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Poster Session 1


Non-local Latent Relation Distillation for Self-Adaptive 3D Human Pose Estimation

Jogendra Nath Kundu · Siddharth Seth · Anirudh Jamkhandi · Pradyumna YM · Varun Jampani · Anirban Chakraborty · Venkatesh Babu R

Available 3D human pose estimation approaches leverage different forms of strong (2D/3D pose) or weak (multi-view or depth) paired supervision. Barring synthetic or in-studio domains, acquiring such supervision for each new target environment is highly inconvenient. To this end, we cast 3D pose learning as a self-supervised adaptation problem that aims to transfer the task knowledge from a labeled source domain to a completely unpaired target. We propose to infer image-to-pose via two explicit mappings viz. image-to-latent and latent-to-pose where the latter is a pre-learned decoder obtained from a prior-enforcing generative adversarial auto-encoder. Next, we introduce relation distillation as a means to align the unpaired cross-modal samples i.e., the unpaired target videos and unpaired 3D pose sequences. To this end, we propose a new set of non-local relations in order to characterize long-range latent pose interactions, unlike general contrastive relations where positive couplings are limited to a local neighborhood structure. Further, we provide an objective way to quantify non-localness in order to select the most effective relation set. We evaluate different self-adaptation settings and demonstrate state-of-the-art 3D human pose estimation performance on standard benchmarks.

NeurWIN: Neural Whittle Index Network For Restless Bandits Via Deep RL

Khaled Nakhleh · Santosh Ganji · Ping-Chun Hsieh · I-Hong Hou · Srinivas Shakkottai

Whittle index policy is a powerful tool to obtain asymptotically optimal solutions for the notoriously intractable problem of restless bandits. However, finding the Whittle indices remains a difficult problem for many practical restless bandits with convoluted transition kernels. This paper proposes NeurWIN, a neural Whittle index network that seeks to learn the Whittle indices for any restless bandits by leveraging mathematical properties of the Whittle indices. We show that a neural network that produces the Whittle index is also one that produces the optimal control for a set of Markov decision problems. This property motivates using deep reinforcement learning for the training of NeurWIN. We demonstrate the utility of NeurWIN by evaluating its performance for three recently studied restless bandit problems.Our experiment results show that the performance of NeurWIN is significantly better than other RL algorithms.

Temporally Abstract Partial Models

Khimya Khetarpal · Zafarali Ahmed · Gheorghe Comanici · Doina Precup

Humans and animals have the ability to reason and make predictions about different courses of action at many time scales. In reinforcement learning, option models (Sutton, Precup \& Singh, 1999; Precup, 2000) provide the framework for this kind of temporally abstract prediction and reasoning. Natural intelligent agents are also able to focus their attention on courses of action that are relevant or feasible in a given situation, sometimes termed affordable actions. In this paper, we define a notion of affordances for options, and develop temporally abstract partial option models, that take into account the fact that an option might be affordable only in certain situations. We analyze the trade-offs between estimation and approximation error in planning and learning when using such models, and identify some interesting special cases. Additionally, we empirically demonstrate the ability to learn both affordances and partial option models online resulting in improved sample efficiency and planning time in the Taxi domain.

Adversarial Attacks on Black Box Video Classifiers: Leveraging the Power of Geometric Transformations

Shasha Li · Abhishek Aich · Shitong Zhu · Salman Asif · Chengyu Song · Amit Roy-Chowdhury · Srikanth Krishnamurthy

When compared to the image classification models, black-box adversarial attacks against video classification models have been largely understudied. This could be possible because, with video, the temporal dimension poses significant additional challenges in gradient estimation. Query-efficient black-box attacks rely on effectively estimated gradients towards maximizing the probability of misclassifying the target video. In this work, we demonstrate that such effective gradients can be searched for by parameterizing the temporal structure of the search space with geometric transformations. Specifically, we design a novel iterative algorithm GEOmetric TRAnsformed Perturbations (GEO-TRAP), for attacking video classification models. GEO-TRAP employs standard geometric transformation operations to reduce the search space for effective gradients into searching for a small group of parameters that define these operations. This group of parameters describes the geometric progression of gradients, resulting in a reduced and structured search space. Our algorithm inherently leads to successful perturbations with surprisingly few queries. For example, adversarial examples generated from GEO-TRAP have better attack success rates with ~73.55% fewer queries compared to the state-of-the-art method for video adversarial attacks on the widely used Jester dataset. Overall, our algorithm exposes vulnerabilities of diverse video classification models and achieves new state-of-the-art results under black-box settings on two large datasets.

Test-Time Classifier Adjustment Module for Model-Agnostic Domain Generalization

Yusuke Iwasawa · Yutaka Matsuo

This paper presents a new algorithm for domain generalization (DG), \textit{test-time template adjuster (T3A)}, aiming to robustify a model to unknown distribution shift. Unlike existing methods that focus on \textit{training phase}, our method focuses \textit{test phase}, i.e., correcting its prediction by itself during test time. Specifically, T3A adjusts a trained linear classifier (the last layer of deep neural networks) with the following procedure: (1) compute a pseudo-prototype representation for each class using online unlabeled data augmented by the base classifier trained in the source domains, (2) and then classify each sample based on its distance to the pseudo-prototypes. T3A is back-propagation-free and modifies only the linear layer; therefore, the increase in computational cost during inference is negligible and avoids the catastrophic failure might caused by stochastic optimization. Despite its simplicity, T3A can leverage knowledge about the target domain by using off-the-shelf test-time data and improve performance. We tested our method on four domain generalization benchmarks, namely PACS, VLCS, OfficeHome, and TerraIncognita, along with various backbone networks including ResNet18, ResNet50, Big Transfer (BiT), Vision Transformers (ViT), and MLP-Mixer. The results show T3A stably improves performance on unseen domains across choices of backbone networks, and outperforms existing domain generalization methods.

Cardinality-Regularized Hawkes-Granger Model

Tsuyoshi Ide · Georgios Kollias · Dzung Phan · Naoki Abe

We propose a new sparse Granger-causal learning framework for temporal event data. We focus on a specific class of point processes called the Hawkes process. We begin by pointing out that most of the existing sparse causal learning algorithms for the Hawkes process suffer from a singularity in maximum likelihood estimation. As a result, their sparse solutions can appear only as numerical artifacts. In this paper, we propose a mathematically well-defined sparse causal learning framework based on a cardinality-regularized Hawkes process, which remedies the pathological issues of existing approaches. We leverage the proposed algorithm for the task of instance-wise causal event analysis, where sparsity plays a critical role. We validate the proposed framework with two real use-cases, one from the power grid and the other from the cloud data center management domain.

Confident Anchor-Induced Multi-Source Free Domain Adaptation

Jiahua Dong · Zhen Fang · Anjin Liu · Gan Sun · Tongliang Liu

Unsupervised domain adaptation has attracted appealing academic attentions by transferring knowledge from labeled source domain to unlabeled target domain. However, most existing methods assume the source data are drawn from a single domain, which cannot be successfully applied to explore complementarily transferable knowledge from multiple source domains with large distribution discrepancies. Moreover, they require access to source data during training, which are inefficient and unpractical due to privacy preservation and memory storage. To address these challenges, we develop a novel Confident-Anchor-induced multi-source-free Domain Adaptation (CAiDA) model, which is a pioneer exploration of knowledge adaptation from multiple source domains to the unlabeled target domain without any source data, but with only pre-trained source models. Specifically, a source-specific transferable perception module is proposed to automatically quantify the contributions of the complementary knowledge transferred from multi-source domains to the target domain. To generate pseudo labels for the target domain without access to the source data, we develop a confident-anchor-induced pseudo label generator by constructing a confident anchor group and assigning each unconfident target sample with a semantic-nearest confident anchor. Furthermore, a class-relationship-aware consistency loss is proposed to preserve consistent inter-class relationships by aligning soft confusion matrices across domains. Theoretical analysis answers why multi-source domains are better than a single source domain, and establishes a novel learning bound to show the effectiveness of exploiting multi-source domains. Experiments on several representative datasets illustrate the superiority of our proposed CAiDA model. The code is available at

SyncTwin: Treatment Effect Estimation with Longitudinal Outcomes

Zhaozhi Qian · Yao Zhang · Ioana Bica · Angela Wood · Mihaela van der Schaar

Most of the medical observational studies estimate the causal treatment effects using electronic health records (EHR), where a patient's covariates and outcomes are both observed longitudinally. However, previous methods focus only on adjusting for the covariates while neglecting the temporal structure in the outcomes. To bridge the gap, this paper develops a new method, SyncTwin, that learns a patient-specific time-constant representation from the pre-treatment observations. SyncTwin issues counterfactual prediction of a target patient by constructing a synthetic twin that closely matches the target in representation. The reliability of the estimated treatment effect can be assessed by comparing the observed and synthetic pre-treatment outcomes. The medical experts can interpret the estimate by examining the most important contributing individuals to the synthetic twin. In the real-data experiment, SyncTwin successfully reproduced the findings of a randomized controlled clinical trial using observational data, which demonstrates its usability in the complex real-world EHR.

Invariance Principle Meets Information Bottleneck for Out-of-Distribution Generalization

Kartik Ahuja · Ethan Caballero · Dinghuai Zhang · Jean-Christophe Gagnon-Audet · Yoshua Bengio · Ioannis Mitliagkas · Irina Rish

The invariance principle from causality is at the heart of notable approaches such as invariant risk minimization (IRM) that seek to address out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization failures. Despite the promising theory, invariance principle-based approaches fail in common classification tasks, where invariant (causal) features capture all the information about the label. Are these failures due to the methods failing to capture the invariance? Or is the invariance principle itself insufficient? To answer these questions, we revisit the fundamental assumptions in linear regression tasks, where invariance-based approaches were shown to provably generalize OOD. In contrast to the linear regression tasks, we show that for linear classification tasks we need much stronger restrictions on the distribution shifts, or otherwise OOD generalization is impossible. Furthermore, even with appropriate restrictions on distribution shifts in place, we show that the invariance principle alone is insufficient. We prove that a form of the information bottleneck constraint along with invariance helps address the key failures when invariant features capture all the information about the label and also retains the existing success when they do not. We propose an approach that incorporates both of these principles and demonstrate its effectiveness in several experiments.

Improving Robustness using Generated Data

Sven Gowal · Sylvestre-Alvise Rebuffi · Olivia Wiles · Florian Stimberg · Dan Andrei Calian · Timothy A Mann

Recent work argues that robust training requires substantially larger datasets than those required for standard classification. On CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100, this translates into a sizable robust-accuracy gap between models trained solely on data from the original training set and those trained with additional data extracted from the "80 Million Tiny Images" dataset (TI-80M). In this paper, we explore how generative models trained solely on the original training set can be leveraged to artificially increase the size of the original training set and improve adversarial robustness to $\ell_p$ norm-bounded perturbations. We identify the sufficient conditions under which incorporating additional generated data can improve robustness, and demonstrate that it is possible to significantly reduce the robust-accuracy gap to models trained with additional real data. Surprisingly, we even show that even the addition of non-realistic random data (generated by Gaussian sampling) can improve robustness. We evaluate our approach on CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, SVHN and TinyImageNet against $\ell_\infty$ and $\ell_2$ norm-bounded perturbations of size $\epsilon = 8/255$ and $\epsilon = 128/255$, respectively. We show large absolute improvements in robust accuracy compared to previous state-of-the-art methods. Against $\ell_\infty$ norm-bounded perturbations of size $\epsilon = 8/255$, our models achieve 66.10% and 33.49% robust accuracy on CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100, respectively (improving upon the state-of-the-art by +8.96% and +3.29%). Against $\ell_2$ norm-bounded perturbations of size $\epsilon = 128/255$, our model achieves 78.31% on CIFAR-10 (+3.81%). These results beat most prior works that use external data.

$\texttt{LeadCache}$: Regret-Optimal Caching in Networks

Debjit Paria · Abhishek Sinha

We consider an online prediction problem in the context of network caching. Assume that multiple users are connected to several caches via a bipartite network. At any time slot, each user may request an arbitrary file chosen from a large catalog. A user's request at a slot is met if the requested file is cached in at least one of the caches connected to the user. Our objective is to predict, prefetch, and optimally distribute the files on the caches at each slot to maximize the total number of cache hits. The problem is non-trivial due to the non-convex and non-smooth nature of the objective function. In this paper, we propose $\texttt{LeadCache}$ - an efficient online caching policy based on the Follow-the-Perturbed-Leader paradigm. We show that $\texttt{LeadCache}$ is regret-optimal up to a factor of $\tilde{O}(n^{3/8}),$ where $n$ is the number of users. We design two efficient implementations of the $\texttt{LeadCache}$ policy, one based on Pipage rounding and the other based on Madow's sampling, each of which makes precisely one call to an LP-solver per iteration. Furthermore, with a Strong-Law-type assumption, we show that the total number of file fetches under $\texttt{LeadCache}$ remains almost surely finite over an infinite horizon. Finally, we derive an approximately tight regret lower bound using results from graph coloring. We conclude that the learning-based $\texttt{LeadCache}$ policy decisively outperforms the state-of-the-art caching policies both theoretically and empirically.

Aligning Silhouette Topology for Self-Adaptive 3D Human Pose Recovery

Ramesha Rakesh Mugaludi · Jogendra Nath Kundu · Varun Jampani · Venkatesh Babu R

Articulation-centric 2D/3D pose supervision forms the core training objective in most existing 3D human pose estimation techniques. Except for synthetic source environments, acquiring such rich supervision for each real target domain at deployment is highly inconvenient. However, we realize that standard foreground silhouette estimation techniques (on static camera feeds) remain unaffected by domain-shifts. Motivated by this, we propose a novel target adaptation framework that relies only on silhouette supervision to adapt a source-trained model-based regressor. However, in the absence of any auxiliary cue (multi-view, depth, or 2D pose), an isolated silhouette loss fails to provide a reliable pose-specific gradient and requires to be employed in tandem with a topology-centric loss. To this end, we develop a series of convolution-friendly spatial transformations in order to disentangle a topological-skeleton representation from the raw silhouette. Such a design paves the way to devise a Chamfer-inspired spatial topological-alignment loss via distance field computation, while effectively avoiding any gradient hindering spatial-to-pointset mapping. Experimental results demonstrate our superiority against prior-arts in self-adapting a source trained model to diverse unlabeled target domains, such as a) in-the-wild datasets, b) low-resolution image domains, and c) adversarially perturbed image domains (via UAP).

Factored Policy Gradients: Leveraging Structure for Efficient Learning in MOMDPs

Thomas Spooner · Nelson Vadori · Sumitra Ganesh

Policy gradient methods can solve complex tasks but often fail when the dimensionality of the action-space or objective multiplicity grow very large. This occurs, in part, because the variance on score-based gradient estimators scales quadratically. In this paper, we address this problem through a factor baseline which exploits independence structure encoded in a novel action-target influence network. Factored policy gradients (FPGs), which follow, provide a common framework for analysing key state-of-the-art algorithms, are shown to generalise traditional policy gradients, and yield a principled way of incorporating prior knowledge of a problem domain's generative processes. We provide an analysis of the proposed estimator and identify the conditions under which variance is reduced. The algorithmic aspects of FPGs are discussed, including optimal policy factorisation, as characterised by minimum biclique coverings, and the implications for the bias variance trade-off of incorrectly specifying the network. Finally, we demonstrate the performance advantages of our algorithm on large-scale bandit and traffic intersection problems, providing a novel contribution to the latter in the form of a spatial approximation.

DOCTOR: A Simple Method for Detecting Misclassification Errors

Federica Granese · Marco Romanelli · Daniele Gorla · Catuscia Palamidessi · Pablo Piantanida

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have shown to perform very well on large scale object recognition problems and lead to widespread use for real-world applications, including situations where DNN are implemented as “black boxes”. A promising approach to secure their use is to accept decisions that are likely to be correct while discarding the others. In this work, we propose DOCTOR, a simple method that aims to identify whether the prediction of a DNN classifier should (or should not) be trusted so that, consequently, it would be possible to accept it or to reject it. Two scenarios are investigated: Totally Black Box (TBB) where only the soft-predictions are available and Partially Black Box (PBB) where gradient-propagation to perform input pre-processing is allowed. Empirically, we show that DOCTOR outperforms all state-of-the-art methods on various well-known images and sentiment analysis datasets. In particular, we observe a reduction of up to 4% of the false rejection rate (FRR) in the PBB scenario. DOCTOR can be applied to any pre-trained model, it does not require prior information about the underlying dataset and is as simple as the simplest available methods in the literature.

On UMAP's True Loss Function

Sebastian Damrich · Fred Hamprecht

UMAP has supplanted $t$-SNE as state-of-the-art for visualizing high-dimensional datasets in many disciplines, but the reason for its success is not well understood. In this work, we investigate UMAP's sampling based optimization scheme in detail. We derive UMAP's true loss function in closed form and find that it differs from the published one in a dataset size dependent way. As a consequence, we show that UMAP does not aim to reproduce its theoretically motivated high-dimensional UMAP similarities. Instead, it tries to reproduce similarities that only encode the $k$ nearest neighbor graph, thereby challenging the previous understanding of UMAP's effectiveness. Alternatively, we consider the implicit balancing of attraction and repulsion due to the negative sampling to be key to UMAP's success. We corroborate our theoretical findings on toy and single cell RNA sequencing data.

Computer-Aided Design as Language

Yaroslav Ganin · Sergey Bartunov · Yujia Li · Ethan Keller · Stefano Saliceti

Computer-Aided Design (CAD) applications are used in manufacturing to model everything from coffee mugs to sports cars. These programs are complex and require years of training and experience to master. A component of all CAD models particularly difficult to make are the highly structured 2D sketches that lie at the heart of every 3D construction. In this work, we propose a machine learning model capable of automatically generating such sketches. Through this, we pave the way for developing intelligent tools that would help engineers create better designs with less effort. The core of our method is a combination of a general-purpose language modeling technique alongside an off-the-shelf data serialization protocol. Additionally, we explore several extensions allowing us to gain finer control over the generation process. We show that our approach has enough flexibility to accommodate the complexity of the domain and performs well for both unconditional synthesis and image-to-sketch translation.

On Success and Simplicity: A Second Look at Transferable Targeted Attacks

Zhengyu Zhao · Zhuoran Liu · Martha Larson

Achieving transferability of targeted attacks is reputed to be remarkably difficult. The current state of the art has resorted to resource-intensive solutions that necessitate training model(s) for each target class with additional data. In our investigation, we find, however, that simple transferable attacks which require neither model training nor additional data can achieve surprisingly strong targeted transferability. This insight has been overlooked until now, mainly because the widespread practice of attacking with only few iterations has largely limited the attack convergence to optimal targeted transferability. In particular, we, for the first time, identify that a very simple logit loss can largely surpass the commonly adopted cross-entropy loss, and yield even better results than the resource-intensive state of the art. Our analysis spans a variety of transfer scenarios, especially including three new, realistic scenarios: an ensemble transfer scenario with little model similarity, a worse-case scenario with low-ranked target classes, and also a real-world attack on the Google Cloud Vision API. Results in these new transfer scenarios demonstrate that the commonly adopted, easy scenarios cannot fully reveal the actual strength of different attacks and may cause misleading comparative results. We also show the usefulness of the simple logit loss for generating targeted universal adversarial perturbations in a data-free manner. Overall, the aim of our analysis is to inspire a more meaningful evaluation on targeted transferability. Code is available at

Conditioning Sparse Variational Gaussian Processes for Online Decision-making

Wesley Maddox · Samuel Stanton · Andrew Wilson

With a principled representation of uncertainty and closed form posterior updates, Gaussian processes (GPs) are a natural choice for online decision making. However, Gaussian processes typically require at least $\mathcal{O}(n^2)$ computations for $n$ training points, limiting their general applicability. Stochastic variational Gaussian processes (SVGPs) can provide scalable inference for a dataset of fixed size, but are difficult to efficiently condition on new data. We propose online variational conditioning (OVC), a procedure for efficiently conditioning SVGPs in an online setting that does not require re-training through the evidence lower bound with the addition of new data. OVC enables the pairing of SVGPs with advanced look-ahead acquisition functions for black-box optimization, even with non-Gaussian likelihoods. We show OVC provides compelling performance in a range of applications including active learning of malaria incidence, and reinforcement learning on MuJoCo simulated robotic control tasks.

Grad2Task: Improved Few-shot Text Classification Using Gradients for Task Representation

Jixuan Wang · Kuan-Chieh Wang · Frank Rudzicz · Michael Brudno

Large pretrained language models (LMs) like BERT have improved performance in many disparate natural language processing (NLP) tasks. However, fine tuning such models requires a large number of training examples for each target task. Simultaneously, many realistic NLP problems are "few shot", without a sufficiently large training set. In this work, we propose a novel conditional neural process-based approach for few-shot text classification that learns to transfer from other diverse tasks with rich annotation. Our key idea is to represent each task using gradient information from a base model and to train an adaptation network that modulates a text classifier conditioned on the task representation. While previous task-aware few-shot learners represent tasks by input encoding, our novel task representation is more powerful, as the gradient captures input-output relationships of a task. Experimental results show that our approach outperforms traditional fine-tuning, sequential transfer learning, and state-of-the-art meta learning approaches on a collection of diverse few-shot tasks. We further conducted analysis and ablations to justify our design choices.

Neural View Synthesis and Matching for Semi-Supervised Few-Shot Learning of 3D Pose

Angtian Wang · Shenxiao Mei · Alan Yuille · Adam Kortylewski

We study the problem of learning to estimate the 3D object pose from a few labelled examples and a collection of unlabelled data. Our main contribution is a learning framework, neural view synthesis and matching, that can transfer the 3D pose annotation from the labelled to unlabelled images reliably, despite unseen 3D views and nuisance variations such as the object shape, texture, illumination or scene context. In our approach, objects are represented as 3D cuboid meshes composed of feature vectors at each mesh vertex. The model is initialized from a few labelled images and is subsequently used to synthesize feature representations of unseen 3D views. The synthesized views are matched with the feature representations of unlabelled images to generate pseudo-labels of the 3D pose. The pseudo-labelled data is, in turn, used to train the feature extractor such that the features at each mesh vertex are more invariant across varying 3D views of the object. Our model is trained in an EM-type manner alternating between increasing the 3D pose invariance of the feature extractor and annotating unlabelled data through neural view synthesis and matching. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed semi-supervised learning framework for 3D pose estimation on the PASCAL3D+ and KITTI datasets. We find that our approach outperforms all baselines by a wide margin, particularly in an extreme few-shot setting where only 7 annotated images are given. Remarkably, we observe that our model also achieves an exceptional robustness in out-of-distribution scenarios that involve partial occlusion.

Random Noise Defense Against Query-Based Black-Box Attacks

Zeyu Qin · Yanbo Fan · Hongyuan Zha · Baoyuan Wu

The query-based black-box attacks have raised serious threats to machine learning models in many real applications. In this work, we study a lightweight defense method, dubbed Random Noise Defense (RND), which adds proper Gaussian noise to each query. We conduct the theoretical analysis about the effectiveness of RND against query-based black-box attacks and the corresponding adaptive attacks. Our theoretical results reveal that the defense performance of RND is determined by the magnitude ratio between the noise induced by RND and the noise added by the attackers for gradient estimation or local search. The large magnitude ratio leads to the stronger defense performance of RND, and it's also critical for mitigating adaptive attacks. Based on our analysis, we further propose to combine RND with a plausible Gaussian augmentation Fine-tuning (RND-GF). It enables RND to add larger noise to each query while maintaining the clean accuracy to obtain a better trade-off between clean accuracy and defense performance. Additionally, RND can be flexibly combined with the existing defense methods to further boost the adversarial robustness, such as adversarial training (AT). Extensive experiments on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet verify our theoretical findings and the effectiveness of RND and RND-GF.

Challenges and Opportunities in High Dimensional Variational Inference

Akash Kumar Dhaka · Alejandro Catalina · Manushi Welandawe · Michael Andersen · Jonathan Huggins · Aki Vehtari

Current black-box variational inference (BBVI) methods require the user to make numerous design choices – such as the selection of variational objective and approximating family – yet there is little principled guidance on how to do so. We develop a conceptual framework and set of experimental tools to understand the effects of these choices, which we leverage to propose best practices for maximizing posterior approximation accuracy. Our approach is based on studying the pre-asymptotic tail behavior of the density ratios between the joint distribution and the variational approximation, then exploiting insights and tools from the importance sampling literature. Our framework and supporting experiments help to distinguish between the behavior of BBVI methods for approximating low-dimensional versus moderate-to-high-dimensional posteriors. In the latter case, we show that mass-covering variational objectives are difficult to optimize and do not improve accuracy, but flexible variational families can improve accuracy and the effectiveness of importance sampling – at the cost of additional optimization challenges. Therefore, for moderate-to-high-dimensional posteriors we recommend using the (mode-seeking) exclusive KL divergence since it is the easiest to optimize, and improving the variational family or using model parameter transformations to make the posterior and optimal variational approximation more similar. On the other hand, in low-dimensional settings, we show that heavy-tailed variational families and mass-covering divergences are effective and can increase the chances that the approximation can be improved by importance sampling.

Subgaussian and Differentiable Importance Sampling for Off-Policy Evaluation and Learning

Alberto Maria Metelli · Alessio Russo · Marcello Restelli

Importance Sampling (IS) is a widely used building block for a large variety of off-policy estimation and learning algorithms. However, empirical and theoretical studies have progressively shown that vanilla IS leads to poor estimations whenever the behavioral and target policies are too dissimilar. In this paper, we analyze the theoretical properties of the IS estimator by deriving a novel anticoncentration bound that formalizes the intuition behind its undesired behavior. Then, we propose a new class of IS transformations, based on the notion of power mean. To the best of our knowledge, the resulting estimator is the first to achieve, under certain conditions, two key properties: (i) it displays a subgaussian concentration rate; (ii) it preserves the differentiability in the target distribution. Finally, we provide numerical simulations on both synthetic examples and contextual bandits, in comparison with off-policy evaluation and learning baselines.

Escape saddle points by a simple gradient-descent based algorithm

Chenyi Zhang · Tongyang Li

Escaping saddle points is a central research topic in nonconvex optimization. In this paper, we propose a simple gradient-based algorithm such that for a smooth function $f\colon\mathbb{R}^n\to\mathbb{R}$, it outputs an $\epsilon$-approximate second-order stationary point in $\tilde{O}(\log n/\epsilon^{1.75})$ iterations. Compared to the previous state-of-the-art algorithms by Jin et al. with $\tilde{O}(\log^4 n/\epsilon^{2})$ or $\tilde{O}(\log^6 n/\epsilon^{1.75})$ iterations, our algorithm is polynomially better in terms of $\log n$ and matches their complexities in terms of $1/\epsilon$. For the stochastic setting, our algorithm outputs an $\epsilon$-approximate second-order stationary point in $\tilde{O}(\log^{2} n/\epsilon^{4})$ iterations. Technically, our main contribution is an idea of implementing a robust Hessian power method using only gradients, which can find negative curvature near saddle points and achieve the polynomial speedup in $\log n$ compared to the perturbed gradient descent methods. Finally, we also perform numerical experiments that support our results.

A Closer Look at the Worst-case Behavior of Multi-armed Bandit Algorithms

Anand Kalvit · Assaf Zeevi

One of the key drivers of complexity in the classical (stochastic) multi-armed bandit (MAB) problem is the difference between mean rewards in the top two arms, also known as the instance gap. The celebrated Upper Confidence Bound (UCB) policy is among the simplest optimism-based MAB algorithms that naturally adapts to this gap: for a horizon of play n, it achieves optimal O(log n) regret in instances with "large" gaps, and a near-optimal O(\sqrt{n log n}) minimax regret when the gap can be arbitrarily "small." This paper provides new results on the arm-sampling behavior of UCB, leading to several important insights. Among these, it is shown that arm-sampling rates under UCB are asymptotically deterministic, regardless of the problem complexity. This discovery facilitates new sharp asymptotics and a novel alternative proof for the O(\sqrt{n log n}) minimax regret of UCB. Furthermore, the paper also provides the first complete process-level characterization of the MAB problem in the conventional diffusion scaling. Among other things, the "small" gap worst-case lens adopted in this paper also reveals profound distinctions between the behavior of UCB and Thompson Sampling, such as an "incomplete learning" phenomenon characteristic of the latter.

Locality defeats the curse of dimensionality in convolutional teacher-student scenarios

Alessandro Favero · Francesco Cagnetta · Matthieu Wyart

Convolutional neural networks perform a local and translationally-invariant treatment of the data: quantifying which of these two aspects is central to their success remains a challenge. We study this problem within a teacher-student framework for kernel regression, using 'convolutional' kernels inspired by the neural tangent kernel of simple convolutional architectures of given filter size. Using heuristic methods from physics, we find in the ridgeless case that locality is key in determining the learning curve exponent $\beta$ (that relates the test error $\epsilon_t\sim P^{-\beta}$ to the size of the training set $P$), whereas translational invariance is not. In particular, if the filter size of the teacher $t$ is smaller than that of the student $s$, $\beta$ is a function of $s$ only and does not depend on the input dimension. We confirm our predictions on $\beta$ empirically. We conclude by proving, under a natural universality assumption, that performing kernel regression with a ridge that decreases with the size of the training set leads to similar learning curve exponents to those we obtain in the ridgeless case.

On Provable Benefits of Depth in Training Graph Convolutional Networks

Weilin Cong · Morteza Ramezani · Mehrdad Mahdavi

Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs) are known to suffer from performance degradation as the number of layers increases, which is usually attributed to over-smoothing. Despite the apparent consensus, we observe that there exists a discrepancy between the theoretical understanding of over-smoothing and the practical capabilities of GCNs. Specifically, we argue that over-smoothing does not necessarily happen in practice, a deeper model is provably expressive, can converge to global optimum with linear convergence rate, and achieve very high training accuracy as long as properly trained. Despite being capable of achieving high training accuracy, empirical results show that the deeper models generalize poorly on the testing stage and existing theoretical understanding of such behavior remains elusive. To achieve better understanding, we carefully analyze the generalization capability of GCNs, and show that the training strategies to achieve high training accuracy significantly deteriorate the generalization capability of GCNs. Motivated by these findings, we propose a decoupled structure for GCNs that detaches weight matrices from feature propagation to preserve the expressive power and ensure good generalization performance. We conduct empirical evaluations on various synthetic and real-world datasets to validate the correctness of our theory.

The Many Faces of Adversarial Risk

Muni Sreenivas Pydi · Varun Jog

Adversarial risk quantifies the performance of classifiers on adversarially perturbed data. Numerous definitions of adversarial risk---not all mathematically rigorous and differing subtly in the details---have appeared in the literature. In this paper, we revisit these definitions, make them rigorous, and critically examine their similarities and differences. Our technical tools derive from optimal transport, robust statistics, functional analysis, and game theory. Our contributions include the following: generalizing Strassen’s theorem to the unbalanced optimal transport setting with applications to adversarial classification with unequal priors; showing an equivalence between adversarial robustness and robust hypothesis testing with $\infty$-Wasserstein uncertainty sets; proving the existence of a pure Nash equilibrium in the two-player game between the adversary and the algorithm; and characterizing adversarial risk by the minimum Bayes error between distributions belonging to the $\infty$-Wasserstein uncertainty sets. Our results generalize and deepen recently discovered connections between optimal transport and adversarial robustness and reveal new connections to Choquet capacities and game theory.

Gradient-based Hyperparameter Optimization Over Long Horizons

Paul Micaelli · Amos Storkey

Gradient-based hyperparameter optimization has earned a widespread popularity in the context of few-shot meta-learning, but remains broadly impractical for tasks with long horizons (many gradient steps), due to memory scaling and gradient degradation issues. A common workaround is to learn hyperparameters online, but this introduces greediness which comes with a significant performance drop. We propose forward-mode differentiation with sharing (FDS), a simple and efficient algorithm which tackles memory scaling issues with forward-mode differentiation, and gradient degradation issues by sharing hyperparameters that are contiguous in time. We provide theoretical guarantees about the noise reduction properties of our algorithm, and demonstrate its efficiency empirically by differentiating through $\sim 10^4$ gradient steps of unrolled optimization. We consider large hyperparameter search ranges on CIFAR-10 where we significantly outperform greedy gradient-based alternatives, while achieving $\times 20$ speedups compared to the state-of-the-art black-box methods.

Validation Free and Replication Robust Volume-based Data Valuation

Xinyi Xu · Zhaoxuan Wu · Chuan Sheng Foo · Bryan Kian Hsiang Low

Data valuation arises as a non-trivial challenge in real-world use cases such as collaborative machine learning, federated learning, trusted data sharing, data marketplaces. The value of data is often associated with the learning performance (e.g., validation accuracy) of a model trained on the data, which introduces a close coupling between data valuation and validation. However, a validation set may notbe available in practice and it can be challenging for the data providers to reach an agreement on the choice of the validation set. Another practical issue is that of data replication: Given the value of some data points, a dishonest data provider may replicate these data points to exploit the valuation for a larger reward/payment. We observe that the diversity of the data points is an inherent property of a dataset that is independent of validation. We formalize diversity via the volume of the data matrix (i.e., determinant of its left Gram), which allows us to establish a formal connection between the diversity of data and learning performance without requiring validation. Furthermore, we propose a robust volume measure with a theoretical guarantee on the replication robustness by following the intuition that copying the same data points does not increase the diversity of data. We perform extensive experiments to demonstrate its consistency in valuation and practical advantages over existing baselines and show that our method is model- and task-agnostic and can be flexibly adapted to handle various neural networks.

Linear-Time Probabilistic Solution of Boundary Value Problems

Nicholas Krämer · Philipp Hennig

We propose a fast algorithm for the probabilistic solution of boundary value problems (BVPs), which are ordinary differential equations subject to boundary conditions. In contrast to previous work, we introduce a Gauss-Markov prior and tailor it specifically to BVPs, which allows computing a posterior distribution over the solution in linear time, at a quality and cost comparable to that of well-established, non-probabilistic methods. Our model further delivers uncertainty quantification, mesh refinement, and hyperparameter adaptation. We demonstrate how these practical considerations positively impact the efficiency of the scheme. Altogether, this results in a practically usable probabilistic BVP solver that is (in contrast to non-probabilistic algorithms) natively compatible with other parts of the statistical modelling tool-chain.

Generalized Depthwise-Separable Convolutions for Adversarially Robust and Efficient Neural Networks

Hassan Dbouk · Naresh Shanbhag

Despite their tremendous successes, convolutional neural networks (CNNs) incur high computational/storage costs and are vulnerable to adversarial perturbations. Recent works on robust model compression address these challenges by combining model compression techniques with adversarial training. But these methods are unable to improve throughput (frames-per-second) on real-life hardware while simultaneously preserving robustness to adversarial perturbations. To overcome this problem, we propose the method of Generalized Depthwise-Separable (GDWS) convolution - an efficient, universal, post-training approximation of a standard 2D convolution. GDWS dramatically improves the throughput of a standard pre-trained network on real-life hardware while preserving its robustness. Lastly, GDWS is scalable to large problem sizes since it operates on pre-trained models and doesn't require any additional training. We establish the optimality of GDWS as a 2D convolution approximator and present exact algorithms for constructing optimal GDWS convolutions under complexity and error constraints. We demonstrate the effectiveness of GDWS via extensive experiments on CIFAR-10, SVHN, and ImageNet datasets. Our code can be found at

A-NeRF: Articulated Neural Radiance Fields for Learning Human Shape, Appearance, and Pose

Shih-Yang Su · Frank Yu · Michael Zollhoefer · Helge Rhodin

While deep learning reshaped the classical motion capture pipeline with feed-forward networks, generative models are required to recover fine alignment via iterative refinement. Unfortunately, the existing models are usually hand-crafted or learned in controlled conditions, only applicable to limited domains. We propose a method to learn a generative neural body model from unlabelled monocular videos by extending Neural Radiance Fields (NeRFs). We equip them with a skeleton to apply to time-varying and articulated motion. A key insight is that implicit models require the inverse of the forward kinematics used in explicit surface models. Our reparameterization defines spatial latent variables relative to the pose of body parts and thereby overcomes ill-posed inverse operations with an overparameterization. This enables learning volumetric body shape and appearance from scratch while jointly refining the articulated pose; all without ground truth labels for appearance, pose, or 3D shape on the input videos. When used for novel-view-synthesis and motion capture, our neural model improves accuracy on diverse datasets.

The Inductive Bias of Quantum Kernels

Jonas Kübler · Simon Buchholz · Bernhard Schölkopf

It has been hypothesized that quantum computers may lend themselves well to applications in machine learning. In the present work, we analyze function classes defined via quantum kernels. Quantum computers offer the possibility to efficiently compute inner products of exponentially large density operators that are classically hard to compute. However, having an exponentially large feature space renders the problem of generalization hard. Furthermore, being able to evaluate inner products in high dimensional spaces efficiently by itself does not guarantee a quantum advantage, as already classically tractable kernels can correspond to high- or infinite-dimensional reproducing kernel Hilbert spaces (RKHS). We analyze the spectral properties of quantum kernels and find that we can expect an advantage if their RKHS is low dimensional and contains functions that are hard to compute classically. If the target function is known to lie in this class, this implies a quantum advantage, as the quantum computer can encode this inductive bias, whereas there is no classically efficient way to constrain the function class in the same way. However, we show that finding suitable quantum kernels is not easy because the kernel evaluation might require exponentially many measurements. In conclusion, our message is a somewhat sobering one: we conjecture that quantum machine learning models can offer speed-ups only if we manage to encode knowledge about the problem at hand into quantum circuits, while encoding the same bias into a classical model would be hard. These situations may plausibly occur when learning on data generated by a quantum process, however, they appear to be harder to come by for classical datasets.

Adversarial Robustness without Adversarial Training: A Teacher-Guided Curriculum Learning Approach

Anindya Sarkar · Anirban Sarkar · Sowrya Gali · Vineeth N Balasubramanian

Current SOTA adversarially robust models are mostly based on adversarial training (AT) and differ only by some regularizers either at inner maximization or outer minimization steps. Being repetitive in nature during the inner maximization step, they take a huge time to train. We propose a non-iterative method that enforces the following ideas during training. Attribution maps are more aligned to the actual object in the image for adversarially robust models compared to naturally trained models. Also, the allowed set of pixels to perturb an image (that changes model decision) should be restricted to the object pixels only, which reduces the attack strength by limiting the attack space. Our method achieves significant performance gains with a little extra effort (10-20%) over existing AT models and outperforms all other methods in terms of adversarial as well as natural accuracy. We have performed extensive experimentation with CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and TinyImageNet datasets and reported results against many popular strong adversarial attacks to prove the effectiveness of our method.

Statistical Undecidability in Linear, Non-Gaussian Causal Models in the Presence of Latent Confounders

Konstantin Genin

If causal relationships are linear and acyclic and noise terms are independent and Gaussian, causal orientation is not identified from observational data --- even if faithfulness is satisfied (Spirtes et al., 2002). Shimizu et al. (2006) showed that acyclic, linear, {\bf non}-Gaussian (LiNGAM) causal models {\em are} identified from observational data, so long as no latent confounders are present. That holds even when faithfulness fails. Genin and Mayo-Wilson (2020) refine that result: not only are causal relationships identified, but causal orientation is {\em statistically decidable}. That means that for every $\epsilon>0,$ there is a method that converges in probability to the correct orientation and, at every sample size, outputs an incorrect orientation with probability less than $\epsilon.$ These results naturally raise questions about what happens in the presence of latent confounders. Hoyer et al. (2008) and Salehkaleybar et al. (2020) show that, although the causal model is not uniquely identified, causal orientation among observed variables is identified in the presence of latent confounders, so long as faithfulness is satisfied. This paper refines these results: although it is possible to converge to the right orientation in the limit, causal orientation is no longer statistically decidable---it is not possible to converge to the correct orientation with finite-sample bounds on the probability of orientation errors, even if faithfulness is satisfied. However, that limiting result suggests several adjustments to the LiNGAM model that may recover decidability.

A novel notion of barycenter for probability distributions based on optimal weak mass transport

Elsa Cazelles · Felipe Tobar · Joaquin Fontbona

We introduce weak barycenters of a family of probability distributions, based on the recently developed notion of optimal weak transport of mass by Gozlan et al. (2017) and Backhoff-Veraguas et al. (2020). We provide a theoretical analysis of this object and discuss its interpretation in the light of convex ordering between probability measures. In particular, we show that, rather than averaging the input distributions in a geometric way (as the Wasserstein barycenter based on classic optimal transport does) weak barycenters extract common geometric information shared by all the input distributions, encoded as a latent random variable that underlies all of them. We also provide an iterative algorithm to compute a weak barycenter for a finite family of input distributions, and a stochastic algorithm that computes them for arbitrary populations of laws. The latter approach is particularly well suited for the streaming setting, i.e., when distributions are observed sequentially. The notion of weak barycenter and our approaches to compute it are illustrated on synthetic examples, validated on 2D real-world data and compared to standard Wasserstein barycenters.

Implicit Semantic Response Alignment for Partial Domain Adaptation

Wenxiao Xiao · Zhengming Ding · Hongfu Liu

Partial Domain Adaptation (PDA) addresses the unsupervised domain adaptation problem where the target label space is a subset of the source label space. Most state-of-art PDA methods tackle the inconsistent label space by assigning weights to classes or individual samples, in an attempt to discard the source data that belongs to the irrelevant classes. However, we believe samples from those extra categories would still contain valuable information to promote positive transfer. In this paper, we propose the Implicit Semantic Response Alignment to explore the intrinsic relationships among different categories by applying a weighted schema on the feature level. Specifically, we design a class2vec module to extract the implicit semantic topics from the visual features. With an attention layer, we calculate the semantic response according to each implicit semantic topic. Then semantic responses of source and target data are aligned to retain the relevant information contained in multiple categories by weighting the features, instead of samples. Experiments on several cross-domain benchmark datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our method over the state-of-the-art PDA methods. Moreover, we elaborate in-depth analyses to further explore implicit semantic alignment.

Robust and Fully-Dynamic Coreset for Continuous-and-Bounded Learning (With Outliers) Problems

Zixiu Wang · Yiwen Guo · Hu Ding

In many machine learning tasks, a common approach for dealing with large-scale data is to build a small summary, {\em e.g.,} coreset, that can efficiently represent the original input. However, real-world datasets usually contain outliers and most existing coreset construction methods are not resilient against outliers (in particular, an outlier can be located arbitrarily in the space by an adversarial attacker). In this paper, we propose a novel robust coreset method for the {\em continuous-and-bounded learning} problems (with outliers) which includes a broad range of popular optimization objectives in machine learning, {\em e.g.,} logistic regression and $ k $-means clustering. Moreover, our robust coreset can be efficiently maintained in fully-dynamic environment. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first robust and fully-dynamic coreset construction method for these optimization problems. Another highlight is that our coreset size can depend on the doubling dimension of the parameter space, rather than the VC dimension of the objective function which could be very large or even challenging to compute. Finally, we conduct the experiments on real-world datasets to evaluate the effectiveness of our proposed robust coreset method.

Improving Calibration through the Relationship with Adversarial Robustness

Yao Qin · Xuezhi Wang · Alex Beutel · Ed Chi

Neural networks lack adversarial robustness, i.e., they are vulnerable to adversarial examples that through small perturbations to inputs cause incorrect predictions. Further, trust is undermined when models give miscalibrated predictions, i.e., the predicted probability is not a good indicator of how much we should trust our model. In this paper, we study the connection between adversarial robustness and calibration and find that the inputs for which the model is sensitive to small perturbations (are easily attacked) are more likely to have poorly calibrated predictions. Based on this insight, we examine if calibration can be improved by addressing those adversarially unrobust inputs. To this end, we propose Adversarial Robustness based Adaptive Label Smoothing (AR-AdaLS) that integrates the correlations of adversarial robustness and calibration into training by adaptively softening labels for an example based on how easily it can be attacked by an adversary. We find that our method, taking the adversarial robustness of the in-distribution data into consideration, leads to better calibration over the model even under distributional shifts. In addition, AR-AdaLS can also be applied to an ensemble model to further improve model calibration.

Qimera: Data-free Quantization with Synthetic Boundary Supporting Samples

Kanghyun Choi · Deokki Hong · Noseong Park · Youngsok Kim · Jinho Lee

Model quantization is known as a promising method to compress deep neural networks, especially for inferences on lightweight mobile or edge devices. However, model quantization usually requires access to the original training data to maintain the accuracy of the full-precision models, which is often infeasible in real-world scenarios for security and privacy issues.A popular approach to perform quantization without access to the original data is to use synthetically generated samples, based on batch-normalization statistics or adversarial learning.However, the drawback of such approaches is that they primarily rely on random noise input to the generator to attain diversity of the synthetic samples. We find that this is often insufficient to capture the distribution of the original data, especially around the decision boundaries.To this end, we propose Qimera, a method that uses superposed latent embeddings to generate synthetic boundary supporting samples.For the superposed embeddings to better reflect the original distribution, we also propose using an additional disentanglement mapping layer and extracting information from the full-precision model.The experimental results show that Qimera achieves state-of-the-art performances for various settings on data-free quantization. Code is available at

H-NeRF: Neural Radiance Fields for Rendering and Temporal Reconstruction of Humans in Motion

Hongyi Xu · Thiemo Alldieck · Cristian Sminchisescu

We present neural radiance fields for rendering and temporal (4D) reconstruction of humans in motion (H-NeRF), as captured by a sparse set of cameras or even from a monocular video. Our approach combines ideas from neural scene representation, novel-view synthesis, and implicit statistical geometric human representations, coupled using novel loss functions. Instead of learning a radiance field with a uniform occupancy prior, we constrain it by a structured implicit human body model, represented using signed distance functions. This allows us to robustly fuse information from sparse views and generalize well beyond the poses or views observed in training. Moreover, we apply geometric constraints to co-learn the structure of the observed subject -- including both body and clothing -- and to regularize the radiance field to geometrically plausible solutions. Extensive experiments on multiple datasets demonstrate the robustness and the accuracy of our approach, its generalization capabilities significantly outside a small training set of poses and views, and statistical extrapolation beyond the observed shape.

Large-Scale Wasserstein Gradient Flows

Petr Mokrov · Alexander Korotin · Lingxiao Li · Aude Genevay · Justin Solomon · Evgeny Burnaev

Wasserstein gradient flows provide a powerful means of understanding and solving many diffusion equations. Specifically, Fokker-Planck equations, which model the diffusion of probability measures, can be understood as gradient descent over entropy functionals in Wasserstein space. This equivalence, introduced by Jordan, Kinderlehrer and Otto, inspired the so-called JKO scheme to approximate these diffusion processes via an implicit discretization of the gradient flow in Wasserstein space. Solving the optimization problem associated with each JKO step, however, presents serious computational challenges. We introduce a scalable method to approximate Wasserstein gradient flows, targeted to machine learning applications. Our approach relies on input-convex neural networks (ICNNs) to discretize the JKO steps, which can be optimized by stochastic gradient descent. Contrarily to previous work, our method does not require domain discretization or particle simulation. As a result, we can sample from the measure at each time step of the diffusion and compute its probability density. We demonstrate the performance of our algorithm by computing diffusions following the Fokker-Planck equation and apply it to unnormalized density sampling as well as nonlinear filtering.

The decomposition of the higher-order homology embedding constructed from the $k$-Laplacian

Yu-Chia Chen · Marina Meila

The null space of the $k$-th order Laplacian $\mathbf{\mathcal L}_k$, known as the {\em $k$-th homology vector space}, encodes the non-trivial topology of a manifold or a network. Understanding the structure of the homology embedding can thus disclose geometric or topological information from the data. The study of the null space embedding of the graph Laplacian $\mathbf{\mathcal L}_0$ has spurred new research and applications, such as spectral clustering algorithms with theoretical guarantees and estimators of the Stochastic Block Model. In this work, we investigate the geometry of the $k$-th homology embedding and focus on cases reminiscent of spectral clustering. Namely, we analyze the {\em connected sum} of manifolds as a perturbation to the direct sum of their homology embeddings. We propose an algorithm to factorize the homology embedding into subspaces corresponding to a manifold's simplest topological components. The proposed framework is applied to the {\em shortest homologous loop detection} problem, a problem known to be NP-hard in general. Our spectral loop detection algorithm scales better than existing methods and is effective on diverse data such as point clouds and images.

Introspective Distillation for Robust Question Answering

Yulei Niu · Hanwang Zhang

Question answering (QA) models are well-known to exploit data bias, e.g., the language prior in visual QA and the position bias in reading comprehension. Recent debiasing methods achieve good out-of-distribution (OOD) generalizability with a considerable sacrifice of the in-distribution (ID) performance. Therefore, they are only applicable in domains where the test distribution is known in advance. In this paper, we present a novel debiasing method called Introspective Distillation (IntroD) to make the best of both worlds for QA. Our key technical contribution is to blend the inductive bias of OOD and ID by introspecting whether a training sample fits in the factual ID world or the counterfactual OOD one. Experiments on visual QA datasets VQA v2, VQA-CP, and reading comprehension dataset SQuAD demonstrate that our proposed IntroD maintains the competitive OOD performance compared to other debiasing methods, while sacrificing little or even achieving better ID performance compared to the non-debiasing ones.

A unified framework for bandit multiple testing

Ziyu Xu · Ruodu Wang · Aaditya Ramdas

In bandit multiple hypothesis testing, each arm corresponds to a different null hypothesis that we wish to test, and the goal is to design adaptive algorithms that correctly identify large set of interesting arms (true discoveries), while only mistakenly identifying a few uninteresting ones (false discoveries). One common metric in non-bandit multiple testing is the false discovery rate (FDR). We propose a unified, modular framework for bandit FDR control that emphasizes the decoupling of exploration and summarization of evidence. We utilize the powerful martingale-based concept of "e-processes" to ensure FDR control for arbitrary composite nulls, exploration rules and stopping times in generic problem settings. In particular, valid FDR control holds even if the reward distributions of the arms could be dependent, multiple arms may be queried simultaneously, and multiple (cooperating or competing) agents may be querying arms, covering combinatorial semi-bandit type settings as well. Prior work has considered in great detail the setting where each arm's reward distribution is independent and sub-Gaussian, and a single arm is queried at each step. Our framework recovers matching sample complexity guarantees in this special case, and performs comparably or better in practice. For other settings, sample complexities will depend on the finer details of the problem (composite nulls being tested, exploration algorithm, data dependence structure, stopping rule) and we do not explore these; our contribution is to show that the FDR guarantee is clean and entirely agnostic to these details.

Proxy-Normalizing Activations to Match Batch Normalization while Removing Batch Dependence

Antoine Labatie · Dominic Masters · Zach Eaton-Rosen · Carlo Luschi

We investigate the reasons for the performance degradation incurred with batch-independent normalization. We find that the prototypical techniques of layer normalization and instance normalization both induce the appearance of failure modes in the neural network's pre-activations: (i) layer normalization induces a collapse towards channel-wise constant functions; (ii) instance normalization induces a lack of variability in instance statistics, symptomatic of an alteration of the expressivity. To alleviate failure mode (i) without aggravating failure mode (ii), we introduce the technique "Proxy Normalization" that normalizes post-activations using a proxy distribution. When combined with layer normalization or group normalization, this batch-independent normalization emulates batch normalization's behavior and consistently matches or exceeds its performance.

Dynamic Bottleneck for Robust Self-Supervised Exploration

Chenjia Bai · Lingxiao Wang · Lei Han · Animesh Garg · Jianye Hao · Peng Liu · Zhaoran Wang

Exploration methods based on pseudo-count of transitions or curiosity of dynamics have achieved promising results in solving reinforcement learning with sparse rewards. However, such methods are usually sensitive to environmental dynamics-irrelevant information, e.g., white-noise. To handle such dynamics-irrelevant information, we propose a Dynamic Bottleneck (DB) model, which attains a dynamics-relevant representation based on the information-bottleneck principle. Based on the DB model, we further propose DB-bonus, which encourages the agent to explore state-action pairs with high information gain. We establish theoretical connections between the proposed DB-bonus, the upper confidence bound (UCB) for linear case, and the visiting count for tabular case. We evaluate the proposed method on Atari suits with dynamics-irrelevant noises. Our experiments show that exploration with DB bonus outperforms several state-of-the-art exploration methods in noisy environments.

Understanding the Limits of Unsupervised Domain Adaptation via Data Poisoning

Akshay Mehra · Bhavya Kailkhura · Pin-Yu Chen · Jihun Hamm

Unsupervised domain adaptation (UDA) enables cross-domain learning without target domain labels by transferring knowledge from a labeled source domain whose distribution differs from that of the target. However, UDA is not always successful and several accounts of `negative transfer' have been reported in the literature. In this work, we prove a simple lower bound on the target domain error that complements the existing upper bound. Our bound shows the insufficiency of minimizing source domain error and marginal distribution mismatch for a guaranteed reduction in the target domain error, due to the possible increase of induced labeling function mismatch. This insufficiency is further illustrated through simple distributions for which the same UDA approach succeeds, fails, and may succeed or fail with an equal chance. Motivated from this, we propose novel data poisoning attacks to fool UDA methods into learning representations that produce large target domain errors. We evaluate the effect of these attacks on popular UDA methods using benchmark datasets where they have been previously shown to be successful. Our results show that poisoning can significantly decrease the target domain accuracy, dropping it to almost 0% in some cases, with the addition of only 10% poisoned data in the source domain. The failure of these UDA methods demonstrates their limitations at guaranteeing cross-domain generalization consistent with our lower bound. Thus, evaluating UDA methods in adversarial settings such as data poisoning provides a better sense of their robustness to data distributions unfavorable for UDA.

Partition and Code: learning how to compress graphs

Giorgos Bouritsas · Andreas Loukas · Nikolaos Karalias · Michael Bronstein

Can we use machine learning to compress graph data? The absence of ordering in graphs poses a significant challenge to conventional compression algorithms, limiting their attainable gains as well as their ability to discover relevant patterns. On the other hand, most graph compression approaches rely on domain-dependent handcrafted representations and cannot adapt to different underlying graph distributions. This work aims to establish the necessary principles a lossless graph compression method should follow to approach the entropy storage lower bound. Instead of making rigid assumptions about the graph distribution, we formulate the compressor as a probabilistic model that can be learned from data and generalise to unseen instances. Our “Partition and Code” framework entails three steps: first, a partitioning algorithm decomposes the graph into subgraphs, then these are mapped to the elements of a small dictionary on which we learn a probability distribution, and finally, an entropy encoder translates the representation into bits. All the components (partitioning, dictionary and distribution) are parametric and can be trained with gradient descent. We theoretically compare the compression quality of several graph encodings and prove, under mild conditions, that PnC achieves compression gains that grow either linearly or quadratically with the number of vertices. Empirically, PnC yields significant compression improvements on diverse real-world networks.

An Infinite-Feature Extension for Bayesian ReLU Nets That Fixes Their Asymptotic Overconfidence

Agustinus Kristiadi · Matthias Hein · Philipp Hennig

A Bayesian treatment can mitigate overconfidence in ReLU nets around the training data. But far away from them, ReLU Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) can still underestimate uncertainty and thus be asymptotically overconfident. This issue arises since the output variance of a BNN with finitely many features is quadratic in the distance from the data region. Meanwhile, Bayesian linear models with ReLU features converge, in the infinite-width limit, to a particular Gaussian process (GP) with a variance that grows cubically so that no asymptotic overconfidence can occur. While this may seem of mostly theoretical interest, in this work, we show that it can be used in practice to the benefit of BNNs. We extend finite ReLU BNNs with infinite ReLU features via the GP and show that the resulting model is asymptotically maximally uncertain far away from the data while the BNNs' predictive power is unaffected near the data. Although the resulting model approximates a full GP posterior, thanks to its structure, it can be applied post-hoc to any pre-trained ReLU BNN at a low cost.

Training for the Future: A Simple Gradient Interpolation Loss to Generalize Along Time

Anshul Nasery · Soumyadeep Thakur · Vihari Piratla · Abir De · Sunita Sarawagi

In several real world applications, machine learning models are deployed to make predictions on data whose distribution changes gradually along time, leading to a drift between the train and test distributions. Such models are often re-trained on new data periodically, and they hence need to generalize to data not too far into the future. In this context, there is much prior work on enhancing temporal generalization, e.g. continuous transportation of past data, kernel smoothed time-sensitive parameters and more recently, adversarial learning of time-invariant features. However, these methods share several limitations, e.g, poor scalability, training instability, and dependence on unlabeled data from the future. Responding to the above limitations, we propose a simple method that starts with a model with time-sensitive parameters but regularizes its temporal complexity using a Gradient Interpolation (GI) loss. GI allows the decision boundary to change along time and can still prevent overfitting to the limited training time snapshots by allowing task-specific control over changes along time. We compare our method to existing baselines on multiple real-world datasets, which show that GI outperforms more complicated generative and adversarial approaches on the one hand, and simpler gradient regularization methods on the other.

Bayesian Optimization with High-Dimensional Outputs

Wesley Maddox · Maximilian Balandat · Andrew Wilson · Eytan Bakshy

Bayesian optimization is a sample-efficient black-box optimization procedure that is typically applied to a small number of independent objectives. However, in practice we often wish to optimize objectives defined over many correlated outcomes (or “tasks”). For example, scientists may want to optimize the coverage of a cell tower network across a dense grid of locations. Similarly, engineers may seek to balance the performance of a robot across dozens of different environments via constrained or robust optimization. However, the Gaussian Process (GP) models typically used as probabilistic surrogates for multi-task Bayesian optimization scale poorly with the number of outcomes, greatly limiting applicability. We devise an efficient technique for exact multi-task GP sampling that combines exploiting Kronecker structure in the covariance matrices with Matheron’s identity, allowing us to perform Bayesian optimization using exact multi-task GP models with tens of thousands of correlated outputs. In doing so, we achieve substantial improvements in sample efficiency compared to existing approaches that model solely the outcome metrics. We demonstrate how this unlocks a new class of applications for Bayesian optimization across a range of tasks in science and engineering, including optimizing interference patterns of an optical interferometer with 65,000 outputs.

Finding Optimal Tangent Points for Reducing Distortions of Hard-label Attacks

Chen Ma · Xiangyu Guo · Li Chen · Jun-Hai Yong · Yisen Wang

One major problem in black-box adversarial attacks is the high query complexity in the hard-label attack setting, where only the top-1 predicted label is available. In this paper, we propose a novel geometric-based approach called Tangent Attack (TA), which identifies an optimal tangent point of a virtual hemisphere located on the decision boundary to reduce the distortion of the attack. Assuming the decision boundary is locally flat, we theoretically prove that the minimum $\ell_2$ distortion can be obtained by reaching the decision boundary along the tangent line passing through such tangent point in each iteration. To improve the robustness of our method, we further propose a generalized method which replaces the hemisphere with a semi-ellipsoid to adapt to curved decision boundaries. Our approach is free of pre-training. Extensive experiments conducted on the ImageNet and CIFAR-10 datasets demonstrate that our approach can consume only a small number of queries to achieve the low-magnitude distortion. The implementation source code is released online.

Compressive Visual Representations

Kuang-Huei Lee · Anurag Arnab · Sergio Guadarrama · John Canny · Ian Fischer

Learning effective visual representations that generalize well without human supervision is a fundamental problem in order to apply Machine Learning to a wide variety of tasks. Recently, two families of self-supervised methods, contrastive learning and latent bootstrapping, exemplified by SimCLR and BYOL respectively, have made significant progress. In this work, we hypothesize that adding explicit information compression to these algorithms yields better and more robust representations. We verify this by developing SimCLR and BYOL formulations compatible with the Conditional Entropy Bottleneck (CEB) objective, allowing us to both measure and control the amount of compression in the learned representation, and observe their impact on downstream tasks. Furthermore, we explore the relationship between Lipschitz continuity and compression, showing a tractable lower bound on the Lipschitz constant of the encoders we learn. As Lipschitz continuity is closely related to robustness, this provides a new explanation for why compressed models are more robust. Our experiments confirm that adding compression to SimCLR and BYOL significantly improves linear evaluation accuracies and model robustness across a wide range of domain shifts. In particular, the compressed version of BYOL achieves 76.0% Top-1 linear evaluation accuracy on ImageNet with ResNet-50, and 78.8% with ResNet-50 2x.

Multi-Armed Bandits with Bounded Arm-Memory: Near-Optimal Guarantees for Best-Arm Identification and Regret Minimization

Arnab Maiti · Vishakha Patil · Arindam Khan

We study the Stochastic Multi-armed Bandit problem under bounded arm-memory. In this setting, the arms arrive in a stream, and the number of arms that can be stored in the memory at any time, is bounded. The decision-maker can only pull arms that are present in the memory. We address the problem from the perspective of two standard objectives: 1) regret minimization, and 2) best-arm identification. For regret minimization, we settle an important open question by showing an almost tight guarantee. We show $\Omega(T^{2/3})$ cumulative regret in expectation for single-pass algorithms for arm-memory size of $(n-1)$, where $n$ is the number of arms. For best-arm identification, we provide an $(\varepsilon, \delta)$-PAC algorithm with arm memory size of $O(\log^*n)$ and $O(\frac{n}{\varepsilon^2}\cdot \log(\frac{1}{\delta}))$ optimal sample complexity.

