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Poster Session 2

Hall J (level 1)


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A Nonconvex Framework for Structured Dynamic Covariance Recovery

Katherine Tsai · Mladen Kolar · Sanmi Koyejo

We propose a flexible, yet interpretable model for high-dimensional data with time-varying second-order statistics, motivated and applied to functional neuroimaging data. Our approach implements the neuroscientific hypothesis of discrete cognitive processes by factorizing covariances into sparse spatial and smooth temporal components. Although this factorization results in parsimony and domain interpretability, the resulting estimation problem is nonconvex. We design a two-stage optimization scheme with a tailored spectral initialization, combined with iteratively refined alternating projected gradient descent. We prove a linear convergence rate up to a nontrivial statistical error for the proposed descent scheme and establish sample complexity guarantees for the estimator. Empirical results using simulated data and brain imaging data illustrate that our approach outperforms existing baselines.

Alignment-guided Temporal Attention for Video Action Recognition

Yizhou Zhao · Zhenyang Li · Xun Guo · Yan Lu

Temporal modeling is crucial for various video learning tasks. Most recent approaches employ either factorized (2D+1D) or joint (3D) spatial-temporal operations to extract temporal contexts from the input frames. While the former is more efficient in computation, the latter often obtains better performance. In this paper, we attribute this to a dilemma between the sufficiency and the efficiency of interactions among various positions in different frames. These interactions affect the extraction of task-relevant information shared among frames. To resolve this issue, we prove that frame-by-frame alignments have the potential to increase the mutual information between frame representations, thereby including more task-relevant information to boost effectiveness. Then we propose Alignment-guided Temporal Attention (ATA) to extend 1-dimensional temporal attention with parameter-free patch-level alignments between neighboring frames. It can act as a general plug-in for image backbones to conduct the action recognition task without any model-specific design. Extensive experiments on multiple benchmarks demonstrate the superiority and generality of our module.

TCT: Convexifying Federated Learning using Bootstrapped Neural Tangent Kernels

Yaodong Yu · Alexander Wei · Sai Praneeth Karimireddy · Yi Ma · Michael Jordan

State-of-the-art federated learning methods can perform far worse than their centralized counterparts when clients have dissimilar data distributions. For neural networks, even when centralized SGD easily finds a solution that is simultaneously performant for all clients, current federated optimization methods fail to converge to a comparable solution. We show that this performance disparity can largely be attributed to optimization challenges presented by nonconvexity. Specifically, we find that the early layers of the network do learn useful features, but the final layers fail to make use of them. That is, federated optimization applied to this non-convex problem distorts the learning of the final layers. Leveraging this observation, we propose a Train-Convexify-Train (TCT) procedure to sidestep this issue: first, learn features using off-the-shelf methods (e.g., FedAvg); then, optimize a convexified problem obtained from the network's empirical neural tangent kernel approximation. Our technique yields accuracy improvements of up to $+36\%$ on FMNIST and $+37\%$ on CIFAR10 when clients have dissimilar data.

On Feature Learning in the Presence of Spurious Correlations

Pavel Izmailov · Polina Kirichenko · Nate Gruver · Andrew Wilson

Deep classifiers are known to rely on spurious features — patterns which are correlated with the target on the training data but not inherently relevant to the learning problem, such as the image backgrounds when classifying the foregrounds. In this paper we evaluate the amount of information about the core (non-spurious) features that can be decoded from the representations learned by standard empirical risk minimization (ERM) and specialized group robustness training. Following recent work on Deep Feature Reweighting (DFR), we evaluate the feature representations by re-training the last layer of the model on a held-out set where the spurious correlation is broken. On multiple vision and NLP problems, we show that the features learned by simple ERM are highly competitive with the features learned by specialized group robustness methods targeted at reducing the effect of spurious correlations. Moreover, we show that the quality of learned feature representations is greatly affected by the design decisions beyond the training method, such as the model architecture and pre-training strategy. On the other hand, we find that strong regularization is not necessary for learning high-quality feature representations.Finally, using insights from our analysis, we significantly improve upon the best results reported in the literature on the popular Waterbirds, CelebA hair color prediction and WILDS-FMOW problems, achieving 97\%, 92\% and 50\% worst-group accuracies, respectively.

Spatial Mixture-of-Experts

Nikoli Dryden · Torsten Hoefler

Many data have an underlying dependence on spatial location; it may be weather on the Earth, a simulation on a mesh, or a registered image. Yet this feature is rarely taken advantage of, and violates common assumptions made by many neural network layers, such as translation equivariance. Further, many works that do incorporate locality fail to capture fine-grained structure. To address this, we introduce the Spatial Mixture-of-Experts (SMoE) layer, a sparsely-gated layer that learns spatial structure in the input domain and routes experts at a fine-grained level to utilize it. We also develop new techniques to train SMoEs, including a self-supervised routing loss and damping expert errors. Finally, we show strong results for SMoEs on numerous tasks, and set new state-of-the-art results for medium-range weather prediction and post-processing ensemble weather forecasts.

Exploring Length Generalization in Large Language Models

Cem Anil · Yuhuai Wu · Anders Andreassen · Aitor Lewkowycz · Vedant Misra · Vinay Ramasesh · Ambrose Slone · Guy Gur-Ari · Ethan Dyer · Behnam Neyshabur

The ability to extrapolate from short problem instances to longer ones is an important form of out-of-distribution generalization in reasoning tasks, and is crucial when learning from datasets where longer problem instances are rare. These include theorem proving, solving quantitative mathematics problems, and reading/summarizing novels. In this paper, we run careful empirical studies exploring the length generalization capabilities of transformer-based language models. We first establish that naively finetuning transformers on length generalization tasks shows significant generalization deficiencies independent of model scale. We then show that combining pretrained large language models' in-context learning abilities with scratchpad prompting (asking the model to output solution steps before producing an answer) results in a dramatic improvement in length generalization. We run careful failure analyses on each of the learning modalities and identify common sources of mistakes that highlight opportunities in equipping language models with the ability to generalize to longer problems.

Neural Topological Ordering for Computation Graphs

Mukul Gagrani · Corrado Rainone · Yang Yang · Harris Teague · Wonseok Jeon · Roberto Bondesan · Herke van Hoof · Christopher Lott · Weiliang Zeng · Piero Zappi

Recent works on machine learning for combinatorial optimization have shown that learning based approaches can outperform heuristic methods in terms of speed and performance. In this paper, we consider the problem of finding an optimal topological order on a directed acyclic graph (DAG) with focus on the memory minimization problem which arises in compilers. We propose an end-to-end machine learning based approach for topological ordering using an encoder-decoder framework. Our encoder is a novel attention based graph neural network architecture called \emph{Topoformer} which uses different topological transforms of a DAG for message passing. The node embeddings produced by the encoder are converted into node priorities which are used by the decoder to generate a probability distribution over topological orders. We train our model on a dataset of synthetically generated graphs called layered graphs. We show that our model outperforms, or is on-par, with several topological ordering baselines while being significantly faster on synthetic graphs with up to 2k nodes. We also train and test our model on a set of real-world computation graphs, showing performance improvements.

Unsupervised Multi-View Object Segmentation Using Radiance Field Propagation

Xinhang Liu · Jiaben Chen · Huai Yu · Yu-Wing Tai · Chi-Keung Tang

We present radiance field propagation (RFP), a novel approach to segmenting objects in 3D during reconstruction given only unlabeled multi-view images of a scene. RFP is derived from emerging neural radiance field-based techniques, which jointly encodes semantics with appearance and geometry. The core of our method is a novel propagation strategy for individual objects' radiance fields with a bidirectional photometric loss, enabling an unsupervised partitioning of a scene into salient or meaningful regions corresponding to different object instances. To better handle complex scenes with multiple objects and occlusions, we further propose an iterative expectation-maximization algorithm to refine object masks. To the best of our knowledge, RFP is the first unsupervised approach for tackling 3D scene object segmentation for neural radiance field (NeRF) without any supervision, annotations, or other cues such as 3D bounding boxes and prior knowledge of object class. Experiments demonstrate that RFP achieves feasible segmentation results that are more accurate than previous unsupervised image/scene segmentation approaches, and are comparable to existing supervised NeRF-based methods. The segmented object representations enable individual 3D object editing operations. Codes and datasets will be made publicly available.

