objective with the assignments. By reparametrizing the assignment variables, TCC is trained end-to-end, requiring no alternating steps. Extensive experiments show that TCC outperforms the state-of-the-art on benchmarked datasets.

Self-Supervised Bug Detection and Repair

Miltiadis Allamanis · Henry Jackson-Flux · Marc Brockschmidt

Machine learning-based program analyses have recently shown the promise of integrating formal and probabilistic reasoning towards aiding software development. However, in the absence of large annotated corpora, training these analyses is challenging. Towards addressing this, we present BugLab, an approach for self-supervised learning of bug detection and repair. BugLab co-trains two models: (1) a detector model that learns to detect and repair bugs in code, (2) a selector model that learns to create buggy code for the detector to use as training data. A Python implementation of BugLab improves by 30% upon baseline methods on a test dataset of 2374 real-life bugs and finds 19 previously unknown bugs in open-source software.

No Regrets for Learning the Prior in Bandits

Soumya Basu · Branislav Kveton · Manzil Zaheer · Csaba Szepesvari

We propose AdaTS, a Thompson sampling algorithm that adapts sequentially to bandit tasks that it interacts with. The key idea in AdaTS is to adapt to an unknown task prior distribution by maintaining a distribution over its parameters. When solving a bandit task, that uncertainty is marginalized out and properly accounted for. AdaTS is a fully-Bayesian algorithm that can be implemented efficiently in several classes of bandit problems. We derive upper bounds on its Bayes regret that quantify the loss due to not knowing the task prior, and show that it is small. Our theory is supported by experiments, where AdaTS outperforms prior algorithms and works well even in challenging real-world problems.

ASSANet: An Anisotropic Separable Set Abstraction for Efficient Point Cloud Representation Learning

Guocheng Qian · Hasan Hammoud · Guohao Li · Ali Thabet · Bernard Ghanem

Access to 3D point cloud representations has been widely facilitated by LiDAR sensors embedded in various mobile devices. This has led to an emerging need for fast and accurate point cloud processing techniques. In this paper, we revisit and dive deeper into PointNet++, one of the most influential yet under-explored networks, and develop faster and more accurate variants of the model. We first present a novel Separable Set Abstraction (SA) module that disentangles the vanilla SA module used in PointNet++ into two separate learning stages: (1) learning channel correlation and (2) learning spatial correlation. The Separable SA module is significantly faster than the vanilla version, yet it achieves comparable performance. We then introduce a new Anisotropic Reduction function into our Separable SA module and propose an Anisotropic Separable SA (ASSA) module that substantially increases the network's accuracy. We later replace the vanilla SA modules in PointNet++ with the proposed ASSA modules, and denote the modified network as ASSANet. Extensive experiments on point cloud classification, semantic segmentation, and part segmentation show that ASSANet outperforms PointNet++ and other methods, achieving much higher accuracy and faster speeds. In particular, ASSANet outperforms PointNet++ by $7.4$ mIoU on S3DIS Area 5, while maintaining $1.6 \times $ faster inference speed on a single NVIDIA 2080Ti GPU. Our scaled ASSANet variant achieves $66.8$ mIoU and outperforms KPConv, while being more than $54 \times$ faster.

Efficient Generalization with Distributionally Robust Learning

Soumyadip Ghosh · Mark Squillante · Ebisa Wollega

Distributionally robust learning (DRL) is increasingly seen as a viable method to train machine learning models for improved model generalization. These min-max formulations, however, are more difficult to solve. We provide a new stochastic gradient descent algorithm to efficiently solve this DRL formulation. Our approach applies gradient descent to the outer minimization formulation and estimates the gradient of the inner maximization based on a sample average approximation. The latter uses a subset of the data sampled without replacement in each iteration, progressively increasing the subset size to ensure convergence. We rigorously establish convergence to a near-optimal solution under standard regularity assumptions and, for strongly convex losses, match the best known $O(\epsilon{ −1})$ rate of convergence up to a known threshold. Empirical results demonstrate the significant benefits of our approach over previous work in improving learning for model generalization.