Formalizing Generalization and Adversarial Robustness of Neural Networks to Weight Perturbations

Yu-Lin Tsai · Chia-Yi Hsu · Chia-Mu Yu · Pin-Yu Chen

Studying the sensitivity of weight perturbation in neural networks and its impacts on model performance, including generalization and robustness, is an active research topic due to its implications on a wide range of machine learning tasks such as model compression, generalization gap assessment, and adversarial attacks. In this paper, we provide the first integral study and analysis for feed-forward neural networks in terms of the robustness in pairwise class margin and its generalization behavior under weight perturbation. We further design a new theory-driven loss function for training generalizable and robust neural networks against weight perturbations. Empirical experiments are conducted to validate our theoretical analysis. Our results offer fundamental insights for characterizing the generalization and robustness of neural networks against weight perturbations.

Fast Minimum-norm Adversarial Attacks through Adaptive Norm Constraints

Maura Pintor · Fabio Roli · Wieland Brendel · Battista Biggio

Evaluating adversarial robustness amounts to finding the minimum perturbation needed to have an input sample misclassified. The inherent complexity of the underlying optimization requires current gradient-based attacks to be carefully tuned, initialized, and possibly executed for many computationally-demanding iterations, even if specialized to a given perturbation model.In this work, we overcome these limitations by proposing a fast minimum-norm (FMN) attack that works with different $\ell_p$-norm perturbation models ($p=0, 1, 2, \infty$), is robust to hyperparameter choices, does not require adversarial starting points, and converges within few lightweight steps. It works by iteratively finding the sample misclassified with maximum confidence within an $\ell_p$-norm constraint of size $\epsilon$, while adapting $\epsilon$ to minimize the distance of the current sample to the decision boundary.Extensive experiments show that FMN significantly outperforms existing $\ell_0$, $\ell_1$, and $\ell_\infty$-norm attacks in terms of perturbation size, convergence speed and computation time, while reporting comparable performances with state-of-the-art $\ell_2$-norm attacks. Our open-source code is available at:

Human-Adversarial Visual Question Answering

Sasha Sheng · Amanpreet Singh · Vedanuj Goswami · Jose Magana · Tristan Thrush · Wojciech Galuba · Devi Parikh · Douwe Kiela

Performance on the most commonly used Visual Question Answering dataset (VQA v2) is starting to approach human accuracy. However, in interacting with state-of-the-art VQA models, it is clear that the problem is far from being solved. In order to stress test VQA models, we benchmark them against human-adversarial examples. Human subjects interact with a state-of-the-art VQA model, and for each image in the dataset, attempt to find a question where the model’s predicted answer is incorrect. We find that a wide range of state-of-the-art models perform poorly when evaluated on these examples. We conduct an extensive analysis of the collected adversarial examples and provide guidance on future research directions. We hope that this Adversarial VQA (AdVQA) benchmark can help drive progress in the field and advance the state of the art.

Skipping the Frame-Level: Event-Based Piano Transcription With Neural Semi-CRFs

Yujia Yan · Frank Cwitkowitz · Zhiyao Duan

Piano transcription systems are typically optimized to estimate pitch activity at each frame of audio. They are often followed by carefully designed heuristics and post-processing algorithms to estimate note events from the frame-level predictions. Recent methods have also framed piano transcription as a multi-task learning problem, where the activation of different stages of a note event are estimated independently. These practices are not well aligned with the desired outcome of the task, which is the specification of note intervals as holistic events, rather than the aggregation of disjoint observations. In this work, we propose a novel formulation of piano transcription, which is optimized to directly predict note events. Our method is based on Semi-Markov Conditional Random Fields (semi-CRF), which produce scores for intervals rather than individual frames. When formulating piano transcription in this way, we eliminate the need to rely on disjoint frame-level estimates for different stages of a note event. We conduct experiments on the MAESTRO dataset and demonstrate that the proposed model surpasses the current state-of-the-art for piano transcription. Our results suggest that the semi-CRF output layer, while still quadratic in complexity, is a simple, fast and well-performing solution for event-based prediction, and may lead to similar success in other areas which currently rely on frame-level estimates.

Dueling Bandits with Team Comparisons

Lee Cohen · Ulrike Schmidt-Kraepelin · Yishay Mansour

We introduce the dueling teams problem, a new online-learning setting in which the learner observes noisy comparisons of disjoint pairs of $k$-sized teams from a universe of $n$ players. The goal of the learner is to minimize the number of duels required to identify, with high probability, a Condorcet winning team, i.e., a team which wins against any other disjoint team (with probability at least $1/2$).Noisy comparisons are linked to a total order on the teams. We formalize our model by building upon the dueling bandits setting (Yue et al. 2012) and provide several algorithms, both for stochastic and deterministic settings. For the stochastic setting, we provide a reduction to the classical dueling bandits setting, yielding an algorithm that identifies a Condorcet winning team within $\mathcal{O}((n + k \log (k)) \frac{\max(\log\log n, \log k)}{\Delta^2})$ duels, where $\Delta$ is a gap parameter. For deterministic feedback, we additionally present a gap-independent algorithm that identifies a Condorcet winning team within $\mathcal{O}(nk\log(k)+k^5)$ duels.

SILG: The Multi-domain Symbolic Interactive Language Grounding Benchmark

Victor Zhong · Austin W. Hanjie · Sida Wang · Karthik Narasimhan · Luke Zettlemoyer

Existing work in language grounding typically study single environments. How do we build unified models that apply across multiple environments? We propose the multi-environment Symbolic Interactive Language Grounding benchmark (SILG), which unifies a collection of diverse grounded language learning environments under a common interface. SILG consists of grid-world environments that require generalization to new dynamics, entities, and partially observed worlds (RTFM, Messenger, NetHack), as well as symbolic counterparts of visual worlds that re- quire interpreting rich natural language with respect to complex scenes (ALFWorld, Touchdown). Together, these environments provide diverse grounding challenges in richness of observation space, action space, language specification, and plan com- plexity. In addition, we propose the first shared model architecture for RL on these environments, and evaluate recent advances such as egocentric local convolution, recurrent state-tracking, entity-centric attention, and pretrained LM using SILG. Our shared architecture achieves comparable performance to environment-specific architectures. Moreover, we find that many recent modelling advances do not result in significant gains on environments other than the one they were designed for. This highlights the need for a multi-environment benchmark. Finally, the best models significantly underperform humans on SILG, which suggests ample room for future work. We hope SILG enables the community to quickly identify new methodolo- gies for language grounding that generalize to a diverse set of environments and their associated challenges.

EvoGrad: Efficient Gradient-Based Meta-Learning and Hyperparameter Optimization

Ondrej Bohdal · Yongxin Yang · Timothy Hospedales

Gradient-based meta-learning and hyperparameter optimization have seen significant progress recently, enabling practical end-to-end training of neural networks together with many hyperparameters. Nevertheless, existing approaches are relatively expensive as they need to compute second-order derivatives and store a longer computational graph. This cost prevents scaling them to larger network architectures. We present EvoGrad, a new approach to meta-learning that draws upon evolutionary techniques to more efficiently compute hypergradients. EvoGrad estimates hypergradient with respect to hyperparameters without calculating second-order gradients, or storing a longer computational graph, leading to significant improvements in efficiency. We evaluate EvoGrad on three substantial recent meta-learning applications, namely cross-domain few-shot learning with feature-wise transformations, noisy label learning with Meta-Weight-Net and low-resource cross-lingual learning with meta representation transformation. The results show that EvoGrad significantly improves efficiency and enables scaling meta-learning to bigger architectures such as from ResNet10 to ResNet34.

NORESQA: A Framework for Speech Quality Assessment using Non-Matching References

Pranay Manocha · Buye Xu · Anurag Kumar

The perceptual task of speech quality assessment (SQA) is a challenging task for machines to do. Objective SQA methods that rely on the availability of the corresponding clean reference have been the primary go-to approaches for SQA. Clearly, these methods fail in real-world scenarios where the ground truth clean references are not available. In recent years, non-intrusive methods that train neural networks to predict ratings or scores have attracted much attention, but they suffer from several shortcomings such as lack of robustness, reliance on labeled data for training and so on. In this work, we propose a new direction for speech quality assessment. Inspired by human's innate ability to compare and assess the quality of speech signals even when they have non-matching contents, we propose a novel framework that predicts a subjective relative quality score for the given speech signal with respect to any provided reference without using any subjective data. We show that neural networks trained using our framework produce scores that correlate well with subjective mean opinion scores (MOS) and are also competitive to methods such as DNSMOS, which explicitly relies on MOS from humans for training networks. Moreover, our method also provides a natural way to embed quality-related information in neural networks, which we show is helpful for downstream tasks such as speech enhancement.

Recurrent Submodular Welfare and Matroid Blocking Semi-Bandits

Orestis Papadigenopoulos · Constantine Caramanis

A recent line of research focuses on the study of stochastic multi-armed bandits (MAB), in the case where temporal correlations of specific structure are imposed between the player's actions and the reward distributions of the arms. These correlations lead to (sub-)optimal solutions that exhibit interesting dynamical patterns -- a phenomenon that yields new challenges both from an algorithmic as well as a learning perspective. In this work, we extend the above direction to a combinatorial semi-bandit setting and study a variant of stochastic MAB, where arms are subject to matroid constraints and each arm becomes unavailable (blocked) for a fixed number of rounds after each play. A natural common generalization of the state-of-the-art for blocking bandits, and that for matroid bandits, only guarantees a $\frac{1}{2}$-approximation for general matroids. In this paper we develop the novel technique of correlated (interleaved) scheduling, which allows us to obtain a polynomial-time $(1 - \frac{1}{e})$-approximation algorithm (asymptotically and in expectation) for any matroid. Along the way, we discover an interesting connection to a variant of Submodular Welfare Maximization, for which we provide (asymptotically) matching upper and lower approximability bounds. In the case where the mean arm rewards are unknown, our technique naturally decouples the scheduling from the learning problem, and thus allows to control the $(1-\frac{1}{e})$-approximate regret of a UCB-based adaptation of our online algorithm.

Estimating Multi-cause Treatment Effects via Single-cause Perturbation

Zhaozhi Qian · Alicia Curth · Mihaela van der Schaar

Most existing methods for conditional average treatment effect estimation are designed to estimate the effect of a single cause - only one variable can be intervened on at one time. However, many applications involve simultaneous intervention on multiple variables, which leads to multi-cause treatment effect problems. The multi-cause problem is challenging because one needs to overcome the confounding bias for a large number of treatment groups, each with a different cause combination. The combinatorial nature of the problem also leads to severe data scarcity - we only observe one factual outcome out of many potential outcomes. In this work, we propose Single-cause Perturbation (SCP), a novel two-step procedure to estimate the multi-cause treatment effect. SCP starts by augmenting the observational dataset with the estimated potential outcomes under single-cause interventions. It then performs covariate adjustment on the augmented dataset to obtain the estimator. SCP is agnostic to the exact choice of algorithm in either step. We show formally that the procedure is valid under standard assumptions in causal inference. We demonstrate the performance gain of SCP on extensive synthetic and semi-synthetic experiments.

An Efficient Pessimistic-Optimistic Algorithm for Stochastic Linear Bandits with General Constraints

Xin Liu · Bin Li · Pengyi Shi · Lei Ying

This paper considers stochastic linear bandits with general nonlinear constraints. The objective is to maximize the expected cumulative reward over horizon $T$ subject to a set of constraints in each round $\tau\leq T$. We propose a pessimistic-optimistic algorithm for this problem, which is efficient in two aspects. First, the algorithm yields $\tilde{\cal O}\left(\left(\frac{K^{0.75}}{\delta}+d\right)\sqrt{\tau}\right)$ (pseudo) regret in round $\tau\leq T,$ where $K$ is the number of constraints, $d$ is the dimension of the reward feature space, and $\delta$ is a Slater's constant; and {\em zero} constraint violation in any round $\tau>\tau',$ where $\tau'$ is {\em independent} of horizon $T.$ Second, the algorithm is computationally efficient. Our algorithm is based on the primal-dual approach in optimization and includes two components. The primal component is similar to unconstrained stochastic linear bandits (our algorithm uses the linear upper confidence bound algorithm (LinUCB)). The computational complexity of the dual component depends on the number of constraints, but is independent of the sizes of the contextual space, the action space, and the feature space. Thus, the computational complexity of our algorithm is similar to LinUCB for unconstrained stochastic linear bandits.

Residual2Vec: Debiasing graph embedding with random graphs

Sadamori Kojaku · Jisung Yoon · Isabel Constantino · Yong-Yeol Ahn

Graph embedding maps a graph into a convenient vector-space representation for graph analysis and machine learning applications. Many graph embedding methods hinge on a sampling of context nodes based on random walks. However, random walks can be a biased sampler due to the structural properties of graphs. Most notably, random walks are biased by the degree of each node, where a node is sampled proportionally to its degree. The implication of such biases has not been clear, particularly in the context of graph representation learning. Here, we investigate the impact of the random walks' bias on graph embedding and propose residual2vec, a general graph embedding method that can debias various structural biases in graphs by using random graphs. We demonstrate that this debiasing not only improves link prediction and clustering performance but also allows us to explicitly model salient structural properties in graph embedding.

Memory Efficient Meta-Learning with Large Images

John Bronskill · Daniela Massiceti · Massimiliano Patacchiola · Katja Hofmann · Sebastian Nowozin · Richard Turner

Meta learning approaches to few-shot classification are computationally efficient at test time, requiring just a few optimization steps or single forward pass to learn a new task, but they remain highly memory-intensive to train. This limitation arises because a task's entire support set, which can contain up to 1000 images, must be processed before an optimization step can be taken. Harnessing the performance gains offered by large images thus requires either parallelizing the meta-learner across multiple GPUs, which may not be available, or trade-offs between task and image size when memory constraints apply. We improve on both options by proposing LITE, a general and memory efficient episodic training scheme that enables meta-training on large tasks composed of large images on a single GPU. We achieve this by observing that the gradients for a task can be decomposed into a sum of gradients over the task's training images. This enables us to perform a forward pass on a task's entire training set but realize significant memory savings by back-propagating only a random subset of these images which we show is an unbiased approximation of the full gradient. We use LITE to train meta-learners and demonstrate new state-of-the-art accuracy on the real-world ORBIT benchmark and 3 of the 4 parts of the challenging VTAB+MD benchmark relative to leading meta-learners. LITE also enables meta-learners to be competitive with transfer learning approaches but at a fraction of the test-time computational cost, thus serving as a counterpoint to the recent narrative that transfer learning is all you need for few-shot classification.

Active Offline Policy Selection

Ksenia Konyushova · Yutian Chen · Thomas Paine · Caglar Gulcehre · Cosmin Paduraru · Daniel Mankowitz · Misha Denil · Nando de Freitas

This paper addresses the problem of policy selection in domains with abundant logged data, but with a restricted interaction budget. Solving this problem would enable safe evaluation and deployment of offline reinforcement learning policies in industry, robotics, and recommendation domains among others. Several off-policy evaluation (OPE) techniques have been proposed to assess the value of policies using only logged data. However, there is still a big gap between the evaluation by OPE and the full online evaluation in the real environment. Yet, large amounts of online interactions are often not possible in practice. To overcome this problem, we introduce active offline policy selection --- a novel sequential decision approach that combines logged data with online interaction to identify the best policy. This approach uses OPE estimates to warm start the online evaluation. Then, in order to utilize the limited environment interactions wisely we decide which policy to evaluate next based on a Bayesian optimization method with a kernel function that represents policy similarity. We use multiple benchmarks with a large number of candidate policies to show that the proposed approach improves upon state-of-the-art OPE estimates and pure online policy evaluation.

Dynamics-regulated kinematic policy for egocentric pose estimation

Zhengyi Luo · Ryo Hachiuma · Ye Yuan · Kris Kitani

We propose a method for object-aware 3D egocentric pose estimation that tightly integrates kinematics modeling, dynamics modeling, and scene object information. Unlike prior kinematics or dynamics-based approaches where the two components are used disjointly, we synergize the two approaches via dynamics-regulated training. At each timestep, a kinematic model is used to provide a target pose using video evidence and simulation state. Then, a prelearned dynamics model attempts to mimic the kinematic pose in a physics simulator. By comparing the pose instructed by the kinematic model against the pose generated by the dynamics model, we can use their misalignment to further improve the kinematic model. By factoring in the 6DoF pose of objects (e.g., chairs, boxes) in the scene, we demonstrate for the first time, the ability to estimate physically-plausible 3D human-object interactions using a single wearable camera. We evaluate our egocentric pose estimation method in both controlled laboratory settings and real-world scenarios.

Graph Neural Networks with Local Graph Parameters

Pablo Barceló · Floris Geerts · Juan Reutter · Maksimilian Ryschkov

Various recent proposals increase the distinguishing power of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) by propagating features between k-tuples of vertices. The distinguishing power of these “higher-order” GNNs is known to be bounded by the k-dimensional Weisfeiler-Leman (WL) test, yet their O(n^k) memory requirements limit their applicability. Other proposals infuse GNNs with local higher-order graph structural information from the start, hereby inheriting the desirable O(n) memory requirement from GNNs at the cost of a one-time, possibly non-linear, preprocessing step. We propose local graph parameter enabled GNNs as a framework for studying the latter kind of approaches and precisely characterize their distinguishing power, in terms of a variant of the WL test, and in terms of the graph structural properties that they can take into account. Local graph parameters can be added to any GNN architecture, and are cheap to compute. In terms of expressive power, our proposal lies in the middle of GNNs and their higher-order counterparts. Further, we propose several techniques to aide in choosing the right local graph parameters. Our results connect GNNs with deep results in finite model theory and finite variable logics. Our experimental evaluation shows that adding local graph parameters often has a positive effect for a variety of GNNs, datasets and graph learning tasks.

Provable Model-based Nonlinear Bandit and Reinforcement Learning: Shelve Optimism, Embrace Virtual Curvature

Kefan Dong · Jiaqi Yang · Tengyu Ma

This paper studies model-based bandit and reinforcement learning (RL) with nonlinear function approximations. We propose to study convergence to approximate local maxima because we show that global convergence is statistically intractable even for one-layer neural net bandit with a deterministic reward. For both nonlinear bandit and RL, the paper presents a model-based algorithm, Virtual Ascent with Online Model Learner (ViOlin), which provably converges to a local maximum with sample complexity that only depends on the sequential Rademacher complexity of the model class. Our results imply novel global or local regret bounds on several concrete settings such as linear bandit with finite or sparse model class, and two-layer neural net bandit. A key algorithmic insight is that optimism may lead to over-exploration even for two-layer neural net model class. On the other hand, for convergence to local maxima, it suffices to maximize the virtual return if the model can also reasonably predict the gradient and Hessian of the real return.

The effectiveness of feature attribution methods and its correlation with automatic evaluation scores

Giang Nguyen · Daeyoung Kim · Anh Nguyen

Explaining the decisions of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) model is increasingly critical in many real-world, high-stake applications.Hundreds of papers have either proposed new feature attribution methods, discussed or harnessed these tools in their work.However, despite humans being the target end-users, most attribution methods were only evaluated on proxy automatic-evaluation metrics (Zhang et al. 2018; Zhou et al. 2016; Petsiuk et al. 2018). In this paper, we conduct the first user study to measure attribution map effectiveness in assisting humans in ImageNet classification and Stanford Dogs fine-grained classification, and when an image is natural or adversarial (i.e., contains adversarial perturbations). Overall, feature attribution is surprisingly not more effective than showing humans nearest training-set examples. On a harder task of fine-grained dog categorization, presenting attribution maps to humans does not help, but instead hurts the performance of human-AI teams compared to AI alone. Importantly, we found automatic attribution-map evaluation measures to correlate poorly with the actual human-AI team performance. Our findings encourage the community to rigorously test their methods on the downstream human-in-the-loop applications and to rethink the existing evaluation metrics.

Automated Discovery of Adaptive Attacks on Adversarial Defenses

Chengyuan Yao · Pavol Bielik · Petar Tsankov · Martin Vechev

Reliable evaluation of adversarial defenses is a challenging task, currently limited to an expert who manually crafts attacks that exploit the defense’s inner workings, or to approaches based on ensemble of fixed attacks, none of which may be effective for the specific defense at hand. Our key observation is that adaptive attacks are composed from a set of reusable building blocks that can be formalized in a search space and used to automatically discover attacks for unknown defenses. We evaluated our approach on 24 adversarial defenses and show that it outperforms AutoAttack, the current state-of-the-art tool for reliable evaluation of adversarial defenses: our tool discovered significantly stronger attacks by producing 3.0%-50.8% additional adversarial examples for 10 models, while obtaining attacks with slightly stronger or similar strength for the remaining models.

Interpretable agent communication from scratch (with a generic visual processor emerging on the side)

Roberto Dessi · Eugene Kharitonov · Baroni Marco

As deep networks begin to be deployed as autonomous agents, the issue of how they can communicate with each other becomes important. Here, we train two deep nets from scratch to perform realistic referent identification through unsupervised emergent communication. We show that the largely interpretable emergent protocol allows the nets to successfully communicate even about object types they did not see at training time. The visual representations induced as a by-product of our training regime, moreover, show comparable quality, when re-used as generic visual features, to a recent self-supervised learning model. Our results provide concrete evidence of the viability of (interpretable) emergent deep net communication in a more realistic scenario than previously considered, as well as establishing an intriguing link between this field and self-supervised visual learning.

MAU: A Motion-Aware Unit for Video Prediction and Beyond

Zheng Chang · Xinfeng Zhang · Shanshe Wang · Siwei Ma · Yan Ye · Xiang Xinguang · Wen Gao

Accurately predicting inter-frame motion information plays a key role in video prediction tasks. In this paper, we propose a Motion-Aware Unit (MAU) to capture reliable inter-frame motion information by broadening the temporal receptive field of the predictive units. The MAU consists of two modules, the attention module and the fusion module. The attention module aims to learn an attention map based on the correlations between the current spatial state and the historical spatial states. Based on the learned attention map, the historical temporal states are aggregated to an augmented motion information (AMI). In this way, the predictive unit can perceive more temporal dynamics from a wider receptive field. Then, the fusion module is utilized to further aggregate the augmented motion information (AMI) and current appearance information (current spatial state) to the final predicted frame. The computation load of MAU is relatively low and the proposed unit can be easily applied to other predictive models. Moreover, an information recalling scheme is employed into the encoders and decoders to help preserve the visual details of the predictions. We evaluate the MAU on both video prediction and early action recognition tasks. Experimental results show that the MAU outperforms the state-of-the-art methods on both tasks.

BARTScore: Evaluating Generated Text as Text Generation

Weizhe Yuan · Graham Neubig · Pengfei Liu

A wide variety of NLP applications, such as machine translation, summarization, and dialog, involve text generation. One major challenge for these applications is how to evaluate whether such generated texts are actually fluent, accurate, or effective. In this work, we conceptualize the evaluation of generated text as a text generation problem, modeled using pre-trained sequence-to-sequence models. The general idea is that models trained to convert the generated text to/from a reference output or the source text will achieve higher scores when the generated text is better. We operationalize this idea using BART, an encoder-decoder based pre-trained model, and propose a metric BARTScore with a number of variants that can be flexibly applied in an unsupervised fashion to evaluation of text from different perspectives (e.g. informativeness, fluency, or factuality). BARTScore is conceptually simple and empirically effective. It can outperform existing top-scoring metrics in 16 of 22 test settings, covering evaluation of 16 datasets (e.g., machine translation, text summarization) and 7 different perspectives (e.g., informativeness, factuality). Code to calculate BARTScore is available at, and we have released an interactive leaderboard for meta-evaluation at on the ExplainaBoard platform, which allows us to interactively understand the strengths, weaknesses, and complementarity of each metric.

Unsupervised Part Discovery from Contrastive Reconstruction

Subhabrata Choudhury · Iro Laina · Christian Rupprecht · Andrea Vedaldi

The goal of self-supervised visual representation learning is to learn strong, transferable image representations, with the majority of research focusing on object or scene level. On the other hand, representation learning at part level has received significantly less attention. In this paper, we propose an unsupervised approach to object part discovery and segmentation and make three contributions. First, we construct a proxy task through a set of objectives that encourages the model to learn a meaningful decomposition of the image into its parts. Secondly, prior work argues for reconstructing or clustering pre-computed features as a proxy to parts; we show empirically that this alone is unlikely to find meaningful parts; mainly because of their low resolution and the tendency of classification networks to spatially smear out information. We suggest that image reconstruction at the level of pixels can alleviate this problem, acting as a complementary cue. Lastly, we show that the standard evaluation based on keypoint regression does not correlate well with segmentation quality and thus introduce different metrics, NMI and ARI, that better characterize the decomposition of objects into parts. Our method yields semantic parts which are consistent across fine-grained but visually distinct categories, outperforming the state of the art on three benchmark datasets. Code is available at the project page:

End-to-end Multi-modal Video Temporal Grounding

Yi-Wen Chen · Yi-Hsuan Tsai · Ming-Hsuan Yang

We address the problem of text-guided video temporal grounding, which aims to identify the time interval of a certain event based on a natural language description. Different from most existing methods that only consider RGB images as visual features, we propose a multi-modal framework to extract complementary information from videos. Specifically, we adopt RGB images for appearance, optical flow for motion, and depth maps for image structure. While RGB images provide abundant visual cues of certain events, the performance may be affected by background clutters. Therefore, we use optical flow to focus on large motion and depth maps to infer the scene configuration when the action is related to objects recognizable with their shapes. To integrate the three modalities more effectively and enable inter-modal learning, we design a dynamic fusion scheme with transformers to model the interactions between modalities. Furthermore, we apply intra-modal self-supervised learning to enhance feature representations across videos for each modality, which also facilitates multi-modal learning. We conduct extensive experiments on the Charades-STA and ActivityNet Captions datasets, and show that the proposed method performs favorably against state-of-the-art approaches.

Outstanding Paper
A Universal Law of Robustness via Isoperimetry

Sebastien Bubeck · Mark Sellke

Classically, data interpolation with a parametrized model class is possible as long as the number of parameters is larger than the number of equations to be satisfied. A puzzling phenomenon in the current practice of deep learning is that models are trained with many more parameters than what this classical theory would suggest. We propose a theoretical explanation for this phenomenon. We prove that for a broad class of data distributions and model classes, overparametrization is {\em necessary} if one wants to interpolate the data {\em smoothly}. Namely we show that {\em smooth} interpolation requires $d$ times more parameters than mere interpolation, where $d$ is the ambient data dimension. We prove this universal law of robustness for any smoothly parametrized function class with polynomial size weights, and any covariate distribution verifying isoperimetry. In the case of two-layers neural networks and Gaussian covariates, this law was conjectured in prior work by Bubeck, Li and Nagaraj. We also give an interpretation of our result as an improved generalization bound for model classes consisting of smooth functions.

Outstanding Paper
Deep Reinforcement Learning at the Edge of the Statistical Precipice

Rishabh Agarwal · Max Schwarzer · Pablo Samuel Castro · Aaron Courville · Marc Bellemare

Deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms are predominantly evaluated by comparing their relative performance on a large suite of tasks. Most published results on deep RL benchmarks compare point estimates of aggregate performance such as mean and median scores across tasks, ignoring the statistical uncertainty implied by the use of a finite number of training runs. Beginning with the Arcade Learning Environment (ALE), the shift towards computationally-demanding benchmarks has led to the practice of evaluating only a small number of runs per task, exacerbating the statistical uncertainty in point estimates. In this paper, we argue that reliable evaluation in the few run deep RL regime cannot ignore the uncertainty in results without running the risk of slowing down progress in the field. We illustrate this point using a case study on the Atari 100k benchmark, where we find substantial discrepancies between conclusions drawn from point estimates alone versus a more thorough statistical analysis. With the aim of increasing the field's confidence in reported results with a handful of runs, we advocate for reporting interval estimates of aggregate performance and propose performance profiles to account for the variability in results, as well as present more robust and efficient aggregate metrics, such as interquartile mean scores, to achieve small uncertainty in results. Using such statistical tools, we scrutinize performance evaluations of existing algorithms on other widely used RL benchmarks including the ALE, Procgen, and the DeepMind Control Suite, again revealing discrepancies in prior comparisons. Our findings call for a change in how we evaluate performance in deep RL, for which we present a more rigorous evaluation methodology, accompanied with an open-source library rliable, to prevent unreliable results from stagnating the field. This work received an outstanding paper award at NeurIPS 2021.

Exploiting the Intrinsic Neighborhood Structure for Source-free Domain Adaptation

Shiqi Yang · yaxing wang · Joost van de Weijer · Luis Herranz · Shangling Jui

Domain adaptation (DA) aims to alleviate the domain shift between source domain and target domain. Most DA methods require access to the source data, but often that is not possible (e.g. due to data privacy or intellectual property). In this paper, we address the challenging source-free domain adaptation (SFDA) problem, where the source pretrained model is adapted to the target domain in the absence of source data. Our method is based on the observation that target data, which might no longer align with the source domain classifier, still forms clear clusters. We capture this intrinsic structure by defining local affinity of the target data, and encourage label consistency among data with high local affinity. We observe that higher affinity should be assigned to reciprocal neighbors, and propose a self regularization loss to decrease the negative impact of noisy neighbors. Furthermore, to aggregate information with more context, we consider expanded neighborhoods with small affinity values. In the experimental results we verify that the inherent structure of the target features is an important source of information for domain adaptation. We demonstrate that this local structure can be efficiently captured by considering the local neighbors, the reciprocal neighbors, and the expanded neighborhood. Finally, we achieve state-of-the-art performance on several 2D image and 3D point cloud recognition datasets. Code is available in

NeRS: Neural Reflectance Surfaces for Sparse-view 3D Reconstruction in the Wild

Jason Zhang · Gengshan Yang · Shubham Tulsiani · Deva Ramanan

Recent history has seen a tremendous growth of work exploring implicit representations of geometry and radiance, popularized through Neural Radiance Fields (NeRF). Such works are fundamentally based on a (implicit) {\em volumetric} representation of occupancy, allowing them to model diverse scene structure including translucent objects and atmospheric obscurants. But because the vast majority of real-world scenes are composed of well-defined surfaces, we introduce a {\em surface} analog of such implicit models called Neural Reflectance Surfaces (NeRS). NeRS learns a neural shape representation of a closed surface that is diffeomorphic to a sphere, guaranteeing water-tight reconstructions. Even more importantly, surface parameterizations allow NeRS to learn (neural) bidirectional surface reflectance functions (BRDFs) that factorize view-dependent appearance into environmental illumination, diffuse color (albedo), and specular “shininess.” Finally, rather than illustrating our results on synthetic scenes or controlled in-the-lab capture, we assemble a novel dataset of multi-view images from online marketplaces for selling goods. Such “in-the-wild” multi-view image sets pose a number of challenges, including a small number of views with unknown/rough camera estimates. We demonstrate that surface-based neural reconstructions enable learning from such data, outperforming volumetric neural rendering-based reconstructions. We hope that NeRS serves as a first step toward building scalable, high-quality libraries of real-world shape, materials, and illumination.

Learning One Representation to Optimize All Rewards

Ahmed Touati · Yann Ollivier

We introduce the forward-backward (FB) representation of the dynamics of a reward-free Markov decision process. It provides explicit near-optimal policies for any reward specified a posteriori. During an unsupervised phase, we use reward-free interactions with the environment to learn two representations via off-the-shelf deep learning methods and temporal difference (TD) learning. In the test phase, a reward representation is estimated either from reward observations or an explicit reward description (e.g., a target state). The optimal policy for thatreward is directly obtained from these representations, with no planning. We assume access to an exploration scheme or replay buffer for the first phase.The corresponding unsupervised loss is well-principled: if training is perfect, the policies obtained are provably optimal for any reward function. With imperfect training, the sub-optimality is proportional to the unsupervised approximation error. The FB representation learns long-range relationships between states and actions, via a predictive occupancy map, without having to synthesize states as in model-based approaches.This is a step towards learning controllable agents in arbitrary black-box stochastic environments. This approach compares well to goal-oriented RL algorithms on discrete and continuous mazes, pixel-based MsPacman, and the FetchReach virtual robot arm. We also illustrate how the agent can immediately adapt to new tasks beyond goal-oriented RL.

Matrix factorisation and the interpretation of geodesic distance

Nick Whiteley · Annie Gray · Patrick Rubin-Delanchy

Given a graph or similarity matrix, we consider the problem of recovering a notion of true distance between the nodes, and so their true positions. We show that this can be accomplished in two steps: matrix factorisation, followed by nonlinear dimension reduction. This combination is effective because the point cloud obtained in the first step lives close to a manifold in which latent distance is encoded as geodesic distance. Hence, a nonlinear dimension reduction tool, approximating geodesic distance, can recover the latent positions, up to a simple transformation. We give a detailed account of the case where spectral embedding is used, followed by Isomap, and provide encouraging experimental evidence for other combinations of techniques.

Counterfactual Explanations Can Be Manipulated

Dylan Slack · Anna Hilgard · Himabindu Lakkaraju · Sameer Singh

Counterfactual explanations are emerging as an attractive option for providing recourse to individuals adversely impacted by algorithmic decisions. As they are deployed in critical applications (e.g. law enforcement, financial lending), it becomes important to ensure that we clearly understand the vulnerabilties of these methods and find ways to address them. However, there is little understanding of the vulnerabilities and shortcomings of counterfactual explanations. In this work, we introduce the first framework that describes the vulnerabilities of counterfactual explanations and shows how they can be manipulated. More specifically, we show counterfactual explanations may converge to drastically different counterfactuals under a small perturbation indicating they are not robust. Leveraging this insight, we introduce a novel objective to train seemingly fair models where counterfactual explanations find much lower cost recourse under a slight perturbation. We describe how these models can unfairly provide low-cost recourse for specific subgroups in the data while appearing fair to auditors. We perform experiments on loan and violent crime prediction data sets where certain subgroups achieve up to 20x lower cost recourse under the perturbation. These results raise concerns regarding the dependability of current counterfactual explanation techniques, which we hope will inspire investigations in robust counterfactual explanations.

Backward-Compatible Prediction Updates: A Probabilistic Approach

Frederik Träuble · Julius von Kügelgen · Matthäus Kleindessner · Francesco Locatello · Bernhard Schölkopf · Peter Gehler

When machine learning systems meet real world applications, accuracy is only one of several requirements. In this paper, we assay a complementary perspective originating from the increasing availability of pre-trained and regularly improving state-of-the-art models. While new improved models develop at a fast pace, downstream tasks vary more slowly or stay constant. Assume that we have a large unlabelled data set for which we want to maintain accurate predictions. Whenever a new and presumably better ML models becomes available, we encounter two problems: (i) given a limited budget, which data points should be re-evaluated using the new model?; and (ii) if the new predictions differ from the current ones, should we update? Problem (i) is about compute cost, which matters for very large data sets and models. Problem (ii) is about maintaining consistency of the predictions, which can be highly relevant for downstream applications; our demand is to avoid negative flips, i.e., changing correct to incorrect predictions. In this paper, we formalize the Prediction Update Problem and present an efficient probabilistic approach as answer to the above questions. In extensive experiments on standard classification benchmark data sets, we show that our method outperforms alternative strategies along key metrics for backward-compatible prediction updates.

ReAct: Out-of-distribution Detection With Rectified Activations

Yiyou Sun · Chuan Guo · Yixuan Li

Out-of-distribution (OOD) detection has received much attention lately due to its practical importance in enhancing the safe deployment of neural networks. One of the primary challenges is that models often produce highly confident predictions on OOD data, which undermines the driving principle in OOD detection that the model should only be confident about in-distribution samples. In this work, we propose ReAct—a simple and effective technique for reducing model overconfidence on OOD data. Our method is motivated by novel analysis on internal activations of neural networks, which displays highly distinctive signature patterns for OOD distributions. Our method can generalize effectively to different network architectures and different OOD detection scores. We empirically demonstrate that ReAct achieves competitive detection performance on a comprehensive suite of benchmark datasets, and give theoretical explication for our method’s efficacy. On the ImageNet benchmark, ReAct reduces the false positive rate (FPR95) by 25.05% compared to the previous best method.

Fast Training of Neural Lumigraph Representations using Meta Learning

Alexander Bergman · Petr Kellnhofer · Gordon Wetzstein

Novel view synthesis is a long-standing problem in machine learning and computer vision. Significant progress has recently been made in developing neural scene representations and rendering techniques that synthesize photorealistic images from arbitrary views. These representations, however, are extremely slow to train and often also slow to render. Inspired by neural variants of image-based rendering, we develop a new neural rendering approach with the goal of quickly learning a high-quality representation which can also be rendered in real-time. Our approach, MetaNLR++, accomplishes this by using a unique combination of a neural shape representation and 2D CNN-based image feature extraction, aggregation, and re-projection. To push representation convergence times down to minutes, we leverage meta learning to learn neural shape and image feature priors which accelerate training. The optimized shape and image features can then be extracted using traditional graphics techniques and rendered in real time. We show that MetaNLR++ achieves similar or better novel view synthesis results in a fraction of the time that competing methods require.

Analytical Study of Momentum-Based Acceleration Methods in Paradigmatic High-Dimensional Non-Convex Problems

Stefano Sarao Mannelli · Pierfrancesco Urbani

The optimization step in many machine learning problems rarely relies on vanilla gradient descent but it is common practice to use momentum-based accelerated methods. Despite these algorithms being widely applied to arbitrary loss functions, their behaviour in generically non-convex, high dimensional landscapes is poorly understood.In this work, we use dynamical mean field theory techniques to describe analytically the average dynamics of these methods in a prototypical non-convex model: the (spiked) matrix-tensor model. We derive a closed set of equations that describe the behaviour of heavy-ball momentum and Nesterov acceleration in the infinite dimensional limit. By numerical integration of these equations, we observe that these methods speed up the dynamics but do not improve the algorithmic threshold with respect to gradient descent in the spiked model.

Approximating the Permanent with Deep Rejection Sampling

Juha Harviainen · Antti Röyskö · Mikko Koivisto

We present a randomized approximation scheme for the permanent of a matrix with nonnegative entries. Our scheme extends a recursive rejection sampling method of Huber and Law (SODA 2008) by replacing the permanent upper bound with a linear combination of the subproblem bounds at a moderately large depth of the recursion tree. This method, we call deep rejection sampling, is empirically shown to outperform the basic, depth-zero variant, as well as a related method by Kuck et al. (NeurIPS 2019). We analyze the expected running time of the scheme on random $(0, 1)$-matrices where each entry is independently $1$ with probability $p$. Our bound is superior to a previous one for $p$ less than $1/5$, matching another bound that was only known to hold when every row and column has density exactly $p$.

Time Discretization-Invariant Safe Action Repetition for Policy Gradient Methods

Seohong Park · Jaekyeom Kim · Gunhee Kim

In reinforcement learning, continuous time is often discretized by a time scale $\delta$, to which the resulting performance is known to be highly sensitive. In this work, we seek to find a $\delta$-invariant algorithm for policy gradient (PG) methods, which performs well regardless of the value of $\delta$. We first identify the underlying reasons that cause PG methods to fail as $\delta \to 0$, proving that the variance of the PG estimator can diverge to infinity in stochastic environments under a certain assumption of stochasticity. While durative actions or action repetition can be employed to have $\delta$-invariance, previous action repetition methods cannot immediately react to unexpected situations in stochastic environments. We thus propose a novel $\delta$-invariant method named Safe Action Repetition (SAR) applicable to any existing PG algorithm. SAR can handle the stochasticity of environments by adaptively reacting to changes in states during action repetition. We empirically show that our method is not only $\delta$-invariant but also robust to stochasticity, outperforming previous $\delta$-invariant approaches on eight MuJoCo environments with both deterministic and stochastic settings. Our code is available at

Meta-Learning Reliable Priors in the Function Space

Jonas Rothfuss · Dominique Heyn · jinfan Chen · Andreas Krause

Meta-Learning promises to enable more data-efficient inference by harnessing previous experience from related learning tasks. While existing meta-learning methods help us to improve the accuracy of our predictions in face of data scarcity, they fail to supply reliable uncertainty estimates, often being grossly overconfident in their predictions. Addressing these shortcomings, we introduce a novel meta-learning framework, called F-PACOH, that treats meta-learned priors as stochastic processes and performs meta-level regularization directly in the function space. This allows us to directly steer the probabilistic predictions of the meta-learner towards high epistemic uncertainty in regions of insufficient meta-training data and, thus, obtain well-calibrated uncertainty estimates. Finally, we showcase how our approach can be integrated with sequential decision making, where reliable uncertainty quantification is imperative. In our benchmark study on meta-learning for Bayesian Optimization (BO), F-PACOH significantly outperforms all other meta-learners and standard baselines. Even in a challenging lifelong BO setting, where optimization tasks arrive one at a time and the meta-learner needs to build up informative prior knowledge incrementally, our proposed method demonstrates strong positive transfer.

Predicting What You Already Know Helps: Provable Self-Supervised Learning

Jason Lee · Qi Lei · Nikunj Saunshi · JIACHENG ZHUO

Self-supervised representation learning solves auxiliary prediction tasks (known as pretext tasks), that do not require labeled data, to learn semantic representations. These pretext tasks are created solely using the input features, such as predicting a missing image patch, recovering the color channels of an image from context, or predicting missing words, yet predicting this \textit{known} information helps in learning representations effective for downstream prediction tasks. This paper posits a mechanism based on approximate conditional independence to formalize how solving certain pretext tasks can learn representations that provably decrease the sample complexity of downstream supervised tasks. Formally, we quantify how the approximate independence between the components of the pretext task (conditional on the label and latent variables) allows us to learn representations that can solve the downstream task with drastically reduced sample complexity by just training a linear layer on top of the learned representation.

Scalable Inference in SDEs by Direct Matching of the Fokker–Planck–Kolmogorov Equation

Arno Solin · Ella Tamir · Prakhar Verma

Simulation-based techniques such as variants of stochastic Runge–Kutta are the de facto approach for inference with stochastic differential equations (SDEs) in machine learning. These methods are general-purpose and used with parametric and non-parametric models, and neural SDEs. Stochastic Runge–Kutta relies on the use of sampling schemes that can be inefficient in high dimensions. We address this issue by revisiting the classical SDE literature and derive direct approximations to the (typically intractable) Fokker–Planck–Kolmogorov equation by matching moments. We show how this workflow is fast, scales to high-dimensional latent spaces, and is applicable to scarce-data applications, where a non-parametric SDE with a driving Gaussian process velocity field specifies the model.

Learning Stochastic Majority Votes by Minimizing a PAC-Bayes Generalization Bound

Valentina Zantedeschi · Paul Viallard · Emilie Morvant · Rémi Emonet · Amaury Habrard · Pascal Germain · Benjamin Guedj

We investigate a stochastic counterpart of majority votes over finite ensembles of classifiers, and study its generalization properties. While our approach holds for arbitrary distributions, we instantiate it with Dirichlet distributions: this allows for a closed-form and differentiable expression for the expected risk, which then turns the generalization bound into a tractable training objective.The resulting stochastic majority vote learning algorithm achieves state-of-the-art accuracy and benefits from (non-vacuous) tight generalization bounds, in a series of numerical experiments when compared to competing algorithms which also minimize PAC-Bayes objectives -- both with uninformed (data-independent) and informed (data-dependent) priors.

Numerical influence of ReLU’(0) on backpropagation

David Bertoin · Jérôme Bolte · Sébastien Gerchinovitz · Edouard Pauwels

In theory, the choice of ReLU(0) in [0, 1] for a neural network has a negligible influence both on backpropagation and training. Yet, in the real world, 32 bits default precision combined with the size of deep learning problems makes it a hyperparameter of training methods. We investigate the importance of the value of ReLU'(0) for several precision levels (16, 32, 64 bits), on various networks (fully connected, VGG, ResNet) and datasets (MNIST, CIFAR10, SVHN, ImageNet). We observe considerable variations of backpropagation outputs which occur around half of the time in 32 bits precision. The effect disappears with double precision, while it is systematic at 16 bits. For vanilla SGD training, the choice ReLU'(0) = 0 seems to be the most efficient. For our experiments on ImageNet the gain in test accuracy over ReLU'(0) = 1 was more than 10 points (two runs). We also evidence that reconditioning approaches as batch-norm or ADAM tend to buffer the influence of ReLU'(0)’s value. Overall, the message we convey is that algorithmic differentiation of nonsmooth problems potentially hides parameters that could be tuned advantageously.

Class-agnostic Reconstruction of Dynamic Objects from Videos

Zhongzheng Ren · Xiaoming Zhao · Alex Schwing

We introduce REDO, a class-agnostic framework to REconstruct the Dynamic Objects from RGBD or calibrated videos. Compared to prior work, our problem setting is more realistic yet more challenging for three reasons: 1) due to occlusion or camera settings an object of interest may never be entirely visible, but we aim to reconstruct the complete shape; 2) we aim to handle different object dynamics including rigid motion, non-rigid motion, and articulation; 3) we aim to reconstruct different categories of objects with one unified framework. To address these challenges, we develop two novel modules. First, we introduce a canonical 4D implicit function which is pixel-aligned with aggregated temporal visual cues. Second, we develop a 4D transformation module which captures object dynamics to support temporal propagation and aggregation. We study the efficacy of REDO in extensive experiments on synthetic RGBD video datasets SAIL-VOS 3D and DeformingThings4D++, and on real-world video data 3DPW. We find REDO outperforms state-of-the-art dynamic reconstruction methods by a margin. In ablation studies we validate each developed component.

Unique sparse decomposition of low rank matrices

Dian Jin · Xin Bing · Yuqian Zhang

The problem of finding the unique low dimensional decomposition of a given matrix has been a fundamental and recurrent problem in many areas. In this paper, we study the problem of seeking a unique decomposition of a low-rank matrix $Y\in \mathbb{R}^{p\times n}$ that admits a sparse representation. Specifically, we consider $ Y = AX\in \mathbb{R}^{p\times n}$ where the matrix $A\in \mathbb{R}^{p\times r}$ has full column rank, with $r < \min\{n,p\}$, and the matrix $X\in \mathbb{R}^{r\times n}$ is element-wise sparse. We prove that this sparse decomposition of $Y$ can be uniquely identified by recovering ground-truth $A$ column by column, up to some intrinsic signed permutation. Our approach relies on solving a nonconvex optimization problem constrained over the unit sphere. Our geometric analysis for the nonconvex optimization landscape shows that any {\em strict} local solution is close to the ground truth solution, and can be recovered by a simple data-driven initialization followed with any second-order descent algorithm. At last, we corroborate these theoretical results with numerical experiments

Revisiting Hilbert-Schmidt Information Bottleneck for Adversarial Robustness

Zifeng Wang · Tong Jian · Aria Masoomi · Stratis Ioannidis · Jennifer Dy

We investigate the HSIC (Hilbert-Schmidt independence criterion) bottleneck as a regularizer for learning an adversarially robust deep neural network classifier. In addition to the usual cross-entropy loss, we add regularization terms for every intermediate layer to ensure that the latent representations retain useful information for output prediction while reducing redundant information. We show that the HSIC bottleneck enhances robustness to adversarial attacks both theoretically and experimentally. In particular, we prove that the HSIC bottleneck regularizer reduces the sensitivity of the classifier to adversarial examples. Our experiments on multiple benchmark datasets and architectures demonstrate that incorporating an HSIC bottleneck regularizer attains competitive natural accuracy and improves adversarial robustness, both with and without adversarial examples during training. Our code and adversarially robust models are publicly available.

A Winning Hand: Compressing Deep Networks Can Improve Out-of-Distribution Robustness

James Diffenderfer · Brian Bartoldson · Shreya Chaganti · Jize Zhang · Bhavya Kailkhura

Successful adoption of deep learning (DL) in the wild requires models to be: (1) compact, (2) accurate, and (3) robust to distributional shifts. Unfortunately, efforts towards simultaneously meeting these requirements have mostly been unsuccessful. This raises an important question: Is the inability to create Compact, Accurate, and Robust Deep neural networks (CARDs) fundamental? To answer this question, we perform a large-scale analysis of popular model compression techniques which uncovers several intriguing patterns. Notably, in contrast to traditional pruning approaches (e.g., fine tuning and gradual magnitude pruning), we find that ``lottery ticket-style'' approaches can surprisingly be used to produce CARDs, including binary-weight CARDs. Specifically, we are able to create extremely compact CARDs that, compared to their larger counterparts, have similar test accuracy and matching (or better) robustness---simply by pruning and (optionally) quantizing. Leveraging the compactness of CARDs, we develop a simple domain-adaptive test-time ensembling approach (CARD-Decks) that uses a gating module to dynamically select appropriate CARDs from the CARD-Deck based on their spectral-similarity with test samples. The proposed approach builds a "winning hand'' of CARDs that establishes a new state-of-the-art (on RobustBench) on CIFAR-10-C accuracies (i.e., 96.8% standard and 92.75% robust) and CIFAR-100-C accuracies (80.6% standard and 71.3% robust) with better memory usage than non-compressed baselines (pretrained CARDs and CARD-Decks available at Finally, we provide theoretical support for our empirical findings.

Mirror Langevin Monte Carlo: the Case Under Isoperimetry

Qijia Jiang

Motivated by the connection between sampling and optimization, we study a mirror descent analogue of Langevin dynamics and analyze three different discretization schemes, giving nonasymptotic convergence rate under functional inequalities such as Log-Sobolev in the corresponding metric. Compared to the Euclidean setting, the result reveals intricate relationship between the underlying geometry and the target distribution and suggests that care might need to be taken in order for the discretized algorithm to achieve vanishing bias with diminishing stepsize for sampling from potentials under weaker smoothness/convexity regularity conditions.

Arbitrary Conditional Distributions with Energy

Ryan Strauss · Junier Oliva

Modeling distributions of covariates, or density estimation, is a core challenge in unsupervised learning. However, the majority of work only considers the joint distribution, which has limited relevance to practical situations. A more general and useful problem is arbitrary conditional density estimation, which aims to model any possible conditional distribution over a set of covariates, reflecting the more realistic setting of inference based on prior knowledge. We propose a novel method, Arbitrary Conditioning with Energy (ACE), that can simultaneously estimate the distribution $p(\mathbf{x}_u \mid \mathbf{x}_o)$ for all possible subsets of unobserved features $\mathbf{x}_u$ and observed features $\mathbf{x}_o$. ACE is designed to avoid unnecessary bias and complexity --- we specify densities with a highly expressive energy function and reduce the problem to only learning one-dimensional conditionals (from which more complex distributions can be recovered during inference). This results in an approach that is both simpler and higher-performing than prior methods. We show that ACE achieves state-of-the-art for arbitrary conditional likelihood estimation and data imputation on standard benchmarks.

Self-Consistent Models and Values

Greg Farquhar · Kate Baumli · Zita Marinho · Angelos Filos · Matteo Hessel · Hado van Hasselt · David Silver

Learned models of the environment provide reinforcement learning (RL) agents with flexible ways of making predictions about the environment.Models enable planning, i.e. using more computation to improve value functions or policies, without requiring additional environment interactions.In this work, we investigate a way of augmenting model-based RL, by additionally encouraging a learned model and value function to be jointly \emph{self-consistent}.This lies in contrast to classic planning methods like Dyna, which only update the value function to be consistent with the model.We propose a number of possible self-consistency updates, study them empirically in both the tabular and function approximation settings, and find that with appropriate choices self-consistency can be useful both for policy evaluation and control.

Iterative Connecting Probability Estimation for Networks

Yichen Qin · Linhan Yu · Yang Li

Estimating the probabilities of connections between vertices in a random network using an observed adjacency matrix is an important task for network data analysis. Many existing estimation methods are based on certain assumptions on network structure, which limit their applicability in practice. Without making strong assumptions, we develop an iterative connecting probability estimation method based on neighborhood averaging. Starting at a random initial point or an existing estimate, our method iteratively updates the pairwise vertex distances, the sets of similar vertices, and connecting probabilities to improve the precision of the estimate. We propose a two-stage neighborhood selection procedure to achieve the trade-off between smoothness of the estimate and the ability to discover local structure. The tuning parameters can be selected by cross-validation. We establish desirable theoretical properties for our method, and further justify its superior performance by comparing with existing methods in simulation and real data analysis.

Learning to Adapt via Latent Domains for Adaptive Semantic Segmentation

Yunan Liu · Shanshan Zhang · Yang Li · Jian Yang

Domain adaptive semantic segmentation aims to transfer knowledge learned from labeled source domain to unlabeled target domain. To narrow down the domain gap and ease adaptation difficulty, some recent methods translate source images to target-like images (latent domains), which are used as supplement or substitute to the original source data. Nevertheless, these methods neglect to explicitly model the relationship of knowledge transferring across different domains. Alternatively, in this work we break through the standard “source-target” one pair adaptation framework and construct multiple adaptation pairs (e.g. “source-latent” and “latent-target”). The purpose is to use the meta-knowledge (how to adapt) learned from one pair as guidance to assist the adaptation of another pair under a meta-learning framework. Furthermore, we extend our method to a more practical setting of open compound domain adaptation (a.k.a multiple-target domain adaptation), where the target is a compound of multiple domains without domain labels. In this setting, we embed an additional pair of “latent-latent” to reduce the domain gap between the source and different latent domains, allowing the model to adapt well on multiple target domains simultaneously. When evaluated on standard benchmarks, our method is superior to the state-of-the-art methods in both the single target and multiple-target domain adaptation settings.

Shapeshifter: a Parameter-efficient Transformer using Factorized Reshaped Matrices

Aliakbar Panahi · Seyran Saeedi · Tom Arodz

Language models employ a very large number of trainable parameters. Despite being highly overparameterized, these networks often achieve good out-of-sample test performance on the original task and easily fine-tune to related tasks. Recent observations involving, for example, intrinsic dimension of the objective landscape and the lottery ticket hypothesis, indicate that often training actively involves only a small fraction of the parameter space. Thus, a question remains how large a parameter space needs to be in the first place –- the evidence from recent work on model compression, parameter sharing, factorized representations, and knowledge distillation increasingly shows that models can be made much smaller and still perform well. Here, we focus on factorized representations of matrices that underpin dense, embedding, and self-attention layers. We use low-rank factorized representation of a reshaped and rearranged original matrix to achieve space efficient and expressive linear layers. We prove that stacking such low-rank layers increases their expressiveness, providing theoretical understanding for their effectiveness in deep networks. In Transformer models, our approach leads to more than ten-fold reduction in the number of total trainable parameters, including embedding, attention, and feed-forward layers, with little degradation in on-task performance. The approach operates out-of-the-box, replacing each parameter matrix with its compact equivalent while maintaining the architecture of the network.

Global Convergence of Gradient Descent for Asymmetric Low-Rank Matrix Factorization

Tian Ye · Simon Du

We study the asymmetric low-rank factorization problem:\[\min_{\mathbf{U} \in \mathbb{R}^{m \times d}, \mathbf{V} \in \mathbb{R}^{n \times d}} \frac{1}{2}\|\mathbf{U}\mathbf{V}^\top -\mathbf{\Sigma}\|_F^2\]where $\mathbf{\Sigma}$ is a given matrix of size $m \times n$ and rank $d$. This is a canonical problem that admits two difficulties in optimization: 1) non-convexity and 2) non-smoothness (due to unbalancedness of $\mathbf{U}$ and $\mathbf{V}$). This is also a prototype for more complex problems such as asymmetric matrix sensing and matrix completion. Despite being non-convex and non-smooth, it has been observed empirically that the randomly initialized gradient descent algorithm can solve this problem in polynomial time. Existing theories to explain this phenomenon all require artificial modifications of the algorithm, such as adding noise in each iteration and adding a balancing regularizer to balance the $\mathbf{U}$ and $\mathbf{V}$.This paper presents the first proof that shows randomly initialized gradient descent converges to a global minimum of the asymmetric low-rank factorization problem with a polynomial rate. For the proof, we develop 1) a new symmetrization technique to capture the magnitudes of the symmetry and asymmetry, and 2) a quantitative perturbation analysis to approximate matrix derivatives. We believe both are useful for other related non-convex problems.

Scalable Intervention Target Estimation in Linear Models

Burak Varici · Karthikeyan Shanmugam · Prasanna Sattigeri · Ali Tajer

This paper considers the problem of estimating the unknown intervention targets in a causal directed acyclic graph from observational and interventional data. The focus is on soft interventions in linear structural equation models (SEMs). Current approaches to causal structure learning either work with known intervention targets or use hypothesis testing to discover the unknown intervention targets even for linear SEMs. This severely limits their scalability and sample complexity. This paper proposes a scalable and efficient algorithm that consistently identifies all intervention targets. The pivotal idea is to estimate the intervention sites from the difference between the precision matrices associated with the observational and interventional datasets. It involves repeatedly estimating such sites in different subsets of variables. The proposed algorithm can be used to also update a given observational Markov equivalence class into the interventional Markov equivalence class. Consistency, Markov equivalency, and sample complexity are established analytically. Finally, simulation results on both real and synthetic data demonstrate the gains of the proposed approach for scalable causal structure recovery. Implementation of the algorithm and the code to reproduce the simulation results are available at \url{}.

Towards Optimal Strategies for Training Self-Driving Perception Models in Simulation

David Acuna · Jonah Philion · Sanja Fidler

Autonomous driving relies on a huge volume of real-world data to be labeled to high precision. Alternative solutions seek to exploit driving simulators that can generate large amounts of labeled data with a plethora of content variations. However, the domain gap between the synthetic and real data remains, raising the following important question: What are the best way to utilize a self-driving simulator for perception tasks?. In this work, we build on top of recent advances in domain-adaptation theory, and from this perspective, propose ways to minimize the reality gap. We primarily focus on the use of labels in the synthetic domain alone. Our approach introduces both a principled way to learn neural-invariant representations and a theoretically inspired view on how to sample the data from the simulator. Our method is easy to implement in practice as it is agnostic of the network architecture and the choice of the simulator. We showcase our approach on the bird's-eye-view vehicle segmentation task with multi-sensor data (cameras, lidar) using an open-source simulator (CARLA), and evaluate the entire framework on a real-world dataset (nuScenes). Last but not least, we show what types of variations (e.g. weather conditions, number of assets, map design and color diversity) matter to perception networks when trained with driving simulators, and which ones can be compensated for with our domain adaptation technique.

Stochastic Optimization of Areas Under Precision-Recall Curves with Provable Convergence

Qi Qi · Youzhi Luo · Zhao Xu · Shuiwang Ji · Tianbao Yang

Areas under ROC (AUROC) and precision-recall curves (AUPRC) are common metrics for evaluating classification performance for imbalanced problems. Compared with AUROC, AUPRC is a more appropriate metric for highly imbalanced datasets. While stochastic optimization of AUROC has been studied extensively, principled stochastic optimization of AUPRC has been rarely explored. In this work, we propose a principled technical method to optimize AUPRC for deep learning. Our approach is based on maximizing the averaged precision (AP), which is an unbiased point estimator of AUPRC. We cast the objective into a sum of dependent compositional functions with inner functions dependent on random variables of the outer level. We propose efficient adaptive and non-adaptive stochastic algorithms named SOAP with provable convergence guarantee under mild conditions by leveraging recent advances in stochastic compositional optimization. Extensive experimental results on image and graph datasets demonstrate that our proposed method outperforms prior methods on imbalanced problems in terms of AUPRC. To the best of our knowledge, our work represents the first attempt to optimize AUPRC with provable convergence. The SOAP has been implemented in the libAUC library at

You are caught stealing my winning lottery ticket! Making a lottery ticket claim its ownership

Xuxi Chen · Tianlong Chen · Zhenyu Zhang · Zhangyang Wang

Despite tremendous success in many application scenarios, the training and inference costs of using deep learning are also rapidly increasing over time. The lottery ticket hypothesis (LTH) emerges as a promising framework to leverage a special sparse subnetwork (i.e., $\textit{winning ticket}$) instead of a full model for both training and inference, that can lower both costs without sacrificing the performance. The main resource bottleneck of LTH is however the extraordinary cost to find the sparse mask of the winning ticket. That makes the found winning ticket become a valuable asset to the owners, highlighting the necessity of protecting its copyright. Our setting adds a new dimension to the recently soaring interest in protecting against the intellectual property (IP) infringement of deep models and verifying their ownerships, since they take owners' massive/unique resources to develop or train. While existing methods explored encrypted weights or predictions, we investigate a unique way to leverage sparse topological information to perform $\textit{lottery verification}$, by developing several graph-based signatures that can be embedded as credentials. By further combining trigger set-based methods, our proposal can work in both white-box and black-box verification scenarios. Through extensive experiments, we demonstrate the effectiveness of lottery verification in diverse models (ResNet-20, ResNet-18, ResNet-50) on CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100. Specifically, our verification is shown to be robust to removal attacks such as model fine-tuning and pruning, as well as several ambiguity attacks. Our codes are available at

Wisdom of the Crowd Voting: Truthful Aggregation of Voter Information and Preferences

Grant Schoenebeck · Biaoshuai Tao

We consider two-alternative elections where voters' preferences depend on a state variable that is not directly observable. Each voter receives a private signal that is correlated to the state variable. As a special case, our model captures the common scenario where voters can be categorized into three types: those who always prefer one alternative, those who always prefer the other, and those contingent voters whose preferences depends on the state. In this setting, even if every voter is a contingent voter, agents voting according to their private information need not result in the adoption of the universally preferred alternative, because the signals can be systematically biased.We present a mechanism that elicits and aggregates the private signals from the voters, and outputs the alternative that is favored by the majority. In particular, voters truthfully reporting their signals forms a strong Bayes Nash equilibrium (where no coalition of voters can deviate and receive a better outcome).

