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Is a Modular Architecture Enough?
Sarthak Mittal · Yoshua Bengio · Guillaume Lajoie

Tue Nov 29 02:00 PM -- 04:00 PM (PST) @ Hall J #408

Inspired from human cognition, machine learning systems are gradually revealing advantages of sparser and more modular architectures. Recent work demonstrates that not only do some modular architectures generalize well, but they also lead to better out of distribution generalization, scaling properties, learning speed, and interpretability. A key intuition behind the success of such systems is that the data generating system for most real-world settings is considered to consist of sparse modular connections, and endowing models with similar inductive biases will be helpful. However, the field has been lacking in a rigorous quantitative assessment of such systems because these real-world data distributions are complex and unknown. In this work, we provide a thorough assessment of common modular architectures, through the lens of simple and known modular data distributions. We highlight the benefits of modularity and sparsity and reveal insights on the challenges faced while optimizing modular systems. In doing so, we propose evaluation metrics that highlight the benefits of modularity, the regimes in which these benefits are substantial, as well as the sub-optimality of current end-to-end learned modular systems as opposed to their claimed potential.

Author Information

Sarthak Mittal (Universite de Montreal / MILA)
Yoshua Bengio (Mila / U. Montreal)

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

Guillaume Lajoie (Mila, Université de Montréal)

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