Offline Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning with Knowledge Distillation

Wei-Cheng Tseng · Tsun-Hsuan Johnson Wang · Yen-Chen Lin · Phillip Isola

We introduce an offline multi-agent reinforcement learning ( offline MARL) framework that utilizes previously collected data without additional online data collection. Our method reformulates offline MARL as a sequence modeling problem and thus builds on top of the simplicity and scalability of the Transformer architecture. In the fashion of centralized training and decentralized execution, we propose to first train a teacher policy as if the MARL dataset is generated by a single agent. After the teacher policy has identified and recombined the "good" behavior in the dataset, we create separate student policies and distill not only the teacher policy's features but also its structural relations among different agents' features to student policies. Despite its simplicity, the proposed method outperforms state-of-the-art model-free offline MARL baselines while being more robust to demonstration's quality on several environments.

Enhanced Meta Reinforcement Learning via Demonstrations in Sparse Reward Environments

Desik Rengarajan · Sapana Chaudhary · Jaewon Kim · Dileep Kalathil · Srinivas Shakkottai

Meta reinforcement learning (Meta-RL) is an approach wherein the experience gained from solving a variety of tasks is distilled into a meta-policy. The meta-policy, when adapted over only a small (or just a single) number of steps, is able to perform near-optimally on a new, related task. However, a major challenge to adopting this approach to solve real-world problems is that they are often associated with sparse reward functions that only indicate whether a task is completed partially or fully. We consider the situation where some data, possibly generated by a sub-optimal agent, is available for each task. We then develop a class of algorithms entitled Enhanced Meta-RL via Demonstrations (EMRLD) that exploit this information---even if sub-optimal---to obtain guidance during training. We show how EMRLD jointly utilizes RL and supervised learning over the offline data to generate a meta-policy that demonstrates monotone performance improvements. We also develop a warm started variant called EMRLD-WS that is particularly efficient for sub-optimal demonstration data. Finally, we show that our EMRLD algorithms significantly outperform existing approaches in a variety of sparse reward environments, including that of a mobile robot.

Maximum Class Separation as Inductive Bias in One Matrix

Tejaswi Kasarla · Gertjan Burghouts · Max van Spengler · Elise van der Pol · Rita Cucchiara · Pascal Mettes

Maximizing the separation between classes constitutes a well-known inductive bias in machine learning and a pillar of many traditional algorithms. By default, deep networks are not equipped with this inductive bias and therefore many alternative solutions have been proposed through differential optimization. Current approaches tend to optimize classification and separation jointly: aligning inputs with class vectors and separating class vectors angularly. This paper proposes a simple alternative: encoding maximum separation as an inductive bias in the network by adding one fixed matrix multiplication before computing the softmax activations. The main observation behind our approach is that separation does not require optimization but can be solved in closed-form prior to training and plugged into a network. We outline a recursive approach to obtain the matrix consisting of maximally separable vectors for any number of classes, which can be added with negligible engineering effort and computational overhead. Despite its simple nature, this one matrix multiplication provides real impact. We show that our proposal directly boosts classification, long-tailed recognition, out-of-distribution detection, and open-set recognition, from CIFAR to ImageNet. We find empirically that maximum separation works best as a fixed bias; making the matrix learnable adds nothing to the performance. The closed-form implementation and code to reproduce the experiments are available on github.

Training Uncertainty-Aware Classifiers with Conformalized Deep Learning

Bat-Sheva Einbinder · Yaniv Romano · Matteo Sesia · Yanfei Zhou

Deep neural networks are powerful tools to detect hidden patterns in data and leverage them to make predictions, but they are not designed to understand uncertainty and estimate reliable probabilities. In particular, they tend to be overconfident. We begin to address this problem in the context of multi-class classification by developing a novel training algorithm producing models with more dependable uncertainty estimates, without sacrificing predictive power. The idea is to mitigate overconfidence by minimizing a loss function, inspired by advances in conformal inference, that quantifies model uncertainty by carefully leveraging hold-out data. Experiments with synthetic and real data demonstrate this method can lead to smaller conformal prediction sets with higher conditional coverage, after exact calibration with hold-out data, compared to state-of-the-art alternatives.

Efficiently Factorizing Boolean Matrices using Proximal Gradient Descent

Sebastian Dalleiger · Jilles Vreeken

Addressing the interpretability problem of NMF on Boolean data, Boolean Matrix Factorization (BMF) uses Boolean algebra to decompose the input into low-rank Boolean factor matrices. These matrices are highly interpretable and very useful in practice, but they come at the high computational cost of solving an NP-hard combinatorial optimization problem. To reduce the computational burden, we propose to relax BMF continuously using a novel elastic-binary regularizer, from which we derive a proximal gradient algorithm. Through an extensive set of experiments, we demonstrate that our method works well in practice: On synthetic data, we show that it converges quickly, recovers the ground truth precisely, and estimates the simulated rank exactly. On real-world data, we improve upon the state of the art in recall, loss, and runtime, and a case study from the medical domain confirms that our results are easily interpretable and semantically meaningful.

FlowHMM: Flow-based continuous hidden Markov models

Pawel Lorek · Rafal Nowak · Tomasz Trzcinski · Maciej Zieba

Continuous hidden Markov models (HMMs) assume that observations are generated from a mixture of Gaussian densities, limiting their ability to model more complex distributions. In this work, we address this shortcoming and propose novel continuous HMM models, dubbed FlowHMMs, that enable learning general continuous observation densities without constraining them to follow a Gaussian distribution or their mixtures. To that end, we leverage deep flow-based architectures that model complex, non-Gaussian functions and propose two variants of training a FlowHMM model. The first one, based on gradient-based technique, can be applied directly to continuous multidimensional data, yet its application to larger data sequences remains computationally expensive. Therefore, we also present a second approach to training our FlowHMM that relies on the co-occurrence matrix of discretized observations and considers the joint distribution of pairs of co-observed values, hence rendering the training time independent of the training sequence length. As a result, we obtain a model that can be flexibly adapted to the characteristics and dimensionality of the data. We perform a variety of experiments in which we compare both training strategies with a baseline of Gaussian mixture models. We show, that in terms of quality of the recovered probability distribution, accuracy of prediction of hidden states, and likelihood of unseen data, our approach outperforms the standard Gaussian methods.

Merging Models with Fisher-Weighted Averaging

Michael S Matena · Colin Raffel

Averaging the parameters of models that have the same architecture and initialization can provide a means of combining their respective capabilities. In this paper, we take the perspective that this "merging" operation can be seen as choosing parameters that approximately maximize the joint likelihood of the posteriors of the models' parameters. Computing a simple average of the models' parameters therefore corresponds to making an isotropic Gaussian approximation to their posteriors. We develop an alternative merging procedure based on the Laplace approximation where we approximate each model's posterior as a Gaussian distribution whose precision matrix corresponds to its Fisher information. We first show that our "Fisher merging" technique provides a performance boost in settings where simple parameter averaging is currently used -- specifically, robust fine-tuning and model ensembling. Then, we compare merging to standard gradient-based transfer learning and demonstrate that merging enables a fundamentally different method for transferring capabilities across models. Specifically, we show that Fisher merging is competitive with gradient-based transfer learning approaches (while being significantly cheaper) in intermediate-task training and domain-adaptive pre-training. We also show that our merging procedure makes it possible to combine models in previously unexplored ways. We release our code to facilitate future research into methods for merging models.

Holomorphic Equilibrium Propagation Computes Exact Gradients Through Finite Size Oscillations

Axel Laborieux · Friedemann Zenke

Equilibrium propagation (EP) is an alternative to backpropagation (BP) that allows the training of deep neural networks with local learning rules. It thus provides a compelling framework for training neuromorphic systems and understanding learning in neurobiology. However, EP requires infinitesimal teaching signals, thereby limiting its applicability to noisy physical systems. Moreover, the algorithm requires separate temporal phases and has not been applied to large-scale problems. Here we address these issues by extending EP to holomorphic networks. We show analytically that this extension naturally leads to exact gradients for finite-amplitude teaching signals. Importantly, the gradient can be computed as the first Fourier coefficient from finite neuronal activity oscillations in continuous time without requiring separate phases. Further, we demonstrate in numerical simulations that our approach permits robust estimation of gradients in the presence of noise and that deeper models benefit from the finite teaching signals. Finally, we establish the first benchmark for EP on the ImageNet $32 \times 32$ dataset and show that it matches the performance of an equivalent network trained with BP. Our work provides analytical insights that enable scaling EP to large-scale problems and establishes a formal framework for how oscillations could support learning in biological and neuromorphic systems.