Online Multi-Armed Bandits with Adaptive Inference

Maria Dimakopoulou · Zhimei Ren · Zhengyuan Zhou

During online decision making in Multi-Armed Bandits (MAB), one needs to conduct inference on the true mean reward of each arm based on data collected so far at each step. However, since the arms are adaptively selected--thereby yielding non-iid data--conducting inference accurately is not straightforward. In particular, sample averaging, which is used in the family of UCB and Thompson sampling (TS) algorithms, does not provide a good choice as it suffers from bias and a lack of good statistical properties (e.g. asymptotic normality). Our thesis in this paper is that more sophisticated inference schemes that take into account the adaptive nature of the sequentially collected data can unlock further performance gains, even though both UCB and TS type algorithms are optimal in the worst case. In particular, we propose a variant of TS-style algorithms--which we call doubly adaptive TS--that leverages recent advances in causal inference and adaptively reweights the terms of a doubly robust estimator on the true mean reward of each arm. Through 20 synthetic domain experiments and a semi-synthetic experiment based on data from an A/B test of a web service, we demonstrate that using an adaptive inferential scheme (while still retaining the exploration efficacy of TS) provides clear benefits in online decision making: the proposed DATS algorithm has superior empirical performance to existing baselines (UCB and TS) in terms of regret and sample complexity in identifying the best arm. In addition, we also provide a finite-time regret bound of doubly adaptive TS that matches (up to log factors) those of UCB and TS algorithms, thereby establishing that its improved practical benefits do not come at the expense of worst-case suboptimality.

Discrete-Valued Neural Communication

Dianbo Liu · Alex Lamb · Kenji Kawaguchi · Anirudh Goyal · Chen Sun · Michael Mozer · Yoshua Bengio

Deep learning has advanced from fully connected architectures to structured models organized into components, e.g., the transformer composed of positional elements, modular architectures divided into slots, and graph neural nets made up of nodes. The nature of structured models is that communication among the components has a bottleneck, typically achieved by restricted connectivity and attention. In this work, we further tighten the bottleneck via discreteness of the representations transmitted between components. We hypothesize that this constraint serves as a useful form of inductive bias. Our hypothesis is motivated by past empirical work showing the benefits of discretization in non-structured architectures as well as our own theoretical results showing that discretization increases noise robustness and reduces the underlying dimensionality of the model. Building on an existing technique for discretization from the VQ-VAE, we consider multi-headed discretization with shared codebooks as the output of each architectural component. One motivating intuition is human language in which communication occurs through multiple discrete symbols. This form of communication is hypothesized to facilitate transmission of information between functional components of the brain by providing a common interlingua, just as it does for human-to-human communication. Our experiments show that discrete-valued neural communication (DVNC) substantially improves systematic generalization in a variety of architectures—transformers, modular architectures, and graph neural networks. We also show that the DVNC is robust to the choice of hyperparameters, making the method useful in practice.

Generalization Bounds for Meta-Learning via PAC-Bayes and Uniform Stability

Alec Farid · Anirudha Majumdar

We are motivated by the problem of providing strong generalization guarantees in the context of meta-learning. Existing generalization bounds are either challenging to evaluate or provide vacuous guarantees in even relatively simple settings. We derive a probably approximately correct (PAC) bound for gradient-based meta-learning using two different generalization frameworks in order to deal with the qualitatively different challenges of generalization at the "base" and "meta" levels. We employ bounds for uniformly stable algorithms at the base level and bounds from the PAC-Bayes framework at the meta level. The result of this approach is a novel PAC bound that is tighter when the base learner adapts quickly, which is precisely the goal of meta-learning. We show that our bound provides a tighter guarantee than other bounds on a toy non-convex problem on the unit sphere and a text-based classification example. We also present a practical regularization scheme motivated by the bound in settings where the bound is loose and demonstrate improved performance over baseline techniques.

Parallel Bayesian Optimization of Multiple Noisy Objectives with Expected Hypervolume Improvement

Samuel Daulton · Maximilian Balandat · Eytan Bakshy

Optimizing multiple competing black-box objectives is a challenging problem in many fields, including science, engineering, and machine learning. Multi-objective Bayesian optimization (MOBO) is a sample-efficient approach for identifying the optimal trade-offs between the objectives. However, many existing methods perform poorly when the observations are corrupted by noise. We propose a novel acquisition function, NEHVI, that overcomes this important practical limitation by applying a Bayesian treatment to the popular expected hypervolume improvement (EHVI) criterion and integrating over this uncertainty in the Pareto frontier. We argue that, even in the noiseless setting, generating multiple candidates in parallel is an incarnation of EHVI with uncertainty in the Pareto frontier and therefore can be addressed using the same underlying technique. Through this lens, we derive a natural parallel variant, qNEHVI, that reduces computational complexity of parallel EHVI from exponential to polynomial with respect to the batch size. qNEHVI is one-step Bayes-optimal for hypervolume maximization in both noisy and noiseless environments, and we show that it can be optimized effectively with gradient-based methods via sample average approximation. Empirically, we demonstrate not only that qNEHVI is substantially more robust to observation noise than existing MOBO approaches, but also that it achieves state-of-the-art optimization performance and competitive wall-times in large-batch environments.

On Calibration and Out-of-Domain Generalization

Yoav Wald · Amir Feder · Daniel Greenfeld · Uri Shalit

Out-of-domain (OOD) generalization is a significant challenge for machine learning models. Many techniques have been proposed to overcome this challenge, often focused on learning models with certain invariance properties. In this work, we draw a link between OOD performance and model calibration, arguing that calibration across multiple domains can be viewed as a special case of an invariant representation leading to better OOD generalization. Specifically, we show that under certain conditions, models which achieve \emph{multi-domain calibration} are provably free of spurious correlations. This leads us to propose multi-domain calibration as a measurable and trainable surrogate for the OOD performance of a classifier. We therefore introduce methods that are easy to apply and allow practitioners to improve multi-domain calibration by training or modifying an existing model, leading to better performance on unseen domains. Using four datasets from the recently proposed WILDS OOD benchmark, as well as the Colored MNIST, we demonstrate that training or tuning models so they are calibrated across multiple domains leads to significantly improved performance on unseen test domains. We believe this intriguing connection between calibration and OOD generalization is promising from both a practical and theoretical point of view.

Reinforcement Learning in Reward-Mixing MDPs

Jeongyeol Kwon · Yonathan Efroni · Constantine Caramanis · Shie Mannor

Learning a near optimal policy in a partially observable system remains an elusive challenge in contemporary reinforcement learning. In this work, we consider episodic reinforcement learning in a reward-mixing Markov decision process (MDP). There, a reward function is drawn from one of $M$ possible reward models at the beginning of every episode, but the identity of the chosen reward model is not revealed to the agent. Hence, the latent state space, for which the dynamics are Markovian, is not given to the agent. We study the problem of learning a near optimal policy for two reward-mixing MDPs. Unlike existing approaches that rely on strong assumptions on the dynamics, we make no assumptions and study the problem in full generality. Indeed, with no further assumptions, even for two switching reward-models, the problem requires several new ideas beyond existing algorithmic and analysis techniques for efficient exploration. We provide the first polynomial-time algorithm that finds an $\epsilon$-optimal policy after exploring $\tilde{O}(poly(H,\epsilon^{-1}) \cdot S^2 A^2)$ episodes, where $H$ is time-horizon and $S, A$ are the number of states and actions respectively. This is the first efficient algorithm that does not require any assumptions in partially observed environments where the observation space is smaller than the latent state space.

Explaining Hyperparameter Optimization via Partial Dependence Plots

Julia Moosbauer · Julia Herbinger · Giuseppe Casalicchio · Marius Lindauer · Bernd Bischl

Automated hyperparameter optimization (HPO) can support practitioners to obtain peak performance in machine learning models.However, there is often a lack of valuable insights into the effects of different hyperparameters on the final model performance.This lack of explainability makes it difficult to trust and understand the automated HPO process and its results.We suggest using interpretable machine learning (IML) to gain insights from the experimental data obtained during HPO with Bayesian optimization (BO).BO tends to focus on promising regions with potential high-performance configurations and thus induces a sampling bias.Hence, many IML techniques, such as the partial dependence plot (PDP), carry the risk of generating biased interpretations.By leveraging the posterior uncertainty of the BO surrogate model, we introduce a variant of the PDP with estimated confidence bands.We propose to partition the hyperparameter space to obtain more confident and reliable PDPs in relevant sub-regions.In an experimental study, we provide quantitative evidence for the increased quality of the PDPs within sub-regions.

Deep inference of latent dynamics with spatio-temporal super-resolution using selective backpropagation through time

Feng Zhu · Andrew Sedler · Harrison A Grier · Nauman Ahad · Mark Davenport · Matthew Kaufman · Andrea Giovannucci · Chethan Pandarinath

Modern neural interfaces allow access to the activity of up to a million neurons within brain circuits. However, bandwidth limits often create a trade-off between greater spatial sampling (more channels or pixels) and the temporal frequency of sampling. Here we demonstrate that it is possible to obtain spatio-temporal super-resolution in neuronal time series by exploiting relationships among neurons, embedded in latent low-dimensional population dynamics. Our novel neural network training strategy, selective backpropagation through time (SBTT), enables learning of deep generative models of latent dynamics from data in which the set of observed variables changes at each time step. The resulting models are able to infer activity for missing samples by combining observations with learned latent dynamics. We test SBTT applied to sequential autoencoders and demonstrate more efficient and higher-fidelity characterization of neural population dynamics in electrophysiological and calcium imaging data. In electrophysiology, SBTT enables accurate inference of neuronal population dynamics with lower interface bandwidths, providing an avenue to significant power savings for implanted neuroelectronic interfaces. In applications to two-photon calcium imaging, SBTT accurately uncovers high-frequency temporal structure underlying neural population activity, substantially outperforming the current state-of-the-art. Finally, we demonstrate that performance could be further improved by using limited, high-bandwidth sampling to pretrain dynamics models, and then using SBTT to adapt these models for sparsely-sampled data.

Self-Interpretable Model with Transformation Equivariant Interpretation

Yipei Wang · Xiaoqian Wang

With the proliferation of machine learning applications in the real world, the demand for explaining machine learning predictions continues to grow especially in high-stakes fields. Recent studies have found that interpretation methods can be sensitive and unreliable, where the interpretations can be disturbed by perturbations or transformations of input data. To address this issue, we propose to learn robust interpretation through transformation equivariant regularization in a self-interpretable model. The resulting model is capable of capturing valid interpretation that is equivariant to geometric transformations. Moreover, since our model is self-interpretable, it enables faithful interpretations that reflect the true predictive mechanism. Unlike existing self-interpretable models, which usually sacrifice expressive power for the sake of interpretation quality, our model preserves the high expressive capability comparable to the state-of-the-art deep learning models in complex tasks, while providing visualizable and faithful high-quality interpretation. We compare with various related methods and validate the interpretation quality and consistency of our model.

Voxel-based 3D Detection and Reconstruction of Multiple Objects from a Single Image

Feng Liu · Xiaoming Liu

Inferring 3D locations and shapes of multiple objects from a single 2D image is a long-standing objective of computer vision. Most of the existing works either predict one of these 3D properties or focus on solving both for a single object. One fundamental challenge lies in how to learn an effective representation of the image that is well-suited for 3D detection and reconstruction. In this work, we propose to learn a regular grid of 3D voxel features from the input image which is aligned with 3D scene space via a 3D feature lifting operator. Based on the 3D voxel features, our novel CenterNet-3D detection head formulates the 3D detection as keypoint detection in the 3D space. Moreover, we devise an efficient coarse-to-fine reconstruction module, including coarse-level voxelization and a novel local PCA-SDF shape representation, which enables fine detail reconstruction and two orders of magnitude faster inference than prior methods. With complementary supervision from both 3D detection and reconstruction, one enables the 3D voxel features to be geometry and context preserving, benefiting both tasks. The effectiveness of our approach is demonstrated through 3D detection and reconstruction on single-object and multiple-object scenarios.

On Model Calibration for Long-Tailed Object Detection and Instance Segmentation

Tai-Yu Pan · Cheng Zhang · Yandong Li · Hexiang Hu · Dong Xuan · Soravit Changpinyo · Boqing Gong · Wei-Lun Chao

Vanilla models for object detection and instance segmentation suffer from the heavy bias toward detecting frequent objects in the long-tailed setting. Existing methods address this issue mostly during training, e.g., by re-sampling or re-weighting. In this paper, we investigate a largely overlooked approach --- post-processing calibration of confidence scores. We propose NorCal, Normalized Calibration for long-tailed object detection and instance segmentation, a simple and straightforward recipe that reweighs the predicted scores of each class by its training sample size. We show that separately handling the background class and normalizing the scores over classes for each proposal are keys to achieving superior performance. On the LVIS dataset, NorCal can effectively improve nearly all the baseline models not only on rare classes but also on common and frequent classes. Finally, we conduct extensive analysis and ablation studies to offer insights into various modeling choices and mechanisms of our approach. Our code is publicly available at

ReSSL: Relational Self-Supervised Learning with Weak Augmentation

Mingkai Zheng · Shan You · Fei Wang · Chen Qian · Changshui Zhang · Xiaogang Wang · Chang Xu

Self-supervised Learning (SSL) including the mainstream contrastive learning has achieved great success in learning visual representations without data annotations. However, most of methods mainly focus on the instance level information (\ie, the different augmented images of the same instance should have the same feature or cluster into the same class), but there is a lack of attention on the relationships between different instances. In this paper, we introduced a novel SSL paradigm, which we term as relational self-supervised learning (ReSSL) framework that learns representations by modeling the relationship between different instances. Specifically, our proposed method employs sharpened distribution of pairwise similarities among different instances as \textit{relation} metric, which is thus utilized to match the feature embeddings of different augmentations. Moreover, to boost the performance, we argue that weak augmentations matter to represent a more reliable relation, and leverage momentum strategy for practical efficiency. Experimental results show that our proposed ReSSL significantly outperforms the previous state-of-the-art algorithms in terms of both performance and training efficiency.

Test-Time Personalization with a Transformer for Human Pose Estimation

Yizhuo Li · Miao Hao · Zonglin Di · Nitesh Bharadwaj Gundavarapu · Xiaolong Wang

We propose to personalize a 2D human pose estimator given a set of test images of a person without using any manual annotations. While there is a significant advancement in human pose estimation, it is still very challenging for a model to generalize to different unknown environments and unseen persons. Instead of using a fixed model for every test case, we adapt our pose estimator during test time to exploit person-specific information. We first train our model on diverse data with both a supervised and a self-supervised pose estimation objectives jointly. We use a Transformer model to build a transformation between the self-supervised keypoints and the supervised keypoints. During test time, we personalize and adapt our model by fine-tuning with the self-supervised objective. The pose is then improved by transforming the updated self-supervised keypoints. We experiment with multiple datasets and show significant improvements on pose estimations with our self-supervised personalization. Project page with code is available at

Bias Out-of-the-Box: An Empirical Analysis of Intersectional Occupational Biases in Popular Generative Language Models

Hannah Rose Kirk · Yennie Jun · Filippo Volpin · Haider Iqbal · Elias Benussi · Frederic Dreyer · Aleksandar Shtedritski · Yuki Asano

The capabilities of natural language models trained on large-scale data have increased immensely over the past few years. Open source libraries such as HuggingFace have made these models easily available and accessible. While prior research has identified biases in large language models, this paper considers biases contained in the most popular versions of these models when applied `out-of-the-box' for downstream tasks. We focus on generative language models as they are well-suited for extracting biases inherited from training data. Specifically, we conduct an in-depth analysis of GPT-2, which is the most downloaded text generation model on HuggingFace, with over half a million downloads per month. We assess biases related to occupational associations for different protected categories by intersecting gender with religion, sexuality, ethnicity, political affiliation, and continental name origin. Using a template-based data collection pipeline, we collect 396K sentence completions made by GPT-2 and find: (i) The machine-predicted jobs are less diverse and more stereotypical for women than for men, especially for intersections; (ii) Intersectional interactions are highly relevant for occupational associations, which we quantify by fitting 262 logistic models; (iii) For most occupations, GPT-2 reflects the skewed gender and ethnicity distribution found in US Labor Bureau data, and even pulls the societally-skewed distribution towards gender parity in cases where its predictions deviate from real labor market observations. This raises the normative question of what language models \textit{should} learn - whether they should reflect or correct for existing inequalities.

Weisfeiler and Lehman Go Cellular: CW Networks

Cristian Bodnar · Fabrizio Frasca · Nina Otter · Yuguang Wang · Pietro Liò · Guido Montufar · Michael Bronstein

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are limited in their expressive power, struggle with long-range interactions and lack a principled way to model higher-order structures. These problems can be attributed to the strong coupling between the computational graph and the input graph structure. The recently proposed Message Passing Simplicial Networks naturally decouple these elements by performing message passing on the clique complex of the graph. Nevertheless, these models can be severely constrained by the rigid combinatorial structure of Simplicial Complexes (SCs). In this work, we extend recent theoretical results on SCs to regular Cell Complexes, topological objects that flexibly subsume SCs and graphs. We show that this generalisation provides a powerful set of graph "lifting" transformations, each leading to a unique hierarchical message passing procedure. The resulting methods, which we collectively call CW Networks (CWNs), are strictly more powerful than the WL test and not less powerful than the 3-WL test. In particular, we demonstrate the effectiveness of one such scheme, based on rings, when applied to molecular graph problems. The proposed architecture benefits from provably larger expressivity than commonly used GNNs, principled modelling of higher-order signals and from compressing the distances between nodes. We demonstrate that our model achieves state-of-the-art results on a variety of molecular datasets.

Hybrid Regret Bounds for Combinatorial Semi-Bandits and Adversarial Linear Bandits

Shinji Ito

This study aims to develop bandit algorithms that automatically exploit tendencies of certain environments to improve performance, without any prior knowledge regarding the environments. We first propose an algorithm for combinatorial semi-bandits with a hybrid regret bound that includes two main features: a best-of-three-worlds guarantee and multiple data-dependent regret bounds. The former means that the algorithm will work nearly optimally in all environments in an adversarial setting, a stochastic setting, or a stochastic setting with adversarial corruptions. The latter implies that, even if the environment is far from exhibiting stochastic behavior, the algorithm will perform better as long as the environment is "easy" in terms of certain metrics. The metrics w.r.t. the easiness referred to in this paper include cumulative loss for optimal actions, total quadratic variation of losses, and path-length of a loss sequence. We also show hybrid data-dependent regret bounds for adversarial linear bandits, which include a first path-length regret bound that is tight up to logarithmic factors.

On Component Interactions in Two-Stage Recommender Systems

Jiri Hron · Karl Krauth · Michael Jordan · Niki Kilbertus

Thanks to their scalability, two-stage recommenders are used by many of today's largest online platforms, including YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. These systems produce recommendations in two steps: (i) multiple nominators—tuned for low prediction latency—preselect a small subset of candidates from the whole item pool; (ii) a slower but more accurate ranker further narrows down the nominated items, and serves to the user. Despite their popularity, the literature on two-stage recommenders is relatively scarce, and the algorithms are often treated as mere sums of their parts. Such treatment presupposes that the two-stage performance is explained by the behavior of the individual components in isolation. This is not the case: using synthetic and real-world data, we demonstrate that interactions between the ranker and the nominators substantially affect the overall performance. Motivated by these findings, we derive a generalization lower bound which shows that independent nominator training can lead to performance on par with uniformly random recommendations. We find that careful design of item pools, each assigned to a different nominator, alleviates these issues. As manual search for a good pool allocation is difficult, we propose to learn one instead using a Mixture-of-Experts based approach. This significantly improves both precision and recall at $K$.

MetaAvatar: Learning Animatable Clothed Human Models from Few Depth Images

Shaofei Wang · Marko Mihajlovic · Qianli Ma · Andreas Geiger · Siyu Tang

In this paper, we aim to create generalizable and controllable neural signed distance fields (SDFs) that represent clothed humans from monocular depth observations. Recent advances in deep learning, especially neural implicit representations, have enabled human shape reconstruction and controllable avatar generation from different sensor inputs. However, to generate realistic cloth deformations from novel input poses, watertight meshes or dense full-body scans are usually needed as inputs. Furthermore, due to the difficulty of effectively modeling pose-dependent cloth deformations for diverse body shapes and cloth types, existing approaches resort to per-subject/cloth-type optimization from scratch, which is computationally expensive. In contrast, we propose an approach that can quickly generate realistic clothed human avatars, represented as controllable neural SDFs, given only monocular depth images. We achieve this by using meta-learning to learn an initialization of a hypernetwork that predicts the parameters of neural SDFs. The hypernetwork is conditioned on human poses and represents a clothed neural avatar that deforms non-rigidly according to the input poses. Meanwhile, it is meta-learned to effectively incorporate priors of diverse body shapes and cloth types and thus can be much faster to fine-tune, compared to models trained from scratch. We qualitatively and quantitatively show that our approach outperforms state-of-the-art approaches that require complete meshes as inputs while our approach requires only depth frames as inputs and runs orders of magnitudes faster. Furthermore, we demonstrate that our meta-learned hypernetwork is very robust, being the first to generate avatars with realistic dynamic cloth deformations given as few as 8 monocular depth frames.

Misspecified Gaussian Process Bandit Optimization

Ilija Bogunovic · Andreas Krause

We consider the problem of optimizing a black-box function based on noisy bandit feedback. Kernelized bandit algorithms have shown strong empirical and theoretical performance for this problem. They heavily rely on the assumption that the model is well-specified, however, and can fail without it. Instead, we introduce and address a \emph{misspecified} kernelized bandit setting where the unknown function can be $\epsilon$--uniformly approximated by a function with a bounded norm in some Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space (RKHS). We design efficient and practical algorithms whose performance degrades minimally in the presence of model misspecification. Specifically, we present two algorithms based on Gaussian process (GP) methods: an optimistic EC-GP-UCB algorithm that requires knowing the misspecification error, and Phased GP Uncertainty Sampling, an elimination-type algorithm that can adapt to unknown model misspecification. We provide upper bounds on their cumulative regret in terms of $\epsilon$, the time horizon, and the underlying kernel, and we show that our algorithm achieves optimal dependence on $\epsilon$ with no prior knowledge of misspecification. In addition, in a stochastic contextual setting, we show that EC-GP-UCB can be effectively combined with the regret bound balancing strategy and attain similar regret bounds despite not knowing $\epsilon$.

On the Convergence Theory of Debiased Model-Agnostic Meta-Reinforcement Learning

Alireza Fallah · Kristian Georgiev · Aryan Mokhtari · Asuman Ozdaglar

We consider Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning (MAML) methods for Reinforcement Learning (RL) problems, where the goal is to find a policy using data from several tasks represented by Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) that can be updated by one step of \textit{stochastic} policy gradient for the realized MDP. In particular, using stochastic gradients in MAML update steps is crucial for RL problems since computation of exact gradients requires access to a large number of possible trajectories. For this formulation, we propose a variant of the MAML method, named Stochastic Gradient Meta-Reinforcement Learning (SG-MRL), and study its convergence properties. We derive the iteration and sample complexity of SG-MRL to find an $\epsilon$-first-order stationary point, which, to the best of our knowledge, provides the first convergence guarantee for model-agnostic meta-reinforcement learning algorithms. We further show how our results extend to the case where more than one step of stochastic policy gradient method is used at test time. Finally, we empirically compare SG-MRL and MAML in several deep RL environments.

Can Information Flows Suggest Targets for Interventions in Neural Circuits?

Praveen Venkatesh · Sanghamitra Dutta · Neil Mehta · Pulkit Grover

Motivated by neuroscientific and clinical applications, we empirically examine whether observational measures of information flow can suggest interventions. We do so by performing experiments on artificial neural networks in the context of fairness in machine learning, where the goal is to induce fairness in the system through interventions. Using our recently developed M-information flow framework, we measure the flow of information about the true label (responsible for accuracy, and hence desirable), and separately, the flow of information about a protected attribute (responsible for bias, and hence undesirable) on the edges of a trained neural network. We then compare the flow magnitudes against the effect of intervening on those edges by pruning. We show that pruning edges that carry larger information flows about the protected attribute reduces bias at the output to a greater extent. This demonstrates that M-information flow can meaningfully suggest targets for interventions, answering the title's question in the affirmative. We also evaluate bias-accuracy tradeoffs for different intervention strategies, to analyze how one might use estimates of desirable and undesirable information flows (here, accuracy and bias flows) to inform interventions that preserve the former while reducing the latter.

Dangers of Bayesian Model Averaging under Covariate Shift

Pavel Izmailov · Patrick Nicholson · Sanae Lotfi · Andrew Wilson

Approximate Bayesian inference for neural networks is considered a robust alternative to standard training, often providing good performance on out-of-distribution data. However, Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) with high-fidelity approximate inference via full-batch Hamiltonian Monte Carlo achieve poor generalization under covariate shift, even underperforming classical estimation. We explain this surprising result, showing how a Bayesian model average can in fact be problematic under covariate shift, particularly in cases where linear dependencies in the input features cause a lack of posterior contraction. We additionally show why the same issue does not affect many approximate inference procedures, or classical maximum a-posteriori (MAP) training. Finally, we propose novel priors that improve the robustness of BNNs to many sources of covariate shift.

Learning Equilibria in Matching Markets from Bandit Feedback

Meena Jagadeesan · Alexander Wei · Yixin Wang · Michael Jordan · Jacob Steinhardt

Large-scale, two-sided matching platforms must find market outcomes that align with user preferences while simultaneously learning these preferences from data. But since preferences are inherently uncertain during learning, the classical notion of stability (Gale and Shapley, 1962; Shapley and Shubik, 1971) is unattainable in these settings. To bridge this gap, we develop a framework and algorithms for learning stable market outcomes under uncertainty. Our primary setting is matching with transferable utilities, where the platform both matches agents and sets monetary transfers between them. We design an incentive-aware learning objective that captures the distance of a market outcome from equilibrium. Using this objective, we analyze the complexity of learning as a function of preference structure, casting learning as a stochastic multi-armed bandit problem. Algorithmically, we show that "optimism in the face of uncertainty," the principle underlying many bandit algorithms, applies to a primal-dual formulation of matching with transfers and leads to near-optimal regret bounds. Our work takes a first step toward elucidating when and how stable matchings arise in large, data-driven marketplaces.

Pooling by Sliced-Wasserstein Embedding

Navid Naderializadeh · Joseph F Comer · Reed Andrews · Heiko Hoffmann · Soheil Kolouri

Learning representations from sets has become increasingly important with many applications in point cloud processing, graph learning, image/video recognition, and object detection. We introduce a geometrically-interpretable and generic pooling mechanism for aggregating a set of features into a fixed-dimensional representation. In particular, we treat elements of a set as samples from a probability distribution and propose an end-to-end trainable Euclidean embedding for sliced-Wasserstein distance to learn from set-structured data effectively. We evaluate our proposed pooling method on a wide variety of set-structured data, including point-cloud, graph, and image classification tasks, and demonstrate that our proposed method provides superior performance over existing set representation learning approaches. Our code is available at

BayesIMP: Uncertainty Quantification for Causal Data Fusion

Siu Lun Chau · Jean-Francois Ton · Javier González · Yee Teh · Dino Sejdinovic

While causal models are becoming one of the mainstays of machine learning, the problem of uncertainty quantification in causal inference remains challenging. In this paper, we study the causal data fusion problem, where data arising from multiple causal graphs are combined to estimate the average treatment effect of a target variable. As data arises from multiple sources and can vary in quality and sample size, principled uncertainty quantification becomes essential. To that end, we introduce \emph{Bayesian Causal Mean Processes}, the framework which combines ideas from probabilistic integration and kernel mean embeddings to represent interventional distributions in the reproducing kernel Hilbert space, while taking into account the uncertainty within each causal graph. To demonstrate the informativeness of our uncertainty estimation, we apply our method to the Causal Bayesian Optimisation task and show improvements over state-of-the-art methods.

Neural Auto-Curricula in Two-Player Zero-Sum Games

Xidong Feng · Oliver Slumbers · Ziyu Wan · Bo Liu · Stephen McAleer · Ying Wen · Jun Wang · Yaodong Yang

When solving two-player zero-sum games, multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) algorithms often create populations of agents where, at each iteration, a new agent is discovered as the best response to a mixture over the opponent population. Within such a process, the update rules of "who to compete with" (i.e., the opponent mixture) and "how to beat them" (i.e., finding best responses) are underpinned by manually developed game theoretical principles such as fictitious play and Double Oracle. In this paper, we introduce a novel framework—Neural Auto-Curricula (NAC)—that leverages meta-gradient descent to automate the discovery of the learning update rule without explicit human design. Specifically, we parameterise the opponent selection module by neural networks and the best-response module by optimisation subroutines, and update their parameters solely via interaction with the game engine, where both players aim to minimise their exploitability. Surprisingly, even without human design, the discovered MARL algorithms achieve competitive or even better performance with the state-of-the-art population-based game solvers (e.g., PSRO) on Games of Skill, differentiable Lotto, non-transitive Mixture Games, Iterated Matching Pennies, and Kuhn Poker. Additionally, we show that NAC is able to generalise from small games to large games, for example training on Kuhn Poker and outperforming PSRO on Leduc Poker. Our work inspires a promising future direction to discover general MARL algorithms solely from data.

From global to local MDI variable importances for random forests and when they are Shapley values

Antonio Sutera · Gilles Louppe · Van Anh Huynh-Thu · Louis Wehenkel · Pierre Geurts

Random forests have been widely used for their ability to provide so-called importance measures, which give insight at a global (per dataset) level on the relevance of input variables to predict a certain output. On the other hand, methods based on Shapley values have been introduced to refine the analysis of feature relevance in tree-based models to a local (per instance) level. In this context, we first show that the global Mean Decrease of Impurity (MDI) variable importance scores correspond to Shapley values under some conditions. Then, we derive a local MDI importance measure of variable relevance, which has a very natural connection with the global MDI measure and can be related to a new notion of local feature relevance. We further link local MDI importances with Shapley values and discuss them in the light of related measures from the literature. The measures are illustrated through experiments on several classification and regression problems.

Adversarial Robustness of Streaming Algorithms through Importance Sampling

Vladimir Braverman · Avinatan Hassidim · Yossi Matias · Mariano Schain · Sandeep Silwal · Samson Zhou

Robustness against adversarial attacks has recently been at the forefront of algorithmic design for machine learning tasks. In the adversarial streaming model, an adversary gives an algorithm a sequence of adaptively chosen updates $u_1,\ldots,u_n$ as a data stream. The goal of the algorithm is to compute or approximate some predetermined function for every prefix of the adversarial stream, but the adversary may generate future updates based on previous outputs of the algorithm. In particular, the adversary may gradually learn the random bits internally used by an algorithm to manipulate dependencies in the input. This is especially problematic as many important problems in the streaming model require randomized algorithms, as they are known to not admit any deterministic algorithms that use sublinear space. In this paper, we introduce adversarially robust streaming algorithms for central machine learning and algorithmic tasks, such as regression and clustering, as well as their more general counterparts, subspace embedding, low-rank approximation, and coreset construction. For regression and other numerical linear algebra related tasks, we consider the row arrival streaming model. Our results are based on a simple, but powerful, observation that many importance sampling-based algorithms give rise to adversarial robustness which is in contrast to sketching based algorithms, which are very prevalent in the streaming literature but suffer from adversarial attacks. In addition, we show that the well-known merge and reduce paradigm in streaming is adversarially robust. Since the merge and reduce paradigm allows coreset constructions in the streaming setting, we thus obtain robust algorithms for $k$-means, $k$-median, $k$-center, Bregman clustering, projective clustering, principal component analysis (PCA) and non-negative matrix factorization. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first adversarially robust results for these problems yet require no new algorithmic implementations. Finally, we empirically confirm the robustness of our algorithms on various adversarial attacks and demonstrate that by contrast, some common existing algorithms are not robust.

Tractable Regularization of Probabilistic Circuits

Anji Liu · Guy Van den Broeck

Probabilistic Circuits (PCs) are a promising avenue for probabilistic modeling. They combine advantages of probabilistic graphical models (PGMs) with those of neural networks (NNs). Crucially, however, they are tractable probabilistic models, supporting efficient and exact computation of many probabilistic inference queries, such as marginals and MAP. Further, since PCs are structured computation graphs, they can take advantage of deep-learning-style parameter updates, which greatly improves their scalability. However, this innovation also makes PCs prone to overfitting, which has been observed in many standard benchmarks. Despite the existence of abundant regularization techniques for both PGMs and NNs, they are not effective enough when applied to PCs. Instead, we re-think regularization for PCs and propose two intuitive techniques, data softening and entropy regularization, that both take advantage of PCs' tractability and still have an efficient implementation as a computation graph. Specifically, data softening provides a principled way to add uncertainty in datasets in closed form, which implicitly regularizes PC parameters. To learn parameters from a softened dataset, PCs only need linear time by virtue of their tractability. In entropy regularization, the exact entropy of the distribution encoded by a PC can be regularized directly, which is again infeasible for most other density estimation models. We show that both methods consistently improve the generalization performance of a wide variety of PCs. Moreover, when paired with a simple PC structure, we achieved state-of-the-art results on 10 out of 20 standard discrete density estimation benchmarks. Open-source code and experiments are available at

Model Adaptation: Historical Contrastive Learning for Unsupervised Domain Adaptation without Source Data

Jiaxing Huang · Dayan Guan · Aoran Xiao · Shijian Lu

Unsupervised domain adaptation aims to align a labeled source domain and an unlabeled target domain, but it requires to access the source data which often raises concerns in data privacy, data portability and data transmission efficiency. We study unsupervised model adaptation (UMA), or called Unsupervised Domain Adaptation without Source Data, an alternative setting that aims to adapt source-trained models towards target distributions without accessing source data. To this end, we design an innovative historical contrastive learning (HCL) technique that exploits historical source hypothesis to make up for the absence of source data in UMA. HCL addresses the UMA challenge from two perspectives. First, it introduces historical contrastive instance discrimination (HCID) that learns from target samples by contrasting their embeddings which are generated by the currently adapted model and the historical models. With the historical models, HCID encourages UMA to learn instance-discriminative target representations while preserving the source hypothesis. Second, it introduces historical contrastive category discrimination (HCCD) that pseudo-labels target samples to learn category-discriminative target representations. Specifically, HCCD re-weights pseudo labels according to their prediction consistency across the current and historical models. Extensive experiments show that HCL outperforms and state-of-the-art methods consistently across a variety of visual tasks and setups.

Removing Inter-Experimental Variability from Functional Data in Systems Neuroscience

Dominic Gonschorek · Larissa Höfling · Klaudia P. Szatko · Katrin Franke · Timm Schubert · Benjamin Dunn · Philipp Berens · David Klindt · Thomas Euler

Integrating data from multiple experiments is common practice in systems neuroscience but it requires inter-experimental variability to be negligible compared to the biological signal of interest. This requirement is rarely fulfilled; systematic changes between experiments can drastically affect the outcome of complex analysis pipelines. Modern machine learning approaches designed to adapt models across multiple data domains offer flexible ways of removing inter-experimental variability where classical statistical methods often fail. While applications of these methods have been mostly limited to single-cell genomics, in this work, we develop a theoretical framework for domain adaptation in systems neuroscience. We implement this in an adversarial optimization scheme that removes inter-experimental variability while preserving the biological signal. We compare our method to previous approaches on a large-scale dataset of two-photon imaging recordings of retinal bipolar cell responses to visual stimuli. This dataset provides a unique benchmark as it contains biological signal from well-defined cell types that is obscured by large inter-experimental variability. In a supervised setting, we compare the generalization performance of cell type classifiers across experiments, which we validate with anatomical cell type distributions from electron microscopy data. In an unsupervised setting, we remove inter-experimental variability from the data which can then be fed into arbitrary downstream analyses. In both settings, we find that our method achieves the best trade-off between removing inter-experimental variability and preserving biological signal. Thus, we offer a flexible approach to remove inter-experimental variability and integrate datasets across experiments in systems neuroscience. Code available at

A No-go Theorem for Robust Acceleration in the Hyperbolic Plane

Linus Hamilton · Ankur Moitra

In recent years there has been significant effort to adapt the key tools and ideas in convex optimization to the Riemannian setting. One key challenge has remained: Is there a Nesterov-like accelerated gradient method for geodesically convex functions on a Riemannian manifold? Recent work has given partial answers and the hope was that this ought to be possible. Here we prove that in a noisy setting, there is no analogue of accelerated gradient descent for geodesically convex functions on the hyperbolic plane. Our results apply even when the noise is exponentially small. The key intuition behind our proof is short and simple: In negatively curved spaces, the volume of a ball grows so fast that information about the past gradients is not useful in the future.

Rebounding Bandits for Modeling Satiation Effects

Liu Leqi · Fatma Kilinc Karzan · Zachary Lipton · Alan Montgomery

Psychological research shows that enjoyment of many goods is subject to satiation, with short-term satisfaction declining after repeated exposures to the same item. Nevertheless, proposed algorithms for powering recommender systems seldom model these dynamics, instead proceeding as though user preferences were fixed in time. In this work, we introduce rebounding bandits, a multi-armed bandit setup, where satiation dynamics are modeled as time-invariant linear dynamical systems. Expected rewards for each arm decline monotonically with consecutive exposures and rebound towards the initial reward whenever that arm is not pulled. Unlike classical bandit algorithms, methods for tackling rebounding bandits must plan ahead and model-based methods rely on estimating the parameters of the satiation dynamics. We characterize the planning problem, showing that the greedy policy is optimal when the arms exhibit identical deterministic dynamics. To address stochastic satiation dynamics with unknown parameters, we propose Explore-Estimate-Plan, an algorithm that pulls arms methodically, estimates the system dynamics, and then plans accordingly.

Towards Instance-Optimal Offline Reinforcement Learning with Pessimism

Ming Yin · Yu-Xiang Wang

We study the \emph{offline reinforcement learning} (offline RL) problem, where the goal is to learn a reward-maximizing policy in an unknown \emph{Markov Decision Process} (MDP) using the data coming from a policy $\mu$. In particular, we consider the sample complexity problems of offline RL for the finite horizon MDPs. Prior works derive the information-theoretical lower bounds based on different data-coverage assumptions and their upper bounds are expressed by the covering coefficients which lack the explicit characterization of system quantities. In this work, we analyze the \emph{Adaptive Pessimistic Value Iteration} (APVI) algorithm and derive the suboptimality upper bound that nearly matches\[O\left(\sum_{h=1}^H\sum_{s_h,a_h}d^{\pi^\star}_h(s_h,a_h)\sqrt{\frac{\mathrm{Var}_{P_{s_h,a_h}}{(V^\star_{h+1}+r_h)}}{d^\mu_h(s_h,a_h)}}\sqrt{\frac{1}{n}}\right).\]We also prove an information-theoretical lower bound to show this quantity is required under the weak assumption that $d^\mu_h(s_h,a_h)>0$ if $d^{\pi^\star}_h(s_h,a_h)>0$. Here $\pi^\star$ is a optimal policy, $\mu$ is the behavior policy and $d(s_h,a_h)$ is the marginal state-action probability. We call this adaptive bound the \emph{intrinsic offline reinforcement learning bound} since it directly implies all the existing optimal results: minimax rate under uniform data-coverage assumption, horizon-free setting, single policy concentrability, and the tight problem-dependent results. Later, we extend the result to the \emph{assumption-free} regime (where we make no assumption on $\mu$) and obtain the assumption-free intrinsic bound. Due to its generic form, we believe the intrinsic bound could help illuminate what makes a specific problem hard and reveal the fundamental challenges in offline RL.

Environment Generation for Zero-Shot Compositional Reinforcement Learning

Izzeddin Gur · Natasha Jaques · Yingjie Miao · Jongwook Choi · Manoj Tiwari · Honglak Lee · Aleksandra Faust

Many real-world problems are compositional – solving them requires completing interdependent sub-tasks, either in series or in parallel, that can be represented as a dependency graph. Deep reinforcement learning (RL) agents often struggle to learn such complex tasks due to the long time horizons and sparse rewards. To address this problem, we present Compositional Design of Environments (CoDE), which trains a Generator agent to automatically build a series of compositional tasks tailored to the RL agent’s current skill level. This automatic curriculum not only enables the agent to learn more complex tasks than it could have otherwise, but also selects tasks where the agent’s performance is weak, enhancing its robustness and ability to generalize zero-shot to unseen tasks at test-time. We analyze why current environment generation techniques are insufficient for the problem of generating compositional tasks, and propose a new algorithm that addresses these issues. Our results assess learning and generalization across multiple compositional tasks, including the real-world problem of learning to navigate and interact with web pages. We learn to generate environments composed of multiple pages or rooms, and train RL agents capable of completing wide-range of complex tasks in those environments. We contribute two new benchmark frameworks for generating compositional tasks, compositional MiniGrid and gMiniWoB for web navigation. CoDE yields 4x higher success rate than the strongest baseline, and demonstrates strong performance of real websites learned on 3500 primitive tasks.

A Critical Look at the Consistency of Causal Estimation with Deep Latent Variable Models

Severi Rissanen · Pekka Marttinen

Using deep latent variable models in causal inference has attracted considerable interest recently, but an essential open question is their ability to yield consistent causal estimates. While they have demonstrated promising results and theory exists on some simple model formulations, we also know that causal effects are not even identifiable in general with latent variables. We investigate this gap between theory and empirical results with analytical considerations and extensive experiments under multiple synthetic and real-world data sets, using the causal effect variational autoencoder (CEVAE) as a case study. While CEVAE seems to work reliably under some simple scenarios, it does not estimate the causal effect correctly with a misspecified latent variable or a complex data distribution, as opposed to its original motivation. Hence, our results show that more attention should be paid to ensuring the correctness of causal estimates with deep latent variable models.

Efficient Bayesian network structure learning via local Markov boundary search

Ming Gao · Bryon Aragam

We analyze the complexity of learning directed acyclic graphical models from observational data in general settings without specific distributional assumptions. Our approach is information-theoretic and uses a local Markov boundary search procedure in order to recursively construct ancestral sets in the underlying graphical model. Perhaps surprisingly, we show that for certain graph ensembles, a simple forward greedy search algorithm (i.e. without a backward pruning phase) suffices to learn the Markov boundary of each node. This substantially improves the sample complexity, which we show is at most polynomial in the number of nodes. This is then applied to learn the entire graph under a novel identifiability condition that generalizes existing conditions from the literature. As a matter of independent interest, we establish finite-sample guarantees for the problem of recovering Markov boundaries from data. Moreover, we apply our results to the special case of polytrees, for which the assumptions simplify, and provide explicit conditions under which polytrees are identifiable and learnable in polynomial time. We further illustrate the performance of the algorithm, which is easy to implement, in a simulation study. Our approach is general, works for discrete or continuous distributions without distributional assumptions, and as such sheds light on the minimal assumptions required to efficiently learn the structure of directed graphical models from data.

Recursive Bayesian Networks: Generalising and Unifying Probabilistic Context-Free Grammars and Dynamic Bayesian Networks

Robert Lieck · Martin Rohrmeier

Probabilistic context-free grammars (PCFGs) and dynamic Bayesian networks (DBNs) are widely used sequence models with complementary strengths and limitations. While PCFGs allow for nested hierarchical dependencies (tree structures), their latent variables (non-terminal symbols) have to be discrete. In contrast, DBNs allow for continuous latent variables, but the dependencies are strictly sequential (chain structure). Therefore, neither can be applied if the latent variables are assumed to be continuous and also to have a nested hierarchical dependency structure. In this paper, we present Recursive Bayesian Networks (RBNs), which generalise and unify PCFGs and DBNs, combining their strengths and containing both as special cases. RBNs define a joint distribution over tree-structured Bayesian networks with discrete or continuous latent variables. The main challenge lies in performing joint inference over the exponential number of possible structures and the continuous variables. We provide two solutions: 1) For arbitrary RBNs, we generalise inside and outside probabilities from PCFGs to the mixed discrete-continuous case, which allows for maximum posterior estimates of the continuous latent variables via gradient descent, while marginalising over network structures. 2) For Gaussian RBNs, we additionally derive an analytic approximation of the marginal data likelihood (evidence) and marginal posterior distribution, allowing for robust parameter optimisation and Bayesian inference. The capacity and diverse applications of RBNs are illustrated on two examples: In a quantitative evaluation on synthetic data, we demonstrate and discuss the advantage of RBNs for segmentation and tree induction from noisy sequences, compared to change point detection and hierarchical clustering. In an application to musical data, we approach the unsolved problem of hierarchical music analysis from the raw note level and compare our results to expert annotations.

Instance-dependent Label-noise Learning under a Structural Causal Model

Yu Yao · Tongliang Liu · Mingming Gong · Bo Han · Gang Niu · Kun Zhang

Label noise generally degenerates the performance of deep learning algorithms because deep neural networks easily overfit label errors. Let $X$ and $Y$ denote the instance and clean label, respectively. When $Y$ is a cause of $X$, according to which many datasets have been constructed, e.g., \textit{SVHN} and \textit{CIFAR}, the distributions of $P(X)$ and $P(Y|X)$ are generally entangled. This means that the unsupervised instances are helpful to learn the classifier and thus reduce the side effect of label noise. However, it remains elusive on how to exploit the causal information to handle the label-noise problem. We propose to model and make use of the causal process in order to correct the label-noise effect.Empirically, the proposed method outperforms all state-of-the-art methods on both synthetic and real-world label-noise datasets.

Automatic Unsupervised Outlier Model Selection

Yue Zhao · Ryan Rossi · Leman Akoglu

Given an unsupervised outlier detection task on a new dataset, how can we automatically select a good outlier detection algorithm and its hyperparameter(s) (collectively called a model)? In this work, we tackle the unsupervised outlier model selection (UOMS) problem, and propose MetaOD, a principled, data-driven approach to UOMS based on meta-learning. The UOMS problem is notoriously challenging, as compared to model selection for classification and clustering, since (i) model evaluation is infeasible due to the lack of hold-out data with labels, and (ii) model comparison is infeasible due to the lack of a universal objective function. MetaOD capitalizes on the performances of a large body of detection models on historical outlier detection benchmark datasets, and carries over this prior experience to automatically select an effective model to be employed on a new dataset without any labels, model evaluations or model comparisons. To capture task similarity within our meta-learning framework, we introduce specialized meta-features that quantify outlying characteristics of a dataset. Extensive experiments show that selecting a model by MetaOD significantly outperforms no model selection (e.g. always using the same popular model or the ensemble of many) as well as other meta-learning techniques that we tailored for UOMS. Moreover upon (meta-)training, MetaOD is extremely efficient at test time; selecting from a large pool of 300+ models takes less than 1 second for a new task. We open-source MetaOD and our meta-learning database for practical use and to foster further research on the UOMS problem.

Probing Inter-modality: Visual Parsing with Self-Attention for Vision-and-Language Pre-training

Hongwei Xue · Yupan Huang · Bei Liu · Houwen Peng · Jianlong Fu · Houqiang Li · Jiebo Luo

Vision-Language Pre-training (VLP) aims to learn multi-modal representations from image-text pairs and serves for downstream vision-language tasks in a fine-tuning fashion. The dominant VLP models adopt a CNN-Transformer architecture, which embeds images with a CNN, and then aligns images and text with a Transformer. Visual relationship between visual contents plays an important role in image understanding and is the basic for inter-modal alignment learning. However, CNNs have limitations in visual relation learning due to local receptive field's weakness in modeling long-range dependencies. Thus the two objectives of learning visual relation and inter-modal alignment are encapsulated in the same Transformer network. Such design might restrict the inter-modal alignment learning in the Transformer by ignoring the specialized characteristic of each objective. To tackle this, we propose a fully Transformer visual embedding for VLP to better learn visual relation and further promote inter-modal alignment. Specifically, we propose a metric named Inter-Modality Flow (IMF) to measure the interaction between vision and language modalities (i.e., inter-modality). We also design a novel masking optimization mechanism named Masked Feature Regression (MFR) in Transformer to further promote the inter-modality learning. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to explore the benefit of Transformer for visual feature learning in VLP. We verify our method on a wide range of vision-language tasks, including Visual Question Answering (VQA), Visual Entailment and Visual Reasoning. Our approach not only outperforms the state-of-the-art VLP performance, but also shows benefits on the IMF metric.

Volume Rendering of Neural Implicit Surfaces

Lior Yariv · Jiatao Gu · Yoni Kasten · Yaron Lipman

Neural volume rendering became increasingly popular recently due to its success in synthesizing novel views of a scene from a sparse set of input images. So far, the geometry learned by neural volume rendering techniques was modeled using a generic density function. Furthermore, the geometry itself was extracted using an arbitrary level set of the density function leading to a noisy, often low fidelity reconstruction.The goal of this paper is to improve geometry representation and reconstruction in neural volume rendering. We achieve that by modeling the volume density as a function of the geometry. This is in contrast to previous work modeling the geometry as a function of the volume density. In more detail, we define the volume density function as Laplace's cumulative distribution function (CDF) applied to a signed distance function (SDF) representation. This simple density representation has three benefits: (i) it provides a useful inductive bias to the geometry learned in the neural volume rendering process; (ii) it facilitates a bound on the opacity approximation error, leading to an accurate sampling of the viewing ray. Accurate sampling is important to provide a precise coupling of geometry and radiance; and (iii) it allows efficient unsupervised disentanglement of shape and appearance in volume rendering.Applying this new density representation to challenging scene multiview datasets produced high quality geometry reconstructions, outperforming relevant baselines. Furthermore, switching shape and appearance between scenes is possible due to the disentanglement of the two.

Outstanding Paper
MAUVE: Measuring the Gap Between Neural Text and Human Text using Divergence Frontiers

Krishna Pillutla · Swabha Swayamdipta · Rowan Zellers · John Thickstun · Sean Welleck · Yejin Choi · Zaid Harchaoui

As major progress is made in open-ended text generation, measuring how close machine-generated text is to human language remains a critical open problem. We introduce Mauve, a comparison measure for open-ended text generation, which directly compares the learnt distribution from a text generation model to the distribution of human-written text using divergence frontiers. Mauve scales up to modern text generation models by computing information divergences in a quantized embedding space. Through an extensive empirical study on three open-ended generation tasks, we find that Mauve identifies known properties of generated text, scales naturally with model size, and correlates with human judgments, with fewer restrictions than existing distributional evaluation metrics.

Medical Dead-ends and Learning to Identify High-Risk States and Treatments

Mehdi Fatemi · Taylor Killian · Jayakumar Subramanian · Marzyeh Ghassemi

Machine learning has successfully framed many sequential decision making problems as either supervised prediction, or optimal decision-making policy identification via reinforcement learning. In data-constrained offline settings, both approaches may fail as they assume fully optimal behavior or rely on exploring alternatives that may not exist. We introduce an inherently different approach that identifies "dead-ends" of a state space. We focus on patient condition in the intensive care unit, where a "medical dead-end" indicates that a patient will expire, regardless of all potential future treatment sequences. We postulate "treatment security" as avoiding treatments with probability proportional to their chance of leading to dead-ends, present a formal proof, and frame discovery as an RL problem. We then train three independent deep neural models for automated state construction, dead-end discovery and confirmation. Our empirical results discover that dead-ends exist in real clinical data among septic patients, and further reveal gaps between secure treatments and those administered.

Overcoming the Convex Barrier for Simplex Inputs

Harkirat Singh Behl · M. Pawan Kumar · Philip Torr · Krishnamurthy Dvijotham

Recent progress in neural network verification has challenged the notion of a convex barrier, that is, an inherent weakness in the convex relaxation of the output of a neural network. Specifically, there now exists a tight relaxation for verifying the robustness of a neural network to $\ell_\infty$ input perturbations, as well as efficient primal and dual solvers for the relaxation. Buoyed by this success, we consider the problem of developing similar techniques for verifying robustness to input perturbations within the probability simplex. We prove a somewhat surprising result that, in this case, not only can one design a tight relaxation that overcomes the convex barrier, but the size of the relaxation remains linear in the number of neurons, thereby leading to simpler and more efficient algorithms. We establish the scalability of our overall approach via the specification of $\ell_1$ robustness for CIFAR-10 and MNIST classification, where our approach improves the state of the art verified accuracy by up to $14.4\%$. Furthermore, we establish its accuracy on a novel and highly challenging task of verifying the robustness of a multi-modal (text and image) classifier to arbitrary changes in its textual input.

Coupled Segmentation and Edge Learning via Dynamic Graph Propagation

Zhiding Yu · Rui Huang · Wonmin Byeon · Sifei Liu · Guilin Liu · Thomas Breuel · Anima Anandkumar · Jan Kautz

Image segmentation and edge detection are both central problems in perceptual grouping. It is therefore interesting to study how these two tasks can be coupled to benefit each other. Indeed, segmentation can be easily transformed into contour edges to guide edge learning. However, the converse is nontrivial since general edges may not always form closed contours. In this paper, we propose a principled end-to-end framework for coupled edge and segmentation learning, where edges are leveraged as pairwise similarity cues to guide segmentation. At the core of our framework is a recurrent module termed as dynamic graph propagation (DGP) layer that performs message passing on dynamically constructed graphs. The layer uses learned gating to dynamically select neighbors for message passing using max-pooling. The output from message passing is further gated with an edge signal to refine segmentation. Experiments demonstrate that the proposed framework is able to let both tasks mutually improve each other. On Cityscapes validation, our best model achieves 83.7% mIoU in semantic segmentation and 78.7% maximum F-score in semantic edge detection. Our method also leads to improved zero-shot robustness on Cityscapes with natural corruptions (Cityscapes-C).

Offline RL Without Off-Policy Evaluation

David Brandfonbrener · Will Whitney · Rajesh Ranganath · Joan Bruna

Most prior approaches to offline reinforcement learning (RL) have taken an iterative actor-critic approach involving off-policy evaluation. In this paper we show that simply doing one step of constrained/regularized policy improvement using an on-policy Q estimate of the behavior policy performs surprisingly well. This one-step algorithm beats the previously reported results of iterative algorithms on a large portion of the D4RL benchmark. The one-step baseline achieves this strong performance while being notably simpler and more robust to hyperparameters than previously proposed iterative algorithms. We argue that the relatively poor performance of iterative approaches is a result of the high variance inherent in doing off-policy evaluation and magnified by the repeated optimization of policies against those estimates. In addition, we hypothesize that the strong performance of the one-step algorithm is due to a combination of favorable structure in the environment and behavior policy.

Continuous vs. Discrete Optimization of Deep Neural Networks

Omer Elkabetz · Nadav Cohen

Existing analyses of optimization in deep learning are either continuous, focusing on (variants of) gradient flow, or discrete, directly treating (variants of) gradient descent. Gradient flow is amenable to theoretical analysis, but is stylized and disregards computational efficiency. The extent to which it represents gradient descent is an open question in the theory of deep learning. The current paper studies this question. Viewing gradient descent as an approximate numerical solution to the initial value problem of gradient flow, we find that the degree of approximation depends on the curvature around the gradient flow trajectory. We then show that over deep neural networks with homogeneous activations, gradient flow trajectories enjoy favorable curvature, suggesting they are well approximated by gradient descent. This finding allows us to translate an analysis of gradient flow over deep linear neural networks into a guarantee that gradient descent efficiently converges to global minimum almost surely under random initialization. Experiments suggest that over simple deep neural networks, gradient descent with conventional step size is indeed close to gradient flow. We hypothesize that the theory of gradient flows will unravel mysteries behind deep learning.

CrypTen: Secure Multi-Party Computation Meets Machine Learning

Brian Knott · Shobha Venkataraman · Awni Hannun · Shubho Sengupta · Mark Ibrahim · Laurens van der Maaten

Secure multi-party computation (MPC) allows parties to perform computations on data while keeping that data private. This capability has great potential for machine-learning applications: it facilitates training of machine-learning models on private data sets owned by different parties, evaluation of one party's private model using another party's private data, etc. Although a range of studies implement machine-learning models via secure MPC, such implementations are not yet mainstream. Adoption of secure MPC is hampered by the absence of flexible software frameworks that `"speak the language" of machine-learning researchers and engineers. To foster adoption of secure MPC in machine learning, we present CrypTen: a software framework that exposes popular secure MPC primitives via abstractions that are common in modern machine-learning frameworks, such as tensor computations, automatic differentiation, and modular neural networks. This paper describes the design of CrypTen and measure its performance on state-of-the-art models for text classification, speech recognition, and image classification. Our benchmarks show that CrypTen's GPU support and high-performance communication between (an arbitrary number of) parties allows it to perform efficient private evaluation of modern machine-learning models under a semi-honest threat model. For example, two parties using CrypTen can securely predict phonemes in speech recordings using Wav2Letter faster than real-time. We hope that CrypTen will spur adoption of secure MPC in the machine-learning community.

SketchGen: Generating Constrained CAD Sketches

Wamiq Para · Shariq Bhat · Paul Guerrero · Tom Kelly · Niloy Mitra · Leonidas Guibas · Peter Wonka

Computer-aided design (CAD) is the most widely used modeling approach for technical design. The typical starting point in these designs is 2D sketches which can later be extruded and combined to obtain complex three-dimensional assemblies. Such sketches are typically composed of parametric primitives, such as points, lines, and circular arcs, augmented with geometric constraints linking the primitives, such as coincidence, parallelism, or orthogonality. Sketches can be represented as graphs, with the primitives as nodes and the constraints as edges. Training a model to automatically generate CAD sketches can enable several novel workflows, but is challenging due to the complexity of the graphs and the heterogeneity of the primitives and constraints. In particular, each type of primitive and constraint may require a record of different size and parameter types.We propose SketchGen as a generative model based on a transformer architecture to address the heterogeneity problem by carefully designing a sequential language for the primitives and constraints that allows distinguishing between different primitive or constraint types and their parameters, while encouraging our model to re-use information across related parameters, encoding shared structure. A particular highlight of our work is the ability to produce primitives linked via constraints that enables the final output to be further regularized via a constraint solver. We evaluate our model by demonstrating constraint prediction for given sets of primitives and full sketch generation from scratch, showing that our approach significantly out performs the state-of-the-art in CAD sketch generation.

Perturbation-based Regret Analysis of Predictive Control in Linear Time Varying Systems

Yiheng Lin · Yang Hu · Guanya Shi · Haoyuan Sun · Guannan Qu · Adam Wierman

We study predictive control in a setting where the dynamics are time-varying and linear, and the costs are time-varying and well-conditioned. At each time step, the controller receives the exact predictions of costs, dynamics, and disturbances for the future $k$ time steps. We show that when the prediction window $k$ is sufficiently large, predictive control is input-to-state stable and achieves a dynamic regret of $O(\lambda^k T)$, where $\lambda < 1$ is a positive constant. This is the first dynamic regret bound on the predictive control of linear time-varying systems. We also show a variation of predictive control obtains the first competitive bound for the control of linear time-varying systems: $1 + O(\lambda^k)$. Our results are derived using a novel proof framework based on a perturbation bound that characterizes how a small change to the system parameters impacts the optimal trajectory.

Analysis of one-hidden-layer neural networks via the resolvent method

Vanessa Piccolo · Dominik Schröder

In this work, we investigate the asymptotic spectral density of the random feature matrix $M = Y Y^*$ with $Y = f(WX)$ generated by a single-hidden-layer neural network, where $W$ and $X$ are random rectangular matrices with i.i.d. centred entries and $f$ is a non-linear smooth function which is applied entry-wise. We prove that the Stieltjes transform of the limiting spectral distribution approximately satisfies a quartic self-consistent equation, which is exactly the equation obtained by [Pennington, Worah 2017] and [Benigni, Péché 2019] with the moment method. We extend the previous results to the case of additive bias $Y=f(WX+B)$ with $B$ being an independent rank-one Gaussian random matrix, closer modelling the neural network infrastructures encountered in practice. Our key finding is that in the case of additive bias it is impossible to choose an activation function preserving the layer-to-layer singular value distribution, in sharp contrast to the bias-free case where a simple integral constraint is sufficient to achieve isospectrality. To obtain the asymptotics for the empirical spectral density we follow the resolvent method from random matrix theory via the cumulant expansion. We find that this approach is more robust and less combinatorial than the moment method and expect that it will apply also for models where the combinatorics of the former become intractable. The resolvent method has been widely employed, but compared to previous works, it is applied here to non-linear random matrices.

Grounding Spatio-Temporal Language with Transformers

Tristan Karch · Laetitia Teodorescu · Katja Hofmann · Clément Moulin-Frier · Pierre-Yves Oudeyer

Language is an interface to the outside world. In order for embodied agents to use it, language must be grounded in other, sensorimotor modalities. While there is an extended literature studying how machines can learn grounded language, the topic of how to learn spatio-temporal linguistic concepts is still largely uncharted. To make progress in this direction, we here introduce a novel spatio-temporal language grounding task where the goal is to learn the meaning of spatio-temporal descriptions of behavioral traces of an embodied agent. This is achieved by training a truth function that predicts if a description matches a given history of observations. The descriptions involve time-extended predicates in past and present tense as well as spatio-temporal references to objects in the scene. To study the role of architectural biases in this task, we train several models including multimodal Transformer architectures; the latter implement different attention computations between words and objects across space and time. We test models on two classes of generalization: 1) generalization to new sentences, 2) generalization to grammar primitives. We observe that maintaining object identity in the attention computation of our Transformers is instrumental to achieving good performance on generalization overall, and that summarizing object traces in a single token has little influence on performance. We then discuss how this opens new perspectives for language-guided autonomous embodied agents.

