Poster Session 1

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Efficient Change-Point Detection for Tackling Piecewise-Stationary Bandits

Lilian Besson · Emilie Kaufmann · Odalric-Ambrym Maillard · Julien Seznec

We introduce GLRklUCB, a novel algorithm for the piecewise iid non-stationary bandit problem with bounded rewards. This algorithm combines an efficient bandit algorithm, klUCB, with an efficient, parameter-free, change-point detector, the Bernoulli Generalized Likelihood Ratio Test, for which we provide new theoretical guarantees of independent interest. Unlike previous non-stationary bandit algorithms using a change-point detector, GLRklUCB does not need to be calibrated based on prior knowledge on the arms' means. We prove that this algorithm can attain a $O(\sqrt{TA\Upsilon_T\log(T)})$ regret in $T$ rounds on some ``easy'' instances in which there is sufficient delay between two change-points, where $A$ is the number of arms and $\Upsilon_T$ the number of change-points, without prior knowledge of $\Upsilon_T$. In contrast with recently proposed algorithms that are agnostic to $\Upsilon_T$, we perform a numerical study showing that GLRklUCB is also very efficient in practice, beyond easy instances.

A Comprehensive Study on Large-Scale Graph Training: Benchmarking and Rethinking

Keyu Duan · Zirui Liu · Peihao Wang · Wenqing Zheng · Kaixiong Zhou · Tianlong Chen · Xia Hu · Zhangyang Wang

Large-scale graph training is a notoriously challenging problem for graph neural networks (GNNs). Due to the nature of evolving graph structures into the training process, vanilla GNNs usually fail to scale up, limited by the GPU memory space. Up to now, though numerous scalable GNN architectures have been proposed, we still lack a comprehensive survey and fair benchmark of this reservoir to find the rationale for designing scalable GNNs. To this end, we first systematically formulate the representative methods of large-scale graph training into several branches and further establish a fair and consistent benchmark for them by a greedy hyperparameter searching. In addition, regarding efficiency, we theoretically evaluate the time and space complexity of various branches and empirically compare them w.r.t GPU memory usage, throughput, and convergence. Furthermore, We analyze the pros and cons for various branches of scalable GNNs and then present a new ensembling training manner, named EnGCN, to address the existing issues. Remarkably, our proposed method has achieved new state-of-the-art (SOTA) performance on large-scale datasets. Our code is available at

FedPop: A Bayesian Approach for Personalised Federated Learning

Nikita Kotelevskii · Maxime Vono · Alain Durmus · Eric Moulines

Personalised federated learning (FL) aims at collaboratively learning a machine learning model tailored for each client. Albeit promising advances have been made in this direction, most of the existing approaches do not allow for uncertainty quantification which is crucial in many applications. In addition, personalisation in the cross-silo and cross-device setting still involves important issues, especially for new clients or those having a small number of observations. This paper aims at filling these gaps. To this end, we propose a novel methodology coined FedPop by recasting personalised FL into the population modeling paradigm where clients’ models involve fixed common population parameters and random effects, aiming at explaining data heterogeneity. To derive convergence guarantees for our scheme, we introduce a new class of federated stochastic optimisation algorithms that relies on Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. Compared to existing personalised FL methods, the proposed methodology has important benefits: it is robust to client drift, practical for inference on new clients, and above all, enables uncertainty quantification under mild computational and memory overheads. We provide nonasymptotic convergence guarantees for the proposed algorithms and illustrate their performances on various personalised federated learning tasks.

Adversarial Auto-Augment with Label Preservation: A Representation Learning Principle Guided Approach

Kaiwen Yang · Yanchao Sun · Jiahao Su · Fengxiang He · Xinmei Tian · Furong Huang · Tianyi Zhou · Dacheng Tao

Data augmentation is a critical contributing factor to the success of deep learning but heavily relies on prior domain knowledge which is not always available. Recent works on automatic data augmentation learn a policy to form a sequence of augmentation operations, which are still pre-defined and restricted to limited options. In this paper, we show that a prior-free autonomous data augmentation's objective can be derived from a representation learning principle that aims to preserve the minimum sufficient information of the labels. Given an example, the objective aims at creating a distant ``hard positive example'' as the augmentation, while still preserving the original label. We then propose a practical surrogate to the objective that can be optimized efficiently and integrated seamlessly into existing methods for a broad class of machine learning tasks, e.g., supervised, semi-supervised, and noisy-label learning. Unlike previous works, our method does not require training an extra generative model but instead leverages the intermediate layer representations of the end-task model for generating data augmentations. In experiments, we show that our method consistently brings non-trivial improvements to the three aforementioned learning tasks from both efficiency and final performance, either or not combined with pre-defined augmentations, e.g., on medical images when domain knowledge is unavailable and the existing augmentation techniques perform poorly. Code will be released publicly.

Functional Ensemble Distillation

Coby Penso · Idan Achituve · Ethan Fetaya

Bayesian models have many desirable properties, most notable is their ability to generalize from limited data and to properly estimate the uncertainty in their predictions. However, these benefits come at a steep computational cost as Bayesian inference, in most cases, is computationally intractable. One popular approach to alleviate this problem is using a Monte-Carlo estimation with an ensemble of models sampled from the posterior. However, this approach still comes at a significant computational cost, as one needs to store and run multiple models at test time. In this work, we investigate how to best distill an ensemble's predictions using an efficient model. First, we argue that current approaches are limited as they are constrained to classification and the Dirichlet distribution. Second, in many limited data settings, all ensemble members achieve nearly zero training loss, namely, they produce near-identical predictions on the training set which results in sub-optimal distilled models. To address both problems, we propose a novel and general distillation approach, named Functional Ensemble Distillation (FED), and we investigate how to best distill an ensemble in this setting. We find that learning the distilled model via a simple augmentation scheme in the form of mixup augmentation significantly boosts the performance. We evaluated our method on several tasks and showed that it achieves superior results in both accuracy and uncertainty estimation compared to current approaches.

Improving Zero-Shot Generalization in Offline Reinforcement Learning using Generalized Similarity Functions

Bogdan Mazoure · Ilya Kostrikov · Ofir Nachum · Jonathan Tompson

Reinforcement learning (RL) agents are widely used for solving complex sequential decision-making tasks, but still exhibit difficulty generalizing to scenarios not seen during training. While prior online approaches demonstrated that using additional signals beyond the reward function can lead to better generalization capabilities in RL agents, i.e. using self-supervised learning (SSL), they struggle in the offline RL setting, i.e. learning from a static dataset. We show that the performance of online algorithms for generalization in RL can be hindered in the offline setting due to poor estimation of similarity between observations. We propose a new theoretically-motivated framework called Generalized Similarity Functions (GSF), which uses contrastive learning to train an offline RL agent to aggregate observations based on the similarity of their expected future behavior, where we quantify this similarity using generalized value functions. We show that GSF is general enough to recover existing SSL objectives while improving zero-shot generalization performance on two complex pixel-based offline RL benchmarks.

Differentially Private Model Compression

FatemehSadat Mireshghallah · Arturs Backurs · Huseyin A. Inan · Lukas Wutschitz · Janardhan Kulkarni

Recent papers have shown that large pre-trained language models (LLMs) such as BERT, GPT-2 can be fine-tuned on private data to achieve performance comparable to non-private models for many downstream Natural Language Processing (NLP) tasks while simultaneously guaranteeing differential privacy. The inference cost of these models -- which consist of hundreds of millions of parameters -- however, can be prohibitively large. Hence, often in practice, LLMs are compressed before they are deployed in specific applications. In this paper, we initiate the study of differentially private model compression and propose frameworks for achieving 50% sparsity levels while maintaining nearly full performance. We demonstrate these ideas on standard GLUE benchmarks using BERT models, setting benchmarks for future research on this topic.

Self-explaining deep models with logic rule reasoning

Seungeon Lee · Xiting Wang · Sungwon Han · Xiaoyuan Yi · Xing Xie · Meeyoung Cha

We present SELOR, a framework for integrating self-explaining capabilities into a given deep model to achieve both high prediction performance and human precision. By “human precision”, we refer to the degree to which humans agree with the reasons models provide for their predictions. Human precision affects user trust and allows users to collaborate closely with the model. We demonstrate that logic rule explanations naturally satisfy them with the expressive power required for good predictive performance. We then illustrate how to enable a deep model to predict and explain with logic rules. Our method does not require predefined logic rule sets or human annotations and can be learned efficiently and easily with widely-used deep learning modules in a differentiable way. Extensive experiments show that our method gives explanations closer to human decision logic than other methods while maintaining the performance of the deep learning model.

AutoLink: Self-supervised Learning of Human Skeletons and Object Outlines by Linking Keypoints

Xingzhe He · Bastian Wandt · Helge Rhodin

Structured representations such as keypoints are widely used in pose transfer, conditional image generation, animation, and 3D reconstruction. However, their supervised learning requires expensive annotation for each target domain. We propose a self-supervised method that learns to disentangle object structure from the appearance with a graph of 2D keypoints linked by straight edges. Both the keypoint location and their pairwise edge weights are learned, given only a collection of images depicting the same object class. The resulting graph is interpretable, for example, AutoLink recovers the human skeleton topology when applied to images showing people. Our key ingredients are i) an encoder that predicts keypoint locations in an input image, ii) a shared graph as a latent variable that links the same pairs of keypoints in every image, iii) an intermediate edge map that combines the latent graph edge weights and keypoint locations in a soft, differentiable manner, and iv) an inpainting objective on randomly masked images. Although simpler, AutoLink outperforms existing self-supervised methods on the established keypoint and pose estimation benchmarks and paves the way for structure-conditioned generative models on more diverse datasets. Project website:

Behavior Transformers: Cloning $k$ modes with one stone

Nur Muhammad Shafiullah · Zichen Cui · Ariuntuya (Arty) Altanzaya · Lerrel Pinto

While behavior learning has made impressive progress in recent times, it lags behind computer vision and natural language processing due to its inability to leverage large, human-generated datasets. Human behavior has a wide variance, multiple modes, and human demonstrations naturally do not come with reward labels. These properties limit the applicability of current methods in Offline RL and Behavioral Cloning to learn from large, pre-collected datasets. In this work, we present Behavior Transformer (BeT), a new technique to model unlabeled demonstration data with multiple modes. BeT retrofits standard transformer architectures with action discretization coupled with a multi-task action correction inspired by offset prediction in object detection. This allows us to leverage the multi-modal modeling ability of modern transformers to predict multi-modal continuous actions. We experimentally evaluate BeT on a variety of robotic manipulation and self-driving behavior datasets. We show that BeT significantly improves over prior state-of-the-art work on solving demonstrated tasks while capturing the major modes present in the pre-collected datasets. Finally, through an extensive ablation study, we further analyze the importance of every crucial component in BeT. Videos of behavior generated by BeT are available here:

Equivariant Networks for Zero-Shot Coordination

Darius Muglich · Christian Schroeder de Witt · Elise van der Pol · Shimon Whiteson · Jakob Foerster

Successful coordination in Dec-POMDPs requires agents to adopt robust strategies and interpretable styles of play for their partner. A common failure mode is symmetry breaking, when agents arbitrarily converge on one out of many equivalent but mutually incompatible policies. Commonly these examples include partial observability, e.g. waving your right hand vs. left hand to convey a covert message. In this paper, we present a novel equivariant network architecture for use in Dec-POMDPs that prevents the agent from learning policies which break symmetries, doing so more effectively than prior methods. Our method also acts as a "coordination-improvement operator" for generic, pre-trained policies, and thus may be applied at test-time in conjunction with any self-play algorithm. We provide theoretical guarantees of our work and test on the AI benchmark task of Hanabi, where we demonstrate our methods outperforming other symmetry-aware baselines in zero-shot coordination, as well as able to improve the coordination ability of a variety of pre-trained policies. In particular, we show our method can be used to improve on the state of the art for zero-shot coordination on the Hanabi benchmark.

Bandit Theory and Thompson Sampling-Guided Directed Evolution for Sequence Optimization

Hui Yuan · Chengzhuo Ni · Huazheng Wang · Xuezhou Zhang · Le Cong · Csaba Szepesvari · Mengdi Wang

Directed Evolution (DE), a landmark wet-lab method originated in 1960s, enables discovery of novel protein designs via evolving a population of candidate sequences. Recent advances in biotechnology has made it possible to collect high-throughput data, allowing the use of machine learning to map out a protein's sequence-to-function relation. There is a growing interest in machine learning-assisted DE for accelerating protein optimization. Yet the theoretical understanding of DE, as well as the use of machine learning in DE, remains limited.In this paper, we connect DE with the bandit learning theory and make a first attempt to study regret minimization in DE. We propose a Thompson Sampling-guided Directed Evolution (TS-DE) framework for sequence optimization, where the sequence-to-function mapping is unknown and querying a single value is subject to costly and noisy measurements. TS-DE updates a posterior of the function based on collected measurements. It uses a posterior-sampled function estimate to guide the crossover recombination and mutation steps in DE. In the case of a linear model, we show that TS-DE enjoys a Bayesian regret of order $\tilde O(d^{2}\sqrt{MT})$, where $d$ is feature dimension, $M$ is population size and $T$ is number of rounds. This regret bound is nearly optimal, confirming that bandit learning can provably accelerate DE. It may have implications for more general sequence optimization and evolutionary algorithms.

What You See is What You Classify: Black Box Attributions

Steven Stalder · Nathanael Perraudin · Radhakrishna Achanta · Fernando Perez-Cruz · Michele Volpi

An important step towards explaining deep image classifiers lies in the identification of image regions that contribute to individual class scores in the model's output. However, doing this accurately is a difficult task due to the black-box nature of such networks. Most existing approaches find such attributions either using activations and gradients or by repeatedly perturbing the input. We instead address this challenge by training a second deep network, the Explainer, to predict attributions for a pre-trained black-box classifier, the Explanandum. These attributions are provided in the form of masks that only show the classifier-relevant parts of an image, masking out the rest. Our approach produces sharper and more boundary-precise masks when compared to the saliency maps generated by other methods. Moreover, unlike most existing approaches, ours is capable of directly generating very distinct class-specific masks in a single forward pass. This makes the proposed method very efficient during inference. We show that our attributions are superior to established methods both visually and quantitatively with respect to the PASCAL VOC-2007 and Microsoft COCO-2014 datasets.

Active Surrogate Estimators: An Active Learning Approach to Label-Efficient Model Evaluation

Jannik Kossen · Sebastian Farquhar · Yarin Gal · Thomas Rainforth

We propose Active Surrogate Estimators (ASEs), a new method for label-efficient model evaluation. Evaluating model performance is a challenging and important problem when labels are expensive. ASEs address this active testing problem using a surrogate-based estimation approach that interpolates the errors of points with unknown labels, rather than forming a Monte Carlo estimator. ASEs actively learn the underlying surrogate, and we propose a novel acquisition strategy, XWED, that tailors this learning to the final estimation task. We find that ASEs offer greater label-efficiency than the current state-of-the-art when applied to challenging model evaluation problems for deep neural networks.

Tree ensemble kernels for Bayesian optimization with known constraints over mixed-feature spaces

Alexander Thebelt · Calvin Tsay · Robert Lee · Nathan Sudermann-Merx · David Walz · Behrang Shafei · Ruth Misener

Tree ensembles can be well-suited for black-box optimization tasks such as algorithm tuning and neural architecture search, as they achieve good predictive performance with little or no manual tuning, naturally handle discrete feature spaces, and are relatively insensitive to outliers in the training data. Two well-known challenges in using tree ensembles for black-box optimization are (i) effectively quantifying model uncertainty for exploration and (ii) optimizing over the piece-wise constant acquisition function. To address both points simultaneously, we propose using the kernel interpretation of tree ensembles as a Gaussian Process prior to obtain model variance estimates, and we develop a compatible optimization formulation for the acquisition function. The latter further allows us to seamlessly integrate known constraints to improve sampling efficiency by considering domain-knowledge in engineering settings and modeling search space symmetries, e.g., hierarchical relationships in neural architecture search. Our framework performs as well as state-of-the-art methods for unconstrained black-box optimization over continuous/discrete features and outperforms competing methods for problems combining mixed-variable feature spaces and known input constraints.

Sparse Fourier Backpropagation in Cryo-EM Reconstruction

Dari Kimanius · Kiarash Jamali · Sjors Scheres

Electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) is a powerful method for investigating the structures of protein molecules, with important implications for understanding the molecular processes of life and drug development. In this technique, many noisy, two-dimensional projection images of protein molecules in unknown poses are combined into one or more three-dimensional reconstructions. The presence of multiple structural states in the data represents a major bottleneck in existing processing pipelines, often requiring expert user supervision. Variational auto-encoders (VAEs) have recently been proposed as an attractive means for learning the data manifold of data sets with a large number of different states. These methods are based on a coordinate-based approach, similar to Neural Radiance Fields (NeRF), to make volumetric reconstructions from 2D image data in Fourier-space. Although NeRF is a powerful method for real-space reconstruction, many of the benefits of the method do not transfer to Fourier-space, e.g. inductive bias for spatial locality. We present an approach where the VAE reconstruction is expressed on a volumetric grid, and demonstrate how this model can be trained efficiently through a novel backpropagation method that exploits the sparsity of the projection operation in Fourier-space. We achieve improved results on a simulated data set and at least equivalent results on an experimental data set when compared to the coordinate-based approach, while also substantially lowering computational cost. Our approach is computationally more efficient, especially in inference, enabling interactive analysis of the latent space by the user.

Predictive Querying for Autoregressive Neural Sequence Models

Alex Boyd · Samuel Showalter · Stephan Mandt · Padhraic Smyth

In reasoning about sequential events it is natural to pose probabilistic queries such as “when will event A occur next” or “what is the probability of A occurring before B”, with applications in areas such as user modeling, language models, medicine, and finance. These types of queries are complex to answer compared to next-event prediction, particularly for neural autoregressive models such as recurrent neural networks and transformers. This is in part due to the fact that future querying involves marginalization over large path spaces, which is not straightforward to do efficiently in such models. In this paper we introduce a general typology for predictive queries in neural autoregressive sequence models and show that such queries can be systematically represented by sets of elementary building blocks. We leverage this typology to develop new query estimation methods based on beam search, importance sampling, and hybrids. Across four large-scale sequence datasets from different application domains, as well as for the GPT-2 language model, we demonstrate the ability to make query answering tractable for arbitrary queries in exponentially-large predictive path-spaces, and find clear differences in cost-accuracy tradeoffs between search and sampling methods.

Extracting computational mechanisms from neural data using low-rank RNNs

Adrian Valente · Jonathan Pillow · Srdjan Ostojic

An influential framework within systems neuroscience posits that neural computations can be understood in terms of low-dimensional dynamics in recurrent circuits. A number of methods have thus been developed to extract latent dynamical systems from neural recordings, but inferring models that are both predictive and interpretable remains a difficult challenge. Here we propose a new method called Low-rank Inference from Neural Trajectories (LINT), based on a class of low-rank recurrent neural networks (lrRNNs) for which a link between connectivity and dynamics has been previously demonstrated. By fitting such networks to trajectories of neural activity, LINT yields a mechanistic model of latent dynamics, as well as a set of axes for dimensionality reduction and verifiable predictions for inactivations of specific populations of neurons. Here, we first demonstrate the consistency of our method and apply it to two use cases: (i) we reverse-engineer "black-box" vanilla RNNs trained to perform cognitive tasks, and (ii) we infer latent dynamics and neural contributions from electrophysiological recordings of nonhuman primates performing a similar task.

Modeling the Machine Learning Multiverse

Samuel J. Bell · Onno Kampman · Jesse Dodge · Neil Lawrence

Amid mounting concern about the reliability and credibility of machine learning research, we present a principled framework for making robust and generalizable claims: the multiverse analysis. Our framework builds upon the multiverse analysis introduced in response to psychology's own reproducibility crisis. To efficiently explore high-dimensional and often continuous ML search spaces, we model the multiverse with a Gaussian Process surrogate and apply Bayesian experimental design. Our framework is designed to facilitate drawing robust scientific conclusions about model performance, and thus our approach focuses on exploration rather than conventional optimization. In the first of two case studies, we investigate disputed claims about the relative merit of adaptive optimizers. Second, we synthesize conflicting research on the effect of learning rate on the large batch training generalization gap. For the machine learning community, the multiverse analysis is a simple and effective technique for identifying robust claims, for increasing transparency, and a step toward improved reproducibility.

AUTOMATA: Gradient Based Data Subset Selection for Compute-Efficient Hyper-parameter Tuning

Krishnateja Killamsetty · Guttu Sai Abhishek · Aakriti Lnu · Ganesh Ramakrishnan · Alexandre Evfimievski · Lucian Popa · Rishabh Iyer

Deep neural networks have seen great success in recent years; however, training a deep model is often challenging as its performance heavily depends on the hyper-parameters used. In addition, finding the optimal hyper-parameter configuration, even with state-of-the-art (SOTA) hyper-parameter optimization (HPO) algorithms, can be time-consuming, requiring multiple training runs over the entire datasetfor different possible sets of hyper-parameters. Our central insight is that using an informative subset of the dataset for model training runs involved in hyper-parameter optimization, allows us to find the optimal hyper-parameter configuration significantly faster. In this work, we propose AUTOMATA, a gradient-based subset selection framework for hyper-parameter tuning. We empirically evaluate the effectiveness of AUTOMATA in hyper-parameter tuning through several experiments on real-world datasets in the text, vision, and tabular domains. Our experiments show that using gradient-based data subsets for hyper-parameter tuning achieves significantly faster turnaround times and speedups of 3×-30× while achieving comparable performance to the hyper-parameters found using the entire dataset.

Retrospective Adversarial Replay for Continual Learning

Lilly Kumari · Shengjie Wang · Tianyi Zhou · Jeff A Bilmes

Continual learning is an emerging research challenge in machine learning that addresses the problem where models quickly fit the most recently trained-on data but suffer from catastrophic forgetting of previous data due to distribution shifts --- it does this by maintaining a small historical replay buffer in replay-based methods. To avoid these problems, this paper proposes a method, ``Retrospective Adversarial Replay (RAR)'', that synthesizes adversarial samples near the forgetting boundary. RAR perturbs a buffered sample towards its nearest neighbor drawn from the current task in a latent representation space. By replaying such samples, we are able to refine the boundary between previous and current tasks, hence combating forgetting and reducing bias towards the current task. To mitigate the severity of a small replay buffer, we develop a novel MixUp-based strategy to increase replay variation by replaying mixed augmentations. Combined with RAR, this achieves a holistic framework that helps to alleviate catastrophic forgetting. We show that this excels on broadly-used benchmarks and outperforms other continual learning baselines especially when only a small buffer is available. We conduct a thorough ablation study over each key component as well as a hyperparameter sensitivity analysis to demonstrate the effectiveness and robustness of RAR.

Learning Neural Set Functions Under the Optimal Subset Oracle

Zijing Ou · Tingyang Xu · Qinliang Su · Yingzhen Li · Peilin Zhao · Yatao Bian

Learning set functions becomes increasingly important in many applications like product recommendation and compound selection in AI-aided drug discovery. The majority of existing works study methodologies of set function learning under the function value oracle, which, however, requires expensive supervision signals. This renders it impractical for applications with only weak supervisions under the Optimal Subset (OS) oracle, the study of which is surprisingly overlooked. In this work, we present a principled yet practical maximum likelihood learning framework, termed as EquiVSet, that simultaneously meets the following desiderata of learning neural set functions under the OS oracle: i) permutation invariance of the set mass function being modeled; ii) permission of varying ground set; iii) minimum prior and iv) scalability. The main components of our framework involve: an energy-based treatment of the set mass function, DeepSet-style architectures to handle permutation invariance, mean-field variational inference, and its amortized variants. Thanks to the delicate combination of these advanced architectures, empirical studies on three real-world applications (including Amazon product recommendation, set anomaly detection, and compound selection for virtual screening) demonstrate that EquiVSet outperforms the baselines by a large margin.

Efficient Architecture Search for Diverse Tasks

Junhong Shen · Misha Khodak · Ameet Talwalkar

While neural architecture search (NAS) has enabled automated machine learning (AutoML) for well-researched areas, its application to tasks beyond computer vision is still under-explored. As less-studied domains are precisely those where we expect AutoML to have the greatest impact, in this work we study NAS for efficiently solving diverse problems. Seeking an approach that is fast, simple, and broadly applicable, we fix a standard convolutional network (CNN) topology and propose to search for the right kernel sizes and dilations its operations should take on. This dramatically expands the model's capacity to extract features at multiple resolutions for different types of data while only requiring search over the operation space. To overcome the efficiency challenges of naive weight-sharing in this search space, we introduce DASH, a differentiable NAS algorithm that computes the mixture-of-operations using the Fourier diagonalization of convolution, achieving both a better asymptotic complexity and an up-to-10x search time speedup in practice. We evaluate DASH on ten tasks spanning a variety of application domains such as PDE solving, protein folding, and heart disease detection. DASH outperforms state-of-the-art AutoML methods in aggregate, attaining the best-known automated performance on seven tasks. Meanwhile, on six of the ten tasks, the combined search and retraining time is less than 2x slower than simply training a CNN backbone that is far less accurate.

When Do Flat Minima Optimizers Work?

Jean Kaddour · Linqing Liu · Ricardo Silva · Matt Kusner

Recently, flat-minima optimizers, which seek to find parameters in low-loss neighborhoods, have been shown to improve a neural network's generalization performance over stochastic and adaptive gradient-based optimizers. Two methods have received significant attention due to their scalability: 1. Stochastic Weight Averaging (SWA), and 2. Sharpness-Aware Minimization (SAM). However, there has been limited investigation into their properties and no systematic benchmarking of them across different domains. We fill this gap here by comparing the loss surfaces of the models trained with each method and through broad benchmarking across computer vision, natural language processing, and graph representation learning tasks. We discover several surprising findings from these results, which we hope will help researchers further improve deep learning optimizers, and practitioners identify the right optimizer for their problem.

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Fully-Connected Layers for Low-Data Regimes

Peter Kocsis · Peter Súkeník · Guillem Braso · Matthias Niessner · Laura Leal-Taixé · Ismail Elezi

Convolutional neural networks were the standard for solving many computer vision tasks until recently, when Transformers of MLP-based architectures have started to show competitive performance. These architectures typically have a vast number of weights and need to be trained on massive datasets; hence, they are not suitable for their use in low-data regimes. In this work, we propose a simple yet effective framework to improve generalization from small amounts of data. We augment modern CNNs with fully-connected (FC) layers and show the massive impact this architectural change has in low-data regimes. We further present an online joint knowledge-distillation method to utilize the extra FC layers at train time but avoid them during test time. This allows us to improve the generalization of a CNN-based model without any increase in the number of weights at test time. We perform classification experiments for a large range of network backbones and several standard datasets on supervised learning and active learning. Our experiments significantly outperform the networks without fully-connected layers, reaching a relative improvement of up to $16\%$ validation accuracy in the supervised setting without adding any extra parameters during inference.

LTMD: Learning Improvement of Spiking Neural Networks with Learnable Thresholding Neurons and Moderate Dropout

SIQI WANG · Tee Hiang Cheng · Meng-Hiot Lim

Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) have shown substantial promise in processing spatio-temporal data, mimicking biological neuronal mechanisms, and saving computational power. However, most SNNs use fixed model regardless of their locations in the network. This limits SNNs’ capability of transmitting precise information in the network, which becomes worse for deeper SNNs. Some researchers try to use specified parametric models in different network layers or regions, but most still use preset or suboptimal parameters. Inspired by the neuroscience observation that different neuronal mechanisms exist in disparate brain regions, we propose a new spiking neuronal mechanism, named learnable thresholding, to address this issue. Utilizing learnable threshold values, learnable thresholding enables flexible neuronal mechanisms across layers, proper information flow within the network, and fast network convergence. In addition, we propose a moderate dropout method to serve as an enhancement technique to minimize inconsistencies between independent dropout runs. Finally, we evaluate the robustness of the proposed learnable thresholding and moderate dropout for image classification with different initial thresholds for various types of datasets. Our proposed methods produce superior results compared to other approaches for almost all datasets with fewer timesteps. Our codes are available at

Attracting and Dispersing: A Simple Approach for Source-free Domain Adaptation

Shiqi Yang · yaxing wang · kai wang · Shangling Jui · Joost van de Weijer

We propose a simple but effective source-free domain adaptation (SFDA) method. Treating SFDA as an unsupervised clustering problem and following the intuition that local neighbors in feature space should have more similar predictions than other features, we propose to optimize an objective of prediction consistency. This objective encourages local neighborhood features in feature space to have similar predictions while features farther away in feature space have dissimilar predictions, leading to efficient feature clustering and cluster assignment simultaneously. For efficient training, we seek to optimize an upper-bound of the objective resulting in two simple terms. Furthermore, we relate popular existing methods in domain adaptation, source-free domain adaptation and contrastive learning via the perspective of discriminability and diversity. The experimental results prove the superiority of our method, and our method can be adopted as a simple but strong baseline for future research in SFDA. Our method can be also adapted to source-free open-set and partial-set DA which further shows the generalization ability of our method. Code is available in

UMIX: Improving Importance Weighting for Subpopulation Shift via Uncertainty-Aware Mixup

Zongbo Han · Zhipeng Liang · Fan Yang · Liu Liu · Lanqing Li · Yatao Bian · Peilin Zhao · Bingzhe Wu · Changqing Zhang · Jianhua Yao

Subpopulation shift widely exists in many real-world machine learning applications, referring to the training and test distributions containing the same subpopulation groups but varying in subpopulation frequencies. Importance reweighting is a normal way to handle the subpopulation shift issue by imposing constant or adaptive sampling weights on each sample in the training dataset. However, some recent studies have recognized that most of these approaches fail to improve the performance over empirical risk minimization especially when applied to over-parameterized neural networks. In this work, we propose a simple yet practical framework, called uncertainty-aware mixup (UMIX), to mitigate the overfitting issue in over-parameterized models by reweighting the ''mixed'' samples according to the sample uncertainty. The training-trajectories-based uncertainty estimation is equipped in the proposed UMIX for each sample to flexibly characterize the subpopulation distribution. We also provide insightful theoretical analysis to verify that UMIX achieves better generalization bounds over prior works. Further, we conduct extensive empirical studies across a wide range of tasks to validate the effectiveness of our method both qualitatively and quantitatively. Code is available at

Scalable Multi-agent Covering Option Discovery based on Kronecker Graphs

Jiayu Chen · Jingdi Chen · Tian Lan · Vaneet Aggarwal

Covering option discovery has been developed to improve the exploration of RL in single-agent scenarios with sparse reward signals, through connecting the most distant states in the embedding space provided by the Fiedler vector of the state transition graph. Given that joint state space grows exponentially with the number of agents in multi-agent systems, existing researches still relying on single-agent option discovery either become prohibitive or fail to directly discover joint options that improve the connectivity of the joint state space. In this paper, we show how to directly compute multi-agent options with collaborative exploratory behaviors while still enjoying the ease of decomposition. Our key idea is to approximate the joint state space as a Kronecker graph, based on which we can directly estimate its Fiedler vector using the Laplacian spectrum of individual agents' transition graphs. Further, considering that directly computing the Laplacian spectrum is intractable for tasks with infinite-scale state spaces, we further propose a deep learning extension of our method by estimating eigenfunctions through NN-based representation learning techniques. The evaluation on multi-agent tasks built with simulators like Mujoco, shows that the proposed algorithm can successfully identify multi-agent options, and significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art. Codes are available at:

PaCo: Parameter-Compositional Multi-task Reinforcement Learning

Lingfeng Sun · Haichao Zhang · Wei Xu · Masayoshi TOMIZUKA

The purpose of multi-task reinforcement learning (MTRL) is to train a single policy that can be applied to a set of different tasks. Sharing parameters allows us to take advantage of the similarities among tasks. However, the gaps between contents and difficulties of different tasks bring us challenges on both which tasks should share the parameters and what parameters should be shared, as well as the optimization challenges due to parameter sharing. In this work, we introduce a parameter-compositional approach (PaCo) as an attempt to address these challenges. In this framework, a policy subspace represented by a set of parameters is learned. Policies for all the single tasks lie in this subspace and can be composed by interpolating with the learned set. It allows not only flexible parameter sharing, but also a natural way to improve training.We demonstrate the state-of-the-art performance on Meta-World benchmarks, verifying the effectiveness of the proposed approach.

ConfounderGAN: Protecting Image Data Privacy with Causal Confounder

Qi Tian · Kun Kuang · Kelu Jiang · Furui Liu · Zhihua Wang · Fei Wu

The success of deep learning is partly attributed to the availability of massive data downloaded freely from the Internet. However, it also means that users' private data may be collected by commercial organizations without consent and used to train their models. Therefore, it's important and necessary to develop a method or tool to prevent unauthorized data exploitation. In this paper, we propose ConfounderGAN, a generative adversarial network (GAN) that can make personal image data unlearnable to protect the data privacy of its owners. Specifically, the noise produced by the generator for each image has the confounder property. It can build spurious correlations between images and labels, so that the model cannot learn the correct mapping from images to labels in this noise-added dataset. Meanwhile, the discriminator is used to ensure that the generated noise is small and imperceptible, thereby remaining the normal utility of the encrypted image for humans. The experiments are conducted in six image classification datasets, including three natural object datasets and three medical datasets. The results demonstrate that our method not only outperforms state-of-the-art methods in standard settings, but can also be applied to fast encryption scenarios. Moreover, we show a series of transferability and stability experiments to further illustrate the effectiveness and superiority of our method.

Mask-based Latent Reconstruction for Reinforcement Learning

Tao Yu · Zhizheng Zhang · Cuiling Lan · Yan Lu · Zhibo Chen

For deep reinforcement learning (RL) from pixels, learning effective state representations is crucial for achieving high performance. However, in practice, limited experience and high-dimensional inputs prevent effective representation learning. To address this, motivated by the success of mask-based modeling in other research fields, we introduce mask-based reconstruction to promote state representation learning in RL. Specifically, we propose a simple yet effective self-supervised method, Mask-based Latent Reconstruction (MLR), to predict complete state representations in the latent space from the observations with spatially and temporally masked pixels. MLR enables better use of context information when learning state representations to make them more informative, which facilitates the training of RL agents. Extensive experiments show that our MLR significantly improves the sample efficiency in RL and outperforms the state-of-the-art sample-efficient RL methods on multiple continuous and discrete control benchmarks. Our code is available at

Improved Fine-Tuning by Better Leveraging Pre-Training Data

Ziquan Liu · Yi Xu · Yuanhong Xu · Qi Qian · Hao Li · Xiangyang Ji · Antoni Chan · Rong Jin

As a dominant paradigm, fine-tuning a pre-trained model on the target data is widely used in many deep learning applications, especially for small data sets. However, recent studies have empirically shown that training from scratch has the final performance that is no worse than this pre-training strategy once the number of training samples is increased in some vision tasks. In this work, we revisit this phenomenon from the perspective of generalization analysis by using excess risk bound which is popular in learning theory. The result reveals that the excess risk bound may have a weak dependency on the pre-trained model. The observation inspires us to leverage pre-training data for fine-tuning, since this data is also available for fine-tuning. The generalization result of using pre-training data shows that the excess risk bound on a target task can be improved when the appropriate pre-training data is included in fine-tuning. With the theoretical motivation, we propose a novel selection strategy to select a subset from pre-training data to help improve the generalization on the target task. Extensive experimental results for image classification tasks on 8 benchmark data sets verify the effectiveness of the proposed data selection based fine-tuning pipeline. Our code is available at

Redundancy-Free Message Passing for Graph Neural Networks

Rongqin Chen · Shenghui Zhang · Leong Hou U · Ye Li

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) resemble the Weisfeiler-Lehman (1-WL) test, which iteratively update the representation of each node by aggregating information from WL-tree. However, despite the computational superiority of the iterative aggregation scheme, it introduces redundant message flows to encode nodes. We found that the redundancy in message passing prevented conventional GNNs from propagating the information of long-length paths and learning graph similarities. In order to address this issue, we proposed Redundancy-Free Graph Neural Network (RFGNN), in which the information of each path (of limited length) in the original graph is propagated along a single message flow. Our rigorous theoretical analysis demonstrates the following advantages of RFGNN: (1) RFGNN is strictly more powerful than 1-WL; (2) RFGNN efficiently propagate structural information in original graphs, avoiding the over-squashing issue; and (3) RFGNN could capture subgraphs at multiple levels of granularity, and are more likely to encode graphs with closer graph edit distances into more similar representations. The experimental evaluation of graph-level prediction benchmarks confirmed our theoretical assertions, and the performance of the RFGNN can achieve the best results in most datasets.

Towards Improving Faithfulness in Abstractive Summarization

Xiuying Chen · Mingzhe Li · Xin Gao · Xiangliang Zhang

Despite the success achieved in neural abstractive summarization based on pre-trained language models, one unresolved issue is that the generated summaries are not always faithful to the input document.There are two possible causes of the unfaithfulness problem: (1) the summarization model fails to understand or capture the gist of the input text, and (2) the model over-relies on the language model to generate fluent but inadequate words.In this work, we propose a Faithfulness Enhanced Summarization model (FES), which is designed for addressing these two problems and improving faithfulness in abstractive summarization.For the first problem, we propose to use question-answering (QA) to examine whether the encoder fully grasps the input document and can answer the questions on the key information in the input. The QA attention on the proper input words can also be used to stipulate how the decoder should attend to the source.For the second problem, we introduce a max-margin loss defined on the difference between the language and the summarization model, aiming to prevent the overconfidence of the language model.Extensive experiments on two benchmark summarization datasets, CNN/DM and XSum, demonstrate that our model significantly outperforms strong baselines.The evaluation of factual consistency also shows that our model generates more faithful summaries than baselines.

Delving into Out-of-Distribution Detection with Vision-Language Representations

Yifei Ming · Ziyang Cai · Jiuxiang Gu · Yiyou Sun · Wei Li · Yixuan Li

Recognizing out-of-distribution (OOD) samples is critical for machine learning systems deployed in the open world. The vast majority of OOD detection methods are driven by a single modality (e.g., either vision or language), leaving the rich information in multi-modal representations untapped. Inspired by the recent success of vision-language pre-training, this paper enriches the landscape of OOD detection from a single-modal to a multi-modal regime. Particularly, we propose Maximum Concept Matching (MCM), a simple yet effective zero-shot OOD detection method based on aligning visual features with textual concepts. We contribute in-depth analysis and theoretical insights to understand the effectiveness of MCM. Extensive experiments demonstrate that MCM achieves superior performance on a wide variety of real-world tasks. MCM with vision-language features outperforms a common baseline with pure visual features on a hard OOD task with semantically similar classes by 13.1% (AUROC) Code is available at

CodeRL: Mastering Code Generation through Pretrained Models and Deep Reinforcement Learning

Hung Le · Yue Wang · Akhilesh Deepak Gotmare · Silvio Savarese · Steven Chu Hong Hoi

Program synthesis or code generation aims to generate a program that satisfies a problem specification. Recent approaches using large-scale pretrained language models (LMs) have shown promising results, yet they have some critical limitations. In particular, they often follow a standard supervised fine-tuning procedure to train a code generation model from natural language problem descriptions and ground-truth programs only. Such paradigm largely ignores some important but potentially useful signals in the problem specification such as unit tests, which thus results in poor performance when solving complex unseen coding tasks. We propose “CodeRL” to address the limitations, a new framework for program synthesis tasks through pretrained LMs and deep reinforcement learning (RL). Specifically, during training, we treat the code-generating LM as an actor network, and introduce a critic network that is trained to predict the functional correctness of generated programs and provide dense feedback signals to the actor. During inference, we introduce a new generation procedure with a critical sampling strategy that allows a model to automatically regenerate programs based on feedback from example unit tests and critic scores. For the model backbones, we extended the encoder-decoder architecture of CodeT5 with enhanced learning objectives, larger model sizes, and better pretraining data. Our method not only achieves new SOTA results on the challenging APPS benchmark, but also shows strong zero-shot transfer capability with new SOTA results on the simpler MBPP benchmark.

Layer Freezing & Data Sieving: Missing Pieces of a Generic Framework for Sparse Training

Geng Yuan · Yanyu Li · Sheng Li · Zhenglun Kong · Sergey Tulyakov · Xulong Tang · Yanzhi Wang · Jian Ren

Recently, sparse training has emerged as a promising paradigm for efficient deep learning on edge devices. The current research mainly devotes the efforts to reducing training costs by further increasing model sparsity. However, increasing sparsity is not always ideal since it will inevitably introduce severe accuracy degradation at an extremely high sparsity level. This paper intends to explore other possible directions to effectively and efficiently reduce sparse training costs while preserving accuracy. To this end, we investigate two techniques, namely, layer freezing and data sieving. First, the layer freezing approach has shown its success in dense model training and fine-tuning, yet it has never been adopted in the sparse training domain. Nevertheless, the unique characteristics of sparse training may hinder the incorporation of layer freezing techniques. Therefore, we analyze the feasibility and potentiality of using the layer freezing technique in sparse training and find it has the potential to save considerable training costs. Second, we propose a data sieving method for dataset-efficient training, which further reduces training costs by ensuring only a partial dataset is used throughout the entire training process. We show that both techniques can be well incorporated into the sparse training algorithm to form a generic framework, which we dub SpFDE. Our extensive experiments demonstrate that SpFDE can significantly reduce training costs while preserving accuracy from three dimensions: weight sparsity, layer freezing, and dataset sieving. Our code and models will be released.

EfficientFormer: Vision Transformers at MobileNet Speed

Yanyu Li · Geng Yuan · Yang Wen · Ju Hu · Georgios Evangelidis · Sergey Tulyakov · Yanzhi Wang · Jian Ren

Vision Transformers (ViT) have shown rapid progress in computer vision tasks, achieving promising results on various benchmarks. However, due to the massive number of parameters and model design, e.g., attention mechanism, ViT-based models are generally times slower than lightweight convolutional networks. Therefore, the deployment of ViT for real-time applications is particularly challenging, especially on resource-constrained hardware such as mobile devices. Recent efforts try to reduce the computation complexity of ViT through network architecture search or hybrid design with MobileNet block, yet the inference speed is still unsatisfactory. This leads to an important question: can transformers run as fast as MobileNet while obtaining high performance? To answer this, we first revisit the network architecture and operators used in ViT-based models and identify inefficient designs. Then we introduce a dimension-consistent pure transformer (without MobileNet blocks) as a design paradigm. Finally, we perform latency-driven slimming to get a series of final models dubbed EfficientFormer. Extensive experiments show the superiority of EfficientFormer in performance and speed on mobile devices. Our fastest model, EfficientFormer-L1, achieves $79.2\%$ top-1 accuracy on ImageNet-1K with only $1.6$ ms inference latency on iPhone 12 (compiled with CoreML), which runs as fast as MobileNetV2$\times 1.4$ ($1.6$ ms, $74.7\%$ top-1), and our largest model, EfficientFormer-L7, obtains $83.3\%$ accuracy with only $7.0$ ms latency. Our work proves that properly designed transformers can reach extremely low latency on mobile devices while maintaining high performance.

VideoMAE: Masked Autoencoders are Data-Efficient Learners for Self-Supervised Video Pre-Training

Zhan Tong · Yibing Song · Jue Wang · Limin Wang

Pre-training video transformers on extra large-scale datasets is generally required to achieve premier performance on relatively small datasets. In this paper, we show that video masked autoencoders (VideoMAE) are data-efficient learners for self-supervised video pre-training (SSVP). We are inspired by the recent ImageMAE and propose customized video tube masking with an extremely high ratio. This simple design makes video reconstruction a more challenging and meaningful self-supervision task, thus encouraging extracting more effective video representations during the pre-training process. We obtain three important findings with VideoMAE: (1) An extremely high proportion of masking ratio (i.e., 90% to 95%) still yields favorable performance for VideoMAE. The temporally redundant video content enables higher masking ratio than that of images. (2) VideoMAE achieves impressive results on very small datasets (i.e., around 3k-4k videos) without using any extra data. This is partially ascribed to the challenging task of video reconstruction to enforce high-level structure learning. (3) VideoMAE shows that data quality is more important than data quantity for SSVP. Domain shift between pre-training and target datasets is an important factor. Notably, our VideoMAE with the vanilla ViT backbone can achieve 87.4% on Kinects-400, 75.4% on Something-Something V2, 91.3% on UCF101, and 62.6% on HMDB51, without using any extra data. Code is available at

Large-batch Optimization for Dense Visual Predictions: Training Faster R-CNN in 4.2 Minutes

Zeyue Xue · Jianming Liang · Guanglu Song · Zhuofan Zong · Liang Chen · Yu Liu · Ping Luo

Training a large-scale deep neural network in a large-scale dataset is challenging and time-consuming. The recent breakthrough of large-batch optimization is a promising way to tackle this challenge. However, although the current advanced algorithms such as LARS and LAMB succeed in classification models, the complicated pipelines of dense visual predictions such as object detection and segmentation still suffer from the heavy performance drop in the large-batch training regime. To address this challenge, we propose a simple yet effective algorithm, named Adaptive Gradient Variance Modulator (AGVM), which can train dense visual predictors with very large batch size, enabling several benefits more appealing than prior arts. Firstly, AGVM can align the gradient variances between different modules in the dense visual predictors, such as backbone, feature pyramid network (FPN), detection, and segmentation heads. We show that training with a large batch size can fail with the gradient variances misaligned among them, which is a phenomenon primarily overlooked in previous work. Secondly, AGVM is a plug-and-play module that generalizes well to many different architectures (e.g., CNNs and Transformers) and different tasks (e.g., object detection, instance segmentation, semantic segmentation, and panoptic segmentation). It is also compatible with different optimizers (e.g., SGD and AdamW). Thirdly, a theoretical analysis of AGVM is provided. Extensive experiments on the COCO and ADE20K datasets demonstrate the superiority of AGVM. For example, AGVM demonstrates more stable generalization performance than prior arts under extremely large batch size (i.e., 10k). AGVM can train Faster R-CNN+ResNet50 in 4.2 minutes without losing performance. It enables training an object detector with one billion parameters in just 3.5 hours, reducing the training time by 20.9×, whilst achieving 62.2 mAP on COCO. The deliverables will be released at

Semi-Supervised Video Salient Object Detection Based on Uncertainty-Guided Pseudo Labels

Yongri Piao · Chenyang Lu · Miao Zhang · Huchuan Lu

Semi-Supervised Video Salient Object Detection (SS-VSOD) is challenging because of the lack of temporal information in video sequences caused by sparse annotations. Most works address this problem by generating pseudo labels for unlabeled data. However, error-prone pseudo labels negatively affect the VOSD model. Therefore, a deeper insight into pseudo labels should be developed. In this work, we aim to explore 1) how to utilize the incorrect predictions in pseudo labels to guide the network to generate more robust pseudo labels and 2) how to further screen out the noise that still exists in the improved pseudo labels. To this end, we propose an Uncertainty-Guided Pseudo Label Generator (UGPLG), which makes full use of inter-frame information to ensure the temporal consistency of the pseudo labels and improves the robustness of the pseudo labels by strengthening the learning of difficult scenarios. Furthermore, we also introduce the adversarial learning to address the noise problems in pseudo labels, guaranteeing the positive guidance of pseudo labels during model training. Experimental results demonstrate that our methods outperform existing semi-supervised method and partial fully-supervised methods across five public benchmarks of DAVIS, FBMS, MCL, ViSal and SegTrack-V2.

UniCLIP: Unified Framework for Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training

Janghyeon Lee · Jongsuk Kim · Hyounguk Shon · Bumsoo Kim · Seung Hwan Kim · Honglak Lee · Junmo Kim

Pre-training vision-language models with contrastive objectives has shown promising results that are both scalable to large uncurated datasets and transferable to many downstream applications. Some following works have targeted to improve data efficiency by adding self-supervision terms, but inter-domain (image-text) contrastive loss and intra-domain (image-image) contrastive loss are defined on individual spaces in those works, so many feasible combinations of supervision are overlooked. To overcome this issue, we propose UniCLIP, a Unified framework for Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training. UniCLIP integrates the contrastive loss of both inter-domain pairs and intra-domain pairs into a single universal space. The discrepancies that occur when integrating contrastive loss between different domains are resolved by the three key components of UniCLIP: (1) augmentation-aware feature embedding, (2) MP-NCE loss, and (3) domain dependent similarity measure. UniCLIP outperforms previous vision-language pre-training methods on various single- and multi-modality downstream tasks. In our experiments, we show that each component that comprises UniCLIP contributes well to the final performance.

Controllable 3D Face Synthesis with Conditional Generative Occupancy Fields

Keqiang Sun · Shangzhe Wu · Zhaoyang Huang · Ning Zhang · Quan Wang · Hongsheng Li

Capitalizing on the recent advances in image generation models, existing controllable face image synthesis methods are able to generate high-fidelity images with some levels of controllability, e.g., controlling the shapes, expressions, textures, and poses of the generated face images. However, these methods focus on 2D image generative models, which are prone to producing inconsistent face images under large expression and pose changes. In this paper, we propose a new NeRF-based conditional 3D face synthesis framework, which enables 3D controllability over the generated face images by imposing explicit 3D conditions from 3D face priors. At its core is a conditional Generative Occupancy Field (cGOF) that effectively enforces the shape of the generated face to commit to a given 3D Morphable Model (3DMM) mesh. To achieve accurate control over fine-grained 3D face shapes of the synthesized image, we additionally incorporate a 3D landmark loss as well as a volume warping loss into our synthesis algorithm. Experiments validate the effectiveness of the proposed method, which is able to generate high-fidelity face images and shows more precise 3D controllability than state-of-the-art 2D-based controllable face synthesis methods.

Learning Consistency-Aware Unsigned Distance Functions Progressively from Raw Point Clouds

Junsheng Zhou · Baorui Ma · Yu-Shen Liu · Yi Fang · Zhizhong Han

Surface reconstruction for point clouds is an important task in 3D computer vision. Most of the latest methods resolve this problem by learning signed distance functions (SDF) from point clouds, which are limited to reconstructing shapes or scenes with closed surfaces. Some other methods tried to represent shapes or scenes with open surfaces using unsigned distance functions (UDF) which are learned from large scale ground truth unsigned distances. However, the learned UDF is hard to provide smooth distance fields near the surface due to the noncontinuous character of point clouds. In this paper, we propose a novel method to learn consistency-aware unsigned distance functions directly from raw point clouds. We achieve this by learning to move 3D queries to reach the surface with a field consistency constraint, where we also enable to progressively estimate a more accurate surface. Specifically, we train a neural network to gradually infer the relationship between 3D queries and the approximated surface by searching for the moving target of queries in a dynamic way, which results in a consistent field around the surface. Meanwhile, we introduce a polygonization algorithm to extract surfaces directly from the gradient field of the learned UDF. The experimental results in surface reconstruction for synthetic and real scan data show significant improvements over the state-of-the-art under the widely used benchmarks.

Understanding Cross-Domain Few-Shot Learning Based on Domain Similarity and Few-Shot Difficulty

Jaehoon Oh · Sungnyun Kim · Namgyu Ho · Jin-Hwa Kim · Hwanjun Song · Se-Young Yun

Cross-domain few-shot learning (CD-FSL) has drawn increasing attention for handling large differences between the source and target domains--an important concern in real-world scenarios. To overcome these large differences, recent works have considered exploiting small-scale unlabeled data from the target domain during the pre-training stage. This data enables self-supervised pre-training on the target domain, in addition to supervised pre-training on the source domain. In this paper, we empirically investigate which pre-training is preferred based on domain similarity and few-shot difficulty of the target domain. We discover that the performance gain of self-supervised pre-training over supervised pre-training becomes large when the target domain is dissimilar to the source domain, or the target domain itself has low few-shot difficulty. We further design two pre-training schemes, mixed-supervised and two-stage learning, that improve performance. In this light, we present six findings for CD-FSL, which are supported by extensive experiments and analyses on three source and eight target benchmark datasets with varying levels of domain similarity and few-shot difficulty. Our code is available at

Okapi: Generalising Better by Making Statistical Matches Match

Myles Bartlett · Sara Romiti · Viktoriia Sharmanska · Novi Quadrianto

We propose Okapi, a simple, efficient, and general method for robust semi-supervised learning based on online statistical matching. Our method uses a nearest-neighbours-based matching procedure to generate cross-domain views for a consistency loss, while eliminating statistical outliers. In order to perform the online matching in a runtime- and memory-efficient way, we draw upon the self-supervised literature and combine a memory bank with a slow-moving momentum encoder. The consistency loss is applied within the feature space, rather than on the predictive distribution, making the method agnostic to both the modality and the task in question. We experiment on the WILDS 2.0 datasets Sagawa et al., which significantly expands the range of modalities, applications, and shifts available for studying and benchmarking real-world unsupervised adaptation. Contrary to Sagawa et al., we show that it is in fact possible to leverage additional unlabelled data to improve upon empirical risk minimisation (ERM) results with the right method. Our method outperforms the baseline methods in terms of out-of-distribution (OOD) generalisation on the iWildCam (a multi-class classification task) and PovertyMap (a regression task) image datasets as well as the CivilComments (a binary classification task) text dataset. Furthermore, from a qualitative perspective, we show the matches obtained from the learned encoder are strongly semantically related. Code for our paper is publicly available at

Revisiting Sparse Convolutional Model for Visual Recognition

xili dai · Mingyang Li · Pengyuan Zhai · Shengbang Tong · Xingjian Gao · Shao-Lun Huang · Zhihui Zhu · Chong You · Yi Ma

Despite strong empirical performance for image classification, deep neural networks are often regarded as ``black boxes'' and they are difficult to interpret. On the other hand, sparse convolutional models, which assume that a signal can be expressed by a linear combination of a few elements from a convolutional dictionary, are powerful tools for analyzing natural images with good theoretical interpretability and biological plausibility. However, such principled models have not demonstrated competitive performance when compared with empirically designed deep networks. This paper revisits the sparse convolutional modeling for image classification and bridges the gap between good empirical performance (of deep learning) and good interpretability (of sparse convolutional models). Our method uses differentiable optimization layers that are defined from convolutional sparse coding as drop-in replacements of standard convolutional layers in conventional deep neural networks. We show that such models have equally strong empirical performance on CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100 and ImageNet datasets when compared to conventional neural networks. By leveraging stable recovery property of sparse modeling, we further show that such models can be much more robust to input corruptions as well as adversarial perturbations in testing through a simple proper trade-off between sparse regularization and data reconstruction terms.

Random Normalization Aggregation for Adversarial Defense

Minjing Dong · Xinghao Chen · Yunhe Wang · Chang Xu

The vulnerability of deep neural networks has been widely found in various models as well as tasks where slight perturbations on the inputs could lead to incorrect predictions. These perturbed inputs are known as adversarial examples and one of the intriguing properties of them is Adversarial Transfersability, i.e. the capability of adversarial examples to fool other models. Traditionally, this transferability is always regarded as a critical threat to the defense against adversarial attacks, however, we argue that the network robustness can be significantly boosted by utilizing adversarial transferability from a new perspective. In this work, we first discuss the influence of different popular normalization layers on the adversarial transferability, and then provide both empirical evidence and theoretical analysis to shed light on the relationship between normalization types and transferability. Based on our theoretical analysis, we propose a simple yet effective module named Random Normalization Aggregation (RNA) which replaces the batch normalization layers in the networks and aggregates different selected normalization types to form a huge random space. Specifically, a random path is sampled during each inference procedure so that the network itself can be treated as an ensemble of a wide range of different models. Since the entire random space is designed with low adversarial transferability, it is difficult to perform effective attacks even when the network parameters are accessible. We conduct extensive experiments on various models and datasets, and demonstrate the strong superiority of proposed algorithm. The PyTorch code is available at and the MindSpore code is available at

Batch Multi-Fidelity Active Learning with Budget Constraints

Shibo Li · Jeff M Phillips · Xin Yu · Robert Kirby · Shandian Zhe

Learning functions with high-dimensional outputs is critical in many applications, such as physical simulation and engineering design. However, collecting training examples for these applications is often costly, e.g., by running numerical solvers. The recent work (Li et al., 2022) proposes the first multi-fidelity active learning approach for high-dimensional outputs, which can acquire examples at different fidelities to reduce the cost while improving the learning performance. However, this method only queries at one pair of fidelity and input at a time, and hence has a risk of bringing in strongly correlated examples to reduce the learning efficiency. In this paper, we propose Batch Multi-Fidelity Active Learning with Budget Constraints (BMFAL-BC), which can promote the diversity of training examples to improve the benefit-cost ratio, while respecting a given budget constraint for batch queries. Hence, our method can be more practically useful. Specifically, we propose a novel batch acquisition function that measures the mutual information between a batch of multi-fidelity queries and the target function, so as to penalize highly correlated queries and encourages diversity. The optimization of the batch acquisition function is challenging in that it involves a combinatorial search over many fidelities while subject to the budget constraint. To address this challenge, we develop a weighted greedy algorithm that can sequentially identify each (fidelity, input) pair, while achieving a near $(1 - 1/e)$-approximation of the optimum. We show the advantage of our method in several computational physics and engineering applications.