Neural Payoff Machines: Predicting Fair and Stable Payoff Allocations Among Team Members

Daphne Cornelisse · Thomas Rood · Yoram Bachrach · Mateusz Malinowski · Tal Kachman

In many multi-agent settings, participants can form teams to achieve collective outcomes that may far surpass their individual capabilities. Measuring the relative contributions of agents and allocating them shares of the reward that promote long-lasting cooperation are difficult tasks. Cooperative game theory offers solution concepts identifying distribution schemes, such as the Shapley value, that fairly reflect the contribution of individuals to the performance of the team or the Core, which reduces the incentive of agents to abandon their team. Applications of such methods include identifying influential features and sharing the costs of joint ventures or team formation. Unfortunately, using these solutions requires tackling a computational barrier as they are hard to compute, even in restricted settings. In this work, we show how cooperative game-theoretic solutions can be distilled into a learned model by training neural networks to propose fair and stable payoff allocations. We show that our approach creates models that can generalize to games far from the training distribution and can predict solutions for more players than observed during training. An important application of our framework is Explainable AI: our approach can be used to speed-up Shapley value computations on many instances.

Additive MIL: Intrinsically Interpretable Multiple Instance Learning for Pathology

Syed Ashar Javed · Dinkar Juyal · Harshith Padigela · Amaro Taylor-Weiner · Limin Yu · Aaditya Prakash

Multiple Instance Learning (MIL) has been widely applied in pathology towards solving critical problems such as automating cancer diagnosis and grading, predicting patient prognosis, and therapy response. Deploying these models in a clinical setting requires careful inspection of these black boxes during development and deployment to identify failures and maintain physician trust. In this work, we propose a simple formulation of MIL models, which enables interpretability while maintaining similar predictive performance. Our Additive MIL models enable spatial credit assignment such that the contribution of each region in the image can be exactly computed and visualized. We show that our spatial credit assignment coincides with regions used by pathologists during diagnosis and improves upon classical attention heatmaps from attention MIL models. We show that any existing MIL model can be made additive with a simple change in function composition. We also show how these models can debug model failures, identify spurious features, and highlight class-wise regions of interest, enabling their use in high-stakes environments such as clinical decision-making.

Making Look-Ahead Active Learning Strategies Feasible with Neural Tangent Kernels

Mohamad Amin Mohamadi · Wonho Bae · Danica J. Sutherland

We propose a new method for approximating active learning acquisition strategies that are based on retraining with hypothetically-labeled candidate data points. Although this is usually infeasible with deep networks, we use the neural tangent kernel to approximate the result of retraining, and prove that this approximation works asymptotically even in an active learning setup -- approximating look-ahead'' selection criteria with far less computation required. This also enables us to conduct sequential active learning, i.e.\ updating the model in a streaming regime, without needing to retrain the model with SGD after adding each new data point. Moreover, our querying strategy, which better understands how the model's predictions will change by adding new data points in comparison to the standard (myopic'') criteria, beats other look-ahead strategies by large margins, and achieves equal or better performance compared to state-of-the-art methods on several benchmark datasets in pool-based active learning.

Signal Propagation in Transformers: Theoretical Perspectives and the Role of Rank Collapse

Lorenzo Noci · Sotiris Anagnostidis · Luca Biggio · Antonio Orvieto · Sidak Pal Singh · Aurelien Lucchi

Transformers have achieved remarkable success in several domains, ranging from natural language processing to computer vision. Nevertheless, it has been recently shown that stacking self-attention layers — the distinctive architectural component of Transformers — can result in rank collapse of the tokens’ representations at initialization. The question of if and how rank collapse affects training is still largely unanswered, and its investigation is necessary for a more comprehensive understanding of this architecture. In this work, we shed new light on the causes and the effects of this phenomenon. First, we show that rank collapse of the tokens’ representations hinders training by causing the gradients of the queries and keys to vanish at initialization. Furthermore, we provide a thorough description of the origin of rank collapse and discuss how to prevent it via an appropriate depth-dependent scaling of the residual branches. Finally, our analysis unveils that specific architectural hyperparameters affect the gradients of queries, keys and values differently, leading to disproportionate gradient norms. This suggests an explanation for the widespread use of adaptive methods for Transformers' optimization.

Ordered Subgraph Aggregation Networks

Chendi Qian · Gaurav Rattan · Floris Geerts · Mathias Niepert · Christopher Morris

Numerous subgraph-enhanced graph neural networks (GNNs) have emerged recently, provably boosting the expressive power of standard (message-passing) GNNs. However, there is a limited understanding of how these approaches relate to each other and to the Weisfeiler-Leman hierarchy. Moreover, current approaches either use all subgraphs of a given size, sample them uniformly at random, or use hand-crafted heuristics instead of learning to select subgraphs in a data-driven manner. Here, we offer a unified way to study such architectures by introducing a theoretical framework and extending the known expressivity results of subgraph-enhanced GNNs. Concretely, we show that increasing subgraph size always increases the expressive power and develop a better understanding of their limitations by relating them to the established $k\mathsf{\text{-}WL}$ hierarchy. In addition, we explore different approaches for learning to sample subgraphs using recent methods for backpropagating through complex discrete probability distributions. Empirically, we study the predictive performance of different subgraph-enhanced GNNs, showing that our data-driven architectures increase prediction accuracy on standard benchmark datasets compared to non-data-driven subgraph-enhanced graph neural networks while reducing computation time.

Infinite Recommendation Networks: A Data-Centric Approach

Noveen Sachdeva · Mehak Dhaliwal · Carole-Jean Wu · Julian Mcauley

We leverage the Neural Tangent Kernel and its equivalence to training infinitely-wide neural networks to devise $\infty$-AE: an autoencoder with infinitely-wide bottleneck layers. The outcome is a highly expressive yet simplistic recommendation model with a single hyper-parameter and a closed-form solution. Leveraging $\infty$-AE's simplicity, we also develop Distill-CF for synthesizing tiny, high-fidelity data summaries which distill the most important knowledge from the extremely large and sparse user-item interaction matrix for efficient and accurate subsequent data-usage like model training, inference, architecture search, etc. This takes a data-centric approach to recommendation, where we aim to improve the quality of logged user-feedback data for subsequent modeling, independent of the learning algorithm. We particularly utilize the concept of differentiable Gumbel-sampling to handle the inherent data heterogeneity, sparsity, and semi-structuredness, while being scalable to datasets with hundreds of millions of user-item interactions. Both of our proposed approaches significantly outperform their respective state-of-the-art and when used together, we observe $96-105$% of $\infty$-AE's performance on the full dataset with as little as $0.1$% of the original dataset size, leading us to explore the counter-intuitive question: Is more data what you need for better recommendation?

Diversity vs. Recognizability: Human-like generalization in one-shot generative models

Victor Boutin · Lakshya Singhal · Xavier Thomas · Thomas Serre

Robust generalization to new concepts has long remained a distinctive feature of human intelligence. However, recent progress in deep generative models has now led to neural architectures capable of synthesizing novel instances of unknown visual concepts from a single training example. Yet, a more precise comparison between these models and humans is not possible because existing performance metrics for generative models (i.e., FID, IS, likelihood) are not appropriate for the one-shot generation scenario. Here, we propose a new framework to evaluate one-shot generative models along two axes: sample recognizability vs. diversity (i.e., intra-class variability). Using this framework, we perform a systematic evaluation of representative one-shot generative models on the Omniglot handwritten dataset. We first show that GAN-like and VAE-like models fall on opposite ends of the diversity-recognizability space. Extensive analyses of the effect of key model parameters further revealed that spatial attention and context integration have a linear contribution to the diversity-recognizability trade-off. In contrast, disentanglement transports the model along a parabolic curve that could be used to maximize recognizability. Using the diversity-recognizability framework, we were able to identify models and parameters that closely approximate human data.