Domain Invariant Representation Learning with Domain Density Transformations

A. Tuan Nguyen · Toan Tran · Yarin Gal · Atilim Gunes Baydin

Domain generalization refers to the problem where we aim to train a model on data from a set of source domains so that the model can generalize to unseen target domains. Naively training a model on the aggregate set of data (pooled from all source domains) has been shown to perform suboptimally, since the information learned by that model might be domain-specific and generalize imperfectly to target domains. To tackle this problem, a predominant domain generalization approach is to learn some domain-invariant information for the prediction task, aiming at a good generalization across domains. In this paper, we propose a theoretically grounded method to learn a domain-invariant representation by enforcing the representation network to be invariant under all transformation functions among domains. We next introduce the use of generative adversarial networks to learn such domain transformations in a possible implementation of our method in practice. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on several widely used datasets for the domain generalization problem, on all of which we achieve competitive results with state-of-the-art models.

Unifying Gradient Estimators for Meta-Reinforcement Learning via Off-Policy Evaluation

Yunhao Tang · Tadashi Kozuno · Mark Rowland · Remi Munos · Michal Valko

Model-agnostic meta-reinforcement learning requires estimating the Hessian matrix of value functions. This is challenging from an implementation perspective, as repeatedly differentiating policy gradient estimates may lead to biased Hessian estimates. In this work, we provide a unifying framework for estimating higher-order derivatives of value functions, based on off-policy evaluation. Our framework interprets a number of prior approaches as special cases and elucidates the bias and variance trade-off of Hessian estimates. This framework also opens the door to a new family of estimates, which can be easily implemented with auto-differentiation libraries, and lead to performance gains in practice.

Equilibrium and non-Equilibrium regimes in the learning of Restricted Boltzmann Machines

Aurélien Decelle · Cyril Furtlehner · Beatriz Seoane

Training Restricted Boltzmann Machines (RBMs) has been challenging for a long time due to the difficulty of computing precisely the log-likelihood gradient. Over the past decades, many works have proposed more or less successful recipes but without studying systematically the crucial quantity of the problem: the mixing time i.e. the number of MCMC iterations needed to sample completely new configurations from a model. In this work, we show that this mixing time plays a crucial role in the behavior and stability of the trained model, and that RBMs operate in two well-defined distinct regimes, namely equilibrium and out-of-equilibrium, depending on the interplay between this mixing time of the model and the number of MCMC steps, $k$, used to approximate the gradient. We further show empirically that this mixing time increases along the learning, which often implies a transition from one regime to another as soon as $k$ becomes smaller than this time.In particular, we show that using the popular $k$ (persistent) contrastive divergence approaches, with $k$ small, the dynamics of the fitted model are extremely slow and often dominated by strong out-of-equilibrium effects. On the contrary, RBMs trained in equilibrium display much faster dynamics, and a smooth convergence to dataset-like configurations during the sampling.Finally, we discuss how to exploit in practice both regimes depending on the task one aims to fulfill: (i) short $k$s can be used to generate convincing samples in short learning times, (ii) large $k$ (or increasingly large) must be used to learn the correct equilibrium distribution of the RBM. Finally, the existence of these two operational regimes seems to be a general property of energy based models trained via likelihood maximization.

Accurate Point Cloud Registration with Robust Optimal Transport

Zhengyang Shen · Jean Feydy · Peirong Liu · Ariel H Curiale · Ruben San Jose Estepar · Raul San Jose Estepar · Marc Niethammer

This work investigates the use of robust optimal transport (OT) for shape matching. Specifically, we show that recent OT solvers improve both optimization-based and deep learning methods for point cloud registration, boosting accuracy at an affordable computational cost. This manuscript starts with a practical overview of modern OT theory. We then provide solutions to the main difficulties in using this framework for shape matching. Finally, we showcase the performance of transport-enhanced registration models on a wide range of challenging tasks: rigid registration for partial shapes; scene flow estimation on the Kitti dataset; and nonparametric registration of lung vascular trees between inspiration and expiration. Our OT-based methods achieve state-of-the-art results on Kitti and for the challenging lung registration task, both in terms of accuracy and scalability. We also release PVT1010, a new public dataset of 1,010 pairs of lung vascular trees with densely sampled points. This dataset provides a challenging use case for point cloud registration algorithms with highly complex shapes and deformations. Our work demonstrates that robust OT enables fast pre-alignment and fine-tuning for a wide range of registration models, thereby providing a new key method for the computer vision toolbox. Our code and dataset are available online at:

Generalization of Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning Algorithms: Recurring and Unseen Tasks

Alireza Fallah · Aryan Mokhtari · Asuman Ozdaglar

In this paper, we study the generalization properties of Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning (MAML) algorithms for supervised learning problems. We focus on the setting in which we train the MAML model over $m$ tasks, each with $n$ data points, and characterize its generalization error from two points of view: First, we assume the new task at test time is one of the training tasks, and we show that, for strongly convex objective functions, the expected excess population loss is bounded by $\mathcal{O}(1/mn)$. Second, we consider the MAML algorithm's generalization to an unseen task and show that the resulting generalization error depends on the total variation distance between the underlying distributions of the new task and the tasks observed during the training process. Our proof techniques rely on the connections between algorithmic stability and generalization bounds of algorithms. In particular, we propose a new definition of stability for meta-learning algorithms, which allows us to capture the role of both the number of tasks $m$ and number of samples per task $n$ on the generalization error of MAML.

MarioNette: Self-Supervised Sprite Learning

Dmitriy Smirnov · MICHAEL GHARBI · Matthew Fisher · Vitor Guizilini · Alexei Efros · Justin Solomon

Artists and video game designers often construct 2D animations using libraries of sprites---textured patches of objects and characters. We propose a deep learning approach that decomposes sprite-based video animations into a disentangled representation of recurring graphic elements in a self-supervised manner. By jointly learning a dictionary of possibly transparent patches and training a network that places them onto a canvas, we deconstruct sprite-based content into a sparse, consistent, and explicit representation that can be easily used in downstream tasks, like editing or analysis. Our framework offers a promising approach for discovering recurring visual patterns in image collections without supervision.

Center Smoothing: Certified Robustness for Networks with Structured Outputs

Aounon Kumar · Tom Goldstein

The study of provable adversarial robustness has mostly been limited to classification tasks and models with one-dimensional real-valued outputs. We extend the scope of certifiable robustness to problems with more general and structured outputs like sets, images, language, etc. We model the output space as a metric space under a distance/similarity function, such as intersection-over-union, perceptual similarity, total variation distance, etc. Such models are used in many machine learning problems like image segmentation, object detection, generative models, image/audio-to-text systems, etc. Based on a robustness technique called randomized smoothing, our center smoothing procedure can produce models with the guarantee that the change in the output, as measured by the distance metric, remains small for any norm-bounded adversarial perturbation of the input. We apply our method to create certifiably robust models with disparate output spaces -- from sets to images -- and show that it yields meaningful certificates without significantly degrading the performance of the base model.

Scalable Thompson Sampling using Sparse Gaussian Process Models

Sattar Vakili · Henry Moss · Artem Artemev · Vincent Dutordoir · Victor Picheny

Thompson Sampling (TS) from Gaussian Process (GP) models is a powerful tool for the optimization of black-box functions. Although TS enjoys strong theoretical guarantees and convincing empirical performance, it incurs a large computational overhead that scales polynomially with the optimization budget. Recently, scalable TS methods based on sparse GP models have been proposed to increase the scope of TS, enabling its application to problems that are sufficiently multi-modal, noisy or combinatorial to require more than a few hundred evaluations to be solved. However, the approximation error introduced by sparse GPs invalidates all existing regret bounds. In this work, we perform a theoretical and empirical analysis of scalable TS. We provide theoretical guarantees and show that the drastic reduction in computational complexity of scalable TS can be enjoyed without loss in the regret performance over the standard TS. These conceptual claims are validated for practical implementations of scalable TS on synthetic benchmarks and as part of a real-world high-throughput molecular design task.

Shape Registration in the Time of Transformers

Giovanni Trappolini · Luca Cosmo · Luca Moschella · Riccardo Marin · Simone Melzi · Emanuele Rodolà

In this paper, we propose a transformer-based procedure for the efficient registration of non-rigid 3D point clouds. The proposed approach is data-driven and adopts for the first time the transformers architecture in the registration task. Our method is general and applies to different settings. Given a fixed template with some desired properties (e.g. skinning weights or other animation cues), we can register raw acquired data to it, thereby transferring all the template properties to the input geometry. Alternatively, given a pair of shapes, our method can register the first onto the second (or vice-versa), obtaining a high-quality dense correspondence between the two.In both contexts, the quality of our results enables us to target real applications such as texture transfer and shape interpolation.Furthermore, we also show that including an estimation of the underlying density of the surface eases the learning process. By exploiting the potential of this architecture, we can train our model requiring only a sparse set of ground truth correspondences ($10\sim20\%$ of the total points). The proposed model and the analysis that we perform pave the way for future exploration of transformer-based architectures for registration and matching applications. Qualitative and quantitative evaluations demonstrate that our pipeline outperforms state-of-the-art methods for deformable and unordered 3D data registration on different datasets and scenarios.

Meta Two-Sample Testing: Learning Kernels for Testing with Limited Data

Feng Liu · Wenkai Xu · Jie Lu · Danica J. Sutherland

Modern kernel-based two-sample tests have shown great success in distinguishing complex, high-dimensional distributions by learning appropriate kernels (or, as a special case, classifiers). Previous work, however, has assumed that many samples are observed from both of the distributions being distinguished. In realistic scenarios with very limited numbers of data samples, it can be challenging to identify a kernel powerful enough to distinguish complex distributions. We address this issue by introducing the problem of meta two-sample testing (M2ST), which aims to exploit (abundant) auxiliary data on related tasks to find an algorithm that can quickly identify a powerful test on new target tasks. We propose two specific algorithms for this task: a generic scheme which improves over baselines, and a more tailored approach which performs even better. We provide both theoretical justification and empirical evidence that our proposed meta-testing schemes outperform learning kernel-based tests directly from scarce observations, and identify when such schemes will be successful.

Process for Adapting Language Models to Society (PALMS) with Values-Targeted Datasets

Irene Solaiman · Christy Dennison

Language models can generate harmful and biased outputs and exhibit undesirable behavior according to a given cultural context. We propose a Process for Adapting Language Models to Society (PALMS) with Values-Targeted Datasets, an iterative process to significantly change model behavior by crafting and fine-tuning on a dataset that reflects a predetermined set of target values. We evaluate our process using three metrics: quantitative metrics with human evaluations that score output adherence to a target value, toxicity scoring on outputs; and qualitative metrics analyzing the most common word associated with a given social category. Through each iteration, we add additional training dataset examples based on observed shortcomings from evaluations. PALMS performs significantly better on all metrics compared to baseline and control models for a broad range of GPT-3 language model sizes without compromising capability integrity. We find that the effectiveness of PALMS increases with model size. We show that significantly adjusting language model behavior is feasible with a small, hand-curated dataset.

Hyperbolic Procrustes Analysis Using Riemannian Geometry

Ya-Wei Eileen Lin · Yuval Kluger · Ronen Talmon

Label-free alignment between datasets collected at different times, locations, or by different instruments is a fundamental scientific task. Hyperbolic spaces have recently provided a fruitful foundation for the development of informative representations of hierarchical data. Here, we take a purely geometric approach for label-free alignment of hierarchical datasets and introduce hyperbolic Procrustes analysis (HPA). HPA consists of new implementations of the three prototypical Procrustes analysis components: translation, scaling, and rotation, based on the Riemannian geometry of the Lorentz model of hyperbolic space. We analyze the proposed components, highlighting their useful properties for alignment. The efficacy of HPA, its theoretical properties, stability and computational efficiency are demonstrated in simulations. In addition, we showcase its performance on three batch correction tasks involving gene expression and mass cytometry data. Specifically, we demonstrate high-quality unsupervised batch effect removal from data acquired at different sites and with different technologies that outperforms recent methods for label-free alignment in hyperbolic spaces.

Bubblewrap: Online tiling and real-time flow prediction on neural manifolds

Anne Draelos · Pranjal Gupta · Na Young Jun · Chaichontat Sriworarat · John Pearson

While most classic studies of function in experimental neuroscience have focused on the coding properties of individual neurons, recent developments in recording technologies have resulted in an increasing emphasis on the dynamics of neural populations. This has given rise to a wide variety of models for analyzing population activity in relation to experimental variables, but direct testing of many neural population hypotheses requires intervening in the system based on current neural state, necessitating models capable of inferring neural state online. Existing approaches, primarily based on dynamical systems, require strong parametric assumptions that are easily violated in the noise-dominated regime and do not scale well to the thousands of data channels in modern experiments. To address this problem, we propose a method that combines fast, stable dimensionality reduction with a soft tiling of the resulting neural manifold, allowing dynamics to be approximated as a probability flow between tiles. This method can be fit efficiently using online expectation maximization, scales to tens of thousands of tiles, and outperforms existing methods when dynamics are noise-dominated or feature multi-modal transition probabilities. The resulting model can be trained at kiloHertz data rates, produces accurate approximations of neural dynamics within minutes, and generates predictions on submillisecond time scales. It retains predictive performance throughout many time steps into the future and is fast enough to serve as a component of closed-loop causal experiments.

The Semi-Random Satisfaction of Voting Axioms

Lirong Xia

We initiate the work towards a comprehensive picture of the worst average-case satisfaction of voting axioms in semi-random models, to provide a finer and more realistic foundation for comparing voting rules. We adopt the semi-random model and formulation in [Xia 2020], where an adversary chooses arbitrarily correlated ``ground truth'' preferences for the agents, on top of which random noises are added. We focus on characterizing the semi-random satisfaction of two well-studied voting axioms: Condorcet criterion and participation. We prove that for any fixed number of alternatives, when the number of voters $n$ is sufficiently large, the semi-random satisfaction of the Condorcet criterion under a wide range of voting rules is $1$, $1-\exp(-\Theta(n))$, $\Theta(n^{-0.5})$, $ \exp(-\Theta(n))$, or being $\Theta(1)$ and $1-\Theta(1)$ at the same time; and the semi-random satisfaction of participation is $1-\Theta(n^{-0.5})$. Our results address open questions by Berg and Lepelley in 1994, and also confirm the following high-level message: the Condorcet criterion is a bigger concern than participation under realistic models.

A first-order primal-dual method with adaptivity to local smoothness

Maria-Luiza Vladarean · Yura Malitsky · Volkan Cevher

We consider the problem of finding a saddle point for the convex-concave objective $\min_x \max_y f(x) + \langle Ax, y\rangle - g^*(y)$, where $f$ is a convex function with locally Lipschitz gradient and $g$ is convex and possibly non-smooth. We propose an adaptive version of the Condat-Vũ algorithm, which alternates between primal gradient steps and dual proximal steps. The method achieves stepsize adaptivity through a simple rule involving $\|A\|$ and the norm of recently computed gradients of $f$. Under standard assumptions, we prove an $\mathcal{O}(k^{-1})$ ergodic convergence rate. Furthermore, when $f$ is also locally strongly convex and $A$ has full row rank we show that our method converges with a linear rate. Numerical experiments are provided for illustrating the practical performance of the algorithm.

Adversarial Robustness with Semi-Infinite Constrained Learning

Alexander Robey · Luiz Chamon · George J. Pappas · Hamed Hassani · Alejandro Ribeiro

Despite strong performance in numerous applications, the fragility of deep learning to input perturbations has raised serious questions about its use in safety-critical domains. While adversarial training can mitigate this issue in practice, state-of-the-art methods are increasingly application-dependent, heuristic in nature, and suffer from fundamental trade-offs between nominal performance and robustness. Moreover, the problem of finding worst-case perturbations is non-convex and underparameterized, both of which engender a non-favorable optimization landscape. Thus, there is a gap between the theory and practice of robust learning, particularly with respect to when and why adversarial training works. In this paper, we take a constrained learning approach to address these questions and to provide a theoretical foundation for robust learning. In particular, we leverage semi-infinite optimization and non-convex duality theory to show that adversarial training is equivalent to a statistical problem over perturbation distributions. Notably, we show that a myriad of previous robust training techniques can be recovered for particular, sub-optimal choices of these distributions. Using these insights, we then propose a hybrid Langevin Markov Chain Monte Carlo approach for which several common algorithms (e.g., PGD) are special cases. Finally, we show that our approach can mitigate the trade-off between nominal and robust performance, yielding state-of-the-art results on MNIST and CIFAR-10. Our code is available at:

Collaborative Uncertainty in Multi-Agent Trajectory Forecasting

Bohan Tang · Yiqi Zhong · Ulrich Neumann · Gang Wang · Siheng Chen · Ya Zhang

Uncertainty modeling is critical in trajectory-forecasting systems for both interpretation and safety reasons. To better predict the future trajectories of multiple agents, recent works have introduced interaction modules to capture interactions among agents. This approach leads to correlations among the predicted trajectories. However, the uncertainty brought by such correlations is neglected. To fill this gap, we propose a novel concept, collaborative uncertainty (CU), which models the uncertainty resulting from the interaction module. We build a general CU-based framework to make a prediction model learn the future trajectory and the corresponding uncertainty. The CU-based framework is integrated as a plugin module to current state-of-the-art (SOTA) systems and deployed in two special cases based on multivariate Gaussian and Laplace distributions. In each case, we conduct extensive experiments on two synthetic datasets and two public, large-scale benchmarks of trajectory forecasting. The results are promising: 1) The results of synthetic datasets show that CU-based framework allows the model to nicely rebuild the ground-truth distribution. 2) The results of trajectory forecasting benchmarks demonstrate that the CU-based framework steadily helps SOTA systems improve their performances. Specially, the proposed CU-based framework helps VectorNet improve by 57 cm regarding Final Displacement Error on nuScenes dataset. 3) The visualization results of CU illustrate that the value of CU is highly related to the amount of the interactive information among agents.

Scaling Gaussian Processes with Derivative Information Using Variational Inference

Misha Padidar · Xinran Zhu · Leo Huang · Jacob Gardner · David Bindel

Gaussian processes with derivative information are useful in many settings where derivative information is available, including numerous Bayesian optimization and regression tasks that arise in the natural sciences. Incorporating derivative observations, however, comes with a dominating $O(N^3D^3)$ computational cost when training on $N$ points in $D$ input dimensions. This is intractable for even moderately sized problems. While recent work has addressed this intractability in the low-$D$ setting, the high-$N$, high-$D$ setting is still unexplored and of great value, particularly as machine learning problems increasingly become high dimensional. In this paper, we introduce methods to achieve fully scalable Gaussian process regression with derivatives using variational inference. Analogous to the use of inducing values to sparsify the labels of a training set, we introduce the concept of inducing directional derivatives to sparsify the partial derivative information of the training set. This enables us to construct a variational posterior that incorporates derivative information but whose size depends neither on the full dataset size $N$ nor the full dimensionality $D$. We demonstrate the full scalability of our approach on a variety of tasks, ranging from a high dimensional Stellarator fusion regression task to training graph convolutional neural networks on PubMed using Bayesian optimization. Surprisingly, we additionally find that our approach can improve regression performance even in settings where only label data is available.

Cardinality constrained submodular maximization for random streams

Paul Liu · Aviad Rubinstein · Jan Vondrak · Junyao Zhao

We consider the problem of maximizing submodular functions in single-pass streaming and secretaries-with-shortlists models, both with random arrival order.For cardinality constrained monotone functions, Agrawal, Shadravan, and Stein~\cite{SMC19} gave a single-pass $(1-1/e-\varepsilon)$-approximation algorithm using only linear memory, but their exponential dependence on $\varepsilon$ makes it impractical even for $\varepsilon=0.1$.We simplify both the algorithm and the analysis, obtaining an exponential improvement in the $\varepsilon$-dependence (in particular, $O(k/\varepsilon)$ memory).Extending these techniques, we also give a simple $(1/e-\varepsilon)$-approximation for non-monotone functions in $O(k/\varepsilon)$ memory. For the monotone case, we also give a corresponding unconditional hardness barrier of $1-1/e+\varepsilon$ for single-pass algorithms in randomly ordered streams, even assuming unlimited computation. Finally, we show that the algorithms are simple to implement and work well on real world datasets.

A variational approximate posterior for the deep Wishart process

Sebastian Ober · Laurence Aitchison

Recent work introduced deep kernel processes as an entirely kernel-based alternative to NNs (Aitchison et al. 2020). Deep kernel processes flexibly learn good top-layer representations by alternately sampling the kernel from a distribution over positive semi-definite matrices and performing nonlinear transformations. A particular deep kernel process, the deep Wishart process (DWP), is of particular interest because its prior can be made equivalent to deep Gaussian process (DGP) priors for kernels that can be expressed entirely in terms of Gram matrices. However, inference in DWPs has not yet been possible due to the lack of sufficiently flexible distributions over positive semi-definite matrices. Here, we give a novel approach to obtaining flexible distributions over positive semi-definite matrices by generalising the Bartlett decomposition of the Wishart probability density. We use this new distribution to develop an approximate posterior for the DWP that includes dependency across layers. We develop a doubly-stochastic inducing-point inference scheme for the DWP and show experimentally that inference in the DWP can improve performance over doing inference in a DGP with the equivalent prior.

Neural Pseudo-Label Optimism for the Bank Loan Problem

Aldo Pacchiano · Shaun Singh · Edward Chou · Alex Berg · Jakob Foerster

We study a class of classification problems best exemplified by the \emph{bank loan} problem, where a lender decides whether or not to issue a loan. The lender only observes whether a customer will repay a loan if the loan is issued to begin with, and thus modeled decisions affect what data is available to the lender for future decisions. As a result, it is possible for the lender's algorithm to ``get stuck'' with a self-fulfilling model. This model never corrects its false negatives, since it never sees the true label for rejected data, thus accumulating infinite regret. In the case of linear models, this issue can be addressed by adding optimism directly into the model predictions. However, there are few methods that extend to the function approximation case using Deep Neural Networks. We present Pseudo-Label Optimism (PLOT), a conceptually and computationally simple method for this setting applicable to DNNs. \PLOT{} adds an optimistic label to the subset of decision points the current model is deciding on, trains the model on all data so far (including these points along with their optimistic labels), and finally uses the resulting \emph{optimistic} model for decision making. \PLOT{} achieves competitive performance on a set of three challenging benchmark problems, requiring minimal hyperparameter tuning. We also show that \PLOT{} satisfies a logarithmic regret guarantee, under a Lipschitz and logistic mean label model, and under a separability condition on the data.

Multi-modal Dependency Tree for Video Captioning

Wentian Zhao · Xinxiao Wu · Jiebo Luo

Generating fluent and relevant language to describe visual content is critical for the video captioning task. Many existing methods generate captions using sequence models that predict words in a left-to-right order. In this paper, we investigate a graph-structured model for caption generation by explicitly modeling the hierarchical structure in the sentences to further improve the fluency and relevance of sentences. To this end, we propose a novel video captioning method that generates a sentence by first constructing a multi-modal dependency tree and then traversing the constructed tree, where the syntactic structure and semantic relationship in the sentence are represented by the tree topology. To take full advantage of the information from both vision and language, both the visual and textual representation features are encoded into each tree node. Different from existing dependency parsing methods that generate uni-modal dependency trees for language understanding, our method construct s multi-modal dependency trees for language generation of images and videos. We also propose a tree-structured reinforcement learning algorithm to effectively optimize the captioning model where a novel reward is designed by evaluating the semantic consistency between the generated sub-tree and the ground-truth tree. Extensive experiments on several video captioning datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

Teachable Reinforcement Learning via Advice Distillation

Olivia Watkins · Abhishek Gupta · Trevor Darrell · Pieter Abbeel · Jacob Andreas

Training automated agents to complete complex tasks in interactive environments is challenging: reinforcement learning requires careful hand-engineering of reward functions, imitation learning requires specialized infrastructure and access to a human expert, and learning from intermediate forms of supervision (like binary preferences) is time-consuming and extracts little information from each human intervention. Can we overcome these challenges by building agents that learn from rich, interactive feedback instead? We propose a new supervision paradigm for interactive learning based on "teachable" decision-making systems that learn from structured advice provided by an external teacher. We begin by formalizing a class of human-in-the-loop decision making problems in which multiple forms of teacher-provided advice are available to a learner. We then describe a simple learning algorithm for these problems that first learns to interpret advice, then learns from advice to complete tasks even in the absence of human supervision. In puzzle-solving, navigation, and locomotion domains, we show that agents that learn from advice can acquire new skills with significantly less human supervision than standard reinforcement learning algorithms and often less than imitation learning.

On the Universality of Graph Neural Networks on Large Random Graphs

Nicolas Keriven · Alberto Bietti · Samuel Vaiter

We study the approximation power of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) on latent position random graphs. In the large graph limit, GNNs are known to converge to certain ``continuous'' models known as c-GNNs, which directly enables a study of their approximation power on random graph models. In the absence of input node features however, just as GNNs are limited by the Weisfeiler-Lehman isomorphism test, c-GNNs will be severely limited on simple random graph models. For instance, they will fail to distinguish the communities of a well-separated Stochastic Block Model (SBM) with constant degree function. Thus, we consider recently proposed architectures that augment GNNs with unique node identifiers, referred to as Structural GNNs here (SGNNs). We study the convergence of SGNNs to their continuous counterpart (c-SGNNs) in the large random graph limit, under new conditions on the node identifiers. We then show that c-SGNNs are strictly more powerful than c-GNNs in the continuous limit, and prove their universality on several random graph models of interest, including most SBMs and a large class of random geometric graphs. Our results cover both permutation-invariant and permutation-equivariant architectures.

Adversarial Attacks on Graph Classifiers via Bayesian Optimisation

Xingchen Wan · Henry Kenlay · Robin Ru · Arno Blaas · Michael A Osborne · Xiaowen Dong

Graph neural networks, a popular class of models effective in a wide range of graph-based learning tasks, have been shown to be vulnerable to adversarial attacks. While the majority of the literature focuses on such vulnerability in node-level classification tasks, little effort has been dedicated to analysing adversarial attacks on graph-level classification, an important problem with numerous real-life applications such as biochemistry and social network analysis. The few existing methods often require unrealistic setups, such as access to internal information of the victim models, or an impractically-large number of queries. We present a novel Bayesian optimisation-based attack method for graph classification models. Our method is black-box, query-efficient and parsimonious with respect to the perturbation applied. We empirically validate the effectiveness and flexibility of the proposed method on a wide range of graph classification tasks involving varying graph properties, constraints and modes of attack. Finally, we analyse common interpretable patterns behind the adversarial samples produced, which may shed further light on the adversarial robustness of graph classification models.

Do Wider Neural Networks Really Help Adversarial Robustness?

Boxi Wu · Jinghui Chen · Deng Cai · Xiaofei He · Quanquan Gu

Adversarial training is a powerful type of defense against adversarial examples. Previous empirical results suggest that adversarial training requires wider networks for better performances. However, it remains elusive how does neural network width affect model robustness. In this paper, we carefully examine the relationship between network width and model robustness. Specifically, we show that the model robustness is closely related to the tradeoff between natural accuracy and perturbation stability, which is controlled by the robust regularization parameter λ. With the same λ, wider networks can achieve better natural accuracy but worse perturbation stability, leading to a potentially worse overall model robustness. To understand the origin of this phenomenon, we further relate the perturbation stability with the network's local Lipschitzness. By leveraging recent results on neural tangent kernels, we theoretically show that wider networks tend to have worse perturbation stability. Our analyses suggest that: 1) the common strategy of first fine-tuning λ on small networks and then directly use it for wide model training could lead to deteriorated model robustness; 2) one needs to properly enlarge λ to unleash the robustness potential of wider models fully. Finally, we propose a new Width Adjusted Regularization (WAR) method that adaptively enlarges λ on wide models and significantly saves the tuning time.

BCD Nets: Scalable Variational Approaches for Bayesian Causal Discovery

Chris Cundy · Aditya Grover · Stefano Ermon

A structural equation model (SEM) is an effective framework to reason over causal relationships represented via a directed acyclic graph (DAG).Recent advances have enabled effective maximum-likelihood point estimation of DAGs from observational data. However, a point estimate may not accurately capture the uncertainty in inferring the underlying graph in practical scenarios, wherein the true DAG is non-identifiable and/or the observed dataset is limited.We propose Bayesian Causal Discovery Nets (BCD Nets), a variational inference framework for estimating a distribution over DAGs characterizing a linear-Gaussian SEM.Developing a full Bayesian posterior over DAGs is challenging due to the the discrete and combinatorial nature of graphs.We analyse key design choices for scalable VI over DAGs, such as 1) the parametrization of DAGs via an expressive variational family, 2) a continuous relaxation that enables low-variance stochastic optimization, and 3) suitable priors over the latent variables.We provide a series of experiments on real and synthetic data showing that BCD Nets outperform maximum-likelihood methods on standard causal discovery metrics such as structural Hamming distance in low data regimes.

Sharp Impossibility Results for Hyper-graph Testing

Jiashun Jin · Zheng Tracy Ke · Jiajun Liang

In a broad Degree-Corrected Mixed-Membership (DCMM) setting, we test whether a non-uniform hypergraph has only one community or has multiple communities. Since both the null and alternative hypotheses have many unknown parameters, the challenge is, given an alternative, how to identify the null that is hardest to separate from the alternative. We approach this by proposing a degree matching strategy where the main idea is leveraging the theory for tensor scaling to create a least favorable pair of hypotheses. We present a result on standard minimax lower bound theory and a result on Region of Impossibility (which is more informative than the minimax lower bound). We show that our lower bounds are tight by introducing a new test that attains the lower bound up to a logarithmic factor. We also discuss the case where the hypergraphs may have mixed-memberships.

Indexed Minimum Empirical Divergence for Unimodal Bandits

Hassan SABER · Pierre Ménard · Odalric-Ambrym Maillard

We consider a stochastic multi-armed bandit problem specified by a set of one-dimensional family exponential distributions endowed with a unimodal structure. The unimodal structure is of practical relevance for several applications. We introduce IMED-UB, an algorithm that exploits provably optimally the unimodal-structure, by adapting to this setting the Indexed Minimum Empirical Divergence (IMED) algorithm introduced by Honda and Takemura (2015). Owing to our proof technique, we are able to provide a concise finite-time analysis of the IMED-UB algorithm, that is simple and yet yields asymptotic optimality. We finally provide numerical experiments showing that IMED-UB competes favorably with the recently introduced state-of-the-art algorithms.

Regret Bounds for Gaussian-Process Optimization in Large Domains

Manuel Wuethrich · Bernhard Schölkopf · Andreas Krause

The goal of this paper is to characterize Gaussian-Process optimization in the setting where the function domain is large relative to the number of admissible function evaluations, i.e., where it is impossible to find the global optimum. We provide upper bounds on the suboptimality (Bayesian simple regret) of the solution found by optimization strategies that are closely related to the widely used expected improvement (EI) and upper confidence bound (UCB) algorithms. These regret bounds illuminate the relationship between the number of evaluations, the domain size (i.e. cardinality of finite domains / Lipschitz constant of the covariance function in continuous domains), and the optimality of the retrieved function value.In particular, we show that even when the number of evaluations is far too small to find the global optimum, we can find nontrivial function values (e.g. values that achieve a certain ratio with the optimal value).

Directed Spectrum Measures Improve Latent Network Models Of Neural Populations

Neil Gallagher · Kafui Dzirasa · David Carlson

Systems neuroscience aims to understand how networks of neurons distributed throughout the brain mediate computational tasks. One popular approach to identify those networks is to first calculate measures of neural activity (e.g. power spectra) from multiple brain regions, and then apply a linear factor model to those measures. Critically, despite the established role of directed communication between brain regions in neural computation, measures of directed communication have been rarely utilized in network estimation because they are incompatible with the implicit assumptions of the linear factor model approach. Here, we develop a novel spectral measure of directed communication called the Directed Spectrum (DS). We prove that it is compatible with the implicit assumptions of linear factor models, and we provide a method to estimate the DS. We demonstrate that latent linear factor models of DS measures better capture underlying brain networks in both simulated and real neural recording data compared to available alternatives. Thus, linear factor models of the Directed Spectrum offer neuroscientists a simple and effective way to explicitly model directed communication in networks of neural populations.

Statistical Inference with M-Estimators on Adaptively Collected Data

Kelly Zhang · Lucas Janson · Susan Murphy

Bandit algorithms are increasingly used in real-world sequential decision-making problems. Associated with this is an increased desire to be able to use the resulting datasets to answer scientific questions like: Did one type of ad lead to more purchases? In which contexts is a mobile health intervention effective? However, classical statistical approaches fail to provide valid confidence intervals when used with data collected with bandit algorithms. Alternative methods have recently been developed for simple models (e.g., comparison of means). Yet there is a lack of general methods for conducting statistical inference using more complex models on data collected with (contextual) bandit algorithms; for example, current methods cannot be used for valid inference on parameters in a logistic regression model for a binary reward. In this work, we develop theory justifying the use of M-estimators---which includes estimators based on empirical risk minimization as well as maximum likelihood---on data collected with adaptive algorithms, including (contextual) bandit algorithms. Specifically, we show that M-estimators, modified with particular adaptive weights, can be used to construct asymptotically valid confidence regions for a variety of inferential targets.

One Question Answering Model for Many Languages with Cross-lingual Dense Passage Retrieval

Akari Asai · Xinyan Yu · Jungo Kasai · Hanna Hajishirzi

We present Cross-lingual Open-Retrieval Answer Generation (CORA), the first unified many-to-many question answering (QA) model that can answer questions across many languages, even for ones without language-specific annotated data or knowledge sources.We introduce a new dense passage retrieval algorithm that is trained to retrieve documents across languages for a question.Combined with a multilingual autoregressive generation model, CORA answers directly in the target language without any translation or in-language retrieval modules as used in prior work. We propose an iterative training method that automatically extends annotated data available only in high-resource languages to low-resource ones. Our results show that CORA substantially outperforms the previous state of the art on multilingual open QA benchmarks across 26 languages, 9 of which are unseen during training. Our analyses show the significance of cross-lingual retrieval and generation in many languages, particularly under low-resource settings.

Near-Optimal Offline Reinforcement Learning via Double Variance Reduction

Ming Yin · Yu Bai · Yu-Xiang Wang

We consider the problem of offline reinforcement learning (RL) --- a well-motivated setting of RL that aims at policy optimization using only historical data. Despite its wide applicability, theoretical understandings of offline RL, such as its optimal sample complexity, remain largely open even in basic settings such as \emph{tabular} Markov Decision Processes (MDPs). In this paper, we propose \emph{Off-Policy Double Variance Reduction} (OPDVR), a new variance reduction-based algorithm for offline RL. Our main result shows that OPDVR provably identifies an $\epsilon$-optimal policy with $\widetilde{O}(H^2/d_m\epsilon^2)$ episodes of offline data in the finite-horizon \emph{stationary transition} setting, where $H$ is the horizon length and $d_m$ is the minimal marginal state-action distribution induced by the behavior policy. This improves over the best-known upper bound by a factor of $H$. Moreover, we establish an information-theoretic lower bound of $\Omega(H^2/d_m\epsilon^2)$ which certifies that OPDVR is optimal up to logarithmic factors. Lastly, we show that OPDVR also achieves rate-optimal sample complexity under alternative settings such as the finite-horizon MDPs with non-stationary transitions and the infinite horizon MDPs with discounted rewards.

Cortico-cerebellar networks as decoupling neural interfaces

Joseph Pemberton · Ellen Boven · Richard Apps · Rui Ponte Costa

The brain solves the credit assignment problem remarkably well. For credit to be assigned across neural networks they must, in principle, wait for specific neural computations to finish. How the brain deals with this inherent locking problem has remained unclear. Deep learning methods suffer from similar locking constraints both on the forward and feedback phase. Recently, decoupled neural interfaces (DNIs) were introduced as a solution to the forward and feedback locking problems in deep networks.Here we propose that a specialised brain region, the cerebellum, helps the cerebral cortex solve similar locking problems akin to DNIs. To demonstrate the potential of this framework we introduce a systems-level model in which a recurrent cortical network receives online temporal feedback predictions from a cerebellar module. We test this cortico-cerebellar recurrent neural network (ccRNN) model on a number of sensorimotor (line and digit drawing) and cognitive tasks (pattern recognition and caption generation) that have been shown to be cerebellar-dependent. In all tasks, we observe that ccRNNs facilitates learning while reducing ataxia-like behaviours, consistent with classical experimental observations. Moreover, our model also explains recent behavioural and neuronal observations while making several testable predictions across multiple levels.Overall, our work offers a novel perspective on the cerebellum as a brain-wide decoupling machine for efficient credit assignment and opens a new avenue between deep learning and neuroscience.

One More Step Towards Reality: Cooperative Bandits with Imperfect Communication

Udari Madhushani · Abhimanyu Dubey · Naomi Leonard · Alex Pentland

The cooperative bandit problem is increasingly becoming relevant due to its applications in large-scale decision-making. However, most research for this problem focuses exclusively on the setting with perfect communication, whereas in most real-world distributed settings, communication is often over stochastic networks, with arbitrary corruptions and delays. In this paper, we study cooperative bandit learning under three typical real-world communication scenarios, namely, (a) message-passing over stochastic time-varying networks, (b) instantaneous reward-sharing over a network with random delays, and (c) message-passing with adversarially corrupted rewards, including byzantine communication. For each of these environments, we propose decentralized algorithms that achieve competitive performance, along with near-optimal guarantees on the incurred group regret as well. Furthermore, in the setting with perfect communication, we present an improved delayed-update algorithm that outperforms the existing state-of-the-art on various network topologies. Finally, we present tight network-dependent minimax lower bounds on the group regret. Our proposed algorithms are straightforward to implement and obtain competitive empirical performance.

Neural Ensemble Search for Uncertainty Estimation and Dataset Shift

Sheheryar Zaidi · Arber Zela · Thomas Elsken · Chris C Holmes · Frank Hutter · Yee Teh

Ensembles of neural networks achieve superior performance compared to standalone networks in terms of accuracy, uncertainty calibration and robustness to dataset shift. Deep ensembles, a state-of-the-art method for uncertainty estimation, only ensemble random initializations of a fixed architecture. Instead, we propose two methods for automatically constructing ensembles with varying architectures, which implicitly trade-off individual architectures’ strengths against the ensemble’s diversity and exploit architectural variation as a source of diversity. On a variety of classification tasks and modern architecture search spaces, we show that the resulting ensembles outperform deep ensembles not only in terms of accuracy but also uncertainty calibration and robustness to dataset shift. Our further analysis and ablation studies provide evidence of higher ensemble diversity due to architectural variation, resulting in ensembles that can outperform deep ensembles, even when having weaker average base learners. To foster reproducibility, our code is available:

Finding Bipartite Components in Hypergraphs

Peter Macgregor · He Sun

Hypergraphs are important objects to model ternary or higher-order relations of objects, and have a number of applications in analysing many complex datasets occurring in practice. In this work we study a new heat diffusion process in hypergraphs, and employ this process to design a polynomial-time algorithm that approximately finds bipartite components in a hypergraph. We theoretically prove the performance of our proposed algorithm, and compare it against the previous state-of-the-art through extensive experimental analysis on both synthetic and real-world datasets. We find that our new algorithm consistently and significantly outperforms the previous state-of-the-art across a wide range of hypergraphs.

Relational Self-Attention: What's Missing in Attention for Video Understanding

Manjin Kim · Heeseung Kwon · CHUNYU WANG · Suha Kwak · Minsu Cho

Convolution has been arguably the most important feature transform for modern neural networks, leading to the advance of deep learning. Recent emergence of Transformer networks, which replace convolution layers with self-attention blocks, has revealed the limitation of stationary convolution kernels and opened the door to the era of dynamic feature transforms. The existing dynamic transforms, including self-attention, however, are all limited for video understanding where correspondence relations in space and time, i.e., motion information, are crucial for effective representation. In this work, we introduce a relational feature transform, dubbed the relational self-attention (RSA), that leverages rich structures of spatio-temporal relations in videos by dynamically generating relational kernels and aggregating relational contexts. Our experiments and ablation studies show that the RSA network substantially outperforms convolution and self-attention counterparts, achieving the state of the art on the standard motion-centric benchmarks for video action recognition, such as Something-Something-V1&V2, Diving48, and FineGym.

Towards Enabling Meta-Learning from Target Models

Su Lu · Han-Jia Ye · Le Gan · De-Chuan Zhan

Meta-learning can extract an inductive bias from previous learning experience and assist the training of new tasks. It is often realized through optimizing a meta-model with the evaluation loss of task-specific solvers. Most existing algorithms sample non-overlapping $\mathit{support}$ sets and $\mathit{query}$ sets to train and evaluate the solvers respectively due to simplicity ($\mathcal{S}$/$\mathcal{Q}$ protocol). Different from $\mathcal{S}$/$\mathcal{Q}$ protocol, we can also evaluate a task-specific solver by comparing it to a target model $\mathcal{T}$, which is the optimal model for this task or a model that behaves well enough on this task ($\mathcal{S}$/$\mathcal{T}$ protocol). Although being short of research, $\mathcal{S}$/$\mathcal{T}$ protocol has unique advantages such as offering more informative supervision, but it is computationally expensive. This paper looks into this special evaluation method and takes a step towards putting it into practice. We find that with a small ratio of tasks armed with target models, classic meta-learning algorithms can be improved a lot without consuming many resources. We empirically verify the effectiveness of $\mathcal{S}$/$\mathcal{T}$ protocol in a typical application of meta-learning, $\mathit{i.e.}$, few-shot learning. In detail, after constructing target models by fine-tuning the pre-trained network on those hard tasks, we match the task-specific solvers and target models via knowledge distillation.

An Exact Characterization of the Generalization Error for the Gibbs Algorithm

Gholamali Aminian · Yuheng Bu · Laura Toni · Miguel Rodrigues · Gregory Wornell

Various approaches have been developed to upper bound the generalization error of a supervised learning algorithm. However, existing bounds are often loose and lack of guarantees. As a result, they may fail to characterize the exact generalization ability of a learning algorithm.Our main contribution is an exact characterization of the expected generalization error of the well-known Gibbs algorithm (a.k.a. Gibbs posterior) using symmetrized KL information between the input training samples and the output hypothesis. Our result can be applied to tighten existing expected generalization error and PAC-Bayesian bounds. Our approach is versatile, as it also characterizes the generalization error of the Gibbs algorithm with data-dependent regularizer and that of the Gibbs algorithm in the asymptotic regime, where it converges to the empirical risk minimization algorithm. Of particular relevance, our results highlight the role the symmetrized KL information plays in controlling the generalization error of the Gibbs algorithm.

Panoptic 3D Scene Reconstruction From a Single RGB Image

Manuel Dahnert · Ji Hou · Matthias Niessner · Angela Dai

Richly segmented 3D scene reconstructions are an integral basis for many high-level scene understanding tasks, such as for robotics, motion planning, or augmented reality. Existing works in 3D perception from a single RGB image tend to focus on geometric reconstruction only, or geometric reconstruction with semantic segmentation or instance segmentation.Inspired by 2D panoptic segmentation, we propose to unify the tasks of geometric reconstruction, 3D semantic segmentation, and 3D instance segmentation into the task of panoptic 3D scene reconstruction -- from a single RGB image, predicting the complete geometric reconstruction of the scene in the camera frustum of the image, along with semantic and instance segmentations.We propose a new approach for holistic 3D scene understanding from a single RGB image which learns to lift and propagate 2D features from an input image to a 3D volumetric scene representation.Our panoptic 3D reconstruction metric evaluates both geometric reconstruction quality as well as panoptic segmentation.Our experiments demonstrate that our approach for panoptic 3D scene reconstruction outperforms alternative approaches for this task.

Measuring Generalization with Optimal Transport

Ching-Yao Chuang · Youssef Mroueh · Kristjan Greenewald · Antonio Torralba · Stefanie Jegelka

Understanding the generalization of deep neural networks is one of the most important tasks in deep learning. Although much progress has been made, theoretical error bounds still often behave disparately from empirical observations. In this work, we develop margin-based generalization bounds, where the margins are normalized with optimal transport costs between independent random subsets sampled from the training distribution. In particular, the optimal transport cost can be interpreted as a generalization of variance which captures the structural properties of the learned feature space. Our bounds robustly predict the generalization error, given training data and network parameters, on large scale datasets. Theoretically, we demonstrate that the concentration and separation of features play crucial roles in generalization, supporting empirical results in the literature.

On the Suboptimality of Thompson Sampling in High Dimensions

Raymond Zhang · Richard Combes

In this paper we consider Thompson Sampling for combinatorial semi-bandits. We demonstrate that, perhaps surprisingly, Thompson Sampling is sub-optimal for this problem in the sense that its regret scales exponentially in the ambient dimension, and its minimax regret scales almost linearly. This phenomenon occurs under a wide variety of assumptions including both non-linear and linear reward functions in the Bernoulli distribution setting. We also show that including a fixed amount of forced exploration to Thompson Sampling does not alleviate the problem. We complement our theoretical results with numerical results and show that in practice Thompson Sampling indeed can perform very poorly in some high dimension situations.

Implicit SVD for Graph Representation Learning

Sami Abu-El-Haija · Hesham Mostafa · Marcel Nassar · Valentino Crespi · Greg Ver Steeg · Aram Galstyan

Recent improvements in the performance of state-of-the-art (SOTA) methods for Graph Representational Learning (GRL) have come at the cost of significant computational resource requirements for training, e.g., for calculating gradients via backprop over many data epochs. Meanwhile, Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) can find closed-form solutions to convex problems, using merely a handful of epochs. In this paper, we make GRL more computationally tractable for those with modest hardware. We design a framework that computes SVD of *implicitly* defined matrices, and apply this framework to several GRL tasks. For each task, we derive first-order approximation of a SOTA model, where we design (expensive-to-store) matrix $\mathbf{M}$ and train the model, in closed-form, via SVD of $\mathbf{M}$, without calculating entries of $\mathbf{M}$. By converging to a unique point in one step, and without calculating gradients, our models show competitive empirical test performance over various graphs such as article citation and biological interaction networks. More importantly, SVD can initialize a deeper model, that is architected to be non-linear almost everywhere, though behaves linearly when its parameters reside on a hyperplane, onto which SVD initializes. The deeper model can then be fine-tuned within only a few epochs. Overall, our algorithm trains hundreds of times faster than state-of-the-art methods, while competing on test empirical performance. We open-source our implementation at:

Offline Model-based Adaptable Policy Learning

Xiong-Hui Chen · Yang Yu · Qingyang Li · Fan-Ming Luo · Zhiwei Qin · Wenjie Shang · Jieping Ye

In reinforcement learning, a promising direction to avoid online trial-and-error costs is learning from an offline dataset. Current offline reinforcement learning methods commonly learn in the policy space constrained to in-support regions by the offline dataset, in order to ensure the robustness of the outcome policies. Such constraints, however, also limit the potential of the outcome policies. In this paper, to release the potential of offline policy learning, we investigate the decision-making problems in out-of-support regions directly and propose offline Model-based Adaptable Policy LEarning (MAPLE). By this approach, instead of learning in in-support regions, we learn an adaptable policy that can adapt its behavior in out-of-support regions when deployed. We conduct experiments on MuJoCo controlling tasks with offline datasets. The results show that the proposed method can make robust decisions in out-of-support regions and achieve better performance than SOTA algorithms.

Multilingual Pre-training with Universal Dependency Learning

Kailai Sun · Zuchao Li · Hai Zhao

The pre-trained language model (PrLM) demonstrates domination in downstream natural language processing tasks, in which multilingual PrLM takes advantage of language universality to alleviate the issue of limited resources for low-resource languages. Despite its successes, the performance of multilingual PrLM is still unsatisfactory, when multilingual PrLMs only focus on plain text and ignore obvious universal linguistic structure clues. Existing PrLMs have shown that monolingual linguistic structure knowledge may bring about better performance. Thus we propose a novel multilingual PrLM that supports both explicit universal dependency parsing and implicit language modeling. Syntax in terms of universal dependency parse serves as not only pre-training objective but also learned representation in our model, which brings unprecedented PrLM interpretability and convenience in downstream task use. Our model outperforms two popular multilingual PrLM, multilingual-BERT and XLM-R, on cross-lingual natural language understanding (NLU) benchmarks and linguistic structure parsing datasets, demonstrating the effectiveness and stronger cross-lingual modeling capabilities of our approach.

AC/DC: Alternating Compressed/DeCompressed Training of Deep Neural Networks

Alexandra Peste · Eugenia Iofinova · Adrian Vladu · Dan Alistarh

The increasing computational requirements of deep neural networks (DNNs) have led to significant interest in obtaining DNN models that are sparse, yet accurate. Recent work has investigated the even harder case of sparse training, where the DNN weights are, for as much as possible, already sparse to reduce computational costs during training. Existing sparse training methods are often empirical and can have lower accuracy relative to the dense baseline. In this paper, we present a general approach called Alternating Compressed/DeCompressed (AC/DC) training of DNNs, demonstrate convergence for a variant of the algorithm, and show that AC/DC outperforms existing sparse training methods in accuracy at similar computational budgets; at high sparsity levels, AC/DC even outperforms existing methods that rely on accurate pre-trained dense models. An important property of AC/DC is that it allows co-training of dense and sparse models, yielding accurate sparse-dense model pairs at the end of the training process. This is useful in practice, where compressed variants may be desirable for deployment in resource-constrained settings without re-doing the entire training flow, and also provides us with insights into the accuracy gap between dense and compressed models.

Scaling Vision with Sparse Mixture of Experts

Carlos Riquelme · Joan Puigcerver · Basil Mustafa · Maxim Neumann · Rodolphe Jenatton · André Susano Pinto · Daniel Keysers · Neil Houlsby

Sparsely-gated Mixture of Experts networks (MoEs) have demonstrated excellent scalability in Natural Language Processing. In Computer Vision, however, almost all performant networks are "dense", that is, every input is processed by every parameter. We present a Vision MoE (V-MoE), a sparse version of the Vision Transformer, that is scalable and competitive with the largest dense networks. When applied to image recognition, V-MoE matches the performance of state-of-the-art networks, while requiring as little as half of the compute at inference time. Further, we propose an extension to the routing algorithm that can prioritize subsets of each input across the entire batch, leading to adaptive per-image compute. This allows V-MoE to trade-off performance and compute smoothly at test-time. Finally, we demonstrate the potential of V-MoE to scale vision models, and train a 15B parameter model that attains 90.35% on ImageNet.

Synthetic Design: An Optimization Approach to Experimental Design with Synthetic Controls

Nick Doudchenko · Khashayar Khosravi · Jean Pouget-Abadie · Sébastien Lahaie · Miles Lubin · Vahab Mirrokni · Jann Spiess · guido imbens

We investigate the optimal design of experimental studies that have pre-treatment outcome data available. The average treatment effect is estimated as the difference between the weighted average outcomes of the treated and control units. A number of commonly used approaches fit this formulation, including the difference-in-means estimator and a variety of synthetic-control techniques. We propose several methods for choosing the set of treated units in conjunction with the weights. Observing the NP-hardness of the problem, we introduce a mixed-integer programming formulation which selects both the treatment and control sets and unit weightings. We prove that these proposed approaches lead to qualitatively different experimental units being selected for treatment. We use simulations based on publicly available data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that show improvements in terms of mean squared error and statistical power when compared to simple and commonly used alternatives such as randomized trials.

Ranking Policy Decisions

Hadrien Pouget · Hana Chockler · Youcheng Sun · Daniel Kroening

Policies trained via Reinforcement Learning (RL) without human intervention are often needlessly complex, making them difficult to analyse and interpret. In a run with $n$ time steps, a policy will make $n$ decisions on actions to take; we conjecture that only a small subset of these decisions delivers value over selecting a simple default action. Given a trained policy, we propose a novel black-box method based on statistical fault localisation that ranks the states of the environment according to the importance of decisions made in those states. We argue that among other things, the ranked list of states can help explain and understand the policy. As the ranking method is statistical, a direct evaluation of its quality is hard. As a proxy for quality, we use the ranking to create new, simpler policies from the original ones by pruning decisions identified as unimportant (that is, replacing them by default actions) and measuring the impact on performance. Our experimental results on a diverse set of standard benchmarks demonstrate that pruned policies can perform on a level comparable to the original policies. We show that naive approaches for ranking policies, e.g. ranking based on the frequency of visiting a state, do not result in high-performing pruned policies. To the best of our knowledge, there are no similar techniques for ranking RL policies' decisions.

Searching the Search Space of Vision Transformer

Minghao Chen · Kan Wu · Bolin Ni · Houwen Peng · Bei Liu · Jianlong Fu · Hongyang Chao · Haibin Ling

Vision Transformer has shown great visual representation power in substantial vision tasks such as recognition and detection, and thus been attracting fast-growing efforts on manually designing more effective architectures. In this paper, we propose to use neural architecture search to automate this process, by searching not only the architecture but also the search space. The central idea is to gradually evolve different search dimensions guided by their E-T Error computed using a weight-sharing supernet. Moreover, we provide design guidelines of general vision transformers with extensive analysis according to the space searching process, which could promote the understanding of vision transformer. Remarkably, the searched models, named S3 (short for Searching the Search Space), from the searched space achieve superior performance to recently proposed models, such as Swin, DeiT and ViT, when evaluated on ImageNet. The effectiveness of S3 is also illustrated on object detection, semantic segmentation and visual question answering, demonstrating its generality to downstream vision and vision-language tasks. Code and models will be available at

Relative stability toward diffeomorphisms indicates performance in deep nets

Leonardo Petrini · Alessandro Favero · Mario Geiger · Matthieu Wyart

Understanding why deep nets can classify data in large dimensions remains a challenge. It has been proposed that they do so by becoming stable to diffeomorphisms, yet existing empirical measurements support that it is often not the case. We revisit this question by defining a maximum-entropy distribution on diffeomorphisms, that allows to study typical diffeomorphisms of a given norm. We confirm that stability toward diffeomorphisms does not strongly correlate to performance on benchmark data sets of images. By contrast, we find that the stability toward diffeomorphisms relative to that of generic transformations $R_f$ correlates remarkably with the test error $\epsilon_t$. It is of order unity at initialization but decreases by several decades during training for state-of-the-art architectures. For CIFAR10 and 15 known architectures, we find $\epsilon_t\approx 0.2\sqrt{R_f}$, suggesting that obtaining a small $R_f$ is important to achieve good performance. We study how $R_f$ depends on the size of the training set and compare it to a simple model of invariant learning.

The Unbalanced Gromov Wasserstein Distance: Conic Formulation and Relaxation

Thibault Sejourne · Francois-Xavier Vialard · Gabriel Peyré

Comparing metric measure spaces (i.e. a metric space endowed with a probability distribution) is at the heart of many machine learning problems. The most popular distance between such metric measure spaces is the Gromov-Wasserstein (GW) distance, which is the solution of a quadratic assignment problem. The GW distance is however limited to the comparison of metric measure spaces endowed with a \emph{probability} distribution. To alleviate this issue, we introduce two Unbalanced Gromov-Wasserstein formulations: a distance and a more tractable upper-bounding relaxation. They both allow the comparison of metric spaces equipped with arbitrary positive measures up to isometries. The first formulation is a positive and definite divergence based on a relaxation of the mass conservation constraint using a novel type of quadratically-homogeneous divergence. This divergence works hand in hand with the entropic regularization approach which is popular to solve large scale optimal transport problems. We show that the underlying non-convex optimization problem can be efficiently tackled using a highly parallelizable and GPU-friendly iterative scheme. The second formulation is a distance between mm-spaces up to isometries based on a conic lifting. Lastly, we provide numerical experiments on synthetic and domain adaptation data with a Positive-Unlabeled learning task to highlight the salient features of the unbalanced divergence and its potential applications in ML.

Learning MDPs from Features: Predict-Then-Optimize for Sequential Decision Making by Reinforcement Learning

Kai Wang · Sanket Shah · Haipeng Chen · Andrew Perrault · Finale Doshi-Velez · Milind Tambe

In the predict-then-optimize framework, the objective is to train a predictive model, mapping from environment features to parameters of an optimization problem, which maximizes decision quality when the optimization is subsequently solved. Recent work on decision-focused learning shows that embedding the optimization problem in the training pipeline can improve decision quality and help generalize better to unseen tasks compared to relying on an intermediate loss function for evaluating prediction quality. We study the predict-then-optimize framework in the context of sequential decision problems (formulated as MDPs) that are solved via reinforcement learning. In particular, we are given environment features and a set of trajectories from training MDPs, which we use to train a predictive model that generalizes to unseen test MDPs without trajectories. Two significant computational challenges arise in applying decision-focused learning to MDPs: (i) large state and action spaces make it infeasible for existing techniques to differentiate through MDP problems, and (ii) the high-dimensional policy space, as parameterized by a neural network, makes differentiating through a policy expensive. We resolve the first challenge by sampling provably unbiased derivatives to approximate and differentiate through optimality conditions, and the second challenge by using a low-rank approximation to the high-dimensional sample-based derivatives. We implement both Bellman-based and policy gradient-based decision-focused learning on three different MDP problems with missing parameters, and show that decision-focused learning performs better in generalization to unseen tasks.

Cooperative Stochastic Bandits with Asynchronous Agents and Constrained Feedback

Lin Yang · Yu-Zhen Janice Chen · Stephen Pasteris · Mohammad Hajiesmaili · John C. S. Lui · Don Towsley

This paper studies a cooperative multi-armed bandit problem with $M$ agents cooperating together to solve the same instance of a $K$-armed stochastic bandit problem with the goal of maximizing the cumulative reward of agents. The agents are heterogeneous in (i) their limited access to a local subset of arms; and (ii) their decision-making rounds, i.e., agents are asynchronous with different decision-making gaps. The goal is to find the global optimal arm and agents are able to pull any arm, however, they observe the reward only when the selected arm is local.The challenge is a tradeoff for agents between pulling a local arm with the possibility of observing the feedback, or relying on the observations of other agents that might occur at different rates. Naive extensions of traditional algorithms lead to an arbitrarily poor regret as a function of aggregate action frequency of any $\textit{suboptimal}$ arm located in slow agents. We resolve this issue by proposing a novel two-stage learning algorithm, called $\texttt{CO-LCB}$ algorithm, whose regret is a function of aggregate action frequency of agents containing the $\textit{optimal}$ arm. We also show that the regret of $\texttt{CO-LCB}$ matches the regret lower bound up to a small factor.

Refining Language Models with Compositional Explanations

Huihan Yao · Ying Chen · Qinyuan Ye · Xisen Jin · Xiang Ren

Pre-trained language models have been successful on text classification tasks, but are prone to learning spurious correlations from biased datasets, and are thus vulnerable when making inferences in a new domain. Prior work reveals such spurious patterns via post-hoc explanation algorithms which compute the importance of input features. Further, the model is regularized to align the importance scores with human knowledge, so that the unintended model behaviors are eliminated. However, such a regularization technique lacks flexibility and coverage, since only importance scores towards a pre-defined list of features are adjusted, while more complex human knowledge such as feature interaction and pattern generalization can hardly be incorporated. In this work, we propose to refine a learned language model for a target domain by collecting human-provided compositional explanations regarding observed biases. By parsing these explanations into executable logic rules, the human-specified refinement advice from a small set of explanations can be generalized to more training examples. We additionally introduce a regularization term allowing adjustments for both importance and interaction of features to better rectify model behavior. We demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed approach on two text classification tasks by showing improved performance in target domain as well as improved model fairness after refinement.

Consistent Non-Parametric Methods for Maximizing Robustness

Robi Bhattacharjee · Kamalika Chaudhuri

Learning classifiers that are robust to adversarial examples has received a great deal of recent attention. A major drawback of the standard robust learning framework is the imposition of an artificial robustness radius $r$ that applies to all inputs, and ignores the fact that data may be highly heterogeneous. In particular, it is plausible that robustness regions should be larger in some regions of data, and smaller in other. In this paper, we address this limitation by proposing a new limit classifier, called the neighborhood optimal classifier, that extends the Bayes optimal classifier outside its support by using the label of the closest in-support point. We then argue that this classifier maximizes the size of its robustness regions subject to the constraint of having accuracy equal to the Bayes optimal. We then present sufficient conditions under which general non-parametric methods that can be represented as weight functions converge towards this limit object, and show that both nearest neighbors and kernel classifiers (under certain assumptions) suffice.