Scalable and Efficient Training of Large Convolutional Neural Networks with Differential Privacy

Zhiqi Bu · Jialin Mao · Shiyun Xu

Large convolutional neural networks (CNN) can be difficult to train in the differentially private (DP) regime, since the optimization algorithms require a computationally expensive operation, known as the per-sample gradient clipping. We propose an efficient and scalable implementation of this clipping on convolutional layers, termed as the mixed ghost clipping, that significantly eases the private training in terms of both time and space complexities, without affecting the accuracy. The improvement in efficiency is rigorously studied through the first complexity analysis for the mixed ghost clipping and existing DP training algorithms.Extensive experiments on vision classification tasks, with large ResNet, VGG, and Vision Transformers (ViT), demonstrate that DP training with mixed ghost clipping adds $1\sim 10\%$ memory overhead and $<2\times$ slowdown to the standard non-private training. Specifically, when training VGG19 on CIFAR10, the mixed ghost clipping is $3\times$ faster than state-of-the-art Opacus library with $18\times$ larger maximum batch size. To emphasize the significance of efficient DP training on convolutional layers, we achieve 96.7\% accuracy on CIFAR10 and 83.0\% on CIFAR100 at $\epsilon=1$ using BEiT, while the previous best results are 94.8\% and 67.4\%, respectively. We open-source a privacy engine (\url{}) that implements DP training of CNN (including convolutional ViT) with a few lines of code.

Factuality Enhanced Language Models for Open-Ended Text Generation

Nayeon Lee · Wei Ping · Peng Xu · Mostofa Patwary · Pascale N Fung · Mohammad Shoeybi · Bryan Catanzaro

Pretrained language models (LMs) are susceptible to generate text with nonfactual information. In this work, we measure and improve the factual accuracy of large-scale LMs for open-ended text generation. We design the FactualityPrompts test set and metrics to measure the factuality of LM generations. Based on that, we study the factual accuracy of LMs with parameter sizes ranging from 126M to 530B. Interestingly, we find that larger LMs are more factual than smaller ones, although a previous study suggests that larger LMs can be less truthful in terms of misconceptions. In addition, popular sampling algorithms (e.g., top-p) in open-ended text generation can harm the factuality due to the ``uniform randomness'' introduced at every sampling step. We propose the factual-nucleus sampling algorithm that dynamically adapts the randomness to improve the factuality of generation while maintaining quality. Furthermore, we analyze the inefficiencies of the standard training method in learning correct associations between entities from factual text corpus (e.g., Wikipedia). We propose a factuality-enhanced training method that uses TopicPrefix for better awareness of facts and sentence completion as the training objective, which can vastly reduce the factual errors.

Learn to Explain: Multimodal Reasoning via Thought Chains for Science Question Answering

Pan Lu · Swaroop Mishra · Tanglin Xia · Liang Qiu · Kai-Wei Chang · Song-Chun Zhu · Oyvind Tafjord · Peter Clark · Ashwin Kalyan

When answering a question, humans utilize the information available across different modalities to synthesize a consistent and complete chain of thought (CoT). This process is normally a black box in the case of deep learning models like large-scale language models. Recently, science question benchmarks have been used to diagnose the multi-hop reasoning ability and interpretability of an AI system. However, existing datasets fail to provide annotations for the answers, or are restricted to the textual-only modality, small scales, and limited domain diversity. To this end, we present Science Question Answering (ScienceQA), a new benchmark that consists of ~21k multimodal multiple choice questions with a diverse set of science topics and annotations of their answers with corresponding lectures and explanations. We further design language models to learn to generate lectures and explanations as the chain of thought (CoT) to mimic the multi-hop reasoning process when answering ScienceQA questions. ScienceQA demonstrates the utility of CoT in language models, as CoT improves the question answering performance by 1.20% in few-shot GPT-3 and 3.99% in fine-tuned UnifiedQA. We also explore the upper bound for models to leverage explanations by feeding those in the input; we observe that it improves the few-shot performance of GPT-3 by 18.96%. Our analysis further shows that language models, similar to humans, benefit from explanations to learn from fewer data and achieve the same performance with just 40% of the data. The data and code are available at

A Closer Look at Weakly-Supervised Audio-Visual Source Localization

Shentong Mo · Pedro Morgado

Audio-visual source localization is a challenging task that aims to predict the location of visual sound sources in a video. Since collecting ground-truth annotations of sounding objects can be costly, a plethora of weakly-supervised localization methods that can learn from datasets with no bounding-box annotations have been proposed in recent years, by leveraging the natural co-occurrence of audio and visual signals. Despite significant interest, popular evaluation protocols have two major flaws. First, they allow for the use of a fully annotated dataset to perform early stopping, thus significantly increasing the annotation effort required for training. Second, current evaluation metrics assume the presence of sound sources at all times. This is of course an unrealistic assumption, and thus better metrics are necessary to capture the model's performance on (negative) samples with no visible sound sources. To accomplish this, we extend the test set of popular benchmarks, Flickr SoundNet and VGG-Sound Sources, in order to include negative samples, and measure performance using metrics that balance localization accuracy and recall. Using the new protocol, we conducted an extensive evaluation of prior methods, and found that most prior works are not capable of identifying negatives and suffer from significant overfitting problems (rely heavily on early stopping for best results). We also propose a new approach for visual sound source localization that addresses both these problems. In particular, we found that, through extreme visual dropout and the use of momentum encoders, the proposed approach combats overfitting effectively, and establishes a new state-of-the-art performance on both Flickr SoundNet and VGG-Sound Source. Code and pre-trained models are available at

GlanceNets: Interpretable, Leak-proof Concept-based Models

Emanuele Marconato · Andrea Passerini · Stefano Teso

There is growing interest in concept-based models (CBMs) that combine high-performance and interpretability by acquiring and reasoning with a vocabulary of high-level concepts. A key requirement is that the concepts be interpretable. Existing CBMs tackle this desideratum using a variety of heuristics based on unclear notions of interpretability, and fail to acquire concepts with the intended semantics. We address this by providing a clear definition of interpretability in terms of alignment between the model’s representation and an underlying data generation process, and introduce GlanceNets, a new CBM that exploits techniques from disentangled representation learning and open-set recognition to achieve alignment, thus improving the interpretability of the learned concepts. We show that GlanceNets, paired with concept-level supervision, achieve better alignment than state-of-the-art approaches while preventing spurious information from unintendedly leaking into the learned concepts.

AgraSSt: Approximate Graph Stein Statistics for Interpretable Assessment of Implicit Graph Generators

Wenkai Xu · Gesine D Reinert

We propose and analyse a novel statistical procedure, coined AgraSSt, to assess the quality of graph generators which may not be available in explicit forms. In particular, AgraSSt can be used to determine whether a learned graph generating process is capable of generating graphs which resemble a given input graph. Inspired by Stein operators for random graphs, the key idea of AgraSSt is the construction of a kernel discrepancy based on an operator obtained from the graph generator. AgraSSt can provide interpretable criticisms for a graph generator training procedure and help identify reliable sample batches for downstream tasks. We give theoretical guarantees for a broad class of random graph models. Moreover, we provide empirical results on both synthetic input graphs with known graph generation procedures, and real-world input graphs that the state-of-the-art (deep) generative models for graphs are trained on.

No Free Lunch from Deep Learning in Neuroscience: A Case Study through Models of the Entorhinal-Hippocampal Circuit

Rylan Schaeffer · Mikail Khona · Ila Fiete

Research in Neuroscience, as in many scientific disciplines, is undergoing a renaissance based on deep learning. Unique to Neuroscience, deep learning models can be used not only as a tool but interpreted as models of the brain. The central claims of recent deep learning-based models of brain circuits are that they make novel predictions about neural phenomena or shed light on the fundamental functions being optimized. We show, through the case-study of grid cells in the entorhinal-hippocampal circuit, that one may get neither. We begin by reviewing the principles of grid cell mechanism and function obtained from first-principles modeling efforts, then rigorously examine the claims of deep learning models of grid cells. Using large-scale architectural and hyperparameter sweeps and theory-driven experimentation, we demonstrate that the results of such models may be more strongly driven by particular, non-fundamental, and post-hoc implementation choices than fundamental truths about neural circuits or the loss function(s) they might optimize. We discuss why these models cannot be expected to produce accurate models of the brain without the addition of substantial amounts of inductive bias, an informal No Free Lunch result for Neuroscience. Based on first principles work, we provide hypotheses for what additional loss functions will produce grid cells more robustly. In conclusion, circumspection and transparency, together with biological knowledge, are warranted in building and interpreting deep learning models in Neuroscience.

Inherently Explainable Reinforcement Learning in Natural Language

Xiangyu Peng · Mark Riedl · Prithviraj Ammanabrolu

We focus on the task of creating a reinforcement learning agent that is inherently explainable---with the ability to produce immediate local explanations by thinking out loud while performing a task and analyzing entire trajectories post-hoc to produce temporally extended explanations. This Hierarchically Explainable Reinforcement Learning agent (HEX-RL), operates in Interactive Fictions, text-based game environments in which an agent perceives and acts upon the world using textual natural language. These games are usually structured as puzzles or quests with long-term dependencies in which an agent must complete a sequence of actions to succeed---providing ideal environments in which to test an agent's ability to explain its actions. Our agent is designed to treat explainability as a first-class citizen, using an extracted symbolic knowledge graph-based state representation coupled with a Hierarchical Graph Attention mechanism that points to the facts in the internal graph representation that most influenced the choice of actions. Experiments show that this agent provides significantly improved explanations over strong baselines, as rated by human participants generally unfamiliar with the environment, while also matching state-of-the-art task performance.

EZNAS: Evolving Zero-Cost Proxies For Neural Architecture Scoring

Yash Akhauri · Juan Munoz · Nilesh Jain · Ravishankar Iyer

Neural Architecture Search (NAS) has significantly improved productivity in the design and deployment of neural networks (NN). As NAS typically evaluates multiple models by training them partially or completely, the improved productivity comes at the cost of significant carbon footprint. To alleviate this expensive training routine, zero-shot/cost proxies analyze an NN at initialization to generate a score, which correlates highly with its true accuracy. Zero-cost proxies are currently designed by experts conducting multiple cycles of empirical testing on possible algorithms, datasets, and neural architecture design spaces. This experimentation lowers productivity and is an unsustainable approach towards zero-cost proxy design as deep learning use-cases diversify in nature. Additionally, existing zero-cost proxies fail to generalize across neural architecture design spaces. In this paper, we propose a genetic programming framework to automate the discovery of zero-cost proxies for neural architecture scoring. Our methodology efficiently discovers an interpretable and generalizable zero-cost proxy that gives state of the art score-accuracy correlation on all datasets and search spaces of NASBench-201 and Network Design Spaces (NDS). We believe that this research indicates a promising direction towards automatically discovering zero-cost proxies that can work across network architecture design spaces, datasets, and tasks.

Uncertainty Estimation Using Riemannian Model Dynamics for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Guy Tennenholtz · Shie Mannor

Model-based offline reinforcement learning approaches generally rely on bounds of model error. Estimating these bounds is usually achieved through uncertainty estimation methods. In this work, we combine parametric and nonparametric methods for uncertainty estimation through a novel latent space based metric. In particular, we build upon recent advances in Riemannian geometry of generative models to construct a pullback metric of an encoder-decoder based forward model. Our proposed metric measures both the quality of out-of-distribution samples as well as the discrepancy of examples in the data. We leverage our combined method for uncertainty estimation in a pessimistic model-based framework, showing a significant improvement upon contemporary model-based offline approaches on continuous control and autonomous driving benchmarks.

Structured Energy Network As a Loss

Jay Yoon Lee · Dhruvesh Patel · Purujit Goyal · Wenlong Zhao · Zhiyang Xu · Andrew McCallum

Belanger & McCallum (2016) and Gygli et al. (2017) have shown that an energy network can capture arbitrary dependencies amongst the output variables in structured prediction; however, their reliance on gradient-based inference (GBI) makes the inference slow and unstable. In this work, we propose Structured Energy As Loss (SEAL) to take advantage of the expressivity of energy networks without incurring the high inference cost. This is a novel learning framework that uses an energy network as a trainable loss function (loss-net) to train a separate neural network (task-net), which is then used to perform the inference through a forward pass. We establish SEAL as a general framework wherein various learning strategies like margin-based, regression, and noise-contrastive, could be employed to learn the parameters of loss-net. Through extensive evaluation on multi-label classification, semantic role labeling, and image segmentation, we demonstrate that SEAL provides various useful design choices, is faster at inference than GBI, and leads to significant performance gains over the baselines.

The Minority Matters: A Diversity-Promoting Collaborative Metric Learning Algorithm

Shilong Bao · Qianqian Xu · Zhiyong Yang · Yuan He · Xiaochun Cao · Qingming Huang

Collaborative Metric Learning (CML) has recently emerged as a popular method in recommendation systems (RS), closing the gap between metric learning and Collaborative Filtering. Following the convention of RS, existing methods exploit unique user representation in their model design. This paper focuses on a challenging scenario where a user has multiple categories of interests. Under this setting, we argue that the unique user representation might induce preference bias, especially when the item category distribution is imbalanced. To address this issue, we propose a novel method called Diversity-Promoting Collaborative Metric Learning (DPCML), with the hope of considering the commonly ignored minority interest of the user. The key idea behind DPCML is to include a multiple set of representations for each user in the system. Based on this embedding paradigm, user preference toward an item is aggregated from different embeddings by taking the minimum item-user distance among the user embedding set. Furthermore, we observe that the diversity of the embeddings for the same user also plays an essential role in the model. To this end, we propose a diversity control regularization term to accommodate the multi-vector representation strategy better. Theoretically, we show that DPCML could generalize well to unseen test data by tackling the challenge of the annoying operation that comes from the minimum value. Experiments over a range of benchmark datasets speak to the efficacy of DPCML.

Sharpness-Aware Training for Free

JIAWEI DU · Daquan Zhou · Jiashi Feng · Vincent Tan · Joey Tianyi Zhou

Modern deep neural networks (DNNs) have achieved state-of-the-art performances but are typically over-parameterized. The over-parameterization may result in undesirably large generalization error in the absence of other customized training strategies. Recently, a line of research under the name of Sharpness-Aware Minimization (SAM) has shown that minimizing a sharpness measure, which reflects the geometry of the loss landscape, can significantly reduce the generalization error. However, SAM-like methods incur a two-fold computational overhead of the given base optimizer (e.g. SGD) for approximating the sharpness measure. In this paper, we propose Sharpness-Aware Training for Free, or SAF, which mitigates the sharp landscape at almost zero additional computational cost over the base optimizer. Intuitively, SAF achieves this by avoiding sudden drops in the loss in the sharp local minima throughout the trajectory of the updates of the weights. Specifically, we suggest a novel trajectory loss, based on the KL-divergence between the outputs of DNNs with the current weights and past weights, as a replacement of the SAM's sharpness measure. This loss captures the rate of change of the training loss along the model's update trajectory. By minimizing it, SAF ensures the convergence to a flat minimum with improved generalization capabilities. Extensive empirical results show that SAF minimizes the sharpness in the same way that SAM does, yielding better results on the ImageNet dataset with essentially the same computational cost as the base optimizer.

Interpreting Operation Selection in Differentiable Architecture Search: A Perspective from Influence-Directed Explanations

Miao Zhang · Wei Huang · Bin Yang

The Differentiable ARchiTecture Search (DARTS) has dominated the neural architecture search community due to its search efficiency and simplicity. DARTS leverages continuous relaxation to convert the intractable operation selection problem into a continuous magnitude optimization problem which can be easily handled with gradient-descent, while it poses an additional challenge in measuring the operation importance or selecting an architecture from the optimized magnitudes. The vanilla DARTS assumes the optimized magnitudes reflect the importance of operations, while more recent works find this naive assumption leads to poor generalization and is without any theoretical guarantees. In this work, we leverage influence functions, the functional derivatives of the loss function, to theoretically reveal the operation selection part in DARTS and estimate the candidate operation importance by approximating its influence on the supernet with Taylor expansions. We show the operation strength is not only related to the magnitude but also second-order information, leading to a fundamentally new criterion for operation selection in DARTS, named Influential Magnitude. Empirical studies across different tasks on several spaces show that vanilla DARTS and its variants can avoid most failures by leveraging the proposed theory-driven operation selection criterion.

Scalable design of Error-Correcting Output Codes using Discrete Optimization with Graph Coloring

Samarth Gupta · Saurabh Amin

We study the problem of scalable design of Error-Correcting Output Codes (ECOC) for multi-class classification. Prior works on ECOC-based classifiers are limited to codebooks with small number of rows (classes) or columns, and do not provide optimality guarantees for the codebook design problem. We address these limitations by developing a codebook design approach based on a Mixed-Integer Quadratically Constrained Program (MIQCP). This discrete formulation is naturally suited for maximizing the error-correction capability of ECOC-based classifiers and incorporates various design criteria in a flexible manner. Our solution approach is tractable in that it incrementally increases the codebook size by adding columns to maximize the gain in error-correcting capability. In particular, we show that the maximal gain in error-correction can be upper bounded by solving a graph-coloring problem. As a result, we can efficiently generate near-optimal codebooks for very large problem instances. These codebooks provide competitive multi-class classification performance on small class datasets such as MNIST and CIFAR10. Moreover, by leveraging transfer-learned binary classifiers, we achieve better classification performance over transfer-learned multi-class CNNs on large class datasets such as CIFAR100, Caltech-101/256. Our results highlight the advantages of simple and modular ECOC-based classifiers in improving classification accuracy without the risk of overfitting.

Amortized Mixing Coupling Processes for Clustering

Huafeng Liu · Liping Jing

Considering the ever-increasing scale of data, which may contain tens of thousands of data points or complicated latent structures, the issue of scalability and algorithmic efficiency becomes of vital importance for clustering. In this paper, we propose cluster-wise amortized mixing coupling processes (AMCP), which is able to achieve efficient amortized clustering in a well-defined non-parametric Bayesian posterior. Specifically, AMCP learns clusters sequentially with the aid of the proposed intra-cluster mixing (IntraCM) and inter-cluster coupling (InterCC) strategies, which investigate the relationship between data points and reference distribution in a linear optimal transport mixing view, and coupling the unassigned set and assigned set to generate new cluster. IntraCM and InterCC avoid pairwise calculation of distances between clusters and reduce the computational complexity from quadratic to linear in the current number of clusters. Furthermore, cluster-wise sequential process is able to improve the quick adaptation ability for the next cluster generation. In this case, AMCP simultaneously learns what makes a cluster, how to group data points into clusters, and how to adaptively control the number of clusters. To illustrate the superiority of the proposed method, we perform experiments on both synthetic data and real-world data in terms of clustering performance and computational efficiency. The source code is available at

GraphQNTK: Quantum Neural Tangent Kernel for Graph Data

Yehui Tang · Junchi Yan

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) and Graph Kernels (GKs) are two fundamental tools used to analyze graph-structured data. Efforts have been recently made in developing a composite graph learning architecture combining the expressive power of GNNs and the transparent trainability of GKs. However, learning efficiency on these models should be carefully considered as the huge computation overhead. Besides, their convolutional methods are often straightforward and introduce severe loss of graph structure information. In this paper, we design a novel quantum graph learning model to characterize the structural information while using quantum parallelism to improve computing efficiency. Specifically, a quantum algorithm is proposed to approximately estimate the neural tangent kernel of the underlying graph neural network where a multi-head quantum attention mechanism is introduced to properly incorporate semantic similarity information of nodes into the model. We empirically show that our method achieves competitive performance on several graph classification benchmarks, and theoretical analysis is provided to demonstrate the superiority of our quantum algorithm. Source code is available at \url{}.

ShuffleMixer: An Efficient ConvNet for Image Super-Resolution

Long Sun · Jinshan Pan · Jinhui Tang

Lightweight and efficiency are critical drivers for the practical application of image super-resolution (SR) algorithms. We propose a simple and effective approach, ShuffleMixer, for lightweight image super-resolution that explores large convolution and channel split-shuffle operation. In contrast to previous SR models that simply stack multiple small kernel convolutions or complex operators to learn representations, we explore a large kernel ConvNet for mobile-friendly SR design. Specifically, we develop a large depth-wise convolution and two projection layers based on channel splitting and shuffling as the basic component to mix features efficiently. Since the contexts of natural images are strongly locally correlated, using large depth-wise convolutions only is insufficient to reconstruct fine details. To overcome this problem while maintaining the efficiency of the proposed module, we introduce Fused-MBConvs into the proposed network to model the local connectivity of different features. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed ShuffleMixer is about $3 \times$ smaller than the state-of-the-art efficient SR methods, e.g. CARN, in terms of model parameters and FLOPs while achieving competitive performance.

Quo Vadis: Is Trajectory Forecasting the Key Towards Long-Term Multi-Object Tracking?

Patrick Dendorfer · Vladimir Yugay · Aljosa Osep · Laura Leal-Taixé

Recent developments in monocular multi-object tracking have been very successful in tracking visible objects and bridging short occlusion gaps, mainly relying on data-driven appearance models. While significant advancements have been made in short-term tracking performance, bridging longer occlusion gaps remains elusive: state-of-the-art object trackers only bridge less than 10% of occlusions longer than three seconds. We suggest that the missing key is reasoning about future trajectories over a longer time horizon. Intuitively, the longer the occlusion gap, the larger the search space for possible associations. In this paper, we show that even a small yet diverse set of trajectory predictions for moving agents will significantly reduce this search space and thus improve long-term tracking robustness. Our experiments suggest that the crucial components of our approach are reasoning in a bird's-eye view space and generating a small yet diverse set of forecasts while accounting for their localization uncertainty. This way, we can advance state-of-the-art trackers on the MOTChallenge dataset and significantly improve their long-term tracking performance. This paper's source code and experimental data are available at

Adapting Self-Supervised Vision Transformers by Probing Attention-Conditioned Masking Consistency

Viraj Prabhu · Sriram Yenamandra · Aaditya Singh · Judy Hoffman

Visual domain adaptation (DA) seeks to transfer trained models to unseen, unlabeled domains across distribution shift, but approaches typically focus on adapting convolutional neural network architectures initialized with supervised ImageNet representations. In this work, we shift focus to adapting modern architectures for object recognition -- the increasingly popular Vision Transformer (ViT) -- initialized with modern pretraining based on self-supervised learning (SSL). Inspired by the design of recent SSL approaches based on learning from partial image inputs generated via masking or cropping -- either by learning to predict the missing pixels, or learning representational invariances to such augmentations -- we propose PACMAC, a two-stage adaptation algorithm for self-supervised ViTs. PACMAC first performs in-domain SSL on pooled source and target data to learn task-discriminative features, and then probes the model's predictive consistency across a set of partial target inputs generated via a novel attention-conditioned masking strategy, to identify reliable candidates for self-training. Our simple approach leads to consistent performance gains over competing methods that use ViTs and self-supervised initializations on standard object recognition benchmarks. Our code is available at

Learning Latent Seasonal-Trend Representations for Time Series Forecasting

Zhiyuan Wang · Xovee Xu · Weifeng Zhang · Goce Trajcevski · Ting Zhong · Fan Zhou

Forecasting complex time series is ubiquitous and vital in a range of applications but challenging. Recent advances endeavor to achieve progress by incorporating various deep learning techniques (e.g., RNN and Transformer) into sequential models. However, clear patterns are still hard to extract since time series are often composed of several intricately entangled components. Motivated by the success of disentangled variational autoencoder in computer vision and classical time series decomposition, we plan to infer a couple of representations that depict seasonal and trend components of time series. To achieve this goal, we propose LaST, which, based on variational inference, aims to disentangle the seasonal-trend representations in the latent space. Furthermore, LaST supervises and disassociates representations from the perspectives of themselves and input reconstruction, and introduces a series of auxiliary objectives. Extensive experiments prove that LaST achieves state-of-the-art performance on time series forecasting task against the most advanced representation learning and end-to-end forecasting models. For reproducibility, our implementation is publicly available on Github.

Pluralistic Image Completion with Gaussian Mixture Models

Xiaobo Xia · Wenhao Yang · Jie Ren · Yewen Li · Yibing Zhan · Bo Han · Tongliang Liu

Pluralistic image completion focuses on generating both visually realistic and diverse results for image completion. Prior methods enjoy the empirical successes of this task. However, their used constraints for pluralistic image completion are argued to be not well interpretable and unsatisfactory from two aspects. First, the constraints for visual reality can be weakly correlated to the objective of image completion or even redundant. Second, the constraints for diversity are designed to be task-agnostic, which causes the constraints to not work well. In this paper, to address the issues, we propose an end-to-end probabilistic method. Specifically, we introduce a unified probabilistic graph model that represents the complex interactions in image completion. The entire procedure of image completion is then mathematically divided into several sub-procedures, which helps efficient enforcement of constraints. The sub-procedure directly related to pluralistic results is identified, where the interaction is established by a Gaussian mixture model (GMM). The inherent parameters of GMM are task-related, which are optimized adaptively during training, while the number of its primitives can control the diversity of results conveniently. We formally establish the effectiveness of our method and demonstrate it with comprehensive experiments. The implementationis available at

CoupAlign: Coupling Word-Pixel with Sentence-Mask Alignments for Referring Image Segmentation

Zicheng Zhang · Yi Zhu · Jianzhuang Liu · Xiaodan Liang · Wei Ke

Referring image segmentation aims at localizing all pixels of the visual objects described by a natural language sentence. Previous works learn to straightforwardly align the sentence embedding and pixel-level embedding for highlighting the referred objects, but ignore the semantic consistency of pixels within the same object, leading to incomplete masks and localization errors in predictions. To tackle this problem, we propose CoupAlign, a simple yet effective multi-level visual-semantic alignment method, to couple sentence-mask alignment with word-pixel alignment to enforce object mask constraint for achieving more accurate localization and segmentation. Specifically, the Word-Pixel Alignment (WPA) module performs early fusion of linguistic and pixel-level features in intermediate layers of the vision and language encoders. Based on the word-pixel aligned embedding, a set of mask proposals are generated to hypothesize possible objects. Then in the Sentence-Mask Alignment (SMA) module, the masks are weighted by the sentence embedding to localize the referred object, and finally projected back to aggregate the pixels for the target. To further enhance the learning of the two alignment modules, an auxiliary loss is designed to contrast the foreground and background pixels. By hierarchically aligning pixels and masks with linguistic features, our CoupAlign captures the pixel coherence at both visual and semantic levels, thus generating more accurate predictions. Extensive experiments on popular datasets (e.g., RefCOCO and G-Ref) show that our method achieves consistent improvements over state-of-the-art methods, e.g., about 2% oIoU increase on the validation and testing set of RefCOCO. Especially, CoupAlign has remarkable ability in distinguishing the target from multiple objects of the same class. Code will be available at

Make an Omelette with Breaking Eggs: Zero-Shot Learning for Novel Attribute Synthesis

Yu-Hsuan Li · Tzu-Yin Chao · Ching-Chun Huang · Pin-Yu Chen · Wei-Chen Chiu

Most of the existing algorithms for zero-shot classification problems typically rely on the attribute-based semantic relations among categories to realize the classification of novel categories without observing any of their instances. However, training the zero-shot classification models still requires attribute labeling for each class (or even instance) in the training dataset, which is also expensive. To this end, in this paper, we bring up a new problem scenario: ''Can we derive zero-shot learning for novel attribute detectors/classifiers and use them to automatically annotate the dataset for labeling efficiency?'' Basically, given only a small set of detectors that are learned to recognize some manually annotated attributes (i.e., the seen attributes), we aim to synthesize the detectors of novel attributes in a zero-shot learning manner. Our proposed method, Zero-Shot Learning for Attributes (ZSLA), which is the first of its kind to the best of our knowledge, tackles this new research problem by applying the set operations to first decompose the seen attributes into their basic attributes and then recombine these basic attributes into the novel ones. Extensive experiments are conducted to verify the capacity of our synthesized detectors for accurately capturing the semantics of the novel attributes and show their superior performance in terms of detection and localization compared to other baseline approaches. Moreover, we demonstrate the application of automatic annotation using our synthesized detectors on Caltech-UCSD Birds-200-2011 dataset. Various generalized zero-shot classification algorithms trained upon the dataset re-annotated by ZSLA shows comparable performance with those trained with the manual ground-truth annotations.

Graph Few-shot Learning with Task-specific Structures

Song Wang · Chen Chen · Jundong Li

Graph few-shot learning is of great importance among various graph learning tasks. Under the few-shot scenario, models are often required to conduct classification given limited labeled samples. Existing graph few-shot learning methods typically leverage Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) and perform classification across a series of meta-tasks. Nevertheless, these methods generally rely on the original graph (i.e., the graph that the meta-task is sampled from) to learn node representations. Consequently, the learned representations for the same nodes are identical in all meta-tasks. Since the class sets are different across meta-tasks, node representations should be task-specific to promote classification performance. Therefore, to adaptively learn node representations across meta-tasks, we propose a novel framework that learns a task-specific structure for each meta-task. To handle the variety of nodes across meta-tasks, we extract relevant nodes and learn task-specific structures based on node influence and mutual information. In this way, we can learn node representations with the task-specific structure tailored for each meta-task. We further conduct extensive experiments on five node classification datasets under both single- and multiple-graph settings to validate the superiority of our framework over the state-of-the-art baselines.

Co-Modality Graph Contrastive Learning for Imbalanced Node Classification

Yiyue Qian · Chunhui Zhang · Yiming Zhang · Qianlong Wen · Yanfang Ye · Chuxu Zhang

Graph contrastive learning (GCL), leveraging graph augmentations to convert graphs into different views and further train graph neural networks (GNNs), has achieved considerable success on graph benchmark datasets. Yet, there are still some gaps in directly applying existing GCL methods to real-world data. First, handcrafted graph augmentations require trials and errors, but still can not yield consistent performance on multiple tasks. Second, most real-world graph data present class-imbalanced distribution but existing GCL methods are not immune to data imbalance. Therefore, this work proposes to explicitly tackle these challenges, via a principled framework called \textit{\textbf{C}o-\textbf{M}odality \textbf{G}raph \textbf{C}ontrastive \textbf{L}earning} (\textbf{CM-GCL}) to automatically generate contrastive pairs and further learn balanced representation over unlabeled data. Specifically, we design inter-modality GCL to automatically generate contrastive pairs (e.g., node-text) based on rich node content. Inspired by the fact that minority samples can be ``forgotten'' by pruning deep neural networks, we naturally extend network pruning to our GCL framework for mining minority nodes. Based on this, we co-train two pruned encoders (e.g., GNN and text encoder) in different modalities by pushing the corresponding node-text pairs together and the irrelevant node-text pairs away. Meanwhile, we propose intra-modality GCL by co-training non-pruned GNN and pruned GNN, to ensure node embeddings with similar attribute features stay closed. Last, we fine-tune the GNN encoder on downstream class-imbalanced node classification tasks. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our model significantly outperforms state-of-the-art baseline models and learns more balanced representations on real-world graphs. Our source code is available at

Recommender Forest for Efficient Retrieval

Chao Feng · Wuchao Li · Defu Lian · Zheng Liu · Enhong Chen

Recommender systems (RS) have to select the top-N items from a massive item set. For the sake of efficient recommendation, RS usually represents user and item as latent embeddings, and relies on approximate nearest neighbour search (ANNs) to retrieve the recommendation result. Despite the reduction of running time, the representation learning is independent of ANNs index construction; thus, the two operations can be incompatible, which results in potential loss of recommendation accuracy. To overcome the above problem, we propose the Recommender Forest (a.k.a., RecForest), which jointly learns latent embedding and index for efficient and high-fidelity recommendation. RecForest consists of multiple k-ary trees, each of which is a partition of the item set via hierarchical balanced clustering such that each item is uniquely represented by a path from the root to a leaf. Given such a data structure, an encoder-decoder based routing network is developed: it first encodes the context, i.e., user information, into hidden states; then, leveraging a transformer-based decoder, it identifies the top-N items via beam search. Compared with the existing methods, RecForest brings in the following advantages: 1) the false partition of the boundary items can be effectively alleviated by the use of multiple trees; 2) the routing operation becomes much more accurate thanks to the powerful transformer decoder; 3) the tree parameters are shared across different tree levels, making the index to be extremely memory-efficient. The experimental studies are performed on five popular recommendation datasets: with a significantly simplified training cost, RecForest outperforms competitive baseline approaches in terms of both recommendation accuracy and efficiency.

Label Noise in Adversarial Training: A Novel Perspective to Study Robust Overfitting

Chengyu Dong · Liyuan Liu · Jingbo Shang

We show that label noise exists in adversarial training. Such label noise is due to the mismatch between the true label distribution of adversarial examples and the label inherited from clean examples – the true label distribution is distorted by the adversarial perturbation, but is neglected by the common practice that inherits labels from clean examples. Recognizing label noise sheds insights on the prevalence of robust overfitting in adversarial training, and explains its intriguing dependence on perturbation radius and data quality. Also, our label noise perspective aligns well with our observations of the epoch-wise double descent in adversarial training. Guided by our analyses, we proposed a method to automatically calibrate the label to address the label noise and robust overfitting. Our method achieves consistent performance improvements across various models and datasets without introducing new hyper-parameters or additional tuning.

Randomized Message-Interception Smoothing: Gray-box Certificates for Graph Neural Networks

Yan Scholten · Jan Schuchardt · Simon Geisler · Aleksandar Bojchevski · Stephan Günnemann

Randomized smoothing is one of the most promising frameworks for certifying the adversarial robustness of machine learning models, including Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). Yet, existing randomized smoothing certificates for GNNs are overly pessimistic since they treat the model as a black box, ignoring the underlying architecture. To remedy this, we propose novel gray-box certificates that exploit the message-passing principle of GNNs: We randomly intercept messages and carefully analyze the probability that messages from adversarially controlled nodes reach their target nodes. Compared to existing certificates, we certify robustness to much stronger adversaries that control entire nodes in the graph and can arbitrarily manipulate node features. Our certificates provide stronger guarantees for attacks at larger distances, as messages from farther-away nodes are more likely to get intercepted. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on various models and datasets. Since our gray-box certificates consider the underlying graph structure, we can significantly improve certifiable robustness by applying graph sparsification.

SemiFL: Semi-Supervised Federated Learning for Unlabeled Clients with Alternate Training

Enmao Diao · Jie Ding · Vahid Tarokh

Federated Learning allows the training of machine learning models by using the computation and private data resources of many distributed clients. Most existing results on Federated Learning (FL) assume the clients have ground-truth labels. However, in many practical scenarios, clients may be unable to label task-specific data due to a lack of expertise or resource. We propose SemiFL to address the problem of combining communication-efficient FL such as FedAvg with Semi-Supervised Learning (SSL). In SemiFL, clients have completely unlabeled data and can train multiple local epochs to reduce communication costs, while the server has a small amount of labeled data. We provide a theoretical understanding of the success of data augmentation-based SSL methods to illustrate the bottleneck of a vanilla combination of communication-efficient FL with SSL. To address this issue, we propose alternate training to 'fine-tune global model with labeled data' and 'generate pseudo-labels with the global model.' We conduct extensive experiments and demonstrate that our approach significantly improves the performance of a labeled server with unlabeled clients training with multiple local epochs. Moreover, our method outperforms many existing SSFL baselines and performs competitively with the state-of-the-art FL and SSL results.

Task-Agnostic Graph Explanations

Yaochen Xie · Sumeet Katariya · Xianfeng Tang · Edward Huang · Nikhil Rao · Karthik Subbian · Shuiwang Ji

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have emerged as powerful tools to encode graph-structured data. Due to their broad applications, there is an increasing need to develop tools to explain how GNNs make decisions given graph-structured data. Existing learning-based GNN explanation approaches are task-specific in training and hence suffer from crucial drawbacks. Specifically, they are incapable of producing explanations for a multitask prediction model with a single explainer. They are also unable to provide explanations in cases where the GNN is trained in a self-supervised manner, and the resulting representations are used in future downstream tasks. To address these limitations, we propose a Task-Agnostic GNN Explainer (TAGE) that is independent of downstream models and trained under self-supervision with no knowledge of downstream tasks. TAGE enables the explanation of GNN embedding models with unseen downstream tasks and allows efficient explanation of multitask models. Our extensive experiments show that TAGE can significantly speed up the explanation efficiency by using the same model to explain predictions for multiple downstream tasks while achieving explanation quality as good as or even better than current state-of-the-art GNN explanation approaches.

CageNeRF: Cage-based Neural Radiance Field for Generalized 3D Deformation and Animation

Yicong Peng · Yichao Yan · Shengqi Liu · Yuhao Cheng · Shanyan Guan · Bowen Pan · Guangtao Zhai · Xiaokang Yang

While implicit representations have achieved high-fidelity results in 3D rendering, it remains challenging to deforming and animating the implicit field. Existing works typically leverage data-dependent models as deformation priors, such as SMPL for human body animation. However, this dependency on category-specific priors limits them to generalize to other objects. To solve this problem, we propose a novel framework for deforming and animating the neural radiance field learned on \textit{arbitrary} objects. The key insight is that we introduce a cage-based representation as deformation prior, which is category-agnostic. Specifically, the deformation is performed based on an enclosing polygon mesh with sparsely defined vertices called \textit{cage} inside the rendering space, where each point is projected into a novel position based on the barycentric interpolation of the deformed cage vertices. In this way, we transform the cage into a generalized constraint, which is able to deform and animate arbitrary target objects while preserving geometry details. Based on extensive experiments, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework in the task of geometry editing, object animation and deformation transfer.

LECO: Learnable Episodic Count for Task-Specific Intrinsic Reward

Daejin Jo · Sungwoong Kim · Daniel Nam · Taehwan Kwon · Seungeun Rho · Jongmin Kim · Donghoon Lee

Episodic count has been widely used to design a simple yet effective intrinsic motivation for reinforcement learning with a sparse reward. However, the use of episodic count in a high-dimensional state space as well as over a long episode time requires a thorough state compression and fast hashing, which hinders rigorous exploitation of it in such hard and complex exploration environments. Moreover, the interference from task-irrelevant observations in the episodic count may cause its intrinsic motivation to overlook task-related important changes of states, and the novelty in an episodic manner can lead to repeatedly revisit the familiar states across episodes. In order to resolve these issues, in this paper, we propose a learnable hash-based episodic count, which we name LECO, that efficiently performs as a task-specific intrinsic reward in hard exploration problems. In particular, the proposed intrinsic reward consists of the episodic novelty and the task-specific modulation where the former employs a vector quantized variational autoencoder to automatically obtain the discrete state codes for fast counting while the latter regulates the episodic novelty by learning a modulator to optimize the task-specific extrinsic reward. The proposed LECO specifically enables the automatic transition from exploration to exploitation during reinforcement learning. We experimentally show that in contrast to the previous exploration methods LECO successfully solves hard exploration problems and also scales to large state spaces through the most difficult tasks in MiniGrid and DMLab environments.

Resource-Adaptive Federated Learning with All-In-One Neural Composition

Yiqun Mei · Pengfei Guo · Mo Zhou · Vishal Patel

Conventional Federated Learning (FL) systems inherently assume a uniform processing capacity among clients for deployed models. However, diverse client hardware often leads to varying computation resources in practice. Such system heterogeneity results in an inevitable trade-off between model complexity and data accessibility as a bottleneck. To avoid such a dilemma and achieve resource-adaptive federated learning, we introduce a simple yet effective mechanism, termed All-In-One Neural Composition, to systematically support training complexity-adjustable models with flexible resource adaption. It is able to efficiently construct models at various complexities using one unified neural basis shared among clients, instead of pruning the global model into local ones. The proposed mechanism endows the system with unhindered access to the full range of knowledge scattered across clients and generalizes existing pruning-based solutions by allowing soft and learnable extraction of low footprint models. Extensive experiment results on popular FL benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach. The resulting FL system empowered by our All-In-One Neural Composition, called FLANC, manifests consistent performance gains across diverse system/data heterogeneous setups while keeping high efficiency in computation and communication.

Block-Recurrent Transformers

DeLesley Hutchins · Imanol Schlag · Yuhuai Wu · Ethan Dyer · Behnam Neyshabur

We introduce the Block-Recurrent Transformer, which applies a transformer layer in a recurrent fashion along a sequence, and has linear complexity with respect to sequence length. Our recurrent cell operates on blocks of tokens rather than single tokens during training, and leverages parallel computation within a block in order to make efficient use of accelerator hardware. The cell itself is strikingly simple. It is merely a transformer layer: it uses self-attention and cross-attention to efficiently compute a recurrent function over a large set of state vectors and tokens. Our design was inspired in part by LSTM cells, and it uses LSTM-style gates, but it scales the typical LSTM cell up by several orders of magnitude. Our implementation of recurrence has the same cost in both computation time and parameter count as a conventional transformer layer, but offers dramatically improved perplexity in language modeling tasks over very long sequences. Our model out-performs a long-range Transformer XL baseline by a wide margin, while running twice as fast. We demonstrate its effectiveness on PG19 (books), arXiv papers, and GitHub source code. Our code has been released as open source.

Distinguishing Learning Rules with Brain Machine Interfaces

Jacob Portes · Christian Schmid · James M Murray

Despite extensive theoretical work on biologically plausible learning rules, clear evidence about whether and how such rules are implemented in the brain has been difficult to obtain. We consider biologically plausible supervised- and reinforcement-learning rules and ask whether changes in network activity during learning can be used to determine which learning rule is being used. Supervised learning requires a credit-assignment model estimating the mapping from neural activity to behavior, and, in a biological organism, this model will inevitably be an imperfect approximation of the ideal mapping, leading to a bias in the direction of the weight updates relative to the true gradient. Reinforcement learning, on the other hand, requires no credit-assignment model and tends to make weight updates following the true gradient direction. We derive a metric to distinguish between learning rules by observing changes in the network activity during learning, given that the mapping from brain to behavior is known by the experimenter. Because brain-machine interface (BMI) experiments allow for precise knowledge of this mapping, we model a cursor-control BMI task using recurrent neural networks, showing that learning rules can be distinguished in simulated experiments using only observations that a neuroscience experimenter would plausibly have access to.

Imitating Past Successes can be Very Suboptimal

Benjamin Eysenbach · Soumith Udatha · Russ Salakhutdinov · Sergey Levine

Prior work has proposed a simple strategy for reinforcement learning (RL): label experience with the outcomes achieved in that experience, and then imitate the relabeled experience. These outcome-conditioned imitation learning methods are appealing because of their simplicity, strong performance, and close ties with supervised learning. However, it remains unclear how these methods relate to the standard RL objective, reward maximization. In this paper, we prove that existing outcome-conditioned imitation learning methods do not necessarily improve the policy. However, we show that a simple modification results in a method that does guarantee policy improvement. Our aim is not to develop an entirely new method, but rather to explain how a variant of outcome-conditioned imitation learning can be used to maximize rewards

Bounded-Regret MPC via Perturbation Analysis: Prediction Error, Constraints, and Nonlinearity

Yiheng Lin · Yang Hu · Guannan Qu · Tongxin Li · Adam Wierman

We study Model Predictive Control (MPC) and propose a general analysis pipeline to bound its dynamic regret. The pipeline first requires deriving a perturbation bound for a finite-time optimal control problem. Then, the perturbation bound is used to bound the per-step error of MPC, which leads to a bound on the dynamic regret. Thus, our pipeline reduces the study of MPC to the well-studied problem of perturbation analysis, enabling the derivation of regret bounds of MPC under a variety of settings. To demonstrate the power of our pipeline, we use it to generalize existing regret bounds on MPC in linear time-varying (LTV) systems to incorporate prediction errors on costs, dynamics, and disturbances. Further, our pipeline leads to regret bounds on MPC in systems with nonlinear dynamics and constraints.

Neural Conservation Laws: A Divergence-Free Perspective

Jack Richter-Powell · Yaron Lipman · Ricky T. Q. Chen

We investigate the parameterization of deep neural networks that by design satisfy the continuity equation, a fundamental conservation law. This is enabled by the observation that any solution of the continuity equation can be represented as a divergence-free vector field. We hence propose building divergence-free neural networks through the concept of differential forms, and with the aid of automatic differentiation, realize two practical constructions. As a result, we can parameterize pairs of densities and vector fields that always satisfy the continuity equation by construction, foregoing the need for extra penalty methods or expensive numerical simulation. Furthermore, we prove these models are universal and so can be used to represent any divergence-free vector field. Finally, we experimentally validate our approaches by computing neural network-based solutions to fluid equations, solving for the Hodge decomposition, and learning dynamical optimal transport maps.

Relaxing Equivariance Constraints with Non-stationary Continuous Filters

Tycho van der Ouderaa · David W. Romero · Mark van der Wilk

Equivariances provide useful inductive biases in neural network modeling, with the translation equivariance of convolutional neural networks being a canonical example. Equivariances can be embedded in architectures through weight-sharing and place symmetry constraints on the functions a neural network can represent. The type of symmetry is typically fixed and has to be chosen in advance. Although some tasks are inherently equivariant, many tasks do not strictly follow such symmetries. In such cases, equivariance constraints can be overly restrictive. In this work, we propose a parameter-efficient relaxation of equivariance that can effectively interpolate between a (i) non-equivariant linear product, (ii) a strict-equivariant convolution, and (iii) a strictly-invariant mapping. The proposed parameterisation can be thought of as a building block to allow adjustable symmetry structure in neural networks. In addition, we demonstrate that the amount of equivariance can be learned from the training data using backpropagation. Gradient-based learning of equivariance achieves similar or improved performance compared to the best value found by cross-validation and outperforms baselines with partial or strict equivariance on CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100 image classification tasks.

Continual Learning In Environments With Polynomial Mixing Times

Matthew Riemer · Sharath Chandra Raparthy · Ignacio Cases · Gopeshh Subbaraj · Maximilian Puelma Touzel · Irina Rish

The mixing time of the Markov chain induced by a policy limits performance in real-world continual learning scenarios. Yet, the effect of mixing times on learning in continual reinforcement learning (RL) remains underexplored. In this paper, we characterize problems that are of long-term interest to the development of continual RL, which we call scalable MDPs, through the lens of mixing times. In particular, we theoretically establish that scalable MDPs have mixing times that scale polynomially with the size of the problem. We go on to demonstrate that polynomial mixing times present significant difficulties for existing approaches that suffer from myopic bias and stale bootstrapped estimates. To validate the proposed theory, we study the empirical scaling behavior of mixing times with respect to the number of tasks and task switching frequency for pretrained high performing policies on seven Atari games. Our analysis demonstrates both that polynomial mixing times do emerge in practice and how their existence may lead to unstable learning behavior like catastrophic forgetting in continual learning settings.

Non-Linear Coordination Graphs

Yipeng Kang · Tonghan Wang · Qianlan Yang · Xiaoran Wu · Chongjie Zhang

Value decomposition multi-agent reinforcement learning methods learn the global value function as a mixing of each agent's individual utility functions. Coordination graphs (CGs) represent a higher-order decomposition by incorporating pairwise payoff functions and thus is supposed to have a more powerful representational capacity. However, CGs decompose the global value function linearly over local value functions, severely limiting the complexity of the value function class that can be represented. In this paper, we propose the first non-linear coordination graph by extending CG value decomposition beyond the linear case. One major challenge is to conduct greedy action selections in this new function class to which commonly adopted DCOP algorithms are no longer applicable. We study how to solve this problem when mixing networks with LeakyReLU activation are used. An enumeration method with a global optimality guarantee is proposed and motivates an efficient iterative optimization method with a local optimality guarantee. We find that our method can achieve superior performance on challenging multi-agent coordination tasks like MACO.

Rate-Distortion Theoretic Bounds on Generalization Error for Distributed Learning

Milad Sefidgaran · Romain Chor · Abdellatif Zaidi

In this paper, we use tools from rate-distortion theory to establish new upper bounds on the generalization error of statistical distributed learning algorithms. Specifically, there are $K$ clients whose individually chosen models are aggregated by a central server. The bounds depend on the compressibility of each client's algorithm while keeping other clients' algorithms un-compressed, and leveraging the fact that small changes in each local model change the aggregated model by a factor of only $1/K$. Adopting a recently proposed approach by Sefidgaran et al., and extending it suitably to the distributed setting, enables smaller rate-distortion terms which are shown to translate into tighter generalization bounds. The bounds are then applied to the distributed support vector machines (SVM), suggesting that the generalization error of the distributed setting decays faster than that of the centralized one with a factor of $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{\log(K)/K})$. This finding is validated also experimentally. A similar conclusion is obtained for a multiple-round federated learning setup where each client uses stochastic gradient Langevin dynamics (SGLD).

Mirror Descent Maximizes Generalized Margin and Can Be Implemented Efficiently

Haoyuan Sun · Kwangjun Ahn · Christos Thrampoulidis · Navid Azizan

Driven by the empirical success and wide use of deep neural networks, understanding the generalization performance of overparameterized models has become an increasingly popular question. To this end, there has been substantial effort to characterize the implicit bias of the optimization algorithms used, such as gradient descent (GD), and the structural properties of their preferred solutions. This paper answers an open question in this literature: For the classification setting, what solution does mirror descent (MD) converge to? Specifically, motivated by its efficient implementation, we consider the family of mirror descent algorithms with potential function chosen as the $p$-th power of the $\ell_p$-norm, which is an important generalization of GD. We call this algorithm $p$-$\textsf{GD}$. For this family, we characterize the solutions it obtains and show that it converges in direction to a generalized maximum-margin solution with respect to the $\ell_p$-norm for linearly separable classification. While the MD update rule is in general expensive to compute and not suitable for deep learning, $p$-$\textsf{GD}$ is fully parallelizable in the same manner as SGD and can be used to train deep neural networks with virtually no additional computational overhead. Using comprehensive experiments with both linear and deep neural network models, we demonstrate that $p$-$\textsf{GD}$ can noticeably affect the structure and the generalization performance of the learned models.

Instance-Dependent Near-Optimal Policy Identification in Linear MDPs via Online Experiment Design

Andrew Wagenmaker · Kevin Jamieson

While much progress has been made in understanding the minimax sample complexity of reinforcement learning (RL)---the complexity of learning on the worst-case'' instance---such measures of complexity often do not capture the true difficulty of learning. In practice, on aneasy'' instance, we might hope to achieve a complexity far better than that achievable on the worst-case instance. In this work we seek to understand this instance-dependent'' complexity of learning in the setting of RL with linear function approximation. We propose an algorithm, PEDEL, which achieves a fine-grained instance-dependent measure of complexity, the first of its kind in the RL with function approximation setting, thereby capturing the difficulty of learning on each particular problem instance. Through an explicit example, we show that PEDEL yields provable gains over low-regret, minimax-optimal algorithms and that such algorithms are unable to hit the instance-optimal rate. Our approach relies on a novel online experiment design-based procedure which focuses the exploration budget on thedirections'' most relevant to learning a near-optimal policy, and may be of independent interest.

On the Complexity of Adversarial Decision Making

Dylan J Foster · Alexander Rakhlin · Ayush Sekhari · Karthik Sridharan

A central problem in online learning and decision making---from bandits to reinforcement learning---is to understand what modeling assumptions lead to sample-efficient learning guarantees. We consider a general adversarial decision making framework that encompasses (structured) bandit problems with adversarial rewards and reinforcement learning problems with adversarial dynamics. Our main result is to show---via new upper and lower bounds---that the Decision-Estimation Coefficient, a complexity measure introduced by Foster et al. in the stochastic counterpart to our setting, is necessary and sufficient to obtain low regret for adversarial decision making. However, compared to the stochastic setting, one must apply the Decision-Estimation Coefficient to the convex hull of the class of models (or, hypotheses) under consideration. This establishes that the price of accommodating adversarial rewards or dynamics is governed by the behavior of the model class under convexification, and recovers a number of existing results --both positive and negative. En route to obtaining these guarantees, we provide new structural results that connect the Decision-Estimation Coefficient to variants of other well-known complexity measures, including the Information Ratio of Russo and Van Roy and the Exploration-by-Optimization objective of Lattimore and György.

Convergence beyond the over-parameterized regime using Rayleigh quotients

David A. R. Robin · Kevin Scaman · marc lelarge

In this paper, we present a new strategy to prove the convergence of Deep Learning architectures to a zero training (or even testing) loss by gradient flow. Our analysis is centered on the notion of Rayleigh quotients in order to prove Kurdyka-Lojasiewicz inequalities for a broader set of neural network architectures and loss functions. We show that Rayleigh quotients provide a unified view for several convergence analysis techniques in the literature. Our strategy produces a proof of convergence for various examples of parametric learning. In particular, our analysis does not require the number of parameters to tend to infinity, nor the number of samples to be finite, thus extending to test loss minimization and beyond the over-parameterized regime.

An Algorithm for Learning Switched Linear Dynamics from Data

Guillaume Berger · Monal Narasimhamurthy · Kandai Watanabe · Morteza Lahijanian · Sriram Sankaranarayanan

We present an algorithm for learning switched linear dynamical systems in discrete time from noisy observations of the system's full state or output. Switched linear systems use multiple linear dynamical modes to fit the data within some desired tolerance. They arise quite naturally in applications to robotics and cyber-physical systems. Learning switched systems from data is a NP-hard problem that is nearly identical to the $k$-linear regression problem of fitting $k > 1$ linear models to the data. A direct mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) approach yields time complexity that is exponential in the number of data points. In this paper, we modify the problem formulation to yield an algorithm that is linear in the size of the data while remaining exponential in the number of state variables and the desired number of modes. To do so, we combine classic ideas from the ellipsoidal method for solving convex optimization problems, and well-known oracle separation results in non-smooth optimization. We demonstrate our approach on a set of microbenchmarks and a few interesting real-world problems. Our evaluation suggests that the benefits of this algorithm can be made practical even against highly optimized off-the-shelf MILP solvers.

Differentially Private Learning Needs Hidden State (Or Much Faster Convergence)

Jiayuan Ye · Reza Shokri

Prior work on differential privacy analysis of randomized SGD algorithms relies on composition theorems, where the implicit (unrealistic) assumption is that the internal state of the iterative algorithm is revealed to the adversary. As a result, the R\'enyi DP bounds derived by such composition-based analyses linearly grow with the number of training epochs. When the internal state of the algorithm is hidden, we prove a converging privacy bound for noisy stochastic gradient descent (on strongly convex smooth loss functions). We show how to take advantage of privacy amplification by sub-sampling and randomized post-processing, and prove the dynamics of privacy bound for shuffle and partition'' andsample without replacement'' stochastic mini-batch gradient descent schemes. We prove that, in these settings, our privacy bound converges exponentially fast and is substantially smaller than the composition bounds, notably after a few number of training epochs. Thus, unless the DP algorithm converges fast, our privacy analysis shows that hidden state analysis can significantly amplify differential privacy.

Cluster Randomized Designs for One-Sided Bipartite Experiments

Jennifer Brennan · Vahab Mirrokni · Jean Pouget-Abadie

The conclusions of randomized controlled trials may be biased when the outcome of one unit depends on the treatment status of other units, a problem known as \textit{interference}. In this work, we study interference in the setting of one-sided bipartite experiments in which the experimental units---where treatments are randomized and outcomes are measured---do not interact directly. Instead, their interactions are mediated through their connections to \textit{interference units} on the other side of the graph. Examples of this type of interference are common in marketplaces and two-sided platforms. The \textit{cluster-randomized design} is a popular method to mitigate interference when the graph is known, but it has not been well-studied in the one-sided bipartite experiment setting. In this work, we formalize a natural model for interference in one-sided bipartite experiments using the exposure mapping framework. We first exhibit settings under which existing cluster-randomized designs fail to properly mitigate interference under this model. We then show that minimizing the bias of the difference-in-means estimator under our model results in a balanced partitioning clustering objective with a natural interpretation. We further prove that our design is minimax optimal over the class of linear potential outcomes models with bounded interference. We conclude by providing theoretical and experimental evidence of the robustness of our design to a variety of interference graphs and potential outcomes models.

Near-Optimal Randomized Exploration for Tabular Markov Decision Processes

Zhihan Xiong · Ruoqi Shen · Qiwen Cui · Maryam Fazel · Simon Du

We study algorithms using randomized value functions for exploration in reinforcement learning. This type of algorithms enjoys appealing empirical performance. We show that when we use 1) a single random seed in each episode, and 2) a Bernstein-type magnitude of noise, we obtain a worst-case $\widetilde{O}\left(H\sqrt{SAT}\right)$ regret bound for episodic time-inhomogeneous Markov Decision Process where $S$ is the size of state space, $A$ is the size of action space, $H$ is the planning horizon and $T$ is the number of interactions. This bound polynomially improves all existing bounds for algorithms based on randomized value functions, and for the first time, matches the $\Omega\left(H\sqrt{SAT}\right)$ lower bound up to logarithmic factors. Our result highlights that randomized exploration can be near-optimal, which was previously achieved only by optimistic algorithms. To achieve the desired result, we develop 1) a new clipping operation to ensure both the probability of being optimistic and the probability of being pessimistic are lower bounded by a constant, and 2) a new recursive formula for the absolute value of estimation errors to analyze the regret.