Geo-SIC: Learning Deformable Geometric Shapes in Deep Image Classifiers

Jian Wang · Miaomiao Zhang

Deformable shapes provide important and complex geometric features of objects presented in images. However, such information is oftentimes missing or underutilized as implicit knowledge in many image analysis tasks. This paper presents Geo-SIC, the first deep learning model to learn deformable shapes in a deformation space for an improved performance of image classification. We introduce a newly designed framework that (i) simultaneously derives features from both image and latent shape spaces with large intra-class variations; and (ii) gains increased model interpretability by allowing direct access to the underlying geometric features of image data. In particular, we develop a boosted classification network, equipped with an unsupervised learning of geometric shape representations characterized by diffeomorphic transformations within each class. In contrast to previous approaches using pre-extracted shapes, our model provides a more fundamental approach by naturally learning the most relevant shape features jointly with an image classifier. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on both simulated 2D images and real 3D brain magnetic resonance (MR) images. Experimental results show that our model substantially improves the image classification accuracy with an additional benefit of increased model interpretability. Our code is publicly available at

Improving Transformer with an Admixture of Attention Heads

Tan Nguyen · Tam Nguyen · Hai Do · Khai Nguyen · Vishwanath Saragadam · Minh Pham · Khuong Duy Nguyen · Nhat Ho · Stanley Osher

Transformers with multi-head self-attention have achieved remarkable success in sequence modeling and beyond. However, they suffer from high computational and memory complexities for computing the attention matrix at each head. Recently, it has been shown that those attention matrices lie on a low-dimensional manifold and, thus, are redundant. We propose the Transformer with a Finite Admixture of Shared Heads (FiSHformers), a novel class of efficient and flexible transformers that allow the sharing of attention matrices between attention heads. At the core of FiSHformer is a novel finite admixture model of shared heads (FiSH) that samples attention matrices from a set of global attention matrices. The number of global attention matrices is much smaller than the number of local attention matrices generated. FiSHformers directly learn these global attention matrices rather than the local ones as in other transformers, thus significantly improving the computational and memory efficiency of the model. We empirically verify the advantages of the FiSHformer over the baseline transformers in a wide range of practical applications including language modeling, machine translation, and image classification. On the WikiText-103, IWSLT'14 De-En and WMT'14 En-De, FiSHformers use much fewer floating-point operations per second (FLOPs), memory, and parameters compared to the baseline transformers.

Preservation of the Global Knowledge by Not-True Distillation in Federated Learning

Gihun Lee · Minchan Jeong · Yongjin Shin · Sangmin Bae · Se-Young Yun

In federated learning, a strong global model is collaboratively learned by aggregating clients' locally trained models. Although this precludes the need to access clients' data directly, the global model's convergence often suffers from data heterogeneity. This study starts from an analogy to continual learning and suggests that forgetting could be the bottleneck of federated learning. We observe that the global model forgets the knowledge from previous rounds, and the local training induces forgetting the knowledge outside of the local distribution. Based on our findings, we hypothesize that tackling down forgetting will relieve the data heterogeneity problem. To this end, we propose a novel and effective algorithm, Federated Not-True Distillation (FedNTD), which preserves the global perspective on locally available data only for the not-true classes. In the experiments, FedNTD shows state-of-the-art performance on various setups without compromising data privacy or incurring additional communication costs.

Information-Theoretic GAN Compression with Variational Energy-based Model

Minsoo Kang · Hyewon Yoo · Eunhee Kang · Sehwan Ki · Hyong Euk Lee · Bohyung Han

We propose an information-theoretic knowledge distillation approach for the compression of generative adversarial networks, which aims to maximize the mutual information between teacher and student networks via a variational optimization based on an energy-based model. Because the direct computation of the mutual information in continuous domains is intractable, our approach alternatively optimizes the student network by maximizing the variational lower bound of the mutual information. To achieve a tight lower bound, we introduce an energy-based model relying on a deep neural network to represent a flexible variational distribution that deals with high-dimensional images and consider spatial dependencies between pixels, effectively. Since the proposed method is a generic optimization algorithm, it can be conveniently incorporated into arbitrary generative adversarial networks and even dense prediction networks, e.g., image enhancement models. We demonstrate that the proposed algorithm achieves outstanding performance in model compression of generative adversarial networks consistently when combined with several existing models.

VRL3: A Data-Driven Framework for Visual Deep Reinforcement Learning

Che Wang · Xufang Luo · Keith Ross · Dongsheng Li

We propose VRL3, a powerful data-driven framework with a simple design for solving challenging visual deep reinforcement learning (DRL) tasks. We analyze a number of major obstacles in taking a data-driven approach, and present a suite of design principles, novel findings, and critical insights about data-driven visual DRL. Our framework has three stages: in stage 1, we leverage non-RL datasets (e.g. ImageNet) to learn task-agnostic visual representations; in stage 2, we use offline RL data (e.g. a limited number of expert demonstrations) to convert the task-agnostic representations into more powerful task-specific representations; in stage 3, we fine-tune the agent with online RL. On a set of challenging hand manipulation tasks with sparse reward and realistic visual inputs, compared to the previous SOTA, VRL3 achieves an average of 780% better sample efficiency. And on the hardest task, VRL3 is 1220% more sample efficient (2440% when using a wider encoder) and solves the task with only 10% of the computation. These significant results clearly demonstrate the great potential of data-driven deep reinforcement learning.

CLEAR: Generative Counterfactual Explanations on Graphs

Jing Ma · Ruocheng Guo · Saumitra Mishra · Aidong Zhang · Jundong Li

Counterfactual explanations promote explainability in machine learning models by answering the question “how should the input instance be altered to obtain a desired predicted label?". The comparison of this instance before and after perturbation can enhance human interpretation. Most existing studies on counterfactual explanations are limited in tabular data or image data. In this paper, we study the problem of counterfactual explanation generation on graphs. A few studies have explored to generate counterfactual explanations on graphs, but many challenges of this problem are still not well-addressed: 1) optimizing in the discrete and disorganized space of graphs; 2) generalizing on unseen graphs; 3) maintaining the causality in the generated counterfactuals without prior knowledge of the causal model. To tackle these challenges, we propose a novel framework CLEAR which aims to generate counterfactual explanations on graphs for graph-level prediction models. Specifically, CLEAR leverages a graph variational autoencoder based mechanism to facilitate its optimization and generalization, and promotes causality by leveraging an auxiliary variable to better identify the causal model. Extensive experiments on both synthetic and real-world graphs validate the superiority of CLEAR over state-of-the-art counterfactual explanation methods on graphs in different aspects. 

Out-of-Distribution Detection with An Adaptive Likelihood Ratio on Informative Hierarchical VAE

Yewen Li · Chaojie Wang · Xiaobo Xia · Tongliang Liu · xin miao · Bo An

Unsupervised out-of-distribution (OOD) detection is essential for the reliability of machine learning. In the literature, existing work has shown that higher-level semantics captured by hierarchical VAEs can be used to detect OOD instances.However, we empirically show that, the inherent issue of hierarchical VAEs, i.e., `posterior collapse'', would seriously limit their capacity for OOD detection.Based on a thorough analysis forposterior collapse'', we propose a novel informative hierarchical VAE to alleviate this issue through enhancing the connections between the data sample and its multi-layer stochastic latent representations during training.Furthermore, we propose a novel score function for unsupervised OOD detection, referred to as Adaptive Likelihood Ratio. With this score function, one can selectively aggregate the semantic information on multiple hidden layers of hierarchical VAEs, leading to a strong separability between in-distribution and OOD samples. Experimental results demonstrate that our method can significantly outperform existing state-of-the-art unsupervised OOD detection approaches.

Adversarial Style Augmentation for Domain Generalized Urban-Scene Segmentation

Zhun Zhong · Yuyang Zhao · Gim Hee Lee · Nicu Sebe

In this paper, we consider the problem of domain generalization in semantic segmentation, which aims to learn a robust model using only labeled synthetic (source) data. The model is expected to perform well on unseen real (target) domains. Our study finds that the image style variation can largely influence the model's performance and the style features can be well represented by the channel-wise mean and standard deviation of images. Inspired by this, we propose a novel adversarial style augmentation (AdvStyle) approach, which can dynamically generate hard stylized images during training and thus can effectively prevent the model from overfitting on the source domain. Specifically, AdvStyle regards the style feature as a learnable parameter and updates it by adversarial training. The learned adversarial style feature is used to construct an adversarial image for robust model training. AdvStyle is easy to implement and can be readily applied to different models. Experiments on two synthetic-to-real semantic segmentation benchmarks demonstrate that AdvStyle can significantly improve the model performance on unseen real domains and show that we can achieve the state of the art. Moreover, AdvStyle can be employed to domain generalized image classification and produces a clear improvement on the considered datasets.