An Image is Worth More Than a Thousand Words: Towards Disentanglement in The Wild

Aviv Gabbay · Niv Cohen · Yedid Hoshen

Unsupervised disentanglement has been shown to be theoretically impossible without inductive biases on the models and the data. As an alternative approach, recent methods rely on limited supervision to disentangle the factors of variation and allow their identifiability. While annotating the true generative factors is only required for a limited number of observations, we argue that it is infeasible to enumerate all the factors of variation that describe a real-world image distribution. To this end, we propose a method for disentangling a set of factors which are only partially labeled, as well as separating the complementary set of residual factors that are never explicitly specified. Our success in this challenging setting, demonstrated on synthetic benchmarks, gives rise to leveraging off-the-shelf image descriptors to partially annotate a subset of attributes in real image domains (e.g. of human faces) with minimal manual effort. Specifically, we use a recent language-image embedding model (CLIP) to annotate a set of attributes of interest in a zero-shot manner and demonstrate state-of-the-art disentangled image manipulation results.

Dynamics of Stochastic Momentum Methods on Large-scale, Quadratic Models

Courtney Paquette · Elliot Paquette

We analyze a class of stochastic gradient algorithms with momentum on a high-dimensional random least squares problem. Our framework, inspired by random matrix theory, provides an exact (deterministic) characterization for the sequence of function values produced by these algorithms which is expressed only in terms of the eigenvalues of the Hessian. This leads to simple expressions for nearly-optimal hyperparameters, a description of the limiting neighborhood, and average-case complexity. As a consequence, we show that (small-batch) stochastic heavy-ball momentum with a fixed momentum parameter provides no actual performance improvement over SGD when step sizes are adjusted correctly. For contrast, in the non-strongly convex setting, it is possible to get a large improvement over SGD using momentum. By introducing hyperparameters that depend on the number of samples, we propose a new algorithm sDANA (stochastic dimension adjusted Nesterov acceleration) which obtains an asymptotically optimal average-case complexity while remaining linearly convergent in the strongly convex setting without adjusting parameters.

Inverse Optimal Control Adapted to the Noise Characteristics of the Human Sensorimotor System

Matthias Schultheis · Dominik Straub · Constantin Rothkopf

Computational level explanations based on optimal feedback control with signal-dependent noise have been able to account for a vast array of phenomena in human sensorimotor behavior. However, commonly a cost function needs to be assumed for a task and the optimality of human behavior is evaluated by comparing observed and predicted trajectories. Here, we introduce inverse optimal control with signal-dependent noise, which allows inferring the cost function from observed behavior. To do so, we formalize the problem as a partially observable Markov decision process and distinguish between the agent’s and the experimenter’s inference problems. Specifically, we derive a probabilistic formulation of the evolution of states and belief states and an approximation to the propagation equation in the linear-quadratic Gaussian problem with signal-dependent noise. We extend the model to the case of partial observability of state variables from the point of view of the experimenter. We show the feasibility of the approach through validation on synthetic data and application to experimental data. Our approach enables recovering the costs and benefits implicit in human sequential sensorimotor behavior, thereby reconciling normative and descriptive approaches in a computational framework.

Deep Neural Networks as Point Estimates for Deep Gaussian Processes

Vincent Dutordoir · James Hensman · Mark van der Wilk · Carl Henrik Ek · Zoubin Ghahramani · Nicolas Durrande

Neural networks and Gaussian processes are complementary in their strengths and weaknesses. Having a better understanding of their relationship comes with the promise to make each method benefit from the strengths of the other. In this work, we establish an equivalence between the forward passes of neural networks and (deep) sparse Gaussian process models. The theory we develop is based on interpreting activation functions as interdomain inducing features through a rigorous analysis of the interplay between activation functions and kernels. This results in models that can either be seen as neural networks with improved uncertainty prediction or deep Gaussian processes with increased prediction accuracy. These claims are supported by experimental results on regression and classification datasets.

3DP3: 3D Scene Perception via Probabilistic Programming

Nishad Gothoskar · Marco Cusumano-Towner · Ben Zinberg · Matin Ghavamizadeh · Falk Pollok · Austin Garrett · Josh Tenenbaum · Dan Gutfreund · Vikash Mansinghka

We present 3DP3, a framework for inverse graphics that uses inference in a structured generative model of objects, scenes, and images. 3DP3 uses (i) voxel models to represent the 3D shape of objects, (ii) hierarchical scene graphs to decompose scenes into objects and the contacts between them, and (iii) depth image likelihoods based on real-time graphics. Given an observed RGB-D image, 3DP3's inference algorithm infers the underlying latent 3D scene, including the object poses and a parsimonious joint parametrization of these poses, using fast bottom-up pose proposals, novel involutive MCMC updates of the scene graph structure, and, optionally, neural object detectors and pose estimators. We show that 3DP3 enables scene understanding that is aware of 3D shape, occlusion, and contact structure. Our results demonstrate that 3DP3 is more accurate at 6DoF object pose estimation from real images than deep learning baselines and shows better generalization to challenging scenes with novel viewpoints, contact, and partial observability.

A Little Robustness Goes a Long Way: Leveraging Robust Features for Targeted Transfer Attacks

Jacob Springer · Melanie Mitchell · Garrett Kenyon

Adversarial examples for neural network image classifiers are known to be transferable: examples optimized to be misclassified by a source classifier are often misclassified as well by classifiers with different architectures. However, targeted adversarial examples—optimized to be classified as a chosen target class—tend to be less transferable between architectures. While prior research on constructing transferable targeted attacks has focused on improving the optimization procedure, in this work we examine the role of the source classifier. Here, we show that training the source classifier to be "slightly robust"—that is, robust to small-magnitude adversarial examples—substantially improves the transferability of class-targeted and representation-targeted adversarial attacks, even between architectures as different as convolutional neural networks and transformers. The results we present provide insight into the nature of adversarial examples as well as the mechanisms underlying so-called "robust" classifiers.

Calibration and Consistency of Adversarial Surrogate Losses

Pranjal Awasthi · Natalie Frank · Anqi Mao · Mehryar Mohri · Yutao Zhong

Adversarial robustness is an increasingly critical property of classifiers in applications. The design of robust algorithms relies on surrogate losses since the optimization of the adversarial loss with most hypothesis sets is NP-hard. But, which surrogate losses should be used and when do they benefit from theoretical guarantees? We present an extensive study of this question, including a detailed analysis of the $\mathcal{H}$-calibration and $\mathcal{H}$-consistency of adversarial surrogate losses. We show that convex loss functions, or the supremum-based convex losses often used in applications, are not $\mathcal{H}$-calibrated for common hypothesis sets used in machine learning. We then give a characterization of $\mathcal{H}$-calibration and prove that some surrogate losses are indeed $\mathcal{H}$-calibrated for the adversarial zero-one loss, with common hypothesis sets. In particular, we fix some calibration results presented in prior work for a family of linear models and significantly generalize the results to the nonlinear hypothesis sets. Next, we show that $\mathcal{H}$-calibration is not sufficient to guarantee consistency and prove that, in the absence of any distributional assumption, no continuous surrogate loss is consistent in the adversarial setting. This, in particular, proves that a claim made in prior work is inaccurate. Next, we identify natural conditions under which some surrogate losses that we describe in detail are $\mathcal{H}$-consistent. We also report a series of empirical results which show that many $\mathcal{H}$-calibrated surrogate losses are indeed not $\mathcal{H}$-consistent, and validate our theoretical assumptions. Our adversarial $\mathcal{H}$-consistency results are novel, even for the case where $\mathcal{H}$ is the family of all measurable functions.

Can fMRI reveal the representation of syntactic structure in the brain?

Aniketh Janardhan Reddy · Leila Wehbe

While studying semantics in the brain, neuroscientists use two approaches. One is to identify areas that are correlated with semantic processing load. Another is to find areas that are predicted by the semantic representation of the stimulus words. However, most studies of syntax have focused only on identifying areas correlated with syntactic processing load. One possible reason for this discrepancy is that representing syntactic structure in an embedding space such that it can be used to model brain activity is a non-trivial computational problem. Another possible reason is that it is unclear if the low signal-to-noise ratio of neuroimaging tools such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) can allow us to reveal the correlates of complex (and perhaps subtle) syntactic representations. In this study, we propose novel multi-dimensional features that encode information about the syntactic structure of sentences. Using these features and fMRI recordings of participants reading a natural text, we model the brain representation of syntax. First, we find that our syntactic structure-based features explain additional variance in the brain activity of various parts of the language system, even after controlling for complexity metrics that capture processing load. At the same time, we see that regions well-predicted by syntactic features are distributed in the language system and are not distinguishable from those processing semantics. Our code and data will be available at

A Kernel-based Test of Independence for Cluster-correlated Data

Hongjiao Liu · Anna Plantinga · Yunhua Xiang · Michael Wu

The Hilbert-Schmidt Independence Criterion (HSIC) is a powerful kernel-based statistic for assessing the generalized dependence between two multivariate variables. However, independence testing based on the HSIC is not directly possible for cluster-correlated data. Such a correlation pattern among the observations arises in many practical situations, e.g., family-based and longitudinal data, and requires proper accommodation. Therefore, we propose a novel HSIC-based independence test to evaluate the dependence between two multivariate variables based on cluster-correlated data. Using the previously proposed empirical HSIC as our test statistic, we derive its asymptotic distribution under the null hypothesis of independence between the two variables but in the presence of sample correlation. Based on both simulation studies and real data analysis, we show that, with clustered data, our approach effectively controls type I error and has a higher statistical power than competing methods.

Efficient methods for Gaussian Markov random fields under sparse linear constraints

David Bolin · Jonas Wallin

Methods for inference and simulation of linearly constrained Gaussian Markov Random Fields (GMRF) are computationally prohibitive when the number of constraints is large. In some cases, such as for intrinsic GMRFs, they may even be unfeasible. We propose a new class of methods to overcome these challenges in the common case of sparse constraints, where one has a large number of constraints and each only involves a few elements. Our methods rely on a basis transformation into blocks of constrained versus non-constrained subspaces, and we show that the methods greatly outperform existing alternatives in terms of computational cost. By combining the proposed methods with the stochastic partial differential equation approach for Gaussian random fields, we also show how to formulate Gaussian process regression with linear constraints in a GMRF setting to reduce computational cost. This is illustrated in two applications with simulated data.

Neural Hybrid Automata: Learning Dynamics With Multiple Modes and Stochastic Transitions

Michael Poli · Stefano Massaroli · Luca Scimeca · Sanghyuk Chun · Seong Joon Oh · Atsushi Yamashita · Hajime Asama · Jinkyoo Park · Animesh Garg

Effective control and prediction of dynamical systems require appropriate handling of continuous-time and discrete, event-triggered processes. Stochastic hybrid systems (SHSs), common across engineering domains, provide a formalism for dynamical systems subject to discrete, possibly stochastic, state jumps and multi-modal continuous-time flows. Despite the versatility and importance of SHSs across applications, a general procedure for the explicit learning of both discrete events and multi-mode continuous dynamics remains an open problem. This work introduces Neural Hybrid Automata (NHAs), a recipe for learning SHS dynamics without a priori knowledge on the number, mode parameters, and inter-modal transition dynamics. NHAs provide a systematic inference method based on normalizing flows, neural differential equations, and self-supervision. We showcase NHAs on several tasks, including mode recovery and flow learning in systems with stochastic transitions, and end-to-end learning of hierarchical robot controllers.

Credit Assignment Through Broadcasting a Global Error Vector

David Clark · L F Abbott · Sueyeon Chung

Backpropagation (BP) uses detailed, unit-specific feedback to train deep neural networks (DNNs) with remarkable success. That biological neural circuits appear to perform credit assignment, but cannot implement BP, implies the existence of other powerful learning algorithms. Here, we explore the extent to which a globally broadcast learning signal, coupled with local weight updates, enables training of DNNs. We present both a learning rule, called global error-vector broadcasting (GEVB), and a class of DNNs, called vectorized nonnegative networks (VNNs), in which this learning rule operates. VNNs have vector-valued units and nonnegative weights past the first layer. The GEVB learning rule generalizes three-factor Hebbian learning, updating each weight by an amount proportional to the inner product of the presynaptic activation and a globally broadcast error vector when the postsynaptic unit is active. We prove that these weight updates are matched in sign to the gradient, enabling accurate credit assignment. Moreover, at initialization, these updates are exactly proportional to the gradient in the limit of infinite network width. GEVB matches the performance of BP in VNNs, and in some cases outperforms direct feedback alignment (DFA) applied in conventional networks. Unlike DFA, GEVB successfully trains convolutional layers. Altogether, our theoretical and empirical results point to a surprisingly powerful role for a global learning signal in training DNNs.

An Online Method for A Class of Distributionally Robust Optimization with Non-convex Objectives

Qi Qi · Zhishuai Guo · Yi Xu · Rong Jin · Tianbao Yang

In this paper, we propose a practical online method for solving a class of distributional robust optimization (DRO) with non-convex objectives, which has important applications in machine learning for improving the robustness of neural networks. In the literature, most methods for solving DRO are based on stochastic primal-dual methods. However, primal-dual methods for DRO suffer from several drawbacks: (1) manipulating a high-dimensional dual variable corresponding to the size of data is time expensive; (2) they are not friendly to online learning where data is coming sequentially. To address these issues, we consider a class of DRO with an KL divergence regularization on the dual variables, transform the min-max problem into a compositional minimization problem, and propose practical duality-free online stochastic methods without requiring a large mini-batch size. We establish the state-of-the-art complexities of the proposed methods with and without a Polyak-Łojasiewicz (PL) condition of the objective. Empirical studies on large-scale deep learning tasks (i) demonstrate that our method can speed up the training by more than 2 times than baseline methods and save days of training time on a large-scale dataset with ∼ 265K images, and (ii) verify the supreme performance of DRO over Empirical Risk Minimization (ERM) on imbalanced datasets. Of independent interest, the proposed method can be also used for solving a family of stochastic compositional problems with state-of-the-art complexities.

Recursive Causal Structure Learning in the Presence of Latent Variables and Selection Bias

Sina Akbari · Ehsan Mokhtarian · AmirEmad Ghassami · Negar Kiyavash

We consider the problem of learning the causal MAG of a system from observational data in the presence of latent variables and selection bias. Constraint-based methods are one of the main approaches for solving this problem, but the existing methods are either computationally impractical when dealing with large graphs or lacking completeness guarantees. We propose a novel computationally efficient recursive constraint-based method that is sound and complete. The key idea of our approach is that at each iteration a specific type of variable is identified and removed. This allows us to learn the structure efficiently and recursively, as this technique reduces both the number of required conditional independence (CI) tests and the size of the conditioning sets. The former substantially reduces the computational complexity, while the latter results in more reliable CI tests. We provide an upper bound on the number of required CI tests in the worst case. To the best of our knowledge, this is the tightest bound in the literature. We further provide a lower bound on the number of CI tests required by any constraint-based method. The upper bound of our proposed approach and the lower bound at most differ by a factor equal to the number of variables in the worst case. We provide experimental results to compare the proposed approach with the state of the art on both synthetic and real-world structures.

Spectral embedding for dynamic networks with stability guarantees

Ian Gallagher · Andrew Jones · Patrick Rubin-Delanchy

We consider the problem of embedding a dynamic network, to obtain time-evolving vector representations of each node, which can then be used to describe changes in behaviour of individual nodes, communities, or the entire graph. Given this open-ended remit, we argue that two types of stability in the spatio-temporal positioning of nodes are desirable: to assign the same position, up to noise, to nodes behaving similarly at a given time (cross-sectional stability) and a constant position, up to noise, to a single node behaving similarly across different times (longitudinal stability). Similarity in behaviour is defined formally using notions of exchangeability under a dynamic latent position network model. By showing how this model can be recast as a multilayer random dot product graph, we demonstrate that unfolded adjacency spectral embedding satisfies both stability conditions. We also show how two alternative methods, omnibus and independent spectral embedding, alternately lack one or the other form of stability.

Distributed Zero-Order Optimization under Adversarial Noise

Arya Akhavan · Massimiliano Pontil · Alexandre Tsybakov

We study the problem of distributed zero-order optimization for a class of strongly convex functions. They are formed by the average of local objectives, associated to different nodes in a prescribed network. We propose a distributed zero-order projected gradient descent algorithm to solve the problem. Exchange of information within the network is permitted only between neighbouring nodes. An important feature of our procedure is that it can query only function values, subject to a general noise model, that does not require zero mean or independent errors. We derive upper bounds for the average cumulative regret and optimization error of the algorithm which highlight the role played by a network connectivity parameter, the number of variables, the noise level, the strong convexity parameter, and smoothness properties of the local objectives. The bounds indicate some key improvements of our method over the state-of-the-art, both in the distributed and standard zero-order optimization settings.

Non-Gaussian Gaussian Processes for Few-Shot Regression

Marcin Sendera · Jacek Tabor · Aleksandra Nowak · Andrzej Bedychaj · Massimiliano Patacchiola · Tomasz Trzcinski · Przemysław Spurek · Maciej Zieba

Gaussian Processes (GPs) have been widely used in machine learning to model distributions over functions, with applications including multi-modal regression, time-series prediction, and few-shot learning. GPs are particularly useful in the last application since they rely on Normal distributions and enable closed-form computation of the posterior probability function. Unfortunately, because the resulting posterior is not flexible enough to capture complex distributions, GPs assume high similarity between subsequent tasks - a requirement rarely met in real-world conditions. In this work, we address this limitation by leveraging the flexibility of Normalizing Flows to modulate the posterior predictive distribution of the GP. This makes the GP posterior locally non-Gaussian, therefore we name our method Non-Gaussian Gaussian Processes (NGGPs). More precisely, we propose an invertible ODE-based mapping that operates on each component of the random variable vectors and shares the parameters across all of them. We empirically tested the flexibility of NGGPs on various few-shot learning regression datasets, showing that the mapping can incorporate context embedding information to model different noise levels for periodic functions. As a result, our method shares the structure of the problem between subsequent tasks, but the contextualization allows for adaptation to dissimilarities. NGGPs outperform the competing state-of-the-art approaches on a diversified set of benchmarks and applications.

Online learning in MDPs with linear function approximation and bandit feedback.

Gergely Neu · Iuliia Olkhovskaia

We consider the problem of online learning in an episodic Markov decision process, where the reward function is allowed to change between episodes in an adversarial manner and the learner only observes the rewards associated with its actions. We assume that rewards and the transition function can be represented as linear functions in terms of a known low-dimensional feature map, which allows us to consider the setting where the state space is arbitrarily large. We also assume that the learner has a perfect knowledge of the MDP dynamics. Our main contribution is developing an algorithm whose expected regret after $T$ episodes is bounded by $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{dHT})$, where $H$ is the number of steps in each episode and $d$ is the dimensionality of the feature map.

Kernel Identification Through Transformers

Fergus Simpson · Ian Davies · Vidhi Lalchand · Alessandro Vullo · Nicolas Durrande · Carl Edward Rasmussen

Kernel selection plays a central role in determining the performance of Gaussian Process (GP) models, as the chosen kernel determines both the inductive biases and prior support of functions under the GP prior. This work addresses the challenge of constructing custom kernel functions for high-dimensional GP regression models. Drawing inspiration from recent progress in deep learning, we introduce a novel approach named KITT: Kernel Identification Through Transformers. KITT exploits a transformer-based architecture to generate kernel recommendations in under 0.1 seconds, which is several orders of magnitude faster than conventional kernel search algorithms. We train our model using synthetic data generated from priors over a vocabulary of known kernels. By exploiting the nature of the self-attention mechanism, KITT is able to process datasets with inputs of arbitrary dimension. We demonstrate that kernels chosen by KITT yield strong performance over a diverse collection of regression benchmarks.

Parallelizing Thompson Sampling

Amin Karbasi · Vahab Mirrokni · Mohammad Shadravan

How can we make use of information parallelism in online decision-making problems while efficiently balancing the exploration-exploitation trade-off? In this paper, we introduce a batch Thompson Sampling framework for two canonical online decision-making problems with partial feedback, namely, stochastic multi-arm bandit and linear contextual bandit. Over a time horizon $T$, our batch Thompson Sampling policy achieves the same (asymptotic) regret bound of a fully sequential one while carrying out only $O(\log T)$ batch queries. To achieve this exponential reduction, i.e., reducing the number of interactions from $T$ to $O(\log T)$, our batch policy dynamically determines the duration of each batch in order to balance the exploration-exploitation trade-off. We also demonstrate experimentally that dynamic batch allocation outperforms natural baselines.

The Causal-Neural Connection: Expressiveness, Learnability, and Inference

Kevin Xia · Kai-Zhan Lee · Yoshua Bengio · Elias Bareinboim

One of the central elements of any causal inference is an object called structural causal model (SCM), which represents a collection of mechanisms and exogenous sources of random variation of the system under investigation (Pearl, 2000). An important property of many kinds of neural networks is universal approximability: the ability to approximate any function to arbitrary precision. Given this property, one may be tempted to surmise that a collection of neural nets is capable of learning any SCM by training on data generated by that SCM. In this paper, we show this is not the case by disentangling the notions of expressivity and learnability. Specifically, we show that the causal hierarchy theorem (Thm. 1, Bareinboim et al., 2020), which describes the limits of what can be learned from data, still holds for neural models. For instance, an arbitrarily complex and expressive neural net is unable to predict the effects of interventions given observational data alone. Given this result, we introduce a special type of SCM called a neural causal model (NCM), and formalize a new type of inductive bias to encode structural constraints necessary for performing causal inferences. Building on this new class of models, we focus on solving two canonical tasks found in the literature known as causal identification and estimation. Leveraging the neural toolbox, we develop an algorithm that is both sufficient and necessary to determine whether a causal effect can be learned from data (i.e., causal identifiability); it then estimates the effect whenever identifiability holds (causal estimation). Simulations corroborate the proposed approach.

A Separation Result Between Data-oblivious and Data-aware Poisoning Attacks

Samuel Deng · Sanjam Garg · Somesh Jha · Saeed Mahloujifar · Mohammad Mahmoody · Abhradeep Guha Thakurta

Poisoning attacks have emerged as a significant security threat to machine learning algorithms. It has been demonstrated that adversaries who make small changes to the training set, such as adding specially crafted data points, can hurt the performance of the output model. Most of these attacks require the full knowledge of training data. This leaves open the possibility of achieving the same attack results using poisoning attacks that do not have the full knowledge of the clean training set.In this work, we initiate a theoretical study of the problem above. Specifically, for the case of feature selection with LASSO, we show that \emph{full information} adversaries (that craft poisoning examples based on the rest of the training data) are provably much more devastating compared to the optimal attacker that is \emph{oblivious} to the training set yet has access to the distribution of the data. Our separation result shows that the two settings of data-aware and data-oblivious are fundamentally different and we cannot hope to achieve the same attack or defense results in these scenarios.

Deep Learning Through the Lens of Example Difficulty

Robert Baldock · Hartmut Maennel · Behnam Neyshabur

Existing work on understanding deep learning often employs measures that compress all data-dependent information into a few numbers. In this work, we adopt a perspective based on the role of individual examples. We introduce a measure of the computational difficulty of making a prediction for a given input: the (effective) prediction depth. Our extensive investigation reveals surprising yet simple relationships between the prediction depth of a given input and the model’s uncertainty, confidence, accuracy and speed of learning for that data point. We further categorize difficult examples into three interpretable groups, demonstrate how these groups are processed differently inside deep models and showcase how this understanding allows us to improve prediction accuracy. Insights from our study lead to a coherent view of a number of separately reported phenomena in the literature: early layers generalize while later layers memorize; early layers converge faster and networks learn easy data and simple functions first.

R-Drop: Regularized Dropout for Neural Networks

xiaobo liang · Lijun Wu · Juntao Li · Yue Wang · Qi Meng · Tao Qin · Wei Chen · Min Zhang · Tie-Yan Liu

Dropout is a powerful and widely used technique to regularize the training of deep neural networks. Though effective and performing well, the randomness introduced by dropout causes unnegligible inconsistency between training and inference. In this paper, we introduce a simple consistency training strategy to regularize dropout, namely R-Drop, which forces the output distributions of different sub models generated by dropout to be consistent with each other. Specifically, for each training sample, R-Drop minimizes the bidirectional KL-divergence between the output distributions of two sub models sampled by dropout. Theoretical analysis reveals that R-Drop reduces the above inconsistency. Experiments on $\bf{5}$ widely used deep learning tasks ($\bf{18}$ datasets in total), including neural machine translation, abstractive summarization, language understanding, language modeling, and image classification, show that R-Drop is universally effective. In particular, it yields substantial improvements when applied to fine-tune large-scale pre-trained models, e.g., ViT, RoBERTa-large, and BART, and achieves state-of-the-art (SOTA) performances with the vanilla Transformer model on WMT14 English$\to$German translation ($\bf{30.91}$ BLEU) and WMT14 English$\to$French translation ($\bf{43.95}$ BLEU), even surpassing models trained with extra large-scale data and expert-designed advanced variants of Transformer models. Our code is available at GitHub\footnote{\url{}}.

Bootstrap Your Object Detector via Mixed Training

Mengde Xu · Zheng Zhang · Fangyun Wei · Yutong Lin · Yue Cao · Stephen Lin · Han Hu · Xiang Bai

We introduce MixTraining, a new training paradigm for object detection that can improve the performance of existing detectors for free. MixTraining enhances data augmentation by utilizing augmentations of different strengths while excluding the strong augmentations of certain training samples that may be detrimental to training. In addition, it addresses localization noise and missing labels in human annotations by incorporating pseudo boxes that can compensate for these errors. Both of these MixTraining capabilities are made possible through bootstrapping on the detector, which can be used to predict the difficulty of training on a strong augmentation, as well as to generate reliable pseudo boxes thanks to the robustness of neural networks to labeling error. MixTraining is found to bring consistent improvements across various detectors on the COCO dataset. In particular, the performance of Faster R-CNN~\cite{ren2015faster} with a ResNet-50~\cite{he2016deep} backbone is improved from 41.7 mAP to 44.0 mAP, and the accuracy of Cascade-RCNN~\cite{cai2018cascade} with a Swin-Small~\cite{liu2021swin} backbone is raised from 50.9 mAP to 52.8 mAP.

One Explanation is Not Enough: Structured Attention Graphs for Image Classification

Vivswan Shitole · Fuxin Li · Minsuk Kahng · Prasad Tadepalli · Alan Fern

Attention maps are popular tools for explaining the decisions of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for image classification. Typically, for each image of interest, a single attention map is produced, which assigns weights to pixels based on their importance to the classification. We argue that a single attention map provides an incomplete understanding since there are often many other maps that explain a classification equally well. In this paper, we propose to utilize a beam search algorithm to systematically search for multiple explanations for each image. Results show that there are indeed multiple relatively localized explanations for many images. However, naively showing multiple explanations to users can be overwhelming and does not reveal their common and distinct structures. We introduce structured attention graphs (SAGs), which compactly represent sets of attention maps for an image by visualizing how different combinations of image regions impact the confidence of a classifier. An approach to computing a compact and representative SAG for visualization is proposed via diverse sampling. We conduct a user study comparing the use of SAGs to traditional attention maps for answering comparative counterfactual questions about image classifications. Our results show that the users are significantly more accurate when presented with SAGs compared to standard attention map baselines.

Submodular + Concave

Siddharth Mitra · Moran Feldman · Amin Karbasi

It has been well established that first order optimization methods can converge to the maximal objective value of concave functions and provide constant factor approximation guarantees for (non-convex/non-concave) continuous submodular functions. In this work, we initiate the study of the maximization of functions of the form $F(x) = G(x) +C(x)$ over a solvable convex body $P$, where $G$ is a smooth DR-submodular function and $C$ is a smooth concave function. This class of functions is a strict extension of both concave and continuous DR-submodular functions for which no theoretical guarantee is known. We provide a suite of Frank-Wolfe style algorithms, which, depending on the nature of the objective function (i.e., if $G$ and $C$ are monotone or not, and non-negative or not) and on the nature of the set $P$ (i.e., whether it is downward closed or not), provide $1-1/e$, $1/e$, or $1/2$ approximation guarantees. We then use our algorithms to get a framework to smoothly interpolate between choosing a diverse set of elements from a given ground set (corresponding to the mode of a determinantal point process) and choosing a clustered set of elements (corresponding to the maxima of a suitable concave function). Additionally, we apply our algorithms to various functions in the above class (DR-submodular + concave) in both constrained and unconstrained settings, and show that our algorithms consistently outperform natural baselines.

Pure Exploration in Kernel and Neural Bandits

Yinglun Zhu · Dongruo Zhou · Ruoxi Jiang · Quanquan Gu · Rebecca Willett · Robert Nowak

We study pure exploration in bandits, where the dimension of the feature representation can be much larger than the number of arms. To overcome the curse of dimensionality, we propose to adaptively embed the feature representation of each arm into a lower-dimensional space and carefully deal with the induced model misspecifications. Our approach is conceptually very different from existing works that can either only handle low-dimensional linear bandits or passively deal with model misspecifications. We showcase the application of our approach to two pure exploration settings that were previously under-studied: (1) the reward function belongs to a possibly infinite-dimensional Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space, and (2) the reward function is nonlinear and can be approximated by neural networks. Our main results provide sample complexity guarantees that only depend on the effective dimension of the feature spaces in the kernel or neural representations. Extensive experiments conducted on both synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the efficacy of our methods.

Impression learning: Online representation learning with synaptic plasticity

Colin Bredenberg · Benjamin Lyo · Eero Simoncelli · Cristina Savin

Understanding how the brain constructs statistical models of the sensory world remains a longstanding challenge for computational neuroscience. Here, we derive an unsupervised local synaptic plasticity rule that trains neural circuits to infer latent structure from sensory stimuli via a novel loss function for approximate online Bayesian inference. The learning algorithm is driven by a local error signal computed between two factors that jointly contribute to neural activity: stimulus drive and internal predictions --- the network's 'impression' of the stimulus. Physiologically, we associate these two components with the basal and apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons, respectively. We show that learning can be implemented online, is capable of capturing temporal dependencies in continuous input streams, and generalizes to hierarchical architectures. Furthermore, we demonstrate both analytically and empirically that the algorithm is more data-efficient than a three-factor plasticity alternative, enabling it to learn statistics of high-dimensional, naturalistic inputs. Overall, the model provides a bridge from mechanistic accounts of synaptic plasticity to algorithmic descriptions of unsupervised probabilistic learning and inference.

Rethinking Space-Time Networks with Improved Memory Coverage for Efficient Video Object Segmentation

Ho Kei Cheng · Yu-Wing Tai · Chi-Keung Tang

This paper presents a simple yet effective approach to modeling space-time correspondences in the context of video object segmentation. Unlike most existing approaches, we establish correspondences directly between frames without re-encoding the mask features for every object, leading to a highly efficient and robust framework. With the correspondences, every node in the current query frame is inferred by aggregating features from the past in an associative fashion. We cast the aggregation process as a voting problem and find that the existing inner-product affinity leads to poor use of memory with a small (fixed) subset of memory nodes dominating the votes, regardless of the query. In light of this phenomenon, we propose using the negative squared Euclidean distance instead to compute the affinities. We validated that every memory node now has a chance to contribute, and experimentally showed that such diversified voting is beneficial to both memory efficiency and inference accuracy. The synergy of correspondence networks and diversified voting works exceedingly well, achieves new state-of-the-art results on both DAVIS and YouTubeVOS datasets while running significantly faster at 20+ FPS for multiple objects without bells and whistles.

Detecting Moments and Highlights in Videos via Natural Language Queries

Jie Lei · Tamara L Berg · Mohit Bansal

Detecting customized moments and highlights from videos given natural language (NL) user queries is an important but under-studied topic. One of the challenges in pursuing this direction is the lack of annotated data. To address this issue, we present the Query-based Video Highlights (QVHighlights) dataset. It consists of over 10,000 YouTube videos, covering a wide range of topics, from everyday activities and travel in lifestyle vlog videos to social and political activities in news videos. Each video in the dataset is annotated with: (1) a human-written free-form NL query, (2) relevant moments in the video w.r.t. the query, and (3) five-point scale saliency scores for all query-relevant clips. This comprehensive annotation enables us to develop and evaluate systems that detect relevant moments as well as salient highlights for diverse, flexible user queries. We also present a strong baseline for this task, Moment-DETR, a transformer encoder-decoder model that views moment retrieval as a direct set prediction problem, taking extracted video and query representations as inputs and predicting moment coordinates and saliency scores end-to-end. While our model does not utilize any human prior, we show that it performs competitively when compared to well-engineered architectures. With weakly supervised pretraining using ASR captions, Moment-DETR substantially outperforms previous methods. Lastly, we present several ablations and visualizations of Moment-DETR. Data and code is publicly available at

SegFormer: Simple and Efficient Design for Semantic Segmentation with Transformers

Enze Xie · Wenhai Wang · Zhiding Yu · Anima Anandkumar · Jose M. Alvarez · Ping Luo

We present SegFormer, a simple, efficient yet powerful semantic segmentation framework which unifies Transformers with lightweight multilayer perceptron (MLP) decoders. SegFormer has two appealing features: 1) SegFormer comprises a novel hierarchically structured Transformer encoder which outputs multiscale features. It does not need positional encoding, thereby avoiding the interpolation of positional codes which leads to decreased performance when the testing resolution differs from training. 2) SegFormer avoids complex decoders. The proposed MLP decoder aggregates information from different layers, and thus combining both local attention and global attention to render powerful representations. We show that this simple and lightweight design is the key to efficient segmentation on Transformers. We scale our approach up to obtain a series of models from SegFormer-B0 to Segformer-B5, which reaches much better performance and efficiency than previous counterparts.For example, SegFormer-B4 achieves 50.3% mIoU on ADE20K with 64M parameters, being 5x smaller and 2.2% better than the previous best method. Our best model, SegFormer-B5, achieves 84.0% mIoU on Cityscapes validation set and shows excellent zero-shot robustness on Cityscapes-C.

Residual Relaxation for Multi-view Representation Learning

Yifei Wang · Zhengyang Geng · Feng Jiang · Chuming Li · Yisen Wang · Jiansheng Yang · Zhouchen Lin

Multi-view methods learn representations by aligning multiple views of the same image and their performance largely depends on the choice of data augmentation. In this paper, we notice that some other useful augmentations, such as image rotation, are harmful for multi-view methods because they cause a semantic shift that is too large to be aligned well. This observation motivates us to relax the exact alignment objective to better cultivate stronger augmentations. Taking image rotation as a case study, we develop a generic approach, Pretext-aware Residual Relaxation (Prelax), that relaxes the exact alignment by allowing an adaptive residual vector between different views and encoding the semantic shift through pretext-aware learning. Extensive experiments on different backbones show that our method can not only improve multi-view methods with existing augmentations, but also benefit from stronger image augmentations like rotation.

Do Vision Transformers See Like Convolutional Neural Networks?

Maithra Raghu · Thomas Unterthiner · Simon Kornblith · Chiyuan Zhang · Alexey Dosovitskiy

Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have so far been the de-facto model for visual data. Recent work has shown that (Vision) Transformer models (ViT) can achieve comparable or even superior performance on image classification tasks. This raises a central question: how are Vision Transformers solving these tasks? Are they acting like convolutional networks, or learning entirely different visual representations? Analyzing the internal representation structure of ViTs and CNNs on image classification benchmarks, we find striking differences between the two architectures, such as ViT having more uniform representations across all layers. We explore how these differences arise, finding crucial roles played by self-attention, which enables early aggregation of global information, and ViT residual connections, which strongly propagate features from lower to higher layers. We study the ramifications for spatial localization, demonstrating ViTs successfully preserve input spatial information, with noticeable effects from different classification methods. Finally, we study the effect of (pretraining) dataset scale on intermediate features and transfer learning, and conclude with a discussion on connections to new architectures such as the MLP-Mixer.

Object-aware Contrastive Learning for Debiased Scene Representation

Sangwoo Mo · Hyunwoo Kang · Kihyuk Sohn · Chun-Liang Li · Jinwoo Shin

Contrastive self-supervised learning has shown impressive results in learning visual representations from unlabeled images by enforcing invariance against different data augmentations. However, the learned representations are often contextually biased to the spurious scene correlations of different objects or object and background, which may harm their generalization on the downstream tasks. To tackle the issue, we develop a novel object-aware contrastive learning framework that first (a) localizes objects in a self-supervised manner and then (b) debias scene correlations via appropriate data augmentations considering the inferred object locations. For (a), we propose the contrastive class activation map (ContraCAM), which finds the most discriminative regions (e.g., objects) in the image compared to the other images using the contrastively trained models. We further improve the ContraCAM to detect multiple objects and entire shapes via an iterative refinement procedure. For (b), we introduce two data augmentations based on ContraCAM, object-aware random crop and background mixup, which reduce contextual and background biases during contrastive self-supervised learning, respectively. Our experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our representation learning framework, particularly when trained under multi-object images or evaluated under the background (and distribution) shifted images. Code is available at

Answering Complex Causal Queries With the Maximum Causal Set Effect

Zachary Markovich

The standard tools of causal inference have been developed to answer simple causal queries which can be easily formalized as a small number of statistical estimands in the context of a particular structural causal model (SCM); however, scientific theories often make diffuse predictions about a large number of causal variables. This article proposes a framework for parameterizing such complex causal queries as the maximum difference in causal effects associated with two sets of causal variables that have a researcher specified probability of occurring. We term this estimand the Maximum Causal Set Effect (MCSE) and develop an estimator for it that is asymptotically consistent and conservative in finite samples under assumptions that are standard in the causal inference literature. This estimator is also asymptotically normal and amenable to the non-parametric bootstrap, facilitating classical statistical inference about this novel estimand. We compare this estimator to more common latent variable approaches and find that it can uncover larger causal effects in both real world and simulated data.

Fast Approximation of the Sliced-Wasserstein Distance Using Concentration of Random Projections

Kimia Nadjahi · Alain Durmus · Pierre E Jacob · Roland Badeau · Umut Simsekli

The Sliced-Wasserstein distance (SW) is being increasingly used in machine learning applications as an alternative to the Wasserstein distance and offers significant computational and statistical benefits. Since it is defined as an expectation over random projections, SW is commonly approximated by Monte Carlo. We adopt a new perspective to approximate SW by making use of the concentration of measure phenomenon: under mild assumptions, one-dimensional projections of a high-dimensional random vector are approximately Gaussian. Based on this observation, we develop a simple deterministic approximation for SW. Our method does not require sampling a number of random projections, and is therefore both accurate and easy to use compared to the usual Monte Carlo approximation. We derive nonasymptotical guarantees for our approach, and show that the approximation error goes to zero as the dimension increases, under a weak dependence condition on the data distribution. We validate our theoretical findings on synthetic datasets, and illustrate the proposed approximation on a generative modeling problem.

Sanity Checks for Lottery Tickets: Does Your Winning Ticket Really Win the Jackpot?

Xiaolong Ma · Geng Yuan · Xuan Shen · Tianlong Chen · Xuxi Chen · Xiaohan Chen · Ning Liu · Minghai Qin · Sijia Liu · Zhangyang Wang · Yanzhi Wang

There have been long-standing controversies and inconsistencies over the experiment setup and criteria for identifying the "winning ticket" in literature. To reconcile such, we revisit the definition of lottery ticket hypothesis, with comprehensive and more rigorous conditions. Under our new definition, we show concrete evidence to clarify whether the winning ticket exists across the major DNN architectures and/or applications. Through extensive experiments, we perform quantitative analysis on the correlations between winning tickets and various experimental factors, and empirically study the patterns of our observations. We find that the key training hyperparameters, such as learning rate and training epochs, as well as the architecture characteristics such as capacities and residual connections, are all highly correlated with whether and when the winning tickets can be identified. Based on our analysis, we summarize a guideline for parameter settings in regards of specific architecture characteristics, which we hope to catalyze the research progress on the topic of lottery ticket hypothesis. Our codes are publicly available at:

Collaborative Causal Discovery with Atomic Interventions

Raghavendra Addanki · Shiva Kasiviswanathan

We introduce a new Collaborative Causal Discovery problem, through which we model a common scenario in which we have multiple independent entities each with their own causal graph, and the goal is to simultaneously learn all these causal graphs. We study this problem without the causal sufficiency assumption, using Maximal Ancestral Graphs (MAG) to model the causal graphs, and assuming that we have the ability to actively perform independent single vertex (or atomic) interventions on the entities. If the $M$ underlying (unknown) causal graphs of the entities satisfy a natural notion of clustering, we give algorithms that leverage this property and recovers all the causal graphs using roughly logarithmic in $M$ number of atomic interventions per entity. These are significantly fewer than $n$ atomic interventions per entity required to learn each causal graph separately, where $n$ is the number of observable nodes in the causal graph. We complement our results with a lower bound and discuss various extensions of our collaborative setting.

Score-based Generative Neural Networks for Large-Scale Optimal Transport

Grady Daniels · Tyler Maunu · Paul Hand

We consider the fundamental problem of sampling the optimal transport coupling between given source and target distributions. In certain cases, the optimal transport plan takes the form of a one-to-one mapping from the source support to the target support, but learning or even approximating such a map is computationally challenging for large and high-dimensional datasets due to the high cost of linear programming routines and an intrinsic curse of dimensionality. We study instead the Sinkhorn problem, a regularized form of optimal transport whose solutions are couplings between the source and the target distribution. We introduce a novel framework for learning the Sinkhorn coupling between two distributions in the form of a score-based generative model. Conditioned on source data, our procedure iterates Langevin Dynamics to sample target data according to the regularized optimal coupling. Key to this approach is a neural network parametrization of the Sinkhorn problem, and we prove convergence of gradient descent with respect to network parameters in this formulation. We demonstrate its empirical success on a variety of large scale optimal transport tasks.

Drawing Robust Scratch Tickets: Subnetworks with Inborn Robustness Are Found within Randomly Initialized Networks

Yonggan Fu · Qixuan Yu · Yang Zhang · Shang Wu · Xu Ouyang · David Cox · Yingyan Lin

Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) are known to be vulnerable to adversarial attacks, i.e., an imperceptible perturbation to the input can mislead DNNs trained on clean images into making erroneous predictions. To tackle this, adversarial training is currently the most effective defense method, by augmenting the training set with adversarial samples generated on the fly. \textbf{Interestingly, we discover for the first time that there exist subnetworks with inborn robustness, matching or surpassing the robust accuracy of the adversarially trained networks with comparable model sizes, within randomly initialized networks without any model training}, indicating that adversarial training on model weights is not indispensable towards adversarial robustness. We name such subnetworks Robust Scratch Tickets (RSTs), which are also by nature efficient. Distinct from the popular lottery ticket hypothesis, neither the original dense networks nor the identified RSTs need to be trained. To validate and understand this fascinating finding, we further conduct extensive experiments to study the existence and properties of RSTs under different models, datasets, sparsity patterns, and attacks, drawing insights regarding the relationship between DNNs’ robustness and their initialization/overparameterization. Furthermore, we identify the poor adversarial transferability between RSTs of different sparsity ratios drawn from the same randomly initialized dense network, and propose a Random RST Switch (R2S) technique, which randomly switches between different RSTs, as a novel defense method built on top of RSTs. We believe our findings about RSTs have opened up a new perspective to study model robustness and extend the lottery ticket hypothesis.

CARMS: Categorical-Antithetic-REINFORCE Multi-Sample Gradient Estimator

Alek Dimitriev · Mingyuan Zhou

Accurately backpropagating the gradient through categorical variables is a challenging task that arises in various domains, such as training discrete latent variable models. To this end, we propose CARMS, an unbiased estimator for categorical random variables based on multiple mutually negatively correlated (jointly antithetic) samples. CARMS combines REINFORCE with copula based sampling to avoid duplicate samples and reduce its variance, while keeping the estimator unbiased using importance sampling. It generalizes both the ARMS antithetic estimator for binary variables, which is CARMS for two categories, as well as LOORF/VarGrad, the leave-one-out REINFORCE estimator, which is CARMS with independent samples. We evaluate CARMS on several benchmark datasets on a generative modeling task, as well as a structured output prediction task, and find it to outperform competing methods including a strong self-control baseline. The code is publicly available.

Stochastic Solutions for Linear Inverse Problems using the Prior Implicit in a Denoiser

Zahra Kadkhodaie · Eero Simoncelli

Deep neural networks have provided state-of-the-art solutions for problems such as image denoising, which implicitly rely on a prior probability model of natural images. Two recent lines of work – Denoising Score Matching and Plug-and-Play – propose methodologies for drawing samples from this implicit prior and using it to solve inverse problems, respectively. Here, we develop a parsimonious and robust generalization of these ideas. We rely on a classic statistical result that shows the least-squares solution for removing additive Gaussian noise can be written directly in terms of the gradient of the log of the noisy signal density. We use this to derive a stochastic coarse-to-fine gradient ascent procedure for drawing high-probability samples from the implicit prior embedded within a CNN trained to perform blind denoising. A generalization of this algorithm to constrained sampling provides a method for using the implicit prior to solve any deterministic linear inverse problem, with no additional training, thus extending the power of supervised learning for denoising to a much broader set of problems. The algorithm relies on minimal assumptions and exhibits robust convergence over a wide range of parameter choices. To demonstrate the generality of our method, we use it to obtain state-of-the-art levels of unsupervised performance for deblurring, super-resolution, and compressive sensing.

Structured Reordering for Modeling Latent Alignments in Sequence Transduction

bailin wang · Mirella Lapata · Ivan Titov

Despite success in many domains, neural models struggle in settings where train and test examples are drawn from different distributions. In particular, in contrast to humans, conventional sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) models fail to generalize systematically, i.e., interpret sentences representing novel combinations of concepts (e.g., text segments) seen in training. Traditional grammar formalisms excel in such settings by implicitly encoding alignments between input and output segments, but are hard to scale and maintain. Instead of engineering a grammar, we directly model segment-to-segment alignments as discrete structured latent variables within a neural seq2seq model. To efficiently explore the large space of alignments, we introduce a reorder-first align-later framework whose central component is a neural reordering module producing separable permutations. We present an efficient dynamic programming algorithm performing exact marginal inference of separable permutations, and, thus, enabling end-to-end differentiable training of our model. The resulting seq2seq model exhibits better systematic generalization than standard models on synthetic problems and NLP tasks (i.e., semantic parsing and machine translation).

A universal probabilistic spike count model reveals ongoing modulation of neural variability

David Liu · Mate Lengyel

Neural responses are variable: even under identical experimental conditions, single neuron and population responses typically differ from trial to trial and across time. Recent work has demonstrated that this variability has predictable structure, can be modulated by sensory input and behaviour, and bears critical signatures of the underlying network dynamics and computations. However, current methods for characterising neural variability are primarily geared towards sensory coding in the laboratory: they require trials with repeatable experimental stimuli and behavioural covariates. In addition, they make strong assumptions about the parametric form of variability, rely on assumption-free but data-inefficient histogram-based approaches, or are altogether ill-suited for capturing variability modulation by covariates. Here we present a universal probabilistic spike count model that eliminates these shortcomings. Our method builds on sparse Gaussian processes and can model arbitrary spike count distributions (SCDs) with flexible dependence on observed as well as latent covariates, using scalable variational inference to jointly infer the covariate-to-SCD mappings and latent trajectories in a data efficient way. Without requiring repeatable trials, it can flexibly capture covariate-dependent joint SCDs, and provide interpretable latent causes underlying the statistical dependencies between neurons. We apply the model to recordings from a canonical non-sensory neural population: head direction cells in the mouse. We find that variability in these cells defies a simple parametric relationship with mean spike count as assumed in standard models, its modulation by external covariates can be comparably strong to that of the mean firing rate, and slow low-dimensional latent factors explain away neural correlations. Our approach paves the way to understanding the mechanisms and computations underlying neural variability under naturalistic conditions, beyond the realm of sensory coding with repeatable stimuli.

Reverse-Complement Equivariant Networks for DNA Sequences

Vincent Mallet · Jean-Philippe Vert

As DNA sequencing technologies keep improving in scale and cost, there is a growing need to develop machine learning models to analyze DNA sequences, e.g., to decipher regulatory signals from DNA fragments bound by a particular protein of interest. As a double helix made of two complementary strands, a DNA fragment can be sequenced as two equivalent, so-called reverse complement (RC) sequences of nucleotides. To take into account this inherent symmetry of the data in machine learning models can facilitate learning. In this sense, several authors have recently proposed particular RC-equivariant convolutional neural networks (CNNs). However, it remains unknown whether other RC-equivariant architecture exist, which could potentially increase the set of basic models adapted to DNA sequences for practitioners. Here, we close this gap by characterizing the set of all linear RC-equivariant layers, and show in particular that new architectures exist beyond the ones already explored. We further discuss RC-equivariant pointwise nonlinearities adapted to different architectures, as well as RC-equivariant embeddings of $k$-mers as an alternative to one-hot encoding of nucleotides. We show experimentally that the new architectures can outperform existing ones.

Nonsmooth Implicit Differentiation for Machine-Learning and Optimization

Jérôme Bolte · Tam Le · Edouard Pauwels · Tony Silveti-Falls

In view of training increasingly complex learning architectures, we establish a nonsmooth implicit function theorem with an operational calculus. Our result applies to most practical problems (i.e., definable problems) provided that a nonsmooth form of the classical invertibility condition is fulfilled. This approach allows for formal subdifferentiation: for instance, replacing derivatives by Clarke Jacobians in the usual differentiation formulas is fully justified for a wide class of nonsmooth problems. Moreover this calculus is entirely compatible with algorithmic differentiation (e.g., backpropagation). We provide several applications such as training deep equilibrium networks, training neural nets with conic optimization layers, or hyperparameter-tuning for nonsmooth Lasso-type models. To show the sharpness of our assumptions, we present numerical experiments showcasing the extremely pathological gradient dynamics one can encounter when applying implicit algorithmic differentiation without any hypothesis.

Marginalised Gaussian Processes with Nested Sampling

Fergus Simpson · Vidhi Lalchand · Carl Edward Rasmussen

Gaussian Process models are a rich distribution over functions with inductive biases controlled by a kernel function. Learning occurs through optimisation of the kernel hyperparameters using the marginal likelihood as the objective. This work proposes nested sampling as a means of marginalising kernel hyperparameters, because it is a technique that is well-suited to exploring complex, multi-modal distributions. We benchmark against Hamiltonian Monte Carlo on time-series and two-dimensional regression tasks, finding that a principled approach to quantifying hyperparameter uncertainty substantially improves the quality of prediction intervals.

A Continuous Mapping For Augmentation Design

Keyu Tian · Chen Lin · Ser Nam Lim · Wanli Ouyang · Puneet Dokania · Philip Torr

Automated data augmentation (ADA) techniques have played an important role in boosting the performance of deep models. Such techniques mostly aim to optimize a parameterized distribution over a discrete augmentation space. Thus, are restricted by the discretization of the search space which normally is handcrafted. To overcome the limitations, we take the first step to constructing a continuous mapping from $\mathbb{R}^d$ to image transformations (an augmentation space). Using this mapping, we take a novel approach where 1) we pose the ADA as a continuous optimization problem over the parameters of the augmentation distribution; and 2) use Stochastic Gradient Langevin Dynamics to learn and sample augmentations. This allows us to potentially explore the space of infinitely many possible augmentations, which otherwise was not possible due to the discretization of the space. This view of ADA is radically different from the standard discretization based view of ADA, and it opens avenues for utilizing the vast efficient gradient-based algorithms available for continuous optimization problems. Results over multiple benchmarks demonstrate the efficiency improvement of this work compared with previous methods.

GeoMol: Torsional Geometric Generation of Molecular 3D Conformer Ensembles

Octavian Ganea · Lagnajit Pattanaik · Connor Coley · Regina Barzilay · Klavs Jensen · William Green · Tommi Jaakkola

Prediction of a molecule’s 3D conformer ensemble from the molecular graph holds a key role in areas of cheminformatics and drug discovery. Existing generative models have several drawbacks including lack of modeling important molecular geometry elements (e.g., torsion angles), separate optimization stages prone to error accumulation, and the need for structure fine-tuning based on approximate classical force-fields or computationally expensive methods. We propose GEOMOL --- an end-to-end, non-autoregressive, and SE(3)-invariant machine learning approach to generate distributions of low-energy molecular 3D conformers. Leveraging the power of message passing neural networks (MPNNs) to capture local and global graph information, we predict local atomic 3D structures and torsion angles, avoid- ing unnecessary over-parameterization of the geometric degrees of freedom (e.g., one angle per non-terminal bond). Such local predictions suffice both for both the training loss computation and for the full deterministic conformer assembly (at test time). We devise a non-adversarial optimal transport based loss function to promote diverse conformer generation. GEOMOL predominantly outperforms popular open-source, commercial, or state-of-the-art machine learning (ML) models, while achieving significant speed-ups. We expect such differentiable 3D structure generators to significantly impact molecular modeling and related applications.

Compositional Modeling of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems with ODE-based Random Features

Thomas McDonald · Mauricio Álvarez

Effectively modeling phenomena present in highly nonlinear dynamical systems whilst also accurately quantifying uncertainty is a challenging task, which often requires problem-specific techniques. We present a novel, domain-agnostic approach to tackling this problem, using compositions of physics-informed random features, derived from ordinary differential equations. The architecture of our model leverages recent advances in approximate inference for deep Gaussian processes, such as layer-wise weight-space approximations which allow us to incorporate random Fourier features, and stochastic variational inference for approximate Bayesian inference. We provide evidence that our model is capable of capturing highly nonlinear behaviour in real-world multivariate time series data. In addition, we find that our approach achieves comparable performance to a number of other probabilistic models on benchmark regression tasks.

Learning Treatment Effects in Panels with General Intervention Patterns

Vivek Farias · Andrew Li · Tianyi Peng

The problem of causal inference with panel data is a central econometric question. The following is a fundamental version of this problem: Let $M^*$ be a low rank matrix and $E$ be a zero-mean noise matrix. For a `treatment' matrix $Z$ with entries in $\{0,1\}$ we observe the matrix $O$ with entries $O_{ij} := M^*_{ij} + E_{ij} + \mathcal{T}_{ij} Z_{ij}$ where $\mathcal{T}_{ij} $ are unknown, heterogenous treatment effects. The problem requires we estimate the average treatment effect $\tau^* := \sum_{ij} \mathcal{T}_{ij} Z_{ij} / \sum_{ij} Z_{ij}$. The synthetic control paradigm provides an approach to estimating $\tau^*$ when $Z$ places support on a single row. This paper extends that framework to allow rate-optimal recovery of $\tau^*$ for general $Z$, thus broadly expanding its applicability. Our guarantees are the first of their type in this general setting. Computational experiments on synthetic and real-world data show a substantial advantage over competing estimators.

From Optimality to Robustness: Adaptive Re-Sampling Strategies in Stochastic Bandits

Dorian Baudry · Patrick Saux · Odalric-Ambrym Maillard

The stochastic multi-arm bandit problem has been extensively studied under standard assumptions on the arm's distribution (e.g bounded with known support, exponential family, etc). These assumptions are suitable for many real-world problems but sometimes they require knowledge (on tails for instance) that may not be precisely accessible to the practitioner, raising the question of the robustness of bandit algorithms to model misspecification. In this paper we study a generic \emph{Dirichlet Sampling} (DS) algorithm, based on pairwise comparisons of empirical indices computed with \textit{re-sampling} of the arms' observations and a data-dependent \textit{exploration bonus}. We show that different variants of this strategy achieve provably optimal regret guarantees when the distributions are bounded and logarithmic regret for semi-bounded distributions with a mild quantile condition. We also show that a simple tuning achieve robustness with respect to a large class of unbounded distributions, at the cost of slightly worse than logarithmic asymptotic regret. We finally provide numerical experiments showing the merits of DS in a decision-making problem on synthetic agriculture data.

Predify: Augmenting deep neural networks with brain-inspired predictive coding dynamics

Bhavin Choksi · Milad Mozafari · Callum Biggs O'May · B. ADOR · Andrea Alamia · Rufin VanRullen

Deep neural networks excel at image classification, but their performance is far less robust to input perturbations than human perception. In this work we explore whether this shortcoming may be partly addressed by incorporating brain-inspired recurrent dynamics in deep convolutional networks. We take inspiration from a popular framework in neuroscience: "predictive coding". At each layer of the hierarchical model, generative feedback "predicts" (i.e., reconstructs) the pattern of activity in the previous layer. The reconstruction errors are used to iteratively update the network’s representations across timesteps, and to optimize the network's feedback weights over the natural image dataset--a form of unsupervised training. We show that implementing this strategy into two popular networks, VGG16 and EfficientNetB0, improves their robustness against various corruptions and adversarial attacks. We hypothesize that other feedforward networks could similarly benefit from the proposed framework. To promote research in this direction, we provide an open-sourced PyTorch-based package called \textit{Predify}, which can be used to implement and investigate the impacts of the predictive coding dynamics in any convolutional neural network.

Meta Learning Backpropagation And Improving It

Louis Kirsch · Jürgen Schmidhuber

Many concepts have been proposed for meta learning with neural networks (NNs), e.g., NNs that learn to reprogram fast weights, Hebbian plasticity, learned learning rules, and meta recurrent NNs. Our Variable Shared Meta Learning (VSML) unifies the above and demonstrates that simple weight-sharing and sparsity in an NN is sufficient to express powerful learning algorithms (LAs) in a reusable fashion. A simple implementation of VSML where the weights of a neural network are replaced by tiny LSTMs allows for implementing the backpropagation LA solely by running in forward-mode. It can even meta learn new LAs that differ from online backpropagation and generalize to datasets outside of the meta training distribution without explicit gradient calculation. Introspection reveals that our meta learned LAs learn through fast association in a way that is qualitatively different from gradient descent.

Optimizing Reusable Knowledge for Continual Learning via Metalearning

Julio Hurtado · Alain Raymond · Alvaro Soto

When learning tasks over time, artificial neural networks suffer from a problem known as Catastrophic Forgetting (CF). This happens when the weights of a network are overwritten during the training of a new task causing forgetting of old information. To address this issue, we propose MetA Reusable Knowledge or MARK, a new method that fosters weight reusability instead of overwriting when learning a new task. Specifically, MARK keeps a set of shared weights among tasks. We envision these shared weights as a common Knowledge Base (KB) that is not only used to learn new tasks, but also enriched with new knowledge as the model learns new tasks. Key components behind MARK are two-fold. On the one hand, a metalearning approach provides the key mechanism to incrementally enrich the KB with new knowledge and to foster weight reusability among tasks. On the other hand, a set of trainable masks provides the key mechanism to selectively choose from the KB relevant weights to solve each task. By using MARK, we achieve state of the art results in several popular benchmarks, surpassing the best performing methods in terms of average accuracy by over 10% on the 20-Split-MiniImageNet dataset, while achieving almost zero forgetfulness using 55% of the number of parameters. Furthermore, an ablation study provides evidence that, indeed, MARK is learning reusable knowledge that is selectively used by each task.

A sampling-based circuit for optimal decision making

Camille Rullán Buxó · Cristina Savin

Many features of human and animal behavior can be understood in the framework of Bayesian inference and optimal decision making, but the biological substrate of such processes is not fully understood. Neural sampling provides a flexible code for probabilistic inference in high dimensions and explains key features of sensory responses under experimental manipulations of uncertainty. However, since it encodes uncertainty implicitly, across time and neurons, it remains unclear how such representations can be used for decision making. Here we propose a spiking network model that maps neural samples of a task-specific marginal distribution into an instantaneous representation of uncertainty via a procedure inspired by online kernel density estimation, so that its output can be readily used for decision making. Our model is consistent with experimental results at the level of single neurons and populations, and makes predictions for how neural responses and decisions could be modulated by uncertainty and prior biases. More generally, our work brings together conflicting perspectives on probabilistic brain computation.

Compressed Video Contrastive Learning

Yuqi Huo · Mingyu Ding · Haoyu Lu · Nanyi Fei · Zhiwu Lu · Ji-Rong Wen · Ping Luo

This work concerns self-supervised video representation learning (SSVRL), one topic that has received much attention recently. Since videos are storage-intensive and contain a rich source of visual content, models designed for SSVRL are expected to be storage- and computation-efficient, as well as effective. However, most existing methods only focus on one of the two objectives, failing to consider both at the same time. In this work, for the first time, the seemingly contradictory goals are simultaneously achieved by exploiting compressed videos and capturing mutual information between two input streams. Specifically, a novel Motion Vector based Cross Guidance Contrastive learning approach (MVCGC) is proposed. For storage and computation efficiency, we choose to directly decode RGB frames and motion vectors (that resemble low-resolution optical flows) from compressed videos on-the-fly. To enhance the representation ability of the motion vectors, hence the effectiveness of our method, we design a cross guidance contrastive learning algorithm based on multi-instance InfoNCE loss, where motion vectors can take supervision signals from RGB frames and vice versa. Comprehensive experiments on two downstream tasks show that our MVCGC yields new state-of-the-art while being significantly more efficient than its competitors.

Attention Bottlenecks for Multimodal Fusion

Arsha Nagrani · Shan Yang · Anurag Arnab · Aren Jansen · Cordelia Schmid · Chen Sun

Humans perceive the world by concurrently processing and fusing high-dimensional inputs from multiple modalities such as vision and audio. Machine perception models, in stark contrast, are typically modality-specific and optimised for unimodal benchmarks.A common approach for building multimodal models is to simply combine multiple of these modality-specific architectures using late-stage fusion of final representations or predictions ('late-fusion').Instead, we introduce a novel transformer based architecture that uses 'attention bottlenecks' for modality fusion at multiple layers. Compared to traditional pairwise self-attention, these bottlenecks force information between different modalities to pass through a small number of '`bottleneck' latent units, requiring the model to collate and condense the most relevant information in each modality and only share what is necessary. We find that such a strategy improves fusion performance, at the same time reducing computational cost. We conduct thorough ablation studies, and achieve state-of-the-art results on multiple audio-visual classification benchmarks including Audioset, Epic-Kitchens and VGGSound. All code and models will be released.