Order-Invariant Cardinality Estimators Are Differentially Private

Charlie Dickens · Justin Thaler · Daniel Ting

We consider privacy in the context of streaming algorithms for cardinality estimation. We show that a large class of algorithms all satisfy $\epsilon$-differential privacy, so long as (a) the algorithm is combined with a simple down-sampling procedure, and (b) the input stream cardinality is $\Omega(k/\epsilon)$. Here, $k$ is a certain parameter of the sketch that is always at most the sketch size in bits, but is typically much smaller. We also show that, even with no modification, algorithms in our class satisfy $(\epsilon, \delta)$-differential privacy, where $\delta$ falls exponentially with the stream cardinality. Our analysis applies to essentially all popular cardinality estimation algorithms, and substantially generalizes and tightens privacy bounds from earlier works. Our approach is faster and exhibits a better utility-space tradeoff than prior art.

Mirror Descent with Relative Smoothness in Measure Spaces, with application to Sinkhorn and EM

Pierre-Cyril Aubin-Frankowski · Anna Korba · Flavien Léger

Many problems in machine learning can be formulated as optimizing a convex functional over a vector space of measures. This paper studies the convergence of the mirror descent algorithm in this infinite-dimensional setting. Defining Bregman divergences through directional derivatives, we derive the convergence of the scheme for relatively smooth and convex pairs of functionals. Such assumptions allow to handle non-smooth functionals such as the Kullback--Leibler (KL) divergence. Applying our result to joint distributions and KL, we show that Sinkhorn's primal iterations for entropic optimal transport in the continuous setting correspond to a mirror descent, and we obtain a new proof of its (sub)linear convergence. We also show that Expectation Maximization (EM) can always formally be written as a mirror descent. When optimizing only on the latent distribution while fixing the mixtures parameters -- which corresponds to the Richardson--Lucy deconvolution scheme in signal processing -- we derive sublinear rates of convergence.

Generalization Error Bounds on Deep Learning with Markov Datasets

Lan V. Truong

In this paper, we derive upper bounds on generalization errors for deep neural networks with Markov datasets. These bounds are developed based on Koltchinskii and Panchenko's approach for bounding the generalization error of combined classifiers with i.i.d. datasets. The development of new symmetrization inequalities in high-dimensional probability for Markov chains is a key element in our extension, where the spectral gap of the infinitesimal generator of the Markov chain plays a key parameter in these inequalities. We also propose a simple method to convert these bounds and other similar ones in traditional deep learning and machine learning to Bayesian counterparts for both i.i.d. and Markov datasets. Extensions to $m$-order homogeneous Markov chains such as AR and ARMA models and mixtures of several Markov data services are given.

Autoinverse: Uncertainty Aware Inversion of Neural Networks

Navid Ansari · Hans-peter Seidel · Nima Vahidi Ferdowsi · Vahid Babaei

Neural networks are powerful surrogates for numerous forward processes.The inversion of such surrogates is extremely valuable in science and engineering. The most important property of a successful neural inverse method is the performance of its solutions when deployed in the real world, i.e., on the native forward process (and not only the learned surrogate). We propose Autoinverse, a highly automated approach for inverting neural network surrogates. Our main insight is to seek inverse solutions in the vicinity of reliable data which have been sampled form the forward process and used for training the surrogate model. Autoinverse finds such solutions by taking into account the predictive uncertainty of the surrogate and minimizing it during the inversion. Apart from high accuracy, Autoinverse enforces the feasibility of solutions, comes with embedded regularization, and is initialization free. We verify our proposed method through addressing a set of real-world problems in control, fabrication, and design.

Optimal Transport of Classifiers to Fairness

Maarten Buyl · Tijl De Bie

In past work on fairness in machine learning, the focus has been on forcing the prediction of classifiers to have similar statistical properties for people of different demographics. To reduce the violation of these properties, fairness methods usually simply rescale the classifier scores, ignoring similarities and dissimilarities between members of different groups. Yet, we hypothesize that such information is relevant in quantifying the unfairness of a given classifier. To validate this hypothesis, we introduce Optimal Transport to Fairness (OTF), a method that quantifies the violation of fairness constraints as the smallest Optimal Transport cost between a probabilistic classifier and any score function that satisfies these constraints. For a flexible class of linear fairness constraints, we construct a practical way to compute OTF as a differentiable fairness regularizer that can be added to any standard classification setting. Experiments show that OTF can be used to achieve an improved trade-off between predictive power and fairness.

Path Independent Equilibrium Models Can Better Exploit Test-Time Computation

Cem Anil · Ashwini Pokle · Kaiqu Liang · Johannes Treutlein · Yuhuai Wu · Shaojie Bai · J. Zico Kolter · Roger Grosse

Designing networks capable of attaining better performance with an increased inference budget is important to facilitate generalization to harder problem instances. Recent efforts have shown promising results in this direction by making use of depth-wise recurrent networks. In this work, we reproduce the performance of the prior art using a broader class of architectures called equilibrium models, and find that stronger generalization performance on harder examples (which require more iterations of inference to get correct) strongly correlates with the path independence of the system—its ability to converge to the same attractor (or limit cycle) regardless of initialization, given enough computation. Experimental interventions made to promote path independence result in improved generalization on harder (and thus more compute-hungry) problem instances, while those that penalize it degrade this ability. Path independence analyses are also useful on a per-example basis: for equilibrium models that have good in-distribution performance, path independence on out-of-distribution samples strongly correlates with accuracy. Thus, considering equilibrium models and path independence jointly leads to a valuable new viewpoint under which we can study the generalization performance of these networks on hard problem instances.

Fair Infinitesimal Jackknife: Mitigating the Influence of Biased Training Data Points Without Refitting

Prasanna Sattigeri · Soumya Ghosh · Inkit Padhi · Pierre Dognin · Kush Varshney

In consequential decision-making applications, mitigating unwanted biases in machine learning models that yield systematic disadvantage to members of groups delineated by sensitive attributes such as race and gender is one key intervention to strive for equity. Focusing on demographic parity and equality of opportunity, in this paper we propose an algorithm that improves the fairness of a pre-trained classifier by simply dropping carefully selected training data points. We select instances based on their influence on the fairness metric of interest, computed using an infinitesimal jackknife-based approach. The dropping of training points is done in principle, but in practice does not require the model to be refit. Crucially, we find that such an intervention does not substantially reduce the predictive performance of the model but drastically improves the fairness metric. Through careful experiments, we evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed approach on diverse tasks and find that it consistently improves upon existing alternatives.

On Sample Optimality in Personalized Collaborative and Federated Learning

Mathieu Even · Laurent Massoulié · Kevin Scaman

In personalized federated learning, each member of a potentially large set of agents aims to train a model minimizing its loss function averaged over its local data distribution. We study this problem under the lens of stochastic optimization, focusing on a scenario with a large number of agents, that each possess very few data samples from their local data distribution. Specifically, we prove novel matching lower and upper bounds on the number of samples required from all agents to approximately minimize the generalization error of a fixed agent. We provide strategies matching these lower bounds, based on a gradient filtering approach: given prior knowledge on some notion of distance between local data distributions, agents filter and aggregate stochastic gradients received from other agents, in order to achieve an optimal bias-variance trade-off. Finally, we quantify the impact of using rough estimations of the distances between local distributions of agents, based on a very small number of local samples.

Active Ranking without Strong Stochastic Transitivity

Hao Lou · Tao Jin · Yue Wu · Pan Xu · Quanquan Gu · Farzad Farnoud

Ranking from noisy comparisons is of great practical interest in machine learning. In this paper, we consider the problem of recovering the exact full ranking for a list of items under ranking models that do *not* assume the Strong Stochastic Transitivity property. We propose a $$\delta$$-correct algorithm, Probe-Rank, that actively learns the ranking of the items from noisy pairwise comparisons. We prove a sample complexity upper bound for Probe-Rank, which only depends on the preference probabilities between items that are adjacent in the true ranking. This improves upon existing sample complexity results that depend on the preference probabilities for all pairs of items. Probe-Rank thus outperforms existing methods over a large collection of instances that do not satisfy Strong Stochastic Transitivity. Thorough numerical experiments in various settings are conducted, demonstrating that Probe-Rank is significantly more sample-efficient than the state-of-the-art active ranking method.

How Sampling Impacts the Robustness of Stochastic Neural Networks

Sina Däubener · Asja Fischer

Stochastic neural networks (SNNs) are random functions whose predictions are gained by averaging over multiple realizations. Consequently, a gradient-based adversarial example is calculated based on one set of samples and its classification on another set. In this paper, we derive a sufficient condition for such a stochastic prediction to be robust against a given sample-based attack. This allows us to identify the factors that lead to an increased robustness of SNNs and gives theoretical explanations for: (i) the well known observation, that increasing the amount of samples drawn for the estimation of adversarial examples increases the attack's strength,(ii) why increasing the number of samples during an attack can not fully reduce the effect of stochasticity, (iii) why the sample size during inference does not influence the robustness, and(iv) why a higher gradient variance and a shorter expected value of the gradient relates to a higher robustness. Our theoretical findings give a unified view on the mechanisms underlying previously proposed approaches for increasing attack strengths or model robustness and are verified by an extensive empirical analysis.

Convexity Certificates from Hessians

Julien Klaus · Niklas Merk · Konstantin Wiedom · Sören Laue · Joachim Giesen

The Hessian of a differentiable convex function is positive semidefinite. Therefore, checking the Hessian of a given function is a natural approach to certify convexity. However, implementing this approach is not straightforward, since it requires a representation of the Hessian that allows its analysis. Here, we implement this approach for a class of functions that is rich enough to support classical machine learning. For this class of functions, it was recently shown how to compute computational graphs of their Hessians. We show how to check these graphs for positive-semidefiniteness. We compare our implementation of the Hessian approach with the well-established disciplined convex programming (DCP) approach and prove that the Hessian approach is at least as powerful as the DCP approach for differentiable functions. Furthermore, we show for a state-of-the-art implementation of the DCP approach that the Hessian approach is actually more powerful, that is, it can certify the convexity of a larger class of differentiable functions.

Optimal Binary Classification Beyond Accuracy

Shashank Singh · Justin Khim

The vast majority of statistical theory on binary classification characterizes performance in terms of accuracy. However, accuracy is known in many cases to poorly reflect the practical consequences of classification error, most famously in imbalanced binary classification, where data are dominated by samples from one of two classes. The first part of this paper derives a novel generalization of the Bayes-optimal classifier from accuracy to any performance metric computed from the confusion matrix. Specifically, this result (a) demonstrates that stochastic classifiers sometimes outperform the best possible deterministic classifier and (b) removes an empirically unverifiable absolute continuity assumption that is poorly understood but pervades existing results. We then demonstrate how to use this generalized Bayes classifier to obtain regret bounds in terms of the error of estimating regression functions under uniform loss. Finally, we use these results to develop some of the first finite-sample statistical guarantees specific to imbalanced binary classification. Specifically, we demonstrate that optimal classification performance depends on properties of class imbalance, such as a novel notion called Uniform Class Imbalance, that have not previously been formalized. We further illustrate these contributions numerically in the case of $k$-nearest neighbor classification.

Sample Constrained Treatment Effect Estimation

Raghavendra Addanki · David Arbour · Tung Mai · Cameron Musco · Anup Rao

Treatment effect estimation is a fundamental problem in causal inference. We focus on designing efficient randomized controlled trials, to accurately estimate the effect of some treatment on a population of $n$ individuals. In particular, we study \textit{sample-constrained treatment effect estimation}, where we must select a subset of $s \ll n$ individuals from the population to experiment on. This subset must be further partitioned into treatment and control groups. Algorithms for partitioning the entire population into treatment and control groups, or for choosing a single representative subset, have been well-studied. The key challenge in our setting is jointly choosing a representative subset and a partition for that set. We focus on both individual and average treatment effect estimation, under a linear effects model. We give provably efficient experimental designs and corresponding estimators, by identifying connections to discrepancy minimization and leverage-score-based sampling used in randomized numerical linear algebra. Our theoretical results obtain a smooth transition to known guarantees when $s$ equals the population size. We also empirically demonstrate the performance of our algorithms.

Privacy of Noisy Stochastic Gradient Descent: More Iterations without More Privacy Loss

Jason Altschuler · Kunal Talwar

A central issue in machine learning is how to train models on sensitive user data. Industry has widely adopted a simple algorithm: Stochastic Gradient Descent with noise (a.k.a. Stochastic Gradient Langevin Dynamics). However, foundational theoretical questions about this algorithm's privacy loss remain open---even in the seemingly simple setting of smooth convex losses over a bounded domain. Our main result resolves these questions: for a large range of parameters, we characterize the differential privacy up to a constant. This result reveals that all previous analyses for this setting have the wrong qualitative behavior. Specifically, while previous privacy analyses increase ad infinitum in the number of iterations, we show that after a small burn-in period, running SGD longer leaks no further privacy. Our analysis departs from previous approaches based on fast mixing, instead using techniques based on optimal transport (namely, Privacy Amplification by Iteration) and the Sampled Gaussian Mechanism (namely, Privacy Amplification by Sampling). Our techniques readily extend to other settings.

SecureFedYJ: a safe feature Gaussianization protocol for Federated Learning

Tanguy Marchand · Boris Muzellec · Constance Béguier · Jean Ogier du Terrail · Mathieu Andreux

The Yeo-Johnson (YJ) transformation is a standard parametrized per-feature unidimensional transformation often used to Gaussianize features in machine learning. In this paper, we investigate the problem of applying the YJ transformation in a cross-silo Federated Learning setting under privacy constraints. For the first time, we prove that the YJ negative log-likelihood is in fact convex, which allows us to optimize it with exponential search. We numerically show that the resulting algorithm is more stable than the state-of-the-art approach based on the Brent minimization method. Building on this simple algorithm and Secure Multiparty Computation routines, we propose SECUREFEDYJ, a federated algorithm that performs a pooled-equivalent YJ transformation without leaking more information than the final fitted parameters do. Quantitative experiments on real data demonstrate that, in addition to being secure, our approach reliably normalizes features across silos as well as if data were pooled, making it a viable approach for safe federated feature Gaussianization.

Continual learning: a feature extraction formalization, an efficient algorithm, and fundamental obstructions

Binghui Peng · Andrej Risteski

Continual learning is an emerging paradigm in machine learning, wherein a model is exposed in an online fashion to data from multiple different distributions (i.e. environments), and is expected to adapt to the distribution change. Precisely, the goal is to perform well in the new environment, while simultaneously retaining the performance on the previous environments (i.e. avoid ``catastrophic forgetting'').While this setup has enjoyed a lot of attention in the applied community, there hasn't be theoretical work that even formalizes the desired guarantees. In this paper, we propose a framework for continual learning through the framework of feature extraction---namely, one in which features, as well as a classifier, are being trained with each environment. When the features are linear, we design an efficient gradient-based algorithm $\mathsf{DPGrad}$, that is guaranteed to perform well on the current environment, as well as avoid catastrophic forgetting. In the general case, when the features are non-linear, we show such an algorithm cannot exist, whether efficient or not.

Evolution of Neural Tangent Kernels under Benign and Adversarial Training

Noel Loo · Ramin Hasani · Alexander Amini · Daniela Rus

Two key challenges facing modern deep learning is mitigating deep networks vulnerability to adversarial attacks, and understanding deep learning's generalization capabilities. Towards the first issue, many defense strategies have been developed, with the most common being Adversarial Training (AT). Towards the second challenge, one of the dominant theories that has emerged is the Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) -- a characterization of neural network behavior in the infinite-width limit. In this limit, the kernel is frozen and the underlying feature map is fixed. In finite-widths however, there is evidence that feature learning happens at the earlier stages of the training (kernel learning) before a second phase where the kernel remains fixed (lazy training). While prior work has aimed at studying adversarial vulnerability through the lens of the frozen infinite-width NTK, there is no work which studies adversarial robustness of NTK during training. In this work, we perform an empirical study of the evolution of the NTK under standard and adversarial training, aiming to disambiguate the effect of adversarial training on kernel learning and lazy training. We find under adversarial training, the NTK rapidly converges to a different kernel (and feature map) than standard training. This new kernel provides adversarial robustness, even when non-robust training is performed on top of it. Furthermore, we find that adversarial training on top of a fixed kernel can yield a classifier with $76.1\%$ robust accuracy under PGD attacks with $\varepsilon = 4/255$ on CIFAR-10.

Parameters or Privacy: A Provable Tradeoff Between Overparameterization and Membership Inference

Jasper Tan · Blake Mason · Hamid Javadi · Richard Baraniuk

A surprising phenomenon in modern machine learning is the ability of a highly overparameterized model to generalize well (small error on the test data) even when it is trained to memorize the training data (zero error on the training data). This has led to an arms race towards increasingly overparameterized models (c.f., deep learning). In this paper, we study an underexplored hidden cost of overparameterization: the fact that overparameterized models may be more vulnerable to privacy attacks, in particular the membership inference attack that predicts the (potentially sensitive) examples used to train a model. We significantly extend the relatively few empirical results on this problem by theoretically proving for an overparameterized linear regression model in the Gaussian data setting that membership inference vulnerability increases with the number of parameters. Moreover, a range of empirical studies indicates that more complex, nonlinear models exhibit the same behavior. Finally, we extend our analysis towards ridge-regularized linear regression and show in the Gaussian data setting that increased regularization also increases membership inference vulnerability in the overparameterized regime.

Active Exploration for Inverse Reinforcement Learning

David Lindner · Andreas Krause · Giorgia Ramponi

Inverse Reinforcement Learning (IRL) is a powerful paradigm for inferring a reward function from expert demonstrations. Many IRL algorithms require a known transition model and sometimes even a known expert policy, or they at least require access to a generative model. However, these assumptions are too strong for many real-world applications, where the environment can be accessed only through sequential interaction. We propose a novel IRL algorithm: Active exploration for Inverse Reinforcement Learning (AceIRL), which actively explores an unknown environment and expert policy to quickly learn the expert’s reward function and identify a good policy. AceIRL uses previous observations to construct confidence intervals that capture plausible reward functions and find exploration policies that focus on the most informative regions of the environment. AceIRL is the first approach to active IRL with sample-complexity bounds that does not require a generative model of the environment. AceIRL matches the sample complexity of active IRL with a generative model in the worst case. Additionally, we establish a problem-dependent bound that relates the sample complexity of AceIRL to the suboptimality gap of a given IRL problem. We empirically evaluate AceIRL in simulations and find that it significantly outperforms more naive exploration strategies.

A Unified Framework for Deep Symbolic Regression

Mikel Landajuela · Chak Shing Lee · Jiachen Yang · Ruben Glatt · Claudio P Santiago · Ignacio Aravena · Terrell Mundhenk · Garrett Mulcahy · Brenden K Petersen

The last few years have witnessed a surge in methods for symbolic regression, from advances in traditional evolutionary approaches to novel deep learning-based systems. Individual works typically focus on advancing the state-of-the-art for one particular class of solution strategies, and there have been few attempts to investigate the benefits of hybridizing or integrating multiple strategies. In this work, we identify five classes of symbolic regression solution strategies---recursive problem simplification, neural-guided search, large-scale pre-training, genetic programming, and linear models---and propose a strategy to hybridize them into a single modular, unified symbolic regression framework. Based on empirical evaluation using SRBench, a new community tool for benchmarking symbolic regression methods, our unified framework achieves state-of-the-art performance in its ability to (1) symbolically recover analytical expressions, (2) fit datasets with high accuracy, and (3) balance accuracy-complexity trade-offs, across 252 ground-truth and black-box benchmark problems, in both noiseless settings and across various noise levels. Finally, we provide practical use case-based guidance for constructing hybrid symbolic regression algorithms, supported by extensive, combinatorial ablation studies.

Learning Generalized Policy Automata for Relational Stochastic Shortest Path Problems

Rushang Karia · Rashmeet Kaur Nayyar · Siddharth Srivastava

Several goal-oriented problems in the real-world can be naturally expressed as Stochastic Shortest Path problems (SSPs). However, the computational complexity of solving SSPs makes finding solutions to even moderately sized problems intractable. State-of-the-art SSP solvers are unable to learn generalized solutions or policies that would solve multiple problem instances with different object names and/or quantities. This paper presents an approach for learning \emph{Generalized Policy Automata} (GPA): non-deterministic partial policies that can be used to catalyze the solution process. GPAs are learned using relational, feature-based abstractions, which makes them applicable on broad classes of related problems with different object names and quantities. Theoretical analysis of this approach shows that it guarantees completeness and hierarchical optimality. Empirical analysis shows that this approach effectively learns broadly applicable policy knowledge in a few-shot fashion and significantly outperforms state-of-the-art SSP solvers on test problems whose object counts are far greater than those used during training.

CARD: Classification and Regression Diffusion Models

Xizewen Han · Huangjie Zheng · Mingyuan Zhou

Learning the distribution of a continuous or categorical response variable y given its covariates x is a fundamental problem in statistics and machine learning. Deep neural network-based supervised learning algorithms have made great progress in predicting the mean of y given x, but they are often criticized for their ability to accurately capture the uncertainty of their predictions. In this paper, we introduce classification and regression diffusion (CARD) models, which combine a denoising diffusion-based conditional generative model and a pre-trained conditional mean estimator, to accurately predict the distribution of y given x. We demonstrate the outstanding ability of CARD in conditional distribution prediction with both toy examples and real-world datasets, the experimental results on which show that CARD, in general, outperforms state-of-the-art methods, including Bayesian neural network-based one, designed for uncertainty estimation, especially when the conditional distribution of y given x is multi-modal. In addition, we utilize the stochastic nature of the generative model outputs to obtain a finer granularity in model confidence assessment at the instance level for classification tasks.

GT-GAN: General Purpose Time Series Synthesis with Generative Adversarial Networks

Jinsung Jeon · JEONGHAK KIM · Haryong Song · Seunghyeon Cho · Noseong Park

Time series synthesis is an important research topic in the field of deep learning, which can be used for data augmentation. Time series data types can be broadly classified into regular or irregular. However, there are no existing generative models that show good performance for both types without any model changes. Therefore, we present a general purpose model capable of synthesizing regular and irregular time series data. To our knowledge, we are the first designing a general purpose time series synthesis model, which is one of the most challenging settings for time series synthesis. To this end, we design a generative adversarial network-based method, where many related techniques are carefully integrated into a single framework, ranging from neural ordinary/controlled differential equations to continuous time-flow processes. Our method outperforms all existing methods.

So3krates: Equivariant attention for interactions on arbitrary length-scales in molecular systems

Thorben Frank · Oliver Unke · Klaus-Robert Müller

The application of machine learning methods in quantum chemistry has enabled the study of numerous chemical phenomena, which are computationally intractable with traditional ab-initio methods. However, some quantum mechanical properties of molecules and materials depend on non-local electronic effects, which are often neglected due to the difficulty of modeling them efficiently. This work proposes a modified attention mechanism adapted to the underlying physics, which allows to recover the relevant non-local effects. Namely, we introduce spherical harmonic coordinates (SPHCs) to reflect higher-order geometric information for each atom in a molecule, enabling a non-local formulation of attention in the SPHC space. Our proposed model So3krates - a self-attention based message passing neural network - uncouples geometric information from atomic features, making them independently amenable to attention mechanisms. Thereby we construct spherical filters, which extend the concept of continuous filters in Euclidean space to SPHC space and serve as foundation for a spherical self-attention mechanism. We show that in contrast to other published methods, So3krates is able to describe non-local quantum mechanical effects over arbitrary length scales. Further, we find evidence that the inclusion of higher-order geometric correlations increases data efficiency and improves generalization. So3krates matches or exceeds state-of-the-art performance on popular benchmarks, notably, requiring a significantly lower number of parameters (0.25 - 0.4x) while at the same time giving a substantial speedup (6 - 14x for training and 2 - 11x for inference) compared to other models.

Micro and Macro Level Graph Modeling for Graph Variational Auto-Encoders

Kiarash Zahirnia · Oliver Schulte · Parmis Naddaf · Ke Li

Generative models for graph data are an important research topic in machine learning. Graph data comprise two levels that are typically analyzed separately: node-level properties such as the existence of a link between a pair of nodes, and global aggregate graph-level statistics, such as motif counts.This paper proposes a new multi-level framework that jointly models node-level properties and graph-level statistics, as mutually reinforcing sources of information. We introduce a new micro-macro training objective for graph generation that combines node-level and graph-level losses. We utilize the micro-macro objective to improve graph generation with a GraphVAE, a well-established model based on graph-level latent variables, that provides fast training and generation time for medium-sized graphs. Our experiments show that adding micro-macro modeling to the GraphVAE model improves graph quality scores up to 2 orders of magnitude on five benchmark datasets, while maintaining the GraphVAE generation speed advantage.

Learning Representations via a Robust Behavioral Metric for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Jianda Chen · Sinno Pan

Learning an informative representation with behavioral metrics is able to accelerate the deep reinforcement learning process. There are two key research issues on behavioral metric-based representation learning: 1) how to relax the computation of a specific behavioral metric, which is difficult or even intractable to compute, and 2) how to approximate the relaxed metric by learning an embedding space for states. In this paper, we analyze the potential relaxation and/or approximation gaps for existing behavioral metric-based representation learning methods. Based on the analysis, we propose a new behavioral distance, the RAP distance, and develop a practical representation learning algorithm on top of it with a theoretical analysis. We conduct extensive experiments on DeepMind Control Suite with distraction, Robosuite, and autonomous driving simulator CARLA to demonstrate new state-of-the-art results.

Transferring Fairness under Distribution Shifts via Fair Consistency Regularization

Bang An · Zora Che · Mucong Ding · Furong Huang

The increasing reliance on ML models in high-stakes tasks has raised a major concern about fairness violations. Although there has been a surge of work that improves algorithmic fairness, most are under the assumption of an identical training and test distribution. In many real-world applications, however, such an assumption is often violated as previously trained fair models are often deployed in a different environment, and the fairness of such models has been observed to collapse. In this paper, we study how to transfer model fairness under distribution shifts, a widespread issue in practice. We conduct a fine-grained analysis of how the fair model is affected under different types of distribution shifts and find that domain shifts are more challenging than subpopulation shifts. Inspired by the success of self-training in transferring accuracy under domain shifts, we derive a sufficient condition for transferring group fairness. Guided by it, we propose a practical algorithm with fair consistency regularization as the key component. A synthetic dataset benchmark, which covers diverse types of distribution shifts, is deployed for experimental verification of the theoretical findings. Experiments on synthetic and real datasets, including image and tabular data, demonstrate that our approach effectively transfers fairness and accuracy under various types of distribution shifts.

Bridging the Gap from Asymmetry Tricks to Decorrelation Principles in Non-contrastive Self-supervised Learning

Kang-Jun Liu · Masanori Suganuma · Takayuki Okatani

Recent non-contrastive methods for self-supervised representation learning show promising performance. While they are attractive since they do not need negative samples, it necessitates some mechanism to avoid collapsing into a trivial solution. Currently, there are two approaches to collapse prevention. One uses an asymmetric architecture on a joint embedding of input, e.g., BYOL and SimSiam, and the other imposes decorrelation criteria on the same joint embedding, e.g., Barlow-Twins and VICReg. The latter methods have theoretical support from information theory as to why they can learn good representation. However, it is not fully understood why the former performs equally well. In this paper, focusing on BYOL/SimSiam, which uses the stop-gradient and a predictor as asymmetric tricks, we present a novel interpretation of these tricks; they implicitly impose a constraint that encourages feature decorrelation similar to Barlow-Twins/VICReg. We then present a novel non-contrastive method, which replaces the stop-gradient in BYOL/SimSiam with the derived constraint; the method empirically shows comparable performance to the above SOTA methods in the standard benchmark test using ImageNet. This result builds a bridge from BYOL/SimSiam to the decorrelation-based methods, contributing to demystifying their secrets.

Template based Graph Neural Network with Optimal Transport Distances

Cédric Vincent-Cuaz · Rémi Flamary · Marco Corneli · Titouan Vayer · Nicolas Courty

Current Graph Neural Networks (GNN) architectures generally rely on two important components: node features embedding through message passing, and aggregation with a specialized form of pooling. The structural (or topological) information is implicitly taken into account in these two steps. We propose in this work a novel point of view, which places distances to some learnable graph templates at the core of the graph representation. This distance embedding is constructed thanks to an optimal transport distance: the Fused Gromov-Wasserstein (FGW) distance, which encodes simultaneously feature and structure dissimilarities by solving a soft graph-matching problem. We postulate that the vector of FGW distances to a set of template graphs has a strong discriminative power, which is then fed to a non-linear classifier for final predictions. Distance embedding can be seen as a new layer, and can leverage on existing message passing techniques to promote sensible feature representations. Interestingly enough, in our work the optimal set of template graphs is also learnt in an end-to-end fashion by differentiating through this layer. After describing the corresponding learning procedure, we empirically validate our claim on several synthetic and real life graph classification datasets, where our method is competitive or surpasses kernel and GNN state-of-the-art approaches. We complete our experiments by an ablation study and a sensitivity analysis to parameters.

A composable machine-learning approach for steady-state simulations on high-resolution grids

Rishikesh Ranade · Chris Hill · Lalit Ghule · Jay Pathak

In this paper we show that our Machine Learning (ML) approach, CoMLSim (Composable Machine Learning Simulator), can simulate PDEs on highly-resolved grids with higher accuracy and generalization to out-of-distribution source terms and geometries than traditional ML baselines. Our unique approach combines key principles of traditional PDE solvers with local-learning and low-dimensional manifold techniques to iteratively simulate PDEs on large computational domains. The proposed approach is validated on more than 5 steady-state PDEs across different PDE conditions on highly-resolved grids and comparisons are made with the commercial solver, Ansys Fluent as well as 4 other state-of-the-art ML methods. The numerical experiments show that our approach outperforms ML baselines in terms of 1) accuracy across quantitative metrics and 2) generalization to out-of-distribution conditions as well as domain sizes. Additionally, we provide results for a large number of ablations experiments conducted to highlight components of our approach that strongly influence the results. We conclude that our local-learning and iterative-inferencing approach reduces the challenge of generalization that most ML models face.

SoteriaFL: A Unified Framework for Private Federated Learning with Communication Compression

Zhize Li · Haoyu Zhao · Boyue Li · Yuejie Chi

To enable large-scale machine learning in bandwidth-hungry environments such as wireless networks, significant progress has been made recently in designing communication-efficient federated learning algorithms with the aid of communication compression. On the other end, privacy preserving, especially at the client level, is another important desideratum that has not been addressed simultaneously in the presence of advanced communication compression techniques yet. In this paper, we propose a unified framework that enhances the communication efficiency of private federated learning with communication compression. Exploiting both general compression operators and local differential privacy, we first examine a simple algorithm that applies compression directly to differentially-private stochastic gradient descent, and identify its limitations. We then propose a unified framework SoteriaFL for private federated learning, which accommodates a general family of local gradient estimators including popular stochastic variance-reduced gradient methods and the state-of-the-art shifted compression scheme. We provide a comprehensive characterization of its performance trade-offs in terms of privacy, utility, and communication complexity, where SoteriaFL is shown to achieve better communication complexity without sacrificing privacy nor utility than other private federated learning algorithms without communication compression.

A Unified Analysis of Mixed Sample Data Augmentation: A Loss Function Perspective

Chanwoo Park · Sangdoo Yun · Sanghyuk Chun

We propose the first unified theoretical analysis of mixed sample data augmentation (MSDA), such as Mixup and CutMix. Our theoretical results show that regardless of the choice of the mixing strategy, MSDA behaves as a pixel-level regularization of the underlying training loss and a regularization of the first layer parameters. Similarly, our theoretical results support that the MSDA training strategy can improve adversarial robustness and generalization compared to the vanilla training strategy. Using the theoretical results, we provide a high-level understanding of how different design choices of MSDA work differently. For example, we show that the most popular MSDA methods, Mixup and CutMix, behave differently, e.g., CutMix regularizes the input gradients by pixel distances, while Mixup regularizes the input gradients regardless of pixel distances. Our theoretical results also show that the optimal MSDA strategy depends on tasks, datasets, or model parameters. From these observations, we propose generalized MSDAs, a Hybrid version of Mixup and CutMix (HMix) and Gaussian Mixup (GMix), simple extensions of Mixup and CutMix. Our implementation can leverage the advantages of Mixup and CutMix, while our implementation is very efficient, and the computation cost is almost neglectable as Mixup and CutMix. Our empirical study shows that our HMix and GMix outperform the previous state-of-the-art MSDA methods in CIFAR-100 and ImageNet classification tasks.

From Gradient Flow on Population Loss to Learning with Stochastic Gradient Descent

Christopher De Sa · Satyen Kale · Jason Lee · Ayush Sekhari · Karthik Sridharan

Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) has been the method of choice for learning large-scale non-convex models. While a general analysis of when SGD works has been elusive, there has been a lot of recent progress in understanding the convergence of Gradient Flow (GF) on the population loss, partly due to the simplicity that a continuous-time analysis buys us. An overarching theme of our paper is providing general conditions under which SGD converges, assuming that GF on the population loss converges. Our main tool to establish this connection is a general \textit{converse Lyapunov} like theorem, which implies the existence of a Lyapunov potential under mild assumptions on the rates of convergence of GF. In fact, using these potentials, we show a one-to-one correspondence between rates of convergence of GF and geometrical properties of the underlying objective. When these potentials further satisfy certain self-bounding properties, we show that they can be used to provide a convergence guarantee for Gradient Descent (GD) and SGD (even when the GF path and GD/SGD paths are quite far apart). It turns out that these self-bounding assumptions are in a sense also necessary for GD/SGD to work. Using our framework, we provide a unified analysis for GD/SGD not only for classical settings like convex losses, or objectives that satisfy PL/ KL properties, but also for more complex problems including Phase Retrieval and Matrix sq-root, and extending the results in the recent work of Chatterjee 2022.

Stability and Generalization for Markov Chain Stochastic Gradient Methods

Puyu Wang · Yunwen Lei · Yiming Ying · Ding-Xuan Zhou

Recently there is a large amount of work devoted to the study of Markov chain stochastic gradient methods (MC-SGMs) which mainly focus on their convergence analysis for solving minimization problems. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive generalization analysis of MC-SGMs for both minimization and minimax problems through the lens of algorithmic stability in the framework of statistical learning theory. For empirical risk minimization (ERM) problems, we establish the optimal excess population risk bounds for both smooth and non-smooth cases by introducing on-average argument stability. For minimax problems, we develop a quantitative connection between on-average argument stability and generalization error which extends the existing results for uniform stability (Lei et al., 2021). We further develop the first nearly optimal convergence rates for convex-concave problems both in expectation and with high probability, which, combined with our stability results, show that the optimal generalization bounds can be attained for both smooth and non-smooth cases. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first generalization analysis of SGMs when the gradients are sampled from a Markov process.

Learning Energy Networks with Generalized Fenchel-Young Losses

Mathieu Blondel · Felipe Llinares-Lopez · Robert Dadashi · Leonard Hussenot · Matthieu Geist

Energy-based models, a.k.a. energy networks, perform inference by optimizing an energy function, typically parametrized by a neural network. This allows one to capture potentially complex relationships between inputs andoutputs.To learn the parameters of the energy function, the solution to thatoptimization problem is typically fed into a loss function.The key challenge for training energy networks lies in computing loss gradients,as this typically requires argmin/argmax differentiation.In this paper, building upon a generalized notion of conjugate function,which replaces the usual bilinear pairing with a general energy function,we propose generalized Fenchel-Young losses, a natural loss construction forlearning energy networks. Our losses enjoy many desirable properties and theirgradients can be computed efficiently without argmin/argmax differentiation.We also prove the calibration of their excess risk in the case of linear-concaveenergies. We demonstrate our losses on multilabel classification and imitation learning tasks.

AZ-whiteness test: a test for signal uncorrelation on spatio-temporal graphs

Daniele Zambon · Cesare Alippi

We present the first whiteness hypothesis test for graphs, i.e., a whiteness test for multivariate time series associated with the nodes of a dynamic graph; as such, the test represents an important model assessment tool for graph deep learning, e.g., in forecasting setups. The statistical test aims at detecting existing serial dependencies among close-in-time observations, as well as spatial dependencies among neighboring observations given the underlying graph. The proposed AZ-test can be intended as a spatio-temporal extension of traditional tests designed for system identification to graph signals. The AZ-test is versatile, allowing the underlying graph to be dynamic, changing in topology and set of nodes over time, and weighted, thus accounting for connections of different strength, as it is the case in many application scenarios like sensor and transportation networks. The asymptotic distribution of the designed test can be derived under the null hypothesis without assuming identically distributed data. We show the effectiveness of the test on both synthetic and real-world problems, and illustrate how it can be employed to assess the quality of spatio-temporal forecasting models by analyzing the prediction residuals appended to the graph stream.

Equivariant Networks for Crystal Structures

Oumar Kaba · Siamak Ravanbakhsh

Supervised learning with deep models has tremendous potential for applications in materials science. Recently, graph neural networks have been used in this context, drawing direct inspiration from models for molecules. However, materials are typically much more structured than molecules, which is a feature that these models do not leverage. In this work, we introduce a class of models that are equivariant with respect to crystalline symmetry groups. We do this by defining a generalization of the message passing operations that can be used with more general permutation groups, or that can alternatively be seen as defining an expressive convolution operation on the crystal graph. Empirically, these models achieve competitive results with state-of-the-art on the Materials Project dataset.

Text Classification with Born's Rule

Emanuele Guidotti · Alfio Ferrara

This paper presents a text classification algorithm inspired by the notion of superposition of states in quantum physics. By regarding text as a superposition of words, we derive the wave function of a document and we compute the transition probability of the document to a target class according to Born's rule. Two complementary implementations are presented. In the first one, wave functions are calculated explicitly. The second implementation embeds the classifier in a neural network architecture. Through analysis of three benchmark datasets, we illustrate several aspects of the proposed method, such as classification performance, explainability, and computational efficiency. These ideas are also applicable to non-textual data.

A Probabilistic Graph Coupling View of Dimension Reduction

Hugues Van Assel · Thibault Espinasse · Julien Chiquet · Franck Picard

Most popular dimension reduction (DR) methods like t-SNE and UMAP are based on minimizing a cost between input and latent pairwise similarities. Though widely used, these approaches lack clear probabilistic foundations to enable a full understanding of their properties and limitations. To that extent, we introduce a unifying statistical framework based on the coupling of hidden graphs using cross entropy. These graphs induce a Markov random field dependency structure among the observations in both input and latent spaces. We show that existing pairwise similarity DR methods can be retrieved from our framework with particular choices of priors for the graphs. Moreover this reveals that these methods relying on shift-invariant kernels suffer from a statistical degeneracy that explains poor performances in conserving coarse-grain dependencies. New links are drawn with PCA which appears as a non-degenerate graph coupling model.

Laplacian Autoencoders for Learning Stochastic Representations

Marco Miani · Frederik Warburg · Pablo Moreno-Muñoz · Nicki Skafte · Søren Hauberg

Established methods for unsupervised representation learning such as variational autoencoders produce none or poorly calibrated uncertainty estimates making it difficult to evaluate if learned representations are stable and reliable. In this work, we present a Bayesian autoencoder for unsupervised representation learning, which is trained using a novel variational lower-bound of the autoencoder evidence. This is maximized using Monte Carlo EM with a variational distribution that takes the shape of a Laplace approximation. We develop a new Hessian approximation that scales linearly with data size allowing us to model high-dimensional data. Empirically, we show that our Laplacian autoencoder estimates well-calibrated uncertainties in both latent and output space. We demonstrate that this results in improved performance across a multitude of downstream tasks.

UQGAN: A Unified Model for Uncertainty Quantification of Deep Classifiers trained via Conditional GANs

Philipp Oberdiek · Gernot Fink · Matthias Rottmann

We present an approach to quantifying both aleatoric and epistemic uncertainty for deep neural networks in image classification, based on generative adversarial networks (GANs). While most works in the literature that use GANs to generate out-of-distribution (OoD) examples only focus on the evaluation of OoD detection, we present a GAN based approach to learn a classifier that produces proper uncertainties for OoD examples as well as for false positives (FPs). Instead of shielding the entire in-distribution data with GAN generated OoD examples which is state-of-the-art, we shield each class separately with out-of-class examples generated by a conditional GAN and complement this with a one-vs-all image classifier. In our experiments, in particular on CIFAR10, CIFAR100 and Tiny ImageNet, we improve over the OoD detection and FP detection performance of state-of-the-art GAN-training based classifiers. Furthermore, we also find that the generated GAN examples do not significantly affect the calibration error of our classifier and result in a significant gain in model accuracy.

Variational Model Perturbation for Source-Free Domain Adaptation

Mengmeng Jing · Xiantong Zhen · Jingjing Li · Cees Snoek

We aim for source-free domain adaptation, where the task is to deploy a model pre-trained on source domains to target domains. The challenges stem from the distribution shift from the source to the target domain, coupled with the unavailability of any source data and labeled target data for optimization. Rather than fine-tuning the model by updating the parameters, we propose to perturb the source model to achieve adaptation to target domains. We introduce perturbations into the model parameters by variational Bayesian inference in a probabilistic framework. By doing so, we can effectively adapt the model to the target domain while largely preserving the discriminative ability. Importantly, we demonstrate the theoretical connection to learning Bayesian neural networks, which proves the generalizability of the perturbed model to target domains. To enable more efficient optimization, we further employ a parameter sharing strategy, which substantially reduces the learnable parameters compared to a fully Bayesian neural network. Our model perturbation provides a new probabilistic way for domain adaptation which enables efficient adaptation to target domains while maximally preserving knowledge in source models. Experiments on several source-free benchmarks under three different evaluation settings verify the effectiveness of the proposed variational model perturbation for source-free domain adaptation.

On the Effect of Pre-training for Transformer in Different Modality on Offline Reinforcement Learning

Shiro Takagi

We empirically investigate how pre-training on data of different modalities, such as language and vision, affects fine-tuning of Transformer-based models to Mujoco offline reinforcement learning tasks. Analysis of the internal representation reveals that the pre-trained Transformers acquire largely different representations before and after pre-training, but acquire less information of data in fine-tuning than the randomly initialized one. A closer look at the parameter changes of the pre-trained Transformers reveals that their parameters do not change that much and that the bad performance of the model pre-trained with image data could partially come from large gradients and gradient clipping. To study what information the Transformer pre-trained with language data utilizes, we fine-tune this model with no context provided, finding that the model learns efficiently even without context information. Subsequent follow-up analysis supports the hypothesis that pre-training with language data is likely to make the Transformer get context-like information and utilize it to solve the downstream task.

Where2comm: Communication-Efficient Collaborative Perception via Spatial Confidence Maps

Yue Hu · Shaoheng Fang · Zixing Lei · Yiqi Zhong · Siheng Chen

Multi-agent collaborative perception could significantly upgrade the perception performance by enabling agents to share complementary information with each other through communication. It inevitably results in a fundamental trade-off between perception performance and communication bandwidth. To tackle this bottleneck issue, we propose a spatial confidence map, which reflects the spatial heterogeneity of perceptual information. It empowers agents to only share spatially sparse, yet perceptually critical information, contributing to where to communicate. Based on this novel spatial confidence map, we propose Where2comm, a communication-efficient collaborative perception framework. Where2comm has two distinct advantages: i) it considers pragmatic compression and uses less communication to achieve higher perception performance by focusing on perceptually critical areas; and ii) it can handle varying communication bandwidth by dynamically adjusting spatial areas involved in communication. To evaluate Where2comm, we consider 3D object detection in both real-world and simulation scenarios with two modalities (camera/LiDAR) and two agent types (cars/drones) on four datasets: OPV2V, V2X-Sim, DAIR-V2X, and our original CoPerception-UAVs. Where2comm consistently outperforms previous methods; for example, it achieves more than $100,000 \times$ lower communication volume and still outperforms DiscoNet and V2X-ViT on OPV2V. Our code is available at~\url{}.

EcoFormer: Energy-Saving Attention with Linear Complexity

Jing Liu · Zizheng Pan · Haoyu He · Jianfei Cai · Bohan Zhuang

Transformer is a transformative framework for deep learning which models sequential data and has achieved remarkable performance on a wide range of tasks, but with high computational and energy cost. To improve its efficiency, a popular choice is to compress the models via binarization which constrains the floating-point values into binary ones to save resource consumption owing to cheap bitwise operations significantly. However, existing binarization methods only aim at minimizing the information loss for the input distribution statistically, while ignoring the pairwise similarity modeling at the core of the attention mechanism. To this end, we propose a new binarization paradigm customized to high-dimensional softmax attention via kernelized hashing, called EcoFormer, to map the original queries and keys into low-dimensional binary codes in Hamming space. The kernelized hash functions are learned to match the ground-truth similarity relations extracted from the attention map in a self-supervised way. Based on the equivalence between the inner product of binary codes and the Hamming distance as well as the associative property of matrix multiplication, we can approximate the attention in linear complexity by expressing it as a dot-product of binary codes. Moreover, the compact binary representations of queries and keys in EcoFormer enable us to replace most of the expensive multiply-accumulate operations in attention with simple accumulations to save considerable on-chip energy footprint on edge devices. Extensive experiments on both vision and language tasks show that EcoFormer consistently achieves comparable performance with standard attentions while consuming much fewer resources. For example, based on PVTv2-B0 and ImageNet-1K, EcoFormer achieves a 73% reduction in on-chip energy footprint with only a slight performance drop of 0.33% compared to the standard attention. Code is available at

Dataset Distillation using Neural Feature Regression

Yongchao Zhou · Ehsan Nezhadarya · Jimmy Ba

Dataset distillation aims to learn a small synthetic dataset that preserves most of the information from the original dataset. Dataset distillation can be formulated as a bi-level meta-learning problem where the outer loop optimizes the meta-dataset and the inner loop trains a model on the distilled data. Meta-gradient computation is one of the key challenges in this formulation, as differentiating through the inner loop learning procedure introduces significant computation and memory costs. In this paper, we address these challenges using neural Feature Regression with Pooling (FRePo), achieving the state-of-the-art performance with an order of magnitude less memory requirement and two orders of magnitude faster training than previous methods. The proposed algorithm is analogous to truncated backpropagation through time with a pool of models to alleviate various types of overfitting in dataset distillation. FRePo significantly outperforms the previous methods on CIFAR100, Tiny ImageNet, and ImageNet-1K. Furthermore, we show that high-quality distilled data can greatly improve various downstream applications, such as continual learning and membership inference defense. Please check out our webpage at

Iterative Scene Graph Generation

Siddhesh Khandelwal · Leonid Sigal

The task of scene graph generation entails identifying object entities and their corresponding interaction predicates in a given image (or video). Due to the combinatorially large solution space, existing approaches to scene graph generation assume certain factorization of the joint distribution to make the estimation feasible (e.g., assuming that objects are conditionally independent of predicate predictions). However, this fixed factorization is not ideal under all scenarios (e.g., for images where an object entailed in interaction is small and not discernible on its own). In this work, we propose a novel framework for scene graph generation that addresses this limitation, as well as introduces dynamic conditioning on the image, using message passing in a Markov Random Field. This is implemented as an iterative refinement procedure wherein each modification is conditioned on the graph generated in the previous iteration. This conditioning across refinement steps allows joint reasoning over entities and relations. This framework is realized via a novel and end-to-end trainable transformer-based architecture. In addition, the proposed framework can improve existing approach performance. Through extensive experiments on Visual Genome and Action Genome benchmark datasets we show improved performance on the scene graph generation.

ALIFE: Adaptive Logit Regularizer and Feature Replay for Incremental Semantic Segmentation

Youngmin Oh · Donghyeon Baek · Bumsub Ham

We address the problem of incremental semantic segmentation (ISS) recognizing novel object/stuff categories continually without forgetting previous ones that have been learned. The catastrophic forgetting problem is particularly severe in ISS, since pixel-level ground-truth labels are available only for the novel categories at training time. To address the problem, regularization-based methods exploit probability calibration techniques to learn semantic information from unlabeled pixels. While such techniques are effective, there is still a lack of theoretical understanding of them. Replay-based methods propose to memorize a small set of images for previous categories. They achieve state-of-the-art performance at the cost of large memory footprint. We propose in this paper a novel ISS method, dubbed ALIFE, that provides a better compromise between accuracy and efficiency. To this end, we first show an in-depth analysis on the calibration techniques to better understand the effects on ISS. Based on this, we then introduce an adaptive logit regularizer (ALI) that enables our model to better learn new categories, while retaining knowledge for previous ones. We also present a feature replay scheme that memorizes features, instead of images directly, in order to reduce memory requirements significantly. Since a feature extractor is changed continually, memorized features should also be updated at every incremental stage. To handle this, we introduce category-specific rotation matrices updating the features for each category separately. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach with extensive experiments on standard ISS benchmarks, and show that our method achieves a better trade-off in terms of accuracy and efficiency.

Hyperbolic Feature Augmentation via Distribution Estimation and Infinite Sampling on Manifolds

Zhi Gao · Yuwei Wu · Yunde Jia · Mehrtash Harandi

Learning in hyperbolic spaces has attracted growing attention recently, owing to their capabilities in capturing hierarchical structures of data. However, existing learning algorithms in the hyperbolic space tend to overfit when limited data is given. In this paper, we propose a hyperbolic feature augmentation method that generates diverse and discriminative features in the hyperbolic space to combat overfitting. We employ a wrapped hyperbolic normal distribution to model augmented features, and use a neural ordinary differential equation module that benefits from meta-learning to estimate the distribution. This is to reduce the bias of estimation caused by the scarcity of data. We also derive an upper bound of the augmentation loss, which enables us to train a hyperbolic model by using an infinite number of augmentations. Experiments on few-shot learning and continual learning tasks show that our method significantly improves the performance of hyperbolic algorithms in scarce data regimes.

Provably Adversarially Robust Detection of Out-of-Distribution Data (Almost) for Free

Alexander Meinke · Julian Bitterwolf · Matthias Hein

The application of machine learning in safety-critical systems requires a reliable assessment of uncertainty.However, deep neural networks are known to produce highly overconfident predictions on out-of-distribution (OOD) data.Even if trained to be non-confident on OOD data, one can still adversarially manipulate OOD data so that the classifier again assigns high confidence to the manipulated samples.We show that two previously published defenses can be broken by better adapted attacks, highlighting the importance of robustness guarantees around OOD data.Since the existing method for this task is hard to train and significantly limits accuracy, we construct a classifier that can simultaneously achieve provably adversarially robust OOD detection and high clean accuracy.Moreover, by slightly modifying the classifier's architecture our method provably avoids the asymptotic overconfidence problem of standard neural networks.We provide code for all our experiments.

Distributed Methods with Compressed Communication for Solving Variational Inequalities, with Theoretical Guarantees

Aleksandr Beznosikov · Peter Richtarik · Michael Diskin · Max Ryabinin · Alexander Gasnikov

Variational inequalities in general and saddle point problems in particular are increasingly relevant in machine learning applications, including adversarial learning, GANs, transport and robust optimization. With increasing data and problem sizes necessary to train high performing models across various applications, we need to rely on parallel and distributed computing. However, in distributed training, communication among the compute nodes is a key bottleneck during training, and this problem is exacerbated for high dimensional and over-parameterized models. Due to these considerations, it is important to equip existing methods with strategies that would allow to reduce the volume of transmitted information during training while obtaining a model of comparable quality. In this paper, we present the first theoretically grounded distributed methods for solving variational inequalities and saddle point problems using compressed communication: MASHA1 and MASHA2. Our theory and methods allow for the use of both unbiased (such as Rand$k$; MASHA1) and contractive (such as Top$k$; MASHA2) compressors. New algorithms support bidirectional compressions, and also can be modified for stochastic setting with batches and for federated learning with partial participation of clients. We empirically validated our conclusions using two experimental setups: a standard bilinear min-max problem, and large-scale distributed adversarial training of transformers.

Global Convergence and Stability of Stochastic Gradient Descent

Vivak Patel · Shushu Zhang · Bowen Tian

In machine learning, stochastic gradient descent (SGD) is widely deployed to train models using highly non-convex objectives with equally complex noise models. Unfortunately, SGD theory often makes restrictive assumptions that fail to capture the non-convexity of real problems, and almost entirely ignore the complex noise models that exist in practice. In this work, we demonstrate the restrictiveness of these assumptions using three canonical models in machine learning. Then, we develop novel theory to address this shortcoming in two ways. First, we establish that SGD's iterates will either globally converge to a stationary point or diverge under nearly arbitrary nonconvexity and noise models. Under a slightly more restrictive assumption on the joint behavior of the non-convexity and noise model that generalizes current assumptions in the literature, we show that the objective function cannot diverge, even if the iterates diverge. As a consequence of our results, SGD can be applied to a greater range of stochastic optimization problems with confidence about its global convergence behavior and stability.

Regret Bounds for Information-Directed Reinforcement Learning

Botao Hao · Tor Lattimore

Information-directed sampling (IDS) has revealed its potential as a data-efficient algorithm for reinforcement learning (RL). However, theoretical understanding of IDS for Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) is still limited. We develop novel information-theoretic tools to bound the information ratio and cumulative information gain about the learning target. Our theoretical results shed light on the importance of choosing the learning target such that the practitioners can balance the computation and regret bounds. As a consequence, we derive prior-free Bayesian regret bounds for vanilla-IDS which learns the whole environment under tabular finite-horizon MDPs. In addition, we propose a computationally-efficient regularized-IDS that maximizes an additive form rather than the ratio form and show that it enjoys the same regret bound as vanilla-IDS. With the aid of rate-distortion theory, we improve the regret bound by learning a surrogate, less informative environment. Furthermore, we extend our analysis to linear MDPs and prove similar regret bounds for Thompson sampling as a by-product.

Truncated Matrix Power Iteration for Differentiable DAG Learning

Zhen Zhang · Ignavier Ng · Dong Gong · Yuhang Liu · Ehsan Abbasnejad · Mingming Gong · Kun Zhang · Javen Qinfeng Shi

Recovering underlying Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) structures from observational data is highly challenging due to the combinatorial nature of the DAG-constrained optimization problem. Recently, DAG learning has been cast as a continuous optimization problem by characterizing the DAG constraint as a smooth equality one, generally based on polynomials over adjacency matrices. Existing methods place very small coefficients on high-order polynomial terms for stabilization, since they argue that large coefficients on the higher-order terms are harmful due to numeric exploding. On the contrary, we discover that large coefficients on higher-order terms are beneficial for DAG learning, when the spectral radiuses of the adjacency matrices are small, and that larger coefficients for higher-order terms can approximate the DAG constraints much better than the small counterparts. Based on this, we propose a novel DAG learning method with efficient truncated matrix power iteration to approximate geometric series based DAG constraints. Empirically, our DAG learning method outperforms the previous state-of-the-arts in various settings, often by a factor of $3$ or more in terms of structural Hamming distance.

Error Analysis of Tensor-Train Cross Approximation

Zhen Qin · Alexander Lidiak · Zhexuan Gong · Gongguo Tang · Michael B Wakin · Zhihui Zhu

Tensor train decomposition is widely used in machine learning and quantum physics due to its concise representation of high-dimensional tensors, overcoming the curse of dimensionality. Cross approximation---originally developed for representing a matrix from a set of selected rows and columns---is an efficient method for constructing a tensor train decomposition of a tensor from few of its entries. While tensor train cross approximation has achieved remarkable performance in practical applications, its theoretical analysis, in particular regarding the error of the approximation, is so far lacking. To our knowledge, existing results only provide element-wise approximation accuracy guarantees, which lead to a very loose bound when extended to the entire tensor. In this paper, we bridge this gap by providing accuracy guarantees in terms of the entire tensor for both exact and noisy measurements. Our results illustrate how the choice of selected subtensors affects the quality of the cross approximation and that the approximation error caused by model error and/or measurement error may not grow exponentially with the order of the tensor. These results are verified by numerical experiments, and may have important implications for the usefulness of cross approximations for high-order tensors, such as those encountered in the description of quantum many-body states.

Efficient Risk-Averse Reinforcement Learning

Ido Greenberg · Yinlam Chow · Mohammad Ghavamzadeh · Shie Mannor

In risk-averse reinforcement learning (RL), the goal is to optimize some risk measure of the returns. A risk measure often focuses on the worst returns out of the agent's experience. As a result, standard methods for risk-averse RL often ignore high-return strategies. We prove that under certain conditions this inevitably leads to a local-optimum barrier, and propose a mechanism we call soft risk to bypass it. We also devise a novel cross entropy module for sampling, which (1) preserves risk aversion despite the soft risk; (2) independently improves sample efficiency. By separating the risk aversion of the sampler and the optimizer, we can sample episodes with poor conditions, yet optimize with respect to successful strategies. We combine these two concepts in CeSoR - Cross-entropy Soft-Risk optimization algorithm - which can be applied on top of any risk-averse policy gradient (PG) method. We demonstrate improved risk aversion in maze navigation, autonomous driving, and resource allocation benchmarks, including in scenarios where standard risk-averse PG completely fails.

Learning Robust Dynamics through Variational Sparse Gating

Arnav Kumar Jain · Shivakanth Sujit · Shruti Joshi · Vincent Michalski · Danijar Hafner · Samira Ebrahimi Kahou

Learning world models from their sensory inputs enables agents to plan for actions by imagining their future outcomes. World models have previously been shown to improve sample-efficiency in simulated environments with few objects, but have not yet been applied successfully to environments with many objects. In environments with many objects, often only a small number of them are moving or interacting at the same time. In this paper, we investigate integrating this inductive bias of sparse interactions into the latent dynamics of world models trained from pixels. First, we introduce Variational Sparse Gating (VSG), a latent dynamics model that updates its feature dimensions sparsely through stochastic binary gates. Moreover, we propose a simplified architecture Simple Variational Sparse Gating (SVSG) that removes the deterministic pathway of previous models, resulting in a fully stochastic transition function that leverages the VSG mechanism. We evaluate the two model architectures in the BringBackShapes (BBS) environment that features a large number of moving objects and partial observability, demonstrating clear improvements over prior models.