A Coupled Design of Exploiting Record Similarity for Practical Vertical Federated Learning

Zhaomin Wu · Qinbin Li · Bingsheng He

Federated learning is a learning paradigm to enable collaborative learning across different parties without revealing raw data. Notably, vertical federated learning (VFL), where parties share the same set of samples but only hold partial features, has a wide range of real-world applications. However, most existing studies in VFL disregard the "record linkage'' process. They design algorithms either assuming the data from different parties can be exactly linked or simply linking each record with its most similar neighboring record. These approaches may fail to capture the key features from other less similar records. Moreover, such improper linkage cannot be corrected by training since existing approaches provide no feedback on linkage during training. In this paper, we design a novel coupled training paradigm, FedSim, that integrates one-to-many linkage into the training process. Besides enabling VFL in many real-world applications with fuzzy identifiers, FedSim also achieves better performance in traditional VFL tasks. Moreover, we theoretically analyze the additional privacy risk incurred by sharing similarities. Our experiments on eight datasets with various similarity metrics show that FedSim outperforms other state-of-the-art baselines. The codes of FedSim are available at

ClimbQ: Class Imbalanced Quantization Enabling Robustness on Efficient Inferences

Ting-An Chen · De-Nian Yang · Ming-syan Chen

Quantization compresses models to low bits for efficient inferences which has received increasing attentions. However, existing approaches focused on balanced datasets, while imbalanced data is pervasive in the real world. Therefore, in this study, we investigate the realistic problem, quantization on class-imbalanced data. We observe from the analytical results that quantizing imbalanced data tends to obtain a large error due to the differences between separate class distributions, which leads to a significant accuracy loss. To address this issue, we propose a novel quantization framework, Class Imbalanced Quantization (ClimbQ) that focuses on diminishing the inter-class heterogeneity for quantization error reduction. ClimbQ first scales the variance of each class distribution and then projects data through the new distributions to the same space for quantization. To guarantee the homogeneity of class variances after the ClimbQ process, we examine the quantized features and derive that the homogeneity satisfies when data size for each class is restricted (bounded). Accordingly, we design a Homogeneous Variance Loss (HomoVar Loss) which reweights the data losses of each class based on the bounded data sizes to satisfy the homogeneity of class variances. Extensive experiments on class-imbalanced and benchmark balanced datasets reveal that ClimbQ outperforms the state-of-the-art quantization techniques, especially on highly imbalanced data.

Public Wisdom Matters! Discourse-Aware Hyperbolic Fourier Co-Attention for Social Text Classification

Karish Grover · S M Phaneendra Angara · Md Shad Akhtar · Tanmoy Chakraborty

Social media has become the fulcrum of all forms of communication. Classifying social texts such as fake news, rumour, sarcasm, etc. has gained significant attention. The surface-level signals expressed by a social-text itself may not be adequate for such tasks; therefore, recent methods attempted to incorporate other intrinsic signals such as user behavior and the underlying graph structure. Oftentimes, the public wisdom expressed through the comments/replies to a social-text acts as a surrogate of crowd-sourced view and may provide us with complementary signals. State-of-the-art methods on social-text classification tend to ignore such a rich hierarchical signal. Here, we propose Hyphen, a discourse-aware hyperbolic spectral co-attention network. Hyphen is a fusion of hyperbolic graph representation learning with a novel Fourier co-attention mechanism in an attempt to generalise the social-text classification tasks by incorporating public discourse. We parse public discourse as an Abstract Meaning Representation (AMR) graph and use the powerful hyperbolic geometric representation to model graphs with hierarchical structure. Finally, we equip it with a novel Fourier co-attention mechanism to capture the correlation between the source post and public discourse. Extensive experiments on four different social-text classification tasks, namely detecting fake news, hate speech, rumour, and sarcasm, show that Hyphen generalises well, and achieves state-of-the-art results on ten benchmark datasets. We also employ a sentence-level fact-checked and annotated dataset to evaluate how Hyphen is capable of producing explanations as analogous evidence to the final prediction.

SIREN: Shaping Representations for Detecting Out-of-Distribution Objects

Xuefeng Du · Gabriel Gozum · Yifei Ming · Yixuan Li

Detecting out-of-distribution (OOD) objects is indispensable for safely deploying object detectors in the wild. Although distance-based OOD detection methods have demonstrated promise in image classification, they remain largely unexplored in object-level OOD detection. This paper bridges the gap by proposing a distance-based framework for detecting OOD objects, which relies on the model-agnostic representation space and provides strong generality across different neural architectures. Our proposed framework SIREN contributes two novel components: (1) a representation learning component that uses a trainable loss function to shape the representations into a mixture of von Mises-Fisher (vMF) distributions on the unit hypersphere, and (2) a test-time OOD detection score leveraging the learned vMF distributions in a parametric or non-parametric way. SIREN achieves competitive performance on both the recent detection transformers and CNN-based models, improving the AUROC by a large margin compared to the previous best method. Code is publicly available at

Efficient and Effective Multi-task Grouping via Meta Learning on Task Combinations

Xiaozhuang Song · Shun Zheng · Wei Cao · James Yu · Jiang Bian

As a longstanding learning paradigm, multi-task learning has been widely applied into a variety of machine learning applications. Nonetheless, identifying which tasks should be learned together is still a challenging fundamental problem because the possible task combinations grow exponentially with the number of tasks, and existing solutions heavily relying on heuristics may probably lead to ineffective groupings with severe performance degradation. To bridge this gap, we develop a systematic multi-task grouping framework with a new meta-learning problem on task combinations, which is to predict the per-task performance gains of multi-task learning over single-task learning for any combination. Our underlying assumption is that no matter how large the space of task combinations is, the relationships between task combinations and performance gains lie in some low-dimensional manifolds and thus can be learnable. Accordingly, we develop a neural meta learner, MTG-Net, to capture these relationships, and design an active learning strategy to progressively select meta-training samples. In this way, even with limited meta samples, MTG-Net holds the potential to produce reasonable gain estimations on arbitrary task combinations. Extensive experiments on diversified multi-task scenarios demonstrate the efficiency and effectiveness of our method. Specifically, in a large-scale evaluation with $27$ tasks, which produce over one hundred million task combinations, our method almost doubles the performance obtained by the existing best solution given roughly the same computational cost. Data and code are available at

DENSE: Data-Free One-Shot Federated Learning

Jie Zhang · Chen Chen · Bo Li · Lingjuan Lyu · Shuang Wu · Shouhong Ding · Chunhua Shen · Chao Wu

One-shot Federated Learning (FL) has recently emerged as a promising approach, which allows the central server to learn a model in a single communication round. Despite the low communication cost, existing one-shot FL methods are mostly impractical or face inherent limitations, \eg a public dataset is required, clients' models are homogeneous, and additional data/model information need to be uploaded. To overcome these issues, we propose a novel two-stage \textbf{D}ata-fre\textbf{E} o\textbf{N}e-\textbf{S}hot federated l\textbf{E}arning (DENSE) framework, which trains the global model by a data generation stage and a model distillation stage. DENSE is a practical one-shot FL method that can be applied in reality due to the following advantages:(1) DENSE requires no additional information compared with other methods (except the model parameters) to be transferred between clients and the server;(2) DENSE does not require any auxiliary dataset for training;(3) DENSE considers model heterogeneity in FL, \ie different clients can have different model architectures.Experiments on a variety of real-world datasets demonstrate the superiority of our method.For example, DENSE outperforms the best baseline method Fed-ADI by 5.08\% on CIFAR10 dataset.

SparCL: Sparse Continual Learning on the Edge

Zifeng Wang · Zheng Zhan · Yifan Gong · Geng Yuan · Wei Niu · Tong Jian · Bin Ren · Stratis Ioannidis · Yanzhi Wang · Jennifer Dy

Existing work in continual learning (CL) focuses on mitigating catastrophic forgetting, i.e., model performance deterioration on past tasks when learning a new task. However, the training efficiency of a CL system is under-investigated, which limits the real-world application of CL systems under resource-limited scenarios. In this work, we propose a novel framework called Sparse Continual Learning (SparCL), which is the first study that leverages sparsity to enable cost-effective continual learning on edge devices. SparCL achieves both training acceleration and accuracy preservation through the synergy of three aspects: weight sparsity, data efficiency, and gradient sparsity. Specifically, we propose task-aware dynamic masking (TDM) to learn a sparse network throughout the entire CL process, dynamic data removal (DDR) to remove less informative training data, and dynamic gradient masking (DGM) to sparsify the gradient updates. Each of them not only improves efficiency, but also further mitigates catastrophic forgetting. SparCL consistently improves the training efficiency of existing state-of-the-art (SOTA) CL methods by at most 23X less training FLOPs, and, surprisingly, further improves the SOTA accuracy by at most 1.7%. SparCL also outperforms competitive baselines obtained from adapting SOTA sparse training methods to the CL setting in both efficiency and accuracy. We also evaluate the effectiveness of SparCL on a real mobile phone, further indicating the practical potential of our method.