Minimax Regret for Stochastic Shortest Path

Alon Cohen · Yonathan Efroni · Yishay Mansour · Aviv Rosenberg

We study the Stochastic Shortest Path (SSP) problem in which an agent has to reach a goal state in minimum total expected cost. In the learning formulation of the problem, the agent has no prior knowledge about the costs and dynamics of the model. She repeatedly interacts with the model for $K$ episodes, and has to minimize her regret. In this work we show that the minimax regret for this setting is $\widetilde O(\sqrt{ (B_\star^2 + B_\star) |S| |A| K})$ where $B_\star$ is a bound on the expected cost of the optimal policy from any state, $S$ is the state space, and $A$ is the action space. This matches the $\Omega (\sqrt{ B_\star^2 |S| |A| K})$ lower bound of Rosenberg et al. [2020] for $B_\star \ge 1$, and improves their regret bound by a factor of $\sqrt{|S|}$. For $B_\star < 1$ we prove a matching lower bound of $\Omega (\sqrt{ B_\star |S| |A| K})$. Our algorithm is based on a novel reduction from SSP to finite-horizon MDPs. To that end, we provide an algorithm for the finite-horizon setting whose leading term in the regret depends polynomially on the expected cost of the optimal policy and only logarithmically on the horizon.

Turing Completeness of Bounded-Precision Recurrent Neural Networks

Stephen Chung · Hava Siegelmann

Previous works have proved that recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are Turing-complete. However, in the proofs, the RNNs allow for neurons with unbounded precision, which is neither practical in implementation nor biologically plausible. To remove this assumption, we propose a dynamically growing memory module made of neurons of fixed precision. The memory module dynamically recruits new neurons when more memories are needed, and releases them when memories become irrelevant. We prove that a 54-neuron bounded-precision RNN with growing memory modules can simulate a Universal Turing Machine, with time complexity linear in the simulated machine's time and independent of the memory size. The result is extendable to various other stack-augmented RNNs. Furthermore, we analyze the Turing completeness of both unbounded-precision and bounded-precision RNNs, revisiting and extending the theoretical foundations of RNNs.

Why Do Better Loss Functions Lead to Less Transferable Features?

Simon Kornblith · Ting Chen · Honglak Lee · Mohammad Norouzi

Previous work has proposed many new loss functions and regularizers that improve test accuracy on image classification tasks. However, it is not clear whether these loss functions learn better representations for downstream tasks. This paper studies how the choice of training objective affects the transferability of the hidden representations of convolutional neural networks trained on ImageNet. We show that many objectives lead to statistically significant improvements in ImageNet accuracy over vanilla softmax cross-entropy, but the resulting fixed feature extractors transfer substantially worse to downstream tasks, and the choice of loss has little effect when networks are fully fine-tuned on the new tasks. Using centered kernel alignment to measure similarity between hidden representations of networks, we find that differences among loss functions are apparent only in the last few layers of the network. We delve deeper into representations of the penultimate layer, finding that different objectives and hyperparameter combinations lead to dramatically different levels of class separation. Representations with higher class separation obtain higher accuracy on the original task, but their features are less useful for downstream tasks. Our results suggest there exists a trade-off between learning invariant features for the original task and features relevant for transfer tasks.

Making a (Counterfactual) Difference One Rationale at a Time

Mitchell Plyler · Michael Green · Min Chi

Rationales, snippets of extracted text that explain an inference, have emerged as a popular framework for interpretable natural language processing (NLP). Rationale models typically consist of two cooperating modules: a selector and a classifier with the goal of maximizing the mutual information (MMI) between the "selected" text and the document label. Despite their promises, MMI-based methods often pick up on spurious text patterns and result in models with nonsensical behaviors. In this work, we investigate whether counterfactual data augmentation (CDA), without human assistance, can improve the performance of the selector by lowering the mutual information between spurious signals and the document label. Our counterfactuals are produced in an unsupervised fashion using class-dependent generative models. From an information theoretic lens, we derive properties of the unaugmented dataset for which our CDA approach would succeed. The effectiveness of CDA is empirically evaluated by comparing against several baselines including an improved MMI-based rationale schema on two multi-aspect datasets. Our results show that CDA produces rationales that better capture the signal of interest.