DiSC: Differential Spectral Clustering of Features

Ram Dyuthi Sristi · Gal Mishne · Ariel Jaffe

Selecting subsets of features that differentiate between two conditions is a key task in a broad range of scientific domains. In many applications, the features of interest form clusters with similar effects on the data at hand. To recover such clusters we develop DiSC, a data-driven approach for detecting groups of features that differentiate between conditions. For each condition, we construct a graph whose nodes correspond to the features and whose weights are functions of the similarity between them for that condition. We then apply a spectral approach to compute subsets of nodes whose connectivity pattern differs significantly between the condition-specific feature graphs. On the theoretical front, we analyze our approach with a toy example based on the stochastic block model. We evaluate DiSC on a variety of datasets, including MNIST, hyperspectral imaging, simulated scRNA-seq and task fMRI, and demonstrate that DiSC uncovers features that better differentiate between conditions compared to competing methods.

WeightedSHAP: analyzing and improving Shapley based feature attributions

Yongchan Kwon · James Zou

Shapley value is a popular approach for measuring the influence of individual features. While Shapley feature attribution is built upon desiderata from game theory, some of its constraints may be less natural in certain machine learning settings, leading to unintuitive model interpretation. In particular, the Shapley value uses the same weight for all marginal contributions---i.e. it gives the same importance when a large number of other features are given versus when a small number of other features are given. This property can be problematic if larger feature sets are more or less informative than smaller feature sets. Our work performs a rigorous analysis of the potential limitations of Shapley feature attribution. We identify simple settings where the Shapley value is mathematically suboptimal by assigning larger attributions for less influential features. Motivated by this observation, we propose WeightedSHAP, which generalizes the Shapley value and learns which marginal contributions to focus directly from data. On several real-world datasets, we demonstrate that the influential features identified by WeightedSHAP are better able to recapitulate the model's predictions compared to the features identified by the Shapley value.

Learning to Reason with Neural Networks: Generalization, Unseen Data and Boolean Measures

Emmanuel Abbe · Samy Bengio · Elisabetta Cornacchia · Jon Kleinberg · Aryo Lotfi · Maithra Raghu · Chiyuan Zhang

This paper considers the Pointer Value Retrieval (PVR) benchmark introduced in [ZRKB21], where a `reasoning' function acts on a string of digits to produce the label. More generally, the paper considers the learning of logical functions with gradient descent (GD) on neural networks. It is first shown that in order to learn logical functions with gradient descent on symmetric neural networks, the generalization error can be lower-bounded in terms of the noise-stability of the target function, supporting a conjecture made in [ZRKB21]. It is then shown that in the distribution shift setting, when the data withholding corresponds to freezing a single feature (referred to as canonical holdout), the generalization error of gradient descent admits a tight characterization in terms of the Boolean influence for several relevant architectures. This is shown on linear models and supported experimentally on other models such as MLPs and Transformers. In particular, this puts forward the hypothesis that for such architectures and for learning logical functions such as PVR functions, GD tends to have an implicit bias towards low-degree representations, which in turn gives the Boolean influence for the generalization error under quadratic loss.

On the Global Convergence Rates of Decentralized Softmax Gradient Play in Markov Potential Games

Runyu Zhang · Jincheng Mei · Bo Dai · Dale Schuurmans · Na Li

Softmax policy gradient is a popular algorithm for policy optimization in single-agent reinforcement learning, particularly since projection is not needed for each gradient update. However, in multi-agent systems, the lack of central coordination introduces significant additional difficulties in the convergence analysis. Even for a stochastic game with identical interest, there can be multiple Nash Equilibria (NEs), which disables proof techniques that rely on the existence of a unique global optimum. Moreover, the softmax parameterization introduces non-NE policies with zero gradient, making it difficult for gradient-based algorithms in seeking NEs. In this paper, we study the finite time convergence of decentralized softmax gradient play in a special form of game, Markov Potential Games (MPGs), which includes the identical interest game as a special case. We investigate both gradient play and natural gradient play, with and without $\log$-barrier regularization. The established convergence rates for the unregularized cases contain a trajectory dependent constant that can be \emph{arbitrarily large}, whereas the $\log$-barrier regularization overcomes this drawback, with the cost of slightly worse dependence on other factors such as the action set size. An empirical study on an identical interest matrix game confirms the theoretical findings.

Safety Guarantees for Neural Network Dynamic Systems via Stochastic Barrier Functions

Rayan Mazouz · Karan Muvvala · Akash Ratheesh Babu · Luca Laurenti · Morteza Lahijanian

Neural Networks (NNs) have been successfully employed to represent the state evolution of complex dynamical systems. Such models, referred to as NN dynamic models (NNDMs), use iterative noisy predictions of NN to estimate a distribution of system trajectories over time. Despite their accuracy, safety analysis of NNDMs is known to be a challenging problem and remains largely unexplored. To address this issue, in this paper, we introduce a method of providing safety guarantees for NNDMs. Our approach is based on stochastic barrier functions, whose relation with safety are analogous to that of Lyapunov functions with stability. We first show a method of synthesizing stochastic barrier functions for NNDMs via a convex optimization problem, which in turn provides a lower bound on the system's safety probability. A key step in our method is the employment of the recent convex approximation results for NNs to find piece-wise linear bounds, which allow the formulation of the barrier function synthesis problem as a sum-of-squares optimization program. If the obtained safety probability is above the desired threshold, the system is certified. Otherwise, we introduce a method of generating controls for the system that robustly minimize the unsafety probability in a minimally-invasive manner. We exploit the convexity property of the barrier function to formulate the optimal control synthesis problem as a linear program. Experimental results illustrate the efficacy of the method. Namely, they show that the method can scale to multi-dimensional NNDMs with multiple layers and hundreds of neurons per layer, and that the controller can significantly improve the safety probability.

A Unified Framework for Alternating Offline Model Training and Policy Learning

Shentao Yang · Shujian Zhang · Yihao Feng · Mingyuan Zhou

In offline model-based reinforcement learning (offline MBRL), we learn a dynamic model from historically collected data, and subsequently utilize the learned model and fixed datasets for policy learning, without further interacting with the environment. Offline MBRL algorithms can improve the efficiency and stability of policy learning over the model-free algorithms. However, in most of the existing offline MBRL algorithms, the learning objectives for the dynamic models and the policies are isolated from each other. Such an objective mismatch may lead to inferior performance of the learned agents. In this paper, we address this issue by developing an iterative offline MBRL framework, where we maximize a lower bound of the true expected return, by alternating between dynamic-model training and policy learning. With the proposed unified model-policy learning framework, we achieve competitive performance on a wide range of continuous-control offline reinforcement learning datasets. Source code is released at

Decentralized Local Stochastic Extra-Gradient for Variational Inequalities

Aleksandr Beznosikov · Pavel Dvurechenskii · Anastasiia Koloskova · Valentin Samokhin · Sebastian Stich · Alexander Gasnikov

We consider distributed stochastic variational inequalities (VIs) on unbounded domains with the problem data that is heterogeneous (non-IID) and distributed across many devices. We make a very general assumption on the computational network that, in particular, covers the settings of fully decentralized calculations with time-varying networks and centralized topologies commonly used in Federated Learning. Moreover, multiple local updates on the workers can be made for reducing the communication frequency between the workers.We extend the stochastic extragradient method to this very general setting and theoretically analyze its convergence rate in the strongly-monotone, monotone, and non-monotone (when a Minty solution exists) settings. The provided rates explicitly exhibit the dependence on network characteristics (e.g., mixing time), iteration counter, data heterogeneity, variance, number of devices, and other standard parameters. As a special case, our method and analysis apply to distributed stochastic saddle-point problems (SPP), e.g., to the training of Deep Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) for which decentralized training has been reported to be extremely challenging. In experiments for the decentralized training of GANs we demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed approach.

Outstanding Paper
Gradient Estimation with Discrete Stein Operators

Jiaxin Shi · Yuhao Zhou · Jessica Hwang · Michalis Titsias · Lester Mackey

Gradient estimation---approximating the gradient of an expectation with respect to the parameters of a distribution---is central to the solution of many machine learning problems. However, when the distribution is discrete, most common gradient estimators suffer from excessive variance. To improve the quality of gradient estimation, we introduce a variance reduction technique based on Stein operators for discrete distributions. We then use this technique to build flexible control variates for the REINFORCE leave-one-out estimator. Our control variates can be adapted online to minimize variance and do not require extra evaluations of the target function. In benchmark generative modeling tasks such as training binary variational autoencoders, our gradient estimator achieves substantially lower variance than state-of-the-art estimators with the same number of function evaluations.

On the SDEs and Scaling Rules for Adaptive Gradient Algorithms

Sadhika Malladi · Kaifeng Lyu · Abhishek Panigrahi · Sanjeev Arora

Approximating Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) as a Stochastic Differential Equation (SDE) has allowed researchers to enjoy the benefits of studying a continuous optimization trajectory while carefully preserving the stochasticity of SGD. Analogous study of adaptive gradient methods, such as RMSprop and Adam, has been challenging because there were no rigorously proven SDE approximations for these methods. This paper derives the SDE approximations for RMSprop and Adam, giving theoretical guarantees of their correctness as well as experimental validation of their applicability to common large-scaling vision and language settings. A key practical result is the derivation of a square root scaling rule to adjust the optimization hyperparameters of RMSprop and Adam when changing batch size, and its empirical validation in deep learning settings.

Root Cause Analysis of Failures in Microservices through Causal Discovery

Azam Ikram · Sarthak Chakraborty · Subrata Mitra · Shiv Saini · Saurabh Bagchi · Murat Kocaoglu

Most cloud applications use a large number of smaller sub-components (called microservices) that interact with each other in the form of a complex graph to provide the overall functionality to the user. While the modularity of the microservice architecture is beneficial for rapid software development, maintaining and debugging such a system quickly in cases of failure is challenging. We propose a scalable algorithm for rapidly detecting the root cause of failures in complex microservice architectures. The key ideas behind our novel hierarchical and localized learning approach are: (1) to treat the failure as an intervention on the root cause to quickly detect it, (2) only learn the portion of the causal graph related to the root cause, thus avoiding a large number of costly conditional independence tests, and (3) hierarchically explore the graph. The proposed technique is highly scalable and produces useful insights about the root cause, while the use of traditional techniques becomes infeasible due to high computation time. Our solution is application agnostic and relies only on the data collected for diagnosis. For the evaluation, we compare the proposed solution with a modified version of the PC algorithm and the state-of-the-art for root cause analysis. The results show a considerable improvement in top-$k$ recall while significantly reducing the execution time.

Low-rank Optimal Transport: Approximation, Statistics and Debiasing

Meyer Scetbon · Marco Cuturi

The matching principles behind optimal transport (OT) play an increasingly important role in machine learning, a trend which can be observed when OT is used to disambiguate datasets in applications (e.g. single-cell genomics) or used to improve more complex methods (e.g. balanced attention in transformers or self-supervised learning). To scale to more challenging problems, there is a growing consensus that OT requires solvers that can operate on millions, not thousands, of points. The low-rank optimal transport (LOT) approach advocated in \cite{scetbon2021lowrank} holds several promises in that regard, and was shown to complement more established entropic regularization approaches, being able to insert itself in more complex pipelines, such as quadratic OT. LOT restricts the search for low-cost couplings to those that have a low-nonnegative rank, yielding linear time algorithms in cases of interest. However, these promises can only be fulfilled if the LOT approach is seen as a legitimate contender to entropic regularization when compared on properties of interest, where the scorecard typically includes theoretical properties (statistical complexity and relation to other methods) or practical aspects (debiasing, hyperparameter tuning, initialization). We target each of these areas in this paper in order to cement the impact of low-rank approaches in computational OT.

Learning single-index models with shallow neural networks

Alberto Bietti · Joan Bruna · Clayton Sanford · Min Jae Song

Single-index models are a class of functions given by an unknown univariate ``link'' function applied to an unknown one-dimensional projection of the input. These models are particularly relevant in high dimension, when the data might present low-dimensional structure that learning algorithms should adapt to. While several statistical aspects of this model, such as the sample complexity of recovering the relevant (one-dimensional) subspace, are well-understood, they rely on tailored algorithms that exploit the specific structure of the target function. In this work, we introduce a natural class of shallow neural networks and study its ability to learn single-index models via gradient flow. More precisely, we consider shallow networks in which biases of the neurons are frozen at random initialization. We show that the corresponding optimization landscape is benign, which in turn leads to generalization guarantees that match the near-optimal sample complexity of dedicated semi-parametric methods.

Generalized Variational Inference in Function Spaces: Gaussian Measures meet Bayesian Deep Learning

Veit David Wild · Robert Hu · Dino Sejdinovic

We develop a framework for generalized variational inference in infinite-dimensional function spaces and use it to construct a method termed Gaussian Wasserstein inference (GWI). GWI leverages the Wasserstein distance between Gaussian measures on the Hilbert space of square-integrable functions in order to determine a variational posterior using a tractable optimization criterion. It avoids pathologies arising in standard variational function space inference. An exciting application of GWI is the ability to use deep neural networks in the variational parametrization of GWI, combining their superior predictive performance with the principled uncertainty quantification analogous to that of Gaussian processes. The proposed method obtains state-of-the-art performance on several benchmark datasets.

Efficient identification of informative features in simulation-based inference

Jonas Beck · Michael Deistler · Yves Bernaerts · Jakob H Macke · Philipp Berens

Simulation-based Bayesian inference (SBI) can be used to estimate the parameters of complex mechanistic models given observed model outputs without requiring access to explicit likelihood evaluations. A prime example for the application of SBI in neuroscience involves estimating the parameters governing the response dynamics of Hodgkin-Huxley (HH) models from electrophysiological measurements, by inferring a posterior over the parameters that is consistent with a set of observations. To this end, many SBI methods employ a set of summary statistics or scientifically interpretable features to estimate a surrogate likelihood or posterior. However, currently, there is no way to identify how much each summary statistic or feature contributes to reducing posterior uncertainty. To address this challenge, one could simply compare the posteriors with and without a given feature included in the inference process. However, for large or nested feature sets, this would necessitate repeatedly estimating the posterior, which is computationally expensive or even prohibitive. Here, we provide a more efficient approach based on the SBI method neural likelihood estimation (NLE): We show that one can marginalize the trained surrogate likelihood post-hoc before inferring the posterior to assess the contribution of a feature. We demonstrate the usefulness of our method by identifying the most important features for inferring parameters of an example HH neuron model. Beyond neuroscience, our method is generally applicable to SBI workflows that rely on data features for inference used in other scientific fields.

Exact learning dynamics of deep linear networks with prior knowledge

Lukas Braun · Clémentine Dominé · James Fitzgerald · Andrew Saxe

Learning in deep neural networks is known to depend critically on the knowledge embedded in the initial network weights. However, few theoretical results have precisely linked prior knowledge to learning dynamics. Here we derive exact solutions to the dynamics of learning with rich prior knowledge in deep linear networks by generalising Fukumizu's matrix Riccati solution \citep{fukumizu1998effect}. We obtain explicit expressions for the evolving network function, hidden representational similarity, and neural tangent kernel over training for a broad class of initialisations and tasks. The expressions reveal a class of task-independent initialisations that radically alter learning dynamics from slow non-linear dynamics to fast exponential trajectories while converging to a global optimum with identical representational similarity, dissociating learning trajectories from the structure of initial internal representations. We characterise how network weights dynamically align with task structure, rigorously justifying why previous solutions successfully described learning from small initial weights without incorporating their fine-scale structure. Finally, we discuss the implications of these findings for continual learning, reversal learning and learning of structured knowledge. Taken together, our results provide a mathematical toolkit for understanding the impact of prior knowledge on deep learning.

Adversarial training for high-stakes reliability

Daniel Ziegler · Seraphina Nix · Lawrence Chan · Tim Bauman · Peter Schmidt-Nielsen · Tao Lin · Adam Scherlis · Noa Nabeshima · Benjamin Weinstein-Raun · Daniel de Haas · Buck Shlegeris · Nate Thomas

In the future, powerful AI systems may be deployed in high-stakes settings, where a single failure could be catastrophic. One technique for improving AI safety in high-stakes settings is adversarial training, which uses an adversary to generate examples to train on in order to achieve better worst-case performance.In this work, we used a safe language generation task (``avoid injuries'') as a testbed for achieving high reliability through adversarial training. We created a series of adversarial training techniques---including a tool that assists human adversaries---to find and eliminate failures in a classifier that filters text completions suggested by a generator. In our task, we determined that we can set very conservative classifier thresholds without significantly impacting the quality of the filtered outputs. We found that adversarial training significantly increased robustness to the adversarial attacks that we trained on--- tripling the time to find adversarial examples without tools and doubling the time with our tool (from 13 to 26 minutes)---without affecting in-distribution performance. We hope to see further work in the high-stakes reliability setting, including more powerful tools for enhancing human adversaries and better ways to measure high levels of reliability, until we can confidently rule out the possibility of catastrophic deployment-time failures of powerful models.

NaturalProver: Grounded Mathematical Proof Generation with Language Models

Sean Welleck · Jiacheng Liu · Ximing Lu · Hannaneh Hajishirzi · Yejin Choi

Theorem proving in natural mathematical language – the mixture of symbolic and natural language used by humans – plays a central role in mathematical advances and education, and tests aspects of reasoning that are core to intelligence. Yet it has remained underexplored with modern generative models. We study large-scale language models on two new generation tasks: suggesting the next step in a mathematical proof, and full proof generation. We develop NaturalProver, a language model that generates proofs by conditioning on background references (e.g. theorems and definitions that are either retrieved or human-provided), and optionally enforces their presence with constrained decoding. On theorems from the NaturalProofs benchmark, NaturalProver improves the quality of next-step suggestions and generated proofs over fine-tuned GPT-3, according to human evaluations from university-level mathematics students. NaturalProver is capable of proving some theorems that require short (2-6 step) proofs, and providing next-step suggestions that are rated as correct and useful over 40% of the time, which is to our knowledge the first demonstration of these capabilities using neural language models.

Open-Ended Reinforcement Learning with Neural Reward Functions

Robert Meier · Asier Mujika

Inspired by the great success of unsupervised learning in Computer Vision and Natural Language Processing, the Reinforcement Learning community has recently started to focus more on unsupervised discovery of skills. Most current approaches, like DIAYN or DADS, optimize some form of mutual information objective. We propose a different approach that uses reward functions encoded by neural networks. These are trained iteratively to reward more complex behavior. In high-dimensional robotic environments our approach learns a wide range of interesting skills including front-flips for Half-Cheetah and one-legged running for Humanoid. It is the first skill discovery algorithm that can learn such skills without relying on any form of feature engineering. In the pixel-based Montezuma's Revenge environment our method also works with minimal changes and it learns complex skills that involve interacting with items and visiting diverse locations.

Gradient flow dynamics of shallow ReLU networks for square loss and orthogonal inputs

Etienne Boursier · Loucas PILLAUD-VIVIEN · Nicolas Flammarion

The training of neural networks by gradient descent methods is a cornerstone of the deep learning revolution. Yet, despite some recent progress, a complete theory explaining its success is still missing. This article presents, for orthogonal input vectors, a precise description of the gradient flow dynamics of training one-hidden layer ReLU neural networks for the mean squared error at small initialisation. In this setting, despite non-convexity, we show that the gradient flow converges to zero loss and characterise its implicit bias towards minimum variation norm. Furthermore, some interesting phenomena are highlighted: a quantitative description of the initial alignment phenomenon and a proof that the process follows a specific saddle to saddle dynamics.

Memory safe computations with XLA compiler

Artem Artemev · Yuze An · Tilman Roeder · Mark van der Wilk

Software packages like TensorFlow and PyTorch are designed to support linear algebra operations, and their speed and usability determine their success. However, by prioritising speed, they often neglect memory requirements. As a consequence, the implementations of memory-intensive algorithms that are convenient in terms of software design can often not be run for large problems due to memory overflows. Memory-efficient solutions require complex programming approaches with significant logic outside the computational framework. This impairs the adoption and use of such algorithms. To address this, we developed an XLA compiler extension that adjusts the computational data-flow representation of an algorithm according to a user-specified memory limit. We show that k-nearest neighbour, sparse Gaussian process regression methods and Transformers can be run on a single device at a much larger scale, where standard implementations would have failed. Our approach leads to better use of hardware resources. We believe that further focus on removing memory constraints at a compiler level will widen the range of machine learning methods that can be developed in the future.

C2FAR: Coarse-to-Fine Autoregressive Networks for Precise Probabilistic Forecasting

Shane Bergsma · Tim Zeyl · Javad Rahimipour Anaraki · Lei Guo

We present coarse-to-fine autoregressive networks (C2FAR), a method for modeling the probability distribution of univariate, numeric random variables. C2FAR generates a hierarchical, coarse-to-fine discretization of a variable autoregressively; progressively finer intervals of support are generated from a sequence of binned distributions, where each distribution is conditioned on previously-generated coarser intervals. Unlike prior (flat) binned distributions, C2FAR can represent values with exponentially higher precision, for only a linear increase in complexity. We use C2FAR for probabilistic forecasting via a recurrent neural network, thus modeling time series autoregressively in both space and time. C2FAR is the first method to simultaneously handle discrete and continuous series of arbitrary scale and distribution shape. This flexibility enables a variety of time series use cases, including anomaly detection, interpolation, and compression. C2FAR achieves improvements over the state-of-the-art on several benchmark forecasting datasets.

Continuous MDP Homomorphisms and Homomorphic Policy Gradient

Sahand Rezaei-Shoshtari · Rosie Zhao · Prakash Panangaden · David Meger · Doina Precup

Abstraction has been widely studied as a way to improve the efficiency and generalization of reinforcement learning algorithms. In this paper, we study abstraction in the continuous-control setting. We extend the definition of MDP homomorphisms to encompass continuous actions in continuous state spaces. We derive a policy gradient theorem on the abstract MDP, which allows us to leverage approximate symmetries of the environment for policy optimization. Based on this theorem, we propose an actor-critic algorithm that is able to learn the policy and the MDP homomorphism map simultaneously, using the lax bisimulation metric. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on benchmark tasks in the DeepMind Control Suite. Our method's ability to utilize MDP homomorphisms for representation learning leads to improved performance when learning from pixel observations.

Data augmentation for efficient learning from parametric experts

Alexandre Galashov · Josh Merel · Nicolas Heess

We present a simple, yet powerful data-augmentation technique to enable data-efficient learning from parametric experts for reinforcement and imitation learning. We focus on what we call the policy cloning setting, in which we use online or offline queries of an expert or expert policy to inform the behavior of a student policy. This setting arises naturally in a number of problems, for instance as variants of behavior cloning, or as a component of other algorithms such as DAGGER, policy distillation or KL-regularized RL. Our approach, augmented policy cloning (APC), uses synthetic states to induce feedback-sensitivity in a region around sampled trajectories, thus dramatically reducing the environment interactions required for successful cloning of the expert. We achieve highly data-efficient transfer of behavior from an expert to a student policy for high-degrees-of-freedom control problems. We demonstrate the benefit of our method in the context of several existing and widely used algorithms that include policy cloning as a constituent part. Moreover, we highlight the benefits of our approach in two practically relevant settings (a) expert compression, i.e. transfer to a student with fewer parameters; and (b) transfer from privileged experts, i.e. where the expert has a different observation space than the student, usually including access to privileged information.

Generating Training Data with Language Models: Towards Zero-Shot Language Understanding

Yu Meng · Jiaxin Huang · Yu Zhang · Jiawei Han

Pretrained language models (PLMs) have demonstrated remarkable performance in various natural language processing tasks: Unidirectional PLMs (e.g., GPT) are well known for their superior text generation capabilities; bidirectional PLMs (e.g., BERT) have been the prominent choice for natural language understanding (NLU) tasks. While both types of models have achieved promising few-shot learning performance, their potential for zero-shot learning has been underexplored. In this paper, we present a simple approach that uses both types of PLMs for fully zero-shot learning of NLU tasks without requiring any task-specific data: A unidirectional PLM generates class-conditioned texts guided by prompts, which are used as the training data for fine-tuning a bidirectional PLM. With quality training data selected based on the generation probability and regularization techniques (label smoothing and temporal ensembling) applied to the fine-tuning stage for better generalization and stability, our approach demonstrates strong performance across seven classification tasks of the GLUE benchmark (e.g., 72.3/73.8 on MNLI-m/mm and 92.8 on SST-2), significantly outperforming zero-shot prompting methods and achieving even comparable results to strong few-shot approaches using 32 training samples per class.

Deep Surrogate Assisted Generation of Environments

Varun Bhatt · Bryon Tjanaka · Matthew Fontaine · Stefanos Nikolaidis

Recent progress in reinforcement learning (RL) has started producing generally capable agents that can solve a distribution of complex environments. These agents are typically tested on fixed, human-authored environments. On the other hand, quality diversity (QD) optimization has been proven to be an effective component of environment generation algorithms, which can generate collections of high-quality environments that are diverse in the resulting agent behaviors. However, these algorithms require potentially expensive simulations of agents on newly generated environments. We propose Deep Surrogate Assisted Generation of Environments (DSAGE), a sample-efficient QD environment generation algorithm that maintains a deep surrogate model for predicting agent behaviors in new environments. Results in two benchmark domains show that DSAGE significantly outperforms existing QD environment generation algorithms in discovering collections of environments that elicit diverse behaviors of a state-of-the-art RL agent and a planning agent. Our source code and videos are available at

SGAM: Building a Virtual 3D World through Simultaneous Generation and Mapping

Yuan Shen · Wei-Chiu Ma · Shenlong Wang

We present simultaneous generation and mapping (SGAM), a novel 3D scene generation algorithm. Our goal is to produce a realistic, globally consistent 3D world on a large scale. Achieving this goal is challenging and goes beyond the capacities of existing 3D generation or video generation approaches, which fail to scale up to create large, globally consistent 3D scene structures. Towards tackling the challenges, we take a hybrid approach that integrates generative sensor model- ing with 3D reconstruction. Our proposed approach is an autoregressive generative framework that simultaneously generates sensor data at novel viewpoints and builds a 3D map at each timestamp. Given an arbitrary camera trajectory, our method repeatedly applies this generation-and-mapping process for thousands of steps, allowing us to create a gigantic virtual world. Our model can be trained from RGB-D sequences without having access to the complete 3D scene structure. The generated scenes are readily compatible with various interactive environments and rendering engines. Experiments on CLEVER and GoogleEarth datasets demon- strates ours can generate consistent, realistic, and geometrically-plausible scenes that compare favorably to existing view synthesis methods. Our project page is available at

Evaluating Latent Space Robustness and Uncertainty of EEG-ML Models under Realistic Distribution Shifts

Neeraj Wagh · Jionghao Wei · Samarth Rawal · Brent M Berry · Yogatheesan Varatharajah

The recent availability of large datasets in bio-medicine has inspired the development of representation learning methods for multiple healthcare applications. Despite advances in predictive performance, the clinical utility of such methods is limited when exposed to real-world data. This study develops model diagnostic measures to detect potential pitfalls before deployment without assuming access to external data. Specifically, we focus on modeling realistic data shifts in electrophysiological signals (EEGs) via data transforms and extend the conventional task-based evaluations with analyses of a) the model's latent space and b) predictive uncertainty under these transforms. We conduct experiments on multiple EEG feature encoders and two clinically relevant downstream tasks using publicly available large-scale clinical EEGs. Within this experimental setting, our results suggest that measures of latent space integrity and model uncertainty under the proposed data shifts may help anticipate performance degradation during deployment.

Predicting Cellular Responses to Novel Drug Perturbations at a Single-Cell Resolution

Leon Hetzel · Simon Boehm · Niki Kilbertus · Stephan Günnemann · mohammad lotfollahi · Fabian Theis

Single-cell transcriptomics enabled the study of cellular heterogeneity in response to perturbations at the resolution of individual cells. However, scaling high-throughput screens (HTSs) to measure cellular responses for many drugs remains a challenge due to technical limitations and, more importantly, the cost of such multiplexed experiments. Thus, transferring information from routinely performed bulk RNA HTS is required to enrich single-cell data meaningfully.We introduce chemCPA, a new encoder-decoder architecture to study the perturbational effects of unseen drugs. We combine the model with an architecture surgery for transfer learning and demonstrate how training on existing bulk RNA HTS datasets can improve generalisation performance. Better generalisation reduces the need for extensive and costly screens at single-cell resolution. We envision that our proposed method will facilitate more efficient experiment designs through its ability to generate in-silico hypotheses, ultimately accelerating drug discovery.

Fine-tuning language models to find agreement among humans with diverse preferences

Michiel Bakker · Martin Chadwick · Hannah Sheahan · Michael Tessler · Lucy Campbell-Gillingham · Jan Balaguer · Nat McAleese · Amelia Glaese · John Aslanides · Matt Botvinick · Christopher Summerfield

Recent work in large language modeling (LLMs) has used fine-tuning to align outputs with the preferences of a prototypical user. This work assumes that human preferences are static and homogeneous across individuals, so that aligning to a single "generic" user will confer more general alignment. Here, we embrace the heterogeneity of human preferences to consider a different challenge: how might a machine help people with diverse views find agreement? We fine-tune a 70 billion parameter LLM to generate statements that maximize the expected approval for a group of people with potentially diverse opinions. Human participants provide written opinions on thousands of questions touching on moral and political issues (e.g., "should we raise taxes on the rich?"), and rate the LLM's generated candidate consensus statements for agreement and quality. A reward model is then trained to predict individual preferences, enabling it to quantify and rank consensus statements in terms of their appeal to the overall group, defined according to different aggregation (social welfare) functions. The model produces consensus statements that are preferred by human users over those from prompted LLMs ($>70\%$) and significantly outperforms a tight fine-tuned baseline that lacks the final ranking step. Further, our best model's consensus statements are preferred over the best human-generated opinions ($>65\%$). We find that when we silently constructed consensus statements from only a subset of group members, those who were excluded were more likely to dissent, revealing the sensitivity of the consensus to individual contributions. These results highlight the potential to use LLMs to help groups of humans align their values with one another.

A Unified Sequence Interface for Vision Tasks

Ting Chen · Saurabh Saxena · Lala Li · Tsung-Yi Lin · David Fleet · Geoffrey Hinton

While language tasks are naturally expressed in a single, unified, modeling framework, i.e., generating sequences of tokens, this has not been the case in computer vision. As a result, there is a proliferation of distinct architectures and loss functions for different vision tasks. In this work we show that a diverse set of "core" computer vision tasks can also be unified if formulated in terms of a shared pixel-to-sequence interface. We focus on four tasks, namely, object detection, instance segmentation, keypoint detection, and image captioning, all with diverse types of outputs, e.g., bounding boxes or dense masks. Despite that, by formulating the output of each task as a sequence of discrete tokens with a unified interface, we show that one can train a neural network with a single model architecture and loss function on all these tasks, with no task-specific customization. To solve a specific task, we use a short prompt as task description, and the sequence output adapts to the prompt so it can produce task-specific output. We show that such a model can achieve competitive performance compared to well-established task-specific models.

Learning Probabilistic Models from Generator Latent Spaces with Hat EBM

Mitch Hill · Erik Nijkamp · Jonathan Mitchell · Bo Pang · Song-Chun Zhu

This work proposes a method for using any generator network as the foundation of an Energy-Based Model (EBM). Our formulation posits that observed images are the sum of unobserved latent variables passed through the generator network and a residual random variable that spans the gap between the generator output and the image manifold. One can then define an EBM that includes the generator as part of its forward pass, which we call the Hat EBM. The model can be trained without inferring the latent variables of the observed data or calculating the generator Jacobian determinant. This enables explicit probabilistic modeling of the output distribution of any type of generator network. Experiments show strong performance of the proposed method on (1) unconditional ImageNet synthesis at 128$\times$128 resolution, (2) refining the output of existing generators, and (3) learning EBMs that incorporate non-probabilistic generators. Code and pretrained models to reproduce our results are available at

Deep Generalized Schrödinger Bridge

Guan-Horng Liu · Tianrong Chen · Oswin So · Evangelos Theodorou

Mean-Field Game (MFG) serves as a crucial mathematical framework in modeling the collective behavior of individual agents interacting stochastically with a large population. In this work, we aim at solving a challenging class of MFGs in which the differentiability of these interacting preferences may not be available to the solver, and the population is urged to converge exactly to some desired distribution. These setups are, despite being well-motivated for practical purposes, complicated enough to paralyze most (deep) numerical solvers. Nevertheless, we show that Schrödinger Bridge — as an entropy-regularized optimal transport model — can be generalized to accepting mean-field structures, hence solving these MFGs. This is achieved via the application of Forward-Backward Stochastic Differential Equations theory, which, intriguingly, leads to a computational framework with a similar structure to Temporal Difference learning. As such, it opens up novel algorithmic connections to Deep Reinforcement Learning that we leverage to facilitate practical training. We show that our proposed objective function provides necessary and sufficient conditions to the mean-field problem. Our method, named Deep Generalized Schrödinger Bridge (DeepGSB), not only outperforms prior methods in solving classical population navigation MFGs, but is also capable of solving 1000-dimensional opinion depolarization, setting a new state-of-the-art numerical solver for high-dimensional MFGs. Our code will be made available at

NSNet: A General Neural Probabilistic Framework for Satisfiability Problems

Zhaoyu Li · Xujie Si

We present the Neural Satisfiability Network (NSNet), a general neural framework that models satisfiability problems as probabilistic inference and meanwhile exhibits proper explainability. Inspired by the Belief Propagation (BP), NSNet uses a novel graph neural network (GNN) to parameterize BP in the latent space, where its hidden representations maintain the same probabilistic interpretation as BP. NSNet can be flexibly configured to solve both SAT and #SAT problems by applying different learning objectives. For SAT, instead of directly predicting a satisfying assignment, NSNet performs marginal inference among all satisfying solutions, which we empirically find is more feasible for neural networks to learn. With the estimated marginals, a satisfying assignment can be efficiently generated by rounding and executing a stochastic local search. For #SAT, NSNet performs approximate model counting by learning the Bethe approximation of the partition function. Our evaluations show that NSNet achieves competitive results in terms of inference accuracy and time efficiency on multiple SAT and #SAT datasets.

Distributionally Robust Optimization with Data Geometry

Jiashuo Liu · Jiayun Wu · Bo Li · Peng Cui

Distributionally Robust Optimization (DRO) serves as a robust alternative to empirical risk minimization (ERM), which optimizes the worst-case distribution in an uncertainty set typically specified by distance metrics including $f$-divergence and the Wasserstein distance. The metrics defined in the ostensible high dimensional space lead to exceedingly large uncertainty sets, resulting in the underperformance of most existing DRO methods. It has been well documented that high dimensional data approximately resides on low dimensional manifolds. In this work, to further constrain the uncertainty set, we incorporate data geometric properties into the design of distance metrics, obtaining our novel Geometric Wasserstein DRO (GDRO). Empowered by Gradient Flow, we derive a generically applicable approximate algorithm for the optimization of GDRO, and provide the bounded error rate of the approximation as well as the convergence rate of our algorithm. We also theoretically characterize the edge cases where certain existing DRO methods are the degeneracy of GDRO. Extensive experiments justify the superiority of our GDRO to existing DRO methods in multiple settings with strong distributional shifts, and confirm that the uncertainty set of GDRO adapts to data geometry.

Quantifying Statistical Significance of Neural Network-based Image Segmentation by Selective Inference

Vo Nguyen Le Duy · Shogo Iwazaki · Ichiro Takeuchi

Although a vast body of literature relates to image segmentation methods that use deep neural networks (DNNs), less attention has been paid to assessing the statistical reliability of segmentation results. In this study, we interpret the segmentation results as hypotheses driven by DNN (called DNN-driven hypotheses) and propose a method to quantify the reliability of these hypotheses within a statistical hypothesis testing framework. To this end, we introduce a conditional selective inference (SI) framework---a new statistical inference framework for data-driven hypotheses that has recently received considerable attention---to compute exact (non-asymptotic) valid p-values for the segmentation results. To use the conditional SI framework for DNN-based segmentation, we develop a new SI algorithm based on the homotopy method, which enables us to derive the exact (non-asymptotic) sampling distribution of DNN-driven hypothesis. We conduct several experiments to demonstrate the performance of the proposed method.

On Efficient Online Imitation Learning via Classification

Yichen Li · Chicheng Zhang

Imitation learning (IL) is a general learning paradigm for sequential decision-making problems. Interactive imitation learning, where learners can interactively query for expert annotations, has been shown to achieve provably superior sample efficiency guarantees compared with its offline counterpart or reinforcement learning. In this work, we study classification-based online imitation learning (abbrev. COIL) and the fundamental feasibility to design oracle-efficient regret-minimization algorithms in this setting, with a focus on the general non-realizable case. We make the following contributions: (1) we show that in the COIL problem, any proper online learning algorithm cannot guarantee a sublinear regret in general; (2) we propose Logger, an improper online learning algorithmic framework, that reduces COIL to online linear optimization, by utilizing a new definition of mixed policy class; (3) we design two oracle-efficient algorithms within the Logger framework that enjoy different sample and interaction round complexity tradeoffs, and show their improvements over behavior cloning; (4) we show that under standard complexity-theoretic assumptions, efficient dynamic regret minimization is infeasible in the Logger framework.

Group Meritocratic Fairness in Linear Contextual Bandits

Riccardo Grazzi · Arya Akhavan · John IF Falk · Leonardo Cella · Massimiliano Pontil

We study the linear contextual bandit problem where an agent has to select one candidate from a pool and each candidate belongs to a sensitive group. In this setting, candidates' rewards may not be directly comparable between groups, for example when the agent is an employer hiring candidates from different ethnic groups and some groups have a lower reward due to discriminatory bias and/or social injustice. We propose a notion of fairness that states that the agent's policy is fair when it selects a candidate with highest relative rank, which measures how good the reward is when compared to candidates from the same group. This is a very strong notion of fairness, since the relative rank is not directly observed by the agent and depends on the underlying reward model and on the distribution of rewards. Thus we study the problem of learning a policy which approximates a fair policy under the condition that the contexts are independent between groups and the distribution of rewards of each group is absolutely continuous. In particular, we design a greedy policy which at each round constructs a ridge regression estimate from the observed context-reward pairs, and then computes an estimate of the relative rank of each candidate using the empirical cumulative distribution function. We prove that, despite its simplicity and the lack of an initial exploration phase, the greedy policy achieves, up to log factors and with high probability, a fair pseudo-regret of order $\sqrt{dT}$ after $T$ rounds, where $d$ is the dimension of the context vectors. The policy also satisfies demographic parity at each round when averaged over all possible information available before the selection. Finally, we use simulated settings and experiments on the US census data to show that our policy achieves sub-linear fair pseudo-regret also in practice.

Subspace Recovery from Heterogeneous Data with Non-isotropic Noise

John Duchi · Vitaly Feldman · Lunjia Hu · Kunal Talwar

Recovering linear subspaces from data is a fundamental and important task in statistics and machine learning. Motivated by heterogeneity in Federated Learning settings, we study a basic formulation of this problem: the principal component analysis (PCA), with a focus on dealing with irregular noise. Our data come from $n$ users with user $i$ contributing data samples from a $d$-dimensional distribution with mean $\mu_i$. Our goal is to recover the linear subspace shared by $\mu_1,\ldots,\mu_n$ using the data points from all users, where every data point from user $i$ is formed by adding an independent mean-zero noise vector to $\mu_i$. If we only have one data point from every user, subspace recovery is information-theoretically impossible when the covariance matrices of the noise vectors can be non-spherical, necessitating additional restrictive assumptions in previous work. We avoid these assumptions by leveraging at least two data points from each user, which allows us to design an efficiently-computable estimator under non-spherical and user-dependent noise. We prove an upper bound for the estimation error of our estimator in general scenarios where the number of data points and amount of noise can vary across users, and prove an information-theoretic error lower bound that not only matches the upper bound up to a constant factor, but also holds even for spherical Gaussian noise. This implies that our estimator does not introduce additional estimation error (up to a constant factor) due to irregularity in the noise. We show additional results for a linear regression problem in a similar setup.

Knowledge Distillation: Bad Models Can Be Good Role Models

Gal Kaplun · Eran Malach · Preetum Nakkiran · Shai Shalev-Shwartz

Large neural networks trained in the overparameterized regime are able to fit noise to zero train error. Recent work of Nakkiran and Bansal has empirically observed that such networks behave as “conditional samplers” from the noisy distribution. That is, they replicate the noise in the train data to unseen examples. We give a theoretical framework for studying this conditional sampling behavior in the context of learning theory. We relate the notion of such samplers to knowledge distillation, where a student network imitates the outputs of a teacher on unlabeled data. We show that samplers, while being bad classifiers, can be good teachers. Concretely, we prove that distillation from samplers is guaranteed to produce a student which approximates the Bayes optimal classifier. Finally, we show that some common learning algorithms (e.g., Nearest-Neighbours and Kernel Machines) can often generate samplers when applied in the overparameterized regime.

Active Labeling: Streaming Stochastic Gradients

Vivien Cabannes · Francis Bach · Vianney Perchet · Alessandro Rudi

The workhorse of machine learning is stochastic gradient descent.To access stochastic gradients, it is common to consider iteratively input/output pairs of a training dataset.Interestingly, it appears that one does not need full supervision to access stochastic gradients, which is the main motivation of this paper.After formalizing the "active labeling" problem, which focuses on active learning with partial supervision, we provide a streaming technique that provably minimizes the ratio of generalization error over the number of samples.We illustrate our technique in depth for robust regression.

Renyi Differential Privacy of Propose-Test-Release and Applications to Private and Robust Machine Learning

Jiachen T. Wang · Saeed Mahloujifar · Shouda Wang · Ruoxi Jia · Prateek Mittal

Propose-Test-Release (PTR) is a differential privacy framework that works with local sensitivity of functions, instead of their global sensitivity. This framework is typically used for releasing robust statistics such as median or trimmed mean in a differentially private manner. While PTR is a common framework introduced over a decade ago, using it in applications such as robust SGD where we need many adaptive robust queries is challenging. This is mainly due to the lack of \Renyi Differential Privacy (RDP) analysis, an essential ingredient underlying the moments accountant approach for differentially private deep learning. In this work, we generalize the standard PTR and derive the first RDP bound for it. We show that our RDP bound for PTR yields tighter DP guarantees than the directly analyzed $(\varepsilon, \delta)$-DP. We also derive the algorithm-specific privacy amplification bound of PTR under subsampling. We show that our bound is much tighter than the general upper bound and close to the lower bound. Our RDP bounds enable tighter privacy loss calculation for the composition of many adaptive runs of PTR. As an application of our analysis, we show that PTR and our theoretical results can be used to design differentially private variants for byzantine robust training algorithms that use robust statistics for gradients aggregation. We conduct experiments on the settings of label, feature, and gradient corruption across different datasets and architectures. We show that PTR-based private and robust training algorithm significantly improves the utility compared with the baseline.

Stability and Generalization of Kernel Clustering: from Single Kernel to Multiple Kernel

Weixuan Liang · Xinwang Liu · Yong Liu · sihang zhou · Jun-Jie Huang · Siwei Wang · Jiyuan Liu · Yi Zhang · En Zhu

Multiple kernel clustering (MKC) is an important research topic that has been widely studied for decades. However, current methods still face two problems: inefficient when handling out-of-sample data points and lack of theoretical study of the stability and generalization of clustering. In this paper, we propose a novel method that can efficiently compute the embedding of out-of-sample data with a solid generalization guarantee. Specifically, we approximate the eigen functions of the integral operator associated with the linear combination of base kernel functions to construct low-dimensional embeddings of out-of-sample points for efficient multiple kernel clustering. In addition, we, for the first time, theoretically study the stability of clustering algorithms and prove that the single-view version of the proposed method has uniform stability as $\mathcal{O}\left(Kn^{-3/2}\right)$ and establish an upper bound of excess risk as $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}\left(Kn^{-3/2}+n^{-1/2}\right)$, where $K$ is the cluster number and $n$ is the number of samples. We then extend the theoretical results to multiple kernel scenarios and find that the stability of MKC depends on kernel weights. As an example, we apply our method to a novel MKC algorithm termed SimpleMKKM and derive the upper bound of its excess clustering risk, which is tighter than the current results. Extensive experimental results validate the effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed method.

Near-Optimal No-Regret Learning Dynamics for General Convex Games

Gabriele Farina · Ioannis Anagnostides · Haipeng Luo · Chung-Wei Lee · Christian Kroer · Tuomas Sandholm

A recent line of work has established uncoupled learning dynamics such that, when employed by all players in a game, each player's regret after $T$ repetitions grows polylogarithmically in $T$, an exponential improvement over the traditional guarantees within the no-regret framework. However, so far these results have only been limited to certain classes of games with structured strategy spaces---such as normal-form and extensive-form games. The question as to whether $O(\mathrm{polylog} T)$ regret bounds can be obtained for general convex and compact strategy sets---as is the case in many fundamental models in economics and multiagent systems---while retaining efficient strategy updates is an important question. In this paper, we answer this in the positive by establishing the first uncoupled learning algorithm with $O(\log T)$ per-player regret in general convex games, that is, games with concave utility functions supported on arbitrary convex and compact strategy sets. Our learning dynamics are based on an instantiation of optimistic follow-the-regularized-leader over an appropriately lifted space using a self-concordant regularizer that is peculiarly not a barrier for the feasible region. Our learning dynamics are efficiently implementable given access to a proximal oracle for the convex strategy set, leading to $O(\log\log T)$ per-iteration complexity; we also give extensions when access to only a linear optimization oracle is assumed. Finally, we adapt our dynamics to guarantee $O(\sqrt{T})$ regret in the adversarial regime. Even in those special cases where prior results apply, our algorithm improves over the state-of-the-art regret bounds either in terms of the dependence on the number of iterations or on the dimension of the strategy sets.

Constrained Stochastic Nonconvex Optimization with State-dependent Markov Data

Abhishek Roy · Krishnakumar Balasubramanian · Saeed Ghadimi

We study stochastic optimization algorithms for constrained nonconvex stochastic optimization problems with Markovian data. In particular, we focus on the case when the transition kernel of the Markov chain is state-dependent. Such stochastic optimization problems arise in various machine learning problems including strategic classification and reinforcement learning. For this problem, we study both projection-based and projection-free algorithms. In both cases, we establish that the number of calls to the stochastic first-order oracle to obtain an appropriately defined $\epsilon$-stationary point is of the order $\mathcal{O}(1/\epsilon^{2.5})$. In the projection-free setting we additionally establish that the number of calls to the linear minimization oracle is of order $\mathcal{O}(1/\epsilon^{5.5})$. We also empirically demonstrate the performance of our algorithm on the problem of strategic classification with neural networks.

A Robust Phased Elimination Algorithm for Corruption-Tolerant Gaussian Process Bandits

Ilija Bogunovic · Zihan Li · Andreas Krause · Jonathan Scarlett

We consider the sequential optimization of an unknown, continuous, and expensive to evaluate reward function, from noisy and adversarially corrupted observed rewards. When the corruption attacks are subject to a suitable budget $C$ and the function lives in a Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space (RKHS), the problem can be posed as {\em corrupted Gaussian process (GP) bandit optimization}. We propose a novel robust elimination-type algorithm that runs in epochs, combines exploration with infrequent switching to select a small subset of actions, and plays each action for multiple time instants. Our algorithm, {\em Robust GP Phased Elimination (RGP-PE)}, successfully balances robustness to corruptions with exploration and exploitation such that its performance degrades minimally in the presence (or absence) of adversarial corruptions. When $T$ is the number of samples and $\gamma_T$ is the maximal information gain, the corruption-dependent term in our regret bound is $O(C \gamma_T^{3/2})$, which is significantly tighter than the existing $O(C \sqrt{T \gamma_T})$ for several commonly-considered kernels. We perform the first empirical study of robustness in the corrupted GP bandit setting, and show that our algorithm is robust against a variety of adversarial attacks.

Global Convergence of Federated Learning for Mixed Regression

Lili Su · Jiaming Xu · Pengkun Yang

This paper studies the problem of model training under Federated Learning when clients exhibit cluster structure. We contextualize this problem in mixed regression, where each client has limited local data generated from one of $k$ unknown regression models. We design an algorithm that achieves global convergence from any initialization, and works even when local data volume is highly unbalanced -- there could exist clients that contain $O(1)$ data points only. Our algorithm first runs moment descent on a few anchor clients (each with $\tilde{\Omega}(k)$ data points) to obtain coarse model estimates. Then each client alternately estimates its cluster labels and refines the model estimates based on FedAvg or FedProx. A key innovation in our analysis is a uniform estimate on the clustering errors, which we prove by bounding the VC dimension of general polynomial concept classes based on the theory of algebraic geometry.

Kernel similarity matching with Hebbian networks

Kyle Luther · Sebastian Seung

Recent works have derived neural networks with online correlation-based learning rules to perform \textit{kernel similarity matching}. These works applied existing linear similarity matching algorithms to nonlinear features generated with random Fourier methods. In this paper attempt to perform kernel similarity matching by directly learning the nonlinear features. Our algorithm proceeds by deriving and then minimizing an upper bound for the sum of squared errors between output and input kernel similarities. The construction of our upper bound leads to online correlation-based learning rules which can be implemented with a 1 layer recurrent neural network. In addition to generating high-dimensional linearly separable representations, we show that our upper bound naturally yields representations which are sparse and selective for specific input patterns. We compare the approximation quality of our method to neural random Fourier method and variants of the popular but non-biological ``Nystr{\"o}m'' method for approximating the kernel matrix. Our method appears to be comparable or better than randomly sampled Nystr{\"o}m methods when the outputs are relatively low dimensional (although still potentially higher dimensional than the inputs) but less faithful when the outputs are very high dimensional.

Improved techniques for deterministic l2 robustness

Sahil Singla · Soheil Feizi

Training convolutional neural networks (CNNs) with a strict 1-Lipschitz constraint under the l{2} norm is useful for adversarial robustness, interpretable gradients and stable training. 1-Lipschitz CNNs are usually designed by enforcing each layer to have an orthogonal Jacobian matrix (for all inputs) to prevent the gradients from vanishing during backpropagation. However, their performance often significantly lags behind that of heuristic methods to enforce Lipschitz constraints where the resulting CNN is not provably 1-Lipschitz. In this work, we reduce this gap by introducing (a) a procedure to certify robustness of 1-Lipschitz CNNs by replacing the last linear layer with a 1-hidden layer MLP that significantly improves their performance for both standard and provably robust accuracy, (b) a method to significantly reduce the training time per epoch for Skew Orthogonal Convolution (SOC) layers (>30\% reduction for deeper networks) and (c) a class of pooling layers using the mathematical property that the l{2} distance of an input to a manifold is 1-Lipschitz. Using these methods, we significantly advance the state-of-the-art for standard and provable robust accuracies on CIFAR-10 (gains of +1.79\% and +3.82\%) and similarly on CIFAR-100 (+3.78\% and +4.75\% across all networks.

Matryoshka Representation Learning

Aditya Kusupati · Gantavya Bhatt · Aniket Rege · Matthew Wallingford · Aditya Sinha · Vivek Ramanujan · William Howard-Snyder · Kaifeng Chen · Sham Kakade · Prateek Jain · Ali Farhadi

Learned representations are a central component in modern ML systems, serving a multitude of downstream tasks. When training such representations, it is often the case that computational and statistical constraints for each downstream task are unknown. In this context rigid, fixed capacity representations can be either over or under-accommodating to the task at hand. This leads us to ask: can we design a flexible representation that can adapt to multiple downstream tasks with varying computational resources? Our main contribution is Matryoshka Representation Learning (MRL) which encodes information at different granularities and allows a single embedding to adapt to the computational constraints of downstream tasks. MRL minimally modifies existing representation learning pipelines and imposes no additional cost during inference and deployment. MRL learns coarse-to-fine representations that are at least as accurate and rich as independently trained low-dimensional representations. The flexibility within the learned Matryoshka Representations offer: (a) up to $\mathbf{14}\times$ smaller embedding size for ImageNet-1K classification at the same level of accuracy; (b) up to $\mathbf{14}\times$ real-world speed-ups for large-scale retrieval on ImageNet-1K and 4K; and (c) up to $\mathbf{2}\%$ accuracy improvements for long-tail few-shot classification, all while being as robust as the original representations. Finally, we show that MRL extends seamlessly to web-scale datasets (ImageNet, JFT) across various modalities -- vision (ViT, ResNet), vision + language (ALIGN) and language (BERT). MRL code and pretrained models are open-sourced at

Ask4Help: Learning to Leverage an Expert for Embodied Tasks

Kunal Pratap Singh · Luca Weihs · Alvaro Herrasti · Jonghyun Choi · Aniruddha Kembhavi · Roozbeh Mottaghi

Embodied AI agents continue to become more capable every year with the advent of new models, environments, and benchmarks, but are still far away from being performant and reliable enough to be deployed in real, user-facing, applications. In this paper, we ask: can we bridge this gap by enabling agents to ask for assistance from an expert such as a human being? To this end, we propose the Ask4Help policy that augments agents with the ability to request, and then use expert assistance. Ask4Help policies can be efficiently trained without modifying the original agent's parameters and learn a desirable trade-off between task performance and the amount of requested help, thereby reducing the cost of querying the expert. We evaluate Ask4Help on two different tasks -- object goal navigation and room rearrangement and see substantial improvements in performance using minimal help. On object navigation, an agent that achieves a $52\%$ success rate is raised to $86\%$ with $13\%$ help and for rearrangement, the state-of-the-art model with a $7\%$ success rate is dramatically improved to $90.4\%$ using $39\%$ help. Human trials with Ask4Help demonstrate the efficacy of our approach in practical scenarios.

Wavelet Feature Maps Compression for Image-to-Image CNNs

Shahaf E. Finder · Yair Zohav · Maor Ashkenazi · Eran Treister

Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) are known for requiring extensive computational resources, and quantization is among the best and most common methods for compressing them. While aggressive quantization (i.e., less than 4-bits) performs well for classification, it may cause severe performance degradation in image-to-image tasks such as semantic segmentation and depth estimation. In this paper, we propose Wavelet Compressed Convolution (WCC)---a novel approach for high-resolution activation maps compression integrated with point-wise convolutions, which are the main computational cost of modern architectures. To this end, we use an efficient and hardware-friendly Haar-wavelet transform, known for its effectiveness in image compression, and define the convolution on the compressed activation map. We experiment with various tasks that benefit from high-resolution input. By combining WCC with light quantization, we achieve compression rates equivalent to 1-4bit activation quantization with relatively small and much more graceful degradation in performance. Our code is available at

Listen to Interpret: Post-hoc Interpretability for Audio Networks with NMF

Jayneel Parekh · Sanjeel Parekh · Pavlo Mozharovskyi · Florence d'Alché-Buc · Gaël Richard

This paper tackles post-hoc interpretability for audio processing networks. Our goal is to interpret decisions of a trained network in terms of high-level audio objects that are also listenable for the end-user. To this end, we propose a novel interpreter design that incorporates non-negative matrix factorization (NMF). In particular, a regularized interpreter module is trained to take hidden layer representations of the targeted network as input and produce time activations of pre-learnt NMF components as intermediate outputs. Our methodology allows us to generate intuitive audio-based interpretations that explicitly enhance parts of the input signal most relevant for a network's decision. We demonstrate our method's applicability on popular benchmarks, including a real-world multi-label classification task.

Learning Dense Object Descriptors from Multiple Views for Low-shot Category Generalization

Stefan Stojanov · Anh Thai · Zixuan Huang · James Rehg

A hallmark of the deep learning era for computer vision is the successful use of large-scale labeled datasets to train feature representations. This has been done for tasks ranging from object recognition and semantic segmentation to optical flow estimation and novel view synthesis of 3D scenes. In this work, we aim to learn dense discriminative object representations for low-shot category recognition without requiring any category labels. To this end, we propose Deep Object Patch Encodings (DOPE), which can be trained from multiple views of object instances without any category or semantic object part labels. To train DOPE, we assume access to sparse depths, foreground masks and known cameras, to obtain pixel-level correspondences between views of an object, and use this to formulate a self-supervised learning task to learn discriminative object patches. We find that DOPE can directly be used for low-shot classification of novel categories using local-part matching, and is competitive with and outperforms supervised and self-supervised learning baselines.

Semantic Diffusion Network for Semantic Segmentation

Haoru Tan · Sitong Wu · Jimin Pi

Precise and accurate predictions over boundary areas are essential for semantic segmentation. However, the commonly used convolutional operators tend to smooth and blur local detail cues, making it difficult for deep models to generate accurate boundary predictions. In this paper, we introduce an operator-level approach to enhance semantic boundary awareness, so as to improve the prediction of the deep semantic segmentation model. Specifically, we formulate the boundary feature enhancement process as an anisotropic diffusion process. We propose a novel learnable approach called semantic diffusion network (SDN) for approximating the diffusion process, which contains a parameterized semantic difference convolution operator followed by a feature fusion module and constructs a differentiable mapping from original backbone features to advanced boundary-aware features. The proposed SDN is an efficient and flexible module that can be plugged into existing encoder-decoder segmentation models. Extensive experiments show that our approach can achieve consistent improvements over several typical state-of-the-art segmentation baseline models on challenging public benchmarks.