Old can be Gold: Better Gradient Flow can Make Vanilla-GCNs Great Again

AJAY JAISWAL · Peihao Wang · Tianlong Chen · Justin Rousseau · Ying Ding · Zhangyang Wang

Despite the enormous success of Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs) in modeling graph-structured data, most of the current GCNs are shallow due to the notoriously challenging problems of over-smoothening and information squashing along with conventional difficulty caused by vanishing gradients and over-fitting. Previous works have been primarily focused on the study of over-smoothening and over-squashing phenomena in training deep GCNs. Surprisingly, in comparison with CNNs/RNNs, very limited attention has been given to understanding how healthy gradient flow can benefit the trainability of deep GCNs. In this paper, firstly, we provide a new perspective of gradient flow to understand the substandard performance of deep GCNs and hypothesize that by facilitating healthy gradient flow, we can significantly improve their trainability, as well as achieve state-of-the-art (SOTA) level performance from vanilla-GCNs. Next, we argue that blindly adopting the Glorot initialization for GCNs is not optimal, and derive a topology-aware isometric initialization scheme for vanilla-GCNs based on the principles of isometry. Additionally, contrary to ad-hoc addition of skip-connections, we propose to use gradient-guided dynamic rewiring of vanilla-GCNs with skip connections. Our dynamic rewiring method uses the gradient flow within each layer during training to introduce on-demand skip-connections adaptively. We provide extensive empirical evidence across multiple datasets that our methods improve gradient flow in deep vanilla-GCNs and significantly boost their performance to comfortably compete and outperform many fancy state-of-the-art methods. Codes are available at:

Multi-modal Grouping Network for Weakly-Supervised Audio-Visual Video Parsing

Shentong Mo · Yapeng Tian

The audio-visual video parsing task aims to parse a video into modality- and category-aware temporal segments. Previous work mainly focuses on weakly-supervised approaches, which learn from video-level event labels. During training, they do not know which modality perceives and meanwhile which temporal segment contains the video event. Since there is no explicit grouping in the existing frameworks, the modality and temporal uncertainties make these methods suffer from false predictions. For instance, segments in the same category could be predicted in different event classes. Learning compact and discriminative multi-modal subspaces is essential for mitigating the issue. To this end, in this paper, we propose a novel Multi-modal Grouping Network, namely MGN, for explicitly semantic-aware grouping. Specifically, MGN aggregates event-aware unimodal features through unimodal grouping in terms of learnable categorical embedding tokens. Furthermore, it leverages the cross-modal grouping for modality-aware prediction to match the video-level target. Our simple framework achieves improving results against previous baselines on weakly-supervised audio-visual video parsing. In addition, our MGN is much more lightweight, using only 47.2% of the parameters of baselines (17 MB vs. 36 MB). Code is available at

Searching for Better Spatio-temporal Alignment in Few-Shot Action Recognition

Yichao Cao · Xiu Su · Qingfei Tang · Shan You · Xiaobo Lu · Chang Xu

Spatio-Temporal feature matching and alignment are essential for few-shot action recognition as they determine the coherence and effectiveness of the temporal patterns. Nevertheless, this process could be not reliable, especially when dealing with complex video scenarios. In this paper, we propose to improve the performance of matching and alignment from the end-to-end design of models. Our solution comes at two-folds. First, we encourage to enhance the extracted Spatio-Temporal representations from few-shot videos in the perspective of architectures. With this aim, we propose a specialized transformer search method for videos, thus the spatial and temporal attention can be well-organized and optimized for stronger feature representations. Second, we also design an efficient non-parametric spatio-temporal prototype alignment strategy to better handle the high variability of motion. In particular, a query-specific class prototype will be generated for each query sample and category, which can better match query sequences against all support sequences. By doing so, our method SST enjoys significant superiority over the benchmark UCF101 and HMDB51 datasets. For example, with no pretraining, our method achieves 17.1\% Top-1 accuracy improvement than the baseline TRX on UCF101 5-way 1-shot setting but with only 3x fewer FLOPs.

Learning Generalizable Part-based Feature Representation for 3D Point Clouds

Xin Wei · Xiang Gu · Jian Sun

Deep networks on 3D point clouds have achieved remarkable success in 3D classification, while they are vulnerable to geometry variations caused by inconsistent data acquisition procedures. This results in a challenging 3D domain generalization (3DDG) problem, that is to generalize a model trained on source domain to an unseen target domain. Based on the observation that local geometric structures are more generalizable than the whole shape, we propose to reduce the geometry shift by a generalizable part-based feature representation and design a novel part-based domain generalization network (PDG) for 3D point cloud classification. Specifically, we build a part-template feature space shared by source and target domains. Shapes from distinct domains are first organized to part-level features and then represented by part-template features. The transformed part-level features, dubbed aligned part-based representations, are then aggregated by a part-based feature aggregation module. To improve the robustness of the part-based representations, we further propose a contrastive learning framework upon part-based shape representation. Experiments and ablation studies on 3DDA and 3DDG benchmarks justify the efficacy of the proposed approach for domain generalization, compared with the previous state-of-the-art methods. Our code will be available on

Coordinates Are NOT Lonely - Codebook Prior Helps Implicit Neural 3D representations

Fukun Yin · Wen Liu · Zilong Huang · Pei Cheng · Tao Chen · Gang Yu

Implicit neural 3D representation has achieved impressive results in surface or scene reconstruction and novel view synthesis, which typically uses the coordinate-based multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs) to learn a continuous scene representation. However, existing approaches, such as Neural Radiance Field (NeRF) and its variants, usually require dense input views (i.e. 50-150) to obtain decent results. To relive the over-dependence on massive calibrated images and enrich the coordinate-based feature representation, we explore injecting the prior information into the coordinate-based network and introduce a novel coordinate-based model, CoCo-INR, for implicit neural 3D representation. The cores of our method are two attention modules: codebook attention and coordinate attention. The former extracts the useful prototypes containing rich geometry and appearance information from the prior codebook, and the latter propagates such prior information into each coordinate and enriches its feature representation for a scene or object surface. With the help of the prior information, our method can render 3D views with more photo-realistic appearance and geometries than the current methods using fewer calibrated images available. Experiments on various scene reconstruction datasets, including DTU and BlendedMVS, and the full 3D head reconstruction dataset, H3DS, demonstrate the robustness under fewer input views and fine detail-preserving capability of our proposed method.

Set-based Meta-Interpolation for Few-Task Meta-Learning

Seanie Lee · Bruno Andreis · Kenji Kawaguchi · Juho Lee · Sung Ju Hwang

Meta-learning approaches enable machine learning systems to adapt to new tasks given few examples by leveraging knowledge from related tasks. However, a large number of meta-training tasks are still required for generalization to unseen tasks during meta-testing, which introduces a critical bottleneck for real-world problems that come with only few tasks, due to various reasons including the difficulty and cost of constructing tasks. Recently, several task augmentation methods have been proposed to tackle this issue using domain-specific knowledge to design augmentation techniques to densify the meta-training task distribution. However, such reliance on domain-specific knowledge renders these methods inapplicable to other domains. While Manifold Mixup based task augmentation methods are domain-agnostic, we empirically find them ineffective on non-image domains. To tackle these limitations, we propose a novel domain-agnostic task augmentation method, Meta-Interpolation, which utilizes expressive neural set functions to densify the meta-training task distribution using bilevel optimization. We empirically validate the efficacy of Meta-Interpolation on eight datasets spanning across various domains such as image classification, molecule property prediction, text classification and speech recognition. Experimentally, we show that Meta-Interpolation consistently outperforms all the relevant baselines. Theoretically, we prove that task interpolation with the set function regularizes the meta-learner to improve generalization. We provide our source code in the supplementary material.

Zero-Shot Video Question Answering via Frozen Bidirectional Language Models

Antoine Yang · Antoine Miech · Josef Sivic · Ivan Laptev · Cordelia Schmid

Video question answering (VideoQA) is a complex task that requires diverse multi-modal data for training. Manual annotation of question and answers for videos, however, is tedious and prohibits scalability. To tackle this problem, recent methods consider zero-shot settings with no manual annotation of visual question-answer. In particular, a promising approach adapts frozen autoregressive language models pretrained on Web-scale text-only data to multi-modal inputs. In contrast, we here build on frozen bidirectional language models (BiLM) and show that such an approach provides a stronger and cheaper alternative for zero-shot VideoQA. In particular, (i) we combine visual inputs with the frozen BiLM using light trainable modules, (ii) we train such modules using Web-scraped multi-modal data, and finally (iii) we perform zero-shot VideoQA inference through masked language modeling, where the masked text is the answer to a given question. Our proposed approach, FrozenBiLM, outperforms the state of the art in zero-shot VideoQA by a significant margin on a variety of datasets, including LSMDC-FiB, iVQA, MSRVTT-QA, MSVD-QA, ActivityNet-QA, TGIF-FrameQA, How2QA and TVQA. It also demonstrates competitive performance in the few-shot and fully-supervised setting. Our code and models are publicly available at

Masked Autoencoders As Spatiotemporal Learners

Christoph Feichtenhofer · haoqi fan · Yanghao Li · Kaiming He

This paper studies a conceptually simple extension of Masked Autoencoders (MAE) to spatiotemporal representation learning from videos. We randomly mask out spacetime patches in videos and learn an autoencoder to reconstruct them in pixels. Interestingly, we show that our MAE method can learn strong representations with almost no inductive bias on spacetime (only except for patch and positional embeddings), and spacetime-agnostic random masking performs the best. We observe that the optimal masking ratio is as high as 90% (vs. 75% on images), supporting the hypothesis that this ratio is related to information redundancy of the data. A high masking ratio leads to a large speedup, e.g., > 4x in wall-clock time or even more. We report competitive results on several challenging video datasets using vanilla Vision Transformers. We observe that MAE can outperform supervised pre-training by large margins. We further report encouraging results of training on real-world, uncurated Instagram data. Our study suggests that the general framework of masked autoencoding (BERT, MAE, etc.) can be a unified methodology for representation learning with minimal domain knowledge.