Spot the Difference: Detection of Topological Changes via Geometric Alignment

Per Steffen Czolbe · Aasa Feragen · Oswin Krause

Geometric alignment appears in a variety of applications, ranging from domain adaptation, optimal transport, and normalizing flows in machine learning; optical flow and learned augmentation in computer vision and deformable registration within biomedical imaging. A recurring challenge is the alignment of domains whose topology is not the same; a problem that is routinely ignored, potentially introducing bias in downstream analysis. As a first step towards solving such alignment problems, we propose an unsupervised algorithm for the detection of changes in image topology. The model is based on a conditional variational auto-encoder and detects topological changes between two images during the registration step. We account for both topological changes in the image under spatial variation and unexpected transformations. Our approach is validated on two tasks and datasets: detection of topological changes in microscopy images of cells, and unsupervised anomaly detection brain imaging.

SE(3)-equivariant prediction of molecular wavefunctions and electronic densities

Oliver Unke · Mihail Bogojeski · Michael Gastegger · Mario Geiger · Tess Smidt · Klaus-Robert Müller

Machine learning has enabled the prediction of quantum chemical properties with high accuracy and efficiency, allowing to bypass computationally costly ab initio calculations. Instead of training on a fixed set of properties, more recent approaches attempt to learn the electronic wavefunction (or density) as a central quantity of atomistic systems, from which all other observables can be derived. This is complicated by the fact that wavefunctions transform non-trivially under molecular rotations, which makes them a challenging prediction target. To solve this issue, we introduce general SE(3)-equivariant operations and building blocks for constructing deep learning architectures for geometric point cloud data and apply them to reconstruct wavefunctions of atomistic systems with unprecedented accuracy. Our model achieves speedups of over three orders of magnitude compared to ab initio methods and reduces prediction errors by up to two orders of magnitude compared to the previous state-of-the-art. This accuracy makes it possible to derive properties such as energies and forces directly from the wavefunction in an end-to-end manner. We demonstrate the potential of our approach in a transfer learning application, where a model trained on low accuracy reference wavefunctions implicitly learns to correct for electronic many-body interactions from observables computed at a higher level of theory. Such machine-learned wavefunction surrogates pave the way towards novel semi-empirical methods, offering resolution at an electronic level while drastically decreasing computational cost. Additionally, the predicted wavefunctions can serve as initial guess in conventional ab initio methods, decreasing the number of iterations required to arrive at a converged solution, thus leading to significant speedups without any loss of accuracy or robustness. While we focus on physics applications in this contribution, the proposed equivariant framework for deep learning on point clouds is promising also beyond, say, in computer vision or graphics.

S$^3$: Sign-Sparse-Shift Reparametrization for Effective Training of Low-bit Shift Networks

Xinlin Li · Bang Liu · Yaoliang Yu · Wulong Liu · Chunjing XU · Vahid Partovi Nia

Shift neural networks reduce computation complexity by removing expensive multiplication operations and quantizing continuous weights into low-bit discrete values, which are fast and energy-efficient compared to conventional neural networks. However, existing shift networks are sensitive to the weight initialization and yield a degraded performance caused by vanishing gradient and weight sign freezing problem. To address these issues, we propose S$^3$ re-parameterization, a novel technique for training low-bit shift networks. Our method decomposes a discrete parameter in a sign-sparse-shift 3-fold manner. This way, it efficiently learns a low-bit network with weight dynamics similar to full-precision networks and insensitive to weight initialization. Our proposed training method pushes the boundaries of shift neural networks and shows 3-bit shift networks compete with their full-precision counterparts in terms of top-1 accuracy on ImageNet.

Do Neural Optimal Transport Solvers Work? A Continuous Wasserstein-2 Benchmark

Alexander Korotin · Lingxiao Li · Aude Genevay · Justin Solomon · Alexander Filippov · Evgeny Burnaev

Despite the recent popularity of neural network-based solvers for optimal transport (OT), there is no standard quantitative way to evaluate their performance. In this paper, we address this issue for quadratic-cost transport---specifically, computation of the Wasserstein-2 distance, a commonly-used formulation of optimal transport in machine learning. To overcome the challenge of computing ground truth transport maps between continuous measures needed to assess these solvers, we use input-convex neural networks (ICNN) to construct pairs of measures whose ground truth OT maps can be obtained analytically. This strategy yields pairs of continuous benchmark measures in high-dimensional spaces such as spaces of images. We thoroughly evaluate existing optimal transport solvers using these benchmark measures. Even though these solvers perform well in downstream tasks, many do not faithfully recover optimal transport maps. To investigate the cause of this discrepancy, we further test the solvers in a setting of image generation. Our study reveals crucial limitations of existing solvers and shows that increased OT accuracy does not necessarily correlate to better results downstream.

Sequential Causal Imitation Learning with Unobserved Confounders

Daniel Kumor · Junzhe Zhang · Elias Bareinboim

"Monkey see monkey do" is an age-old adage, referring to naive imitation without a deep understanding of a system's underlying mechanics. Indeed, if a demonstrator has access to information unavailable to the imitator (monkey), such as a different set of sensors, then no matter how perfectly the imitator models its perceived environment (See), attempting to directly reproduce the demonstrator's behavior (Do) can lead to poor outcomes. Imitation learning in the presence of a mismatch between demonstrator and imitator has been studied in the literature under the rubric of causal imitation learning (Zhang et. al. 2020), but existing solutions are limited to single-stage decision-making. This paper investigates the problem of causal imitation learning in sequential settings, where the imitator must make multiple decisions per episode. We develop a graphical criterion that is both necessary and sufficient for determining the feasibility of causal imitation, providing conditions when an imitator can match a demonstrator's performance despite differing capabilities. Finally, we provide an efficient algorithm for determining imitability, and corroborate our theory with simulations.

Physics-Integrated Variational Autoencoders for Robust and Interpretable Generative Modeling

Naoya Takeishi · Alexandros Kalousis

Integrating physics models within machine learning models holds considerable promise toward learning robust models with improved interpretability and abilities to extrapolate. In this work, we focus on the integration of incomplete physics models into deep generative models. In particular, we introduce an architecture of variational autoencoders (VAEs) in which a part of the latent space is grounded by physics. A key technical challenge is to strike a balance between the incomplete physics and trainable components such as neural networks for ensuring that the physics part is used in a meaningful manner. To this end, we propose a regularized learning method that controls the effect of the trainable components and preserves the semantics of the physics-based latent variables as intended. We not only demonstrate generative performance improvements over a set of synthetic and real-world datasets, but we also show that we learn robust models that can consistently extrapolate beyond the training distribution in a meaningful manner. Moreover, we show that we can control the generative process in an interpretable manner.

DOBF: A Deobfuscation Pre-Training Objective for Programming Languages

Marie-Anne Lachaux · Baptiste Roziere · Marc Szafraniec · Guillaume Lample

Recent advances in self-supervised learning have dramatically improved the state of the art on a wide variety of tasks. However, research in language model pre-training has mostly focused on natural languages, and it is unclear whether models like BERT and its variants provide the best pre-training when applied to other modalities, such as source code. In this paper, we introduce a new pre-training objective, DOBF, that leverages the structural aspect of programming languages and pre-trains a model to recover the original version of obfuscated source code. We show that models pre-trained with DOBF significantly outperform existing approaches on multiple downstream tasks, providing relative improvements of up to 12.2% in unsupervised code translation, and 5.3% in natural language code search. Incidentally, we found that our pre-trained model is able to deobfuscate fully obfuscated source files, and to suggest descriptive variable names.

Learning-to-learn non-convex piecewise-Lipschitz functions

Maria-Florina Balcan · Mikhail Khodak · Dravyansh Sharma · Ameet Talwalkar

We analyze the meta-learning of the initialization and step-size of learning algorithms for piecewise-Lipschitz functions, a non-convex setting with applications to both machine learning and algorithms. Starting from recent regret bounds for the exponential forecaster on losses with dispersed discontinuities, we generalize them to be initialization-dependent and then use this result to propose a practical meta-learning procedure that learns both the initialization and the step-size of the algorithm from multiple online learning tasks. Asymptotically, we guarantee that the average regret across tasks scales with a natural notion of task-similarity that measures the amount of overlap between near-optimal regions of different tasks. Finally, we instantiate the method and its guarantee in two important settings: robust meta-learning and multi-task data-driven algorithm design.

Random Shuffling Beats SGD Only After Many Epochs on Ill-Conditioned Problems

Itay Safran · Ohad Shamir

Recently, there has been much interest in studying the convergence rates of without-replacement SGD, and proving that it is faster than with-replacement SGD in the worst case. However, known lower bounds ignore the problem's geometry, including its condition number, whereas the upper bounds explicitly depend on it. Perhaps surprisingly, we prove that when the condition number is taken into account, without-replacement SGD \emph{does not} significantly improve on with-replacement SGD in terms of worst-case bounds, unless the number of epochs (passes over the data) is larger than the condition number. Since many problems in machine learning and other areas are both ill-conditioned and involve large datasets, this indicates that without-replacement does not necessarily improve over with-replacement sampling for realistic iteration budgets. We show this by providing new lower and upper bounds which are tight (up to log factors), for quadratic problems with commuting quadratic terms, precisely quantifying the dependence on the problem parameters.

Attention Approximates Sparse Distributed Memory

Trenton Bricken · Cengiz Pehlevan

While Attention has come to be an important mechanism in deep learning, there remains limited intuition for why it works so well. Here, we show that Transformer Attention can be closely related under certain data conditions to Kanerva's Sparse Distributed Memory (SDM), a biologically plausible associative memory model. We confirm that these conditions are satisfied in pre-trained GPT2 Transformer models. We discuss the implications of the Attention-SDM map and provide new computational and biological interpretations of Attention.

Finding Regions of Heterogeneity in Decision-Making via Expected Conditional Covariance

Justin Lim · Christina Ji · Michael Oberst · Saul Blecker · Leora Horwitz · David Sontag

Individuals often make different decisions when faced with the same context, due to personal preferences and background. For instance, judges may vary in their leniency towards certain drug-related offenses, and doctors may vary in their preference for how to start treatment for certain types of patients. With these examples in mind, we present an algorithm for identifying types of contexts (e.g., types of cases or patients) with high inter-decision-maker disagreement. We formalize this as a causal inference problem, seeking a region where the assignment of decision-maker has a large causal effect on the decision. Our algorithm finds such a region by maximizing an empirical objective, and we give a generalization bound for its performance. In a semi-synthetic experiment, we show that our algorithm recovers the correct region of heterogeneity accurately compared to baselines. Finally, we apply our algorithm to real-world healthcare datasets, recovering variation that aligns with existing clinical knowledge.

Identifying and Benchmarking Natural Out-of-Context Prediction Problems

David Madras · Richard Zemel

Deep learning systems frequently fail at out-of-context (OOC) prediction, the problem of making reliable predictions on uncommon or unusual inputs or subgroups of the training distribution. To this end, a number of benchmarks for measuring OOC performance have been recently introduced. In this work, we introduce a framework unifying the literature on OOC performance measurement, and demonstrate how rich auxiliary information can be leveraged to identify candidate sets of OOC examples in existing datasets. We present NOOCh: a suite of naturally-occurring "challenge sets", and show how varying notions of context can be used to probe specific OOC failure modes. Experimentally, we explore the tradeoffs between various learning approaches on these challenge sets and demonstrate how the choices made in designing OOC benchmarks can yield varying conclusions.

Overinterpretation reveals image classification model pathologies

Brandon Carter · Siddhartha Jain · Jonas Mueller · David Gifford

Image classifiers are typically scored on their test set accuracy, but high accuracy can mask a subtle type of model failure. We find that high scoring convolutional neural networks (CNNs) on popular benchmarks exhibit troubling pathologies that allow them to display high accuracy even in the absence of semantically salient features. When a model provides a high-confidence decision without salient supporting input features, we say the classifier has overinterpreted its input, finding too much class-evidence in patterns that appear nonsensical to humans. Here, we demonstrate that neural networks trained on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet suffer from overinterpretation, and we find models on CIFAR-10 make confident predictions even when 95% of input images are masked and humans cannot discern salient features in the remaining pixel-subsets. We introduce Batched Gradient SIS, a new method for discovering sufficient input subsets for complex datasets, and use this method to show the sufficiency of border pixels in ImageNet for training and testing. Although these patterns portend potential model fragility in real-world deployment, they are in fact valid statistical patterns of the benchmark that alone suffice to attain high test accuracy. Unlike adversarial examples, overinterpretation relies upon unmodified image pixels. We find ensembling and input dropout can each help mitigate overinterpretation.

Neural Circuit Synthesis from Specification Patterns

Frederik Schmitt · Christopher Hahn · Markus Rabe · Bernd Finkbeiner

We train hierarchical Transformers on the task of synthesizing hardware circuits directly out of high-level logical specifications in linear-time temporal logic (LTL). The LTL synthesis problem is a well-known algorithmic challenge with a long history and an annual competition is organized to track the improvement of algorithms and tooling over time. New approaches using machine learning might open a lot of possibilities in this area, but suffer from the lack of sufficient amounts of training data. In this paper, we consider a method to generate large amounts of additional training data, i.e., pairs of specifications and circuits implementing them. We ensure that this synthetic data is sufficiently close to human-written specifications by mining common patterns from the specifications used in the synthesis competitions. We show that hierarchical Transformers trained on this synthetic data solve a significant portion of problems from the synthesis competitions, and even out-of-distribution examples from a recent case study.

Learning Generative Vision Transformer with Energy-Based Latent Space for Saliency Prediction

Jing Zhang · Jianwen Xie · Nick Barnes · Ping Li

Vision transformer networks have shown superiority in many computer vision tasks. In this paper, we take a step further by proposing a novel generative vision transformer with latent variables following an informative energy-based prior for salient object detection. Both the vision transformer network and the energy-based prior model are jointly trained via Markov chain Monte Carlo-based maximum likelihood estimation, in which the sampling from the intractable posterior and prior distributions of the latent variables are performed by Langevin dynamics. Further, with the generative vision transformer, we can easily obtain a pixel-wise uncertainty map from an image, which indicates the model confidence in predicting saliency from the image. Different from the existing generative models which define the prior distribution of the latent variables as a simple isotropic Gaussian distribution, our model uses an energy-based informative prior which can be more expressive to capture the latent space of the data. We apply the proposed framework to both RGB and RGB-D salient object detection tasks. Extensive experimental results show that our framework can achieve not only accurate saliency predictions but also meaningful uncertainty maps that are consistent with the human perception.

Adversarial Examples for k-Nearest Neighbor Classifiers Based on Higher-Order Voronoi Diagrams

Chawin Sitawarin · Evgenios Kornaropoulos · Dawn Song · David Wagner

Adversarial examples are a widely studied phenomenon in machine learning models. While most of the attention has been focused on neural networks, other practical models also suffer from this issue. In this work, we propose an algorithm for evaluating the adversarial robustness of $k$-nearest neighbor classification, i.e., finding a minimum-norm adversarial example. Diverging from previous proposals, we propose the first geometric approach by performing a search that expands outwards from a given input point. On a high level, the search radius expands to the nearby higher-order Voronoi cells until we find a cell that classifies differently from the input point. To scale the algorithm to a large $k$, we introduce approximation steps that find perturbation with smaller norm, compared to the baselines, in a variety of datasets. Furthermore, we analyze the structural properties of a dataset where our approach outperforms the competition.

Adversarially Robust 3D Point Cloud Recognition Using Self-Supervisions

Jiachen Sun · Yulong Cao · Christopher B Choy · Zhiding Yu · Anima Anandkumar · Zhuoqing Morley Mao · Chaowei Xiao

3D point cloud data is increasingly used in safety-critical applications such as autonomous driving. Thus, the robustness of 3D deep learning models against adversarial attacks becomes a major consideration. In this paper, we systematically study the impact of various self-supervised learning proxy tasks on different architectures and threat models for 3D point clouds with adversarial training. Specifically, we study MLP-based (PointNet), convolution-based (DGCNN), and transformer-based (PCT) 3D architectures. Through extensive experimentation, we demonstrate that appropriate applications of self-supervision can significantly enhance the robustness in 3D point cloud recognition, achieving considerable improvements compared to the standard adversarial training baseline. Our analysis reveals that local feature learning is desirable for adversarial robustness in point clouds since it limits the adversarial propagation between the point-level input perturbations and the model's final output. This insight also explains the success of DGCNN and the jigsaw proxy task in achieving stronger 3D adversarial robustness.

Neural Population Geometry Reveals the Role of Stochasticity in Robust Perception

Joel Dapello · Jenelle Feather · Hang Le · Tiago Marques · David Cox · Josh McDermott · James J DiCarlo · Sueyeon Chung

Adversarial examples are often cited by neuroscientists and machine learning researchers as an example of how computational models diverge from biological sensory systems. Recent work has proposed adding biologically-inspired components to visual neural networks as a way to improve their adversarial robustness. One surprisingly effective component for reducing adversarial vulnerability is response stochasticity, like that exhibited by biological neurons. Here, using recently developed geometrical techniques from computational neuroscience, we investigate how adversarial perturbations influence the internal representations of standard, adversarially trained, and biologically-inspired stochastic networks. We find distinct geometric signatures for each type of network, revealing different mechanisms for achieving robust representations. Next, we generalize these results to the auditory domain, showing that neural stochasticity also makes auditory models more robust to adversarial perturbations. Geometric analysis of the stochastic networks reveals overlap between representations of clean and adversarially perturbed stimuli, and quantitatively demonstrate that competing geometric effects of stochasticity mediate a tradeoff between adversarial and clean performance. Our results shed light on the strategies of robust perception utilized by adversarially trained and stochastic networks, and help explain how stochasticity may be beneficial to machine and biological computation.

Iterative Amortized Policy Optimization

Joseph Marino · Alexandre Piche · Alessandro Davide Ialongo · Yisong Yue

Policy networks are a central feature of deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms for continuous control, enabling the estimation and sampling of high-value actions. From the variational inference perspective on RL, policy networks, when used with entropy or KL regularization, are a form of amortized optimization, optimizing network parameters rather than the policy distributions directly. However, direct amortized mappings can yield suboptimal policy estimates and restricted distributions, limiting performance and exploration. Given this perspective, we consider the more flexible class of iterative amortized optimizers. We demonstrate that the resulting technique, iterative amortized policy optimization, yields performance improvements over direct amortization on benchmark continuous control tasks.

Revisiting the Calibration of Modern Neural Networks

Matthias Minderer · Josip Djolonga · Rob Romijnders · Frances Hubis · Xiaohua Zhai · Neil Houlsby · Dustin Tran · Mario Lucic

Accurate estimation of predictive uncertainty (model calibration) is essential for the safe application of neural networks. Many instances of miscalibration in modern neural networks have been reported, suggesting a trend that newer, more accurate models produce poorly calibrated predictions. Here, we revisit this question for recent state-of-the-art image classification models. We systematically relate model calibration and accuracy, and find that the most recent models, notably those not using convolutions, are among the best calibrated. Trends observed in prior model generations, such as decay of calibration with distribution shift or model size, are less pronounced in recent architectures. We also show that model size and amount of pretraining do not fully explain these differences, suggesting that architecture is a major determinant of calibration properties.

Nested Graph Neural Networks

Muhan Zhang · Pan Li

Graph neural network (GNN)'s success in graph classification is closely related to the Weisfeiler-Lehman (1-WL) algorithm. By iteratively aggregating neighboring node features to a center node, both 1-WL and GNN obtain a node representation that encodes a rooted subtree around the center node. These rooted subtree representations are then pooled into a single representation to represent the whole graph. However, rooted subtrees are of limited expressiveness to represent a non-tree graph. To address it, we propose Nested Graph Neural Networks (NGNNs). NGNN represents a graph with rooted subgraphs instead of rooted subtrees, so that two graphs sharing many identical subgraphs (rather than subtrees) tend to have similar representations. The key is to make each node representation encode a subgraph around it more than a subtree. To achieve this, NGNN extracts a local subgraph around each node and applies a base GNN to each subgraph to learn a subgraph representation. The whole-graph representation is then obtained by pooling these subgraph representations. We provide a rigorous theoretical analysis showing that NGNN is strictly more powerful than 1-WL. In particular, we proved that NGNN can discriminate almost all r-regular graphs, where 1-WL always fails. Moreover, unlike other more powerful GNNs, NGNN only introduces a constant-factor higher time complexity than standard GNNs. NGNN is a plug-and-play framework that can be combined with various base GNNs. We test NGNN with different base GNNs on several benchmark datasets. NGNN uniformly improves their performance and shows highly competitive performance on all datasets.

A flow-based latent state generative model of neural population responses to natural images

Mohammad Bashiri · Edgar Walker · Konstantin-Klemens Lurz · Akshay Jagadish · Taliah Muhammad · Zhiwei Ding · Zhuokun Ding · Andreas Tolias · Fabian Sinz

We present a joint deep neural system identification model for two major sources of neural variability: stimulus-driven and stimulus-conditioned fluctuations. To this end, we combine (1) state-of-the-art deep networks for stimulus-driven activity and (2) a flexible, normalizing flow-based generative model to capture the stimulus-conditioned variability including noise correlations. This allows us to train the model end-to-end without the need for sophisticated probabilistic approximations associated with many latent state models for stimulus-conditioned fluctuations. We train the model on the responses of thousands of neurons from multiple areas of the mouse visual cortex to natural images. We show that our model outperforms previous state-of-the-art models in predicting the distribution of neural population responses to novel stimuli, including shared stimulus-conditioned variability. Furthermore, it successfully learns known latent factors of the population responses that are related to behavioral variables such as pupil dilation, and other factors that vary systematically with brain area or retinotopic location. Overall, our model accurately accounts for two critical sources of neural variability while avoiding several complexities associated with many existing latent state models. It thus provides a useful tool for uncovering the interplay between different factors that contribute to variability in neural activity.

On Inductive Biases for Heterogeneous Treatment Effect Estimation

Alicia Curth · Mihaela van der Schaar

We investigate how to exploit structural similarities of an individual's potential outcomes (POs) under different treatments to obtain better estimates of conditional average treatment effects in finite samples. Especially when it is unknown whether a treatment has an effect at all, it is natural to hypothesize that the POs are similar -- yet, some existing strategies for treatment effect estimation employ regularization schemes that implicitly encourage heterogeneity even when it does not exist and fail to fully make use of shared structure. In this paper, we investigate and compare three end-to-end learning strategies to overcome this problem -- based on regularization, reparametrization and a flexible multi-task architecture -- each encoding inductive bias favoring shared behavior across POs. To build understanding of their relative strengths, we implement all strategies using neural networks and conduct a wide range of semi-synthetic experiments. We observe that all three approaches can lead to substantial improvements upon numerous baselines and gain insight into performance differences across various experimental settings.

Adversarial Graph Augmentation to Improve Graph Contrastive Learning

Susheel Suresh · Pan Li · Cong Hao · Jennifer Neville

Self-supervised learning of graph neural networks (GNN) is in great need because of the widespread label scarcity issue in real-world graph/network data. Graph contrastive learning (GCL), by training GNNs to maximize the correspondence between the representations of the same graph in its different augmented forms, may yield robust and transferable GNNs even without using labels. However, GNNs trained by traditional GCL often risk capturing redundant graph features and thus may be brittle and provide sub-par performance in downstream tasks. Here, we propose a novel principle, termed adversarial-GCL (\textit{AD-GCL}), which enables GNNs to avoid capturing redundant information during the training by optimizing adversarial graph augmentation strategies used in GCL. We pair AD-GCL with theoretical explanations and design a practical instantiation based on trainable edge-dropping graph augmentation. We experimentally validate AD-GCL by comparing with the state-of-the-art GCL methods and achieve performance gains of up-to~14\% in unsupervised, ~6\% in transfer and~3\% in semi-supervised learning settings overall with 18 different benchmark datasets for the tasks of molecule property regression and classification, and social network classification.

Probabilistic Tensor Decomposition of Neural Population Spiking Activity

Hugo Soulat · Sepiedeh Keshavarzi · Troy Margrie · Maneesh Sahani

The firing of neural populations is coordinated across cells, in time, and across experimentalconditions or repeated experimental trials; and so a full understanding of the computationalsignificance of neural responses must be based on a separation of these different contributions tostructured activity.Tensor decomposition is an approach to untangling the influence of multiple factors in data that iscommon in many fields. However, despite some recent interest in neuroscience, wider applicabilityof the approach is hampered by the lack of a full probabilistic treatment allowing principledinference of a decomposition from non-Gaussian spike-count data.Here, we extend the Pólya-Gamma (PG) augmentation, previously used in sampling-based Bayesianinference, to implement scalable variational inference in non-conjugate spike-count models.Using this new approach, we develop techniques related to automatic relevance determination to inferthe most appropriate tensor rank, as well as to incorporate priors based on known brain anatomy suchas the segregation of cell response properties by brain area.We apply the model to neural recordings taken under conditions of visual-vestibular sensoryintegration, revealing how the encoding of self- and visual-motion signals is modulated by thesensory information available to the animal.

Safe Pontryagin Differentiable Programming

Wanxin Jin · Shaoshuai Mou · George J. Pappas

We propose a Safe Pontryagin Differentiable Programming (Safe PDP) methodology, which establishes a theoretical and algorithmic framework to solve a broad class of safety-critical learning and control tasks---problems that require the guarantee of safety constraint satisfaction at any stage of the learning and control progress. In the spirit of interior-point methods, Safe PDP handles different types of system constraints on states and inputs by incorporating them into the cost or loss through barrier functions. We prove three fundamentals of the proposed Safe PDP: first, both the solution and its gradient in the backward pass can be approximated by solving their more efficient unconstrained counterparts; second, the approximation for both the solution and its gradient can be controlled for arbitrary accuracy by a barrier parameter; and third, importantly, all intermediate results throughout the approximation and optimization strictly respect the constraints, thus guaranteeing safety throughout the entire learning and control process. We demonstrate the capabilities of Safe PDP in solving various safety-critical tasks, including safe policy optimization, safe motion planning, and learning MPCs from demonstrations, on different challenging systems such as 6-DoF maneuvering quadrotor and 6-DoF rocket powered landing.

Multi-armed Bandit Requiring Monotone Arm Sequences

Ningyuan Chen

In many online learning or multi-armed bandit problems, the taken actions or pulled arms are ordinal and required to be monotone over time. Examples include dynamic pricing, in which the firms use markup pricing policies to please early adopters and deter strategic waiting, and clinical trials, in which the dose allocation usually follows the dose escalation principle to prevent dose limiting toxicities. We consider the continuum-armed bandit problem when the arm sequence is required to be monotone. We show that when the unknown objective function is Lipschitz continuous, the regret is $O(T)$. When in addition the objective function is unimodal or quasiconcave, the regret is $\tilde O(T^{3/4})$ under the proposed algorithm, which is also shown to be the optimal rate. This deviates from the optimal rate $\tilde O(T^{2/3})$ in the continuous-armed bandit literature and demonstrates the cost to the learning efficiency brought by the monotonicity requirement.

Generalizable Imitation Learning from Observation via Inferring Goal Proximity

Youngwoon Lee · Andrew Szot · Shao-Hua Sun · Joseph Lim

Task progress is intuitive and readily available task information that can guide an agent closer to the desired goal. Furthermore, a task progress estimator can generalize to new situations. From this intuition, we propose a simple yet effective imitation learning from observation method for a goal-directed task using a learned goal proximity function as a task progress estimator for better generalization to unseen states and goals. We obtain this goal proximity function from expert demonstrations and online agent experience, and then use the learned goal proximity as a dense reward for policy training. We demonstrate that our proposed method can robustly generalize compared to prior imitation learning methods on a set of goal-directed tasks in navigation, locomotion, and robotic manipulation, even with demonstrations that cover only a part of the states.

Deformable Butterfly: A Highly Structured and Sparse Linear Transform

Rui Lin · Jie Ran · King Hung Chiu · Graziano Chesi · Ngai Wong

We introduce a new kind of linear transform named Deformable Butterfly (DeBut) that generalizes the conventional butterfly matrices and can be adapted to various input-output dimensions. It inherits the fine-to-coarse-grained learnable hierarchy of traditional butterflies and when deployed to neural networks, the prominent structures and sparsity in a DeBut layer constitutes a new way for network compression. We apply DeBut as a drop-in replacement of standard fully connected and convolutional layers, and demonstrate its superiority in homogenizing a neural network and rendering it favorable properties such as light weight and low inference complexity, without compromising accuracy. The natural complexity-accuracy tradeoff arising from the myriad deformations of a DeBut layer also opens up new rooms for analytical and practical research. The codes and Appendix are publicly available at:

Counterfactual Invariance to Spurious Correlations in Text Classification

Victor Veitch · Alexander D'Amour · Steve Yadlowsky · Jacob Eisenstein

Informally, a 'spurious correlation' is the dependence of a model on some aspect of the input data that an analyst thinks shouldn't matter. In machine learning, these have a know-it-when-you-see-it character; e.g., changing the gender of a sentence's subject changes a sentiment predictor's output. To check for spurious correlations, we can 'stress test' models by perturbing irrelevant parts of input data and seeing if model predictions change. In this paper, we study stress testing using the tools of causal inference. We introduce counterfactual invariance as a formalization of the requirement that changing irrelevant parts of the input shouldn't change model predictions. We connect counterfactual invariance to out-of-domain model performance, and provide practical schemes for learning (approximately) counterfactual invariant predictors (without access to counterfactual examples). It turns out that both the means and implications of counterfactual invariance depend fundamentally on the true underlying causal structure of the data---in particular, whether the label causes the features or the features cause the label. Distinct causal structures require distinct regularization schemes to induce counterfactual invariance. Similarly, counterfactual invariance implies different domain shift guarantees depending on the underlying causal structure. This theory is supported by empirical results on text classification.

Neural optimal feedback control with local learning rules

Johannes Friedrich · Siavash Golkar · Shiva Farashahi · Alexander Genkin · Anirvan Sengupta · Dmitri Chklovskii

A major problem in motor control is understanding how the brain plans and executes proper movements in the face of delayed and noisy stimuli. A prominent framework for addressing such control problems is Optimal Feedback Control (OFC). OFC generates control actions that optimize behaviorally relevant criteria by integrating noisy sensory stimuli and the predictions of an internal model using the Kalman filter or its extensions. However, a satisfactory neural model of Kalman filtering and control is lacking because existing proposals have the following limitations: not considering the delay of sensory feedback, training in alternating phases, requiring knowledge of the noise covariance matrices, as well as that of systems dynamics. Moreover, the majority of these studies considered Kalman filtering in isolation, and not jointly with control. To address these shortcomings, we introduce a novel online algorithm which combines adaptive Kalman filtering with a model free control approach (i.e., policy gradient algorithm). We implement this algorithm in a biologically plausible neural network with local synaptic plasticity rules. This network, with local synaptic plasticity rules, performs system identification, Kalman filtering and control with delayed noisy sensory feedback. This network performs system identification and Kalman filtering, without the need for multiple phases with distinct update rules or the knowledge of the noise covariances. It can perform state estimation with delayed sensory feedback, with the help of an internal model. It learns the control policy without requiring any knowledge of the dynamics, thus avoiding the need for weight transport. In this way, our implementation of OFC solves the credit assignment problem needed to produce the appropriate sensory-motor control in the presence of stimulus delay.

Noether Networks: meta-learning useful conserved quantities

Ferran Alet · Dylan Doblar · Allan Zhou · Josh Tenenbaum · Kenji Kawaguchi · Chelsea Finn

Progress in machine learning (ML) stems from a combination of data availability, computational resources, and an appropriate encoding of inductive biases. Useful biases often exploit symmetries in the prediction problem, such as convolutional networks relying on translation equivariance. Automatically discovering these useful symmetries holds the potential to greatly improve the performance of ML systems, but still remains a challenge. In this work, we focus on sequential prediction problems and take inspiration from Noether's theorem to reduce the problem of finding inductive biases to meta-learning useful conserved quantities. We propose Noether Networks: a new type of architecture where a meta-learned conservation loss is optimized inside the prediction function. We show, theoretically and experimentally, that Noether Networks improve prediction quality, providing a general framework for discovering inductive biases in sequential problems.

Self-Supervised Learning with Data Augmentations Provably Isolates Content from Style

Julius von Kügelgen · Yash Sharma · Luigi Gresele · Wieland Brendel · Bernhard Schölkopf · Michel Besserve · Francesco Locatello

Self-supervised representation learning has shown remarkable success in a number of domains. A common practice is to perform data augmentation via hand-crafted transformations intended to leave the semantics of the data invariant. We seek to understand the empirical success of this approach from a theoretical perspective. We formulate the augmentation process as a latent variable model by postulating a partition of the latent representation into a content component, which is assumed invariant to augmentation, and a style component, which is allowed to change. Unlike prior work on disentanglement and independent component analysis, we allow for both nontrivial statistical and causal dependencies in the latent space. We study the identifiability of the latent representation based on pairs of views of the observations and prove sufficient conditions that allow us to identify the invariant content partition up to an invertible mapping in both generative and discriminative settings. We find numerical simulations with dependent latent variables are consistent with our theory. Lastly, we introduce Causal3DIdent, a dataset of high-dimensional, visually complex images with rich causal dependencies, which we use to study the effect of data augmentations performed in practice.

Multimodal Virtual Point 3D Detection

Tianwei Yin · Xingyi Zhou · Philipp Krähenbühl

Lidar-based sensing drives current autonomous vehicles. Despite rapid progress, current Lidar sensors still lag two decades behind traditional color cameras in terms of resolution and cost. For autonomous driving, this means that large objects close to the sensors are easily visible, but far-away or small objects comprise only one measurement or two. This is an issue, especially when these objects turn out to be driving hazards. On the other hand, these same objects are clearly visible in onboard RGB sensors. In this work, we present an approach to seamlessly fuse RGB sensors into Lidar-based 3D recognition. Our approach takes a set of 2D detections to generate dense 3D virtual points to augment an otherwise sparse 3D point cloud. These virtual points naturally integrate into any standard Lidar-based 3D detectors along with regular Lidar measurements. The resulting multi-modal detector is simple and effective. Experimental results on the large-scale nuScenes dataset show that our framework improves a strong CenterPoint baseline by a significant $6.6$ mAP, and outperforms competing fusion approaches. Code and more visualizations are available at

Learning with Algorithmic Supervision via Continuous Relaxations

Felix Petersen · Christian Borgelt · Hilde Kuehne · Oliver Deussen

The integration of algorithmic components into neural architectures has gained increased attention recently, as it allows training neural networks with new forms of supervision such as ordering constraints or silhouettes instead of using ground truth labels. Many approaches in the field focus on the continuous relaxation of a specific task and show promising results in this context. But the focus on single tasks also limits the applicability of the proposed concepts to a narrow range of applications. In this work, we build on those ideas to propose an approach that allows to integrate algorithms into end-to-end trainable neural network architectures based on a general approximation of discrete conditions. To this end, we relax these conditions in control structures such as conditional statements, loops, and indexing, so that resulting algorithms are smoothly differentiable. To obtain meaningful gradients, each relevant variable is perturbed via logistic distributions and the expectation value under this perturbation is approximated. We evaluate the proposed continuous relaxation model on four challenging tasks and show that it can keep up with relaxations specifically designed for each individual task.

Higher Order Kernel Mean Embeddings to Capture Filtrations of Stochastic Processes

Cristopher Salvi · Maud Lemercier · Chong Liu · Blanka Horvath · Theodoros Damoulas · Terry Lyons

Stochastic processes are random variables with values in some space of paths. However, reducing a stochastic process to a path-valued random variable ignores its filtration, i.e. the flow of information carried by the process through time. By conditioning the process on its filtration, we introduce a family of higher order kernel mean embeddings (KMEs) that generalizes the notion of KME to capture additional information related to the filtration. We derive empirical estimators for the associated higher order maximum mean discrepancies (MMDs) and prove consistency. We then construct a filtration-sensitive kernel two-sample test able to capture information that gets missed by the standard MMD test. In addition, leveraging our higher order MMDs we construct a family of universal kernels on stochastic processes that allows to solve real-world calibration and optimal stopping problems in quantitative finance (such as the pricing of American options) via classical kernel-based regression methods. Finally, adapting existing tests for conditional independence to the case of stochastic processes, we design a causal-discovery algorithm to recover the causal graph of structural dependencies among interacting bodies solely from observations of their multidimensional trajectories.

Information Directed Sampling for Sparse Linear Bandits

Botao Hao · Tor Lattimore · Wei Deng

Stochastic sparse linear bandits offer a practical model for high-dimensional online decision-making problems and have a rich information-regret structure. In this work we explore the use of information-directed sampling (IDS), which naturally balances the information-regret trade-off. We develop a class of information-theoretic Bayesian regret bounds that nearly match existing lower bounds on a variety of problem instances, demonstrating the adaptivity of IDS. To efficiently implement sparse IDS, we propose an empirical Bayesian approach for sparse posterior sampling using a spike-and-slab Gaussian-Laplace prior. Numerical results demonstrate significant regret reductions by sparse IDS relative to several baselines.

Recovering Latent Causal Factor for Generalization to Distributional Shifts

Xinwei Sun · Botong Wu · Xiangyu Zheng · Chang Liu · Wei Chen · Tao Qin · Tie-Yan Liu

Distributional shifts between training and target domains may degrade the prediction accuracy of learned models, mainly because these models often learn features that possess only correlation rather than causal relation with the output. Such a correlation, which is known as ``spurious correlation'' statistically, is domain-dependent hence may fail to generalize to unseen domains. To avoid such a spurious correlation, we propose \textbf{La}tent \textbf{C}ausal \textbf{I}nvariance \textbf{M}odels (LaCIM) that specifies the underlying causal structure of the data and the source of distributional shifts, guiding us to pursue only causal factor for prediction. Specifically, the LaCIM introduces a pair of correlated latent factors: (a) causal factor and (b) others, while the extent of this correlation is governed by a domain variable that characterizes the distributional shifts. On the basis of this, we prove that the distribution of observed variables conditioning on latent variables is shift-invariant. Equipped with such an invariance, we prove that the causal factor can be recovered without mixing information from others, which induces the ground-truth predicting mechanism. We propose a Variational-Bayesian-based method to learn this invariance for prediction. The utility of our approach is verified by improved generalization to distributional shifts on various real-world data. Our code is freely available at \url{}.

Dynamic population-based meta-learning for multi-agent communication with natural language

Abhinav Gupta · Marc Lanctot · Angeliki Lazaridou

In this work, our goal is to train agents that can coordinate with seen, unseen as well as human partners in a multi-agent communication environment involving natural language. Previous work using a single set of agents has shown great progress in generalizing to known partners, however it struggles when coordinating with unfamiliar agents. To mitigate that, recent work explored the use of population-based approaches, where multiple agents interact with each other with the goal of learning more generic protocols. These methods, while able to result in good coordination between unseen partners, still only achieve so in cases of simple languages, thus failing to adapt to human partners using natural language. We attribute this to the use of static populations and instead propose a dynamic population-based meta-learning approach that builds such a population in an iterative manner. We perform a holistic evaluation of our method on two different referential games, and show that our agents outperform all prior work when communicating with seen partners and humans. Furthermore, we analyze the natural language generation skills of our agents, where we find that our agents also outperform strong baselines. Finally, we test the robustness of our agents when communicating with out-of-population agents and carefully test the importance of each component of our method through ablation studies.

Statistical Regeneration Guarantees of the Wasserstein Autoencoder with Latent Space Consistency

Anish Chakrabarty · Swagatam Das

The introduction of Variational Autoencoders (VAE) has been marked as a breakthrough in the history of representation learning models. Besides having several accolades of its own, VAE has successfully flagged off a series of inventions in the form of its immediate successors. Wasserstein Autoencoder (WAE), being an heir to that realm carries with it all of the goodness and heightened generative promises, matching even the generative adversarial networks (GANs). Needless to say, recent years have witnessed a remarkable resurgence in statistical analyses of the GANs. Similar examinations for Autoencoders however, despite their diverse applicability and notable empirical performance, remain largely absent. To close this gap, in this paper, we investigate the statistical properties of WAE. Firstly, we provide statistical guarantees that WAE achieves the target distribution in the latent space, utilizing the Vapnik–Chervonenkis (VC) theory. The main result, consequently ensures the regeneration of the input distribution, harnessing the potential offered by Optimal Transport of measures under the Wasserstein metric. This study, in turn, hints at the class of distributions WAE can reconstruct after suffering a compression in the form of a latent law.

Leveraging the Inductive Bias of Large Language Models for Abstract Textual Reasoning

Christopher Rytting · David Wingate

Large natural language models (LMs) (such as GPT-3 or T5) demonstrate impressive abilities across a range of general NLP tasks. Here, we show that the knowledge embedded in such models provides a useful inductive bias, not just on traditional NLP tasks, but also in the nontraditional task of training a symbolic reasoning engine. We observe that these engines learn quickly and generalize in a natural way that reflects human intuition. For example, training such a system to model block-stacking might naturally generalize to stacking other types of objects because of structure in the real world that has been partially captured by the language describing it. We study several abstract textual reasoning tasks, such as object manipulation and navigation, and demonstrate multiple types of generalization to novel scenarios and the symbols that comprise them. We also demonstrate the surprising utility of $\textit{compositional learning}$, where a learner dedicated to mastering a complicated task gains an advantage by training on relevant simpler tasks instead of jumping straight to the complicated task.

Vector-valued Gaussian Processes on Riemannian Manifolds via Gauge Independent Projected Kernels

Michael Hutchinson · Alexander Terenin · Viacheslav Borovitskiy · So Takao · Yee Teh · Marc Deisenroth

Gaussian processes are machine learning models capable of learning unknown functions in a way that represents uncertainty, thereby facilitating construction of optimal decision-making systems. Motivated by a desire to deploy Gaussian processes in novel areas of science, a rapidly-growing line of research has focused on constructively extending these models to handle non-Euclidean domains, including Riemannian manifolds, such as spheres and tori. We propose techniques that generalize this class to model vector fields on Riemannian manifolds, which are important in a number of application areas in the physical sciences. To do so, we present a general recipe for constructing gauge independent kernels, which induce Gaussian vector fields, i.e. vector-valued Gaussian processes coherent withgeometry, from scalar-valued Riemannian kernels. We extend standard Gaussian process training methods, such as variational inference, to this setting. This enables vector-valued Gaussian processes on Riemannian manifolds to be trained using standard methods and makes them accessible to machine learning practitioners.

Provably Strict Generalisation Benefit for Invariance in Kernel Methods

Bryn Elesedy

It is a commonly held belief that enforcing invariance improves generalisation. Although this approach enjoys widespread popularity, it is only very recently that a rigorous theoretical demonstration of this benefit has been established. In this work we build on the function space perspective of Elesedy and Zaidi [8] to derive a strictly non-zero generalisation benefit of incorporating invariance in kernel ridge regression when the target is invariant to the action of a compact group. We study invariance enforced by feature averaging and find that generalisation is governed by a notion of effective dimension that arises from the interplay between the kernel and the group. In building towards this result, we find that the action of the group induces an orthogonal decomposition of both the reproducing kernel Hilbert space and its kernel, which may be of interest in its own right.

Causal Inference for Event Pairs in Multivariate Point Processes

Tian Gao · Dharmashankar Subramanian · Debarun Bhattacharjya · Xiao Shou · Nicholas Mattei · Kristin P Bennett

Causal inference and discovery from observational data has been extensively studied across multiple fields. However, most prior work has focused on independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.) data. In this paper, we propose a formalization for causal inference between pairs of event variables in multivariate recurrent event streams by extending Rubin's framework for the average treatment effect (ATE) and propensity scores to multivariate point processes. Analogous to a joint probability distribution representing i.i.d. data, a multivariate point process represents data involving asynchronous and irregularly spaced occurrences of various types of events over a common timeline. We theoretically justify our point process causal framework and show how to obtain unbiased estimates of the proposed measure. We conduct an experimental investigation using synthetic and real-world event datasets, where our proposed causal inference framework is shown to exhibit superior performance against a set of baseline pairwise causal association scores.

Evaluating model performance under worst-case subpopulations

Mike Li · Hongseok Namkoong · Shangzhou Xia

The performance of ML models degrades when the training population is different from that seen under operation. Towards assessing distributional robustness, we study the worst-case performance of a model over all subpopulations of a given size, defined with respect to core attributes $Z$. This notion of robustness can consider arbitrary (continuous) attributes $Z$, and automatically accounts for complex intersectionality in disadvantaged groups. We develop a scalable yet principled two-stage estimation procedure that can evaluate the robustness of state-of-the-art models. We prove that our procedure enjoys several finite-sample convergence guarantees, including dimension-free convergence. Instead of overly conservative notions based on Rademacher complexities, our evaluation error depends on the dimension of $Z$ only through the out-of-sample error in estimating the performance conditional on $Z$. On real datasets, we demonstrate that our method certifies the robustness of a model and prevents deployment of unreliable models.

Projected GANs Converge Faster

Axel Sauer · Kashyap Chitta · Jens Müller · Andreas Geiger

Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) produce high-quality images but are challenging to train. They need careful regularization, vast amounts of compute, and expensive hyper-parameter sweeps. We make significant headway on these issues by projecting generated and real samples into a fixed, pretrained feature space. Motivated by the finding that the discriminator cannot fully exploit features from deeper layers of the pretrained model, we propose a more effective strategy that mixes features across channels and resolutions. Our Projected GAN improves image quality, sample efficiency, and convergence speed. It is further compatible with resolutions of up to one Megapixel and advances the state-of-the-art Fréchet Inception Distance (FID) on twenty-two benchmark datasets. Importantly, Projected GANs match the previously lowest FIDs up to 40 times faster, cutting the wall-clock time from 5 days to less than 3 hours given the same computational resources.

Large-Scale Learning with Fourier Features and Tensor Decompositions

Frederiek Wesel · Kim Batselier

Random Fourier features provide a way to tackle large-scale machine learning problems with kernel methods. Their slow Monte Carlo convergence rate has motivated the research of deterministic Fourier features whose approximation error can decrease exponentially in the number of basis functions. However, due to their tensor product extension to multiple dimensions, these methods suffer heavily from the curse of dimensionality, limiting their applicability to one, two or three-dimensional scenarios. In our approach we overcome said curse of dimensionality by exploiting the tensor product structure of deterministic Fourier features, which enables us to represent the model parameters as a low-rank tensor decomposition. We derive a monotonically converging block coordinate descent algorithm with linear complexity in both the sample size and the dimensionality of the inputs for a regularized squared loss function, allowing to learn a parsimonious model in decomposed form using deterministic Fourier features.We demonstrate by means of numerical experiments how our low-rank tensor approach obtains the same performance of the corresponding nonparametric model, consistently outperforming random Fourier features.

TRS: Transferability Reduced Ensemble via Promoting Gradient Diversity and Model Smoothness

Zhuolin Yang · Linyi Li · Xiaojun Xu · Shiliang Zuo · Qian Chen · Pan Zhou · Benjamin Rubinstein · Ce Zhang · Bo Li

Adversarial Transferability is an intriguing property - adversarial perturbation crafted against one model is also effective against another model, while these models are from different model families or training processes. To better protect ML systems against adversarial attacks, several questions are raised: what are the sufficient conditions for adversarial transferability, and how to bound it? Is there a way to reduce the adversarial transferability in order to improve the robustness of an ensemble ML model? To answer these questions, in this work we first theoretically analyze and outline sufficient conditions for adversarial transferability between models; then propose a practical algorithm to reduce the transferability between base models within an ensemble to improve its robustness. Our theoretical analysis shows that only promoting the orthogonality between gradients of base models is not enough to ensure low transferability; in the meantime, the model smoothness is an important factor to control the transferability. We also provide the lower and upper bounds of adversarial transferability under certain conditions. Inspired by our theoretical analysis, we propose an effective Transferability Reduced Smooth (TRS) ensemble training strategy to train a robust ensemble with low transferability by enforcing both gradient orthogonality and model smoothness between base models. We conduct extensive experiments on TRS and compare with 6 state-of-the-art ensemble baselines against 8 whitebox attacks on different datasets, demonstrating that the proposed TRS outperforms all baselines significantly.

Outstanding Paper
Moser Flow: Divergence-based Generative Modeling on Manifolds

Noam Rozen · Aditya Grover · Maximilian Nickel · Yaron Lipman

We are interested in learning generative models for complex geometries described via manifolds, such as spheres, tori, and other implicit surfaces. Current extensions of existing (Euclidean) generative models are restricted to specific geometries and typically suffer from high computational costs. We introduce Moser Flow (MF), a new class of generative models within the family of continuous normalizing flows (CNF). MF also produces a CNF via a solution to the change-of-variable formula, however differently from other CNF methods, its model (learned) density is parameterized as the source (prior) density minus the divergence of a neural network (NN). The divergence is a local, linear differential operator, easy to approximate and calculate on manifolds. Therefore, unlike other CNFs, MF does not require invoking or backpropagating through an ODE solver during training. Furthermore, representing the model density explicitly as the divergence of a NN rather than as a solution of an ODE facilitates learning high fidelity densities. Theoretically, we prove that MF constitutes a universal density approximator under suitable assumptions. Empirically, we demonstrate for the first time the use of flow models for sampling from general curved surfaces and achieve significant improvements in density estimation, sample quality, and training complexity over existing CNFs on challenging synthetic geometries and real-world benchmarks from the earth and climate sciences.

Long-Short Transformer: Efficient Transformers for Language and Vision

Chen Zhu · Wei Ping · Chaowei Xiao · Mohammad Shoeybi · Tom Goldstein · Anima Anandkumar · Bryan Catanzaro

Transformers have achieved success in both language and vision domains. However, it is prohibitively expensive to scale them to long sequences such as long documents or high-resolution images, because self-attention mechanism has quadratic time and memory complexities with respect to the input sequence length. In this paper, we propose Long-Short Transformer (Transformer-LS), an efficient self-attention mechanism for modeling long sequences with linear complexity for both language and vision tasks. It aggregates a novel long-range attention with dynamic projection to model distant correlations and a short-term attention to capture fine-grained local correlations. We propose a dual normalization strategy to account for the scale mismatch between the two attention mechanisms. Transformer-LS can be applied to both autoregressive and bidirectional models without additional complexity. Our method outperforms the state-of-the-art models on multiple tasks in language and vision domains, including the Long Range Arena benchmark, autoregressive language modeling, and ImageNet classification. For instance, Transformer-LS achieves 0.97 test BPC on enwik8 using half the number of parameters than previous method, while being faster and is able to handle 3x as long sequences compared to its full-attention version on the same hardware. On ImageNet, it can obtain the state-of-the-art results (e.g., a moderate size of 55.8M model solely trained on 224x224 ImageNet-1K can obtain Top-1 accuracy 84.1%), while being more scalable on high-resolution images. The source code and models are released at

Deconditional Downscaling with Gaussian Processes

Siu Lun Chau · Shahine Bouabid · Dino Sejdinovic

Refining low-resolution (LR) spatial fields with high-resolution (HR) information, often known as statistical downscaling, is challenging as the diversity of spatial datasets often prevents direct matching of observations. Yet, when LR samples are modeled as aggregate conditional means of HR samples with respect to a mediating variable that is globally observed, the recovery of the underlying fine-grained field can be framed as taking an "inverse" of the conditional expectation, namely a deconditioning problem. In this work, we propose a Bayesian formulation of deconditioning which naturally recovers the initial reproducing kernel Hilbert space formulation from Hsu and Ramos (2019). We extend deconditioning to a downscaling setup and devise efficient conditional mean embedding estimator for multiresolution data. By treating conditional expectations as inter-domain features of the underlying field, a posterior for the latent field can be established as a solution to the deconditioning problem. Furthermore, we show that this solution can be viewed as a two-staged vector-valued kernel ridge regressor and show that it has a minimax optimal convergence rate under mild assumptions. Lastly, we demonstrate its proficiency in a synthetic and a real-world atmospheric field downscaling problem, showing substantial improvements over existing methods.

The Pareto Frontier of model selection for general Contextual Bandits

Teodor Vanislavov Marinov · Julian Zimmert

Recent progress in model selection raises the question of the fundamental limits of these techniques. Under specific scrutiny has been model selection for general contextual bandits with nested policy classes, resulting in a COLT2020 open problem. It asks whether it is possible to obtain simultaneously the optimal single algorithm guarantees over all policies in a nested sequence of policy classes, or if otherwise this is possible for a trade-off $\alpha\in[\frac{1}{2},1)$ between complexity term and time: $\ln(|\Pi_m|)^{1-\alpha}T^\alpha$. We give a disappointing answer to this question. Even in the purely stochastic regime, the desired results are unobtainable. We present a Pareto frontier of up to logarithmic factors matching upper and lower bounds, thereby proving that an increase in the complexity term $\ln(|\Pi_m|)$ independent of $T$ is unavoidable for general policy classes.As a side result, we also resolve a COLT2016 open problem concerning second-order bounds in full-information games.

Supervising the Transfer of Reasoning Patterns in VQA

Corentin Kervadec · Christian Wolf · Grigory Antipov · Moez Baccouche · Madiha Nadri

Methods for Visual Question Anwering (VQA) are notorious for leveraging dataset biases rather than performing reasoning, hindering generalization. It has been recently shown that better reasoning patterns emerge in attention layers of a state-of-the-art VQA model when they are trained on perfect (oracle) visual inputs. This provides evidence that deep neural networks can learn to reason when training conditions are favorable enough. However, transferring this learned knowledge to deployable models is a challenge, as much of it is lost during the transfer.We propose a method for knowledge transfer based on a regularization term in our loss function, supervising the sequence of required reasoning operations.We provide a theoretical analysis based on PAC-learning, showing that such program prediction can lead to decreased sample complexity under mild hypotheses. We also demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach experimentally on the GQA dataset and show its complementarity to BERT-like self-supervised pre-training.

Fast Certified Robust Training with Short Warmup

Zhouxing Shi · Yihan Wang · Huan Zhang · Jinfeng Yi · Cho-Jui Hsieh

Recently, bound propagation based certified robust training methods have been proposed for training neural networks with certifiable robustness guarantees. Despite that state-of-the-art (SOTA) methods including interval bound propagation (IBP) and CROWN-IBP have per-batch training complexity similar to standard neural network training, they usually use a long warmup schedule with hundreds or thousands epochs to reach SOTA performance and are thus still costly. In this paper, we identify two important issues in existing methods, namely exploded bounds at initialization, and the imbalance in ReLU activation states and improve IBP training. These two issues make certified training difficult and unstable, and thereby long warmup schedules were needed in prior works. To mitigate these issues and conduct faster certified training with shorter warmup, we propose three improvements based on IBP training: 1) We derive a new weight initialization method for IBP training; 2) We propose to fully add Batch Normalization (BN) to each layer in the model, since we find BN can reduce the imbalance in ReLU activation states; 3) We also design regularization to explicitly tighten certified bounds and balance ReLU activation states during wamrup. We are able to obtain 65.03% verified error on CIFAR-10 ($\epsilon=\frac{8}{255}$) and 82.36% verified error on TinyImageNet ($\epsilon=\frac{1}{255}$) using very short training schedules (160 and 80 total epochs, respectively), outperforming literature SOTA trained with hundreds or thousands epochs under the same network architecture. The code is available at

Behavior From the Void: Unsupervised Active Pre-Training

Hao Liu · Pieter Abbeel

We introduce a new unsupervised pre-training method for reinforcement learning called APT, which stands for Active Pre-Training. APT learns behaviors and representations by actively searching for novel states in reward-free environments. The key novel idea is to explore the environment by maximizing a non-parametric entropy computed in an abstract representation space, which avoids challenging density modeling and consequently allows our approach to scale much better in environments that have high-dimensional observations (e.g., image observations). We empirically evaluate APT by exposing task-specific reward after a long unsupervised pre-training phase. In Atari games, APT achieves human-level performance on 12 games and obtains highly competitive performance compared to canonical fully supervised RL algorithms. On DMControl suite, APT beats all baselines in terms of asymptotic performance and data efficiency and dramatically improves performance on tasks that are extremely difficult to train from scratch.

Autonomous Reinforcement Learning via Subgoal Curricula

Archit Sharma · Abhishek Gupta · Sergey Levine · Karol Hausman · Chelsea Finn

Reinforcement learning (RL) promises to enable autonomous acquisition of complex behaviors for diverse agents. However, the success of current reinforcement learning algorithms is predicated on an often under-emphasised requirement -- each trial needs to start from a fixed initial state distribution. Unfortunately, resetting the environment to its initial state after each trial requires substantial amount of human supervision and extensive instrumentation of the environment which defeats the goal of autonomous acquisition of complex behaviors. In this work, we propose Value-accelerated Persistent Reinforcement Learning (VaPRL), which generates a curriculum of initial states such that the agent can bootstrap on the success of easier tasks to efficiently learn harder tasks. The agent also learns to reach the initial states proposed by the curriculum, minimizing the reliance on human interventions into the learning. We observe that VaPRL reduces the interventions required by three orders of magnitude compared to episodic RL while outperforming prior state-of-the art methods for reset-free RL both in terms of sample efficiency and asymptotic performance on a variety of simulated robotics problems.

Statistically and Computationally Efficient Linear Meta-representation Learning

Kiran Thekumparampil · Prateek Jain · Praneeth Netrapalli · Sewoong Oh

In typical few-shot learning, each task is not equipped with enough data to be learned in isolation. To cope with such data scarcity, meta-representation learning methods train across many related tasks to find a shared (lower-dimensional) representation of the data where all tasks can be solved accurately. It is hypothesized that any new arriving tasks can be rapidly trained on this low-dimensional representation using only a few samples. Despite the practical successes of this approach, its statistical and computational properties are less understood. Moreover, the prescribed algorithms in these studies have little resemblance to those used in practice or they are computationally intractable. To understand and explain the success of popular meta-representation learning approaches such as ANIL, MetaOptNet, R2D2, and OML, we study a alternating gradient-descent minimization (AltMinGD) method (and its variant alternating minimization (AltMin)) which underlies the aforementioned methods. For a simple but canonical setting of shared linear representations, we show that AltMinGD achieves nearly-optimal estimation error, requiring only $\Omega(\mathrm{polylog}\,d)$ samples per task. This agrees with the observed efficacy of this algorithm in the practical few-shot learning scenarios.

Decentralized Learning in Online Queuing Systems

Flore Sentenac · Etienne Boursier · Vianney Perchet

Motivated by packet routing in computer networks, online queuing systems are composed of queues receiving packets at different rates. Repeatedly, they send packets to servers, each of them treating only at most one packet at a time. In the centralized case, the number of accumulated packets remains bounded (i.e., the system is stable) as long as the ratio between service rates and arrival rates is larger than $1$. In the decentralized case, individual no-regret strategies ensures stability when this ratio is larger than $2$. Yet, myopically minimizing regret disregards the long term effects due to the carryover of packets to further rounds. On the other hand, minimizing long term costs leads to stable Nash equilibria as soon as the ratio exceeds $\frac{e}{e-1}$. Stability with decentralized learning strategies with a ratio below $2$ was a major remaining question. We first argue that for ratios up to $2$, cooperation is required for stability of learning strategies, as selfish minimization of policy regret, a patient notion of regret, might indeed still be unstable in this case. We therefore consider cooperative queues and propose the first learning decentralized algorithm guaranteeing stability of the system as long as the ratio of rates is larger than $1$, thus reaching performances comparable to centralized strategies.

BulletTrain: Accelerating Robust Neural Network Training via Boundary Example Mining

Weizhe Hua · Yichi Zhang · Chuan Guo · Zhiru Zhang · G. Edward Suh

Neural network robustness has become a central topic in machine learning in recent years. Most training algorithms that improve the model's robustness to adversarial and common corruptions also introduce a large computational overhead, requiring as many as ten times the number of forward and backward passes in order to converge. To combat this inefficiency, we propose BulletTrain, a boundary example mining technique to drastically reduce the computational cost of robust training. Our key observation is that only a small fraction of examples are beneficial for improving robustness. BulletTrain dynamically predicts these important examples and optimizes robust training algorithms to focus on the important examples. We apply our technique to several existing robust training algorithms and achieve a 2.2x speed-up for TRADES and MART on CIFAR-10 and a 1.7x speed-up for AugMix on CIFAR-10-C and CIFAR-100-C without any reduction in clean and robust accuracy.

Fitting summary statistics of neural data with a differentiable spiking network simulator

Guillaume Bellec · Shuqi Wang · Alireza Modirshanechi · Johanni Brea · Wulfram Gerstner

Fitting network models to neural activity is an important tool in neuroscience. A popular approach is to model a brain area with a probabilistic recurrent spiking network whose parameters maximize the likelihood of the recorded activity. Although this is widely used, we show that the resulting model does not produce realistic neural activity. To correct for this, we suggest to augment the log-likelihood with terms that measure the dissimilarity between simulated and recorded activity. This dissimilarity is defined via summary statistics commonly used in neuroscience and the optimization is efficient because it relies on back-propagation through the stochastically simulated spike trains. We analyze this method theoretically and show empirically that it generates more realistic activity statistics. We find that it improves upon other fitting algorithms for spiking network models like GLMs (Generalized Linear Models) which do not usually rely on back-propagation. This new fitting algorithm also enables the consideration of hidden neurons which is otherwise notoriously hard, and we show that it can be crucial when trying to infer the network connectivity from spike recordings.