Non-Linguistic Supervision for Contrastive Learning of Sentence Embeddings

Yiren Jian · Chongyang Gao · Soroush Vosoughi

Semantic representation learning for sentences is an important and well-studied problem in NLP. The current trend for this task involves training a Transformer-based sentence encoder through a contrastive objective with text, i.e., clustering sentences with semantically similar meanings and scattering others. In this work, we find the performance of Transformer models as sentence encoders can be improved by training with multi-modal multi-task losses, using unpaired examples from another modality (e.g., sentences and unrelated image/audio data). In particular, besides learning by the contrastive loss on text, our model clusters examples from a non-linguistic domain (e.g., visual/audio) with a similar contrastive loss at the same time. The reliance of our framework on unpaired non-linguistic data makes it language-agnostic, enabling it to be widely applicable beyond English NLP. Experiments on 7 semantic textual similarity benchmarks reveal that models trained with the additional non-linguistic (images/audio) contrastive objective lead to higher quality sentence embeddings. This indicates that Transformer models are able to generalize better by doing a similar task (i.e., clustering) with \textit{unpaired} examples from different modalities in a multi-task fashion. The code is available at

CUP: Critic-Guided Policy Reuse

Jin Zhang · Siyuan Li · Chongjie Zhang

The ability to reuse previous policies is an important aspect of human intelligence. To achieve efficient policy reuse, a Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) agent needs to decide when to reuse and which source policies to reuse. Previous methods solve this problem by introducing extra components to the underlying algorithm, such as hierarchical high-level policies over source policies, or estimations of source policies' value functions on the target task. However, training these components induces either optimization non-stationarity or heavy sampling cost, significantly impairing the effectiveness of transfer. To tackle this problem, we propose a novel policy reuse algorithm called Critic-gUided Policy reuse (CUP), which avoids training any extra components and efficiently reuses source policies. CUP utilizes the critic, a common component in actor-critic methods, to evaluate and choose source policies. At each state, CUP chooses the source policy that has the largest one-step improvement over the current target policy, and forms a guidance policy. The guidance policy is theoretically guaranteed to be a monotonic improvement over the current target policy. Then the target policy is regularized to imitate the guidance policy to perform efficient policy search. Empirical results demonstrate that CUP achieves efficient transfer and significantly outperforms baseline algorithms.

XTC: Extreme Compression for Pre-trained Transformers Made Simple and Efficient

Xiaoxia Wu · Zhewei Yao · Minjia Zhang · Conglong Li · Yuxiong He

Extreme compression, particularly ultra-low bit precision (binary/ternary) quantization, has been proposed to fit large NLP models on resource-constraint devices. However, to preserve the accuracy for such aggressive compression schemes, cutting-edge methods usually introduce complicated compression pipelines, e.g., multi-stage expensive knowledge distillation with extensive hyperparameter tuning. Also, they oftentimes focus less on smaller transformer models that have already been heavily compressed via knowledge distillation and lack a systematic study to show the effectiveness of their methods.In this paper, we perform a very comprehensive systematic study to measure the impact of many key hyperparameters and training strategies from previous. As a result, we find out that previous baselines for ultra-low bit precision quantization are significantly under-trained. Based on our study, we propose a simple yet effective compression pipeline for extreme compression. Our simplified pipeline demonstrates that(1) we can skip the pre-training knowledge distillation to obtain a 5-layer \bert while achieving better performance than previous state-of-the-art methods, like TinyBERT; (2) extreme quantization plus layer reduction is able to reduce the model size by 50x, resulting in new state-of-the-art results on GLUE tasks.

ST-Adapter: Parameter-Efficient Image-to-Video Transfer Learning

Junting Pan · Ziyi Lin · Xiatian Zhu · Jing Shao · Hongsheng Li

Capitalizing on large pre-trained models for various downstream tasks of interest have recently emerged with promising performance. Due to the ever-growing model size, the standard full fine-tuning based task adaptation strategy becomes prohibitively costly in terms of model training and storage. This has led to a new research direction in parameter-efficient transfer learning. However, existing attempts typically focus on downstream tasks from the same modality (e.g., image understanding) of the pre-trained model. This creates a limit because in some specific modalities, (e.g., video understanding) such a strong pre-trained model with sufficient knowledge is less or not available. In this work, we investigate such a novel cross-modality transfer learning setting, namely parameter-efficient image-to-video transfer learning. To solve this problem, we propose a new Spatio-Temporal Adapter (ST-Adapter) for parameter-efficient fine-tuning per video task. With a built-in spatio-temporal reasoning capability in a compact design, ST-Adapter enables a pre-trained image model without temporal knowledge to reason about dynamic video content at a small ~8% per-task parameter cost, requiring approximately 20 times fewer updated parameters compared to previous work. Extensive experiments on video action recognition tasks show that our ST-Adapter can match or even outperform the strong full fine-tuning strategy and state-of-the-art video models, whilst enjoying the advantage of parameter efficiency.

Distilling Representations from GAN Generator via Squeeze and Span

Yu Yang · Xiaotian Cheng · Chang Liu · Hakan Bilen · Xiangyang Ji

In recent years, generative adversarial networks (GANs) have been an actively studied topic and shown to successfully produce high-quality realistic images in various domains. The controllable synthesis ability of GAN generators suggests that they maintain informative, disentangled, and explainable image representations, but leveraging and transferring their representations to downstream tasks is largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose to distill knowledge from GAN generators by squeezing and spanning their representations. We \emph{squeeze} the generator features into representations that are invariant to semantic-preserving transformations through a network before they are distilled into the student network. We \emph{span} the distilled representation of the synthetic domain to the real domain by also using real training data to remedy the mode collapse of GANs and boost the student network performance in a real domain. Experiments justify the efficacy of our method and reveal its great significance in self-supervised representation learning. Code is available at

SHINE: SubHypergraph Inductive Neural nEtwork

Yuan Luo

Hypergraph neural networks can model multi-way connections among nodes of the graphs, which are common in real-world applications such as genetic medicine. In particular, genetic pathways or gene sets encode molecular functions driven by multiple genes, naturally represented as hyperedges. Thus, hypergraph-guided embedding can capture functional relations in learned representations. Existing hypergraph neural network models often focus on node-level or graph-level inference. There is an unmet need in learning powerful representations of subgraphs of hypergraphs in real-world applications. For example, a cancer patient can be viewed as a subgraph of genes harboring mutations in the patient, while all the genes are connected by hyperedges that correspond to pathways representing specific molecular functions. For accurate inductive subgraph prediction, we propose SubHypergraph Inductive Neural nEtwork (SHINE). SHINE uses informative genetic pathways that encode molecular functions as hyperedges to connect genes as nodes. SHINE jointly optimizes the objectives of end-to-end subgraph classification and hypergraph nodes' similarity regularization. SHINE simultaneously learns representations for both genes and pathways using strongly dual attention message passing. The learned representations are aggregated via a subgraph attention layer and used to train a multilayer perceptron for subgraph inferencing. We evaluated SHINE against a wide array of state-of-the-art (hyper)graph neural networks, XGBoost, NMF and polygenic risk score models, using large scale NGS and curated datasets. SHINE outperformed all comparison models significantly, and yielded interpretable disease models with functional insights.

Q-ViT: Accurate and Fully Quantized Low-bit Vision Transformer

Yanjing Li · Sheng Xu · Baochang Zhang · Xianbin Cao · Peng Gao · Guodong Guo

The large pre-trained vision transformers (ViTs) have demonstrated remarkable performance on various visual tasks, but suffer from expensive computational and memory cost problems when deployed on resource-constrained devices. Among the powerful compression approaches, quantization extremely reduces the computation and memory consumption by low-bit parameters and bit-wise operations. However, low-bit ViTs remain largely unexplored and usually suffer from a significant performance drop compared with the real-valued counterparts. In this work, through extensive empirical analysis, we first identify the bottleneck for severe performance drop comes from the information distortion of the low-bit quantized self-attention map. We then develop an information rectification module (IRM) and a distribution guided distillation (DGD) scheme for fully quantized vision transformers (Q-ViT) to effectively eliminate such distortion, leading to a fully quantized ViTs. We evaluate our methods on popular DeiT and Swin backbones. Extensive experimental results show that our method achieves a much better performance than the prior arts. For example, our Q-ViT can theoretically accelerates the ViT-S by 6.14x and achieves about 80.9% Top-1 accuracy, even surpassing the full-precision counterpart by 1.0% on ImageNet dataset. Our codes and models are attached on

Museformer: Transformer with Fine- and Coarse-Grained Attention for Music Generation

Botao Yu · Peiling Lu · Rui Wang · Wei Hu · Xu Tan · Wei Ye · Shikun Zhang · Tao Qin · Tie-Yan Liu

Symbolic music generation aims to generate music scores automatically. A recent trend is to use Transformer or its variants in music generation, which is, however, suboptimal, because the full attention cannot efficiently model the typically long music sequences (e.g., over 10,000 tokens), and the existing models have shortcomings in generating musical repetition structures. In this paper, we propose Museformer, a Transformer with a novel fine- and coarse-grained attention for music generation. Specifically, with the fine-grained attention, a token of a specific bar directly attends to all the tokens of the bars that are most relevant to music structures (e.g., the previous 1st, 2nd, 4th and 8th bars, selected via similarity statistics); with the coarse-grained attention, a token only attends to the summarization of the other bars rather than each token of them so as to reduce the computational cost. The advantages are two-fold. First, it can capture both music structure-related correlations via the fine-grained attention, and other contextual information via the coarse-grained attention. Second, it is efficient and can model over 3X longer music sequences compared to its full-attention counterpart. Both objective and subjective experimental results demonstrate its ability to generate long music sequences with high quality and better structures.

LasUIE: Unifying Information Extraction with Latent Adaptive Structure-aware Generative Language Model

Hao Fei · Shengqiong Wu · Jingye Li · Bobo Li · Fei Li · Libo Qin · Meishan Zhang · Min Zhang · Tat-Seng Chua

Universally modeling all typical information extraction tasks (UIE) with one generative language model (GLM) has revealed great potential by the latest study, where various IE predictions are unified into a linearized hierarchical expression under a GLM. Syntactic structure information, a type of effective feature which has been extensively utilized in IE community, should also be beneficial to UIE. In this work, we propose a novel structure-aware GLM, fully unleashing the power of syntactic knowledge for UIE. A heterogeneous structure inductor is explored to unsupervisedly induce rich heterogeneous structural representations by post-training an existing GLM. In particular, a structural broadcaster is devised to compact various latent trees into explicit high-order forests, helping to guide a better generation during decoding. We finally introduce a task-oriented structure fine-tuning mechanism, further adjusting the learned structures to most coincide with the end-task's need. Over 12 IE benchmarks across 7 tasks our system shows significant improvements over the baseline UIE system. Further in-depth analyses show that our GLM learns rich task-adaptive structural bias that greatly resolves the UIE crux, the long-range dependence issue and boundary identifying.

LION: Latent Point Diffusion Models for 3D Shape Generation

xiaohui zeng · Arash Vahdat · Francis Williams · Zan Gojcic · Or Litany · Sanja Fidler · Karsten Kreis

Denoising diffusion models (DDMs) have shown promising results in 3D point cloud synthesis. To advance 3D DDMs and make them useful for digital artists, we require (i) high generation quality, (ii) flexibility for manipulation and applications such as conditional synthesis and shape interpolation, and (iii) the ability to output smooth surfaces or meshes. To this end, we introduce the hierarchical Latent Point Diffusion Model (LION) for 3D shape generation. LION is set up as a variational autoencoder (VAE) with a hierarchical latent space that combines a global shape latent representation with a point-structured latent space. For generation, we train two hierarchical DDMs in these latent spaces. The hierarchical VAE approach boosts performance compared to DDMs that operate on point clouds directly, while the point-structured latents are still ideally suited for DDM-based modeling. Experimentally, LION achieves state-of-the-art generation performance on multiple ShapeNet benchmarks. Furthermore, our VAE framework allows us to easily use LION for different relevant tasks: LION excels at multimodal shape denoising and voxel-conditioned synthesis, and it can be adapted for text- and image-driven 3D generation. We also demonstrate shape autoencoding and latent shape interpolation, and we augment LION with modern surface reconstruction techniques to generate smooth 3D meshes. We hope that LION provides a powerful tool for artists working with 3D shapes due to its high-quality generation, flexibility, and surface reconstruction. Project page and code:

Learning low-dimensional generalizable natural features from retina using a U-net

Siwei Wang · Benjamin Hoshal · Elizabeth de Laittre · Olivier Marre · Michael Berry · Stephanie Palmer

Much of sensory neuroscience focuses on sensory features that are chosen by the experimenter because they are thought to be behaviorally relevant to the organism. However, it is not generally known what these features are in complex, natural scenes. This work focuses on using the retinal encoding of natural movies to determine the presumably behaviorally-relevant features that the brain represents. It is prohibitive to parameterize a natural movie and its respective retinal encoding fully. We use time within a natural movie as a proxy for the whole suite of features evolving across the scene. We then use a task-agnostic deep architecture, an encoder-decoder, to model the retinal encoding process and characterize its representation of ``time in the natural scene'' in a compressed latent space. In our end-to-end training, an encoder learns a compressed latent representation from a large population of salamander retinal ganglion cells responding to natural movies, while a decoder samples from this compressed latent space to generate the appropriate movie frame. By comparing latent representations of retinal activity from three movies, we find that the retina performs transfer learning to encode time: the precise, low-dimensional representation of time learned from one movie can be used to represent time in a different movie, with up to 17ms resolution. We then show that static textures and velocity features of a natural movie are synergistic. The retina simultaneously encodes both to establishes a generalizable, low-dimensional representation of time in the natural scene.

Indicators of Attack Failure: Debugging and Improving Optimization of Adversarial Examples

Maura Pintor · Luca Demetrio · Angelo Sotgiu · Ambra Demontis · Nicholas Carlini · Battista Biggio · Fabio Roli

Evaluating robustness of machine-learning models to adversarial examples is a challenging problem. Many defenses have been shown to provide a false sense of robustness by causing gradient-based attacks to fail, and they have been broken under more rigorous evaluations.Although guidelines and best practices have been suggested to improve current adversarial robustness evaluations, the lack of automatic testing and debugging tools makes it difficult to apply these recommendations in a systematic manner.In this work, we overcome these limitations by: (i) categorizing attack failures based on how they affect the optimization of gradient-based attacks, while also unveiling two novel failures affecting many popular attack implementations and past evaluations; (ii) proposing six novel \emph{indicators of failure}, to automatically detect the presence of such failures in the attack optimization process; and (iii) suggesting a systematic protocol to apply the corresponding fixes. Our extensive experimental analysis, involving more than 15 models in 3 distinct application domains, shows that our indicators of failure can be used to debug and improve current adversarial robustness evaluations, thereby providing a first concrete step towards automatizing and systematizing them. Our open-source code is available at:

The Pitfalls of Regularization in Off-Policy TD Learning

Gaurav Manek · J. Zico Kolter

Temporal Difference (TD) learning is ubiquitous in reinforcement learning, where it is often combined with off-policy sampling and function approximation. Unfortunately learning with this combination (known as the deadly triad), exhibits instability and unbounded error. To account for this, modern Reinforcement Learning methods often implicitly (or sometimes explicitly) assume that regularization is sufficient to mitigate the problem in practice; indeed, the standard deadly triad examples from the literature can be ``fixed'' via proper regularization. In this paper, we introduce a series of new counterexamples to show that the instability and unbounded error of TD methods is not solved by regularization. We demonstrate that, in the off-policy setting with linear function approximation, TD methods can fail to learn a non-trivial value function under any amount of regularization; we further show that regularization can induce divergence under common conditions; and we show that one of the most promising methods to mitigate this divergence (Emphatic TD algorithms) may also diverge under regularization. We further demonstrate such divergence when using neural networks as function approximators. Thus, we argue that the role of regularization in TD methods needs to be reconsidered, given that it is insufficient to prevent divergence and may itself introduce instability. There needs to be much more care in the practical and theoretical application of regularization to Reinforcement Learning methods.

Fine-tuning Language Models over Slow Networks using Activation Quantization with Guarantees

Jue WANG · Binhang Yuan · Luka Rimanic · Yongjun He · Tri Dao · Beidi Chen · Christopher Ré · Ce Zhang

Communication compression is a crucial technique for modern distributed learning systems to alleviate their communication bottlenecks over slower networks. Despite recent intensive studies of gradient compression for data parallel-style training, compressing the activations for models trained with pipeline parallelism is still an open problem. In this paper, we propose AQ-SGD, a novel activation compression algorithm for communication-efficient pipeline parallelism training over slow networks. Different from previous efforts in activation compression, instead of compressing activation values directly, AQ-SGD compresses the changes of the activations. This allows us to show, to the best of our knowledge for the first time, that one can still achieve $O(1/\sqrt{T})$ convergence rate for non-convex objectives under activation compression, without making assumptions on gradient unbiasedness that do not hold for deep learning models with non-linear activation functions. We then show that AQ-SGD can be optimized and implemented efficiently, without additional end-to-end runtime overhead. We evaluated AQ-SGD to fine-tune language models with up to 1.5 billion parameters, compressing activation to 2-4 bits. AQ-SGD provides up to $4.3\times$ end-to-end speed-up in slower networks, without sacrificing model quality. Moreover, we also show that AQ-SGD can be combined with state-of-the-art gradient compression algorithms to enable end-to-end communication compression: All communications between machines, including model gradients, forward activations, and backward gradients are compressed into lower precision. This provides up to $4.9\times$ end-to-end speed-up, without sacrificing model quality.

Online Training Through Time for Spiking Neural Networks

Mingqing Xiao · Qingyan Meng · Zongpeng Zhang · Di He · Zhouchen Lin

Spiking neural networks (SNNs) are promising brain-inspired energy-efficient models. Recent progress in training methods has enabled successful deep SNNs on large-scale tasks with low latency. Particularly, backpropagation through time (BPTT) with surrogate gradients (SG) is popularly used to enable models to achieve high performance in a very small number of time steps. However, it is at the cost of large memory consumption for training, lack of theoretical clarity for optimization, and inconsistency with the online property of biological learning rules and rules on neuromorphic hardware. Other works connect the spike representations of SNNs with equivalent artificial neural network formulation and train SNNs by gradients from equivalent mappings to ensure descent directions. But they fail to achieve low latency and are also not online. In this work, we propose online training through time (OTTT) for SNNs, which is derived from BPTT to enable forward-in-time learning by tracking presynaptic activities and leveraging instantaneous loss and gradients. Meanwhile, we theoretically analyze and prove that the gradients of OTTT can provide a similar descent direction for optimization as gradients from equivalent mapping between spike representations under both feedforward and recurrent conditions. OTTT only requires constant training memory costs agnostic to time steps, avoiding the significant memory costs of BPTT for GPU training. Furthermore, the update rule of OTTT is in the form of three-factor Hebbian learning, which could pave a path for online on-chip learning. With OTTT, it is the first time that the two mainstream supervised SNN training methods, BPTT with SG and spike representation-based training, are connected, and meanwhile it is in a biologically plausible form. Experiments on CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, ImageNet, and CIFAR10-DVS demonstrate the superior performance of our method on large-scale static and neuromorphic datasets in a small number of time steps. Our code is available at

General Cutting Planes for Bound-Propagation-Based Neural Network Verification

Huan Zhang · Shiqi Wang · Kaidi Xu · Linyi Li · Bo Li · Suman Jana · Cho-Jui Hsieh · J. Zico Kolter

Bound propagation methods, when combined with branch and bound, are among the most effective methods to formally verify properties of deep neural networks such as correctness, robustness, and safety. However, existing works cannot handle the general form of cutting plane constraints widely accepted in traditional solvers, which are crucial for strengthening verifiers with tightened convex relaxations. In this paper, we generalize the bound propagation procedure to allow the addition of arbitrary cutting plane constraints, including those involving relaxed integer variables that do not appear in existing bound propagation formulations. Our generalized bound propagation method, GCP-CROWN, opens up the opportunity to apply general cutting plane methods for neural network verification while benefiting from the efficiency and GPU acceleration of bound propagation methods. As a case study, we investigate the use of cutting planes generated by off-the-shelf mixed integer programming (MIP) solver. We find that MIP solvers can generate high-quality cutting planes for strengthening bound-propagation-based verifiers using our new formulation. Since the branching-focused bound propagation procedure and the cutting-plane-focused MIP solver can run in parallel utilizing different types of hardware (GPUs and CPUs), their combination can quickly explore a large number of branches with strong cutting planes, leading to strong verification performance. Experiments demonstrate that our method is the first verifier that can completely solve the oval20 benchmark and verify twice as many instances on the oval21 benchmark compared to the best tool in VNN-COMP 2021, and also noticeably outperforms state-of-the-art verifiers on a wide range of benchmarks. GCP-CROWN is part of the $\alpha,\beta$-CROWN verifier, the VNN-COMP 2022 winner. Code is available at

Universality of Group Convolutional Neural Networks Based on Ridgelet Analysis on Groups

Sho Sonoda · Isao Ishikawa · Masahiro Ikeda

We show the universality of depth-2 group convolutional neural networks (GCNNs) in a unified and constructive manner based on the ridgelet theory. Despite widespread use in applications, the approximation property of (G)CNNs has not been well investigated. The universality of (G)CNNs has been shown since the late 2010s. Yet, our understanding on how (G)CNNs represent functions is incomplete because the past universality theorems have been shown in a case-by-case manner by manually/carefully assigning the network parameters depending on the variety of convolution layers, and in an indirect manner by converting/modifying the (G)CNNs into other universal approximators such as invariant polynomials and fully-connected networks. In this study, we formulate a versatile depth-2 continuous GCNN $S[\gamma]$ as a nonlinear mapping between group representations, and directly obtain an analysis operator, called the ridgelet trasform, that maps a given function $f$ to the network parameter $\gamma$ so that $S[\gamma]=f$. The proposed GCNN covers typical GCNNs such as the cyclic convolution on multi-channel images, networks on permutation-invariant inputs (Deep Sets), and $\mathrm{E}(n)$-equivariant networks. The closed-form expression of the ridgelet transform can describe how the network parameters are organized to represent a function. While it has been known only for fully-connected networks, this study is the first to obtain the ridgelet transform for GCNNs. By discretizing the closed-form expression, we can systematically generate a constructive proof of the $cc$-universality of finite GCNNs. In other words, our universality proofs are more unified and constructive than previous proofs.

Single Loop Gaussian Homotopy Method for Non-convex Optimization

Hidenori Iwakiri · Yuhang Wang · Shinji Ito · Akiko Takeda

The Gaussian homotopy (GH) method is a popular approach to finding better stationary points for non-convex optimization problems by gradually reducing a parameter value $t$, which changes the problem to be solved from an almost convex one to the original target one. Existing GH-based methods repeatedly call an iterative optimization solver to find a stationary point every time $t$ is updated, which incurs high computational costs. We propose a novel single loop framework for GH methods (SLGH) that updates the parameter $t$ and the optimization decision variables at the same. Computational complexity analysis is performed on the SLGH algorithm under various situations: either a gradient or gradient-free oracle of a GH function can be obtained for both deterministic and stochastic settings. The convergence rate of SLGH with a tuned hyperparameter becomes consistent with the convergence rate of gradient descent, even though the problem to be solved is gradually changed due to $t$. In numerical experiments, our SLGH algorithms show faster convergence than an existing double loop GH method while outperforming gradient descent-based methods in terms of finding a better solution.

Bring Your Own Algorithm for Optimal Differentially Private Stochastic Minimax Optimization

Liang Zhang · Kiran Thekumparampil · Sewoong Oh · Niao He

We study differentially private (DP) algorithms for smooth stochastic minimax optimization, with stochastic minimization as a byproduct. The holy grail of these settings is to guarantee the optimal trade-off between the privacy and the excess population loss, using an algorithm with a linear time-complexity in the number of training samples. We provide a general framework for solving differentially private stochastic minimax optimization (DP-SMO) problems, which enables the practitioners to bring their own base optimization algorithm and use it as a black-box to obtain the near-optimal privacy-loss trade-off. Our framework is inspired from the recently proposed Phased-ERM method [22] for nonsmooth differentially private stochastic convex optimization (DP-SCO), which exploits the stability of the empirical risk minimization (ERM) for the privacy guarantee. The flexibility of our approach enables us to sidestep the requirement that the base algorithm needs to have bounded sensitivity, and allows the use of sophisticated variance-reduced accelerated methods to achieve near-linear time-complexity. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first near-linear time algorithms with near-optimal guarantees on the population duality gap for smooth DP-SMO, when the objective is (strongly-)convex--(strongly-)concave. Additionally, based on our flexible framework, we enrich the family of near-linear time algorithms for smooth DP-SCO with the near-optimal privacy-loss trade-off.

Multi-agent Performative Prediction with Greedy Deployment and Consensus Seeking Agents

Qiang LI · Chung-Yiu Yau · Hoi-To Wai

We consider a scenario where multiple agents are learning a common decision vector from data which can be influenced by the agents’ decisions. This leads to the problem of multi-agent performative prediction (Multi-PfD). In this paper, we formulate Multi-PfD as a decentralized optimization problem that minimizes a sum of loss functions, where each loss function is based on a distribution influenced by the local decision vector. We first prove the necessary and sufficient condition for the Multi-PfD problem to admit a unique multi-agent performative stable (Multi-PS) solution. We show that enforcing consensus leads to a laxer condition for existence of Multi-PS solution with respect to the distributions’ sensitivities, compared to the single agent case. Then, we study a decentralized extension to  the greedy deployment scheme [Mendler-Dünner et al., 2020], called the DSGD-GD  scheme. We show that DSGD-GD converges to the Multi-PS solution and analyze its non asymptotic convergence rate. Numerical results validate our analysis.

A Multilabel Classification Framework for Approximate Nearest Neighbor Search

Ville Hyvönen · Elias Jääsaari · Teemu Roos

Both supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms have been used to learn partition-based index structures for approximate nearest neighbor (ANN) search. Existing supervised algorithms formulate the learning task as finding a partition in which the nearest neighbors of a training set point belong to the same partition element as the point itself, so that the nearest neighbor candidates can be retrieved by naive lookup or backtracking search. We formulate candidate set selection in ANN search directly as a multilabel classification problem where the labels correspond to the nearest neighbors of the query point, and interpret the partitions as partitioning classifiers for solving this task. Empirical results suggest that the natural classifier based on this interpretation leads to strictly improved performance when combined with any unsupervised or supervised partitioning strategy. We also prove a sufficient condition for consistency of a partitioning classifier for ANN search, and illustrate the result by verifying this condition for chronological $k$-d trees.

Spectral Bias in Practice: The Role of Function Frequency in Generalization

Sara Fridovich-Keil · Raphael Gontijo Lopes · Rebecca Roelofs

Despite their ability to represent highly expressive functions, deep learning models seem to find simple solutions that generalize surprisingly well. Spectral bias -- the tendency of neural networks to prioritize learning low frequency functions -- is one possible explanation for this phenomenon, but so far spectral bias has primarily been observed in theoretical models and simplified experiments. In this work, we propose methodologies for measuring spectral bias in modern image classification networks on CIFAR-10 and ImageNet. We find that these networks indeed exhibit spectral bias, and that interventions that improve test accuracy on CIFAR-10 tend to produce learned functions that have higher frequencies overall but lower frequencies in the vicinity of examples from each class. This trend holds across variation in training time, model architecture, number of training examples, data augmentation, and self-distillation. We also explore the connections between function frequency and image frequency and find that spectral bias is sensitive to the low frequencies prevalent in natural images. On ImageNet, we find that learned function frequency also varies with internal class diversity, with higher frequencies on more diverse classes. Our work enables measuring and ultimately influencing the spectral behavior of neural networks used for image classification, and is a step towards understanding why deep models generalize well.

Influencing Long-Term Behavior in Multiagent Reinforcement Learning

Dong-Ki Kim · Matthew Riemer · Miao Liu · Jakob Foerster · Michael Everett · Chuangchuang Sun · Gerald Tesauro · Jonathan How

The main challenge of multiagent reinforcement learning is the difficulty of learning useful policies in the presence of other simultaneously learning agents whose changing behaviors jointly affect the environment's transition and reward dynamics. An effective approach that has recently emerged for addressing this non-stationarity is for each agent to anticipate the learning of other agents and influence the evolution of future policies towards desirable behavior for its own benefit. Unfortunately, previous approaches for achieving this suffer from myopic evaluation, considering only a finite number of policy updates. As such, these methods can only influence transient future policies rather than achieving the promise of scalable equilibrium selection approaches that influence the behavior at convergence. In this paper, we propose a principled framework for considering the limiting policies of other agents as time approaches infinity. Specifically, we develop a new optimization objective that maximizes each agent's average reward by directly accounting for the impact of its behavior on the limiting set of policies that other agents will converge to. Our paper characterizes desirable solution concepts within this problem setting and provides practical approaches for optimizing over possible outcomes. As a result of our farsighted objective, we demonstrate better long-term performance than state-of-the-art baselines across a suite of diverse multiagent benchmark domains.

Quality Not Quantity: On the Interaction between Dataset Design and Robustness of CLIP

Thao Nguyen · Gabriel Ilharco · Mitchell Wortsman · Sewoong Oh · Ludwig Schmidt

Web-crawled datasets have enabled remarkable generalization capabilities in recent image-text models such as CLIP (Contrastive Language-Image pre-training) or Flamingo, but little is known about the dataset creation processes. In this work, we introduce a testbed of six publicly available data sources---YFCC, LAION, Conceptual Captions, WIT, RedCaps, Shutterstock---to investigate how pre-training distributions induce robustness in CLIP. We find that the performance of the pre-training data varies substantially across distribution shifts, with no single data source dominating. Moreover, we systematically study the interactions between these data sources and find that mixing multiple sources does not necessarily yield better models, but rather dilutes the robustness of the best individual data source. We complement our empirical findings with theoretical insights from a simple setting, where combining the training data also results in diluted robustness. In addition, our theoretical model provides a candidate explanation for the success of the CLIP-based data filtering technique recently employed in the LAION dataset. Overall our results demonstrate that simply gathering a large amount of data from the web is not the most effective way to build a pre-training dataset for robust generalization, necessitating further study into dataset design. Code is available at

Giving Feedback on Interactive Student Programs with Meta-Exploration

Evan Liu · Moritz Stephan · Allen Nie · Chris Piech · Emma Brunskill · Chelsea Finn

Developing interactive software, such as websites or games, is a particularly engaging way to learn computer science. However, teaching and giving feedback on such software is time-consuming — standard approaches require instructors to manually grade student-implemented interactive programs. As a result, online platforms that serve millions, like, are unable to provide any feedback on assignments for implementing interactive programs, which critically hinders students’ ability to learn. One approach toward automatic grading is to learn an agent that interacts with a student’s program and explores states indicative of errors via reinforcement learning. However, existing work on this approach only provides binary feedback of whether a program is correct or not, while students require finer-grained feedback on the specific errors in their programs to understand their mistakes. In this work, we show that exploring to discover errors can be cast as a meta-exploration problem. This enables us to construct a principled objective for discovering errors and an algorithm for optimizing this objective, which provides fine-grained feedback. We evaluate our approach on a set of over 700K real anonymized student programs from a interactive assignment. Our approach provides feedback with 94.3% accuracy, improving over existing approaches by 17.7% and coming within 1.5% of human-level accuracy. Project web page:

Unsupervised Object Representation Learning using Translation and Rotation Group Equivariant VAE

Alireza Nasiri · Tristan Bepler

In many imaging modalities, objects of interest can occur in a variety of locations and poses (i.e. are subject to translations and rotations in 2d or 3d), but the location and pose of an object does not change its semantics (i.e. the object's essence). That is, the specific location and rotation of an airplane in satellite imagery, or the 3d rotation of a chair in a natural image, or the rotation of a particle in a cryo-electron micrograph, do not change the intrinsic nature of those objects. Here, we consider the problem of learning semantic representations of objects that are invariant to pose and location in a fully unsupervised manner. We address shortcomings in previous approaches to this problem by introducing TARGET-VAE, a translation and rotation group-equivariant variational autoencoder framework. TARGET-VAE combines three core innovations: 1) a rotation and translation group-equivariant encoder architecture, 2) a structurally disentangled distribution over latent rotation, translation, and a rotation-translation-invariant semantic object representation, which are jointly inferred by the approximate inference network, and 3) a spatially equivariant generator network. In comprehensive experiments, we show that TARGET-VAE learns disentangled representations without supervision that significantly improve upon, and avoid the pathologies of, previous methods. When trained on images highly corrupted by rotation and translation, the semantic representations learned by TARGET-VAE are similar to those learned on consistently posed objects, dramatically improving clustering in the semantic latent space. Furthermore, TARGET-VAE is able to perform remarkably accurate unsupervised pose and location inference. We expect methods like TARGET-VAE will underpin future approaches for unsupervised object generation, pose prediction, and object detection. Our code is available at

Few-Shot Continual Active Learning by a Robot

Ali Ayub · Carter Fendley

In this paper, we consider a challenging but realistic continual learning problem, Few-Shot Continual Active Learning (FoCAL), where a CL agent is provided with unlabeled data for a new or a previously learned task in each increment and the agent only has limited labeling budget available. Towards this, we build on the continual learning and active learning literature and develop a framework that can allow a CL agent to continually learn new object classes from a few labeled training examples. Our framework represents each object class using a uniform Gaussian mixture model (GMM) and uses pseudo-rehearsal to mitigate catastrophic forgetting. The framework also uses uncertainty measures on the Gaussian representations of the previously learned classes to find the most informative samples to be labeled in an increment. We evaluate our approach on the CORe-50 dataset and on a real humanoid robot for the object classification task. The results show that our approach not only produces state-of-the-art results on the dataset but also allows a real robot to continually learn unseen objects in a real environment with limited labeling supervision provided by its user.

Data-Efficient Pipeline for Offline Reinforcement Learning with Limited Data

Allen Nie · Yannis Flet-Berliac · Deon Jordan · William Steenbergen · Emma Brunskill

Offline reinforcement learning (RL) can be used to improve future performance by leveraging historical data. There exist many different algorithms for offline RL, and it is well recognized that these algorithms, and their hyperparameter settings, can lead to decision policies with substantially differing performance. This prompts the need for pipelines that allow practitioners to systematically perform algorithm-hyperparameter selection for their setting. Critically, in most real-world settings, this pipeline must only involve the use of historical data. Inspired by statistical model selection methods for supervised learning, we introduce a task- and method-agnostic pipeline for automatically training, comparing, selecting, and deploying the best policy when the provided dataset is limited in size. In particular, our work highlights the importance of performing multiple data splits to produce more reliable algorithm-hyperparameter selection. While this is a common approach in supervised learning, to our knowledge, this has not been discussed in detail in the offline RL setting. We show it can have substantial impacts when the dataset is small. Compared to alternate approaches, our proposed pipeline outputs higher-performing deployed policies from a broad range of offline policy learning algorithms and across various simulation domains in healthcare, education, and robotics. This work contributes toward the development of a general-purpose meta-algorithm for automatic algorithm-hyperparameter selection for offline RL.

VoiceBlock: Privacy through Real-Time Adversarial Attacks with Audio-to-Audio Models

Patrick O'Reilly · Andreas Bugler · Keshav Bhandari · Max Morrison · Bryan Pardo

As governments and corporations adopt deep learning systems to collect and analyze user-generated audio data, concerns about security and privacy naturally emerge in areas such as automatic speaker recognition. While audio adversarial examples offer one route to mislead or evade these invasive systems, they are typically crafted through time-intensive offline optimization, limiting their usefulness in streaming contexts. Inspired by architectures for audio-to-audio tasks such as denoising and speech enhancement, we propose a neural network model capable of adversarially modifying a user's audio stream in real-time. Our model learns to apply a time-varying finite impulse response (FIR) filter to outgoing audio, allowing for effective and inconspicuous perturbations on a small fixed delay suitable for streaming tasks. We demonstrate our model is highly effective at de-identifying user speech from speaker recognition and able to transfer to an unseen recognition system. We conduct a perceptual study and find that our method produces perturbations significantly less perceptible than baseline anonymization methods, when controlling for effectiveness. Finally, we provide an implementation of our model capable of running in real-time on a single CPU thread. Audio examples and code can be found at

Retrieval-Augmented Diffusion Models

Andreas Blattmann · Robin Rombach · Kaan Oktay · Jonas Müller · Björn Ommer

Novel architectures have recently improved generative image synthesis leading to excellent visual quality in various tasks. Much of this success is due to the scalability of these architectures and hence caused by a dramatic increase in model complexity and in the computational resources invested in training these models. Our work questions the underlying paradigm of compressing large training data into ever growing parametric representations. We rather present an orthogonal, semi-parametric approach. We complement comparably small diffusion or autoregressive models with a separate image database and a retrieval strategy. During training we retrieve a set of nearest neighbors from this external database for each training instance and condition the generative model on these informative samples. While the retrieval approach is providing the (local) content, the model is focusing on learning the composition of scenes based on this content. As demonstrated by our experiments, simply swapping the database for one with different contents transfers a trained model post-hoc to a novel domain. The evaluation shows competitive performance on tasks which the generative model has not been trained on, such as class-conditional synthesis, zero-shot stylization or text-to-image synthesis without requiring paired text-image data. With negligible memory and computational overhead for the external database and retrieval we can significantly reduce the parameter count of the generative model and still outperform the state-of-the-art.

On Analyzing Generative and Denoising Capabilities of Diffusion-based Deep Generative Models

Kamil Deja · Anna Kuzina · Tomasz Trzcinski · Jakub Tomczak

Diffusion-based Deep Generative Models (DDGMs) offer state-of-the-art performance in generative modeling. Their main strength comes from their unique setup in which a model (the backward diffusion process) is trained to reverse the forward diffusion process, which gradually adds noise to the input signal. Although DDGMs are well studied, it is still unclear how the small amount of noise is transformed during the backward diffusion process. Here, we focus on analyzing this problem to gain more insight into the behavior of DDGMs and their denoising and generative capabilities. We observe a fluid transition point that changes the functionality of the backward diffusion process from generating a (corrupted) image from noise to denoising the corrupted image to the final sample. Based on this observation, we postulate to divide a DDGM into two parts: a denoiser and a generator. The denoiser could be parameterized by a denoising auto-encoder, while the generator is a diffusion-based model with its own set of parameters. We experimentally validate our proposition, showing its pros and cons.

Toward Robust Spiking Neural Network Against Adversarial Perturbation

LING LIANG · Kaidi Xu · Xing Hu · Lei Deng · Yuan Xie

As spiking neural networks (SNNs) are deployed increasingly in real-world efficiency critical applications, the security concerns in SNNs attract more attention.Currently, researchers have already demonstrated an SNN can be attacked with adversarial examples. How to build a robust SNN becomes an urgent issue.Recently, many studies apply certified training in artificial neural networks (ANNs), which can improve the robustness of an NN model promisely. However, existing certifications cannot transfer to SNNs directly because of the distinct neuron behavior and input formats for SNNs. In this work, we first design S-IBP and S-CROWN that tackle the non-linear functions in SNNs' neuron modeling. Then, we formalize the boundaries for both digital and spike inputs. Finally, we demonstrate the efficiency of our proposed robust training method in different datasets and model architectures. Based on our experiment, we can achieve a maximum $37.7\%$ attack error reduction with $3.7\%$ original accuracy loss. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first analysis on robust training of SNNs.

Debiased Causal Tree: Heterogeneous Treatment Effects Estimation with Unmeasured Confounding

Caizhi Tang · Huiyuan Wang · Xinyu Li · Qing Cui · Ya-Lin Zhang · Feng Zhu · Longfei Li · Jun Zhou · Linbo Jiang

Unmeasured confounding poses a significant threat to the validity of causal inference. Despite that various ad hoc methods are developed to remove confounding effects, they are subject to certain fairly strong assumptions. In this work, we consider the estimation of conditional causal effects in the presence of unmeasured confounding using observational data and historical controls. Under an interpretable transportability condition, we prove the partial identifiability of conditional average treatment effect on the treated group (CATT). For tree-based models, a new notion, \emph{confounding entropy}, is proposed to measure the discrepancy introduced by unobserved confounders between the conditional outcome distribution of the treated and control groups. The confounding entropy generalizes conventional confounding bias, and can be estimated effectively using historical controls. We develop a new method, debiased causal tree, whose splitting rule is to minimize the empirical risk regularized by the confounding entropy. Notably, our method integrates current observational data (for empirical risk) and their historical controls (for confounding entropy) harmoniously. We highlight that, debiased causal tree can not only estimate CATT well in the presence of unmeasured confounding, but also is a robust estimator of conditional average treatment effect (CATE) against the imbalance of the treated and control populations when all confounders are observed. An extension of combining multiple debiased causal trees to further reduce biases by gradient boosting is considered. The computational feasibility and statistical power of our method are evidenced by simulations and a study of a credit card balance dataset.

On the Convergence of Stochastic Multi-Objective Gradient Manipulation and Beyond

Shiji Zhou · Wenpeng Zhang · Jiyan Jiang · Wenliang Zhong · Jinjie GU · Wenwu Zhu

The conflicting gradients problem is one of the major bottlenecks for the effective training of machine learning models that deal with multiple objectives. To resolve this problem, various gradient manipulation techniques, such as PCGrad, MGDA, and CAGrad, have been developed, which directly alter the conflicting gradients to refined ones with alleviated or even no conflicts. However, the existing design and analysis of these techniques are mainly conducted under the full-batch gradient setting, ignoring the fact that they are primarily applied with stochastic mini-batch gradients. In this paper, we illustrate that the stochastic gradient manipulation algorithms may fail to converge to Pareto optimal solutions. Firstly, we show that these different algorithms can be summarized into a unified algorithmic framework, where the descent direction is given by the composition of the gradients of the multiple objectives. Then we provide an explicit two-objective convex optimization instance to explicate the non-convergence issue under the unified framework, which suggests that the non-convergence results from the determination of the composite weights solely by the instantaneous stochastic gradients. To fix the non-convergence issue, we propose a novel composite weights determination scheme that exponentially averages the past calculated weights. Finally, we show the resulting new variant of stochastic gradient manipulation converges to Pareto optimal or critical solutions and yield comparable or improved empirical performance.

Video-based Human-Object Interaction Detection from Tubelet Tokens

Danyang Tu · Wei Sun · Xiongkuo Min · Guangtao Zhai · Wei Shen

We present a novel vision Transformer, named TUTOR, which is able to learn tubelet tokens, served as highly-abstracted spatial-temporal representations, for video-based human-object interaction (V-HOI) detection. The tubelet tokens structurize videos by agglomerating and linking semantically-related patch tokens along spatial and temporal domains, which enjoy two benefits: 1) Compactness: each token is learned by a selective attention mechanism to reduce redundant dependencies from others; 2) Expressiveness: each token is enabled to align with a semantic instance, i.e., an object or a human, thanks to agglomeration and linking. The effectiveness and efficiency of TUTOR are verified by extensive experiments. Results show our method outperforms existing works by large margins, with a relative mAP gain of $16.14\%$ on VidHOI and a 2 points gain on CAD-120 as well as a $4 \times$ speedup.

OTKGE: Multi-modal Knowledge Graph Embeddings via Optimal Transport

Zongsheng Cao · Qianqian Xu · Zhiyong Yang · Yuan He · Xiaochun Cao · Qingming Huang

Multi-modal knowledge graph embeddings (KGE) have caught more and more attention in learning representations of entities and relations for link prediction tasks. Different from previous uni-modal KGE approaches, multi-modal KGE can leverage expressive knowledge from a wealth of modalities (image, text, etc.), leading to more comprehensive representations of real-world entities. However, the critical challenge along this course lies in that the multi-modal embedding spaces are usually heterogeneous. In this sense, direct fusion will destroy the inherent spatial structure of different modal embeddings. To overcome this challenge, we revisit multi-modal KGE from a distributional alignment perspective and propose optimal transport knowledge graph embeddings (OTKGE). Specifically, we model the multi-modal fusion procedure as a transport plan moving different modal embeddings to a unified space by minimizing the Wasserstein distance between multi-modal distributions. Theoretically, we show that by minimizing the Wasserstein distance between the individual modalities and the unified embedding space, the final results are guaranteed to maintain consistency and comprehensiveness. Moreover, experimental results on well-established multi-modal knowledge graph completion benchmarks show that our OTKGE achieves state-of-the-art performance.

Hierarchical Lattice Layer for Partially Monotone Neural Networks

Hiroki Yanagisawa · Kohei Miyaguchi · Takayuki Katsuki

Partially monotone regression is a regression analysis in which the target values are monotonically increasing with respect to a subset of input features. The TensorFlow Lattice library is one of the standard machine learning libraries for partially monotone regression. It consists of several neural network layers, and its core component is the lattice layer. One of the problems of the lattice layer is that it requires the projected gradient descent algorithm with many constraints to train it. Another problem is that it cannot receive a high-dimensional input vector due to the memory consumption. We propose a novel neural network layer, the hierarchical lattice layer (HLL), as an extension of the lattice layer so that we can use a standard stochastic gradient descent algorithm to train HLL while satisfying monotonicity constraints and so that it can receive a high-dimensional input vector. Our experiments demonstrate that HLL did not sacrifice its prediction performance on real datasets compared with the lattice layer.

On the symmetries of the synchronization problem in Cryo-EM: Multi-Frequency Vector Diffusion Maps on the Projective Plane

Gabriele Cesa · Arash Behboodi · Taco Cohen · Max Welling

Cryo-Electron Microscopy (Cryo-EM) is an important imaging method which allows high-resolution reconstruction of the 3D structures of biomolecules. It produces highly noisy 2D images by projecting a molecule's 3D density from random viewing directions. Because the projection directions are unknown, estimating the images' poses is necessary to perform the reconstruction. We focus on this task and study it under the group synchronization framework: if the relative poses of pairs of images can be approximated from the data, an estimation of the images' poses is given by the assignment which is most consistent with the relative ones.In particular, by studying the symmetries of cryo-EM, we show that relative poses in the group O(2) provide sufficient constraints to identify the images' poses, up to the molecule's chirality. With this in mind, we improve the existing multi-frequency vector diffusion maps (MFVDM) method: by using O(2) relative poses, our method not only predicts the similarity between the images' viewing directions but also recovers their poses. Hence, we can leverage all input images in a 3D reconstruction algorithm by initializing the poses with our estimation rather than just clustering and averaging the input images. We validate the recovery capabilities and robustness of our method on randomly generated synchronization graphs and a synthetic cryo-EM dataset.

What Makes a "Good" Data Augmentation in Knowledge Distillation - A Statistical Perspective

Huan Wang · Suhas Lohit · Michael Jones · Yun Fu

Knowledge distillation (KD) is a general neural network training approach that uses a teacher model to guide the student model. Existing works mainly study KD from the network output side (e.g., trying to design a better KD loss function), while few have attempted to understand it from the input side. Especially, its interplay with data augmentation (DA) has not been well understood. In this paper, we ask: Why do some DA schemes (e.g., CutMix) inherently perform much better than others in KD? What makes a "good" DA in KD? Our investigation from a statistical perspective suggests that a good DA scheme should reduce the covariance of the teacher-student cross-entropy. A practical metric, the stddev of teacher’s mean probability (T. stddev), is further presented and well justified empirically. Besides the theoretical understanding, we also introduce a new entropy-based data-mixing DA scheme, CutMixPick, to further enhance CutMix. Extensive empirical studies support our claims and demonstrate how we can harvest considerable performance gains simply by using a better DA scheme in knowledge distillation. Code:

HorNet: Efficient High-Order Spatial Interactions with Recursive Gated Convolutions

Yongming Rao · Wenliang Zhao · Yansong Tang · Jie Zhou · Ser Nam Lim · Jiwen Lu

Recent progress in vision Transformers exhibits great success in various tasks driven by the new spatial modeling mechanism based on dot-product self-attention. In this paper, we show that the key ingredients behind the vision Transformers, namely input-adaptive, long-range and high-order spatial interactions, can also be efficiently implemented with a convolution-based framework. We present the Recursive Gated Convolution ($\textit{g}^\textit{n}$Conv) that performs high-order spatial interactions with gated convolutions and recursive designs. The new operation is highly flexible and customizable, which is compatible with various variants of convolution and extends the two-order interactions in self-attention to arbitrary orders without introducing significant extra computation. $\textit{g}^\textit{n}$Conv can serve as a plug-and-play module to improve various vision Transformers and convolution-based models. Based on the operation, we construct a new family of generic vision backbones named HorNet. Extensive experiments on ImageNet classification, COCO object detection and ADE20K semantic segmentation show HorNet outperform Swin Transformers and ConvNeXt by a significant margin with similar overall architecture and training configurations. HorNet also shows favorable scalability to more training data and larger model sizes. Apart from the effectiveness in visual encoders, we also show $\textit{g}^\textit{n}$Conv can be applied to task-specific decoders and consistently improve dense prediction performance with less computation. Our results demonstrate that $\textit{g}^\textit{n}$Conv can be a new basic module for visual modeling that effectively combines the merits of both vision Transformers and CNNs. Code is available at

Adversarial Attack on Attackers: Post-Process to Mitigate Black-Box Score-Based Query Attacks

Sizhe Chen · Zhehao Huang · Qinghua Tao · Yingwen Wu · Cihang Xie · Xiaolin Huang

The score-based query attacks (SQAs) pose practical threats to deep neural networks by crafting adversarial perturbations within dozens of queries, only using the model's output scores. Nonetheless, we note that if the loss trend of the outputs is slightly perturbed, SQAs could be easily misled and thereby become much less effective. Following this idea, we propose a novel defense, namely Adversarial Attack on Attackers (AAA), to confound SQAs towards incorrect attack directions by slightly modifying the output logits. In this way, (1) SQAs are prevented regardless of the model's worst-case robustness; (2) the original model predictions are hardly changed, i.e., no degradation on clean accuracy; (3) the calibration of confidence scores can be improved simultaneously. Extensive experiments are provided to verify the above advantages. For example, by setting $\ell_\infty=8/255$ on CIFAR-10, our proposed AAA helps WideResNet-28 secure 80.59% accuracy under Square attack (2500 queries), while the best prior defense (i.e., adversarial training) only attains 67.44%. Since AAA attacks SQA's general greedy strategy, such advantages of AAA over 8 defenses can be consistently observed on 8 CIFAR-10/ImageNet models under 6 SQAs, using different attack targets, bounds, norms, losses, and strategies. Moreover, AAA calibrates better without hurting the accuracy. Our code is available at

Revisiting Non-Parametric Matching Cost Volumes for Robust and Generalizable Stereo Matching

Kelvin Cheng · Tianfu Wu · Christopher Healey

Stereo matching is a classic challenging problem in computer vision, which has recently witnessed remarkable progress by Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). This paradigm shift leads to two interesting and entangled questions that have not been addressed well. First, it is unclear whether stereo matching DNNs that are trained from scratch really learn to perform matching well. This paper studies this problem from the lens of white-box adversarial attacks. It presents a method of learning stereo-constrained photometrically-consistent attacks, which by design are weaker adversarial attacks, and yet can cause catastrophic performance drop for those DNNs. This observation suggests that they may not actually learn to perform matching well in the sense that they should otherwise achieve potentially even better after stereo-constrained perturbations are introduced. Second, stereo matching DNNs are typically trained under the simulation-to-real (Sim2Real) pipeline due to the data hungriness of DNNs. Thus, alleviating the impacts of the Sim2Real photometric gap in stereo matching DNNs becomes a pressing need. Towards joint adversarially robust and domain generalizable stereo matching, this paper proposes to learn DNN-contextualized binary-pattern-driven non-parametric cost-volumes. It leverages the perspective of learning the cost aggregation via DNNs, and presents a simple yet expressive design that is fully end-to-end trainable, without resorting to specific aggregation inductive biases. In experiments, the proposed method is tested in the SceneFlow dataset, the KITTI2015 dataset, and the Middlebury dataset. It significantly improves the adversarial robustness, while retaining accuracy performance comparable to state-of-the-art methods. It also shows a better Sim2Real generalizability. Our code and pretrained models are released at \href{}{this Github Repo}.

Learning Contrastive Embedding in Low-Dimensional Space

Shuo Chen · Chen Gong · Jun Li · Jian Yang · Gang Niu · Masashi Sugiyama

Contrastive learning (CL) pretrains feature embeddings to scatter instances in the feature space so that the training data can be well discriminated. Most existing CL techniques usually encourage learning such feature embeddings in the highdimensional space to maximize the instance discrimination. However, this practice may lead to undesired results where the scattering instances are sparsely distributed in the high-dimensional feature space, making it difficult to capture the underlying similarity between pairwise instances. To this end, we propose a novel framework called contrastive learning with low-dimensional reconstruction (CLLR), which adopts a regularized projection layer to reduce the dimensionality of the feature embedding. In CLLR, we build the sparse / low-rank regularizer to adaptively reconstruct a low-dimensional projection space while preserving the basic objective for instance discrimination, and thus successfully learning contrastive embeddings that alleviate the above issue. Theoretically, we prove a tighter error bound for CLLR; empirically, the superiority of CLLR is demonstrated across multiple domains. Both theoretical and experimental results emphasize the significance of learning low-dimensional contrastive embeddings.

Few-Shot Fast-Adaptive Anomaly Detection

Ze Wang · Yipin Zhou · Rui Wang · Tsung-Yu Lin · Ashish Shah · Ser Nam Lim

The ability to detect anomaly has long been recognized as an inherent human ability, yet to date, practical AI solutions to mimic such capability have been lacking. This lack of progress can be attributed to several factors. To begin with, the distribution of ``abnormalities'' is intractable. Anything outside of a given normal population is by definition an anomaly. This explains why a large volume of work in this area has been dedicated to modeling the normal distribution of a given task followed by detecting deviations from it. This direction is however unsatisfying as it would require modeling the normal distribution of every task that comes along, which includes tedious data collection. In this paper, we report our work aiming to handle these issues. To deal with the intractability of abnormal distribution, we leverage Energy Based Model (EBM). EBMs learn to associates low energies to correct values and higher energies to incorrect values. At its core, the EBM employs Langevin Dynamics (LD) in generating these incorrect samples based on an iterative optimization procedure, alleviating the intractable problem of modeling the world of anomalies. Then, in order to avoid training an anomaly detector for every task, we utilize an adaptive sparse coding layer. Our intention is to design a plug and play feature that can be used to quickly update what is normal during inference time. Lastly, to avoid tedious data collection, this mentioned update of the sparse coding layer needs to be achievable with just a few shots. Here, we employ a meta learning scheme that simulates such a few shot setting during training. We support our findings with strong empirical evidence.

Scalable Representation Learning in Linear Contextual Bandits with Constant Regret Guarantees

Andrea Tirinzoni · Matteo Papini · Ahmed Touati · Alessandro Lazaric · Matteo Pirotta

We study the problem of representation learning in stochastic contextual linear bandits. While the primary concern in this domain is usually to find \textit{realizable} representations (i.e., those that allow predicting the reward function at any context-action pair exactly), it has been recently shown that representations with certain spectral properties (called \textit{HLS}) may be more effective for the exploration-exploitation task, enabling \textit{LinUCB} to achieve constant (i.e., horizon-independent) regret. In this paper, we propose \textsc{BanditSRL}, a representation learning algorithm that combines a novel constrained optimization problem to learn a realizable representation with good spectral properties with a generalized likelihood ratio test to exploit the recovered representation and avoid excessive exploration. We prove that \textsc{BanditSRL} can be paired with any no-regret algorithm and achieve constant regret whenever an \textit{HLS} representation is available. Furthermore, \textsc{BanditSRL} can be easily combined with deep neural networks and we show how regularizing towards \textit{HLS} representations is beneficial in standard benchmarks.

Exploration via Planning for Information about the Optimal Trajectory

Viraj Mehta · Ian Char · Joseph Abbate · Rory Conlin · Mark Boyer · Stefano Ermon · Jeff Schneider · Willie Neiswanger

Many potential applications of reinforcement learning (RL) are stymied by the large numbers of samples required to learn an effective policy. This is especially true when applying RL to real-world control tasks, e.g. in the sciences or robotics, where executing a policy in the environment is costly. In popular RL algorithms, agents typically explore either by adding stochasticity to a reward-maximizing policy or by attempting to gather maximal information about environment dynamics without taking the given task into account. In this work, we develop a method that allows us to plan for exploration while taking both the task and the current knowledge about the dynamics into account. The key insight to our approach is to plan an action sequence that maximizes the expected information gain about the optimal trajectory for the task at hand. We demonstrate that our method learns strong policies with 2x fewer samples than strong exploration baselines and 200x fewer samples than model free methods on a diverse set of low-to-medium dimensional control tasks in both the open-loop and closed-loop control settings.