3D Siamese Voxel-to-BEV Tracker for Sparse Point Clouds

Le Hui · Lingpeng Wang · Mingmei Cheng · Jin Xie · Jian Yang

3D object tracking in point clouds is still a challenging problem due to the sparsity of LiDAR points in dynamic environments. In this work, we propose a Siamese voxel-to-BEV tracker, which can significantly improve the tracking performance in sparse 3D point clouds. Specifically, it consists of a Siamese shape-aware feature learning network and a voxel-to-BEV target localization network. The Siamese shape-aware feature learning network can capture 3D shape information of the object to learn the discriminative features of the object so that the potential target from the background in sparse point clouds can be identified. To this end, we first perform template feature embedding to embed the template's feature into the potential target and then generate a dense 3D shape to characterize the shape information of the potential target. For localizing the tracked target, the voxel-to-BEV target localization network regresses the target's 2D center and the z-axis center from the dense bird's eye view (BEV) feature map in an anchor-free manner. Concretely, we compress the voxelized point cloud along z-axis through max pooling to obtain a dense BEV feature map, where the regression of the 2D center and the z-axis center can be performed more effectively. Extensive evaluation on the KITTI tracking dataset shows that our method significantly outperforms the current state-of-the-art methods by a large margin. Code is available at

On Contrastive Representations of Stochastic Processes

Emile Mathieu · Adam Foster · Yee Teh

Learning representations of stochastic processes is an emerging problem in machine learning with applications from meta-learning to physical object models to time series. Typical methods rely on exact reconstruction of observations, but this approach breaks down as observations become high-dimensional or noise distributions become complex. To address this, we propose a unifying framework for learning contrastive representations of stochastic processes (CReSP) that does away with exact reconstruction. We dissect potential use cases for stochastic process representations, and propose methods that accommodate each. Empirically, we show that our methods are effective for learning representations of periodic functions, 3D objects and dynamical processes. Our methods tolerate noisy high-dimensional observations better than traditional approaches, and the learned representations transfer to a range of downstream tasks.

Nearly-Tight and Oblivious Algorithms for Explainable Clustering

Buddhima Gamlath · Xinrui Jia · Adam Polak · Ola Svensson

We study the problem of explainable clustering in the setting first formalized by Dasgupta, Frost, Moshkovitz, and Rashtchian (ICML 2020). A $k$-clustering is said to be explainable if it is given by a decision tree where each internal node splits data points with a threshold cut in a single dimension (feature), and each of the $k$ leaves corresponds to a cluster. We give an algorithm that outputs an explainable clustering that loses at most a factor of $O(\log^2 k)$ compared to an optimal (not necessarily explainable) clustering for the $k$-medians objective, and a factor of $O(k \log^2 k)$ for the $k$-means objective. This improves over the previous best upper bounds of $O(k)$ and $O(k^2)$, respectively, and nearly matches the previous $\Omega(\log k)$ lower bound for $k$-medians and our new $\Omega(k)$ lower bound for $k$-means. The algorithm is remarkably simple. In particular, given an initial not necessarily explainable clustering in $\mathbb{R}^d$, it is oblivious to the data points and runs in time $O(dk \log^2 k)$, independent of the number of data points $n$. Our upper and lower bounds also generalize to objectives given by higher $\ell_p$-norms.