PerSim: Data-Efficient Offline Reinforcement Learning with Heterogeneous Agents via Personalized Simulators

Anish Agarwal · Abdullah Alomar · Varkey Alumootil · Devavrat Shah · Dennis Shen · Zhi Xu · Cindy Yang

We consider offline reinforcement learning (RL) with heterogeneous agents under severe data scarcity, i.e., we only observe a single historical trajectory for every agent under an unknown, potentially sub-optimal policy. We find that the performance of state-of-the-art offline and model-based RL methods degrade significantly given such limited data availability, even for commonly perceived "solved" benchmark settings such as "MountainCar" and "CartPole". To address this challenge, we propose PerSim, a model-based offline RL approach which first learns a personalized simulator for each agent by collectively using the historical trajectories across all agents, prior to learning a policy. We do so by positing that the transition dynamics across agents can be represented as a latent function of latent factors associated with agents, states, and actions; subsequently, we theoretically establish that this function is well-approximated by a "low-rank" decomposition of separable agent, state, and action latent functions. This representation suggests a simple, regularized neural network architecture to effectively learn the transition dynamics per agent, even with scarce, offline data. We perform extensive experiments across several benchmark environments and RL methods. The consistent improvement of our approach, measured in terms of both state dynamics prediction and eventual reward, confirms the efficacy of our framework in leveraging limited historical data to simultaneously learn personalized policies across agents.

Online Sign Identification: Minimization of the Number of Errors in Thresholding Bandits

Reda Ouhamma · Odalric-Ambrym Maillard · Vianney Perchet

In the fixed budget thresholding bandit problem, an algorithm sequentially allocates a budgeted number of samples to different distributions. It then predicts whether the mean of each distribution is larger or lower than a given threshold. We introduce a large family of algorithms (containing most existing relevant ones), inspired by the Frank-Wolfe algorithm, and provide a thorough yet generic analysis of their performance. This allowed us to construct new explicit algorithms, for a broad class of problems, whose losses are within a small constant factor of the non-adaptive oracle ones. Quite interestingly, we observed that adaptive methodsempirically greatly out-perform non-adaptive oracles, an uncommon behavior in standard online learning settings, such as regret minimization. We explain this surprising phenomenon on an insightful toy problem.

Monte Carlo Tree Search With Iteratively Refining State Abstractions

Samuel Sokota · Caleb Y Ho · Zaheen Ahmad · J. Zico Kolter

Decision-time planning is the process of constructing a transient, local policy with the intent of using it to make the immediate decision. Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS), which has been leveraged to great success in Go, chess, shogi, Hex, Atari, and other settings, is perhaps the most celebrated decision-time planning algorithm. Unfortunately, in its original form, MCTS can degenerate to one-step search in domains with stochasticity. Progressive widening is one way to ameliorate this issue, but we argue that it possesses undesirable properties for some settings. In this work, we present a method, called abstraction refining, for extending MCTS to stochastic environments which, unlike progressive widening, leverages the geometry of the state space. We argue that leveraging the geometry of the space can offer advantages. To support this claim, we present a series of experimental examples in which abstraction refining outperforms progressive widening, given equal simulation budgets.

Learning Models for Actionable Recourse

Alexis Ross · Himabindu Lakkaraju · Osbert Bastani

As machine learning models are increasingly deployed in high-stakes domains such as legal and financial decision-making, there has been growing interest in post-hoc methods for generating counterfactual explanations. Such explanations provide individuals adversely impacted by predicted outcomes (e.g., an applicant denied a loan) with recourse---i.e., a description of how they can change their features to obtain a positive outcome. We propose a novel algorithm that leverages adversarial training and PAC confidence sets to learn models that theoretically guarantee recourse to affected individuals with high probability without sacrificing accuracy. We demonstrate the efficacy of our approach via extensive experiments on real data.

Fractal Structure and Generalization Properties of Stochastic Optimization Algorithms

Alexander Camuto · George Deligiannidis · Murat Erdogdu · Mert Gurbuzbalaban · Umut Simsekli · Lingjiong Zhu

Understanding generalization in deep learning has been one of the major challenges in statistical learning theory over the last decade. While recent work has illustrated that the dataset and the training algorithm must be taken into account in order to obtain meaningful generalization bounds, it is still theoretically not clear which properties of the data and the algorithm determine the generalization performance. In this study, we approach this problem from a dynamical systems theory perspective and represent stochastic optimization algorithms as \emph{random iterated function systems} (IFS). Well studied in the dynamical systems literature, under mild assumptions, such IFSs can be shown to be ergodic with an invariant measure that is often supported on sets with a \emph{fractal structure}. As our main contribution, we prove that the generalization error of a stochastic optimization algorithm can be bounded based on the `complexity' of the fractal structure that underlies its invariant measure. Then, by leveraging results from dynamical systems theory, we show that the generalization error can be explicitly linked to the choice of the algorithm (e.g., stochastic gradient descent -- SGD), algorithm hyperparameters (e.g., step-size, batch-size), and the geometry of the problem (e.g., Hessian of the loss). We further specialize our results to specific problems (e.g., linear/logistic regression, one hidden-layered neural networks) and algorithms (e.g., SGD and preconditioned variants), and obtain analytical estimates for our bound. For modern neural networks, we develop an efficient algorithm to compute the developed bound and support our theory with various experiments on neural networks.

Bandit Phase Retrieval

Tor Lattimore · Botao Hao

We study a bandit version of phase retrieval where the learner chooses actions $(A_t)_{t=1}^n$ in the $d$-dimensional unit ball and the expected reward is $\langle A_t, \theta_\star \rangle^2$ with $\theta_\star \in \mathbb R^d$ an unknown parameter vector. We prove an upper bound on the minimax cumulative regret in this problem of $\smash{\tilde \Theta(d \sqrt{n})}$, which matches known lower bounds up to logarithmic factors and improves on the best known upper bound by a factor of $\smash{\sqrt{d}}$. We also show that the minimax simple regret is $\smash{\tilde \Theta(d / \sqrt{n})}$ and that this is only achievable by an adaptive algorithm. Our analysis shows that an apparently convincing heuristic for guessing lower bounds can be misleading and that uniform bounds on the information ratio for information-directed sampling (Russo and Van Roy, 2014) are not sufficient for optimal regret.

Efficient First-Order Contextual Bandits: Prediction, Allocation, and Triangular Discrimination

Dylan Foster · Akshay Krishnamurthy

A recurring theme in statistical learning, online learning, and beyond is that faster convergence rates are possible for problems with low noise, often quantified by the performance of the best hypothesis; such results are known as first-order or small-loss guarantees. While first-order guarantees are relatively well understood in statistical and online learning, adapting to low noise in contextual bandits (and more broadly, decision making) presents major algorithmic challenges. In a COLT 2017 open problem, Agarwal, Krishnamurthy, Langford, Luo, and Schapire asked whether first-order guarantees are even possible for contextual bandits and---if so---whether they can be attained by efficient algorithms. We give a resolution to this question by providing an optimal and efficient reduction from contextual bandits to online regression with the logarithmic (or, cross-entropy) loss. Our algorithm is simple and practical, readily accommodates rich function classes, and requires no distributional assumptions beyond realizability. In a large-scale empirical evaluation, we find that our approach typically outperforms comparable non-first-order methods.On the technical side, we show that the logarithmic loss and an information-theoretic quantity called the triangular discrimination play a fundamental role in obtaining first-order guarantees, and we combine this observation with new refinements to the regression oracle reduction framework of Foster and Rakhlin (2020). The use of triangular discrimination yields novel results even for the classical statistical learning model, and we anticipate that it will find broader use.

Revisiting Deep Learning Models for Tabular Data

Yury Gorishniy · Ivan Rubachev · Valentin Khrulkov · Artem Babenko

The existing literature on deep learning for tabular data proposes a wide range of novel architectures and reports competitive results on various datasets. However, the proposed models are usually not properly compared to each other and existing works often use different benchmarks and experiment protocols. As a result, it is unclear for both researchers and practitioners what models perform best. Additionally, the field still lacks effective baselines, that is, the easy-to-use models that provide competitive performance across different problems.In this work, we perform an overview of the main families of DL architectures for tabular data and raise the bar of baselines in tabular DL by identifying two simple and powerful deep architectures. The first one is a ResNet-like architecture which turns out to be a strong baseline that is often missing in prior works. The second model is our simple adaptation of the Transformer architecture for tabular data, which outperforms other solutions on most tasks. Both models are compared to many existing architectures on a diverse set of tasks under the same training and tuning protocols. We also compare the best DL models with Gradient Boosted Decision Trees and conclude that there is still no universally superior solution. The source code is available at

Neural Program Generation Modulo Static Analysis

Rohan Mukherjee · Yeming Wen · Dipak Chaudhari · Thomas Reps · Swarat Chaudhuri · Christopher Jermaine

State-of-the-art neural models of source code tend to be evaluated on the generation of individual expressions and lines of code, and commonly fail on long-horizon tasks such as the generation of entire method bodies. We propose to address this deficiency using weak supervision from a static program analyzer. Our neurosymbolic method allows a deep generative model to symbolically compute, using calls to a static analysis tool, long-distance semantic relationships in the code that it has already generated. During training, the model observes these relationships and learns to generate programs conditioned on them. We apply our approach to the problem of generating entire Java methods given the remainder of the class that contains the method. Our experiments show that the approach substantially outperforms a state-of-the-art transformer and a model that explicitly tries to learn program semantics on this task, both in terms of producing programs free of basic semantic errors and in terms of syntactically matching the ground truth.

Tighter Expected Generalization Error Bounds via Wasserstein Distance

Borja Rodríguez Gálvez · German Bassi · Ragnar Thobaben · Mikael Skoglund

This work presents several expected generalization error bounds based on the Wasserstein distance. More specifically, it introduces full-dataset, single-letter, and random-subset bounds, and their analogous in the randomized subsample setting from Steinke and Zakynthinou [1]. Moreover, when the loss function is bounded and the geometry of the space is ignored by the choice of the metric in the Wasserstein distance, these bounds recover from below (and thus, are tighter than) current bounds based on the relative entropy. In particular, they generate new, non-vacuous bounds based on the relative entropy. Therefore, these results can be seen as a bridge between works that account for the geometry of the hypothesis space and those based on the relative entropy, which is agnostic to such geometry. Furthermore, it is shown how to produce various new bounds based on different information measures (e.g., the lautum information or several $f$-divergences) based on these bounds and how to derive similar bounds with respect to the backward channel using the presented proof techniques.

Adversarial Robustness with Non-uniform Perturbations

Ecenaz Erdemir · Jeffrey Bickford · Luca Melis · Sergul Aydore

Robustness of machine learning models is critical for security related applications, where real-world adversaries are uniquely focused on evading neural network based detectors. Prior work mainly focus on crafting adversarial examples (AEs) with small uniform norm-bounded perturbations across features to maintain the requirement of imperceptibility. However, uniform perturbations do not result in realistic AEs in domains such as malware, finance, and social networks. For these types of applications, features typically have some semantically meaningful dependencies. The key idea of our proposed approach is to enable non-uniform perturbations that can adequately represent these feature dependencies during adversarial training. We propose using characteristics of the empirical data distribution, both on correlations between the features and the importance of the features themselves. Using experimental datasets for malware classification, credit risk prediction, and spam detection, we show that our approach is more robust to real-world attacks. Finally, we present robustness certification utilizing non-uniform perturbation bounds, and show that non-uniform bounds achieve better certification.

Leveraging Distribution Alignment via Stein Path for Cross-Domain Cold-Start Recommendation

Weiming Liu · Jiajie Su · Chaochao Chen · Xiaolin Zheng

Cross-Domain Recommendation (CDR) has been popularly studied to utilize different domain knowledge to solve the cold-start problem in recommender systems. In this paper, we focus on the Cross-Domain Cold-Start Recommendation (CDCSR) problem. That is, how to leverage the information from a source domain, where items are 'warm', to improve the recommendation performance of a target domain, where items are 'cold'. Unfortunately, previous approaches on cold-start and CDR cannot reduce the latent embedding discrepancy across domains efficiently and lead to model degradation. To address this issue, we propose DisAlign, a cross-domain recommendation framework for the CDCSR problem, which utilizes both rating and auxiliary representations from the source domain to improve the recommendation performance of the target domain. Specifically, we first propose Stein path alignment for aligning the latent embedding distributions across domains, and then further propose its improved version, i.e., proxy Stein path, which can reduce the operation consumption and improve efficiency. Our empirical study on Douban and Amazon datasets demonstrate that DisAlign significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art models under the CDCSR setting.

Separation Results between Fixed-Kernel and Feature-Learning Probability Metrics

Carles Domingo i Enrich · Youssef Mroueh

Several works in implicit and explicit generative modeling empirically observed that feature-learning discriminators outperform fixed-kernel discriminators in terms of the sample quality of the models. We provide separation results between probability metrics with fixed-kernel and feature-learning discriminators using the function classes $\mathcal{F}_2$ and $\mathcal{F}_1$ respectively, which were developed to study overparametrized two-layer neural networks. In particular, we construct pairs of distributions over hyper-spheres that can not be discriminated by fixed kernel $(\mathcal{F}_2)$ integral probability metric (IPM) and Stein discrepancy (SD) in high dimensions, but that can be discriminated by their feature learning ($\mathcal{F}_1$) counterparts. To further study the separation we provide links between the $\mathcal{F}_1$ and $\mathcal{F}_2$ IPMs with sliced Wasserstein distances. Our work suggests that fixed-kernel discriminators perform worse than their feature learning counterparts because their corresponding metrics are weaker.

Scalable Diverse Model Selection for Accessible Transfer Learning

Daniel Bolya · Rohit Mittapalli · Judy Hoffman

With the preponderance of pretrained deep learning models available off-the-shelf from model banks today, finding the best weights to fine-tune to your use-case can be a daunting task. Several methods have recently been proposed to find good models for transfer learning, but they either don't scale well to large model banks or don't perform well on the diversity of off-the-shelf models. Ideally the question we want to answer is, "given some data and a source model, can you quickly predict the model's accuracy after fine-tuning?" In this paper, we formalize this setting as "Scalable Diverse Model Selection" and propose several benchmarks for evaluating on this task. We find that existing model selection and transferability estimation methods perform poorly here and analyze why this is the case. We then introduce simple techniques to improve the performance and speed of these algorithms. Finally, we iterate on existing methods to create PARC, which outperforms all other methods on diverse model selection. We have released the benchmarks and method code in hope to inspire future work in model selection for accessible transfer learning.

Differentiable Annealed Importance Sampling and the Perils of Gradient Noise

Guodong Zhang · Kyle Hsu · Jianing Li · Chelsea Finn · Roger Grosse

Annealed importance sampling (AIS) and related algorithms are highly effective tools for marginal likelihood estimation, but are not fully differentiable due to the use of Metropolis-Hastings correction steps. Differentiability is a desirable property as it would admit the possibility of optimizing marginal likelihood as an objective using gradient-based methods. To this end, we propose Differentiable AIS (DAIS), a variant of AIS which ensures differentiability by abandoning the Metropolis-Hastings corrections. As a further advantage, DAIS allows for mini-batch gradients. We provide a detailed convergence analysis for Bayesian linear regression which goes beyond previous analyses by explicitly accounting for the sampler not having reached equilibrium. Using this analysis, we prove that DAIS is consistent in the full-batch setting and provide a sublinear convergence rate. Furthermore, motivated by the problem of learning from large-scale datasets, we study a stochastic variant of DAIS that uses mini-batch gradients. Surprisingly, stochastic DAIS can be arbitrarily bad due to a fundamental incompatibility between the goals of last-iterate convergence to the posterior and elimination of the accumulated stochastic error. This is in stark contrast with other settings such as gradient-based optimization and Langevin dynamics, where the effect of gradient noise can be washed out by taking smaller steps. This indicates that annealing-based marginal likelihood estimation with stochastic gradients may require new ideas.

Exploiting a Zoo of Checkpoints for Unseen Tasks

Jiaji Huang · Qiang Qiu · Kenneth Church

There are so many models in the literature that it is difficult for practitioners to decide which combinations are likely to be effective for a new task. This paper attempts to address this question by capturing relationships among checkpoints published on the web. We model the space of tasks as a Gaussian process. The covariance can be estimated from checkpoints and unlabeled probing data. With the Gaussian process, we can identify representative checkpoints by a maximum mutual information criterion. This objective is submodular. A greedy method identifies representatives that are likely to "cover'' the task space. These representatives generalize to new tasks with superior performance. Empirical evidence is provided for applications from both computational linguistics as well as computer vision.

Grounding inductive biases in natural images: invariance stems from variations in data

Diane Bouchacourt · Mark Ibrahim · Ari Morcos

To perform well on unseen and potentially out-of-distribution samples, it is desirable for machine learning models to have a predictable response with respect to transformations affecting the factors of variation of the input. Here, we study the relative importance of several types of inductive biases towards such predictable behavior: the choice of data, their augmentations, and model architectures. Invariance is commonly achieved through hand-engineered data augmentation, but do standard data augmentations address transformations that explain variations in real data? While prior work has focused on synthetic data, we attempt here to characterize the factors of variation in a real dataset, ImageNet, and study the invariance of both standard residual networks and the recently proposed vision transformer with respect to changes in these factors. We show standard augmentation relies on a precise combination of translation and scale, with translation recapturing most of the performance improvement---despite the (approximate) translation invariance built in to convolutional architectures, such as residual networks. In fact, we found that scale and translation invariance was similar across residual networks and vision transformer models despite their markedly different architectural inductive biases. We show the training data itself is the main source of invariance, and that data augmentation only further increases the learned invariances. Notably, the invariances learned during training align with the ImageNet factors of variation we found. Finally, we find that the main factors of variation in ImageNet mostly relate to appearance and are specific to each class.

Matching a Desired Causal State via Shift Interventions

Jiaqi Zhang · Chandler Squires · Caroline Uhler

Transforming a causal system from a given initial state to a desired target state is an important task permeating multiple fields including control theory, biology, and materials science. In causal models, such transformations can be achieved by performing a set of interventions. In this paper, we consider the problem of identifying a shift intervention that matches the desired mean of a system through active learning. We define the Markov equivalence class that is identifiable from shift interventions and propose two active learning strategies that are guaranteed to exactly match a desired mean. We then derive a worst-case lower bound for the number of interventions required and show that these strategies are optimal for certain classes of graphs. In particular, we show that our strategies may require exponentially fewer interventions than the previously considered approaches, which optimize for structure learning in the underlying causal graph. In line with our theoretical results, we also demonstrate experimentally that our proposed active learning strategies require fewer interventions compared to several baselines.

Unsupervised Noise Adaptive Speech Enhancement by Discriminator-Constrained Optimal Transport

Hsin-Yi Lin · Huan-Hsin Tseng · Xugang Lu · Yu Tsao

This paper presents a novel discriminator-constrained optimal transport network (DOTN) that performs unsupervised domain adaptation for speech enhancement (SE), which is an essential regression task in speech processing. The DOTN aims to estimate clean references of noisy speech in a target domain, by exploiting the knowledge available from the source domain. The domain shift between training and testing data has been reported to be an obstacle to learning problems in diverse fields. Although rich literature exists on unsupervised domain adaptation for classification, the methods proposed, especially in regressions, remain scarce and often depend on additional information regarding the input data. The proposed DOTN approach tactically fuses the optimal transport (OT) theory from mathematical analysis with generative adversarial frameworks, to help evaluate continuous labels in the target domain. The experimental results on two SE tasks demonstrate that by extending the classical OT formulation, our proposed DOTN outperforms previous adversarial domain adaptation frameworks in a purely unsupervised manner.

Optimality of variational inference for stochasticblock model with missing links

Solenne Gaucher · Olga Klopp

Variational methods are extremely popular in the analysis of network data. Statistical guarantees obtained for these methods typically provide asymptotic normality for the problem of estimation of global model parameters under the stochastic block model. In the present work, we consider the case of networks with missing links that is important in application and show that the variational approximation to the maximum likelihood estimator converges at the minimax rate. This provides the first minimax optimal and tractable estimator for the problem of parameter estimation for the stochastic block model with missing links. We complement our results with numerical studies of simulated and real networks, which confirm the advantages of this estimator over current methods.

Row-clustering of a Point Process-valued Matrix

Lihao Yin · Ganggang Xu · Huiyan Sang · Yongtao Guan

Structured point process data harvested from various platforms poses new challenges to the machine learning community. To cluster repeatedly observed marked point processes, we propose a novel mixture model of multi-level marked point processes for identifying potential heterogeneity in the observed data. Specifically, we study a matrix whose entries are marked log-Gaussian Cox processes and cluster rows of such a matrix. An efficient semi-parametric Expectation-Solution (ES) algorithm combined with functional principal component analysis (FPCA) of point processes is proposed for model estimation. The effectiveness of the proposed framework is demonstrated through simulation studies and real data analyses.

SIMONe: View-Invariant, Temporally-Abstracted Object Representations via Unsupervised Video Decomposition

Rishabh Kabra · Daniel Zoran · Goker Erdogan · Loic Matthey · Antonia Creswell · Matt Botvinick · Alexander Lerchner · Chris Burgess

To help agents reason about scenes in terms of their building blocks, we wish to extract the compositional structure of any given scene (in particular, the configuration and characteristics of objects comprising the scene). This problem is especially difficult when scene structure needs to be inferred while also estimating the agent’s location/viewpoint, as the two variables jointly give rise to the agent’s observations. We present an unsupervised variational approach to this problem. Leveraging the shared structure that exists across different scenes, our model learns to infer two sets of latent representations from RGB video input alone: a set of "object" latents, corresponding to the time-invariant, object-level contents of the scene, as well as a set of "frame" latents, corresponding to global time-varying elements such as viewpoint. This factorization of latents allows our model, SIMONe, to represent object attributes in an allocentric manner which does not depend on viewpoint. Moreover, it allows us to disentangle object dynamics and summarize their trajectories as time-abstracted, view-invariant, per-object properties. We demonstrate these capabilities, as well as the model's performance in terms of view synthesis and instance segmentation, across three procedurally generated video datasets.

Reliable Causal Discovery with Improved Exact Search and Weaker Assumptions

Ignavier Ng · Yujia Zheng · Jiji Zhang · Kun Zhang

Many of the causal discovery methods rely on the faithfulness assumption to guarantee asymptotic correctness. However, the assumption can be approximately violated in many ways, leading to sub-optimal solutions. Although there is a line of research in Bayesian network structure learning that focuses on weakening the assumption, such as exact search methods with well-defined score functions, they do not scale well to large graphs. In this work, we introduce several strategies to improve the scalability of exact score-based methods in the linear Gaussian setting. In particular, we develop a super-structure estimation method based on the support of inverse covariance matrix which requires assumptions that are strictly weaker than faithfulness, and apply it to restrict the search space of exact search. We also propose a local search strategy that performs exact search on the local clusters formed by each variable and its neighbors within two hops in the super-structure. Numerical experiments validate the efficacy of the proposed procedure, and demonstrate that it scales up to hundreds of nodes with a high accuracy.

Across-animal odor decoding by probabilistic manifold alignment

Pedro Herrero-Vidal · Dmitry Rinberg · Cristina Savin

Identifying the common structure of neural dynamics across subjects is key for extracting unifying principles of brain computation and for many brain machine interface applications. Here, we propose a novel probabilistic approach for aligning stimulus-evoked responses from multiple animals in a common low dimensional manifold and use hierarchical inference to identify which stimulus drives neural activity in any given trial. Our probabilistic decoder is robust to a range of features of the neural responses and significantly outperforms existing neural alignment procedures. When applied to recordings from the mouse olfactory bulb, our approach reveals low-dimensional population dynamics that are odor specific and have consistent structure across animals. Thus, our decoder can be used for increasing the robustness and scalability of neural-based chemical detection.

Differentiable rendering with perturbed optimizers

Quentin Le Lidec · Ivan Laptev · Cordelia Schmid · Justin Carpentier

Reasoning about 3D scenes from their 2D image projections is one of the core problems in computer vision. Solutions to this inverse and ill-posed problem typically involve a search for models that best explain observed image data. Notably, images depend both on the properties of observed scenes and on the process of image formation. Hence, if optimization techniques should be used to explain images, it is crucial to design differentable functions for the projection of 3D scenes into images, also known as differentiable rendering. Previous approaches to differentiable rendering typically replace non-differentiable operations by smooth approximations, impacting the subsequent 3D estimation. In this paper, we take a more general approach and study differentiable renderers through the prism of randomized optimization and the related notion of perturbed optimizers. In particular, our work highlights the link between some well-known differentiable renderer formulations and randomly smoothed optimizers, and introduces differentiable perturbed renderers. We also propose a variance reduction mechanism to alleviate the computational burden inherent to perturbed optimizers and introduce an adaptive scheme to automatically adjust the smoothing parameters of the rendering process. We apply our method to 3D scene reconstruction and demonstrate its advantages on the tasks of 6D pose estimation and 3D mesh reconstruction. By providing informative gradients that can be used as a strong supervisory signal, we demonstrate the benefits of perturbed renderers to obtain more accurate solutions when compared to the state-of-the-art alternatives using smooth gradient approximations.

Nested Variational Inference

Heiko Zimmermann · Hao Wu · Babak Esmaeili · Jan-Willem van de Meent

We develop nested variational inference (NVI), a family of methods that learn proposals for nested importance samplers by minimizing an forward or reverse KL divergence at each level of nesting. NVI is applicable to many commonly-used importance sampling strategies and provides a mechanism for learning intermediate densities, which can serve as heuristics to guide the sampler. Our experiments apply NVI to (a) sample from a multimodal distribution using a learned annealing path (b) learn heuristics that approximate the likelihood of future observations in a hidden Markov model and (c) to perform amortized inference in hierarchical deep generative models. We observe that optimizing nested objectives leads to improved sample quality in terms of log average weight and effective sample size.

On sensitivity of meta-learning to support data

Mayank Agarwal · Mikhail Yurochkin · Yuekai Sun

Meta-learning algorithms are widely used for few-shot learning. For example, image recognition systems that readily adapt to unseen classes after seeing only a few labeled examples. Despite their success, we show that modern meta-learning algorithms are extremely sensitive to the data used for adaptation, i.e. support data. In particular, we demonstrate the existence of (unaltered, in-distribution, natural) images that, when used for adaptation, yield accuracy as low as 4\% or as high as 95\% on standard few-shot image classification benchmarks. We explain our empirical findings in terms of class margins, which in turn suggests that robust and safe meta-learning requires larger margins than supervised learning.

Private learning implies quantum stability

Yihui Quek · Srinivasan Arunachalam · John A Smolin

Learning an unknown n-qubit quantum state rho is a fundamental challenge in quantum computing. Information-theoretically, it is known that tomography requires exponential in n many copies of rho to estimate its entries. Motivated by learning theory, Aaronson et al. introduced many (weaker) learning models: the PAC model of learning states (Proceedings of Royal Society A'07), shadow tomography (STOC'18) for learning shadows" of a state, a model that also requires learners to be differentially private (STOC'19) and the online model of learning states (NeurIPS'18). In these models it was shown that an unknown state can be learnedapproximately" using linear in n many copies of rho. But is there any relationship between these models? In this paper we prove a sequence of (information-theoretic) implications from differentially-private PAC learning to online learning and then to quantum stability.Our main result generalizes the recent work of Bun, Livni and Moran (Journal of the ACM'21) who showed that finite Littlestone dimension (of Boolean-valued concept classes) implies PAC learnability in the (approximate) differentially private (DP) setting. We first consider their work in the real-valued setting and further extend to their techniques to the setting of learning quantum states. Key to our results is our generic quantum online learner, Robust Standard Optimal Algorithm (RSOA), which is robust to adversarial imprecision. We then show information-theoretic implications between DP learning quantum states in the PAC model, learnability of quantum states in the one-way communication model, online learning of quantum states, quantum stability (which is our conceptual contribution), various combinatorial parameters and give further applications to gentle shadow tomography and noisy quantum state learning.

BNS: Building Network Structures Dynamically for Continual Learning

Qi Qin · Wenpeng Hu · Han Peng · Dongyan Zhao · Bing Liu

Continual learning (CL) of a sequence of tasks is often accompanied with the catastrophic forgetting(CF) problem. Existing research has achieved remarkable results in overcoming CF, especially for task continual learning. However, limited work has been done to achieve another important goal of CL,knowledge transfer.In this paper, we propose a technique (called BNS) to do both. The novelty of BNS is that it dynamically builds a network to learn each new task to overcome CF and to transfer knowledge across tasks at the same time. Experimental results show that when the tasks are different (with little shared knowledge), BNS can already outperform the state-of-the-art baselines. When the tasks are similar and have shared knowledge, BNS outperforms the baselines substantially by a large margin due to its knowledge transfer capability.

Object DGCNN: 3D Object Detection using Dynamic Graphs

Yue Wang · Justin Solomon

3D object detection often involves complicated training and testing pipelines, which require substantial domain knowledge about individual datasets. Inspired by recent non-maximum suppression-free 2D object detection models, we propose a 3D object detection architecture on point clouds. Our method models 3D object detection as message passing on a dynamic graph, generalizing the DGCNN framework to predict a set of objects. In our construction, we remove the necessity of post-processing via object confidence aggregation or non-maximum suppression. To facilitate object detection from sparse point clouds, we also propose a set-to-set distillation approach customized to 3D detection. This approach aligns the outputs of the teacher model and the student model in a permutation-invariant fashion, significantly simplifying knowledge distillation for the 3D detection task. Our method achieves state-of-the-art performance on autonomous driving benchmarks. We also provide abundant analysis of the detection model and distillation framework.

The balancing principle for parameter choice in distance-regularized domain adaptation

Werner Zellinger · Natalia Shepeleva · Marius-Constantin Dinu · Hamid Eghbal-zadeh · Hoan Duc Nguyen · Bernhard Nessler · Sergei Pereverzyev · Bernhard A. Moser

We address the unsolved algorithm design problem of choosing a justified regularization parameter in unsupervised domain adaptation. This problem is intriguing as no labels are available in the target domain. Our approach starts with the observation that the widely-used method of minimizing the source error, penalized by a distance measure between source and target feature representations, shares characteristics with regularized ill-posed inverse problems. Regularization parameters in inverse problems are optimally chosen by the fundamental principle of balancing approximation and sampling errors. We use this principle to balance learning errors and domain distance in a target error bound. As a result, we obtain a theoretically justified rule for the choice of the regularization parameter. In contrast to the state of the art, our approach allows source and target distributions with disjoint supports. An empirical comparative study on benchmark datasets underpins the performance of our approach.

Cockpit: A Practical Debugging Tool for the Training of Deep Neural Networks

Frank Schneider · Felix Dangel · Philipp Hennig

When engineers train deep learning models, they are very much "flying blind". Commonly used methods for real-time training diagnostics, such as monitoring the train/test loss, are limited. Assessing a network's training process solely through these performance indicators is akin to debugging software without access to internal states through a debugger. To address this, we present Cockpit, a collection of instruments that enable a closer look into the inner workings of a learning machine, and a more informative and meaningful status report for practitioners. It facilitates the identification of learning phases and failure modes, like ill-chosen hyperparameters. These instruments leverage novel higher-order information about the gradient distribution and curvature, which has only recently become efficiently accessible. We believe that such a debugging tool, which we open-source for PyTorch, is a valuable help in troubleshooting the training process. By revealing new insights, it also more generally contributes to explainability and interpretability of deep nets.

MEST: Accurate and Fast Memory-Economic Sparse Training Framework on the Edge

Geng Yuan · Xiaolong Ma · Wei Niu · Zhengang Li · Zhenglun Kong · Ning Liu · Yifan Gong · Zheng Zhan · Chaoyang He · Qing Jin · Siyue Wang · Minghai Qin · Bin Ren · Yanzhi Wang · Sijia Liu · Xue Lin

Recently, a new trend of exploring sparsity for accelerating neural network training has emerged, embracing the paradigm of training on the edge. This paper proposes a novel Memory-Economic Sparse Training (MEST) framework targeting for accurate and fast execution on edge devices. The proposed MEST framework consists of enhancements by Elastic Mutation (EM) and Soft Memory Bound (&S) that ensure superior accuracy at high sparsity ratios. Different from the existing works for sparse training, this current work reveals the importance of sparsity schemes on the performance of sparse training in terms of accuracy as well as training speed on real edge devices. On top of that, the paper proposes to employ data efficiency for further acceleration of sparse training. Our results suggest that unforgettable examples can be identified in-situ even during the dynamic exploration of sparsity masks in the sparse training process, and therefore can be removed for further training speedup on edge devices. Comparing with state-of-the-art (SOTA) works on accuracy, our MEST increases Top-1 accuracy significantly on ImageNet when using the same unstructured sparsity scheme. Systematical evaluation on accuracy, training speed, and memory footprint are conducted, where the proposed MEST framework consistently outperforms representative SOTA works. A reviewer strongly against our work based on his false assumptions and misunderstandings. On top of the previous submission, we employ data efficiency for further acceleration of sparse training. And we explore the impact of model sparsity, sparsity schemes, and sparse training algorithms on the number of removable training examples. Our codes are publicly available at:

TOHAN: A One-step Approach towards Few-shot Hypothesis Adaptation

Haoang Chi · Feng Liu · Wenjing Yang · Long Lan · Tongliang Liu · Bo Han · William Cheung · James Kwok

In few-shot domain adaptation (FDA), classifiers for the target domain are trained with \emph{accessible} labeled data in the source domain (SD) and few labeled data in the target domain (TD). However, data usually contain private information in the current era, e.g., data distributed on personal phones. Thus, the private data will be leaked if we directly access data in SD to train a target-domain classifier (required by FDA methods). In this paper, to prevent privacy leakage in SD, we consider a very challenging problem setting, where the classifier for the TD has to be trained using few labeled target data and a well-trained SD classifier, named few-shot hypothesis adaptation (FHA). In FHA, we cannot access data in SD, as a result, the private information in SD will be protected well. To this end, we propose a target-oriented hypothesis adaptation network (TOHAN) to solve the FHA problem, where we generate highly-compatible unlabeled data (i.e., an intermediate domain) to help train a target-domain classifier. TOHAN maintains two deep networks simultaneously, in which one focuses on learning an intermediate domain and the other takes care of the intermediate-to-target distributional adaptation and the target-risk minimization. Experimental results show that TOHAN outperforms competitive baselines significantly.

Learning Graph Cellular Automata

Daniele Grattarola · Lorenzo Livi · Cesare Alippi

Cellular automata (CA) are a class of computational models that exhibit rich dynamics emerging from the local interaction of cells arranged in a regular lattice. In this work we focus on a generalised version of typical CA, called graph cellular automata (GCA), in which the lattice structure is replaced by an arbitrary graph. In particular, we extend previous work that used convolutional neural networks to learn the transition rule of conventional CA and we use graph neural networks to learn a variety of transition rules for GCA. First, we present a general-purpose architecture for learning GCA, and we show that it can represent any arbitrary GCA with finite and discrete state space. Then, we test our approach on three different tasks: 1) learning the transition rule of a GCA on a Voronoi tessellation; 2) imitating the behaviour of a group of flocking agents; 3) learning a rule that converges to a desired target state.

Provably Efficient Causal Reinforcement Learning with Confounded Observational Data

Lingxiao Wang · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang

Empowered by neural networks, deep reinforcement learning (DRL) achieves tremendous empirical success. However, DRL requires a large dataset by interacting with the environment, which is unrealistic in critical scenarios such as autonomous driving and personalized medicine. In this paper, we study how to incorporate the dataset collected in the offline setting to improve the sample efficiency in the online setting. To incorporate the observational data, we face two challenges. (a) The behavior policy that generates the observational data may depend on unobserved random variables (confounders), which affect the received rewards and transition dynamics. (b) Exploration in the online setting requires quantifying the uncertainty given both the observational and interventional data. To tackle such challenges, we propose the deconfounded optimistic value iteration (DOVI) algorithm, which incorporates the confounded observational data in a provably efficient manner. DOVI explicitly adjusts for the confounding bias in the observational data, where the confounders are partially observed or unobserved. In both cases, such adjustments allow us to construct the bonus based on a notion of information gain, which takes into account the amount of information acquired from the offline setting. In particular, we prove that the regret of DOVI is smaller than the optimal regret achievable in the pure online setting when the confounded observational data are informative upon the adjustments.

Optimal Order Simple Regret for Gaussian Process Bandits

Sattar Vakili · Nacime Bouziani · Sepehr Jalali · Alberto Bernacchia · Da-shan Shiu

Consider the sequential optimization of a continuous, possibly non-convex, and expensive to evaluate objective function $f$. The problem can be cast as a Gaussian Process (GP) bandit where $f$ lives in a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS). The state of the art analysis of several learning algorithms shows a significant gap between the lower and upper bounds on the simple regret performance. When $N$ is the number of exploration trials and $\gamma_N$ is the maximal information gain, we prove an $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{\gamma_N/N})$ bound on the simple regret performance of a pure exploration algorithm that is significantly tighter than the existing bounds. We show that this bound is order optimal up to logarithmic factors for the cases where a lower bound on regret is known. To establish these results, we prove novel and sharp confidence intervals for GP models applicable to RKHS elements which may be of broader interest.

PARP: Prune, Adjust and Re-Prune for Self-Supervised Speech Recognition

Cheng-I Jeff Lai · Yang Zhang · Alexander Liu · Shiyu Chang · Yi-Lun Liao · Yung-Sung Chuang · Kaizhi Qian · Sameer Khurana · David Cox · Jim Glass

Self-supervised speech representation learning (speech SSL) has demonstrated the benefit of scale in learning rich representations for Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) with limited paired data, such as wav2vec 2.0. We investigate the existence of sparse subnetworks in pre-trained speech SSL models that achieve even better low-resource ASR results. However, directly applying widely adopted pruning methods such as the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH) is suboptimal in the computational cost needed. Moreover, we show that the discovered subnetworks yield minimal performance gain compared to the original dense network.We present Prune-Adjust-Re-Prune (PARP), which discovers and finetunes subnetworks for much better performance, while only requiring a single downstream ASR finetuning run. PARP is inspired by our surprising observation that subnetworks pruned for pre-training tasks need merely a slight adjustment to achieve a sizeable performance boost in downstream ASR tasks. Extensive experiments on low-resource ASR verify (1) sparse subnetworks exist in mono-lingual/multi-lingual pre-trained speech SSL, and (2) the computational advantage and performance gain of PARP over baseline pruning methods.In particular, on the 10min Librispeech split without LM decoding, PARP discovers subnetworks from wav2vec 2.0 with an absolute 10.9%/12.6% WER decrease compared to the full model. We further demonstrate the effectiveness of PARP via: cross-lingual pruning without any phone recognition degradation, the discovery of a multi-lingual subnetwork for 10 spoken languages in 1 finetuning run, and its applicability to pre-trained BERT/XLNet for natural language tasks1.

Multi-Objective Meta Learning

Feiyang YE · Baijiong Lin · Zhixiong Yue · Pengxin Guo · Qiao Xiao · Yu Zhang

Meta learning with multiple objectives has been attracted much attention recently since many applications need to consider multiple factors when designing learning models. Existing gradient-based works on meta learning with multiple objectives mainly combine multiple objectives into a single objective in a weighted sum manner. This simple strategy usually works but it requires to tune the weights associated with all the objectives, which could be time consuming. Different from those works, in this paper, we propose a gradient-based Multi-Objective Meta Learning (MOML) framework without manually tuning weights. Specifically, MOML formulates the objective function of meta learning with multiple objectives as a Multi-Objective Bi-Level optimization Problem (MOBLP) where the upper-level subproblem is to solve several possibly conflicting objectives for the meta learner. To solve the MOBLP, we devise the first gradient-based optimization algorithm by alternatively solving the lower-level and upper-level subproblems via the gradient descent method and the gradient-based multi-objective optimization method, respectively. Theoretically, we prove the convergence properties of the proposed gradient-based optimization algorithm. Empirically, we show the effectiveness of the proposed MOML framework in several meta learning problems, including few-shot learning, domain adaptation, multi-task learning, and neural architecture search. The source code of MOML is available at

Mini-Batch Consistent Slot Set Encoder for Scalable Set Encoding

Bruno Andreis · Jeffrey Willette · Juho Lee · Sung Ju Hwang

Most existing set encoding algorithms operate under the implicit assumption that all the set elements are accessible, and that there are ample computational and memory resources to load the set into memory during training and inference. However, both assumptions fail when the set is excessively large such that it is impossible to load all set elements into memory, or when data arrives in a stream. To tackle such practical challenges in large-scale set encoding, the general set-function constraints of permutation invariance and equivariance are not sufficient. We introduce a new property termed Mini-Batch Consistency (MBC) that is required for large scale mini-batch set encoding. Additionally, we present a scalable and efficient attention-based set encoding mechanism that is amenable to mini-batch processing of sets, and capable of updating set representations as data arrives. The proposed method adheres to the required symmetries of invariance and equivariance as well as maintaining MBC for any partition of the input set. We perform extensive experiments and show that our method is computationally efficient and results in rich set encoding representations for set-structured data.

Online Matching in Sparse Random Graphs: Non-Asymptotic Performances of Greedy Algorithm

Nathan Noiry · Vianney Perchet · Flore Sentenac

Motivated by sequential budgeted allocation problems, we investigate online matching problems where connections between vertices are not i.i.d., but they have fixed degree distributions -- the so-called configuration model. We estimate the competitive ratio of the simplest algorithm, GREEDY, by approximating some relevant stochastic discrete processes by their continuous counterparts, that are solutions of an explicit system of partial differential equations. This technique gives precise bounds on the estimation errors, with arbitrarily high probability as the problem size increases. In particular, it allows the formal comparison between different configuration models. We also prove that, quite surprisingly, GREEDY can have better performance guarantees than RANKING, another celebrated algorithm for online matching that usually outperforms the former.

When does Contrastive Learning Preserve Adversarial Robustness from Pretraining to Finetuning?

Lijie Fan · Sijia Liu · Pin-Yu Chen · Gaoyuan Zhang · Chuang Gan

Contrastive learning (CL) can learn generalizable feature representations and achieve state-of-the-art performance of downstream tasks by finetuning a linear classifier on top of it. However, as adversarial robustness becomes vital in image classification, it remains unclear whether or not CL is able to preserve robustness to downstream tasks. The main challenge is that in the self-supervised pretraining + supervised finetuning paradigm, adversarial robustness is easily forgotten due to a learning task mismatch from pretraining to finetuning. We call such challenge 'cross-task robustness transferability'. To address the above problem, in this paper we revisit and advance CL principles through the lens of robustness enhancement. We show that (1) the design of contrastive views matters: High-frequency components of images are beneficial to improving model robustness; (2) Augmenting CL with pseudo-supervision stimulus (e.g., resorting to feature clustering) helps preserve robustness without forgetting. Equipped with our new designs, we propose AdvCL, a novel adversarial contrastive pretraining framework. We show that AdvCL is able to enhance cross-task robustness transferability without loss of model accuracy and finetuning efficiency. With a thorough experimental study, we demonstrate that AdvCL outperforms the state-of-the-art self-supervised robust learning methods across multiple datasets (CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and STL-10) and finetuning schemes (linear evaluation and full model finetuning).

Perceptual Score: What Data Modalities Does Your Model Perceive?

Itai Gat · Idan Schwartz · Alex Schwing

Machine learning advances in the last decade have relied significantly on large-scale datasets that continue to grow in size. Increasingly, those datasets also contain different data modalities. However, large multi-modal datasets are hard to annotate, and annotations may contain biases that we are often unaware of. Deep-net-based classifiers, in turn, are prone to exploit those biases and to find shortcuts. To study and quantify this concern, we introduce the perceptual score, a metric that assesses the degree to which a model relies on the different subsets of the input features, i.e., modalities. Using the perceptual score, we find a surprisingly consistent trend across four popular datasets: recent, more accurate state-of-the-art multi-modal models for visual question-answering or visual dialog tend to perceive the visual data less than their predecessors. This is concerning as answers are hence increasingly inferred from textual cues only. Using the perceptual score also helps to analyze model biases by decomposing the score into data subset contributions. We hope to spur a discussion on the perceptiveness of multi-modal models and also hope to encourage the community working on multi-modal classifiers to start quantifying perceptiveness via the proposed perceptual score.

Variational Diffusion Models

Diederik Kingma · Tim Salimans · Ben Poole · Jonathan Ho

Diffusion-based generative models have demonstrated a capacity for perceptually impressive synthesis, but can they also be great likelihood-based models? We answer this in the affirmative, and introduce a family of diffusion-based generative models that obtain state-of-the-art likelihoods on standard image density estimation benchmarks. Unlike other diffusion-based models, our method allows for efficient optimization of the noise schedule jointly with the rest of the model. We show that the variational lower bound (VLB) simplifies to a remarkably short expression in terms of the signal-to-noise ratio of the diffused data, thereby improving our theoretical understanding of this model class. Using this insight, we prove an equivalence between several models proposed in the literature. In addition, we show that the continuous-time VLB is invariant to the noise schedule, except for the signal-to-noise ratio at its endpoints. This enables us to learn a noise schedule that minimizes the variance of the resulting VLB estimator, leading to faster optimization. Combining these advances with architectural improvements, we obtain state-of-the-art likelihoods on image density estimation benchmarks, outperforming autoregressive models that have dominated these benchmarks for many years, with often significantly faster optimization. In addition, we show how to use the model as part of a bits-back compression scheme, and demonstrate lossless compression rates close to the theoretical optimum.

Stateful ODE-Nets using Basis Function Expansions

Alejandro Queiruga · N. Benjamin Erichson · Liam Hodgkinson · Michael Mahoney

The recently-introduced class of ordinary differential equation networks (ODE-Nets) establishes a fruitful connection between deep learning and dynamical systems. In this work, we reconsider formulations of the weights as continuous-in-depth functions using linear combinations of basis functions which enables us to leverage parameter transformations such as function projections. In turn, this view allows us to formulate a novel stateful ODE-Block that handles stateful layers. The benefits of this new ODE-Block are twofold: first, it enables incorporating meaningful continuous-in-depth batch normalization layers to achieve state-of-the-art performance; second, it enables compressing the weights through a change of basis, without retraining, while maintaining near state-of-the-art performance and reducing both inference time and memory footprint. Performance is demonstrated by applying our stateful ODE-Block to (a) image classification tasks using convolutional units and (b) sentence-tagging tasks using transformer encoder units.

TTT++: When Does Self-Supervised Test-Time Training Fail or Thrive?

Yuejiang Liu · Parth Kothari · Bastien van Delft · Baptiste Bellot-Gurlet · Taylor Mordan · Alexandre Alahi

Test-time training (TTT) through self-supervised learning (SSL) is an emerging paradigm to tackle distributional shifts. Despite encouraging results, it remains unclear when this approach thrives or fails. In this work, we first provide an in-depth look at its limitations and show that TTT can possibly deteriorate, instead of improving, the test-time performance in the presence of severe distribution shifts. To address this issue, we introduce a test-time feature alignment strategy utilizing offline feature summarization and online moment matching, which regularizes adaptation without revisiting training data. We further scale this strategy in the online setting through batch-queue decoupling to enable robust moment estimates even with limited batch size. Given aligned feature distributions, we then shed light on the strong potential of TTT by theoretically analyzing its performance post adaptation. This analysis motivates our use of more informative self-supervision in the form of contrastive learning for visual recognition problems. We empirically demonstrate that our modified version of test-time training, termed TTT++, outperforms state-of-the-art methods by significant margins on several benchmarks. Our result indicates that storing and exploiting extra information, in addition to model parameters, can be a promising direction towards robust test-time adaptation.

Double Machine Learning Density Estimation for Local Treatment Effects with Instruments

Yonghan Jung · Jin Tian · Elias Bareinboim

Local treatment effects are a common quantity found throughout the empirical sciences that measure the treatment effect among those who comply with what they are assigned. Most of the literature is focused on estimating the average of such quantity, which is called the ``local average treatment effect (LATE)'' [Imbens and Angrist, 1994]). In this work, we study how to estimate the density of the local treatment effect, which is naturally more informative than its average. Specifically, we develop two families of methods for this task, namely, kernel-smoothing and model-based approaches. The kernel-smoothing-based approach estimates the density through some smooth kernel functions. The model-based approach estimates the density by projecting it onto a finite-dimensional density class. For both approaches, we derive the corresponding double/debiased machine learning-based estimators [Chernozhukov et al., 2018]. We further study the asymptotic convergence rates of the estimators and show that they are robust to the biases in nuisance function estimation. The use of the proposed methods is illustrated through both synthetic and a real dataset called 401(k).

SOLQ: Segmenting Objects by Learning Queries

Bin Dong · Fangao Zeng · Tiancai Wang · Xiangyu Zhang · Yichen Wei

In this paper, we propose an end-to-end framework for instance segmentation. Based on the recently introduced DETR, our method, termed SOLQ, segments objects by learning unified queries. In SOLQ, each query represents one object and has multiple representations: class, location and mask. The object queries learned perform classification, box regression and mask encoding simultaneously in an unified vector form. During training phase, the mask vectors encoded are supervised by the compression coding of raw spatial masks. In inference time,mask vectors produced can be directly transformed to spatial masks by the inverse process of compression coding. Experimental results show that SOLQ can achieve state-of-the-art performance, surpassing most of existing approaches. Moreover, the joint learning of unified query representation can greatly improve the detection performance of DETR. We hope our SOLQ can serve as a strong baseline for the Transformer-based instance segmentation.

Asymptotically Best Causal Effect Identification with Multi-Armed Bandits

Alan Malek · Silvia Chiappa

This paper considers the problem of selecting a formula for identifying a causal quantity of interest among a set of available formulas. We assume an online setting in which the investigator may alter the data collection mechanism in a data-dependent way with the aim of identifying the formula with lowest asymptotic variance in as few samples as possible. We formalize this setting by using the best-arm-identification bandit framework where the standard goal of learning the arm with the lowest loss is replaced with the goal of learning the arm that will produce the best estimate. We introduce new tools for constructing finite-sample confidence bounds on estimates of the asymptotic variance that account for the estimation of potentially complex nuisance functions, and adapt the best-arm-identification algorithms of LUCB and Successive Elimination to use these bounds. We validate our method by providing upper bounds on the sample complexity and an empirical study on artificially generated data.

Learning rule influences recurrent network representations but not attractor structure in decision-making tasks

Brandon McMahan · Michael Kleinman · Jonathan Kao

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are popular tools for studying computational dynamics in neurobiological circuits. However, due to the dizzying array of design choices, it is unclear if computational dynamics unearthed from RNNs provide reliable neurobiological inferences. Understanding the effects of design choices on RNN computation is valuable in two ways. First, invariant properties that persist in RNNs across a wide range of design choices are more likely to be candidate neurobiological mechanisms. Second, understanding what design choices lead to similar dynamical solutions reduces the burden of imposing that all design choices be totally faithful replications of biology. We focus our investigation on how RNN learning rule and task design affect RNN computation. We trained large populations of RNNs with different, but commonly used, learning rules on decision-making tasks inspired by neuroscience literature. For relatively complex tasks, we find that attractor topology is invariant to the choice of learning rule, but representational geometry is not. For simple tasks, we find that attractor topology depends on task input noise. However, when a task becomes increasingly complex, RNN attractor topology becomes invariant to input noise. Together, our results suggest that RNN dynamics are robust across learning rules but can be sensitive to the training task design, especially for simpler tasks.

Fair Exploration via Axiomatic Bargaining

Jackie Baek · Vivek Farias

Motivated by the consideration of fairly sharing the cost of exploration between multiple groups in learning problems, we develop the Nash bargaining solution in the context of multi-armed bandits. Specifically, the 'grouped' bandit associated with any multi-armed bandit problem associates, with each time step, a single group from some finite set of groups. The utility gained by a given group under some learning policy is naturally viewed as the reduction in that group's regret relative to the regret that group would have incurred 'on its own'. We derive policies that yield the Nash bargaining solution relative to the set of incremental utilities possible under any policy. We show that on the one hand, the 'price of fairness' under such policies is limited, while on the other hand, regret optimal policies are arbitrarily unfair under generic conditions. Our theoretical development is complemented by a case study on contextual bandits for warfarin dosing where we are concerned with the cost of exploration across multiple races and age groups.

Semi-Supervised Semantic Segmentation via Adaptive Equalization Learning

Hanzhe Hu · Fangyun Wei · Han Hu · Qiwei Ye · Jinshi Cui · Liwei Wang

Due to the limited and even imbalanced data, semi-supervised semantic segmentation tends to have poor performance on some certain categories, e.g., tailed categories in Cityscapes dataset which exhibits a long-tailed label distribution. Existing approaches almost all neglect this problem, and treat categories equally. Some popular approaches such as consistency regularization or pseudo-labeling may even harm the learning of under-performing categories, that the predictions or pseudo labels of these categories could be too inaccurate to guide the learning on the unlabeled data. In this paper, we look into this problem, and propose a novel framework for semi-supervised semantic segmentation, named adaptive equalization learning (AEL). AEL adaptively balances the training of well and badly performed categories, with a confidence bank to dynamically track category-wise performance during training. The confidence bank is leveraged as an indicator to tilt training towards under-performing categories, instantiated in three strategies: 1) adaptive Copy-Paste and CutMix data augmentation approaches which give more chance for under-performing categories to be copied or cut; 2) an adaptive data sampling approach to encourage pixels from under-performing category to be sampled; 3) a simple yet effective re-weighting method to alleviate the training noise raised by pseudo-labeling. Experimentally, AEL outperforms the state-of-the-art methods by a large margin on the Cityscapes and Pascal VOC benchmarks under various data partition protocols. Code is available at

On the Bias-Variance-Cost Tradeoff of Stochastic Optimization

Yifan Hu · Xin Chen · Niao He

We consider stochastic optimization when one only has access to biased stochastic oracles of the objective, and obtaining stochastic gradients with low biases comes at high costs. This setting captures a variety of optimization paradigms widely used in machine learning, such as conditional stochastic optimization, bilevel optimization, and distributionally robust optimization. We examine a family of multi-level Monte Carlo (MLMC) gradient methods that exploit a delicate trade-off among the bias, the variance, and the oracle cost. We provide a systematic study of their convergences and total computation complexities for strongly convex, convex, and nonconvex objectives, and demonstrate their superiority over the naive biased stochastic gradient method. Moreover, when applied to conditional stochastic optimization, the MLMC gradient methods significantly improve the best-known sample complexity in the literature.

Comprehensive Knowledge Distillation with Causal Intervention

Xiang Deng · Zhongfei Zhang

Knowledge distillation (KD) addresses model compression by distilling knowledge from a large model (teacher) to a smaller one (student). The existing distillation approaches mainly focus on using different criteria to align the sample representations learned by the student and the teacher, while they fail to transfer the class representations. Good class representations can benefit the sample representation learning by shaping the sample representation distribution. On the other hand, the existing approaches enforce the student to fully imitate the teacher while ignoring the fact that the teacher is typically not perfect. Although the teacher has learned rich and powerful representations, it also contains unignorable bias knowledge which is usually induced by the context prior (e.g., background) in the training data. To address these two issues, in this paper, we propose comprehensive, interventional distillation (CID) that captures both sample and class representations from the teacher while removing the bias with causal intervention. Different from the existing literature that uses the softened logits of the teacher as the training targets, CID considers the softened logits as the context information of an image, which is further used to remove the biased knowledge based on causal inference. Keeping the good representations while removing the bad bias enables CID to have a better generalization ability on test data and a better transferability across different datasets against the existing state-of-the-art approaches, which is demonstrated by extensive experiments on several benchmark datasets.

Biological learning in key-value memory networks

Danil Tyulmankov · Ching Fang · Annapurna Vadaparty · Guangyu Robert Yang

In neuroscience, classical Hopfield networks are the standard biologically plausible model of long-term memory, relying on Hebbian plasticity for storage and attractor dynamics for recall. In contrast, memory-augmented neural networks in machine learning commonly use a key-value mechanism to store and read out memories in a single step. Such augmented networks achieve impressive feats of memory compared to traditional variants, yet their biological relevance is unclear. We propose an implementation of basic key-value memory that stores inputs using a combination of biologically plausible three-factor plasticity rules. The same rules are recovered when network parameters are meta-learned. Our network performs on par with classical Hopfield networks on autoassociative memory tasks and can be naturally extended to continual recall, heteroassociative memory, and sequence learning. Our results suggest a compelling alternative to the classical Hopfield network as a model of biological long-term memory.

Correlated Stochastic Block Models: Exact Graph Matching with Applications to Recovering Communities

Miklos Racz · Anirudh Sridhar

We consider the task of learning latent community structure from multiple correlated networks. First, we study the problem of learning the latent vertex correspondence between two edge-correlated stochastic block models, focusing on the regime where the average degree is logarithmic in the number of vertices. We derive the precise information-theoretic threshold for exact recovery: above the threshold there exists an estimator that outputs the true correspondence with probability close to 1, while below it no estimator can recover the true correspondence with probability bounded away from 0. As an application of our results, we show how one can exactly recover the latent communities using \emph{multiple} correlated graphs in parameter regimes where it is information-theoretically impossible to do so using just a single graph.

Sparse Deep Learning: A New Framework Immune to Local Traps and Miscalibration

Yan Sun · Wenjun Xiong · Faming Liang

Deep learning has powered recent successes of artificial intelligence (AI). However, the deep neural network, as the basic model of deep learning, has suffered from issues such as local traps and miscalibration. In this paper, we provide a new framework for sparse deep learning, which has the above issues addressed in a coherent way. In particular, we lay down a theoretical foundation for sparse deep learning and propose prior annealing algorithms for learning sparse neural networks. The former has successfully tamed the sparse deep neural network into the framework of statistical modeling, enabling prediction uncertainty correctly quantified. The latter can be asymptotically guaranteed to converge to the global optimum, enabling the validity of the down-stream statistical inference. Numerical result indicates the superiority of the proposed method compared to the existing ones.

Heterogeneous Multi-player Multi-armed Bandits: Closing the Gap and Generalization

Chengshuai Shi · Wei Xiong · Cong Shen · Jing Yang

Despite the significant interests and many progresses in decentralized multi-player multi-armed bandits (MP-MAB) problems in recent years, the regret gap to the natural centralized lower bound in the heterogeneous MP-MAB setting remains open. In this paper, we propose BEACON -- Batched Exploration with Adaptive COmmunicatioN -- that closes this gap. BEACON accomplishes this goal with novel contributions in implicit communication and efficient exploration. For the former, we propose a novel adaptive differential communication (ADC) design that significantly improves the implicit communication efficiency. For the latter, a carefully crafted batched exploration scheme is developed to enable incorporation of the combinatorial upper confidence bound (CUCB) principle. We then generalize the existing linear-reward MP-MAB problems, where the system reward is always the sum of individually collected rewards, to a new MP-MAB problem where the system reward is a general (nonlinear) function of individual rewards. We extend BEACON to solve this problem and prove a logarithmic regret. BEACON bridges the algorithm design and regret analysis of combinatorial MAB (CMAB) and MP-MAB, two largely disjointed areas in MAB, and the results in this paper suggest that this previously ignored connection is worth further investigation.

Achieving Forgetting Prevention and Knowledge Transfer in Continual Learning

Zixuan Ke · Bing Liu · Nianzu Ma · Hu Xu · Lei Shu

Continual learning (CL) learns a sequence of tasks incrementally with the goal of achieving two main objectives: overcoming catastrophic forgetting (CF) and encouraging knowledge transfer (KT) across tasks. However, most existing techniques focus only on overcoming CF and have no mechanism to encourage KT, and thus do not do well in KT. Although several papers have tried to deal with both CF and KT, our experiments show that they suffer from serious CF when the tasks do not have much shared knowledge. Another observation is that most current CL methods do not use pre-trained models, but it has been shown that such models can significantly improve the end task performance. For example, in natural language processing, fine-tuning a BERT-like pre-trained language model is one of the most effective approaches. However, for CL, this approach suffers from serious CF. An interesting question is how to make the best use of pre-trained models for CL. This paper proposes a novel model called CTR to solve these problems. Our experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of CTR

Learning Disentangled Behavior Embeddings

Changhao Shi · Sivan Schwartz · Shahar Levy · Shay Achvat · Maisan Abboud · Amir Ghanayim · Jackie Schiller · Gal Mishne

To understand the relationship between behavior and neural activity, experiments in neuroscience often include an animal performing a repeated behavior such as a motor task. Recent progress in computer vision and deep learning has shown great potential in the automated analysis of behavior by leveraging large and high-quality video datasets. In this paper, we design Disentangled Behavior Embedding (DBE) to learn robust behavioral embeddings from unlabeled, multi-view, high-resolution behavioral videos across different animals and multiple sessions. We further combine DBE with a stochastic temporal model to propose Variational Disentangled Behavior Embedding (VDBE), an end-to-end approach that learns meaningful discrete behavior representations and generates interpretable behavioral videos. Our models learn consistent behavior representations by explicitly disentangling the dynamic behavioral factors (pose) from time-invariant, non-behavioral nuisance factors (context) in a deep autoencoder, and exploit the temporal structures of pose dynamics. Compared to competing approaches, DBE and VDBE enjoy superior performance on downstream tasks such as fine-grained behavioral motif generation and behavior decoding.