Theoretical analysis of deep neural networks for temporally dependent observations

Mingliang Ma · Abolfazl Safikhani

Deep neural networks are powerful tools to model observations over time with non-linear patterns. Despite the widespread useof neural networks in such settings, most theoretical developments of deep neural networks are under the assumption of independent observations, and theoretical results for temporally dependent observations are scarce. To bridge this gap, we study theoretical properties of deep neural networks on modeling non-linear time series data. Specifically, non-asymptotic bounds for prediction error of (sparse) feed-forward neural network with ReLU activation function is established under mixing-type assumptions. These assumptions are mild such that they include a wide range of time series models including auto-regressive models. Compared to independent observations, established convergence rates have additional logarithmic factors to compensate for additional complexity due to dependence among data points. The theoretical results are supported via various numerical simulation settings as well as an application to a macroeconomic data set.

Provably sample-efficient RL with side information about latent dynamics

Yao Liu · Dipendra Misra · Miro Dudik · Robert Schapire

We study reinforcement learning (RL) in settings where observations are high-dimensional, but where an RL agent has access to abstract knowledge about the structure of the state space, as is the case, for example, when a robot is tasked to go to a specific room in a building using observations from its own camera, while having access to the floor plan. We formalize this setting as transfer reinforcement learning from an "abstract simulator," which we assume is deterministic (such as a simple model of moving around the floor plan), but which is only required to capture the target domain's latent-state dynamics approximately up to unknown (bounded) perturbations (to account for environment stochasticity). Crucially, we assume no prior knowledge about the structure of observations in the target domain except that they can be used to identify the latent states (but the decoding map is unknown). Under these assumptions, we present an algorithm, called TASID, that learns a robust policy in the target domain, with sample complexity that is polynomial in the horizon, and independent of the number of states, which is not possible without access to some prior knowledge. In synthetic experiments, we verify various properties of our algorithm and show that it empirically outperforms transfer RL algorithms that require access to "full simulators" (i.e., those that also simulate observations).

In What Ways Are Deep Neural Networks Invariant and How Should We Measure This?

Henry Kvinge · Tegan Emerson · Grayson Jorgenson · Scott Vasquez · Tim Doster · Jesse Lew

It is often said that a deep learning model is ``invariant'' to some specific type of transformation. However, what is meant by this statement strongly depends on the context in which it is made. In this paper we explore the nature of invariance and equivariance of deep learning models with the goal of better understanding the ways that they actually capture these concepts on a formal level. We introduce a family of invariance and equivariance metrics that allow us to quantify these properties in a way that disentangles them from other metrics such as loss or accuracy. We use our metrics to better understand the two most popular methods used to build invariance into networks, data augmentation and equivariant layers. We draw a range of conclusions about invariance and equivariance in deep learning models, ranging from whether initializing a model with pretrained weights has an effect on a trained model's invariance, to the extent to which invariance learned via training can generalize to out-of-distribution data.

Truncated proposals for scalable and hassle-free simulation-based inference

Michael Deistler · Pedro Goncalves · Jakob H Macke

Simulation-based inference (SBI) solves statistical inverse problems by repeatedly running a stochastic simulator and inferring posterior distributions from model-simulations. To improve simulation efficiency, several inference methods take a sequential approach and iteratively adapt the proposal distributions from which model simulations are generated. However, many of these sequential methods are difficult to use in practice, both because the resulting optimisation problems can be challenging and efficient diagnostic tools are lacking. To overcome these issues, we present Truncated Sequential Neural Posterior Estimation (TSNPE). TSNPE performs sequential inference with truncated proposals, sidestepping the optimisation issues of alternative approaches. In addition, TSNPE allows to efficiently perform coverage tests that can scale to complex models with many parameters. We demonstrate that TSNPE performs on par with previous methods on established benchmark tasks. We then apply TSNPE to two challenging problems from neuroscience and show that TSNPE can successfully obtain the posterior distributions, whereas previous methods fail. Overall, our results demonstrate that TSNPE is an efficient, accurate, and robust inference method that can scale to challenging scientific models.

Calibrated Data-Dependent Constraints with Exact Satisfaction Guarantees

Songkai Xue · Yuekai Sun · Mikhail Yurochkin

We consider the task of training machine learning models with data-dependent constraints. Such constraints often arise as empirical versions of expected value constraints that enforce fairness or stability goals. We reformulate data-dependent constraints so that they are calibrated: enforcing the reformulated constraints guarantees that their expected value counterparts are satisfied with a user-prescribed probability. The resulting optimization problem is amendable to standard stochastic optimization algorithms, and we demonstrate the efficacy of our method on a fairness-sensitive classification task where we wish to guarantee the classifier's fairness (at test time).

Policy Optimization with Linear Temporal Logic Constraints

Cameron Voloshin · Hoang Le · Swarat Chaudhuri · Yisong Yue

We study the problem of policy optimization (PO) with linear temporal logic (LTL) constraints. The language of LTL allows flexible description of tasks that may be unnatural to encode as a scalar cost function. We consider LTL-constrained PO as a systematic framework, decoupling task specification from policy selection, and an alternative to the standard of cost shaping. With access to a generative model, we develop a model-based approach that enjoys a sample complexity analysis for guaranteeing both task satisfaction and cost optimality (through a reduction to a reachability problem). Empirically, our algorithm can achieve strong performance even in low sample regimes.

Fast Instrument Learning with Faster Rates

Ziyu Wang · Yuhao Zhou · Jun Zhu

We investigate nonlinear instrumental variable (IV) regression given high-dimensional instruments. We propose a simple algorithm which combines kernelized IV methods and an arbitrary, adaptive regression algorithm, accessed as a black box. Our algorithm enjoys faster-rate convergence and adapts to the dimensionality of informative latent features, while avoiding an expensive minimax optimization procedure, which has been necessary to establish similar guarantees. It further brings the benefit of flexible machine learning models to quasi-Bayesian uncertainty quantification, likelihood-based model selection, and model averaging. Simulation studies demonstrate the competitive performance of our method.

Outlier-Robust Sparse Estimation via Non-Convex Optimization

Yu Cheng · Ilias Diakonikolas · Rong Ge · Shivam Gupta · Daniel Kane · Mahdi Soltanolkotabi

We explore the connection between outlier-robust high-dimensional statistics and non-convex optimization in the presence of sparsity constraints, with a focus on the fundamental tasks of robust sparse mean estimation and robust sparse PCA. We develop novel and simple optimization formulations for these problems such that any approximate stationary point of the associated optimization problem yields a near-optimal solution for the underlying robust estimation task. As a corollary, we obtain that any first-order method that efficiently converges to stationarity yields an efficient algorithm for these tasks. The obtained algorithms are simple, practical, and succeed under broader distributional assumptions compared to prior work.

Gradient Methods Provably Converge to Non-Robust Networks

Gal Vardi · Gilad Yehudai · Ohad Shamir

Despite a great deal of research, it is still unclear why neural networks are so susceptible to adversarial examples. In this work, we identify natural settings where depth-$2$ ReLU networks trained with gradient flow are provably non-robust (susceptible to small adversarial $\ell_2$-perturbations), even when robust networks that classify the training dataset correctly exist.Perhaps surprisingly, we show that the well-known implicit bias towards margin maximization induces bias towards non-robust networks, by proving that every network which satisfies the KKT conditions of the max-margin problem is non-robust.

Operator Splitting Value Iteration

Amin Rakhsha · Andrew Wang · Mohammad Ghavamzadeh · Amir-massoud Farahmand

We introduce new planning and reinforcement learning algorithms for discounted MDPs that utilize an approximate model of the environment to accelerate the convergence of the value function. Inspired by the splitting approach in numerical linear algebra, we introduce \emph{Operator Splitting Value Iteration} (OS-VI) for both Policy Evaluation and Control problems. OS-VI achieves a much faster convergence rate when the model is accurate enough. We also introduce a sample-based version of the algorithm called OS-Dyna. Unlike the traditional Dyna architecture, OS-Dyna still converges to the correct value function in presence of model approximation error.

Bayesian Optimistic Optimization: Optimistic Exploration for Model-based Reinforcement Learning

Chenyang Wu · Tianci Li · Zongzhang Zhang · Yang Yu

Reinforcement learning (RL) is a general framework for modeling sequential decision making problems, at the core of which lies the dilemma of exploitation and exploration. An agent failing to explore systematically will inevitably fail to learn efficiently. Optimism in the face of uncertainty (OFU) is a conventionally successful strategy for efficient exploration. An agent following the OFU principle explores actively and efficiently. However, when applied to model-based RL, it involves specifying a confidence set of the underlying model and solving a series of nonlinear constrained optimization, which can be computationally intractable. This paper proposes an algorithm, Bayesian optimistic optimization (BOO), which adopts a dynamic weighting technique for enforcing the constraint rather than explicitly solving a constrained optimization problem. BOO is a general algorithm proved to be sample-efficient for models in a finite-dimensional reproducing kernel Hilbert space. We also develop techniques for effective optimization and show through some simulation experiments that BOO is competitive with the existing algorithms.

Learning from Stochastically Revealed Preference

John Birge · Xiaocheng Li · Chunlin Sun

We study the learning problem of revealed preference in a stochastic setting: a learner observes the utility-maximizing actions of a set of agents whose utility follows some unknown distribution, and the learner aims to infer the distribution through the observations of actions. The problem can be viewed as a single-constraint special case of the inverse linear optimization problem. Existing works all assume that all the agents share one common utility which can easily be violated under practical contexts. In this paper, we consider two settings for the underlying utility distribution: a Gaussian setting where the customer utility follows the von Mises-Fisher distribution, and a $\delta$-corruption setting where the customer utility distribution concentrates on one fixed vector with high probability and is arbitrarily corrupted otherwise. We devise Bayesian approaches for parameter estimation and develop theoretical guarantees for the recovery of the true parameter. We illustrate the algorithm performance through numerical experiments.

Augmented RBMLE-UCB Approach for Adaptive Control of Linear Quadratic Systems

Akshay Mete · Rahul Singh · P. R. Kumar

We consider the problem of controlling an unknown stochastic linear system with quadratic costs -- called the adaptive LQ control problem. We re-examine an approach called ``Reward-Biased Maximum Likelihood Estimate'' (RBMLE) that was proposed more than forty years ago, and which predates the ``Upper Confidence Bound'' (UCB) method, as well as the definition of ``regret'' for bandit problems. It simply added a term favoring parameters with larger rewards to the criterion for parameter estimation. We show how the RBMLE and UCB methods can be reconciled, and thereby propose an Augmented RBMLE-UCB algorithm that combines the penalty of the RBMLE method with the constraints of the UCB method, uniting the two approaches to optimism in the face of uncertainty. We establish that theoretically, this method retains ${\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{T})$ regret, the best known so far. We further compare the empirical performance of the proposed Augmented RBMLE-UCB and the standard RBMLE (without the augmentation) with UCB, Thompson Sampling, Input Perturbation, Randomized Certainty Equivalence and StabL on many real-world examples including flight control of Boeing 747 and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. We perform extensive simulation studies showing that the Augmented RBMLE consistently outperforms UCB, Thompson Sampling and StabL by a huge margin, while it is marginally better than Input Perturbation and moderately better than Randomized Certainty Equivalence.

An $\alpha$-No-Regret Algorithm For Graphical Bilinear Bandits

Geovani Rizk · Igor Colin · Albert Thomas · Rida Laraki · Yann Chevaleyre

We propose the first regret-based approach to the \emph{Graphical Bilinear Bandits} problem, where $n$ agents in a graph play a stochastic bilinear bandit game with each of their neighbors. This setting reveals a combinatorial NP-hard problem that prevents the use of any existing regret-based algorithm in the (bi-)linear bandit literature. In this paper, we fill this gap and present the first regret-based algorithm for graphical bilinear bandits using the principle of optimism in the face of uncertainty. Theoretical analysis of this new method yields an upper bound of $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{T})$ on the $\alpha$-regret and evidences the impact of the graph structure on the rate of convergence. Finally, we show through various experiments the validity of our approach.

Outlier-Robust Sparse Mean Estimation for Heavy-Tailed Distributions

Ilias Diakonikolas · Daniel Kane · Jasper Lee · Ankit Pensia

We study the fundamental task of outlier-robust mean estimation for heavy-tailed distributions in the presence of sparsity. Specifically, given a small number of corrupted samples from a high-dimensional heavy-tailed distribution whose mean $\mu$ is guaranteed to be sparse, the goal is to efficiently compute a hypothesis that accurately approximates $\mu$ with high probability. Prior work had obtained efficient algorithms for robust sparse mean estimation of light-tailed distributions. In this work, we give the first sample-efficient and polynomial-time robust sparse mean estimator for heavy-tailed distributions under mild moment assumptions. Our algorithm achieves the optimal asymptotic error using a number of samples scaling logarithmically with the ambient dimension. Importantly, the sample complexity of our method is optimal as a function of the failure probability $\tau$, having an {\em additive} $\log(1/\tau)$ dependence. Our algorithm leverages the stability-based approach from the algorithmic robust statistics literature, with crucial (and necessary) adaptations required in our setting. Our analysis may be of independent interest, involving the delicate design of a (non-spectral) decomposition for positive semi-definite matrices satisfying certain sparsity properties.

Distributed Inverse Constrained Reinforcement Learning for Multi-agent Systems

Shicheng Liu · Minghui Zhu

This paper considers the problem of recovering the policies of multiple interacting experts by estimating their reward functions and constraints where the demonstration data of the experts is distributed to a group of learners. We formulate this problem as a distributed bi-level optimization problem and propose a novel bi-level ``distributed inverse constrained reinforcement learning" (D-ICRL) algorithm that allows the learners to collaboratively estimate the constraints in the outer loop and learn the corresponding policies and reward functions in the inner loop from the distributed demonstrations through intermittent communications. We formally guarantee that the distributed learners asymptotically achieve consensus which belongs to the set of stationary points of the bi-level optimization problem.

Uplifting Bandits

Yu-Guan Hsieh · Shiva Kasiviswanathan · Branislav Kveton

We introduce a new multi-armed bandit model where the reward is a sum of multiple random variables, and each action only alters the distributions of some of these variables. Upon taking an action, the agent observes the realizations of all variables. This model is motivated by marketing campaigns and recommender systems, where the variables represent outcomes on individual customers, such as clicks. We propose UCB-style algorithms that estimate the uplifts of the actions over a baseline. We study multiple variants of the problem, including when the baseline and affected variables are unknown, and prove sublinear regret bounds for all of these. In addition, we provide regret lower bounds that justify the necessity of our modeling assumptions. Experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the benefit of methods that estimate the uplifts over policies that do not use this structure.

Poisson Flow Generative Models

Yilun Xu · Ziming Liu · Max Tegmark · Tommi Jaakkola

We propose a new "Poisson flow" generative model~(PFGM) that maps a uniform distribution on a high-dimensional hemisphere into any data distribution. We interpret the data points as electrical charges on the $z=0$ hyperplane in a space augmented with an additional dimension $z$, generating a high-dimensional electric field (the gradient of the solution to Poisson equation). We prove that if these charges flow upward along electric field lines, their initial distribution in the $z=0$ plane transforms into a distribution on the hemisphere of radius $r$ that becomes uniform in the $r \to\infty$ limit. To learn the bijective transformation, we estimate the normalized field in the augmented space. For sampling, we devise a backward ODE that is anchored by the physically meaningful additional dimension: the samples hit the (unaugmented) data manifold when the $z$ reaches zero. Experimentally, PFGM achieves current state-of-the-art performance among the normalizing flow models on CIFAR-10, with an Inception score of $9.68$ and a FID score of $2.35$. It also performs on par with the state-of-the-art SDE approaches while offering $10\times $ to $20 \times$ acceleration on image generation tasks. Additionally, PFGM appears more tolerant of estimation errors on a weaker network architecture and robust to the step size in the Euler method. The code is available at .

Multi-agent Dynamic Algorithm Configuration

Ke Xue · Jiacheng Xu · Lei Yuan · Miqing Li · Chao Qian · Zongzhang Zhang · Yang Yu

Automated algorithm configuration relieves users from tedious, trial-and-error tuning tasks. A popular algorithm configuration tuning paradigm is dynamic algorithm configuration (DAC), in which an agent learns dynamic configuration policies across instances by reinforcement learning (RL). However, in many complex algorithms, there may exist different types of configuration hyperparameters, and such heterogeneity may bring difficulties for classic DAC which uses a single-agent RL policy. In this paper, we aim to address this issue and propose multi-agent DAC (MA-DAC), with one agent working for one type of configuration hyperparameter. MA-DAC formulates the dynamic configuration of a complex algorithm with multiple types of hyperparameters as a contextual multi-agent Markov decision process and solves it by a cooperative multi-agent RL (MARL) algorithm. To instantiate, we apply MA-DAC to a well-known optimization algorithm for multi-objective optimization problems. Experimental results show the effectiveness of MA-DAC in not only achieving superior performance compared with other configuration tuning approaches based on heuristic rules, multi-armed bandits, and single-agent RL, but also being capable of generalizing to different problem classes. Furthermore, we release the environments in this paper as a benchmark for testing MARL algorithms, with the hope of facilitating the application of MARL.

Muffliato: Peer-to-Peer Privacy Amplification for Decentralized Optimization and Averaging

Edwige Cyffers · Mathieu Even · Aurélien Bellet · Laurent Massoulié

Decentralized optimization is increasingly popular in machine learning for its scalability and efficiency. Intuitively, it should also provide better privacy guarantees, as nodes only observe the messages sent by their neighbors in the network graph. But formalizing and quantifying this gain is challenging: existing results are typically limited to Local Differential Privacy (LDP) guarantees that overlook the advantages of decentralization. In this work, we introduce pairwise network differential privacy, a relaxation of LDP that captures the fact that the privacy leakage from a node u to a node v may depend on their relative position in the graph. We then analyze the combination of local noise injection with (simple or randomized) gossip averaging protocols on fixed and random communication graphs. We also derive a differentially private decentralized optimization algorithm that alternates between local gradient descent steps and gossip averaging. Our results show that our algorithms amplify privacy guarantees as a function of the distance between nodes in the graph, matching the privacy-utility trade-off of the trusted curator, up to factors that explicitly depend on the graph topology. Remarkably, these factors become constant for expander graphs. Finally, we illustrate our privacy gains with experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets.

A Theory of PAC Learnability under Transformation Invariances

Han Shao · Omar Montasser · Avrim Blum

Transformation invariances are present in many real-world problems. For example, image classification is usually invariant to rotation and color transformation: a rotated car in a different color is still identified as a car. Data augmentation, which adds the transformed data into the training set and trains a model on the augmented data, is one commonly used technique to build these invariances into the learning process. However, it is unclear how data augmentation performs theoretically and what the optimal algorithm is in presence of transformation invariances. In this paper, we study PAC learnability under transformation invariances in three settings according to different levels of realizability: (i) A hypothesis fits the augmented data; (ii) A hypothesis fits only the original data and the transformed data lying in the support of the data distribution; (iii) Agnostic case. One interesting observation is that distinguishing between the original data and the transformed data is necessary to achieve optimal accuracy in setting (ii) and (iii), which implies that any algorithm not differentiating between the original and transformed data (including data augmentation) is not optimal. Furthermore, this type of algorithms can even ``harm'' the accuracy. In setting (i), although it is unnecessary to distinguish between the two data sets, data augmentation still does not perform optimally. Due to such a difference, we propose two combinatorial measures characterizing the optimal sample complexity in setting (i) and (ii)(iii) and provide the optimal algorithms.

Lost in Latent Space: Examining failures of disentangled models at combinatorial generalisation

Milton Montero · Jeffrey Bowers · Rui Ponte Costa · Casimir Ludwig · Gaurav Malhotra

Recent research has shown that generative models with highly disentangled representations fail to generalise to unseen combination of generative factor values. These findings contradict earlier research which showed improved performance in out-of-training distribution settings when compared to entangled representations. Additionally, it is not clear if the reported failures are due to (a) encoders failing to map novel combinations to the proper regions of the latent space, or (b) novel combinations being mapped correctly but the decoder is unable to render the correct output for the unseen combinations. We investigate these alternatives by testing several models on a range of datasets and training settings. We find that (i) when models fail, their encoders also fail to map unseen combinations to correct regions of the latent space and (ii) when models succeed, it is either because the test conditions do not exclude enough examples, or because excluded cases involve combinations of object properties with it's shape. We argue that to generalise properly, models not only need to capture factors of variation, but also understand how to invert the process that causes the visual stimulus.

Biologically plausible solutions for spiking networks with efficient coding

Veronika Koren · Stefano Panzeri

Understanding how the dynamics of neural networks is shaped by the computations they perform is a fundamental question in neuroscience. Recently, the framework of efficient coding proposed a theory of how spiking neural networks can compute low-dimensional stimulus signals with high efficiency. Efficient spiking networks are based on time-dependent minimization of a loss function related to information coding with spikes. To inform the understanding of the function and dynamics of biological networks in the brain, however, the mathematical models have to be informed by biology and obey the same constraints as biological networks. Currently, spiking network models of efficient coding have been extended to include some features of biological plausibility, such as architectures with excitatory and inhibitory neurons. However, biological realism of efficient coding theories is still limited to simple cases and does not include single neuron and network properties that are known to be key in biological circuits. Here, we revisit the theory of efficient coding with spikes to develop spiking neural networks that are closer to biological circuits. Namely, we find a biologically plausible spiking model realizing efficient coding in the case of a generalized leaky integrate-and-fire network with excitatory and inhibitory units, equipped with fast and slow synaptic currents, local homeostatic currents such as spike-triggered adaptation, hyperpolarization-activated rebound current, heterogeneous firing thresholds and resets, heterogeneous postsynaptic potentials, and structured, low-rank connectivity. We show how the rank of E-E connectivity matrix shapes network responses.

Phase transitions in when feedback is useful

Lokesh Boominathan · Xaq Pitkow

Sensory observations about the world are invariably ambiguous. Inference about the world's latent variables is thus an important computation for the brain. However, computational constraints limit the performance of these computations. These constraints include energetic costs for neural activity and noise on every channel. Efficient coding is one prominent theory that describes how such limited resources can best be used. In one incarnation, this leads to a theory of predictive coding, where predictions are subtracted from signals, reducing the cost of sending something that is already known. This theory does not, however, account for the costs or noise associated with those predictions. Here we offer a theory that accounts for both feedforward and feedback costs, and noise in all computations. We formulate this inference problem as message-passing on a graph whereby feedback serves as an internal control signal aiming to maximize how well an inference tracks a target state while minimizing the costs of computation. We apply this novel formulation of inference as control to the canonical problem of inferring the hidden scalar state of a linear dynamical system with Gaussian variability. The best solution depends on architectural constraints, such as Dale's law, the ubiquitous law that each neuron makes solely excitatory or inhibitory postsynaptic connections. This biological structure can create asymmetric costs for feedforward and feedback channels. Under such conditions, our theory predicts the gain of optimal predictive feedback and how it is incorporated into the inference computation. We show that there is a non-monotonic dependence of optimal feedback gain as a function of both the computational parameters and the world dynamics, leading to phase transitions in whether feedback provides any utility in optimal inference under computational constraints.

Simple and Optimal Greedy Online Contention Resolution Schemes

Vasilis Livanos

Matching based markets, like ad auctions, ride-sharing, and eBay, are inherently online and combinatorial, and therefore have been extensively studied under the lens of online stochastic combinatorial optimization models. The general framework that has emerged uses Contention Resolution Schemes (CRSs) introduced by Chekuri, Vondrák, and Zenklusen for combinatorial problems, where one first obtains a fractional solution to a (continuous) relaxation of the objective, and then proceeds to round it. When the order of rounding is controlled by an adversary, it is called an Online Contention Resolution Scheme (OCRSs), which has been successfully applied in online settings such as posted-price mechanisms, prophet inequalities and stochastic probing.The study of greedy OCRSs against an almighty adversary has emerged as one of the most interesting problems since it gives a simple-to-implement scheme against the worst possible scenario. Intuitively, a greedy OCRS has to make all its decisions before the online process starts. We present simple $1/e$ - selectable greedy OCRSs for the single-item setting, partition matroids, and transversal matroids. This improves upon the previous state-of-the-art greedy OCRSs of [FSZ16] that achieves $1/4$ for these constraints. Finally, we show that no better competitive ratio than $1/e$ is possible, making our greedy OCRSs the best possible.

Private Estimation with Public Data

Alex Bie · Gautam Kamath · Vikrant Singhal

We initiate the study of differentially private (DP) estimation with access to a small amount of public data. For private estimation of $d$-dimensional Gaussians, we assume that the public data comes from a Gaussian that may have vanishing similarity in total variation distance with the underlying Gaussian of the private data. We show that under the constraints of pure or concentrated DP, $d+1$ public data samples are sufficient to remove any dependence on the range parameters of the private data distribution from the private sample complexity, which is known to be otherwise necessary without public data. For separated Gaussian mixtures, we assume that the underlying public and private distributions are the same, and we consider two settings: (1) when given a dimension-independent amount of public data, the private sample complexity can be improved polynomially in terms of the number of mixture components, and any dependence on the range parameters of the distribution can be removed in the approximate DP case; (2) when given an amount of public data linear in the dimension, the private sample complexity can be made independent of range parameters even under concentrated DP, and additional improvements can be made to the overall sample complexity.

Robustness to Label Noise Depends on the Shape of the Noise Distribution

Diane Oyen · Michal Kucer · Nicolas Hengartner · Har Simrat Singh

Machine learning classifiers have been demonstrated, both empirically and theoretically, to be robust to label noise under certain conditions --- notably the typical assumption is that label noise is independent of the features given the class label. We provide a theoretical framework that generalizes beyond this typical assumption by modeling label noise as a distribution over feature space. We show that both the scale and the \emph{shape} of the noise distribution influence the posterior likelihood; and the shape of the noise distribution has a stronger impact on classification performance if the noise is concentrated in feature space where the decision boundary can be moved. For the special case of uniform label noise (independent of features and the class label), we show that the Bayes optimal classifier for $c$ classes is robust to label noise until the ratio of noisy samples goes above $\frac{c-1}{c}$ (e.g. 90\% for 10 classes), which we call the \emph{tipping point}. However, for the special case of class-dependent label noise (independent of features given the class label), the tipping point can be as low as 50\%. Most importantly, we show that when the noise distribution targets decision boundaries (label noise is directly dependent on feature space), classification robustness can drop off even at a small scale of noise. Even when evaluating recent label-noise mitigation methods we see reduced accuracy when label noise is dependent on features. These findings explain why machine learning often handles label noise well if the noise distribution is uniform in feature-space; yet it also points to the difficulty of overcoming label noise when it is concentrated in a region of feature space where a decision boundary can move.

A general approximation lower bound in $L^p$ norm, with applications to feed-forward neural networks

El Mehdi Achour · Armand Foucault · Sébastien Gerchinovitz · François Malgouyres

We study the fundamental limits to the expressive power of neural networks. Given two sets $F$, $G$ of real-valued functions, we first prove a general lower bound on how well functions in $F$ can be approximated in $L^p(\mu)$ norm by functions in $G$, for any $p \geq 1$ and any probability measure $\mu$. The lower bound depends on the packing number of $F$, the range of $F$, and the fat-shattering dimension of $G$. We then instantiate this bound to the case where $G$ corresponds to a piecewise-polynomial feedforward neural network, and describe in details the application to two sets $F$: Hölder balls and multivariate monotonic functions. Beside matching (known or new) upper bounds up to log factors, our lower bounds shed some light on the similarities or differences between approximation in $L^p$ norm or in sup norm, solving an open question by DeVore et al. (2021). Our proof strategy differs from the sup norm case and uses a key probability result of Mendelson (2002).

Minimax Optimal Algorithms for Fixed-Budget Best Arm Identification

Junpei Komiyama · Taira Tsuchiya · Junya Honda

We consider the fixed-budget best arm identification problem where the goal is to find the arm of the largest mean with a fixed number of samples. It is known that the probability of misidentifying the best arm is exponentially small to the number of rounds. However, limited characterizations have been discussed on the rate (exponent) of this value. In this paper, we characterize the minimax optimal rate as a result of an optimization over all possible parameters. We introduce two rates, $R^{\mathrm{go}}$ and $R^{\mathrm{go}}_{\infty}$, corresponding to lower bounds on the probability of misidentification, each of which is associated with a proposed algorithm. The rate $R^{\mathrm{go}}$ is associated with $R^{\mathrm{go}}$-tracking, which can be efficiently implemented by a neural network and is shown to outperform existing algorithms. However, this rate requires a nontrivial condition to be achievable. To address this issue, we introduce the second rate $R^{\mathrm{go}}_\infty$. We show that this rate is indeed achievable by introducing a conceptual algorithm called delayed optimal tracking (DOT).

Minimax Optimal Online Imitation Learning via Replay Estimation

Gokul Swamy · Nived Rajaraman · Matt Peng · Sanjiban Choudhury · J. Bagnell · Steven Wu · Jiantao Jiao · Kannan Ramchandran

Online imitation learning is the problem of how best to mimic expert demonstrations, given access to the environment or an accurate simulator. Prior work has shown that in the \textit{infinite} sample regime, exact moment matching achieves value equivalence to the expert policy. However, in the \textit{finite} sample regime, even if one has no optimization error, empirical variance can lead to a performance gap that scales with $H^2 / N_{\text{exp}}$ for behavioral cloning and $H / N_{\text{exp}}$ for online moment matching, where $H$ is the horizon and $N_{\text{exp}}$ is the size of the expert dataset. We introduce the technique of ``replay estimation'' to reduce this empirical variance: by repeatedly executing cached expert actions in a stochastic simulator, we compute a smoother expert visitation distribution estimate to match. In the presence of general function approximation, we prove a meta theorem reducing the performance gap of our approach to the \textit{parameter estimation error} for offline classification (i.e. learning the expert policy). In the tabular setting or with linear function approximation, our meta theorem shows that the performance gap incurred by our approach achieves the optimal $\widetilde{O} \left( \min( H^{3/2} / N_{\text{exp}}, H / \sqrt{N_{\text{exp}}} \right)$ dependency, under significantly weaker assumptions compared to prior work. We implement multiple instantiations of our approach on several continuous control tasks and find that we are able to significantly improve policy performance across a variety of dataset sizes.

Approximate Euclidean lengths and distances beyond Johnson-Lindenstrauss

Aleksandros Sobczyk · Mathieu Luisier

A classical result of Johnson and Lindenstrauss states that a set of $n$ high dimensional data points can be projected down to $O(\log n/\epsilon^2)$ dimensions such that the square of their pairwise distances is preserved up to a small distortion $\epsilon\in(0,1)$. It has been proved that the JL lemma is optimal for the general case, therefore, improvements can only be explored for special cases. This work aims to improve the $\epsilon^{-2}$ dependency based on techniques inspired by the Hutch++ Algorithm, which reduces $\epsilon^{-2}$ to $\epsilon^{-1}$ for the related problem of implicit matrix trace estimation. We first present an algorithm to estimate the Euclidean lengths of the rows of a matrix. We prove for it element-wise probabilistic bounds that are at least as good as standard JL approximations in the worst-case, but are asymptotically better for matrices with decaying spectrum. Moreover, for any matrix, regardless of its spectrum, the algorithm achieves $\epsilon$-accuracy for the total, Frobenius norm-wise relative error using only $O(\epsilon^{-1})$ queries. This is a quadratic improvement over the norm-wise error of standard JL approximations. We also show how these results can be extended to estimate (i) the Euclidean distances between data points and (ii) the statistical leverage scores of tall-and-skinny data matrices, which are ubiquitous for many applications, with analogous theoretical improvements. Proof-of-concept numerical experiments are presented to validate the theoretical analysis.

List-Decodable Sparse Mean Estimation

Shiwei Zeng · Jie Shen

Robust mean estimation is one of the most important problems in statistics: given a set of samples in $\mathbb{R}^d$ where an $\alpha$ fraction are drawn from some distribution $D$ and the rest are adversarially corrupted, we aim to estimate the mean of $D$. A surge of recent research interest has been focusing on the list-decodable setting where $\alpha \in (0, \frac12]$, and the goal is to output a finite number of estimates among which at least one approximates the target mean. In this paper, we consider that the underlying distribution $D$ is Gaussian with $k$-sparse mean. Our main contribution is the first polynomial-time algorithm that enjoys sample complexity $O\big(\mathrm{poly}(k, \log d)\big)$, i.e. poly-logarithmic in the dimension. One of our core algorithmic ingredients is using low-degree {\em sparse polynomials} to filter outliers, which may find more applications.

Finite-Time Last-Iterate Convergence for Learning in Multi-Player Games

Yang Cai · Argyris Oikonomou · Weiqiang Zheng

We study the question of last-iterate convergence rate of the extragradient algorithm by Korpelevich [1976] and the optimistic gradient algorithm by Popov [1980] in multi-player games. We show that both algorithms with constant step-size have last-iterate convergence rate of $O(\frac{1}{\sqrt{T}})$ to a Nash equilibrium in terms of the gap function in smooth monotone games, where each player's action set is an arbitrary convex set. Previous results only study the unconstrained setting, where each player's action set is the entire Euclidean space. Our results address an open question raised in several recent work by Hsieh et al. [2019], Golowich et al. [2020a,b], who ask for last-iterate convergence rate of either the extragradient or the optimistic gradient algorithm in the constrained setting. Our convergence rates for both algorithms are tight and match the lower bounds by Golowich et al. [2020a,b]. At the core of our results lies a new notion -- the tangent residual, which we use to measure the proximity to equilibrium. We use the tangent residual (or a slight variation of the tangent residual) as the the potential function in our analysis of the extragradient algorithm (or the optimistic gradient algorithm) and prove that it is non-increasing between two consecutive iterates.

SAGDA: Achieving $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-2})$ Communication Complexity in Federated Min-Max Learning

Haibo Yang · Zhuqing Liu · Xin Zhang · Jia Liu

Federated min-max learning has received increasing attention in recent years thanks to its wide range of applications in various learning paradigms. Similar to the conventional federated learning for empirical risk minimization problems, communication complexity also emerges as one of the most critical concerns that affects the future prospect of federated min-max learning. To lower the communication complexity of federated min-max learning, a natural approach is to utilize the idea of infrequent communications (through multiple local updates) same as in conventional federated learning. However, due to the more complicated inter-outer problem structure in federated min-max learning, theoretical understandings of communication complexity for federated min-max learning with infrequent communications remain very limited in the literature. This is particularly true for settings with non-i.i.d. datasets and partial client participation. To address this challenge, in this paper, we propose a new algorithmic framework called \ul{s}tochastic \ul{s}ampling \ul{a}veraging \ul{g}radient \ul{d}escent \ul{a}scent ($\mathsf{SAGDA}$), which i) assembles stochastic gradient estimators from randomly sampled clients as control variates and ii) leverages two learning rates on both server and client sides. We show that $\mathsf{SAGDA}$ achieves a linear speedup in terms of both the number of clients and local update steps, which yields an $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-2})$ communication complexity that is orders of magnitude lower than the state of the art. Interestingly, by noting that the standard federated stochastic gradient descent ascent (FSGDA) is in fact a control-variate-free special version of $\mathsf{SAGDA}$, we immediately arrive at an $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-2})$ communication complexity result for FSGDA. Therefore, through the lens of $\mathsf{SAGDA}$, we also advance the current understanding on communication complexity of the standard FSGDA method for federated min-max learning.

Depth is More Powerful than Width with Prediction Concatenation in Deep Forest

Shen-Huan Lyu · Yi-Xiao He · Zhi-Hua Zhou

Random Forest (RF) is an ensemble learning algorithm proposed by \citet{breiman2001random} that constructs a large number of randomized decision trees individually and aggregates their predictions by naive averaging. \citet{zhou2019deep} further propose Deep Forest (DF) algorithm with multi-layer feature transformation, which significantly outperforms random forest in various application fields. The prediction concatenation (PreConc) operation is crucial for the multi-layer feature transformation in deep forest, though little has been known about its theoretical property. In this paper, we analyze the influence of Preconc on the consistency of deep forest. Especially when the individual tree is inconsistent (as in practice, the individual tree is often set to be fully grown, i.e., there is only one sample at each leaf node), we find that the convergence rate of two-layer DF \textit{w.r.t.} the number of trees $M$ can reach $\mathcal{O}(1/M^2)$ under some mild conditions, while the convergence rate of RF is $\mathcal{O}(1/M)$. Therefore, with the help of PreConc, DF with deeper layer will be more powerful than the shallower layer. Experiments confirm theoretical advantages.

Neural Abstractions

Alessandro Abate · Alec Edwards · Mirco Giacobbe

We present a novel method for the safety verification of nonlinear dynamical models that uses neural networks to represent abstractions of their dynamics. Neural networks have extensively been used before as approximators; in this work, we make a step further and use them for the first time as abstractions. For a given dynamical model, our method synthesises a neural network that overapproximates its dynamics by ensuring an arbitrarily tight, formally certified bound on the approximation error. For this purpose, we employ a counterexample-guided inductive synthesis procedure. We show that this produces a neural ODE with non-deterministic disturbances that constitutes a formal abstraction of the concrete model under analysis. This guarantees a fundamental property: if the abstract model is safe, i.e., free from any initialised trajectory that reaches an undesirable state, then the concrete model is also safe. By using neural ODEs with ReLU activation functions as abstractions, we cast the safety verification problem for nonlinear dynamical models into that of hybrid automata with affine dynamics, which we verify using SpaceEx. We demonstrate that our approach performs comparably to the mature tool Flow* on existing benchmark nonlinear models. We additionally demonstrate and that it is effective on models that do not exhibit local Lipschitz continuity, which are out of reach to the existing technologies.

Random Rank: The One and Only Strategyproof and Proportionally Fair Randomized Facility Location Mechanism

Haris Aziz · Alexander Lam · Mashbat Suzuki · Toby Walsh

Proportionality is an attractive fairness concept that has been applied to a range of problems including the facility location problem, a classic problem in social choice. In our work, we propose a concept called Strong Proportionality, which ensures that when there are two groups of agents at different locations, both groups incur the same total cost. We show that although Strong Proportionality is a well-motivated and basic axiom, there is no deterministic strategyproof mechanism satisfying the property. We then identify a randomized mechanism called Random Rank (which uniformly selects a number $k$ between $1$ to $n$ and locates the facility at the $k$'th highest agent location) which satisfies Strong Proportionality in expectation. Our main theorem characterizes Random Rank as the unique mechanism that achieves universal truthfulness, universal anonymity, and Strong Proportionality in expectation among all randomized mechanisms. Finally, we show via the AverageOrRandomRank mechanism that even stronger ex-post fairness guarantees can be achieved by weakening universal truthfulness to strategyproofness in expectation.

Smooth Fictitious Play in Stochastic Games with Perturbed Payoffs and Unknown Transitions

Lucas Baudin · Rida Laraki

Recent extensions to dynamic games of the well known fictitious play learning procedure in static games were proved to globally converge to stationary Nash equilibria in two important classes of dynamic games (zero-sum and identical-interest discounted stochastic games). However, those decentralized algorithms need the players to know exactly the model (the transition probabilities and their payoffs at every stage). To overcome these strong assumptions, our paper introduces regularizations of the recent algorithms which are moreover, model-free (players don't know the transitions and their payoffs are perturbed at every stage). Our novel procedures can be interpreted as extensions to stochastic games of the classical smooth fictitious play learning procedures in static games (where players best responses are regularized, thanks to a smooth perturbation of their payoff functions). We prove the convergence of our family of procedures to stationary regularized Nash equilibria in the same classes of dynamic games (zero-sum and identical interests discounted stochastic games). The proof uses the continuous smooth best-response dynamics counterparts, and stochastic approximation methods. In the case of a MDP (a one-player stochastic game), our procedures globally converge to the optimal stationary policy of the regularized problem. In that sense, they can be seen as an alternative to the well known Q-learning procedure.

The Query Complexity of Cake Cutting

Simina Branzei · Noam Nisan

We consider the query complexity of cake cutting in the standard query model and give lower and upper bounds for computing approximately envy-free, perfect, and equitable allocations with the minimum number of cuts. The lower bounds are tight for computing contiguous envy-free allocations among $n=3$ players and for computing perfect and equitable allocations with minimum number of cuts between $n=2$ players. For $\epsilon$-envy-free allocations with contiguous pieces, we also give an upper bound of $O(n/\epsilon)$ and lower bound of $\Omega(\log(1/\epsilon))$ queries for any number $n \geq 3$ of players.We also formalize moving knife procedures and show that a large subclass of this family, which captures all the known moving knife procedures, can be simulated efficiently with arbitrarily small error in the Robertson-Webb query model.

Learning (Very) Simple Generative Models Is Hard

Sitan Chen · Jerry Li · Yuanzhi Li

Motivated by the recent empirical successes of deep generative models, we study the computational complexity of the following unsupervised learning problem. For an unknown neural network $F:\mathbb{R}^d\to\mathbb{R}^{d'}$, let $D$ be the distribution over $\mathbb{R}^{d'}$ given by pushing the standard Gaussian $\mathcal{N}(0,\textrm{Id}_d)$ through $F$. Given i.i.d. samples from $D$, the goal is to output *any* distribution close to $D$ in statistical distance. We show under the statistical query (SQ) model that no polynomial-time algorithm can solve this problem even when the output coordinates of $F$ are one-hidden-layer ReLU networks with $\log(d)$ neurons. Previously, the best lower bounds for this problem simply followed from lower bounds for *supervised learning* and required at least two hidden layers and $\textrm{poly}(d)$ neurons [Daniely-Vardi '21, Chen-Gollakota-Klivans-Meka '22]. The key ingredient in our proof is an ODE-based construction of a compactly supported, piecewise-linear function $f$ with polynomially-bounded slopes such that the pushforward of $\mathcal{N}(0,1)$ under $f$ matches all low-degree moments of $\mathcal{N}(0,1)$.

Cryptographic Hardness of Learning Halfspaces with Massart Noise

Ilias Diakonikolas · Daniel Kane · Pasin Manurangsi · Lisheng Ren

We study the complexity of PAC learning halfspaces in the presence of Massart noise. In this problem, we are given i.i.d. labeled examples $(\mathbf{x}, y) \in \mathbb{R}^N \times \{ \pm 1\}$, where the distribution of $\mathbf{x}$ is arbitrary and the label $y$ is a Massart corruption of $f(\mathbf{x})$, for an unknown halfspace $f: \mathbb{R}^N \to \{ \pm 1\}$, with flipping probability $\eta(\mathbf{x}) \leq \eta < 1/2$. The goal of the learner is to compute a hypothesis with small 0-1 error. Our main result is the first computational hardness result for this learning problem. Specifically, assuming the (widely believed) subexponential-time hardness of the Learning with Errors (LWE) problem, we show that no polynomial-time Massart halfspace learner can achieve error better than $\Omega(\eta)$, even if the optimal 0-1 error is small, namely $\mathrm{OPT} = 2^{-\log^{c} (N)}$ for any universal constant $c \in (0, 1)$. Prior work had provided qualitatively similar evidence of hardness in the Statistical Query model. Our computational hardness result essentially resolves the polynomial PAC learnability of Massart halfspaces, by showing that known efficient learning algorithms for the problem are nearly best possible.

Stochastic Second-Order Methods Improve Best-Known Sample Complexity of SGD for Gradient-Dominated Functions

Saeed Masiha · Saber Salehkaleybar · Niao He · Negar Kiyavash · Patrick Thiran

We study the performance of Stochastic Cubic Regularized Newton (SCRN) on a class of functions satisfying gradient dominance property with $1\le\alpha\le2$ which holds in a wide range of applications in machine learning and signal processing. This condition ensures that any first-order stationary point is a global optimum. We prove that the total sample complexity of SCRN in achieving $\epsilon$-global optimum is $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-7/(2\alpha)+1})$ for $1\le\alpha< 3/2$ and $\mathcal{\tilde{O}}(\epsilon^{-2/(\alpha)})$ for $3/2\le\alpha\le 2$. SCRN improves the best-known sample complexity of stochastic gradient descent. Even under a weak version of gradient dominance property, which is applicable to policy-based reinforcement learning (RL), SCRN achieves the same improvement over stochastic policy gradient methods. Additionally, we show that the average sample complexity of SCRN can be reduced to ${\mathcal{O}}(\epsilon^{-2})$ for $\alpha=1$ using a variance reduction method with time-varying batch sizes. Experimental results in various RL settings showcase the remarkable performance of SCRN compared to first-order methods.

Accelerated Primal-Dual Gradient Method for Smooth and Convex-Concave Saddle-Point Problems with Bilinear Coupling

Dmitry Kovalev · Alexander Gasnikov · Peter Richtarik

In this paper we study the convex-concave saddle-point problem $\min_x \max_y f(x) + y^\top\mathbf{A}x - g(y)$, where $f(x)$ and $g(y)$ are smooth and convex functions. We propose an Accelerated Primal-Dual Gradient Method (APDG) for solving this problem, achieving (i) an optimal linear convergence rate in the strongly-convex-strongly-concave regime, matching the lower complexity bound (Zhang et al., 2021), and (ii) an accelerated linear convergence rate in the case when only one of the functions $f(x)$ and $g(y)$ is strongly convex or even none of them are. Finally, we obtain a linearly convergent algorithm for the general smooth and convex-concave saddle point problem $\min_x \max_y F(x,y)$ without the requirement of strong convexity or strong concavity.

Sample-Efficient Learning of Correlated Equilibria in Extensive-Form Games

Ziang Song · Song Mei · Yu Bai

Imperfect-Information Extensive-Form Games (IIEFGs) is a prevalent model for real-world games involving imperfect information and sequential plays. The Extensive-Form Correlated Equilibrium (EFCE) has been proposed as a natural solution concept for multi-player general-sum IIEFGs. However, existing algorithms for finding an EFCE require full feedback from the game, and it remains open how to efficiently learn the EFCE in the more challenging bandit feedback setting where the game can only be learned by observations from repeated playing. This paper presents the first sample-efficient algorithm for learning the EFCE from bandit feedback. We begin by proposing $K$-EFCE---a generalized definition that allows players to observe and deviate from the recommended actions for $K$ times. The $K$-EFCE includes the EFCE as a special case at $K=1$, and is an increasingly stricter notion of equilibrium as $K$ increases. We then design an uncoupled no-regret algorithm that finds an $\varepsilon$-approximate $K$-EFCE within $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\max_{i}X_iA_i^{K}/\varepsilon^2)$ iterations in the full feedback setting, where $X_i$ and $A_i$ are the number of information sets and actions for the $i$-th player. Our algorithm works by minimizing a wide-range regret at each information set that takes into account all possible recommendation histories. Finally, we design a sample-based variant of our algorithm that learns an $\varepsilon$-approximate $K$-EFCE within $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\max_{i}X_iA_i^{K+1}/\varepsilon^2)$ episodes of play in the bandit feedback setting. When specialized to $K=1$, this gives the first sample-efficient algorithm for learning EFCE from bandit feedback.

SAPD+: An Accelerated Stochastic Method for Nonconvex-Concave Minimax Problems

Xuan Zhang · Necdet Serhat Aybat · Mert Gurbuzbalaban

We propose a new stochastic method SAPD+ for solving nonconvex-concave minimax problems of the form $\min\max\mathcal{L}(x,y)=f(x)+\Phi(x,y)-g(y)$, where $f,g$ are closed convex and $\Phi(x,y)$ is a smooth function that is weakly convex in $x$, (strongly) concave in $y$. For both strongly concave and merely concave settings, SAPD+ achieves the best known oracle complexities of $\mathcal{O}(L\kappa_y\epsilon^{-4})$ and $\mathcal{O}(L^3\epsilon^{-6})$, respectively, without assuming compactness of the problem domain, where $\kappa_y$ is the condition number, and $L$ is the Lipschitz constant. We also propose SAPD+ with variance reduction, which enjoys the best known oracle complexity of $\mathcal{O}(L\kappa_y^2\epsilon^{-3})$ for weakly convex-strongly concave setting. We demonstrate the efficiency of SAPD+ on a distributionally robust learning problem with a nonconvex regularizer and also on a multi-class classification problem in deep learning.

On Optimal Learning Under Targeted Data Poisoning

Steve Hanneke · Amin Karbasi · Mohammad Mahmoody · Idan Mehalel · Shay Moran

Consider the task of learning a hypothesis class $\mathcal{H}$ in the presence of an adversary that can replace up to an $\eta$ fraction of the examples in the training set with arbitrary adversarial examples. The adversary aims to fail the learner on a particular target test point $x$ which is \emph{known} to the adversary but not to the learner. In this work we aim to characterize the smallest achievable error $\epsilon=\epsilon(\eta)$ by the learner in the presence of such an adversary in both realizable and agnostic settings. We fully achieve this in the realizable setting, proving that $\epsilon=\Theta(\mathtt{VC}(\mathcal{H})\cdot \eta)$, where $\mathtt{VC}(\mathcal{H})$ is the VC dimension of $\mathcal{H}$. Remarkably, we show that the upper bound can be attained by a deterministic learner. In the agnostic setting we reveal a more elaborate landscape: we devise a deterministic learner with a multiplicative regret guarantee of $\epsilon \leq C\cdot\mathtt{OPT} + O(\mathtt{VC}(\mathcal{H})\cdot \eta)$, where $C > 1$ is a universal numerical constant. We complement this by showing that for any deterministic learner there is an attack which worsens its error to at least $2\cdot \mathtt{OPT}$. This implies that a multiplicative deterioration in the regret is unavoidable in this case. Finally, the algorithms we develop for achieving the optimal rates are inherently improper. Nevertheless, we show that for a variety of natural concept classes, such as linear classifiers, it is possible to retain the dependence $\epsilon=\Theta_{\mathcal{H}}(\eta)$ by a proper algorithm in the realizable setting. Here $\Theta_{\mathcal{H}}$ conceals a polynomial dependence on $\mathtt{VC}(\mathcal{H})$.

Taming Fat-Tailed (“Heavier-Tailed” with Potentially Infinite Variance) Noise in Federated Learning

Haibo Yang · Peiwen Qiu · Jia Liu

In recent years, federated learning (FL) has emerged as an important distributed machine learning paradigm to collaboratively learn a global model with multiple clients, while keeping data local and private. However, a key assumption in most existing works on FL algorithms' convergence analysis is that the noise in stochastic first-order information has a finite variance. Although this assumption covers all light-tailed (i.e., sub-exponential) and some heavy-tailed noise distributions (e.g., log-normal, Weibull, and some Pareto distributions), it fails for many fat-tailed noise distributions (i.e., ``heavier-tailed'' with potentially infinite variance) that have been empirically observed in the FL literature. To date, it remains unclear whether one can design convergent algorithms for FL systems that experience fat-tailed noise. This motivates us to fill this gap in this paper by proposing an algorithmic framework called $\mathsf{FAT}$-$\mathsf{Clipping}~$ (\ul{f}ederated \ul{a}veraging with \ul{t}wo-sided learning rates and \ul{clipping}), which contains two variants: $\mathsf{FAT}$-$\mathsf{Clipping}~$ per-round ($\mathsf{FAT}$-$\mathsf{Clipping}$-$\mathsf{PR}$) and $\mathsf{FAT}$-$\mathsf{Clipping}~$ per-iteration ($\mathsf{FAT}$-$\mathsf{Clipping}$-$\mathsf{PI}$). Specifically, for the largest $\alpha \in (1,2]$ such that the fat-tailed noise in FL still has a bounded $\alpha$-moment, we show that both variants achieve $\mathcal{O}((mT)^{\frac{2-\alpha}{\alpha}})$ and $\mathcal{O}((mT)^{\frac{1-\alpha}{3\alpha-2}})$ convergence rates in the strongly-convex and general non-convex settings, respectively, where $m$ and $T$ are the numbers of clients and communication rounds. Moreover, at the expense of more clipping operations compared to $\mathsf{FAT}$-$\mathsf{Clipping}$-$\mathsf{PR}$, $\mathsf{FAT}$-$\mathsf{Clipping}$-$\mathsf{PI}~$ further enjoys a linear speedup effect with respect to the number of local updates at each client and being lower-bound-matching (i.e., order-optimal). Collectively, our results advance the understanding of designing efficient algorithms for FL systems that exhibit fat-tailed first-order oracle information.

Nearly Optimal Best-of-Both-Worlds Algorithms for Online Learning with Feedback Graphs

Shinji Ito · Taira Tsuchiya · Junya Honda

This study considers online learning with general directed feedback graphs. For this problem, we present best-of-both-worlds algorithms that achieve nearly tight regret bounds for adversarial environments as well as poly-logarithmic regret bounds for stochastic environments. As Alon et al. [2015] have shown, tight regret bounds depend on the structure of the feedback graph: strongly observable graphs yield minimax regret of $\tilde{\Theta}( \alpha^{1/2} T^{1/2} )$, while weakly observable graphs induce minimax regret of $\tilde{\Theta}( \delta^{1/3} T^{2/3} )$, where $\alpha$ and $\delta$, respectively, represent the independence number of the graph and the domination number of a certain portion of the graph. Our proposed algorithm for strongly observable graphs has a regret bound of $\tilde{O}( \alpha^{1/2} T^{1/2} )$ for adversarial environments, as well as of $ {O} ( \frac{\alpha (\ln T)^3 }{\Delta_{\min}} ) $ for stochastic environments, where $\Delta_{\min}$ expresses the minimum suboptimality gap. This result resolves an open question raised by Erez and Koren [2021]. We also provide an algorithm for weakly observable graphs that achieves a regret bound of $\tilde{O}( \delta^{1/3}T^{2/3} )$ for adversarial environments and poly-logarithmic regret for stochastic environments. The proposed algorithms are based on the follow-the-regularized-leader approach combined with newly designed update rules for learning rates.

Better Best of Both Worlds Bounds for Bandits with Switching Costs

Idan Amir · Guy Azov · Tomer Koren · Roi Livni

We study best-of-both-worlds algorithms for bandits with switching cost, recently addressed by Rouyer et al., 2021. We introduce a surprisingly simple and effective algorithm that simultaneously achieves minimax optimal regret bound (up to logarithmic factors) of $\mathcal{O}(T^{2/3})$ in the oblivious adversarial setting and a bound of $\mathcal{O}(\min\{\log (T)/\Delta^2,T^{2/3}\})$ in the stochastically-constrained regime, both with (unit) switching costs, where $\Delta$ is the gap between the arms. In the stochastically constrained case, our bound improves over previous results due to Rouyer et al., 2021, that achieved regret of $\mathcal{O}(T^{1/3}/\Delta)$. We accompany our results with a lower bound showing that, in general, $\tilde{\mathcal{\Omega}}(\min\{1/\Delta^2,T^{2/3}\})$ switching cost regret is unavoidable in the stochastically-constrained case for algorithms with $\mathcal{O}(T^{2/3})$ worst-case switching cost regret.

Coreset for Line-Sets Clustering

Sagi Lotan · Ernesto Evgeniy Sanches Shayda · Dan Feldman

The input to the {line-sets $k$-median} problem is an integer $k \geq 1$, and a set $\mathcal{L} = \{L_1,\dots,L_n\}$that contains $n$ sets of lines in $\mathbb{R}^d$. The goal is to compute a set $C$ of $k$ centers (points in $\mathbb{R}^d$) that minimizes the sum $\sum_{L \in \mathcal{L}}\min_{\ell\in L, c\in C}\mathrm{dist}(\ell,c)$ of Euclidean distances from each set to its closest center, where $\mathrm{dist}(\ell,c):=\min_{x\in \ell}\norm{x-c}_2$.An \emph{$\varepsilon$-coreset} for this problem is a weighted subset of sets in $\mathcal{L}$ that approximates this sum up to $1 \pm \varepsilon$ multiplicative factor, for every set $C$ of $k$ centers. We prove that \emph{every} such input set $\set{L}$ has a small $\varepsilon$-coreset, and provide the first coreset construction for this problem and its variants. The coreset consists of $O(\log^2n)$ weighted line-sets from $\set{L}$, and is constructed in $O(n\log n)$ time for every fixed $d, k\geq 1$ and $\varepsilon \in (0,1)$. The main technique is based on a novel reduction to a ``fair clustering'' of colored points to colored centers. We then provide a coreset for this coloring problem, which may be of independent interest. Open source code and experiments are also provided.

On the Efficient Implementation of High Accuracy Optimality of Profile Maximum Likelihood

Moses Charikar · Zhihao Jiang · Kirankumar Shiragur · Aaron Sidford

We provide an efficient unified plug-in approach for estimating symmetric properties of distributions given $n$ independent samples. Our estimator is based on profile-maximum-likelihood (PML) and is sample optimal for estimating various symmetric properties when the estimation error $\epsilon \gg n^{-1/3}$. This result improves upon the previous best accuracy threshold of $\epsilon \gg n^{-1/4}$ achievable by polynomial time computable PML-based universal estimators \cite{ACSS20, ACSS20b}. Our estimator reaches a theoretical limit for universal symmetric property estimation as \cite{Han20} shows that a broad class of universal estimators (containing many well known approaches including ours) cannot be sample optimal for every $1$-Lipschitz property when $\epsilon \ll n^{-1/3}$.