Cross-view Geo-localization with Layer-to-Layer Transformer

Hongji Yang · Xiufan Lu · Yingying Zhu

In this work, we address the problem of cross-view geo-localization, which estimates the geospatial location of a street view image by matching it with a database of geo-tagged aerial images. The cross-view matching task is extremely challenging due to drastic appearance and geometry differences across views. Unlike existing methods that predominantly fall back on CNN, here we devise a novel layer-to-layer Transformer (L2LTR) that utilizes the properties of self-attention in Transformer to model global dependencies, thus significantly decreasing visual ambiguities in cross-view geo-localization. We also exploit the positional encoding of the Transformer to help the L2LTR understand and correspond geometric configurations between ground and aerial images. Compared to state-of-the-art methods that impose strong assumptions on geometry knowledge, the L2LTR flexibly learns the positional embeddings through the training objective. It hence becomes more practical in many real-world scenarios. Although Transformer is well suited to our task, its vanilla self-attention mechanism independently interacts within image patches in each layer, which overlooks correlations between layers. Instead, this paper proposes a simple yet effective self-cross attention mechanism to improve the quality of learned representations. Self-cross attention models global dependencies between adjacent layers and creates short paths for effective information flow. As a result, the proposed self-cross attention leads to more stable training, improves the generalization ability, and prevents the learned intermediate features from being overly similar. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our L2LTR performs favorably against state-of-the-art methods on standard, fine-grained, and cross-dataset cross-view geo-localization tasks. The code is available online.

Implicit Bias of SGD for Diagonal Linear Networks: a Provable Benefit of Stochasticity

Scott Pesme · Loucas Pillaud-Vivien · Nicolas Flammarion

Understanding the implicit bias of training algorithms is of crucial importance in order to explain the success of overparametrised neural networks. In this paper, we study the dynamics of stochastic gradient descent over diagonal linear networks through its continuous time version, namely stochastic gradient flow. We explicitly characterise the solution chosen by the stochastic flow and prove that it always enjoys better generalisation properties than that of gradient flow.Quite surprisingly, we show that the convergence speed of the training loss controls the magnitude of the biasing effect: the slower the convergence, the better the bias. To fully complete our analysis, we provide convergence guarantees for the dynamics. We also give experimental results which support our theoretical claims. Our findings highlight the fact that structured noise can induce better generalisation and they help explain the greater performances of stochastic gradient descent over gradient descent observed in practice.

DSelect-k: Differentiable Selection in the Mixture of Experts with Applications to Multi-Task Learning

Hussein Hazimeh · Zhe Zhao · Aakanksha Chowdhery · Maheswaran Sathiamoorthy · Yihua Chen · Rahul Mazumder · Lichan Hong · Ed Chi

The Mixture-of-Experts (MoE) architecture is showing promising results in improving parameter sharing in multi-task learning (MTL) and in scaling high-capacity neural networks. State-of-the-art MoE models use a trainable "sparse gate'" to select a subset of the experts for each input example. While conceptually appealing, existing sparse gates, such as Top-k, are not smooth. The lack of smoothness can lead to convergence and statistical performance issues when training with gradient-based methods. In this paper, we develop DSelect-k: a continuously differentiable and sparse gate for MoE, based on a novel binary encoding formulation. The gate can be trained using first-order methods, such as stochastic gradient descent, and offers explicit control over the number of experts to select. We demonstrate the effectiveness of DSelect-k on both synthetic and real MTL datasets with up to 128 tasks. Our experiments indicate that DSelect-k can achieve statistically significant improvements in prediction and expert selection over popular MoE gates. Notably, on a real-world, large-scale recommender system, DSelect-k achieves over 22% improvement in predictive performance compared to Top-k. We provide an open-source implementation of DSelect-k.

Heavy Tails in SGD and Compressibility of Overparametrized Neural Networks

Melih Barsbey · Milad Sefidgaran · Murat Erdogdu · Gaël Richard · Umut Simsekli

Neural network compression techniques have become increasingly popular as they can drastically reduce the storage and computation requirements for very large networks. Recent empirical studies have illustrated that even simple pruning strategies can be surprisingly effective, and several theoretical studies have shown that compressible networks (in specific senses) should achieve a low generalization error. Yet, a theoretical characterization of the underlying causes that make the networks amenable to such simple compression schemes is still missing. In this study, focusing our attention on stochastic gradient descent (SGD), our main contribution is to link compressibility to two recently established properties of SGD: (i) as the network size goes to infinity, the system can converge to a mean-field limit, where the network weights behave independently [DBDFŞ20], (ii) for a large step-size/batch-size ratio, the SGD iterates can converge to a heavy-tailed stationary distribution [HM20, GŞZ21]. Assuming that both of these phenomena occur simultaneously, we prove that the networks are guaranteed to be '$\ell_p$-compressible', and the compression errors of different pruning techniques (magnitude, singular value, or node pruning) become arbitrarily small as the network size increases. We further prove generalization bounds adapted to our theoretical framework, which are consistent with the observation that the generalization error will be lower for more compressible networks. Our theory and numerical study on various neural networks show that large step-size/batch-size ratios introduce heavy tails, which, in combination with overparametrization, result in compressibility.