Revisiting ResNets: Improved Training and Scaling Strategies

Irwan Bello · William Fedus · Xianzhi Du · Ekin Dogus Cubuk · Aravind Srinivas · Tsung-Yi Lin · Jonathon Shlens · Barret Zoph

Novel computer vision architectures monopolize the spotlight, but the impact of the model architecture is often conflated with simultaneous changes to training methodology and scaling strategies.Our work revisits the canonical ResNet and studies these three aspects in an effort to disentangle them. Perhaps surprisingly, we find that training and scaling strategies may matter more than architectural changes, and further, that the resulting ResNets match recent state-of-the-art models. We show that the best performing scaling strategy depends on the training regime and offer two new scaling strategies: (1) scale model depth in regimes where overfitting can occur (width scaling is preferable otherwise); (2) increase image resolution more slowly than previously recommended.Using improved training and scaling strategies, we design a family of ResNet architectures, ResNet-RS, which are 1.7x - 2.7x faster than EfficientNets on TPUs, while achieving similar accuracies on ImageNet. In a large-scale semi-supervised learning setup, ResNet-RS achieves 86.2% top-1 ImageNet accuracy, while being 4.7x faster than EfficientNet-NoisyStudent. The training techniques improve transfer performance on a suite of downstream tasks (rivaling state-of-the-art self-supervised algorithms) and extend to video classification on Kinetics-400. We recommend practitioners use these simple revised ResNets as baselines for future research.

On the Rate of Convergence of Regularized Learning in Games: From Bandits and Uncertainty to Optimism and Beyond

Angeliki Giannou · Emmanouil-Vasileios Vlatakis-Gkaragkounis · Panayotis Mertikopoulos

In this paper, we examine the convergence rate of a wide range of regularized methods for learning in games. To that end, we propose a unified algorithmic template that we call “follow the generalized leader” (FTGL), and which includes asspecial cases the canonical “follow the regularized leader” algorithm, its optimistic variants, extra-gradient schemes, and many others. The proposed framework is also sufficiently flexible to account for several different feedback models – fromfull information to bandit feedback. In this general setting, we show that FTGL algorithms converge locally to strict Nash equilibria at a rate which does not depend on the level of uncertainty faced by the players, but only on the geometry of the regularizer near the equilibrium. In particular, we show that algorithms based on entropic regularization – like the exponential weights algorithm – enjoy a linear convergence rate, while Euclidean projection methods converge to equilibrium in a finite number of iterations, even with bandit feedback.

Aligning Pretraining for Detection via Object-Level Contrastive Learning

Fangyun Wei · Yue Gao · Zhirong Wu · Han Hu · Stephen Lin

Image-level contrastive representation learning has proven to be highly effective as a generic model for transfer learning. Such generality for transfer learning, however, sacrifices specificity if we are interested in a certain downstream task. We argue that this could be sub-optimal and thus advocate a design principle which encourages alignment between the self-supervised pretext task and the downstream task. In this paper, we follow this principle with a pretraining method specifically designed for the task of object detection. We attain alignment in the following three aspects: 1) object-level representations are introduced via selective search bounding boxes as object proposals; 2) the pretraining network architecture incorporates the same dedicated modules used in the detection pipeline (e.g. FPN); 3) the pretraining is equipped with object detection properties such as object-level translation invariance and scale invariance. Our method, called Selective Object COntrastive learning (SoCo), achieves state-of-the-art results for transfer performance on COCO detection using a Mask R-CNN framework. Code is available at

Design of Experiments for Stochastic Contextual Linear Bandits

Andrea Zanette · Kefan Dong · Jonathan N Lee · Emma Brunskill

In the stochastic linear contextual bandit setting there exist several minimax procedures for exploration with policies that are reactive to the data being acquired. In practice, there can be a significant engineering overhead to deploy these algorithms, especially when the dataset is collected in a distributed fashion or when a human in the loop is needed to implement a different policy. Exploring with a single non-reactive policy is beneficial in such cases. Assuming some batch contexts are available, we design a single stochastic policy to collect a good dataset from which a near-optimal policy can be extracted. We present a theoretical analysis as well as numerical experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets.

Identification of Partially Observed Linear Causal Models: Graphical Conditions for the Non-Gaussian and Heterogeneous Cases

Jeffrey Adams · Niels Hansen · Kun Zhang

In causal discovery, linear non-Gaussian acyclic models (LiNGAMs) have been studied extensively. While the causally sufficient case is well understood, in many real problems the observed variables are not causally related. Rather, they are generated by latent variables, such as confounders and mediators, which may themselves be causally related. Existing results on the identification of the causal structure among the latent variables often require very strong graphical assumptions. In this paper, we consider partially observed linear models with either non-Gaussian or heterogeneous errors. In that case we give two graphical conditions which are necessary for identification of the causal structure. These conditions are closely related to sparsity of the causal edges. Together with one additional condition on the coefficients, which holds generically for any graph, the two graphical conditions are also sufficient for identifiability. These new conditions can be satisfied even when there is a large number of latent variables. We demonstrate the validity of our results on synthetic data.

Adversarially Robust Change Point Detection

Mengchu Li · Yi Yu

Change point detection is becoming increasingly popular in many application areas. On one hand, most of the theoretically-justified methods are investigated in an ideal setting without model violations, or merely robust against identical heavy-tailed noise distribution across time and/or against isolate outliers; on the other hand, we are aware that there have been exponentially growing attacks from adversaries, who may pose systematic contamination on data to purposely create spurious change points or disguise true change points. In light of the timely need for a change point detection method that is robust against adversaries, we start with, arguably, the simplest univariate mean change point detection problem. The adversarial attacks are formulated through the Huber $\varepsilon$-contamination framework, which in particular allows the contamination distributions to be different at each time point. In this paper, we demonstrate a phase transition phenomenon in change point detection. This detection boundary is a function of the contamination proportion~$\varepsilon$ and is the first time shown in the literature. In addition, we derive the minimax-rate optimal localisation error rate, quantifying the cost of accuracy in terms of the contamination proportion. We propose a computationally feasible method, matching the minimax lower bound under certain conditions, saving for logarithmic factors. Extensive numerical experiments are conducted with comparisons to robust change point detection methods in the existing literature.

Optimal Policies Tend To Seek Power

Alex Turner · Logan Smith · Rohin Shah · Andrew Critch · Prasad Tadepalli

Some researchers speculate that intelligent reinforcement learning (RL) agents would be incentivized to seek resources and power in pursuit of the objectives we specify for them. Other researchers point out that RL agents need not have human-like power-seeking instincts. To clarify this discussion, we develop the first formal theory of the statistical tendencies of optimal policies. In the context of Markov decision processes, we prove that certain environmental symmetries are sufficient for optimal policies to tend to seek power over the environment. These symmetries exist in many environments in which the agent can be shut down or destroyed. We prove that in these environments, most reward functions make it optimal to seek power by keeping a range of options available and, when maximizing average reward, by navigating towards larger sets of potential terminal states.

COCO-LM: Correcting and Contrasting Text Sequences for Language Model Pretraining

Yu Meng · Chenyan Xiong · Payal Bajaj · saurabh tiwary · Paul Bennett · Jiawei Han · XIA SONG

We present a self-supervised learning framework, COCO-LM, that pretrains Language Models by COrrecting and COntrasting corrupted text sequences. Following ELECTRA-style pretraining, COCO-LM employs an auxiliary language model to corrupt text sequences, upon which it constructs two new tasks for pretraining the main model. The first token-level task, Corrective Language Modeling, is to detect and correct tokens replaced by the auxiliary model, in order to better capture token-level semantics. The second sequence-level task, Sequence Contrastive Learning, is to align text sequences originated from the same source input while ensuring uniformity in the representation space. Experiments on GLUE and SQuAD demonstrate that COCO-LM not only outperforms recent state-of-the-art pretrained models in accuracy, but also improves pretraining efficiency. It achieves the MNLI accuracy of ELECTRA with 50% of its pretraining GPU hours. With the same pretraining steps of standard base/large-sized models, COCO-LM outperforms the previous best models by 1+ GLUE average points.

Bandits with Knapsacks beyond the Worst Case

Karthik Abinav Sankararaman · Aleksandrs Slivkins

Bandits with Knapsacks (BwK) is a general model for multi-armed bandits under supply/budget constraints. While worst-case regret bounds for BwK are well-understood, we present three results that go beyond the worst-case perspective. First, we provide upper and lower bounds which amount to a full characterization for logarithmic, instance-dependent regret rates.Second, we consider "simple regret" in BwK, which tracks algorithm's performance in a given round, and prove that it is small in all but a few rounds. Third, we provide a "generalreduction" from BwK to bandits which takes advantage of some known helpful structure, and apply this reduction to combinatorial semi-bandits, linear contextual bandits, and multinomial-logit bandits. Our results build on the BwK algorithm from prior work, providing new analyses thereof.

The Difficulty of Passive Learning in Deep Reinforcement Learning

Georg Ostrovski · Pablo Samuel Castro · Will Dabney

Learning to act from observational data without active environmental interaction is a well-known challenge in Reinforcement Learning (RL). Recent approaches involve constraints on the learned policy or conservative updates, preventing strong deviations from the state-action distribution of the dataset. Although these methods are evaluated using non-linear function approximation, theoretical justifications are mostly limited to the tabular or linear cases. Given the impressive results of deep reinforcement learning, we argue for a need to more clearly understand the challenges in this setting.In the vein of Held & Hein's classic 1963 experiment, we propose the "tandem learning" experimental paradigm which facilitates our empirical analysis of the difficulties in offline reinforcement learning. We identify function approximation in conjunction with fixed data distributions as the strongest factors, thereby extending but also challenging hypotheses stated in past work. Our results provide relevant insights for offline deep reinforcement learning, while also shedding new light on phenomena observed in the online case of learning control.

Editing a classifier by rewriting its prediction rules

Shibani Santurkar · Dimitris Tsipras · Mahalaxmi Elango · David Bau · Antonio Torralba · Aleksander Madry

We propose a methodology for modifying the behavior of a classifier by directly rewriting its prediction rules. Our method requires virtually no additional data collection and can be applied to a variety of settings, including adapting a model to new environments, and modifying it to ignore spurious features.

Contrast and Mix: Temporal Contrastive Video Domain Adaptation with Background Mixing

Aadarsh Sahoo · Rutav Shah · Rameswar Panda · Kate Saenko · Abir Das

Unsupervised domain adaptation which aims to adapt models trained on a labeled source domain to a completely unlabeled target domain has attracted much attention in recent years. While many domain adaptation techniques have been proposed for images, the problem of unsupervised domain adaptation in videos remains largely underexplored. In this paper, we introduce Contrast and Mix (CoMix), a new contrastive learning framework that aims to learn discriminative invariant feature representations for unsupervised video domain adaptation. First, unlike existing methods that rely on adversarial learning for feature alignment, we utilize temporal contrastive learning to bridge the domain gap by maximizing the similarity between encoded representations of an unlabeled video at two different speeds as well as minimizing the similarity between different videos played at different speeds. Second, we propose a novel extension to the temporal contrastive loss by using background mixing that allows additional positives per anchor, thus adapting contrastive learning to leverage action semantics shared across both domains. Moreover, we also integrate a supervised contrastive learning objective using target pseudo-labels to enhance discriminability of the latent space for video domain adaptation. Extensive experiments on several benchmark datasets demonstrate the superiority of our proposed approach over state-of-the-art methods. Project page:

Black Box Probabilistic Numerics

Onur Teymur · Christopher Foley · Philip Breen · Toni Karvonen · Chris Oates

Probabilistic numerics casts numerical tasks, such the numerical solution of differential equations, as inference problems to be solved. One approach is to model the unknown quantity of interest as a random variable, and to constrain this variable using data generated during the course of a traditional numerical method. However, data may be nonlinearly related to the quantity of interest, rendering the proper conditioning of random variables difficult and limiting the range of numerical tasks that can be addressed. Instead, this paper proposes to construct probabilistic numerical methods based only on the final output from a traditional method. A convergent sequence of approximations to the quantity of interest constitute a dataset, from which the limiting quantity of interest can be extrapolated, in a probabilistic analogue of Richardson’s deferred approach to the limit. This black box approach (1) massively expands the range of tasks to which probabilistic numerics can be applied, (2) inherits the features and performance of state-of-the-art numerical methods, and (3) enables provably higher orders of convergence to be achieved. Applications are presented for nonlinear ordinary and partial differential equations, as well as for eigenvalue problems—a setting for which no probabilistic numerical methods have yet been developed.

Interpolation can hurt robust generalization even when there is no noise

Konstantin Donhauser · Alexandru Tifrea · Michael Aerni · Reinhard Heckel · Fanny Yang

Numerous recent works show that overparameterization implicitly reduces variance for min-norm interpolators and max-margin classifiers. These findings suggest that ridge regularization has vanishing benefits in high dimensions. We challenge this narrative by showing that, even in the absence of noise, avoiding interpolation through ridge regularization can significantly improve generalization. We prove this phenomenon for the robust risk of both linear regression and classification, and hence provide the first theoretical result on \emph{robust overfitting}.

Rebooting ACGAN: Auxiliary Classifier GANs with Stable Training

Minguk Kang · Woohyeon Shim · Minsu Cho · Jaesik Park

Conditional Generative Adversarial Networks (cGAN) generate realistic images by incorporating class information into GAN. While one of the most popular cGANs is an auxiliary classifier GAN with softmax cross-entropy loss (ACGAN), it is widely known that training ACGAN is challenging as the number of classes in the dataset increases. ACGAN also tends to generate easily classifiable samples with a lack of diversity. In this paper, we introduce two cures for ACGAN. First, we identify that gradient exploding in the classifier can cause an undesirable collapse in early training, and projecting input vectors onto a unit hypersphere can resolve the problem. Second, we propose the Data-to-Data Cross-Entropy loss (D2D-CE) to exploit relational information in the class-labeled dataset. On this foundation, we propose the Rebooted Auxiliary Classifier Generative Adversarial Network (ReACGAN). The experimental results show that ReACGAN achieves state-of-the-art generation results on CIFAR10, Tiny-ImageNet, CUB200, and ImageNet datasets. We also verify that ReACGAN benefits from differentiable augmentations and that D2D-CE harmonizes with StyleGAN2 architecture. Model weights and a software package that provides implementations of representative cGANs and all experiments in our paper are available at

Fast rates for prediction with limited expert advice

El Mehdi Saad · Gilles Blanchard

We investigate the problem of minimizing the excess generalization error with respect to the best expert prediction in a finite family in the stochastic setting, under limited access to information. We consider that the learner has only access to a limited number of expert advices per training round, as well as for prediction. Assuming that the loss function is Lipschitz and strongly convex, we show that if we are allowed to see the advice of only one expert per round in the training phase, or to use the advice of only one expert for prediction in the test phase, the worst-case excess risk is ${\Omega}(1/\sqrt{T})$ with probability lower bounded by a constant. However, if we are allowed to see at least two actively chosen expert advices per training round and use at least two experts for prediction, the fast rate $\mathcal{O}(1/T)$ can be achieved. We design novel algorithms achieving this rate in this setting, and in the setting where the learner have a budget constraint on the total number of observed experts advices, and give precise instance-dependent bounds on the number of training rounds needed to achieve a given generalization error precision.

Spatio-Temporal Variational Gaussian Processes

Oliver Hamelijnck · William Wilkinson · Niki Loppi · Arno Solin · Theodoros Damoulas

We introduce a scalable approach to Gaussian process inference that combines spatio-temporal filtering with natural gradient variational inference, resulting in a non-conjugate GP method for multivariate data that scales linearly with respect to time. Our natural gradient approach enables application of parallel filtering and smoothing, further reducing the temporal span complexity to be logarithmic in the number of time steps. We derive a sparse approximation that constructs a state-space model over a reduced set of spatial inducing points, and show that for separable Markov kernels the full and sparse cases exactly recover the standard variational GP, whilst exhibiting favourable computational properties. To further improve the spatial scaling we propose a mean-field assumption of independence between spatial locations which, when coupled with sparsity and parallelisation, leads to an efficient and accurate method for large spatio-temporal problems.

Adaptive Risk Minimization: Learning to Adapt to Domain Shift

Marvin Zhang · Henrik Marklund · Nikita Dhawan · Abhishek Gupta · Sergey Levine · Chelsea Finn

A fundamental assumption of most machine learning algorithms is that the training and test data are drawn from the same underlying distribution. However, this assumption is violated in almost all practical applications: machine learning systems are regularly tested under distribution shift, due to changing temporal correlations, atypical end users, or other factors. In this work, we consider the problem setting of domain generalization, where the training data are structured into domains and there may be multiple test time shifts, corresponding to new domains or domain distributions. Most prior methods aim to learn a single robust model or invariant feature space that performs well on all domains. In contrast, we aim to learn models that adapt at test time to domain shift using unlabeled test points. Our primary contribution is to introduce the framework of adaptive risk minimization (ARM), in which models are directly optimized for effective adaptation to shift by learning to adapt on the training domains. Compared to prior methods for robustness, invariance, and adaptation, ARM methods provide performance gains of 1-4% test accuracy on a number of image classification problems exhibiting domain shift.

Off-Policy Risk Assessment in Contextual Bandits

Audrey Huang · Liu Leqi · Zachary Lipton · Kamyar Azizzadenesheli

Even when unable to run experiments, practitioners can evaluate prospective policies, using previously logged data. However, while the bandits literature has adopted a diverse set of objectives, most research on off-policy evaluation to date focuses on the expected reward. In this paper, we introduce Lipschitz risk functionals, a broad class of objectives that subsumes conditional value-at-risk (CVaR), variance, mean-variance, many distorted risks, and CPT risks, among others. We propose Off-Policy Risk Assessment (OPRA), a framework that first estimates a target policy's CDF and then generates plugin estimates for any collection of Lipschitz risks, providing finite sample guarantees that hold simultaneously over the entire class. We instantiate OPRA with both importance sampling and doubly robust estimators. Our primary theoretical contributions are (i) the first uniform concentration inequalities for both CDF estimators in contextual bandits and (ii) error bounds on our Lipschitz risk estimates, which all converge at a rate of $O(1/\sqrt{n})$.

Bias and variance of the Bayesian-mean decoder

Arthur Prat-Carrabin · Michael Woodford

Perception, in theoretical neuroscience, has been modeled as the encoding of external stimuli into internal signals, which are then decoded. The Bayesian mean is an important decoder, as it is optimal for purposes of both estimation and discrimination. We present widely-applicable approximations to the bias and to the variance of the Bayesian mean, obtained under the minimal and biologically-relevant assumption that the encoding results from a series of independent, though not necessarily identically-distributed, signals. Simulations substantiate the accuracy of our approximations in the small-noise regime. The bias of the Bayesian mean comprises two components: one driven by the prior, and one driven by the precision of the encoding. If the encoding is 'efficient', the two components have opposite effects; their relative strengths are determined by the objective that the encoding optimizes. The experimental literature on perception reports both 'Bayesian' biases directed towards prior expectations, and opposite, 'anti-Bayesian' biases. We show that different tasks are indeed predicted to yield such contradictory biases, under a consistently-optimal encoding-decoding model. Moreover, we recover Wei and Stocker's "law of human perception", a relation between the bias of the Bayesian mean and the derivative of its variance, and show how the coefficient of proportionality in this law depends on the task at hand. Our results provide a parsimonious theory of optimal perception under constraints, in which encoding and decoding are adapted both to the prior and to the task faced by the observer.

Partial success in closing the gap between human and machine vision

Robert Geirhos · Kantharaju Narayanappa · Benjamin Mitzkus · Tizian Thieringer · Matthias Bethge · Felix A. Wichmann · Wieland Brendel

A few years ago, the first CNN surpassed human performance on ImageNet. However, it soon became clear that machines lack robustness on more challenging test cases, a major obstacle towards deploying machines "in the wild" and towards obtaining better computational models of human visual perception. Here we ask: Are we making progress in closing the gap between human and machine vision? To answer this question, we tested human observers on a broad range of out-of-distribution (OOD) datasets, recording 85,120 psychophysical trials across 90 participants. We then investigated a range of promising machine learning developments that crucially deviate from standard supervised CNNs along three axes: objective function (self-supervised, adversarially trained, CLIP language-image training), architecture (e.g. vision transformers), and dataset size (ranging from 1M to 1B).Our findings are threefold. (1.) The longstanding distortion robustness gap between humans and CNNs is closing, with the best models now exceeding human feedforward performance on most of the investigated OOD datasets. (2.) There is still a substantial image-level consistency gap, meaning that humans make different errors than models. In contrast, most models systematically agree in their categorisation errors, even substantially different ones like contrastive self-supervised vs. standard supervised models. (3.) In many cases, human-to-model consistency improves when training dataset size is increased by one to three orders of magnitude. Our results give reason for cautious optimism: While there is still much room for improvement, the behavioural difference between human and machine vision is narrowing. In order to measure future progress, 17 OOD datasets with image-level human behavioural data and evaluation code are provided as a toolbox and benchmark at:

Snowflake: Scaling GNNs to high-dimensional continuous control via parameter freezing

Charles Blake · Vitaly Kurin · Maximilian Igl · Shimon Whiteson

Recent research has shown that graph neural networks (GNNs) can learn policies for locomotion control that are as effective as a typical multi-layer perceptron (MLP), with superior transfer and multi-task performance. However, results have so far been limited to training on small agents, with the performance of GNNs deteriorating rapidly as the number of sensors and actuators grows. A key motivation for the use of GNNs in the supervised learning setting is their applicability to large graphs, but this benefit has not yet been realised for locomotion control. We show that poor scaling in GNNs is a result of increasingly unstable policy updates, caused by overfitting in parts of the network during training. To combat this, we introduce Snowflake, a GNN training method for high-dimensional continuous control that freezes parameters in selected parts of the network. Snowflake significantly boosts the performance of GNNs for locomotion control on large agents, now matching the performance of MLPs while offering superior transfer properties.

DiBS: Differentiable Bayesian Structure Learning

Lars Lorch · Jonas Rothfuss · Bernhard Schölkopf · Andreas Krause

Bayesian structure learning allows inferring Bayesian network structure from data while reasoning about the epistemic uncertainty---a key element towards enabling active causal discovery and designing interventions in real world systems. In this work, we propose a general, fully differentiable framework for Bayesian structure learning (DiBS) that operates in the continuous space of a latent probabilistic graph representation. Contrary to existing work, DiBS is agnostic to the form of the local conditional distributions and allows for joint posterior inference of both the graph structure and the conditional distribution parameters. This makes our formulation directly applicable to posterior inference of nonstandard Bayesian network models, e.g., with nonlinear dependencies encoded by neural networks. Using DiBS, we devise an efficient, general purpose variational inference method for approximating distributions over structural models. In evaluations on simulated and real-world data, our method significantly outperforms related approaches to joint posterior inference.

Nonparametric estimation of continuous DPPs with kernel methods

Michaël Fanuel · Rémi Bardenet

Determinantal Point Process (DPPs) are statistical models for repulsive point patterns. Both sampling and inference are tractable for DPPs, a rare feature among models with negative dependence that explains their popularity in machine learning and spatial statistics. Parametric and nonparametric inference methods have been proposed in the finite case, i.e. when the point patterns live in a finite ground set. In the continuous case, only parametric methods have been investigated, while nonparametric maximum likelihood for DPPs -- an optimization problem over trace-class operators -- has remained an open question. In this paper, we show that a restricted version of this maximum likelihood (MLE) problem falls within the scope of a recent representer theorem for nonnegative functions in an RKHS. This leads to a finite-dimensional problem, with strong statistical ties to the original MLE. Moreover, we propose, analyze, and demonstrate a fixed point algorithm to solve this finite-dimensional problem. Finally, we also provide a controlled estimate of the correlation kernel of the DPP, thus providing more interpretability.

Training Neural Networks with Fixed Sparse Masks

Yi-Lin Sung · Varun Nair · Colin Raffel

During typical gradient-based training of deep neural networks, all of the model's parameters are updated at each iteration. Recent work has shown that it is possible to update only a small subset of the model's parameters during training, which can alleviate storage and communication requirements. In this paper, we show that it is possible to induce a fixed sparse mask on the model’s parameters that selects a subset to update over many iterations. Our method constructs the mask out of the $k$ parameters with the largest Fisher information as a simple approximation as to which parameters are most important for the task at hand. In experiments on parameter-efficient transfer learning and distributed training, we show that our approach matches or exceeds the performance of other methods for training with sparse updates while being more efficient in terms of memory usage and communication costs. We release our code publicly to promote further applications of our approach.

VATT: Transformers for Multimodal Self-Supervised Learning from Raw Video, Audio and Text

Hassan Akbari · Liangzhe Yuan · Rui Qian · Wei-Hong Chuang · Shih-Fu Chang · Yin Cui · Boqing Gong

We present a framework for learning multimodal representations from unlabeled data using convolution-free Transformer architectures. Specifically, our Video-Audio-Text Transformer (VATT) takes raw signals as inputs and extracts multimodal representations that are rich enough to benefit a variety of downstream tasks. We train VATT end-to-end from scratch using multimodal contrastive losses and evaluate its performance by the downstream tasks of video action recognition, audio event classification, image classification, and text-to-video retrieval. Furthermore, we study a modality-agnostic single-backbone Transformer by sharing weights among the three modalities. We show that the convolution-free VATT outperforms state-of-the-art ConvNet-based architectures in the downstream tasks. Especially, VATT's vision Transformer achieves the top-1 accuracy of 82.1% on Kinetics-400, 83.6% on Kinetics-600, 72.7% on Kinetics-700, and 41.1% on Moments in Time, new records while avoiding supervised pre-training. Transferring to image classification leads to 78.7% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet compared to 64.7% by training the same Transformer from scratch, showing the generalizability of our model despite the domain gap between videos and images. VATT's audio Transformer also sets a new record on waveform-based audio event recognition by achieving the mAP of 39.4% on AudioSet without any supervised pre-training.

Fast and accurate randomized algorithms for low-rank tensor decompositions

Linjian Ma · Edgar Solomonik

Low-rank Tucker and CP tensor decompositions are powerful tools in data analytics. The widely used alternating least squares (ALS) method, which solves a sequence of over-determined least squares subproblems, is costly for large and sparse tensors. We propose a fast and accurate sketched ALS algorithm for Tucker decomposition, which solves a sequence of sketched rank-constrained linear least squares subproblems. Theoretical sketch size upper bounds are provided to achieve $O(\epsilon)$ relative error for each subproblem with two sketching techniques, TensorSketch and leverage score sampling. Experimental results show that this new ALS algorithm, combined with a new initialization scheme based on the randomized range finder, yields decomposition accuracy comparable to the standard higher-order orthogonal iteration (HOOI) algorithm. The new algorithm achieves up to $22.0\%$ relative decomposition residual improvement compared to the state-of-the-art sketched randomized algorithm for Tucker decomposition of various synthetic and real datasets. This Tucker-ALS algorithm is further used to accelerate CP decomposition, by using randomized Tucker compression followed by CP decomposition of the Tucker core tensor. Experimental results show that this algorithm not only converges faster, but also yields more accurate CP decompositions.

Stochastic Online Linear Regression: the Forward Algorithm to Replace Ridge

Reda Ouhamma · Odalric-Ambrym Maillard · Vianney Perchet

We consider the problem of online linear regression in the stochastic setting. We derive high probability regret bounds for online $\textit{ridge}$ regression and the $\textit{forward}$ algorithm. This enables us to compare online regression algorithms more accurately and eliminate assumptions of bounded observations and predictions. Our study advocates for the use of the forward algorithm in lieu of ridge due to its enhanced bounds and robustness to the regularization parameter. Moreover, we explain how to integrate it in algorithms involving linear function approximation to remove a boundedness assumption without deteriorating theoretical bounds. We showcase this modification in linear bandit settings where it yields improved regret bounds. Last, we provide numerical experiments to illustrate our results and endorse our intuitions.

Understanding Adaptive, Multiscale Temporal Integration In Deep Speech Recognition Systems

Menoua Keshishian · Samuel Norman-Haignere · Nima Mesgarani

Natural signals such as speech are hierarchically structured across many different timescales, spanning tens (e.g., phonemes) to hundreds (e.g., words) of milliseconds, each of which is highly variable and context-dependent. While deep neural networks (DNNs) excel at recognizing complex patterns from natural signals, relatively little is known about how DNNs flexibly integrate across multiple timescales. Here, we show how a recently developed method for studying temporal integration in biological neural systems – the temporal context invariance (TCI) paradigm – can be used to understand temporal integration in DNNs. The method is simple: we measure responses to a large number of stimulus segments presented in two different contexts and estimate the smallest segment duration needed to achieve a context invariant response. We applied our method to understand how the popular DeepSpeech2 model learns to integrate across time in speech. We find that nearly all of the model units, even in recurrent layers, have a compact integration window within which stimuli substantially alter the response and outside of which stimuli have little effect. We show that training causes these integration windows to shrink at early layers and expand at higher layers, creating a hierarchy of integration windows across the network. Moreover, by measuring integration windows for time-stretched/compressed speech, we reveal a transition point, midway through the trained network, where integration windows become yoked to the duration of stimulus structures (e.g., phonemes or words) rather than absolute time. Similar phenomena were observed in a purely recurrent and purely convolutional network although structure-yoked integration was more prominent in the recurrent network. These findings suggest that deep speech recognition systems use a common motif to encode the hierarchical structure of speech: integrating across short, time-yoked windows at early layers and long, structure-yoked windows at later layers. Our method provides a straightforward and general-purpose toolkit for understanding temporal integration in black-box machine learning models.

VidLanKD: Improving Language Understanding via Video-Distilled Knowledge Transfer

Zineng Tang · Jaemin Cho · Hao Tan · Mohit Bansal

Since visual perception can give rich information beyond text descriptions for world understanding, there has been increasing interest in leveraging visual grounding for language learning. Recently, vokenization (Tan and Bansal, 2020) has attracted attention by using the predictions of a text-to-image retrieval model as labels for language model supervision. Despite its success, the method suffers from approximation error of using finite image labels and the lack of vocabulary diversity of a small image-text dataset. To overcome these limitations, we present VidLanKD, a video-language knowledge distillation method for improving language understanding. We train a multi-modal teacher model on a video-text dataset, and then transfer its knowledge to a student language model with a text dataset. To avoid approximation error, we propose to use different knowledge distillation objectives. In addition, the use of a large-scale video-text dataset helps learn diverse and richer vocabularies. In our experiments, VidLanKD achieves consistent improvements over text-only language models and vokenization models, on several downstream language understanding tasks including GLUE, SQuAD, and SWAG. We also demonstrate the improved world knowledge, physical reasoning, and temporal reasoning capabilities of our model by evaluating on the GLUE-diagnostics, PIQA, and TRACIE datasets. Lastly, we present comprehensive ablation studies as well as visualizations of the learned text-to-video grounding results of our teacher and student language models.

On Episodes, Prototypical Networks, and Few-Shot Learning

Steinar Laenen · Luca Bertinetto

Episodic learning is a popular practice among researchers and practitioners interested in few-shot learning.It consists of organising training in a series of learning problems (or episodes), each divided into a small training and validation subset to mimic the circumstances encountered during evaluation.But is this always necessary?In this paper, we investigate the usefulness of episodic learning in methods which use nonparametric approaches, such as nearest neighbours, at the level of the episode.For these methods, we not only show how the constraints imposed by episodic learning are not necessary, but that they in fact lead to a data-inefficient way of exploiting training batches.We conduct a wide range of ablative experiments with Matching and Prototypical Networks, two of the most popular methods that use nonparametric approaches at the level of the episode.Their "non-episodic'' counterparts are considerably simpler, have less hyperparameters, and improve their performance in multiple few-shot classification datasets.

Neural Human Performer: Learning Generalizable Radiance Fields for Human Performance Rendering

Youngjoong Kwon · Dahun Kim · Duygu Ceylan · Henry Fuchs

In this paper, we aim at synthesizing a free-viewpoint video of an arbitrary human performance using sparse multi-view cameras. Recently, several works have addressed this problem by learning person-specific neural radiance fields (NeRF) to capture the appearance of a particular human. In parallel, some work proposed to use pixel-aligned features to generalize radiance fields to arbitrary new scenes and objects. Adopting such generalization approaches to humans, however, is highly challenging due to the heavy occlusions and dynamic articulations of body parts. To tackle this, we propose Neural Human Performer, a novel approach that learns generalizable neural radiance fields based on a parametric human body model for robust performance capture. Specifically, we first introduce a temporal transformer that aggregates tracked visual features based on the skeletal body motion over time. Moreover, a multi-view transformer is proposed to perform cross-attention between the temporally-fused features and the pixel-aligned features at each time step to integrate observations on the fly from multiple views. Experiments on the ZJU-MoCap and AIST datasets show that our method significantly outperforms recent generalizable NeRF methods on unseen identities and poses.

Domain Adaptation with Invariant Representation Learning: What Transformations to Learn?

Petar Stojanov · Zijian Li · Mingming Gong · Ruichu Cai · Jaime Carbonell · Kun Zhang

Unsupervised domain adaptation, as a prevalent transfer learning setting, spans many real-world applications. With the increasing representational power and applicability of neural networks, state-of-the-art domain adaptation methods make use of deep architectures to map the input features $X$ to a latent representation $Z$ that has the same marginal distribution across domains. This has been shown to be insufficient for generating optimal representation for classification, and to find conditionally invariant representations, usually strong assumptions are needed. We provide reasoning why when the supports of the source and target data from overlap, any map of $X$ that is fixed across domains may not be suitable for domain adaptation via invariant features. Furthermore, we develop an efficient technique in which the optimal map from $X$ to $Z$ also takes domain-specific information as input, in addition to the features $X$. By using the property of minimal changes of causal mechanisms across domains, our model also takes into account the domain-specific information to ensure that the latent representation $Z$ does not discard valuable information about $Y$. We demonstrate the efficacy of our method via synthetic and real-world data experiments. The code is available at: \texttt{}.

Piper: Multidimensional Planner for DNN Parallelization

Jakub Tarnawski · Deepak Narayanan · Amar Phanishayee

The rapid increase in sizes of state-of-the-art DNN models, and consequently the increase in the compute and memory requirements of model training, has led to the development of many execution schemes such as data parallelism, pipeline model parallelism, tensor (intra-layer) model parallelism, and various memory-saving optimizations. However, no prior work has tackled the highly complex problem of optimally partitioning the DNN computation graph across many accelerators while combining all these parallelism modes and optimizations.In this work, we introduce Piper, an efficient optimization algorithm for this problem that is based on a two-level dynamic programming approach. Our two-level approach is driven by the insight that being given tensor-parallelization techniques for individual layers (e.g., Megatron-LM's splits for transformer layers) significantly reduces the search space and makes the global problem tractable, compared to considering tensor-parallel configurations for the entire DNN operator graph.

Causal Effect Inference for Structured Treatments

Jean Kaddour · Yuchen Zhu · Qi Liu · Matt Kusner · Ricardo Silva

We address the estimation of conditional average treatment effects (CATEs) for structured treatments (e.g., graphs, images, texts). Given a weak condition on the effect, we propose the generalized Robinson decomposition, which (i) isolates the causal estimand (reducing regularization bias), (ii) allows one to plug in arbitrary models for learning, and (iii) possesses a quasi-oracle convergence guarantee under mild assumptions. In experiments with small-world and molecular graphs we demonstrate that our approach outperforms prior work in CATE estimation.

A Causal Lens for Controllable Text Generation

Zhiting Hu · Li Erran Li

Controllable text generation concerns two fundamental tasks of wide applications, namely generating text of given attributes (i.e., attribute-conditional generation), and minimally editing existing text to possess desired attributes (i.e., text attribute transfer). Extensive prior work has largely studied the two problems separately, and developed different conditional models which, however, are prone to producing biased text (e.g., various gender stereotypes). This paper proposes to formulate controllable text generation from a principled causal perspective which models the two tasks with a unified framework. A direct advantage of the causal formulation is the use of rich causality tools to mitigate generation biases and improve control. We treat the two tasks as interventional and counterfactual causal inference based on a structural causal model, respectively. We then apply the framework to the challenging practical setting where confounding factors (that induce spurious correlations) are observable only on a small fraction of data. Experiments show significant superiority of the causal approach over previous conditional models for improved control accuracy and reduced bias.

Counterfactual Maximum Likelihood Estimation for Training Deep Networks

Xinyi Wang · Wenhu Chen · Michael Saxon · William Yang Wang

Although deep learning models have driven state-of-the-art performance on a wide array of tasks, they are prone to spurious correlations that should not be learned as predictive clues. To mitigate this problem, we propose a causality-based training framework to reduce the spurious correlations caused by observed confounders. We give theoretical analysis on the underlying general Structural Causal Model (SCM) and propose to perform Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) on the interventional distribution instead of the observational distribution, namely Counterfactual Maximum Likelihood Estimation (CMLE). As the interventional distribution, in general, is hidden from the observational data, we then derive two different upper bounds of the expected negative log-likelihood and propose two general algorithms, Implicit CMLE and Explicit CMLE, for causal predictions of deep learning models using observational data. We conduct experiments on both simulated data and two real-world tasks: Natural Language Inference (NLI) and Image Captioning. The results show that CMLE methods outperform the regular MLE method in terms of out-of-domain generalization performance and reducing spurious correlations, while maintaining comparable performance on the regular evaluations.

Learning Debiased Representation via Disentangled Feature Augmentation

Jungsoo Lee · Eungyeup Kim · Juyoung Lee · Jihyeon Lee · Jaegul Choo

Image classification models tend to make decisions based on peripheral attributes of data items that have strong correlation with a target variable (i.e., dataset bias). These biased models suffer from the poor generalization capability when evaluated on unbiased datasets. Existing approaches for debiasing often identify and emphasize those samples with no such correlation (i.e., bias-conflicting) without defining the bias type in advance. However, such bias-conflicting samples are significantly scarce in biased datasets, limiting the debiasing capability of these approaches. This paper first presents an empirical analysis revealing that training with "diverse" bias-conflicting samples beyond a given training set is crucial for debiasing as well as the generalization capability. Based on this observation, we propose a novel feature-level data augmentation technique in order to synthesize diverse bias-conflicting samples. To this end, our method learns the disentangled representation of (1) the intrinsic attributes (i.e., those inherently defining a certain class) and (2) bias attributes (i.e., peripheral attributes causing the bias), from a large number of bias-aligned samples, the bias attributes of which have strong correlation with the target variable. Using the disentangled representation, we synthesize bias-conflicting samples that contain the diverse intrinsic attributes of bias-aligned samples by swapping their latent features. By utilizing these diversified bias-conflicting features during the training, our approach achieves superior classification accuracy and debiasing results against the existing baselines on both synthetic and real-world datasets.

Scallop: From Probabilistic Deductive Databases to Scalable Differentiable Reasoning

Jiani Huang · Ziyang Li · Binghong Chen · Karan Samel · Mayur Naik · Le Song · Xujie Si

Deep learning and symbolic reasoning are complementary techniques for an intelligent system. However, principled combinations of these techniques have limited scalability, rendering them ill-suited for real-world applications. We propose Scallop, a system that builds upon probabilistic deductive databases, to bridge this gap. The key insight underlying Scallop is a provenance framework that introduces a tunable parameter to specify the level of reasoning granularity. Scallop thereby i) generalizes exact probabilistic reasoning, ii) asymptotically reduces computational cost, and iii) provides relative accuracy guarantees. On a suite of tasks that involve mathematical and logical reasoning, Scallop scales significantly better without sacrificing accuracy compared to DeepProbLog, a principled neural logic programming approach. We also create and evaluate on a real-world Visual Question Answering (VQA) benchmark that requires multi-hop reasoning. Scallop outperforms two VQA-tailored models, a Neural Module Networks based and a transformer based model, by 12.42% and 21.66% respectively.

Learning the optimal Tikhonov regularizer for inverse problems

Giovanni Alberti · Ernesto De Vito · Matti Lassas · Luca Ratti · Matteo Santacesaria

In this work, we consider the linear inverse problem $y=Ax+\varepsilon$, where $A\colon X\to Y$ is a known linear operator between the separable Hilbert spaces $X$ and $Y$, $x$ is a random variable in $X$ and $\epsilon$ is a zero-mean random process in $Y$. This setting covers several inverse problems in imaging including denoising, deblurring, and X-ray tomography. Within the classical framework of regularization, we focus on the case where the regularization functional is not given a priori, but learned from data. Our first result is a characterization of the optimal generalized Tikhonov regularizer, with respect to the mean squared error. We find that it is completely independent of the forward operator $A$ and depends only on the mean and covariance of $x$.Then, we consider the problem of learning the regularizer from a finite training set in two different frameworks: one supervised, based on samples of both $x$ and $y$, and one unsupervised, based only on samples of $x$. In both cases, we prove generalization bounds, under some weak assumptions on the distribution of $x$ and $\varepsilon$, including the case of sub-Gaussian variables. Our bounds hold in infinite-dimensional spaces, thereby showing that finer and finer discretizations do not make this learning problem harder. The results are validated through numerical simulations.

On Margin-Based Cluster Recovery with Oracle Queries

Marco Bressan · Nicolò Cesa-Bianchi · Silvio Lattanzi · Andrea Paudice

We study an active cluster recovery problem where, given a set of $n$ points and an oracle answering queries like ``are these two points in the same cluster?'', the task is to recover exactly all clusters using as few queries as possible. We begin by introducing a simple but general notion of margin between clusters that captures, as special cases, the margins used in previous works, the classic SVM margin, and standard notions of stability for center-based clusterings. Under our margin assumptions we design algorithms that, in a variety of settings, recover all clusters exactly using only $O(\log n)$ queries. For $\mathbb{R}^m$, we give an algorithm that recovers \emph{arbitrary} convex clusters, in polynomial time, and with a number of queries that is lower than the best existing algorithm by $\Theta(m^m)$ factors. For general pseudometric spaces, where clusters might not be convex or might not have any notion of shape, we give an algorithm that achieves the $O(\log n)$ query bound, and is provably near-optimal as a function of the packing number of the space. Finally, for clusterings realized by binary concept classes, we give a combinatorial characterization of recoverability with $O(\log n)$ queries, and we show that, for many concept classes in $\mathbb{R}^m$, this characterization is equivalent to our margin condition. Our results show a deep connection between cluster margins and active cluster recoverability.

Dense Unsupervised Learning for Video Segmentation

Nikita Araslanov · Simone Schaub-Meyer · Stefan Roth

We present a novel approach to unsupervised learning for video object segmentation (VOS). Unlike previous work, our formulation allows to learn dense feature representations directly in a fully convolutional regime. We rely on uniform grid sampling to extract a set of anchors and train our model to disambiguate between them on both inter- and intra-video levels. However, a naive scheme to train such a model results in a degenerate solution. We propose to prevent this with a simple regularisation scheme, accommodating the equivariance property of the segmentation task to similarity transformations. Our training objective admits efficient implementation and exhibits fast training convergence. On established VOS benchmarks, our approach exceeds the segmentation accuracy of previous work despite using significantly less training data and compute power.

Charting and Navigating the Space of Solutions for Recurrent Neural Networks

Elia Turner · Kabir V Dabholkar · Omri Barak

In recent years Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) were successfully used to model the way neural activity drives task-related behavior in animals, operating under the implicit assumption that the obtained solutions are universal. Observations in both neuroscience and machine learning challenge this assumption. Animals can approach a given task with a variety of strategies, and training machine learning algorithms introduces the phenomenon of underspecification. These observations imply that every task is associated with a space of solutions. To date, the structure of this space is not understood, limiting the approach of comparing RNNs with neural data.Here, we characterize the space of solutions associated with various tasks. We first study a simple two-neuron network on a task that leads to multiple solutions. We trace the nature of the final solution back to the network’s initial connectivity and identify discrete dynamical regimes that underlie this diversity. We then examine three neuroscience-inspired tasks: Delayed discrimination, Interval discrimination, and Time reproduction. For each task, we find a rich set of solutions. One layer of variability can be found directly in the neural activity of the networks. An additional layer is uncovered by testing the trained networks' ability to extrapolate, as a perturbation to a system often reveals hidden structure. Furthermore, we relate extrapolation patterns to specific dynamical objects and effective algorithms found by the networks. We introduce a tool to derive the reduced dynamics of networks by generating a compact directed graph describing the essence of the dynamics with regards to behavioral inputs and outputs. Using this representation, we can partition the solutions to each task into a handful of types and show that neural features can partially predict them.Taken together, our results shed light on the concept of the space of solutions and its uses both in Machine learning and in Neuroscience.

Reusing Combinatorial Structure: Faster Iterative Projections over Submodular Base Polytopes

Jai Moondra · Hassan Mortagy · Swati Gupta

Optimization algorithms such as projected Newton's method, FISTA, mirror descent and its variants enjoy near-optimal regret bounds and convergence rates, but suffer from a computational bottleneck of computing ``projections" in potentially each iteration (e.g., $O(T^{1/2})$ regret of online mirror descent). On the other hand, conditional gradient variants solve a linear optimization in each iteration, but result in suboptimal rates (e.g., $O(T^{3/4})$ regret of online Frank-Wolfe). Motivated by this trade-off in runtime v/s convergence rates, we consider iterative projections of close-by points over widely-prevalent submodular base polytopes $B(f)$. We develop a toolkit to speed up the computation of projections using both discrete and continuous perspectives. We subsequently adapt the away-step Frank-Wolfe algorithm to use this information and enable early termination. For the special case of cardinality based submodular polytopes, we improve the runtime of computing certain Bregman projections by a factor of $\Omega(n/\log(n))$. Our theoretical results show orders of magnitude reduction in runtime in preliminary computational experiments.

Dealing With Misspecification In Fixed-Confidence Linear Top-m Identification

Clémence Réda · Andrea Tirinzoni · Rémy Degenne

We study the problem of the identification of m arms with largest means under a fixed error rate $\delta$ (fixed-confidence Top-m identification), for misspecified linear bandit models. This problem is motivated by practical applications, especially in medicine and recommendation systems, where linear models are popular due to their simplicity and the existence of efficient algorithms, but in which data inevitably deviates from linearity. In this work, we first derive a tractable lower bound on the sample complexity of any $\delta$-correct algorithm for the general Top-m identification problem. We show that knowing the scale of the deviation from linearity is necessary to exploit the structure of the problem. We then describe the first algorithm for this setting, which is both practical and adapts to the amount of misspecification. We derive an upper bound to its sample complexity which confirms this adaptivity and that matches the lower bound when $\delta \rightarrow 0$. Finally, we evaluate our algorithm on both synthetic and real-world data, showing competitive performance with respect to existing baselines.

Why Generalization in RL is Difficult: Epistemic POMDPs and Implicit Partial Observability

Dibya Ghosh · Jad Rahme · Aviral Kumar · Amy Zhang · Ryan Adams · Sergey Levine

Generalization is a central challenge for the deployment of reinforcement learning (RL) systems in the real world. In this paper, we show that the sequential structure of the RL problem necessitates new approaches to generalization beyond the well-studied techniques used in supervised learning. While supervised learning methods can generalize effectively without explicitly accounting for epistemic uncertainty, we describe why appropriate uncertainty handling can actually be essential in RL. We show that generalization to unseen test conditions from a limited number of training conditions induces a kind of implicit partial observability, effectively turning even fully-observed MDPs into POMDPs. Informed by this observation, we recast the problem of generalization in RL as solving the induced partially observed Markov decision process, which we call the epistemic POMDP. We demonstrate the failure modes of algorithms that do not appropriately handle this partial observability, and suggest a simple ensemble-based technique for approximately solving the partially observed problem. Empirically, we demonstrate that our simple algorithm derived from the epistemic POMDP achieves significant gains in generalization over current methods on the Procgen benchmark suite.

Reformulating Zero-shot Action Recognition for Multi-label Actions

Alec Kerrigan · Kevin Duarte · Yogesh Rawat · Mubarak Shah

The goal of zero-shot action recognition (ZSAR) is to classify action classes which were not previously seen during training. Traditionally, this is achieved by training a network to map, or regress, visual inputs to a semantic space where a nearest neighbor classifier is used to select the closest target class. We argue that this approach is sub-optimal due to the use of nearest neighbor on static semantic space and is ineffective when faced with multi-label videos - where two semantically distinct co-occurring action categories cannot be predicted with high confidence. To overcome these limitations, we propose a ZSAR framework which does not rely on nearest neighbor classification, but rather consists of a pairwise scoring function. Given a video and a set of action classes, our method predicts a set of confidence scores for each class independently. This allows for the prediction of several semantically distinct classes within one video input. Our evaluations show that our method not only achieves strong performance on three single-label action classification datasets (UCF-101, HMDB, and RareAct), but also outperforms previous ZSAR approaches on a challenging multi-label dataset (AVA) and a real-world surprise activity detection dataset (MEVA).

Optimal Best-Arm Identification Methods for Tail-Risk Measures

Shubhada Agrawal · Wouter Koolen · Sandeep Juneja

Conditional value-at-risk (CVaR) and value-at-risk (VaR) are popular tail-risk measures in finance and insurance industries as well as in highly reliable, safety-critical uncertain environments where often the underlying probability distributions are heavy-tailed. We use the multi-armed bandit best-arm identification framework and consider the problem of identifying the arm from amongst finitely many that has the smallest CVaR, VaR, or weighted sum of CVaR and mean. The latter captures the risk-return trade-off common in finance. Our main contribution is an optimal $\delta$-correct algorithm that acts on general arms, including heavy-tailed distributions, and matches the lower bound on the expected number of samples needed, asymptotically (as $ \delta$ approaches $0$). The algorithm requires solving a non-convex optimization problem in the space of probability measures, that requires delicate analysis. En-route, we develop new non-asymptotic, anytime-valid, empirical-likelihood-based concentration inequalities for tail-risk measures.

A Theory of the Distortion-Perception Tradeoff in Wasserstein Space

Dror Freirich · Tomer Michaeli · Ron Meir

The lower the distortion of an estimator, the more the distribution of its outputs generally deviates from the distribution of the signals it attempts to estimate. This phenomenon, known as the perception-distortion tradeoff, has captured significant attention in image restoration, where it implies that fidelity to ground truth images comes on the expense of perceptual quality (deviation from statistics of natural images). However, despite the increasing popularity of performing comparisons on the perception-distortion plane, there remains an important open question: what is the minimal distortion that can be achieved under a given perception constraint? In this paper, we derive a closed form expression for this distortion-perception (DP) function for the mean squared-error (MSE) distortion and Wasserstein-2 perception index. We prove that the DP function is always quadratic, regardless of the underlying distribution. This stems from the fact that estimators on the DP curve form a geodesic in Wasserstein space. In the Gaussian setting, we further provide a closed form expression for such estimators. For general distributions, we show how these estimators can be constructed from the estimators at the two extremes of the tradeoff: The global MSE minimizer, and a minimizer of the MSE under a perfect perceptual quality constraint. The latter can be obtained as a stochastic transformation of the former.

Implicit Task-Driven Probability Discrepancy Measure for Unsupervised Domain Adaptation

Mao Li · Kaiqi Jiang · Xinhua Zhang

Probability discrepancy measure is a fundamental construct for numerous machine learning models such as weakly supervised learning and generative modeling. However, most measures overlook the fact that the distributions are not the end-product of learning, but are the basis of downstream predictor. Therefore it is important to warp the probability discrepancy measure towards the end tasks, and we hence propose a new bi-level optimization based approach so that the two distributions are compared not uniformly against the entire hypothesis space, but only with respect to the optimal predictor for the downstream end task. When applied to margin disparity discrepancy and contrastive domain discrepancy, our method significantly improves the performance in unsupervised domain adaptation, and enjoys a much more principled training process.

Generalization Bounds For Meta-Learning: An Information-Theoretic Analysis

Qi CHEN · Changjian Shui · Mario Marchand

We derive a novel information-theoretic analysis of the generalization property of meta-learning algorithms. Concretely, our analysis proposes a generic understanding in both the conventional learning-to-learn framework \citep{amit2018meta} and the modern model-agnostic meta-learning (MAML) algorithms \citep{finn2017model}.Moreover, we provide a data-dependent generalization bound for the stochastic variant of MAML, which is \emph{non-vacuous} for deep few-shot learning. As compared to previous bounds that depend on the square norms of gradients, empirical validations on both simulated data and a well-known few-shot benchmark show that our bound is orders of magnitude tighter in most conditions.

Fast Algorithms for $L_\infty$-constrained S-rectangular Robust MDPs

Bahram Behzadian · Marek Petrik · Chin Pang Ho

Robust Markov decision processes (RMDPs) are a useful building block of robust reinforcement learning algorithms but can be hard to solve. This paper proposes a fast, exact algorithm for computing the Bellman operator for S-rectangular robust Markov decision processes with $L_\infty$-constrained rectangular ambiguity sets. The algorithm combines a novel homotopy continuation method with a bisection method to solve S-rectangular ambiguity in quasi-linear time in the number of states and actions. The algorithm improves on the cubic time required by leading general linear programming methods. Our experimental results confirm the practical viability of our method and show that it outperforms a leading commercial optimization package by several orders of magnitude.

PatchGame: Learning to Signal Mid-level Patches in Referential Games

Kamal Gupta · Gowthami Somepalli · Anubhav Anubhav · Vinoj Yasanga Jayasundara Magalle Hewa · Matthias Zwicker · Abhinav Shrivastava

We study a referential game (a type of signaling game) where two agents communicate with each other via a discrete bottleneck to achieve a common goal. In our referential game, the goal of the speaker is to compose a message or a symbolic representation of "important" image patches, while the task for the listener is to match the speaker's message to a different view of the same image. We show that it is indeed possible for the two agents to develop a communication protocol without explicit or implicit supervision. We further investigate the developed protocol and show the applications in speeding up recent Vision Transformers by using only important patches, and as pre-training for downstream recognition tasks (e.g., classification).

Tensor Normal Training for Deep Learning Models

Yi Ren · Donald Goldfarb

Despite the predominant use of first-order methods for training deep learning models, second-order methods, and in particular, natural gradient methods, remain of interest because of their potential for accelerating training through the use of curvature information. Several methods with non-diagonal preconditioning matrices, including KFAC, Shampoo, and K-BFGS, have been proposed and shown to be effective. Based on the so-called tensor normal (TN) distribution, we propose and analyze a brand new approximate natural gradient method, Tensor Normal Training (TNT), which like Shampoo, only requires knowledge of the shape of the training parameters. By approximating the probabilistically based Fisher matrix, as opposed to the empirical Fisher matrix, our method uses the block-wise covariance of the sampling based gradient as the pre-conditioning matrix. Moreover, the assumption that the sampling-based (tensor) gradient follows a TN distribution, ensures that its covariance has a Kronecker separable structure, which leads to a tractable approximation to the Fisher matrix. Consequently, TNT's memory requirements and per-iteration computational costs are only slightly higher than those for first-order methods. In our experiments, TNT exhibited superior optimization performance to state-of-the-art first-order methods, and comparable optimization performance to the state-of-the-art second-order methods KFAC and Shampoo. Moreover, TNT demonstrated its ability to generalize as well as first-order methods, while using fewer epochs.

Morié Attack (MA): A New Potential Risk of Screen Photos

Dantong Niu · Ruohao Guo · Yisen Wang

Images, captured by a camera, play a critical role in training Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). Usually, we assume the images acquired by cameras are consistent with the ones perceived by human eyes. However, due to the different physical mechanisms between human-vision and computer-vision systems, the final perceived images could be very different in some cases, for example shooting on digital monitors. In this paper, we find a special phenomenon in digital image processing, the moiré effect, that could cause unnoticed security threats to DNNs. Based on it, we propose a Moiré Attack (MA) that generates the physical-world moiré pattern adding to the images by mimicking the shooting process of digital devices. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our proposed digital Moiré Attack (MA) is a perfect camouflage for attackers to tamper with DNNs with a high success rate ($100.0\%$ for untargeted and $97.0\%$ for targeted attack with the noise budget $\epsilon=4$), high transferability rate across different models, and high robustness under various defenses. Furthermore, MA owns great stealthiness because the moiré effect is unavoidable due to the camera's inner physical structure, which therefore hardly attracts the awareness of humans. Our code is available at

Certifying Robustness to Programmable Data Bias in Decision Trees

Anna Meyer · Aws Albarghouthi · Loris D'Antoni

Datasets can be biased due to societal inequities, human biases, under-representation of minorities, etc. Our goal is to certify that models produced by a learning algorithm are pointwise-robust to dataset biases. This is a challenging problem: it entails learning models for a large, or even infinite, number of datasets, ensuring that they all produce the same prediction. We focus on decision-tree learning due to the interpretable nature of the models. Our approach allows programmatically specifying \emph{bias models} across a variety of dimensions (e.g., label-flipping or missing data), composing types of bias, and targeting bias towards a specific group. To certify robustness, we use a novel symbolic technique to evaluate a decision-tree learner on a large, or infinite, number of datasets, certifying that each and every dataset produces the same prediction for a specific test point. We evaluate our approach on datasets that are commonly used in the fairness literature, and demonstrate our approach's viability on a range of bias models.

Bayesian decision-making under misspecified priors with applications to meta-learning

Max Simchowitz · Christopher Tosh · Akshay Krishnamurthy · Daniel Hsu · Thodoris Lykouris · Miro Dudik · Robert Schapire

Thompson sampling and other Bayesian sequential decision-making algorithms are among the most popular approaches to tackle explore/exploit trade-offs in (contextual) bandits. The choice of prior in these algorithms offers flexibility to encode domain knowledge but can also lead to poor performance when misspecified. In this paper, we demonstrate that performance degrades gracefully with misspecification. We prove that the expected reward accrued by Thompson sampling (TS) with a misspecified prior differs by at most $\tilde{O}(H^2 \epsilon)$ from TS with a well-specified prior, where $\epsilon$ is the total-variation distance between priors and $H$ is the learning horizon. Our bound does not require the prior to have any parametric form. For priors with bounded support, our bound is independent of the cardinality or structure of the action space, and we show that it is tight up to universal constants in the worst case.Building on our sensitivity analysis, we establish generic PAC guarantees for algorithms in the recently studied Bayesian meta-learning setting and derive corollaries for various families of priors. Our results generalize along two axes: (1) they apply to a broader family of Bayesian decision-making algorithms, including a Monte-Carlo implementation of the knowledge gradient algorithm (KG), and (2) they apply to Bayesian POMDPs, the most general Bayesian decision-making setting, encompassing contextual bandits as a special case. Through numerical simulations, we illustrate how prior misspecification and the deployment of one-step look-ahead (as in KG) can impact the convergence of meta-learning in multi-armed and contextual bandits with structured and correlated priors.

Identification and Estimation of Joint Probabilities of Potential Outcomes in Observational Studies with Covariate Information

Ryusei Shingaki · manabu kuroki

The joint probabilities of potential outcomes are fundamental components of causal inference in the sense that (i) if they are identifiable, then the causal risk is also identifiable, but not vise versa (Pearl, 2009; Tian and Pearl, 2000) and (ii) they enable us to evaluate the probabilistic aspects of necessity'',sufficiency'', and ``necessity and sufficiency'', which are important concepts of successful explanation (Watson, et al., 2020). However, because they are not identifiable without any assumptions, various assumptions have been utilized to evaluate the joint probabilities of potential outcomes, e.g., the assumption of monotonicity (Pearl, 2009; Tian and Pearl, 2000), the independence between potential outcomes (Robins and Richardson, 2011), the condition of gain equality (Li and Pearl, 2019), and the specific functional relationships between cause and effect (Pearl, 2009). Unlike existing identification conditions, in order to evaluate the joint probabilities of potential outcomes without such assumptions, this paper proposes two types of novel identification conditions using covariate information. In addition, when the joint probabilities of potential outcomes are identifiable through the proposed conditions, the estimation problem of the joint probabilities of potential outcomes reduces to that of singular models and thus they can not be evaluated by standard statistical estimation methods. To solve the problem, this paper proposes a new statistical estimation method based on the augmented Lagrangian method and shows the asymptotic normality of the proposed estimators. Given space constraints, the proofs, the details on the statistical estimation method, some numerical experiments, and the case study are provided in the supplementary material.

On the Algorithmic Stability of Adversarial Training

Yue Xing · Qifan Song · Guang Cheng

The adversarial training is a popular tool to remedy the vulnerability of deep learning models against adversarial attacks, and there is rich theoretical literature on the training loss of adversarial training algorithms. In contrast, this paper studies the algorithmic stability of a generic adversarial training algorithm, which can further help to establish an upper bound for generalization error. By figuring out the stability upper bound and lower bound, we argue that the non-differentiability issue of adversarial training causes worse algorithmic stability than their natural counterparts. To tackle this problem, we consider a noise injection method. While the non-differentiability problem seriously affects the stability of adversarial training, injecting noise enables the training trajectory to avoid the occurrence of non-differentiability with dominating probability, hence enhancing the stability performance of adversarial training. Our analysis also studies the relation between the algorithm stability and numerical approximation error of adversarial attacks.