Society of Agents: Regret Bounds of Concurrent Thompson Sampling

Yan Chen · Perry Dong · Qinxun Bai · Maria Dimakopoulou · Wei Xu · Zhengyuan Zhou

We consider the concurrent reinforcement learning problem where $n$ agents simultaneously learn to make decisions in the same environment by sharing experience with each other. Existing works in this emerging area have empirically demonstrated that Thompson sampling (TS) based algorithms provide a particularly attractive alternative for inducing cooperation, because each agent can independently sample a belief environment (and compute a corresponding optimal policy) from the joint posterior computed by aggregating all agents' data , which induces diversity in exploration among agents while benefiting shared experience from all agents. However, theoretical guarantees in this area remain under-explored; in particular, no regret bound is known on TS based concurrent RL algorithms. In this paper, we fill in this gap by considering two settings. In the first, we study the simple finite-horizon episodic RL setting, where TS is naturally adapted into the concurrent setup by having each agent sample from the current joint posterior at the beginning of each episode. We establish a $\tilde{O}(HS\sqrt{\frac{AT}{n}})$ per-agent regret bound, where $H$ is the horizon of the episode, $S$ is the number of states, $A$ is the number of actions, $T$ is the number of episodes and $n$ is the number of agents. In the second setting, we consider the infinite-horizon RL problem, where a policy is measured by its long-run average reward. Here, despite not having natural episodic breakpoints, we show that by a doubling-horizon schedule, we can adapt TS to the infinite-horizon concurrent learning setting to achieve a regret bound of $\tilde{O}(DS\sqrt{ATn})$, where $D$ is the standard notion of diameter of the underlying MDP and $T$ is the number of timesteps. Note that in both settings, the per-agent regret decreases at an optimal rate of $\Theta(\frac{1}{\sqrt{n}})$, which manifests the power of cooperation in concurrent RL.

Improved Convergence Rate of Stochastic Gradient Langevin Dynamics with Variance Reduction and its Application to Optimization

Yuri Kinoshita · Taiji Suzuki

The stochastic gradient Langevin Dynamics is one of the most fundamental algorithms to solve sampling problems and non-convex optimization appearing in several machine learning applications. Especially, its variance reduced versions have nowadays gained particular attention. In this paper, we study two variants of this kind, namely, the Stochastic Variance Reduced Gradient Langevin Dynamics and the Stochastic Recursive Gradient Langevin Dynamics. We prove their convergence to the objective distribution in terms of KL-divergence under the sole assumptions of smoothness and Log-Sobolev inequality which are weaker conditions than those used in prior works for these algorithms. With the batch size and the inner loop length set to $\sqrt{n}$, the gradient complexity to achieve an $\epsilon$-precision is $\tilde{O}((n+dn^{1/2}\epsilon^{-1})\gamma^2 L^2\alpha^{-2})$, which is an improvement from any previous analyses. We also show some essential applications of our result to non-convex optimization.

Kernel Multimodal Continuous Attention

Alexander Moreno · Zhenke Wu · Supriya Nagesh · Walter Dempsey · James Rehg

Attention mechanisms take an expectation of a data representation with respect to probability weights. Recently, (Martins et al. 2020, 2021) proposed continuous attention mechanisms, focusing on unimodal attention densities from the exponential and deformed exponential families: the latter has sparse support. (Farinhas et al 2021) extended this to to multimodality via Gaussian mixture attention densities. In this paper, we extend this to kernel exponential families (Canu and Smola 2006) and our new sparse counterpart, kernel deformed exponential families. Theoretically, we show new existence results for both kernel exponential and deformed exponential families, and that the deformed case has similar approximation capabilities to kernel exponential families. Lacking closed form expressions for the context vector, we use numerical integration: we show exponential convergence for both kernel exponential and deformed exponential families. Experiments show that kernel continuous attention often outperforms unimodal continuous attention, and the sparse variant tends to highlight peaks of time series.

Empirical Gateaux Derivatives for Causal Inference

Michael Jordan · Yixin Wang · Angela Zhou

We study a constructive procedure that approximates Gateaux derivatives for statistical functionals by finite-differencing, with attention to causal inference functionals. We focus on the case where probability distributions are not known a priori but need also to be estimated from data, leading to empirical Gateaux derivatives, and study relationships between empirical, numerical, and analytical Gateaux derivatives. Starting with a case study of counterfactual mean estimation, we verify the exact relationship between finite-differences and the analytical Gateaux derivative. We then derive requirements on the rates of numerical approximation in perturbation and smoothing that preserve statistical benefits. We study more complicated functionals such as dynamic treatment regimes and the linear-programming formulation for policy optimization infinite-horizon Markov decision processes. In the case of the latter, this approach can be used to approximate bias adjustments in the presence of arbitrary constraints, illustrating the usefulness of constructive approaches for Gateaux derivatives. We find that, omitting unfavorable dimension dependence of smoothing, although rate-double robustness permits for coarser rates of perturbation size than implied by generic approximation analysis of finite-differences for the case of the counterfactual mean, this is not the case for the infinite-horizon MDP policy value.

Bayesian Persuasion for Algorithmic Recourse

Keegan Harris · Valerie Chen · Joon Kim · Ameet Talwalkar · Hoda Heidari · Steven Wu

When subjected to automated decision-making, decision subjects may strategically modify their observable features in ways they believe will maximize their chances of receiving a favorable decision. In many practical situations, the underlying assessment rule is deliberately kept secret to avoid gaming and maintain competitive advantage. The resulting opacity forces the decision subjects to rely on incomplete information when making strategic feature modifications. We capture such settings as a game of Bayesian persuasion, in which the decision maker offers a form of recourse to the decision subject by providing them with an action recommendation (or signal) to incentivize them to modify their features in desirable ways. We show that when using persuasion, the decision maker and decision subject are never worse off in expectation, while the decision maker can be significantly better off. While the decision maker’s problem of finding the optimal Bayesian incentive compatible (BIC) signaling policy takes the form of optimization over infinitely many variables, we show that this optimization can be cast as a linear program over finitely-many regions of the space of possible assessment rules. While this reformulation simplifies the problem dramatically, solving the linear program requires reasoning about exponentially-many variables, even in relatively simple cases. Motivated by this observation, we provide a polynomial-time approximation scheme that recovers a near-optimal signaling policy. Finally, our numerical simulations on semi-synthetic data empirically demonstrate the benefits of using persuasion in the algorithmic recourse setting.

Hardness of Noise-Free Learning for Two-Hidden-Layer Neural Networks

Sitan Chen · Aravind Gollakota · Adam Klivans · Raghu Meka

We give superpolynomial statistical query (SQ) lower bounds for learning two-hidden-layer ReLU networks with respect to Gaussian inputs in the standard (noise-free) model. No general SQ lower bounds were known for learning ReLU networks of any depth in this setting: previous SQ lower bounds held only for adversarial noise models (agnostic learning) (Kothari and Klivans 2014, Goel et al. 2020a, Diakonikolas et al. 2020a) or restricted models such as correlational SQ (Goel et al. 2020b, Diakonikolas et al. 2020b). Prior work hinted at the impossibility of our result: Vempala and Wilmes (2019) showed that general SQ lower bounds cannot apply to any real-valued family of functions that satisfies a simple non-degeneracy condition. To circumvent their result, we refine a lifting procedure due to Daniely and Vardi (2021) that reduces Boolean PAC learning problems to Gaussian ones. We show how to extend their technique to other learning models and, in many well-studied cases, obtain a more efficient reduction. As such, we also prove new cryptographic hardness results for PAC learning two-hidden-layer ReLU networks, as well as new lower bounds for learning constant-depth ReLU networks from membership queries.

The Hessian Screening Rule

Johan Larsson · Jonas Wallin

Predictor screening rules, which discard predictors before fitting a model, have had considerable impact on the speed with which sparse regression problems, such as the lasso, can be solved. In this paper we present a new screening rule for solving the lasso path: the Hessian Screening Rule. The rule uses second-order information from the model to provide both effective screening, particularly in the case of high correlation, as well as accurate warm starts. The proposed rule outperforms all alternatives we study on simulated data sets with both low and high correlation for (\ell_1)-regularized least-squares (the lasso) and logistic regression. It also performs best in general on the real data sets that we examine.

Distributed Optimization for Overparameterized Problems: Achieving Optimal Dimension Independent Communication Complexity

Bingqing Song · Ioannis Tsaknakis · Chung-Yiu Yau · Hoi-To Wai · Mingyi Hong

Decentralized optimization are playing an important role in applications such as training large machine learning models, among others. Despite its superior practical performance, there has been some lack of fundamental understanding about its theoretical properties. In this work, we address the following open research question: To train an overparameterized model over a set of distributed nodes, what is the {\it minimum} communication overhead (in terms of the bits got exchanged) that the system needs to sustain, while still achieving (near) zero training loss? We show that for a class of overparameterized models where the number of parameters $D$ is much larger than the total data samples $N$, the best possible communication complexity is ${\Omega}(N)$, which is independent of the problem dimension $D$. Further, for a few specific overparameterized models (i.e., the linear regression, and certain multi-layer neural network with one wide layer), we develop a set of algorithms which uses certain linear compression followed by adaptive quantization, and show that they achieve dimension independent, and sometimes near optimal, communication complexity. To our knowledge, this is the first time that dimension independent communication complexity has been shown for distributed optimization.

Will Bilevel Optimizers Benefit from Loops

Kaiyi Ji · Mingrui Liu · Yingbin Liang · Lei Ying

Bilevel optimization has arisen as a powerful tool for solving a variety of machine learning problems. Two current popular bilevel optimizers AID-BiO and ITD-BiO naturally involve solving one or two sub-problems, and consequently, whether we solve these problems with loops (that take many iterations) or without loops (that take only a few iterations) can significantly affect the overall computational efficiency. Existing studies in the literature cover only some of those implementation choices, and the complexity bounds available are not refined enough to enable rigorous comparison among different implementations. In this paper, we first establish unified convergence analysis for both AID-BiO and ITD-BiO that are applicable to all implementation choices of loops. We then specialize our results to characterize the computational complexity for all implementations, which enable an explicit comparison among them. Our result indicates that for AID-BiO, the loop for estimating the optimal point of the inner function is beneficial for overall efficiency, although it causes higher complexity for each update step, and the loop for approximating the outer-level Hessian-inverse-vector product reduces the gradient complexity. For ITD-BiO, the two loops always coexist, and our convergence upper and lower bounds show that such loops are necessary to guarantee a vanishing convergence error, whereas the no-loop scheme suffers from an unavoidable non-vanishing convergence error. Our numerical experiments further corroborate our theoretical results.

Expected Improvement for Contextual Bandits

Hung Tran-The · Sunil Gupta · Santu Rana · Tuan Truong · Long Tran-Thanh · Svetha Venkatesh

The expected improvement (EI) is a popular technique to handle the tradeoff between exploration and exploitation under uncertainty. This technique has been widely used in Bayesian optimization but it is not applicable for the contextual bandit problem which is a generalization of the standard bandit and Bayesian optimization. In this paper, we initiate and study the EI technique for contextual bandits from both theoretical and practical perspectives. We propose two novel EI-based algorithms, one when the reward function is assumed to be linear and the other for more general reward functions. With linear reward functions, we demonstrate that our algorithm achieves a near-optimal regret. Notably, our regret improves that of LinTS \cite{agrawal13} by a factor $\sqrt{d}$ while avoiding to solve a NP-hard problem at each iteration as in LinUCB \cite{Abbasi11}. For more general reward functions which are modeled by deep neural networks, we prove that our algorithm achieves a $\tilde{\mathcal O} (\tilde{d}\sqrt{T})$ regret, where $\tilde{d}$ is the effective dimension of a neural tangent kernel (NTK) matrix, and $T$ is the number of iterations. Our experiments on various benchmark datasets show that both proposed algorithms work well and consistently outperform existing approaches, especially in high dimensions.

Fast Neural Kernel Embeddings for General Activations

Insu Han · Amir Zandieh · Jaehoon Lee · Roman Novak · Lechao Xiao · Amin Karbasi

Infinite width limit has shed light on generalization and optimization aspects of deep learning by establishing connections between neural networks and kernel methods. Despite their importance, the utility of these kernel methods was limited in large-scale learning settings due to their (super-)quadratic runtime and memory complexities. Moreover, most prior works on neural kernels have focused on the ReLU activation, mainly due to its popularity but also due to the difficulty of computing such kernels for general activations. In this work, we overcome such difficulties by providing methods to work with general activations. First, we compile and expand the list of activation functions admitting exact dual activation expressions to compute neural kernels. When the exact computation is unknown, we present methods to effectively approximate them. We propose a fast sketching method that approximates any multi-layered Neural Network Gaussian Process (NNGP) kernel and Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) matrices for a wide range of activation functions, going beyond the commonly analyzed ReLU activation. This is done by showing how to approximate the neural kernels using the truncated Hermite expansion of any desired activation functions. While most prior works require data points on the unit sphere, our methods do not suffer from such limitations and are applicable to any dataset of points in $\mathbb{R}^d$. Furthermore, we provide a subspace embedding for NNGP and NTK matrices with near input-sparsity runtime and near-optimal target dimension which applies to any \emph{homogeneous} dual activation functions with rapidly convergent Taylor expansion. Empirically, with respect to exact convolutional NTK (CNTK) computation, our method achieves $106\times$ speedup for approximate CNTK of a 5-layer Myrtle network on CIFAR-10 dataset.

Maximum Common Subgraph Guided Graph Retrieval: Late and Early Interaction Networks

Indradyumna Roy · Soumen Chakrabarti · Abir De

The graph retrieval problem is to search in a large corpus of graphs for ones that are most similar to a query graph. A common consideration for scoring similarity is the maximum common subgraph (MCS) between the query and corpus graphs, usually counting the number of common edges (i.e., MCES). In some applications, it is also desirable that the common subgraph be connected, i.e., the maximum common connected subgraph (MCCS). Finding exact MCES and MCCS is intractable, but may be unnecessary if ranking corpus graphs by relevance is the goal. We design fast and trainable neural functions that approximate MCES and MCCS well. Late interaction methods compute dense representations for the query and corpus graph separately, and compare these representations using simple similarity functions at the last stage, leading to highly scalable systems. Early interaction methods combine information from both graphs right from the input stages, are usually considerably more accurate, but slower. We propose both late and early interaction neural MCES and MCCS formulations. They are both based on a continuous relaxation of a node alignment matrix between query and corpus nodes. For MCCS, we propose a novel differentiable network for estimating the size of the largest connected common subgraph. Extensive experiments with seven data sets show that our proposals are superior among late interaction models in terms of both accuracy and speed. Our early interaction models provide accuracy competitive with the state of the art, at substantially greater speeds.

Hierarchical Agglomerative Graph Clustering in Poly-Logarithmic Depth

Laxman Dhulipala · David Eisenstat · Jakub Lacki · Vahab Mirrokni · Jessica Shi

Obtaining scalable algorithms for \emph{hierarchical agglomerative clustering} (HAC) is of significant interest due to the massive size of real-world datasets. At the same time, efficiently parallelizing HAC is difficult due to the seemingly sequential nature of the algorithm. In this paper, we address this issue and present ParHAC, the first efficient parallel HAC algorithm with sublinear depth for the widely-used average-linkage function. In particular, we provide a $(1+\epsilon)$-approximation algorithm for this problem on $m$ edge graphs using $\tilde{O}(m)$ work and poly-logarithmic depth. Moreover, we show that obtaining similar bounds for \emph{exact} average-linkage HAC is not possible under standard complexity-theoretic assumptions.We complement our theoretical results with a comprehensive study of the ParHAC algorithm in terms of its scalability, performance, and quality, and compare with several state-of-the-art sequential and parallel baselines. On a broad set of large publicly-available real-world datasets, we find that ParHAC obtains a 50.1x speedup on average over the best sequential baseline, while achieving quality similar to the exact HAC algorithm. We also show that ParHAC can cluster one of the largest publicly available graph datasets with 124 billion edges in a little over three hours using a commodity multicore machine.

Understanding Deep Contrastive Learning via Coordinate-wise Optimization

Yuandong Tian

We show that Contrastive Learning (CL) under a broad family of loss functions (including InfoNCE) has a unified formulation of coordinate-wise optimization on the network parameter $\vtheta$ and pairwise importance $\alpha$, where the \emph{max player} $\vtheta$ learns representation for contrastiveness, and the \emph{min player} $\alpha$ puts more weights on pairs of distinct samples that share similar representations. The resulting formulation, called \boldmethod{}, unifies not only various existing contrastive losses, which differ by how sample-pair importance $\alpha$ is constructed, but also is able to extrapolate to give novel contrastive losses beyond popular ones, opening a new avenue of contrastive loss design. These novel losses yield comparable (or better) performance on CIFAR10, STL-10 and CIFAR-100 than classic InfoNCE. Furthermore, we also analyze the max player in detail: we prove that with fixed $\alpha$, max player is equivalent to Principal Component Analysis (PCA) for deep linear network, and almost all local minima are global and rank-1, recovering optimal PCA solutions. Finally, we extend our analysis on max player to 2-layer ReLU networks, showing that its fixed points can have higher ranks. Codes are available in

Deciding What to Model: Value-Equivalent Sampling for Reinforcement Learning

Dilip Arumugam · Benjamin Van Roy

The quintessential model-based reinforcement-learning agent iteratively refines its estimates or prior beliefs about the true underlying model of the environment. Recent empirical successes in model-based reinforcement learning with function approximation, however, eschew the true model in favor of a surrogate that, while ignoring various facets of the environment, still facilitates effective planning over behaviors. Recently formalized as the value equivalence principle, this algorithmic technique is perhaps unavoidable as real-world reinforcement learning demands consideration of a simple, computationally-bounded agent interacting with an overwhelmingly complex environment, whose underlying dynamics likely exceed the agent's capacity for representation. In this work, we consider the scenario where agent limitations may entirely preclude identifying an exactly value-equivalent model, immediately giving rise to a trade-off between identifying a model that is simple enough to learn while only incurring bounded sub-optimality. To address this problem, we introduce an algorithm that, using rate-distortion theory, iteratively computes an approximately-value-equivalent, lossy compression of the environment which an agent may feasibly target in lieu of the true model. We prove an information-theoretic, Bayesian regret bound for our algorithm that holds for any finite-horizon, episodic sequential decision-making problem. Crucially, our regret bound can be expressed in one of two possible forms, providing a performance guarantee for finding either the simplest model that achieves a desired sub-optimality gap or, alternatively, the best model given a limit on agent capacity.

Sparse Hypergraph Community Detection Thresholds in Stochastic Block Model

Erchuan Zhang · David Suter · Giang Truong · Syed Zulqarnain Gilani

Community detection in random graphs or hypergraphs is an interesting fundamental problem in statistics, machine learning and computer vision. When the hypergraphs are generated by a {\em stochastic block model}, the existence of a sharp threshold on the model parameters for community detection was conjectured by Angelini et al. 2015. In this paper, we confirm the positive part of the conjecture, the possibility of non-trivial reconstruction above the threshold, for the case of two blocks. We do so by comparing the hypergraph stochastic block model with its Erd{\"o}s-R{\'e}nyi counterpart. We also obtain estimates for the parameters of the hypergraph stochastic block model. The methods developed in this paper are generalised from the study of sparse random graphs by Mossel et al. 2015 and are motivated by the work of Yuan et al. 2022. Furthermore, we present some discussion on the negative part of the conjecture, i.e., non-reconstruction of community structures.

Don't Pour Cereal into Coffee: Differentiable Temporal Logic for Temporal Action Segmentation

Ziwei Xu · Yogesh Rawat · Yongkang Wong · Mohan Kankanhalli · Mubarak Shah

We propose Differentiable Temporal Logic (DTL), a model-agnostic framework that introduces temporal constraints to deep networks. DTL treats the outputs of a network as a truth assignment of a temporal logic formula, and computes a temporal logic loss reflecting the consistency between the output and the constraints. We propose a comprehensive set of constraints, which are implicit in data annotations, and incorporate them with deep networks via DTL. We evaluate the effectiveness of DTL on the temporal action segmentation task and observe improved performance and reduced logical errors in the output of different task models. Furthermore, we provide an extensive analysis to visualize the desirable effects of DTL.

Towards Versatile Embodied Navigation

Hanqing Wang · Wei Liang · Luc V Gool · Wenguan Wang

With the emergence of varied visual navigation tasks (e.g., image-/object-/audio-goal and vision-language navigation) that specify the target in different ways, the community has made appealing advances in training specialized agents capable of handling individual navigation tasks well. Given plenty of embodied navigation tasks and task-specific solutions, we address a more fundamental question: can we learn a single powerful agent that masters not one but multiple navigation tasks concurrently? First, we propose VXN, a large-scale 3D dataset that instantiates~four classic navigation tasks in standardized, continuous, and audiovisual-rich environments. Second, we propose Vienna, a versatile embodied navigation agent that simultaneously learns to perform the four navigation tasks with one model. Building upon a full-attentive architecture, Vienna formulates various navigation tasks as a unified, parse-and-query procedure: the target description, augmented with four task embeddings, is comprehensively interpreted into a set of diversified goal vectors, which are refined as the navigation progresses, and used as queries to retrieve supportive context from episodic history for decision making. This enables the reuse of knowledge across navigation tasks with varying input domains/modalities. We empirically demonstrate that, compared with learning each visual navigation task individually, our multitask agent achieves comparable or even better performance with reduced complexity.

CASA: Category-agnostic Skeletal Animal Reconstruction

Yuefan Wu · Zeyuan Chen · Shaowei Liu · Zhongzheng Ren · Shenlong Wang

Recovering a skeletal shape from a monocular video is a longstanding challenge. Prevailing nonrigid animal reconstruction methods often adopt a control-point driven animation model and optimize bone transforms individually without considering skeletal topology, yielding unsatisfactory shape and articulation. In contrast, humans can easily infer the articulation structure of an unknown character by associating it with a seen articulated object in their memory. Inspired by this fact, we present CASA, a novel category-agnostic articulated animal reconstruction method. Our method consists of two components, a video-to-shape retrieval process and a neural inverse graphics framework. During inference, CASA first finds a matched articulated shape from a 3D character assets bank so that the input video scores highly with the rendered image, according to a pretrained image-language model. It then integrates the retrieved character into an inverse graphics framework and jointly infers the shape deformation, skeleton structure, and skinning weights through optimization. Experiments validate the efficacy of our method in shape reconstruction and articulation. We further show that we can use the resulting skeletal-animated character for re-animation.

Counterfactual Neural Temporal Point Process for Estimating Causal Influence of Misinformation on Social Media

Yizhou Zhang · Defu Cao · Yan Liu

Recent years have witnessed the rise of misinformation campaigns that spread specific narratives on social media to manipulate public opinions on different areas, such as politics and healthcare. Consequently, an effective and efficient automatic methodology to estimate the influence of the misinformation on user beliefs and activities is needed. However, existing works on misinformation impact estimation either rely on small-scale psychological experiments or can only discover the correlation between user behaviour and misinformation. To address these issues, in this paper, we build up a causal framework that model the causal effect of misinformation from the perspective of temporal point process. To adapt the large-scale data, we design an efficient yet precise way to estimate the \textbf{Individual Treatment Effect} (ITE) via neural temporal point process and gaussian mixture models. Extensive experiments on synthetic dataset verify the effectiveness and efficiency of our model. We further apply our model on a real-world dataset of social media posts and engagements about COVID-19 vaccines. The experimental results indicate that our model recognized identifiable causal effect of misinformation that hurts people's subjective emotions toward the vaccines.

Outsourcing Training without Uploading Data via Efficient Collaborative Open-Source Sampling

Junyuan Hong · Lingjuan Lyu · Jiayu Zhou · Michael Spranger

As deep learning blooms with growing demand for computation and data resources, outsourcing model training to a powerful cloud server becomes an attractive alternative to training at a low-power and cost-effective end device. Traditional outsourcing requires uploading device data to the cloud server, which can be infeasible in many real-world applications due to the often sensitive nature of the collected data and the limited communication bandwidth. To tackle these challenges, we propose to leverage widely available open-source data, which is a massive dataset collected from public and heterogeneous sources (e.g., Internet images). We develop a novel strategy called Efficient Collaborative Open-source Sampling (ECOS) to construct a proximal proxy dataset from open-source data for cloud training, in lieu of client data. ECOS probes open-source data on the cloud server to sense the distribution of client data via a communication- and computation-efficient sampling process, which only communicates a few compressed public features and client scalar responses. Extensive empirical studies show that the proposed ECOS improves the quality of automated client labeling, model compression, and label outsourcing when applied in various learning scenarios. Source codes will be released.

Brain Network Transformer

Xuan Kan · Wei Dai · Hejie Cui · Zilong Zhang · Ying Guo · Carl Yang

Human brains are commonly modeled as networks of Regions of Interest (ROIs) and their connections for the understanding of brain functions and mental disorders. Recently, Transformer-based models have been studied over different types of data, including graphs, shown to bring performance gains widely. In this work, we study Transformer-based models for brain network analysis. Driven by the unique properties of data, we model brain networks as graphs with nodes of fixed size and order, which allows us to (1) use connection profiles as node features to provide natural and low-cost positional information and (2) learn pair-wise connection strengths among ROIs with efficient attention weights across individuals that are predictive towards downstream analysis tasks. Moreover, we propose an Orthonormal Clustering Readout operation based on self-supervised soft clustering and orthonormal projection. This design accounts for the underlying functional modules that determine similar behaviors among groups of ROIs, leading to distinguishable cluster-aware node embeddings and informative graph embeddings. Finally, we re-standardize the evaluation pipeline on the only one publicly available large-scale brain network dataset of ABIDE, to enable meaningful comparison of different models. Experiment results show clear improvements of our proposed Brain Network Transformer on both the public ABIDE and our restricted ABCD datasets. The implementation is available at

Policy Optimization with Advantage Regularization for Long-Term Fairness in Decision Systems

Eric Yu · Zhizhen Qin · Min Kyung Lee · Sicun Gao

Long-term fairness is an important factor of consideration in designing and deploying learning-based decision systems in high-stake decision-making contexts. Recent work has proposed the use of Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) to formulate decision-making with long-term fairness requirements in dynamically changing environments, and demonstrated major challenges in directly deploying heuristic and rule-based policies that worked well in static environments. We show that policy optimization methods from deep reinforcement learning can be used to find strictly better decision policies that can often achieve both higher overall utility and less violation of the fairness requirements, compared to previously-known strategies. In particular, we propose new methods for imposing fairness requirements in policy optimization by regularizing the advantage evaluation of different actions. Our proposed methods make it easy to impose fairness constraints without reward engineering or sacrificing training efficiency. We perform detailed analyses in three established case studies, including attention allocation in incident monitoring, bank loan approval, and vaccine distribution in population networks.

SizeShiftReg: a Regularization Method for Improving Size-Generalization in Graph Neural Networks

Davide Buffelli · Pietro Lió · Fabio Vandin

In the past few years, graph neural networks (GNNs) have become the de facto model of choice for graph classification. While, from the theoretical viewpoint, most GNNs can operate on graphs of any size, it is empirically observed that their classification performance degrades when they are applied on graphs with sizes that differ from those in the training data. Previous works have tried to tackle this issue in graph classification by providing the model with inductive biases derived from assumptions on the generative process of the graphs, or by requiring access to graphs from the test domain. The first strategy is tied to the quality of the assumptions made for the generative process, and requires the use of specific models designed after the explicit definition of the generative process of the data, leaving open the question of how to improve the performance of generic GNN models in general settings. On the other hand, the second strategy can be applied to any GNN, but requires access to information that is not always easy to obtain. In this work we consider the scenario in which we only have access to the training data, and we propose a regularization strategy that can be applied to any GNN to improve its generalization capabilities from smaller to larger graphs without requiring access to the test data. Our regularization is based on the idea of simulating a shift in the size of the training graphs using coarsening techniques, and enforcing the model to be robust to such a shift. Experimental results on standard datasets show that popular GNN models, trained on the 50% smallest graphs in the dataset and tested on the 10% largest graphs, obtain performance improvements of up to 30% when trained with our regularization strategy.

The Phenomenon of Policy Churn

Tom Schaul · Andre Barreto · John Quan · Georg Ostrovski

We identify and study the phenomenon of policy churn, that is, the rapid change of the greedy policy in value-based reinforcement learning. Policy churn operates at a surprisingly rapid pace, changing the greedy action in a large fraction of states within a handful of learning updates (in a typical deep RL set-up such as DQN on Atari). We characterise the phenomenon empirically, verifying that it is not limited to specific algorithm or environment properties. A number of ablations help whittle down the plausible explanations on why churn occurs to just a handful, all related to deep learning. Finally, we hypothesise that policy churn is a beneficial but overlooked form of implicit exploration that casts $\epsilon$-greedy exploration in a fresh light, namely that $\epsilon$-noise plays a much smaller role than expected.

Learning to Find Proofs and Theorems by Learning to Refine Search Strategies: The Case of Loop Invariant Synthesis

Jonathan Laurent · André Platzer

We propose a new approach to automated theorem proving where an AlphaZero-style agent is self-training to refine a generic high-level expert strategy expressed as a nondeterministic program. An analogous teacher agent is self-training to generate tasks of suitable relevance and difficulty for the learner. This allows leveraging minimal amounts of domain knowledge to tackle problems for which training data is unavailable or hard to synthesize. As a specific illustration, we consider loop invariant synthesis for imperative programs and use neural networks to refine both the teacher and solver strategies.

Censored Quantile Regression Neural Networks for Distribution-Free Survival Analysis

Tim Pearce · Jong-Hyeon Jeong · yichen jia · Jun Zhu

This paper considers doing quantile regression on censored data using neural networks (NNs). This adds to the survival analysis toolkit by allowing direct prediction of the target variable, along with a distribution-free characterisation of uncertainty, using a flexible function approximator. We begin by showing how an algorithm popular in linear models can be applied to NNs. However, the resulting procedure is inefficient, requiring sequential optimisation of an individual NN at each desired quantile. Our major contribution is a novel algorithm that simultaneously optimises a grid of quantiles output by a single NN. To offer theoretical insight into our algorithm, we show firstly that it can be interpreted as a form of expectation-maximisation, and secondly that it exhibits a desirable `self-correcting' property. Experimentally, the algorithm produces quantiles that are better calibrated than existing methods on 10 out of 12 real datasets.

Certifying Robust Graph Classification under Orthogonal Gromov-Wasserstein Threats

Hongwei Jin · Zishun Yu · Xinhua Zhang

Graph classifiers are vulnerable to topological attacks. Although certificates of robustness have been recently developed, their threat model only counts local and global edge perturbations, which effectively ignores important graph structures such as isomorphism. To address this issue, we propose measuring the perturbation with the orthogonal Gromov-Wasserstein discrepancy, and building its Fenchel biconjugate to facilitate convex optimization. Our key insight is drawn from the matching loss whose root connects two variables via a monotone operator, and it yields a tight outer convex approximation for resistance distance on graph nodes. When applied to graph classification by graph convolutional networks, both our certificate and attack algorithm are demonstrated effective.

To update or not to update? Neurons at equilibrium in deep models

Andrea Bragagnolo · Enzo Tartaglione · Marco Grangetto

Recent advances in deep learning optimization showed that, with some a-posteriori information on fully-trained models, it is possible to match the same performance by simply training a subset of their parameters. Such a discovery has a broad impact from theory to applications, driving the research towards methods to identify the minimum subset of parameters to train without look-ahead information exploitation. However, the methods proposed do not match the state-of-the-art performance, and rely on unstructured sparsely connected models.In this work we shift our focus from the single parameters to the behavior of the whole neuron, exploiting the concept of neuronal equilibrium (NEq). When a neuron is in a configuration at equilibrium (meaning that it has learned a specific input-output relationship), we can halt its update; on the contrary, when a neuron is at non-equilibrium, we let its state evolve towards an equilibrium state, updating its parameters. The proposed approach has been tested on different state-of-the-art learning strategies and tasks, validating NEq and observing that the neuronal equilibrium depends on the specific learning setup.

Improving Intrinsic Exploration with Language Abstractions

Jesse Mu · Victor Zhong · Roberta Raileanu · Minqi Jiang · Noah Goodman · Tim Rocktäschel · Edward Grefenstette

Reinforcement learning (RL) agents are particularly hard to train when rewards are sparse. One common solution is to use intrinsic rewards to encourage agents to explore their environment. However, recent intrinsic exploration methods often use state-based novelty measures which reward low-level exploration and may not scale to domains requiring more abstract skills. Instead, we explore natural language as a general medium for highlighting relevant abstractions in an environment. Unlike previous work, we evaluate whether language can improve over existing exploration methods by directly extending (and comparing to) competitive intrinsic exploration baselines: AMIGo (Campero et al., 2021) and NovelD (Zhang et al., 2021). These language-based variants outperform their non-linguistic forms by 47-85% across 13 challenging tasks from the MiniGrid and MiniHack environment suites.

Masked Generative Adversarial Networks are Data-Efficient Generation Learners

Jiaxing Huang · Kaiwen Cui · Dayan Guan · Aoran Xiao · Fangneng Zhan · Shijian Lu · Shengcai Liao · Eric Xing

This paper shows that masked generative adversarial network (MaskedGAN) is robust image generation learners with limited training data. The idea of MaskedGAN is simple: it randomly masks out certain image information for effective GAN training with limited data. We develop two masking strategies that work along orthogonal dimensions of training images, including a shifted spatial masking that masks the images in spatial dimensions with random shifts, and a balanced spectral masking that masks certain image spectral bands with self-adaptive probabilities. The two masking strategies complement each other which together encourage more challenging holistic learning from limited training data, ultimately suppressing trivial solutions and failures in GAN training. Albeit simple, extensive experiments show that MaskedGAN achieves superior performance consistently across different network architectures (e.g., CNNs including BigGAN and StyleGAN-v2 and Transformers including TransGAN and GANformer) and datasets (e.g., CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, ImageNet, 100-shot, AFHQ, FFHQ and Cityscapes).

Dance of SNN and ANN: Solving binding problem by combining spike timing and reconstructive attention

Hao Zheng · Hui Lin · Rong Zhao · Luping Shi

The binding problem is one of the fundamental challenges that prevent the artificial neural network (ANNs) from a compositional understanding of the world like human perception, because disentangled and distributed representations of generative factors can interfere and lead to ambiguity when complex data with multiple objects are presented. In this paper, we propose a brain-inspired unsupervised hybrid neural network (HNN) that introduces temporal binding theory originated from neuroscience into ANNs by integrating spike timing dynamics (via spiking neural networks, SNNs) with reconstructive attention (by ANNs). Spike timing provides an additional dimension for grouping, while reconstructive feedback coordinates the spikes into temporal coherent states. Through iterative interaction of ANN and SNN, the model continuously binds multiple objects at alternative synchronous firing times in the SNN coding space. The effectiveness of the model is evaluated on five artificially generated datasets of binary images. By visualization and analysis, we demonstrate that the binding is explainable, soft, flexible, and hierarchical. Notably, the model is trained on single object datasets without explicit supervision on grouping, but can successfully bind multiple objects on test datasets, showing its compositional generalization capability. Further results show its binding ability in dynamic situations.

Theseus: A Library for Differentiable Nonlinear Optimization

Luis Pineda · Taosha Fan · Maurizio Monge · Shobha Venkataraman · Paloma Sodhi · Ricky T. Q. Chen · Joseph Ortiz · Daniel DeTone · Austin Wang · Stuart Anderson · Jing Dong · Brandon Amos · Mustafa Mukadam

We present Theseus, an efficient application-agnostic open source library for differentiable nonlinear least squares (DNLS) optimization built on PyTorch, providing a common framework for end-to-end structured learning in robotics and vision. Existing DNLS implementations are application specific and do not always incorporate many ingredients important for efficiency. Theseus is application-agnostic, as we illustrate with several example applications that are built using the same underlying differentiable components, such as second-order optimizers, standard costs functions, and Lie groups. For efficiency, Theseus incorporates support for sparse solvers, automatic vectorization, batching, GPU acceleration, and gradient computation with implicit differentiation and direct loss minimization. We do extensive performance evaluation in a set of applications, demonstrating significant efficiency gains and better scalability when these features are incorporated. Project page:

Distributed Influence-Augmented Local Simulators for Parallel MARL in Large Networked Systems

Miguel Suau · Jinke He · Mustafa Mert Çelikok · Matthijs Spaan · Frans Oliehoek

Due to its high sample complexity, simulation is, as of today, critical for the successful application of reinforcement learning. Many real-world problems, however, exhibit overly complex dynamics, making their full-scale simulation computationally slow. In this paper, we show how to factorize large networked systems of many agents into multiple local regions such that we can build separate simulators that run independently and in parallel. To monitor the influence that the different local regions exert on one another, each of these simulators is equipped with a learned model that is periodically trained on real trajectories. Our empirical results reveal that distributing the simulation among different processes not only makes it possible to train large multi-agent systems in just a few hours but also helps mitigate the negative effects of simultaneous learning.

Synthetic Model Combination: An Instance-wise Approach to Unsupervised Ensemble Learning

Alex Chan · Mihaela van der Schaar

Consider making a prediction over new test data without any opportunity to learn from a training set of labelled data - instead given access to a set of expert models and their predictions alongside some limited information about the dataset used to train them. In scenarios from finance to the medical sciences, and even consumer practice, stakeholders have developed models on private data they either cannot, or do not want to, share. Given the value and legislation surrounding personal information, it is not surprising that only the models, and not the data, will be released - the pertinent question becoming: how best to use these models? Previous work has focused on global model selection or ensembling, with the result of a single final model across the feature space. Machine learning models perform notoriously poorly on data outside their training domain however, and so we argue that when ensembling models the weightings for individual instances must reflect their respective domains - in other words models that are more likely to have seen information on that instance should have more attention paid to them. We introduce a method for such an instance-wise ensembling of models, including a novel representation learning step for handling sparse high-dimensional domains. Finally, we demonstrate the need and generalisability of our method on classical machine learning tasks as well as highlighting a real world use case in the pharmacological setting of vancomycin precision dosing.

S4ND: Modeling Images and Videos as Multidimensional Signals with State Spaces

Eric Nguyen · Karan Goel · Albert Gu · Gordon Downs · Preey Shah · Tri Dao · Stephen Baccus · Christopher Ré

Visual data such as images and videos are typically modeled as discretizations of inherently continuous, multidimensional signals. Existing continuous-signal models attempt to exploit this fact by modeling the underlying signals of visual (e.g., image) data directly. However, these models have not yet been able to achieve competitive performance on practical vision tasks such as large-scale image and video classification. Building on a recent line of work on deep state space models (SSMs), we propose \method, a new multidimensional SSM layer that extends the continuous-signal modeling ability of SSMs to multidimensional data including images and videos. We show that S4ND can model large-scale visual data in $1$D, $2$D, and $3$D as continuous multidimensional signals and demonstrates strong performance by simply swapping Conv2D and self-attention layers with \method\ layers in existing state-of-the-art models. On ImageNet-1k, \method\ exceeds the performance of a Vision Transformer baseline by $1.5\%$ when training with a $1$D sequence of patches, and matches ConvNeXt when modeling images in $2$D. For videos, S4ND improves on an inflated $3$D ConvNeXt in activity classification on HMDB-51 by $4\%$. S4ND implicitly learns global, continuous convolutional kernels that are resolution invariant by construction, providing an inductive bias that enables generalization across multiple resolutions. By developing a simple bandlimiting modification to S4 to overcome aliasing, S4ND achieves strong zero-shot (unseen at training time) resolution performance, outperforming a baseline Conv2D by $40\%$ on CIFAR-10 when trained on $8 \times 8$ and tested on $32 \times 32$ images. When trained with progressive resizing, S4ND comes within $\sim 1\%$ of a high-resolution model while training $22\%$ faster.

Decoupling Features in Hierarchical Propagation for Video Object Segmentation

Zongxin Yang · Yi Yang

This paper focuses on developing a more effective method of hierarchical propagation for semi-supervised Video Object Segmentation (VOS). Based on vision transformers, the recently-developed Associating Objects with Transformers (AOT) approach introduces hierarchical propagation into VOS and has shown promising results. The hierarchical propagation can gradually propagate information from past frames to the current frame and transfer the current frame feature from object-agnostic to object-specific. However, the increase of object-specific information will inevitably lead to the loss of object-agnostic visual information in deep propagation layers. To solve such a problem and further facilitate the learning of visual embeddings, this paper proposes a Decoupling Features in Hierarchical Propagation (DeAOT) approach. Firstly, DeAOT decouples the hierarchical propagation of object-agnostic and object-specific embeddings by handling them in two independent branches. Secondly, to compensate for the additional computation from dual-branch propagation, we propose an efficient module for constructing hierarchical propagation, i.e., Gated Propagation Module, which is carefully designed with single-head attention. Extensive experiments show that DeAOT significantly outperforms AOT in both accuracy and efficiency. On YouTube-VOS, DeAOT can achieve 86.0% at 22.4fps and 82.0% at 53.4fps. Without test-time augmentations, we achieve new state-of-the-art performance on four benchmarks, i.e., YouTube-VOS (86.2%), DAVIS 2017 (86.2%), DAVIS 2016 (92.9%), and VOT 2020 (0.622 EAO). Project page:

Outstanding Paper
Is Out-of-Distribution Detection Learnable?

Zhen Fang · Yixuan Li · Jie Lu · Jiahua Dong · Bo Han · Feng Liu

Supervised learning aims to train a classifier under the assumption that training and test data are from the same distribution. To ease the above assumption, researchers have studied a more realistic setting: out-of-distribution (OOD) detection, where test data may come from classes that are unknown during training (i.e., OOD data). Due to the unavailability and diversity of OOD data, good generalization ability is crucial for effective OOD detection algorithms. To study the generalization of OOD detection, in this paper, we investigate the probably approximately correct (PAC) learning theory of OOD detection, which is proposed by researchers as an open problem. First, we find a necessary condition for the learnability of OOD detection. Then, using this condition, we prove several impossibility theorems for the learnability of OOD detection under some scenarios. Although the impossibility theorems are frustrating, we find that some conditions of these impossibility theorems may not hold in some practical scenarios. Based on this observation, we next give several necessary and sufficient conditions to characterize the learnability of OOD detection in some practical scenarios. Lastly, we also offer theoretical supports for several representative OOD detection works based on our OOD theory.

QUARK: Controllable Text Generation with Reinforced Unlearning

Ximing Lu · Sean Welleck · Jack Hessel · Liwei Jiang · Lianhui Qin · Peter West · Prithviraj Ammanabrolu · Yejin Choi

Large-scale language models often learn behaviors that are misaligned with user expectations. Generated text may contain offensive or toxic language, contain significant repetition, or be of a different sentiment than desired by the user. We consider the task of unlearning these misalignments by fine-tuning the language model on signals of what not to do. We introduce Quantized Reward Konditioning (Quark), an algorithm for optimizing a reward function that quantifies an (un)wanted property, while not straying too far from the original model. Quark alternates between (i) collecting samples with the current language model, (ii) sorting them into quantiles based on reward, with each quantile identified by a reward token prepended to the language model’s input, and (iii) using a standard language modeling loss on samples from each quantile conditioned on its reward token, while remaining nearby the original language model via a KL-divergence penalty. By conditioning on a high-reward token at generation time, the model generates text that exhibits less of the unwanted property. For unlearning toxicity, negative sentiment, and repetition, our experiments show that Quark outperforms both strong baselines and state-of-the-art reinforcement learning methods like PPO, while relying only on standard language modeling primitives.

Dynamics of SGD with Stochastic Polyak Stepsizes: Truly Adaptive Variants and Convergence to Exact Solution

Antonio Orvieto · Simon Lacoste-Julien · Nicolas Loizou

Recently Loizou et al. (2021), proposed and analyzed stochastic gradient descent (SGD) with stochastic Polyak stepsize (SPS). The proposed SPS comes with strong convergence guarantees and competitive performance; however, it has two main drawbacks when it is used in non-over-parameterized regimes: (i) It requires a priori knowledge of the optimal mini-batch losses, which are not available when the interpolation condition is not satisfied (e.g., regularized objectives), and (ii) it guarantees convergence only to a neighborhood of the solution. In this work, we study the dynamics and the convergence properties of SGD equipped with new variants of the stochastic Polyak stepsize and provide solutions to both drawbacks of the original SPS. We first show that a simple modification of the original SPS that uses lower bounds instead of the optimal function values can directly solve issue (i). On the other hand, solving issue (ii) turns out to be more challenging and leads us to valuable insights into the method's behavior. We show that if interpolation is not satisfied, the correlation between SPS and stochastic gradients introduces a bias, which effectively distorts the expectation of the gradient signal near minimizers, leading to non-convergence - even if the stepsize is scaled down during training. To fix this issue, we propose DecSPS, a novel modification of SPS, which guarantees convergence to the exact minimizer - without a priori knowledge of the problem parameters. For strongly-convex optimization problems, DecSPS is the first stochastic adaptive optimization method that converges to the exact solution without restrictive assumptions like bounded iterates/gradients.

Homomorphic Matrix Completion

Xiao-Yang Liu · Zechu (Steven) Li · Xiaodong Wang

In recommendation systems, global positioning, system identification and mobile social networks, it is a fundamental routine that a server completes a low-rank matrix from an observed subset of its entries. However, sending data to a cloud server raises up the data privacy concern due to eavesdropping attacks and the single-point failure problem, e.g., the Netflix prize contest was canceled after a privacy lawsuit. In this paper, we propose a homomorphic matrix completion algorithm for privacy-preserving data completion. First, we formulate a \textit{homomorphic matrix completion} problem where a server performs matrix completion on cyphertexts, and propose an encryption scheme that is fast and easy to implement. Secondly, we prove that the proposed scheme satisfies the \textit{homomorphism property} that decrypting the recovered matrix on cyphertexts will obtain the target complete matrix in plaintext. Thirdly, we prove that the proposed scheme satisfies an $(\epsilon, \delta)$-differential privacy property. While with similar level of privacy guarantee, we reduce the best-known error bound $O(\sqrt[10]{n_1^3n_2})$ to EXACT recovery at a price of more samples. Finally, on numerical data and real-world data, we show that both homomorphic nuclear-norm minimization and alternating minimization algorithms achieve accurate recoveries on cyphertexts, verifying the homomorphism property.

Practical Adversarial Attacks on Spatiotemporal Traffic Forecasting Models

Fan LIU · Hao Liu · Wenzhao Jiang

Machine learning based traffic forecasting models leverage sophisticated spatiotemporal auto-correlations to provide accurate predictions of city-wide traffic states. However, existing methods assume a reliable and unbiased forecasting environment, which is not always available in the wild. In this work, we investigate the vulnerability of spatiotemporal traffic forecasting models and propose a practical adversarial spatiotemporal attack framework. Specifically, instead of simultaneously attacking all geo-distributed data sources, an iterative gradient guided node saliency method is proposed to identify the time-dependent set of victim nodes. Furthermore, we devise a spatiotemporal gradient descent based scheme to generate real-valued adversarial traffic states under a perturbation constraint.Meanwhile, we theoretically demonstrate the worst performance bound of adversarial traffic forecasting attacks. Extensive experiments on two real-world datasets show that the proposed two-step framework achieves up to 67.8% performance degradation on various advanced spatiotemporal forecasting models. Remarkably, we also show that adversarial training with our proposed attacks can significantly improve the robustness of spatiotemporal traffic forecasting models.

Characterizing the Ventral Visual Stream with Response-Optimized Neural Encoding Models

Meenakshi Khosla · Keith Jamison · Amy Kuceyeski · Mert Sabuncu

Decades of experimental research based on simple, abstract stimuli has revealed the coding principles of the ventral visual processing hierarchy, from the presence of edge detectors in the primary visual cortex to the selectivity for complex visual categories in the anterior ventral stream. However, these studies are, by construction, constrained by their $\textit{a priori}$ hypotheses. Furthermore, beyond the early stages, precise neuronal tuning properties and representational transformations along the ventral visual pathway remain poorly understood. In this work, we propose to employ response-optimized encoding models trained solely to predict the functional MRI activation, in order to gain insights into the tuning properties and representational transformations in the series of areas along the ventral visual pathway. We demonstrate the strong generalization abilities of these models on artificial stimuli and novel datasets. Intriguingly, we find that response-optimized models trained towards the ventral-occipital and lateral-occipital areas, but not early visual areas, can recapitulate complex visual behaviors like object categorization and perceived image-similarity in humans. We further probe the trained networks to reveal representational biases in different visual areas and generate experimentally testable hypotheses. Our analyses suggest a shape-based processing along the ventral visual stream and provide a unified picture of multiple neural phenomena characterized over the last decades with controlled fMRI studies.

GET3D: A Generative Model of High Quality 3D Textured Shapes Learned from Images

Jun Gao · Tianchang Shen · Zian Wang · Wenzheng Chen · Kangxue Yin · Daiqing Li · Or Litany · Zan Gojcic · Sanja Fidler

As several industries are moving towards modeling massive 3D virtual worlds, the need for content creation tools that can scale in terms of the quantity, quality, and diversity of 3D content is becoming evident. In our work, we aim to train performant 3D generative models that synthesize textured meshes which can be directly consumed by 3D rendering engines, thus immediately usable in downstream applications. Prior works on 3D generative modeling either lack geometric details, are limited in the mesh topology they can produce, typically do not support textures, or utilize neural renderers in the synthesis process, which makes their use in common 3D software non-trivial. In this work, we introduce GET3D, a Generative model that directly generates Explicit Textured 3D meshes with complex topology, rich geometric details, and high fidelity textures. We bridge recent success in the differentiable surface modeling, differentiable rendering as well as 2D Generative Adversarial Networks to train our model from 2D image collections. GET3D is able to generate high-quality 3D textured meshes, ranging from cars, chairs, animals, motorbikes and human characters to buildings, achieving significant improvements over previous methods.

What I Cannot Predict, I Do Not Understand: A Human-Centered Evaluation Framework for Explainability Methods

Julien Colin · Thomas FEL · Remi Cadene · Thomas Serre

A multitude of explainability methods has been described to try to help users better understand how modern AI systems make decisions. However, most performance metrics developed to evaluate these methods have remained largely theoretical -- without much consideration for the human end-user. In particular, it is not yet clear (1) how useful current explainability methods are in real-world scenarios; and (2) whether current performance metrics accurately reflect the usefulness of explanation methods for the end user. To fill this gap, we conducted psychophysics experiments at scale ($n=1,150$) to evaluate the usefulness of representative attribution methods in three real-world scenarios. Our results demonstrate that the degree to which individual attribution methods help human participants better understand an AI system varies widely across these scenarios. This suggests the need to move beyond quantitative improvements of current attribution methods, towards the development of complementary approaches that provide qualitatively different sources of information to human end-users.

CLIPDraw: Exploring Text-to-Drawing Synthesis through Language-Image Encoders

Kevin Frans · Lisa Soros · Olaf Witkowski

CLIPDraw is an algorithm that synthesizes novel drawings from natural language input. It does not require any additional training; rather, a pre-trained CLIP language-image encoder is used as a metric for maximizing similarity between the given description and a generated drawing. Crucially, CLIPDraw operates over vector strokes rather than pixel images, which biases drawings towards simpler human-recognizable shapes. Results compare CLIPDraw with other synthesis-through-optimization methods, as well as highlight various interesting behaviors of CLIPDraw.

VisFIS: Visual Feature Importance Supervision with Right-for-the-Right-Reason Objectives

Zhuofan Ying · Peter Hase · Mohit Bansal

Many past works aim to improve visual reasoning in models by supervising feature importance (estimated by model explanation techniques) with human annotations such as highlights of important image regions. However, recent work has shown that performance gains from feature importance (FI) supervision for Visual Question Answering (VQA) tasks persist even with random supervision, suggesting that these methods do not meaningfully align model FI with human FI. In this paper, we show that model FI supervision can meaningfully improve VQA model accuracy as well as performance on several Right-for-the-Right-Reason (RRR) metrics by optimizing for four key model objectives: (1) accurate predictions given limited but sufficient information (Sufficiency); (2) max-entropy predictions given no important information (Uncertainty); (3) invariance of predictions to changes in unimportant features (Invariance); and (4) alignment between model FI explanations and human FI explanations (Plausibility). Our best performing method, Visual Feature Importance Supervision (VISFIS), outperforms strong baselines on benchmark VQA datasets in terms of both in-distribution and out-of-distribution accuracy. While past work suggests that the mechanism for improved accuracy is through improved explanation plausibility, we show that this relationship depends crucially on explanation faithfulness (whether explanations truly represent the model’s internal reasoning). Predictions are more accurate when explanations are plausible and faithful, and not when they are plausible but not faithful. Lastly, we show that, surprisingly, RRR metrics are not predictive of out-of-distribution model accuracy when controlling for a model’s in-distribution accuracy, which calls into question the value of these metrics for evaluating model reasoning.

Accelerated Training of Physics-Informed Neural Networks (PINNs) using Meshless Discretizations

Ramansh Sharma · Varun Shankar

Physics-informed neural networks (PINNs) are neural networks trained by using physical laws in the form of partial differential equations (PDEs) as soft constraints. We present a new technique for the accelerated training of PINNs that combines modern scientific computing techniques with machine learning: discretely-trained PINNs (DT-PINNs). The repeated computation of the partial derivative terms in the PINN loss functions via automatic differentiation during training is known to be computationally expensive, especially for higher-order derivatives. DT-PINNs are trained by replacing these exact spatial derivatives with high-order accurate numerical discretizations computed using meshless radial basis function-finite differences (RBF-FD) and applied via sparse-matrix vector multiplication. While in principle any high-order discretization may be used, the use of RBF-FD allows for DT-PINNs to be trained even on point cloud samples placed on irregular domain geometries. Additionally, though traditional PINNs (vanilla-PINNs) are typically stored and trained in 32-bit floating-point (fp32) on the GPU, we show that for DT-PINNs, using fp64 on the GPU leads to significantly faster training times than fp32 vanilla-PINNs with comparable accuracy. We demonstrate the efficiency and accuracy of DT-PINNs via a series of experiments. First, we explore the effect of network depth on both numerical and automatic differentiation of a neural network with random weights and show that RBF-FD approximations of third-order accuracy and above are more efficient while being sufficiently accurate. We then compare the DT-PINNs to vanilla-PINNs on both linear and nonlinear Poisson equations and show that DT-PINNs achieve similar losses with 2-4x faster training times on a consumer GPU. Finally, we also demonstrate that similar results can be obtained for the PINN solution to the heat equation (a space-time problem) by discretizing the spatial derivatives using RBF-FD and using automatic differentiation for the temporal derivative. Our results show that fp64 DT-PINNs offer a superior cost-accuracy profile to fp32 vanilla-PINNs, opening the door to a new paradigm of leveraging scientific computing techniques to support machine learning.

On the Importance of Gradient Norm in PAC-Bayesian Bounds

Itai Gat · Yossi Adi · Alex Schwing · Tamir Hazan

Generalization bounds which assess the difference between the true risk and the empirical risk have been studied extensively. However, to obtain bounds, current techniques use strict assumptions such as a uniformly bounded or a Lipschitz loss function. To avoid these assumptions, in this paper, we follow an alternative approach: we relax uniform bounds assumptions by using on-average bounded loss and on-average bounded gradient norm assumptions. Following this relaxation, we propose a new generalization bound that exploits the contractivity of the log-Sobolev inequalities. These inequalities add an additional loss-gradient norm term to the generalization bound, which is intuitively a surrogate of the model complexity. We apply the proposed bound on Bayesian deep nets and empirically analyze the effect of this new loss-gradient norm term on different neural architectures.

Temporally Disentangled Representation Learning

Weiran Yao · Guangyi Chen · Kun Zhang

Recently in the field of unsupervised representation learning, strong identifiability results for disentanglement of causally-related latent variables have been established by exploiting certain side information, such as class labels, in addition to independence. However, most existing work is constrained by functional form assumptions such as independent sources or further with linear transitions, and distribution assumptions such as stationary, exponential family distribution. It is unknown whether the underlying latent variables and their causal relations are identifiable if they have arbitrary, nonparametric causal influences in between. In this work, we establish the identifiability theories of nonparametric latent causal processes from their nonlinear mixtures under fixed temporal causal influences and analyze how distribution changes can further benefit the disentanglement. We propose TDRL, a principled framework to recover time-delayed latent causal variables and identify their relations from measured sequential data under stationary environments and under different distribution shifts. Specifically, the framework can factorize unknown distribution shifts into transition distribution changes under fixed and time-varying latent causal relations, and under global changes in observation. Through experiments, we show that time-delayed latent causal influences are reliably identified and that our approach considerably outperforms existing baselines that do not correctly exploit this modular representation of changes.

Natural gradient enables fast sampling in spiking neural networks

Paul Masset · Jacob Zavatone-Veth · J. Patrick Connor · Venkatesh Murthy · Cengiz Pehlevan

For animals to navigate an uncertain world, their brains need to estimate uncertainty at the timescales of sensations and actions. Sampling-based algorithms afford a theoretically-grounded framework for probabilistic inference in neural circuits, but it remains unknown how one can implement fast sampling algorithms in biologically-plausible spiking networks. Here, we propose to leverage the population geometry, controlled by the neural code and the neural dynamics, to implement fast samplers in spiking neural networks. We first show that two classes of spiking samplers---efficient balanced spiking networks that simulate Langevin sampling, and networks with probabilistic spike rules that implement Metropolis-Hastings sampling---can be unified within a common framework. We then show that careful choice of population geometry, corresponding to the natural space of parameters, enables rapid inference of parameters drawn from strongly-correlated high-dimensional distributions in both networks. Our results suggest design principles for algorithms for sampling-based probabilistic inference in spiking neural networks, yielding potential inspiration for neuromorphic computing and testable predictions for neurobiology.