Uncovering the Structural Fairness in Graph Contrastive Learning

Ruijia Wang · Xiao Wang · Chuan Shi · Le Song

Recent studies show that graph convolutional network (GCN) often performs worse for low-degree nodes, exhibiting the so-called structural unfairness for graphs with long-tailed degree distributions prevalent in the real world. Graph contrastive learning (GCL), which marries the power of GCN and contrastive learning, has emerged as a promising self-supervised approach for learning node representations. How does GCL behave in terms of structural fairness? Surprisingly, we find that representations obtained by GCL methods are already fairer to degree bias than those learned by GCN. We theoretically show that this fairness stems from intra-community concentration and inter-community scatter properties of GCL, resulting in a much clear community structure to drive low-degree nodes away from the community boundary. Based on our theoretical analysis, we further devise a novel graph augmentation method, called GRAph contrastive learning for DEgree bias (GRADE), which applies different strategies to low- and high-degree nodes. Extensive experiments on various benchmarks and evaluation protocols validate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

AutoMS: Automatic Model Selection for Novelty Detection with Error Rate Control

Yifan Zhang · Haiyan Jiang · Haojie Ren · Changliang Zou · Dejing Dou

Given an unsupervised novelty detection task on a new dataset, how can we automatically select a ''best'' detection model while simultaneously controlling the error rate of the best model? For novelty detection analysis, numerous detectors have been proposed to detect outliers on a new unseen dataset based on a score function trained on available clean data. However, due to the absence of labeled data for model evaluation and comparison, there is a lack of systematic approaches that are able to select a ''best'' model/detector (i.e., the algorithm as well as its hyperparameters) and achieve certain error rate control simultaneously. In this paper, we introduce a unified data-driven procedure to address this issue. The key idea is to maximize the number of detected outliers while controlling the false discovery rate (FDR) with the help of Jackknife prediction. We establish non-asymptotic bounds for the false discovery proportions and show that the proposed procedure yields valid FDR control under some mild conditions. Numerical experiments on both synthetic and real data validate the theoretical results and demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed AutoMS method. The code is available at

Learning Best Combination for Efficient N:M Sparsity

Yuxin Zhang · Mingbao Lin · ZhiHang Lin · Yiting Luo · Ke Li · Fei Chao · Yongjian Wu · Rongrong Ji

By forcing N out of M consecutive weights to be non-zero, the recent N:M fine-grained network sparsity has received increasing attention with its two attractive advantages over traditional irregular network sparsity methods: 1) Promising performance at a high sparsity. 2) Significant speedups when performed on NVIDIA A100 GPUs. Current implementation on N:M sparsity requires a tedious pre-training phase or computationally heavy from-scratch training. To circumvent these problems, this paper presents an efficient solution for achieving N:M fine-grained sparsity from scratch. Specifically, we first make a re-formulation to convert the N:M fine-grained sparsity into a combinatorial problem, in which, the object falls into choosing the best weight combination among $C_M^N$ candidates. Then, we equip each combination with a learnable importance score, which can be jointly optimized along with its associated weights. Through rigorous proof, we demonstrate that the magnitude of the optimized score well reflects the importance of its corresponding weights combination to the training loss. Therefore, by gradually removing combinations with smaller scores till the best one is left, N:M fine-grained sparsity can be efficiently optimized during the normal training phase without any extra expenditure. Comprehensive experimental results have demonstrated that our proposed method for learning best combination, dubbed as LBC, consistently increases the efficacy of the off-the-shelf N:M methods across varying networks and datasets. Our project is released at

C-Mixup: Improving Generalization in Regression

Huaxiu Yao · Yiping Wang · Linjun Zhang · James Zou · Chelsea Finn

Improving the generalization of deep networks is an important open challenge, particularly in domains without plentiful data. The mixup algorithm improves generalization by linearly interpolating a pair of examples and their corresponding labels. These interpolated examples augment the original training set. Mixup has shown promising results in various classification tasks, but systematic analysis of mixup in regression remains underexplored. Using mixup directly on regression labels can result in arbitrarily incorrect labels. In this paper, we propose a simple yet powerful algorithm, C-Mixup, to improve generalization on regression tasks. In contrast with vanilla mixup, which picks training examples for mixing with uniform probability, C-Mixup adjusts the sampling probability based on the similarity of the labels. Our theoretical analysis confirms that C-Mixup with label similarity obtains a smaller mean square error in supervised regression and meta-regression than vanilla mixup and using feature similarity. Another benefit of C-Mixup is that it can improve out-of-distribution robustness, where the test distribution is different from the training distribution. By selectively interpolating examples with similar labels, it mitigates the effects of domain-associated information and yields domain-invariant representations. We evaluate C-Mixup on eleven datasets, ranging from tabular to video data. Compared to the best prior approach, C-Mixup achieves 6.56%, 4.76%, 5.82% improvements in in-distribution generalization, task generalization, and out-of-distribution robustness, respectively. Code is released at

GAPX: Generalized Autoregressive Paraphrase-Identification X

Yifei Zhou · Renyu Li · Hayden Housen · Ser Nam Lim

Paraphrase Identification is a fundamental task in Natural Language Processing. While much progress has been made in the field, the performance of many state-of- the-art models often suffer from distribution shift during inference time. We verify that a major source of this performance drop comes from biases introduced by negative examples. To overcome these biases, we propose in this paper to train two separate models, one that only utilizes the positive pairs and the other the negative pairs. This enables us the option of deciding how much to utilize the negative model, for which we introduce a perplexity based out-of-distribution metric that we show can effectively and automatically determine how much weight it should be given during inference. We support our findings with strong empirical results.

Exploring the Limits of Domain-Adaptive Training for Detoxifying Large-Scale Language Models

Boxin Wang · Wei Ping · Chaowei Xiao · Peng Xu · Mostofa Patwary · Mohammad Shoeybi · Bo Li · Anima Anandkumar · Bryan Catanzaro

Pre-trained language models (LMs) are shown to easily generate toxic language. In this work, we systematically explore domain-adaptive training to reduce the toxicity of language models. We conduct this study on three dimensions: training corpus, model size, and parameter efficiency. For the training corpus, we demonstrate that using self-generated datasets consistently outperforms the existing baselines across various model sizes on both automatic and human evaluations, even when it uses a 3 1 smaller training corpus. We then comprehensively study detoxifying LMs with parameter sizes ranging from 126M up to 530B (3× larger than GPT3), a scale that has never been studied before. We find that i) large LMs have similar toxicity levels as smaller ones given the same pre-training corpus, and ii) large LMs require more endeavor to unlearn the toxic content seen at pretraining. We also explore parameter-efficient training methods for detoxification. We demonstrate that adding and training adapter-only layers in LMs not only saves a lot of parameters but also achieves a better trade-off between toxicity and perplexity than whole model adaptation for large-scale models. Our code will be available at:

GAMA: Generative Adversarial Multi-Object Scene Attacks

Abhishek Aich · Calvin-Khang Ta · Akash Gupta · Chengyu Song · Srikanth Krishnamurthy · Salman Asif · Amit Roy-Chowdhury