Square Root Principal Component Pursuit: Tuning-Free Noisy Robust Matrix Recovery

Junhui Zhang · Jingkai Yan · John Wright

We propose a new framework -- Square Root Principal Component Pursuit -- for low-rank matrix recovery from observations corrupted with noise and outliers. Inspired by the square root Lasso, this new formulation does not require prior knowledge of the noise level. We show that a single, universal choice of the regularization parameter suffices to achieve reconstruction error proportional to the (a priori unknown) noise level. In comparison, previous formulations such as stable PCP rely on noise-dependent parameters to achieve similar performance, and are therefore challenging to deploy in applications where the noise level is unknown. We validate the effectiveness of our new method through experiments on simulated and real datasets. Our simulations corroborate the claim that a universal choice of the regularization parameter yields near optimal performance across a range of noise levels, indicating that the proposed method outperforms the (somewhat loose) bound proved here.

Clustering Effect of Adversarial Robust Models

Yang Bai · Xin Yan · Yong Jiang · Shu-Tao Xia · Yisen Wang

Adversarial robustness has received increasing attention along with the study of adversarial examples. So far, existing works show that robust models not only obtain robustness against various adversarial attacks but also boost the performance in some downstream tasks. However, the underlying mechanism of adversarial robustness is still not clear. In this paper, we interpret adversarial robustness from the perspective of linear components, and find that there exist some statistical properties for comprehensively robust models. Specifically, robust models show obvious hierarchical clustering effect on their linearized sub-networks, when removing or replacing all non-linear components (e.g., batch normalization, maximum pooling, or activation layers). Based on these observations, we propose a novel understanding of adversarial robustness and apply it on more tasks including domain adaption and robustness boosting. Experimental evaluations demonstrate the rationality and superiority of our proposed clustering strategy. Our code is available at

Beta-CROWN: Efficient Bound Propagation with Per-neuron Split Constraints for Neural Network Robustness Verification

Shiqi Wang · Huan Zhang · Kaidi Xu · Xue Lin · Suman Jana · Cho-Jui Hsieh · J. Zico Kolter

Bound propagation based incomplete neural network verifiers such as CROWN are very efficient and can significantly accelerate branch-and-bound (BaB) based complete verification of neural networks. However, bound propagation cannot fully handle the neuron split constraints introduced by BaB commonly handled by expensive linear programming (LP) solvers, leading to loose bounds and hurting verification efficiency. In this work, we develop $\beta$-CROWN, a new bound propagation based method that can fully encode neuron splits via optimizable parameters $\beta$ constructed from either primal or dual space. When jointly optimized in intermediate layers, $\beta$-CROWN generally produces better bounds than typical LP verifiers with neuron split constraints, while being as efficient and parallelizable as CROWN on GPUs. Applied to complete robustness verification benchmarks, $\beta$-CROWN with BaB is up to three orders of magnitude faster than LP-based BaB methods, and is notably faster than all existing approaches while producing lower timeout rates. By terminating BaB early, our method can also be used for efficient incomplete verification. We consistently achieve higher verified accuracy in many settings compared to powerful incomplete verifiers, including those based on convex barrier breaking techniques. Compared to the typically tightest but very costly semidefinite programming (SDP) based incomplete verifiers, we obtain higher verified accuracy with three orders of magnitudes less verification time. Our algorithm empowered the $\alpha,\!\beta$-CROWN (alpha-beta-CROWN) verifier, the winning tool in VNN-COMP 2021. Our code is available at