Triangulation candidates for Bayesian optimization

Robert Gramacy · Annie Sauer · Nathan Wycoff

Bayesian optimization involves "inner optimization" over a new-data acquisition criterion which is non-convex/highly multi-modal, may be non-differentiable, or may otherwise thwart local numerical optimizers. In such cases it is common to replace continuous search with a discrete one over random candidates. Here we propose using candidates based on a Delaunay triangulation of the existing input design. We detail the construction of these "tricands" and demonstrate empirically how they outperform both numerically optimized acquisitions and random candidate-based alternatives, and are well-suited for hybrid schemes, on benchmark synthetic and real simulation experiments.

Near-Isometric Properties of Kronecker-Structured Random Tensor Embeddings

Qijia Jiang

We give uniform concentration inequality for random tensors acting on rank-1 Kronecker structured signals, which parallels a Gordon-type inequality for this class of tensor structured data. Two variants of the random embedding are considered, where the embedding dimension depends on explicit quantities characterizing the complexity of the signal. As applications of the tools developed herein, we illustrate with examples from signal recovery and optimization.

A permutation-free kernel two-sample test

Shubhanshu Shekhar · Ilmun Kim · Aaditya Ramdas

The kernel Maximum Mean Discrepancy~(MMD) is a popular multivariate distance metric between distributions. The usual kernel-MMD test statistic (for two-sample testing) is a degenerate U-statistic under the null, and thus it has an intractable limiting null distribution. Hence, the standard approach for designing a level-$(1-\alpha)$ two-sample test using this statistic involves selecting the rejection threshold as the $(1-\alpha)$-quantile of the permutation distribution. The resulting nonparametric test has finite-sample validity but suffers from large computational cost, since the test statistic must be recomputed for every permutation. We propose the cross-MMD, a new quadratic time MMD test statistic based on sample-splitting and studentization. We prove that under mild assumptions, it has a standard normal limiting distribution under the null. Importantly, we also show that the resulting test is consistent against any fixed alternative, and when using the Gaussian kernel, it has minimax rate-optimal power against local alternatives. For large sample-sizes, our new cross-MMD provides a significant speedup over the MMD, for only a slight loss in power.

Exponential Family Model-Based Reinforcement Learning via Score Matching

Gene Li · Junbo Li · Anmol Kabra · Nati Srebro · Zhaoran Wang · Zhuoran Yang

We propose an optimistic model-based algorithm, dubbed SMRL, for finite-horizon episodic reinforcement learning (RL) when the transition model is specified by exponential family distributions with $d$ parameters and the reward is bounded and known. SMRL uses score matching, an unnormalized density estimation technique that enables efficient estimation of the model parameter by ridge regression. Under standard regularity assumptions, SMRL achieves $\tilde O(d\sqrt{H^3T})$ online regret, where $H$ is the length of each episode and $T$ is the total number of interactions (ignoring polynomial dependence on structural scale parameters).

Learning with little mixing

Ingvar Ziemann · Stephen Tu

We study square loss in a realizable time-series framework with martingale difference noise. Our main result is a fast rate excess risk bound which shows that whenever a trajectory hypercontractivity condition holds, the risk of the least-squares estimator on dependent data matches the iid rate order-wise after a burn-in time. In comparison, many existing results in learning from dependent data have rates where the effective sample size is deflated by a factor of the mixing-time of the underlying process, even after the burn-in time. Furthermore, our results allow the covariate process to exhibit long range correlations which are substantially weaker than geometric ergodicity. We call this phenomenon learning with little mixing, and present several examples for when it occurs: bounded function classes for which the $L^2$ and $L^{2+\epsilon}$ norms are equivalent, finite state irreducible and aperiodic Markov chains, various parametric models, and a broad family of infinite dimensional $\ell^2(\mathbb{N})$ ellipsoids. By instantiating our main result to system identification of nonlinear dynamics with generalized linear model transitions, we obtain a nearly minimax optimal excess risk bound after only a polynomial burn-in time.

Collaborative Linear Bandits with Adversarial Agents: Near-Optimal Regret Bounds

Aritra Mitra · Arman Adibi · George J. Pappas · Hamed Hassani

We consider a linear stochastic bandit problem involving $M$ agents that can collaborate via a central server to minimize regret. A fraction $\alpha$ of these agents are adversarial and can act arbitrarily, leading to the following tension: while collaboration can potentially reduce regret, it can also disrupt the process of learning due to adversaries. In this work, we provide a fundamental understanding of this tension by designing new algorithms that balance the exploration-exploitation trade-off via carefully constructed robust confidence intervals. We also complement our algorithms with tight analyses. First, we develop a robust collaborative phased elimination algorithm that achieves $\tilde{O}\left(\alpha+ 1/\sqrt{M}\right) \sqrt{dT}$ regret for each good agent; here, $d$ is the model-dimension and $T$ is the horizon. For small $\alpha$, our result thus reveals a clear benefit of collaboration despite adversaries. Using an information-theoretic argument, we then prove a matching lower bound, thereby providing the first set of tight, near-optimal regret bounds for collaborative linear bandits with adversaries. Furthermore, by leveraging recent advances in high-dimensional robust statistics, we significantly extend our algorithmic ideas and results to (i) the generalized linear bandit model that allows for non-linear observation maps; and (ii) the contextual bandit setting that allows for time-varying feature vectors.

Communication Efficient Federated Learning for Generalized Linear Bandits

Chuanhao Li · Hongning Wang

Contextual bandit algorithms have been recently studied under the federated learning setting to satisfy the demand of keeping data decentralized and pushing the learning of bandit models to the client side. But limited by the required communication efficiency, existing solutions are restricted to linear models to exploit their closed-form solutions for parameter estimation. Such a restricted model choice greatly hampers these algorithms' practical utility. In this paper, we take the first step to addressing this challenge by studying generalized linear bandit models under the federated learning setting. We propose a communication-efficient solution framework that employs online regression for local update and offline regression for global update. We rigorously proved, though the setting is more general and challenging, our algorithm can attain sub-linear rate in both regret and communication cost, which is also validated by our extensive empirical evaluations.

On Scrambling Phenomena for Randomly Initialized Recurrent Networks

Vaggos Chatziafratis · Ioannis Panageas · Clayton Sanford · Stelios Stavroulakis

Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs) frequently exhibit complicated dynamics, and their sensitivity to the initialization process often renders them notoriously hard to train. Recent works have shed light on such phenomena analyzing when exploding or vanishing gradients may occur, either of which is detrimental for training dynamics. In this paper, we point to a formal connection between RNNs and chaotic dynamical systems and prove a qualitatively stronger phenomenon about RNNs than what exploding gradients seem to suggest. Our main result proves that under standard initialization (e.g., He, Xavier etc.), RNNs will exhibit \textit{Li-Yorke chaos} with \textit{constant} probability \textit{independent} of the network's width. This explains the experimentally observed phenomenon of \textit{scrambling}, under which trajectories of nearby points may appear to be arbitrarily close during some timesteps, yet will be far away in future timesteps. In stark contrast to their feedforward counterparts, we show that chaotic behavior in RNNs is preserved under small perturbations and that their expressive power remains exponential in the number of feedback iterations. Our technical arguments rely on viewing RNNs as random walks under non-linear activations, and studying the existence of certain types of higher-order fixed points called \textit{periodic points} in order to establish phase transitions from order to chaos.

Exponentially Improving the Complexity of Simulating the Weisfeiler-Lehman Test with Graph Neural Networks

Anders Aamand · Justin Chen · Piotr Indyk · Shyam Narayanan · Ronitt Rubinfeld · Nicholas Schiefer · Sandeep Silwal · Tal Wagner

Recent work shows that the expressive power of Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) in distinguishing non-isomorphic graphs is exactly the same as that of the Weisfeiler-Lehman (WL) graph test. In particular, they show that the WL test can be simulated by GNNs. However, those simulations involve neural networks for the “combine” function of size polynomial or even exponential in the number of graph nodes $n$, as well as feature vectors of length linear in $n$. We present an improved simulation of the WL test on GNNs with {\em exponentially} lower complexity. In particular, the neural network implementing the combine function in each node has only $\mathrm{polylog}(n)$ parameters, and the feature vectors exchanged by the nodes of GNN consists of only $O(\log n)$ bits. We also give logarithmic lower bounds for the feature vector length and the size of the neural networks, showing the (near)-optimality of our construction.

Last-Iterate Convergence of Optimistic Gradient Method for Monotone Variational Inequalities

Eduard Gorbunov · Adrien Taylor · Gauthier Gidel

The Past Extragradient (PEG) [Popov, 1980] method, also known as the Optimistic Gradient method, has known a recent gain in interest in the optimization community with the emergence of variational inequality formulations for machine learning. Recently, in the unconstrained case, Golowich et al. [2020] proved that a $O(1/N)$ last-iterate convergence rate in terms of the squared norm of the operator can be achieved for Lipschitz and monotone operators with a Lipchitz Jacobian. In this work, by introducing a novel analysis through potential functions, we show that (i) this $O(1/N)$ last-iterate convergence can be achieved without any assumption on the Jacobian of the operator, and (ii) it can be extended to the constrained case, which was not derived before even under Lipschitzness of the Jacobian. The proof is significantly different from the one known from Golowich et al. [2020], and its discovery was computer-aided. Those results close the open question of the last iterate convergence of PEG for monotone variational inequalities.

3DB: A Framework for Debugging Computer Vision Models

Guillaume Leclerc · Hadi Salman · Andrew Ilyas · Sai Vemprala · Logan Engstrom · Vibhav Vineet · Kai Xiao · Pengchuan Zhang · Shibani Santurkar · Greg Yang · Ashish Kapoor · Aleksander Madry

We introduce 3DB: an extendable, unified framework for testing and debugging vision models using photorealistic simulation. We demonstrate, through a wide range of use cases, that 3DB allows users to discover vulnerabilities in computer vision systems and gain insights into how models make decisions. 3DB captures and generalizes many robustness analyses from prior work, and enables one to study their interplay. Finally, we find that the insights generated by the system transfer to the physical world. 3DB will be released as a library alongside a set of examples and documentation. We attach 3DB to the submission.

Unifying and Boosting Gradient-Based Training-Free Neural Architecture Search

YAO SHU · Zhongxiang Dai · Zhaoxuan Wu · Bryan Kian Hsiang Low

Neural architecture search (NAS) has gained immense popularity owing to its ability to automate neural architecture design. A number of training-free metrics are recently proposed to realize NAS without training, hence making NAS more scalable. Despite their competitive empirical performances, a unified theoretical understanding of these training-free metrics is lacking. As a consequence, (a) the relationships among these metrics are unclear, (b) there is no theoretical interpretation for their empirical performances, and (c) there may exist untapped potential in existing training-free NAS, which probably can be unveiled through a unified theoretical understanding. To this end, this paper presents a unified theoretical analysis of gradient-based training-free NAS, which allows us to (a) theoretically study their relationships, (b) theoretically guarantee their generalization performances, and (c) exploit our unified theoretical understanding to develop a novel framework named hybrid NAS (HNAS) which consistently boosts training-free NAS in a principled way. Remarkably, HNAS can enjoy the advantages of both training-free (i.e., the superior search efficiency) and training-based (i.e., the remarkable search effectiveness) NAS, which we have demonstrated through extensive experiments.

Measuring Data Reconstruction Defenses in Collaborative Inference Systems

Mengda Yang · Ziang Li · Juan Wang · Hongxin Hu · Ao Ren · Xiaoyang Xu · Wenzhe Yi

The collaborative inference systems are designed to speed up the prediction processes in edge-cloud scenarios, where the local devices and the cloud system work together to run a complex deep-learning model. However, those edge-cloud collaborative inference systems are vulnerable to emerging reconstruction attacks, where malicious cloud service providers are able to recover the edge-side users’ private data. To defend against such attacks, several defense countermeasures have been recently introduced. Unfortunately, little is known about the robustness of those defense countermeasures. In this paper, we take the first step towards measuring the robustness of those state-of-the-art defenses with respect to reconstruction attacks. Specifically, we show that the latent privacy features are still retained in the obfuscated representations. Motivated by such an observation, we design a technology called Sensitive Feature Distillation (SFD) to restore sensitive information from the protected feature representations. Our experiments show that SFD can break through defense mechanisms in model partitioning scenarios, demonstrating the inadequacy of existing defense mechanisms as a privacy-preserving technique against reconstruction attacks. We hope our findings inspire further work in improving the robustness of defense mechanisms against reconstruction attacks for collaborative inference systems.

Function Classes for Identifiable Nonlinear Independent Component Analysis

Simon Buchholz · Michel Besserve · Bernhard Schölkopf

Unsupervised learning of latent variable models (LVMs) is widely used to represent data in machine learning. When such model reflects the ground truth factors and the mechanisms mapping them to observations, there is reason to expect that such models allow generalisation in downstream tasks. It is however well known that such identifiability guaranties are typically not achievable without putting constraints on the model class. This is notably the case for nonlinear Independent Component Analysis, in which the LVM maps statistically independent variables to observations via a deterministic nonlinear function. Several families of spurious solutions fitting perfectly the data, but that do not correspond to the ground truth factors can be constructed in generic settings. However, recent work suggests that constraining the function class of such models may promote identifiability. Specifically, function classes with constraints on their partial derivatives, gathered in the Jacobian matrix, have been proposed, such as orthogonal coordinate transformations (OCT), which impose orthogonality of the Jacobian columns. In the present work, we prove that a subclass of these transformations, conformal maps, is identifiable and provide novel theoretical results suggesting that OCTs have properties that prevent families of spurious solutions to spoil identifiability in a generic setting.

Towards Disentangling Information Paths with Coded ResNeXt

Apostolos Avranas · Marios Kountouris

The conventional, widely used treatment of deep learning models as black boxes provides limited or no insights into the mechanisms that guide neural network decisions. Significant research effort has been dedicated to building interpretable models to address this issue. Most efforts either focus on the high-level features associated with the last layers, or attempt to interpret the output of a single layer. In this paper, we take a novel approach to enhance the transparency of the function of the whole network. We propose a neural network architecture for classification, in which the information that is relevant to each class flows through specific paths. These paths are designed in advance before training leveraging coding theory and without depending on the semantic similarities between classes. A key property is that each path can be used as an autonomous single-purpose model. This enables us to obtain, without any additional training and for any class, a lightweight binary classifier that has at least $60\%$ fewer parameters than the original network. Furthermore, our coding theory based approach allows the neural network to make early predictions at intermediate layers during inference, without requiring its full evaluation. Remarkably, the proposed architecture provides all the aforementioned properties while improving the overall accuracy. We demonstrate these properties on a slightly modified ResNeXt model tested on CIFAR-10/100 and ImageNet-1k.

Why do We Need Large Batchsizes in Contrastive Learning? A Gradient-Bias Perspective

Changyou Chen · Jianyi Zhang · Yi Xu · Liqun Chen · Jiali Duan · Yiran Chen · Son Tran · Belinda Zeng · Trishul Chilimbi

Contrastive learning (CL) has been the de facto technique for self-supervised representation learning (SSL), with impressive empirical success such as multi-modal representation learning. However, traditional CL loss only considers negative samples from a minibatch, which could cause biased gradients due to the non-decomposibility of the loss. For the first time, we consider optimizing a more generalized contrastive loss, where each data sample is associated with an infinite number of negative samples. We show that directly using minibatch stochastic optimization could lead to gradient bias. To remedy this, we propose an efficient Bayesian data augmentation technique to augment the contrastive loss into a decomposable one, where standard stochastic optimization can be directly applied without gradient bias. Specifically, our augmented loss defines a joint distribution over the model parameters and the augmented parameters, which can be conveniently optimized by a proposed stochastic expectation-maximization algorithm. Our framework is more general and is related to several popular SSL algorithms. We verify our framework on both small scale models and several large foundation models, including SSL of ImageNet and SSL for vision-language representation learning. Experiment results indicate the existence of gradient bias in all cases, and demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method on improving previous state of the arts. Remarkably, our method can outperform the strong MoCo-v3 under the same hyper-parameter setting with only around half of the minibatch size; and also obtains strong results in the recent public benchmark ELEVATER for few-shot image classification.

On Robust Multiclass Learnability

Jingyuan Xu · Weiwei Liu

This work analyzes the robust learning problem in the multiclass setting. Under the framework of Probably Approximately Correct (PAC) learning, we first show that the graph dimension and the Natarajan dimension, which characterize the standard multiclass learnability, are no longer applicable in robust learning problem. We then generalize these notions to the robust learning setting, denoted as the adversarial graph dimension (AG-dimension) and the adversarial Natarajan dimension (AN-dimension). Upper and lower bounds of the sample complexity of robust multiclass learning are rigorously derived based on the AG-dimension and AN-dimension, respectively. Moreover, we calculate the AG-dimension and AN-dimension of the class of linear multiclass predictors, and show that the graph (Natarajan) dimension is of the same order as the AG(AN)-dimension. Finally, we prove that the AG-dimension and AN-dimension are not equivalent.

Generalised Mutual Information for Discriminative Clustering

Louis Ohl · Pierre-Alexandre Mattei · Charles Bouveyron · Warith HARCHAOUI · Mickaël Leclercq · Arnaud Droit · Frederic Precioso

In the last decade, recent successes in deep clustering majorly involved the mutual information (MI) as an unsupervised objective for training neural networks with increasing regularisations. While the quality of the regularisations have been largely discussed for improvements, little attention has been dedicated to the relevance of MI as a clustering objective. In this paper, we first highlight how the maximisation of MI does not lead to satisfying clusters. We identified the Kullback-Leibler divergence as the main reason of this behaviour. Hence, we generalise the mutual information by changing its core distance, introducing the generalised mutual information (GEMINI): a set of metrics for unsupervised neural network training. Unlike MI, some GEMINIs do not require regularisations when training. Some of these metrics are geometry-aware thanks to distances or kernels in the data space. Finally, we highlight that GEMINIs can automatically select a relevant number of clusters, a property that has been little studied in deep clustering context where the number of clusters is a priori unknown.

A Theoretical Understanding of Gradient Bias in Meta-Reinforcement Learning

Bo Liu · Xidong Feng · Jie Ren · Luo Mai · Rui Zhu · Haifeng Zhang · Jun Wang · Yaodong Yang

Gradient-based Meta-RL (GMRL) refers to methods that maintain two-level optimisation procedures wherein the outer-loop meta-learner guides the inner-loop gradient-based reinforcement learner to achieve fast adaptations. In this paper, we develop a unified framework that describes variations of GMRL algorithms and points out that existing stochastic meta-gradient estimators adopted by GMRL are actually \textbf{biased}. Such meta-gradient bias comes from two sources: 1) the compositional bias incurred by the two-level problem structure, which has an upper bound of $\mathcal{O}\big(K\alpha^{K}\hat{\sigma}_{\text{In}}|\tau|^{-0.5}\big)$ \emph{w.r.t.} inner-loop update step $K$, learning rate $\alpha$, estimate variance $\hat{\sigma}^{2}_{\text{In}}$ and sample size $|\tau|$, and 2) the multi-step Hessian estimation bias $\hat{\Delta}_{H}$ due to the use of autodiff, which has a polynomial impact $\mathcal{O}\big((K-1)(\hat{\Delta}_{H})^{K-1}\big)$ on the meta-gradient bias. We study tabular MDPs empirically and offer quantitative evidence that testifies our theoretical findings on existing stochastic meta-gradient estimators. Furthermore, we conduct experiments on Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma and Atari games to show how other methods such as off-policy learning and low-bias estimator can help fix the gradient bias for GMRL algorithms in general.

Anytime-Valid Inference For Multinomial Count Data

Michael Lindon · Alan Malek

Many experiments compare count outcomes among treatment groups. Examples include the number of successful signups in conversion rate experiments or the number of errors produced by software versions in canary tests. Observations typically arrive in a sequence and practitioners wish to continuously monitor their experiments, sequentially testing hypotheses while maintaining Type I error probabilities under optional stopping and continuation. These goals are frequently complicated in practice by non-stationary time dynamics. We provide practical solutions through sequential tests of multinomial hypotheses, hypotheses about many inhomogeneous Bernoulli processes and hypotheses about many time-inhomogeneous Poisson counting processes. For estimation, we further provide confidence sequences for multinomial probability vectors, all contrasts among probabilities of inhomogeneous Bernoulli processes and all contrasts among intensities of time-inhomogeneous Poisson counting processes. Together, these provide an ``anytime-valid'' inference framework for a wide variety of experiments dealing with count outcomes, which we illustrate with several industry applications.

OpenOOD: Benchmarking Generalized Out-of-Distribution Detection

Jingkang Yang · Pengyun Wang · Dejian Zou · Zitang Zhou · Kunyuan Ding · WENXUAN PENG · Haoqi Wang · Guangyao Chen · Bo Li · Yiyou Sun · Xuefeng Du · Kaiyang Zhou · Wayne Zhang · Dan Hendrycks · Yixuan Li · Ziwei Liu

Out-of-distribution (OOD) detection is vital to safety-critical machine learning applications and has thus been extensively studied, with a plethora of methods developed in the literature. However, the field currently lacks a unified, strictly formulated, and comprehensive benchmark, which often results in unfair comparisons and inconclusive results. From the problem setting perspective, OOD detection is closely related to neighboring fields including anomaly detection (AD), open set recognition (OSR), and model uncertainty, since methods developed for one domain are often applicable to each other. To help the community to improve the evaluation and advance, we build a unified, well-structured codebase called OpenOOD, which implements over 30 methods developed in relevant fields and provides a comprehensive benchmark under the recently proposed generalized OOD detection framework. With a comprehensive comparison of these methods, we are gratified that the field has progressed significantly over the past few years, where both preprocessing methods and the orthogonal post-hoc methods show strong potential.

FinRL-Meta: Market Environments and Benchmarks for Data-Driven Financial Reinforcement Learning

Xiao-Yang Liu · Ziyi Xia · Jingyang Rui · Jiechao Gao · Hongyang Yang · Ming Zhu · Christina Wang · Zhaoran Wang · Jian Guo

Finance is a particularly challenging playground for deep reinforcement learning. However, establishing high-quality market environments and benchmarks for financial reinforcement learning is challenging due to three major factors, namely, low signal-to-noise ratio of financial data, survivorship bias of historical data, and backtesting overfitting. In this paper, we present an openly accessible FinRL-Meta library that has been actively maintained by the AI4Finance community. First, following a DataOps paradigm, we will provide hundreds of market environments through an automatic data curation pipeline that processes dynamic datasets from real-world markets into gym-style market environments. Second, we reproduce popular papers as stepping stones for users to design new trading strategies. We also deploy the library on cloud platforms so that users can visualize their own results and assess the relative performance via community-wise competitions. Third, FinRL-Meta provides tens of Jupyter/Python demos organized into a curriculum and a documentation website to serve the rapidly growing community. FinRL-Meta is available at: \url{}

NAS-Bench-360: Benchmarking Neural Architecture Search on Diverse Tasks

Renbo Tu · Nicholas Roberts · Misha Khodak · Junhong Shen · Frederic Sala · Ameet Talwalkar

Most existing neural architecture search (NAS) benchmarks and algorithms prioritize well-studied tasks, e.g. image classification on CIFAR or ImageNet. This makes the performance of NAS approaches in more diverse areas poorly understood. In this paper, we present NAS-Bench-360, a benchmark suite to evaluate methods on domains beyond those traditionally studied in architecture search, and use it to address the following question: do state-of-the-art NAS methods perform well on diverse tasks? To construct the benchmark, we curate ten tasks spanning a diverse array of application domains, dataset sizes, problem dimensionalities, and learning objectives. Each task is carefully chosen to interoperate with modern CNN-based search methods while possibly being far-afield from its original development domain. To speed up and reduce the cost of NAS research, for two of the tasks we release the precomputed performance of 15,625 architectures comprising a standard CNN search space. Experimentally, we show the need for more robust NAS evaluation of the kind NAS-Bench-360 enables by showing that several modern NAS procedures perform inconsistently across the ten tasks, with many catastrophically poor results. We also demonstrate how NAS-Bench-360 and its associated precomputed results will enable future scientific discoveries by testing whether several recent hypotheses promoted in the NAS literature hold on diverse tasks. NAS-Bench-360 is hosted at

ETAB: A Benchmark Suite for Visual Representation Learning in Echocardiography

Ahmed M. Alaa · Anthony Philippakis · David Sontag

Echocardiography is one of the most commonly used diagnostic imaging modalities in cardiology. Application of deep learning models to echocardiograms can enable automated identification of cardiac structures, estimation of cardiac function, and prediction of clinical outcomes. However, a major hindrance to realizing the full potential of deep learning is the lack of large-scale, fully curated and annotated data sets required for supervised training. High-quality pre-trained representations that can transfer useful visual features of echocardiograms to downstream tasks can help adapt deep learning models to new setups using fewer examples. In this paper, we design a suite of benchmarks that can be used to pre-train and evaluate echocardiographic representations with respect to various clinically-relevant tasks using publicly accessible data sets. In addition, we develop a unified evaluation protocol---which we call the echocardiographic task adaptation benchmark (ETAB)---that measures how well a visual representation of echocardiograms generalizes to common downstream tasks of interest. We use our benchmarking framework to evaluate state-of-the-art vision modeling pipelines. We envision that our standardized, publicly accessible benchmarks would encourage future research and expedite progress in applying deep learning to high-impact problems in cardiovascular medicine.

Turning the Tables: Biased, Imbalanced, Dynamic Tabular Datasets for ML Evaluation

Sérgio Jesus · José Pombal · Duarte Alves · André Cruz · Pedro Saleiro · Rita Ribeiro · João Gama · Pedro Bizarro

Evaluating new techniques on realistic datasets plays a crucial role in the development of ML research and its broader adoption by practitioners. In recent years, there has been a significant increase of publicly available unstructured data resources for computer vision and NLP tasks. However, tabular data — which is prevalent in many high-stakes domains — has been lagging behind. To bridge this gap, we present Bank Account Fraud (BAF), the first publicly available 1 privacy-preserving, large-scale, realistic suite of tabular datasets. The suite was generated by applying state-of-the-art tabular data generation techniques on an anonymized,real-world bank account opening fraud detection dataset. This setting carries a set of challenges that are commonplace in real-world applications, including temporal dynamics and significant class imbalance. Additionally, to allow practitioners to stress test both performance and fairness of ML methods, each dataset variant of BAF contains specific types of data bias. With this resource, we aim to provide the research community with a more realistic, complete, and robust test bed to evaluate novel and existing methods.

How Well Do Unsupervised Learning Algorithms Model Human Real-time and Life-long Learning?

Chengxu Zhuang · Ziyu Xiang · Yoon Bai · Xiaoxuan Jia · Nicholas Turk-Browne · Kenneth Norman · James J DiCarlo · Dan Yamins

Humans learn from visual inputs at multiple timescales, both rapidly and flexibly acquiring visual knowledge over short periods, and robustly accumulating online learning progress over longer periods. Modeling these powerful learning capabilities is an important problem for computational visual cognitive science, and models that could replicate them would be of substantial utility in real-world computer vision settings. In this work, we establish benchmarks for both real-time and life-long continual visual learning. Our real-time learning benchmark measures a model's ability to match the rapid visual behavior changes of real humans over the course of minutes and hours, given a stream of visual inputs. Our life-long learning benchmark evaluates the performance of models in a purely online learning curriculum obtained directly from child visual experience over the course of years of development. We evaluate a spectrum of recent deep self-supervised visual learning algorithms on both benchmarks, finding that none of them perfectly match human performance, though some algorithms perform substantially better than others. Interestingly, algorithms embodying recent trends in self-supervised learning -- including BYOL, SwAV and MAE -- are substantially worse on our benchmarks than an earlier generation of self-supervised algorithms such as SimCLR and MoCo-v2. We present analysis indicating that the failure of these newer algorithms is primarily due to their inability to handle the kind of sparse low-diversity datastreams that naturally arise in the real world, and that actively leveraging memory through negative sampling -- a mechanism eschewed by these newer algorithms -- appears useful for facilitating learning in such low-diversity environments. We also illustrate a complementarity between the short and long timescales in the two benchmarks, showing how requiring a single learning algorithm to be locally context-sensitive enough to match real-time learning changes while stable enough to avoid catastrophic forgetting over the long term induces a trade-off that human-like algorithms may have to straddle. Taken together, our benchmarks establish a quantitative way to directly compare learning between neural networks models and human learners, show how choices in the mechanism by which such algorithms handle sample comparison and memory strongly impact their ability to match human learning abilities, and expose an open problem space for identifying more flexible and robust visual self-supervision algorithms.

ActionSense: A Multimodal Dataset and Recording Framework for Human Activities Using Wearable Sensors in a Kitchen Environment

Joseph DelPreto · Chao Liu · Yiyue Luo · Michael Foshey · Yunzhu Li · Antonio Torralba · Wojciech Matusik · Daniela Rus

This paper introduces ActionSense, a multimodal dataset and recording framework with an emphasis on wearable sensing in a kitchen environment. It provides rich, synchronized data streams along with ground truth data to facilitate learning pipelines that could extract insights about how humans interact with the physical world during activities of daily living, and help lead to more capable and collaborative robot assistants. The wearable sensing suite captures motion, force, and attention information; it includes eye tracking with a first-person camera, forearm muscle activity sensors, a body-tracking system using 17 inertial sensors, finger-tracking gloves, and custom tactile sensors on the hands that use a matrix of conductive threads. This is coupled with activity labels and with externally-captured data from multiple RGB cameras, a depth camera, and microphones. The specific tasks recorded in ActionSense are designed to highlight lower-level physical skills and higher-level scene reasoning or action planning. They include simple object manipulations (e.g., stacking plates), dexterous actions (e.g., peeling or cutting vegetables), and complex action sequences (e.g., setting a table or loading a dishwasher). The resulting dataset and underlying experiment framework are available at Preliminary networks and analyses explore modality subsets and cross-modal correlations. ActionSense aims to support applications including learning from demonstrations, dexterous robot control, cross-modal predictions, and fine-grained action segmentation. It could also help inform the next generation of smart textiles that may one day unobtrusively send rich data streams to in-home collaborative or autonomous robot assistants.

Breaking Bad: A Dataset for Geometric Fracture and Reassembly

Silvia Sellán · Yun-Chun Chen · Ziyi Wu · Animesh Garg · Alec Jacobson

We introduce Breaking Bad, a large-scale dataset of fractured objects. Our dataset consists of over one million fractured objects simulated from ten thousand base models. The fracture simulation is powered by a recent physically based algorithm that efficiently generates a variety of fracture modes of an object. Existing shape assembly datasets decompose objects according to semantically meaningful parts, effectively modeling the construction process. In contrast, Breaking Bad models the destruction process of how a geometric object naturally breaks into fragments. Our dataset serves as a benchmark that enables the study of fractured object reassembly and presents new challenges for geometric shape understanding. We analyze our dataset with several geometry measurements and benchmark three state-of-the-art shape assembly deep learning methods under various settings. Extensive experimental results demonstrate the difficulty of our dataset, calling on future research in model designs specifically for the geometric shape assembly task. We host our dataset at

FlyView: a bio-informed optical flow truth dataset for visual navigation using panoramic stereo vision

Alix Leroy · Graham Taylor

Flying at speed through complex environments is a challenging task that has been performed successfully by insects since the Carboniferous, but which remains a challenge for robotic and autonomous systems. Insects navigate the world using optical flow sensed by their compound eyes, which they process using a deep neural network weighing just a few milligrams. Deploying an insect-inspired network architecture in computer vision could therefore enable more efficient and effective ways of estimating structure and self-motion using optical flow. Training a bio-informed deep network to implement these tasks requires biologically relevant training, test, and validation data. To this end, we introduce FlyView, a novel bio-informed truth dataset for visual navigation. This simulated dataset is rendered using open source 3D scenes in which the observer's position is known at every frame, and is accompanied by truth data on depth, self-motion, and motion flow. This dataset comprising 42,475 frames has several key features that are missing from existing optical flow datasets, including: (i) panoramic cameras with a monocular and binocular field of view matched to that of a fly's compound eyes; (ii) dynamically meaningful self-motion modelled on motion primitives, or the 3D trajectories of drones and flies; and (iii) complex natural and indoor environments including reflective surfaces.

Chartalist: Labeled Graph Datasets for UTXO and Account-based Blockchains

Kiarash Shamsi · Friedhelm Victor · Murat Kantarcioglu · Yulia Gel · Cuneyt G Akcora

Machine learning on blockchain graphs is an emerging field with many applications such as ransomware payment tracking, price manipulation analysis, and money laundering detection. However, analyzing blockchain data requires domain expertise and computational resources, which pose a significant barrier and hinder advancement in this field. We introduce Chartalist, the first comprehensive platform to methodically access and use machine learning across a large selection of blockchains to address this challenge. Chartalist contains ML-ready datasets from unspent transaction output (UTXO) (e.g., Bitcoin) and account-based blockchains (e.g., Ethereum). We envision that Chartalist can facilitate data modeling, analysis, and representation of blockchain data and attract a wider community of scientists to analyze blockchains. Chartalist is an open-science initiative at

SMPL: Simulated Industrial Manufacturing and Process Control Learning Environments

Mohan Zhang · Xiaozhou Wang · Benjamin Decardi-Nelson · Bo Song · An Zhang · Jinfeng Liu · Sile Tao · Jiayi Cheng · Xiaohong Liu · Dengdeng Yu · Matthew Poon · Animesh Garg

Traditional biological and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants are controlled by human workers or pre-defined thresholds. Modernized factories have advanced process control algorithms such as model predictive control (MPC). However, there is little exploration of applying deep reinforcement learning to control manufacturing plants. One of the reasons is the lack of high fidelity simulations and standard APIs for benchmarking. To bridge this gap, we develop an easy-to-use library that includes five high-fidelity simulation environments: BeerFMTEnv, ReactorEnv, AtropineEnv, PenSimEnv and mAbEnv, which cover a wide range of manufacturing processes. We build these environments on published dynamics models. Furthermore, we benchmark online and offline, model-based and model-free reinforcement learning algorithms for comparisons of follow-up research.

WinoGAViL: Gamified Association Benchmark to Challenge Vision-and-Language Models

Yonatan Bitton · Nitzan Bitton Guetta · Ron Yosef · Yuval Elovici · Mohit Bansal · Gabriel Stanovsky · Roy Schwartz

While vision-and-language models perform well on tasks such as visual question answering, they struggle when it comes to basic human commonsense reasoning skills. In this work, we introduce WinoGAViL: an online game of vision-and-language associations (e.g., between werewolves and a full moon), used as a dynamic evaluation benchmark. Inspired by the popular card game Codenames, a spymaster gives a textual cue related to several visual candidates, and another player tries to identify them. Human players are rewarded for creating associations that are challenging for a rival AI model but still solvable by other human players. We use the game to collect 3.5K instances, finding that they are intuitive for humans (>90% Jaccard index) but challenging for state-of-the-art AI models, where the best model (ViLT) achieves a score of 52%, succeeding mostly where the cue is visually salient. Our analysis as well as the feedback we collect from players indicate that the collected associations require diverse reasoning skills, including general knowledge, common sense, abstraction, and more. We release the dataset, the code and the interactive game, allowing future data collection that can be used to develop models with better association abilities.

MTNeuro: A Benchmark for Evaluating Representations of Brain Structure Across Multiple Levels of Abstraction

Jorge Quesada · Lakshmi Sathidevi · Ran Liu · Nauman Ahad · Joy Jackson · Mehdi Azabou · Jingyun Xiao · Christopher Liding · Matthew Jin · Carolina Urzay · William Gray-Roncal · Erik Johnson · Eva Dyer

There are multiple scales of abstraction from which we can describe the same image, depending on whether we are focusing on fine-grained details or a more global attribute of the image. In brain mapping, learning to automatically parse images to build representations of both small-scale features (e.g., the presence of cells or blood vessels) and global properties of an image (e.g., which brain region the image comes from) is a crucial and open challenge. However, most existing datasets and benchmarks for neuroanatomy consider only a single downstream task at a time. To bridge this gap, we introduce a new dataset, annotations, and multiple downstream tasks that provide diverse ways to readout information about brain structure and architecture from the same image. Our multi-task neuroimaging benchmark (MTNeuro) is built on volumetric, micrometer-resolution X-ray microtomography images spanning a large thalamocortical section of mouse brain, encompassing multiple cortical and subcortical regions. We generated a number of different prediction challenges and evaluated several supervised and self-supervised models for brain-region prediction and pixel-level semantic segmentation of microstructures. Our experiments not only highlight the rich heterogeneity of this dataset, but also provide insights into how self-supervised approaches can be used to learn representations that capture multiple attributes of a single image and perform well on a variety of downstream tasks. Datasets, code, and pre-trained baseline models are provided at:

xView3-SAR: Detecting Dark Fishing Activity Using Synthetic Aperture Radar Imagery

Fernando Paolo · Tsu-ting Tim Lin · Ritwik Gupta · Bryce Goodman · Nirav Patel · Daniel Kuster · David Kroodsma · Jared Dunnmon

Unsustainable fishing practices worldwide pose a major threat to marine resources and ecosystems. Identifying vessels that do not show up in conventional monitoring systems---known as ``dark vessels''---is key to managing and securing the health of marine environments. With the rise of satellite-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging and modern machine learning (ML), it is now possible to automate detection of dark vessels day or night, under all-weather conditions. SAR images, however, require a domain-specific treatment and are not widely accessible to the ML community. Maritime objects (vessels and offshore infrastructure) are relatively small and sparse, challenging traditional computer vision approaches. We present the largest labeled dataset for training ML models to detect and characterize vessels and ocean structures in SAR imagery. xView3-SAR consists of nearly 1,000 analysis-ready SAR images from the Sentinel-1 mission that are, on average, 29,400-by-24,400 pixels each. The images are annotated using a combination of automated and manual analysis. Co-located bathymetry and wind state rasters accompany every SAR image. We also provide an overview of the xView3 Computer Vision Challenge, an international competition using xView3-SAR for ship detection and characterization at large scale. We release the data (\href{}{}) and code (\href{}{}) to support ongoing development and evaluation of ML approaches for this important application.

CEDe: A collection of expert-curated datasets with atom-level entity annotations for Optical Chemical Structure Recognition

Rodrigo Hormazabal · Changyoung Park · Soonyoung Lee · Sehui Han · Yeonsik Jo · Jaewan Lee · Ahra Jo · Seung Hwan Kim · Jaegul Choo · Moontae Lee · Honglak Lee

Optical Chemical Structure Recognition (OCSR) deals with the translation from chemical images to molecular structures, this being the main way chemical compounds are depicted in scientific documents. Traditionally, rule-based methods have followed a framework based on the detection of chemical entities, such as atoms and bonds, followed by a compound structure reconstruction step. Recently, neural architectures analog to image captioning have been explored to solve this task, yet they still show to be data inefficient, using millions of examples just to show performances comparable with traditional methods. Looking to motivate and benchmark new approaches based on atomic-level entities detection and graph reconstruction, we present CEDe, a unique collection of chemical entity bounding boxes manually curated by experts for scientific literature datasets. These annotations combine to more than 700,000 chemical entity bounding boxes with the necessary information for structure reconstruction. Also, a large synthetic dataset containing one million molecular images and annotations is released in order to explore transfer-learning techniques that could help these architectures perform better under low-data regimes. Benchmarks show that detection-reconstruction based models can achieve performances on par with or better than image captioning-like models, even with 100x fewer training examples.

FETA: Towards Specializing Foundational Models for Expert Task Applications

Amit Alfassy · Assaf Arbelle · Oshri Halimi · Sivan Harary · Roei Herzig · Eli Schwartz · Rameswar Panda · Michele Dolfi · Christoph Auer · Peter Staar · Kate Saenko · Rogerio Feris · Leonid Karlinsky

Foundational Models (FMs) have demonstrated unprecedented capabilities including zero-shot learning, high fidelity data synthesis, and out of domain generalization. However, the parameter capacity of FMs is still limited, leading to poor out-of-the-box performance of FMs on many expert tasks (e.g. retrieval of car manuals technical illustrations from language queries), data for which is either unseen or belonging to a long-tail part of the data distribution of the huge datasets used for FM pre-training. This underlines the necessity to explicitly evaluate and finetune FMs on such expert tasks, arguably ones that appear the most in practical real-world applications. In this paper, we propose a first of its kind FETA benchmark built around the task of teaching FMs to understand technical documentation, via learning to match their graphical illustrations to corresponding language descriptions. Our FETA benchmark focuses on text-to-image and image-to-text retrieval in public car manuals and sales catalogue brochures. FETA is equipped with a procedure for completely automatic annotation extraction (code would be released upon acceptance), allowing easy extension of FETA to more documentation types and application domains in the future. Our automatic annotation leads to an automated performance metric shown to be consistent with metrics computed on human-curated annotations (also released). We provide multiple baselines and analysis of popular FMs on FETA leading to several interesting findings that we believe would be very valuable to the FM community, paving the way towards real-world application of FMs for many practical expert tasks currently being `overlooked' by standard benchmarks focusing on common objects.

CAESAR: An Embodied Simulator for Generating Multimodal Referring Expression Datasets

Md Mofijul Islam · Reza Mirzaiee · Alexi Gladstone · Haley Green · Tariq Iqbal

Humans naturally use verbal utterances and nonverbal gestures to refer to various objects (known as $\textit{referring expressions}$) in different interactional scenarios. As collecting real human interaction datasets are costly and laborious, synthetic datasets are often used to train models to unambiguously detect relationships among objects. However, existing synthetic data generation tools that provide referring expressions generally neglect nonverbal gestures. Additionally, while a few small-scale datasets contain multimodal cues (verbal and nonverbal), these datasets only capture the nonverbal gestures from an exo-centric perspective (observer). As models can use complementary information from multimodal cues to recognize referring expressions, generating multimodal data from multiple views can help to develop robust models. To address these critical issues, in this paper, we present a novel embodied simulator, CAESAR, to generate multimodal referring expressions containing both verbal utterances and nonverbal cues captured from multiple views. Using our simulator, we have generated two large-scale embodied referring expression datasets, which we have released publicly. We have conducted experimental analyses on embodied spatial relation grounding using various state-of-the-art baseline models. Our experimental results suggest that visual perspective affects the models' performance; and that nonverbal cues improve spatial relation grounding accuracy. Finally, we will release the simulator publicly to allow researchers to generate new embodied interaction datasets.

Evaluating Out-of-Distribution Performance on Document Image Classifiers

Stefan Larson · Yi Yang Gordon Lim · Yutong Ai · David Kuang · Kevin Leach

The ability of a document classifier to handle inputs that are drawn from a distribution different from the training distribution is crucial for robust deployment and generalizability. The RVL-CDIP corpus is the de facto standard benchmark for document classification, yet to our knowledge all studies that use this corpus do not include evaluation on out-of-distribution documents. In this paper, we curate and release a new out-of-distribution benchmark for evaluating out-of-distribution performance for document classifiers. Our new out-of-distribution benchmark consists of two types of documents: those that are not part of any of the 16 in-domain RVL-CDIP categories (RVL-CDIP-O), and those that are one of the 16 in-domain categories yet are drawn from a distribution different from that of the original RVL-CDIP dataset (RVL-CDIP-N). While prior work on document classification for in-domain RVL-CDIP documents reports high accuracy scores, we find that these models exhibit accuracy drops of between roughly 15-30% on our new out-of-domain RVL-CDIP-N benchmark, and further struggle to distinguish between in-domain RVL-CDIP-N and out-of-domain RVL-CDIP-O inputs. Our new benchmark provides researchers with a valuable new resource for analyzing out-of-distribution performance on document classifiers.

Learning Long-Term Crop Management Strategies with CyclesGym

Matteo Turchetta · Luca Corinzia · Scott Sussex · Amanda Burton · Juan Herrera · Ioannis Athanasiadis · Joachim M Buhmann · Andreas Krause

To improve the sustainability and resilience of modern food systems, designing improved crop management strategies is crucial. The increasing abundance of data on agricultural systems suggests that future strategies could benefit from adapting to environmental conditions, but how to design these adaptive policies poses a new frontier. A natural technique for learning policies in these kinds of sequential decision-making problems is reinforcement learning (RL). To obtain the large number of samples required to learn effective RL policies, existing work has used mechanistic crop growth models (CGMs) as simulators. These solutions focus on single-year, single-crop simulations for learning strategies for a single agricultural management practice. However, to learn sustainable long-term policies we must be able to train in multi-year environments, with multiple crops, and consider a wider array of management techniques. We introduce CYCLESGYM, an RL environment based on the multi-year, multi-crop CGM Cycles. CYCLESGYM allows for long-term planning in agroecosystems, provides modular state space and reward constructors and weather generators, and allows for complex actions. For RL researchers, this is a novel benchmark to investigate issues arising in real-world applications. For agronomists, we demonstrate the potential of RL as a powerful optimization tool for agricultural systems management in multi-year case studies on nitrogen (N) fertilization and crop planning scenarios.

pFL-Bench: A Comprehensive Benchmark for Personalized Federated Learning

Daoyuan Chen · Dawei Gao · Weirui Kuang · Yaliang Li · Bolin Ding

Personalized Federated Learning (pFL), which utilizes and deploys distinct local models, has gained increasing attention in recent years due to its success in handling the statistical heterogeneity of FL clients. However, standardized evaluation and systematical analysis of diverse pFL methods remain a challenge. Firstly, the highly varied datasets, FL simulation settings and pFL implementations prevent easy and fair comparisons of pFL methods. Secondly, the current pFL literature diverges in the adopted evaluation and ablation protocols. Finally, the effectiveness and robustness of pFL methods are under-explored in various practical scenarios, such as the generalization to new clients and the participation of resource-limited clients. To tackle these challenges, we propose the first comprehensive pFL benchmark, pFL-Bench, for facilitating rapid, reproducible, standardized and thorough pFL evaluation. The proposed benchmark contains more than 10 dataset variants in various application domains with a unified data partition and realistic heterogeneous settings; a modularized and easy-to-extend pFL codebase with more than 20 competitive pFL method implementations; and systematic evaluations under containerized environments in terms of generalization, fairness, system overhead, and convergence. We highlight the benefits and potential of state-of-the-art pFL methods and hope pFL-Bench enables further pFL research and broad applications that would otherwise be difficult owing to the absence of a dedicated benchmark. The code is released at

Myriad: a real-world testbed to bridge trajectory optimization and deep learning

Nikolaus Howe · Simon Dufort-Labbé · Nitarshan Rajkumar · Pierre-Luc Bacon

We present Myriad, a testbed written in JAX which enables machine learning researchers to benchmark imitation learning and reinforcement learning algorithms against trajectory optimization-based methods in real-world environments. Myriad contains 17 optimal control problems presented in continuous time which span medicine, ecology, epidemiology, and engineering. As such, Myriad strives to serve as a stepping stone towards application of modern machine learning techniques for impactful real-world tasks. The repository also provides machine learning practitioners access to trajectory optimization techniques, not only for standalone use, but also for integration within a typical automatic differentiation workflow. Indeed, the combination of classical control theory and deep learning in a fully GPU-compatible package unlocks potential for new algorithms to arise. We present one such novel approach for use in dynamics learning and control tasks. Trained in a fully end-to-end fashion, our model leverages an implicit planning module over neural ordinary differential equations, enabling simultaneous learning and planning with unknown environment dynamics. All environments, optimizers and tools are available in the software package at \url{}.

Deep Limits and a Cut-Off Phenomenon for Neural Networks

Benny Avelin · Anders Karlsson

We consider dynamical and geometrical aspects of deep learning. For many standard choices of layer maps we display semi-invariant metrics which quantify differences between data or decision functions. This allows us, when considering random layer maps and using non-commutative ergodic theorems, to deduce that certain limits exist when letting the number of layers tend to infinity. We also examine the random initialization of standard networks where we observe a surprising cut-off phenomenon in terms of the number of layers, the depth of the network. This could be a relevant parameter when choosing an appropriate number of layers for a given learning task, or for selecting a good initialization procedure. More generally, we hope that the notions and results in this paper can provide a framework, in particular a geometric one, for a part of the theoretical understanding of deep neural networks.

Non-asymptotic and Accurate Learning of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems

Yahya Sattar · Samet Oymak

We consider the problem of learning a nonlinear dynamical system governed by a nonlinear state equation $h_{t+1}=\phi(h_t,u_t;\theta)+w_t$. Here $\theta$ is the unknown system dynamics, $h_t$ is the state, $u_t$ is the input and $w_t$ is the additive noise vector. We study gradient based algorithms to learn the system dynamics $\theta$ from samples obtained from a single finite trajectory. If the system is run by a stabilizing input policy, then using a mixing-time argument we show that temporally-dependent samples can be approximated by i.i.d. samples. We then develop new guarantees for the uniform convergence of the gradient of the empirical loss induced by these i.i.d. samples. Unlike existing works, our bounds are noise sensitive which allows for learning the ground-truth dynamics with high accuracy and small sample complexity. When combined, our results facilitate efficient learning of a broader class of nonlinear dynamical systems as compared to the prior works. We specialize our guarantees to entrywise nonlinear activations and verify our theory in various numerical experiments.

Robust and scalable manifold learning via landmark diffusion for long-term medical signal processing

Chao Shen · Yu-Ting Lin · Hau-Tieng Wu

Motivated by analyzing long-term physiological time series, we design a robust and scalable spectral embedding algorithm that we refer to as RObust and Scalable Embedding via LANdmark Diffusion (Roseland). The key is designing a diffusion process on the dataset where the diffusion is done via a small subset called the landmark set. Roseland is theoretically justified under the manifold model, and its computational complexity is comparable with commonly applied subsampling scheme such as the Nystr\"om extension. Specifically, when there are $n$ data points in $\mathbb{R}^q$ and $n^\beta$ points in the landmark set, where $\beta\in (0,1)$, the computational complexity of Roseland is $O(n^{1+2\beta}+qn^{1+\beta})$, while that of Nystrom is $O(n^{2.81\beta}+qn^{1+2\beta})$. To demonstrate the potential of Roseland, we apply it to { three} datasets and compare it with several other existing algorithms. First, we apply Roseland to the task of spectral clustering using the MNIST dataset (70,000 images), achieving 85\% accuracy when the dataset is clean and 78\% accuracy when the dataset is noisy. Compared with other subsampling schemes, overall Roseland achieves a better performance. Second, we apply Roseland to the task of image segmentation using images from COCO. Finally, we demonstrate how to apply Roseland to explore long-term arterial blood pressure waveform dynamics during a liver transplant operation lasting for 12 hours. In conclusion, Roseland is scalable and robust, and it has a potential for analyzing large datasets.

The Importance of Being Correlated: Implications of Dependence in Joint Spectral Inference across Multiple Networks

Konstantinos Pantazis · Avanti Athreya · Jesus Arroyo · William N Frost · Evan S Hill · Vince Lyzinski

Spectral inference on multiple networks is a rapidly-developing subfield of graph statistics. Recent work has demonstrated that joint, or simultaneous, spectral embedding of multiple independent networks can deliver more accurate estimation than individual spectral decompositions of those same networks. Such inference procedures typically rely heavily on independence assumptions across the multiple network realizations, and even in this case, little attention has been paid to the induced network correlation that can be a consequence of such joint embeddings. In this paper, we present a generalized omnibus embedding methodology and we provide a detailed analysis of this embedding across both independent and correlated networks, the latter of which significantly extends the reach of such procedures, and we describe how this omnibus embedding can itself induce correlation. This leads us to distinguish betwee inherent correlation---that is, the correlation that arises naturally in multisample network data---and induced correlation, which is an artifice of the joint embedding methodology. We show that the generalized omnibus embedding procedure is flexible and robust, and we prove both consistency and a central limit theorem for the embedded points. We examine how induced and inherent correlation can impact inference for network time series data, and we provide network analogues of classical questions such as the effective sample size for more generally correlated data. Further, we show how an appropriately calibrated generalized omnibus embedding can detect changes in real biological networks that previous embedding procedures could not discern, confirming that the effect of inherent and induced correlation can be subtle and transformative. By allowing for and deconstructing both forms of correlation, our methodology widens the scope of spectral techniques for network inference, with import in theory and practice.

Foolish Crowds Support Benign Overfitting

Niladri S. Chatterji · Philip Long

We prove a lower bound on the excess risk of sparse interpolating procedures for linear regression with Gaussian data in the overparameterized regime. We apply this result to obtain a lower bound for basis pursuit (the minimum $\ell_1$-norm interpolant) that implies that its excess risk can converge at an exponentially slower rate than OLS (the minimum $\ell_2$-norm interpolant), even when the ground truth is sparse. Our analysis exposes the benefit of an effect analogous to the ``wisdom of the crowd'', except here the harm arising from fitting the noise is ameliorated by spreading it among many directions---the variance reduction arises from a foolish crowd.

[Re] Exacerbating Algorithmic Bias through Fairness Attacks

Angelos Nalmpantis · Apostolos Panagiotopoulos · John Gkountouras · Konstantinos Papakostas

We conducted a reproducibility study of the paper 'Exacerbating Algorithmic Bias through Fairness Attacks'. According to the paper, current research on adversarial attacks is primarily focused on targeting model performance, which motivates the need for adversarial attacks on fairness. To that end, the authors propose two novel data poisoning adversarial attacks, the influence attack on fairness and the anchoring attack. We aim to verify the main claims of the paper, namely that: a) the proposed methods indeed affect a model's fairness and outperform existing attacks, b) the anchoring attack hardly affects performance, while impacting fairness, and c) the influence attack on fairness provides a controllable trade-off between performance and fairness degradation.

[Re] Replication Study of "Fairness and Bias in Online Selection"

Diego van der Mast · Soufiane Ben Haddou · Jacky Chu · Jaap Stefels

In this paper, we work on reproducing the results obtained in the 'Fairness and Bias in Online Selection' paper. The goal of the reproduction study is to validate the 4 main claims made by the authors. The claims made are: (1) for the multi-color secretary problem, an optimal online algorithm is fair, (2) for the multi-color secretary problem, an optimal offline algorithm is unfair, (3) for the multi-color prophet problem, an optimal online algorithm is fair (4) for the multi-color prophet problem, an optimal online algorithm is less efficient relative to the offline algorithm. The proposed algorithms and baselines are applied to the UFRGS Entrance Exam and GPA data set to evaluate generalisation. For our experiments, we reimplemented their available C++ code in Python. Our goal was to reproduce the code in an efficient manner without altering the core logic. The reproduced results support all claims made in the original paper. However, in the case of the unfair secretary algorithm (SA), some irregular results arise in the experiments due to randomness.

[Re] Reproduction Study of Variational Fair Clustering

Floor Eijkjelboom · Mark Fokkema · Anna Lau · Luuk Verheijen

Scope of Reproducibility Variational Fair Clustering (VFC) is a general variational fair clustering framework that is compatible with a large class of clustering algorithms, both prototype-based and graph-based (Ziko et al., 2021). VFC is capable of handling large datasets and offers a mechanism that allows for a trade-off between fairness and clustering quality. We run a series of experiments to evaluate the major claims made by the authors. Specifically, that VFC is on par with SOTA clustering objectives, that it is scalable, that it has a trade-off control, and that it is compatible with both prototype-based and graph-based clustering algorithms. Methodology To reproduce the results from Ziko et al., the original code is altered by removing bugs. This code is used to perform reproduction experiments to test the four claims made by the authors, as described above. Furthermore, three replication experiments have been implemented as well: different values for the trade-off parameter and Lipschitz constants have been investigated, an alternative dataset is used, and a kernel-based VFC framework has been derived and implemented. Results We found that that three of the four claims made by Ziko et al. are supported, and that one claim is partially supported. VFC is mostly on par with SOTA clustering objectives, if the trade-off parameter and Lipschitz constant are tuned. Additionally, we verified that VFC is scalable on large-scale datasets and found that the trade-off control works as stated by the authors. Moreover, we conclude that VFC is capable of handling both prototype-based and graph-based datasets. Regarding the replicability of VFC, the experiment on the alternative dataset did not indicate that VFC is worse than SOTA baselines. The proposed kernel-based VFC performs on par with the original framework.

What was easy and difficult The original paper provides extensive theoretical derivations and explanations of the VFC approach, both through derviations and text. Moreover, the code of the original paper was publicly available. The original authors responded quickly to our mails and were very willing to discuss our results. Although the VFC code was publicly available, it was undocumented and contained some bugs that were hard to find given the lack of documentation. Moreover, there were vast differences between the implementation of the original authors and the baseline models. This required conversions between the models for the comparisons. Lastly, running the VFC code took many hours, which resulted in us not being able to run all algorithm-dataset combinations we wanted to. Communication with original authors The original authors have been approached twice. The mail contact helped clarify implementation details, particularly regarding the Ncut algorithm. The authors explained and specified the usage of the trade-off parameter and the Lipschitz constant. Additionally, they explained how they obtained the K-means baseline results. The authors have been informed about our proposed kernel-based VFC framework and replied with enthusiasm.