The majority of methods for crafting adversarial attacks have focused on scenes with a single dominant object (e.g., images from ImageNet). On the other hand, natural scenes include multiple dominant objects that are semantically related. Thus, it is crucial to explore designing attack strategies that look beyond learning on single-object scenes or attack single-object victim classifiers. Due to their inherent property of strong transferability of perturbations to unknown models, this paper presents the first approach of using generative models for adversarial attacks on multi-object scenes. In order to represent the relationships between different objects in the input scene, we leverage upon the open-sourced pre-trained vision-language model CLIP (Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training), with the motivation to exploit the encoded semantics in the language space along with the visual space. We call this attack approach Generative Adversarial Multi-object Attacks (GAMA). GAMA demonstrates the utility of the CLIP model as an attacker's tool to train formidable perturbation generators for multi-object scenes. Using the joint image-text features to train the generator, we show that GAMA can craft potent transferable perturbations in order to fool victim classifiers in various attack settings. For example, GAMA triggers ~16% more misclassification than state-of-the-art generative approaches in black-box settings where both the classifier architecture and data distribution of the attacker are different from the victim. Our code is available here:

Composite Feature Selection Using Deep Ensembles

Fergus Imrie · Alexander Norcliffe · Pietro Lió · Mihaela van der Schaar

In many real world problems, features do not act alone but in combination with each other. For example, in genomics, diseases might not be caused by any single mutation but require the presence of multiple mutations. Prior work on feature selection either seeks to identify individual features or can only determine relevant groups from a predefined set. We investigate the problem of discovering groups of predictive features without predefined grouping. To do so, we define predictive groups in terms of linear and non-linear interactions between features. We introduce a novel deep learning architecture that uses an ensemble of feature selection models to find predictive groups, without requiring candidate groups to be provided. The selected groups are sparse and exhibit minimum overlap. Furthermore, we propose a new metric to measure similarity between discovered groups and the ground truth. We demonstrate the utility our model on multiple synthetic tasks and semi-synthetic chemistry datasets, where the ground truth structure is known, as well as an image dataset and a real-world cancer dataset.

Contrastive and Non-Contrastive Self-Supervised Learning Recover Global and Local Spectral Embedding Methods

Randall Balestriero · Yann LeCun

Self-Supervised Learning (SSL) surmises that inputs and pairwise positive relationships are enough to learn meaningful representations. Although SSL has recently reached a milestone: outperforming supervised methods in many modalities\dots the theoretical foundations are limited, method-specific, and fail to provide principled design guidelines to practitioners. In this paper, we propose a unifying framework under the helm of spectral manifold learning. Through the course of this study, we will demonstrate that VICReg, SimCLR, BarlowTwins et al. correspond to eponymous spectral methods such as Laplacian Eigenmaps, ISOMAP et al.From this unified viewpoint, we obtain (i) the close-form optimal representation, (ii) the close-form optimal network parameters in the linear regime, (iii) the impact of the pairwise relations used during training on each of those quantities and on downstream task performances, and most importantly, (iv) the first theoretical bridge between contrastive and non-contrastive methods to global and local spectral methods respectively hinting at the benefits and limitations of each. For example, if the pairwise relation is aligned with the downstream task, all SSL methods produce optimal representations for that downstream task.

Discovered Policy Optimisation

Chris Lu · Jakub Kuba · Alistair Letcher · Luke Metz · Christian Schroeder de Witt · Jakob Foerster

Tremendous progress has been made in reinforcement learning (RL) over the past decade. Most of these advancements came through the continual development of new algorithms, which were designed using a combination of mathematical derivations, intuitions, and experimentation. Such an approach of creating algorithms manually is limited by human understanding and ingenuity. In contrast, meta-learning provides a toolkit for automatic machine learning method optimisation, potentially addressing this flaw. However, black-box approaches which attempt to discover RL algorithms with minimal prior structure have thus far not outperformed existing hand-crafted algorithms. Mirror Learning, which includes RL algorithms, such as PPO, offers a potential middle-ground starting point: while every method in this framework comes with theoretical guarantees, components that differentiate them are subject to design. In this paper we explore the Mirror Learning space by meta-learning a “drift” function. We refer to the immediate result as Learnt Policy Optimisation (LPO). By analysing LPO we gain original insights into policy optimisation which we use to formulate a novel, closed-form RL algorithm, Discovered Policy Optimisation (DPO). Our experiments in Brax environments confirm state-of-the-art performance of LPO and DPO, as well as their transfer to unseen settings.

Learning Structure from the Ground up---Hierarchical Representation Learning by Chunking

Shuchen Wu · Noemi Elteto · Ishita Dasgupta · Eric Schulz

From learning to play the piano to speaking a new language, reusing and recombining previously acquired representations enables us to master complex skills and easily adapt to new environments. Inspired by the Gestalt principle of \textit{grouping by proximity} and theories of chunking in cognitive science, we propose a hierarchical chunking model (HCM). HCM learns representations from non-i.i.d. sequential data from the ground up by first discovering the minimal atomic sequential units as chunks. As learning progresses, a hierarchy of chunk representations is acquired by chunking previously learned representations into more complex representations guided by sequential dependence. We provide learning guarantees on an idealized version of HCM, and demonstrate that HCM learns meaningful and interpretable representations in a human-like fashion. Our model can be extended to learn visual, temporal, and visual-temporal chunks. The interpretability of the learned chunks can be used to assess transfer or interference when the environment changes. Finally, in an fMRI dataset, we demonstrate that HCM learns interpretable chunks of functional coactivation regions and hierarchical modular and sub-modular structures confirmed by the neuroscientific literature. Taken together, our results show how cognitive science in general and theories of chunking in particular can inform novel and more interpretable approaches to representation learning.

Amortized Inference for Heterogeneous Reconstruction in Cryo-EM

Axel Levy · Gordon Wetzstein · Julien N.P Martel · Frederic Poitevin · Ellen Zhong

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is an imaging modality that provides unique insights into the dynamics of proteins and other building blocks of life. The algorithmic challenge of jointly estimating the poses, 3D structure, and conformational heterogeneity of a biomolecule from millions of noisy and randomly oriented 2D projections in a computationally efficient manner, however, remains unsolved. Our method, cryoFIRE, performs ab initio heterogeneous reconstruction with unknown poses in an amortized framework, thereby avoiding the computationally expensive step of pose search while enabling the analysis of conformational heterogeneity. Poses and conformation are jointly estimated by an encoder while a physics-based decoder aggregates the images into an implicit neural representation of the conformational space. We show that our method can provide one order of magnitude speedup on datasets containing millions of images, without any loss of accuracy. We validate that the joint estimation of poses and conformations can be amortized over the size of the dataset. For the first time, we prove that an amortized method can extract interpretable dynamic information from experimental datasets.

Neural Approximation of Graph Topological Features

Zuoyu Yan · Tengfei Ma · Liangcai Gao · Zhi Tang · Yusu Wang · Chao Chen

Topological features based on persistent homology capture high-order structural information so as to augment graph neural network methods. However, computing extended persistent homology summaries remains slow for large and dense graphs and can be a serious bottleneck for the learning pipeline. Inspired by recent success in neural algorithmic reasoning, we propose a novel graph neural network to estimate extended persistence diagrams (EPDs) on graphs efficiently. Our model is built on algorithmic insights, and benefits from better supervision and closer alignment with the EPD computation algorithm. We validate our method with convincing empirical results on approximating EPDs and downstream graph representation learning tasks. Our method is also efficient; on large and dense graphs, we accelerate the computation by nearly 100 times.

Towards Out-of-Distribution Sequential Event Prediction: A Causal Treatment

Chenxiao Yang · Qitian Wu · Qingsong Wen · Zhiqiang Zhou · Liang Sun · Junchi Yan

The goal of sequential event prediction is to estimate the next event based on a sequence of historical events, with applications to sequential recommendation, user behavior analysis and clinical treatment. In practice, the next-event prediction models are trained with sequential data collected at one time and need to generalize to newly arrived sequences in remote future, which requires models to handle temporal distribution shift from training to testing. In this paper, we first take a data-generating perspective to reveal a negative result that existing approaches with maximum likelihood estimation would fail for distribution shift due to the latent context confounder, i.e., the common cause for the historical events and the next event. Then we devise a new learning objective based on backdoor adjustment and further harness variational inference to make it tractable for sequence learning problems. On top of that, we propose a framework with hierarchical branching structures for learning context-specific representations. Comprehensive experiments on diverse tasks (e.g., sequential recommendation) demonstrate the effectiveness, applicability and scalability of our method with various off-the-shelf models as backbones.

Improving Variational Autoencoders with Density Gap-based Regularization

Jianfei Zhang · Jun Bai · Chenghua Lin · Yanmeng Wang · Wenge Rong

Variational autoencoders (VAEs) are one of the most powerful unsupervised learning frameworks in NLP for latent representation learning and latent-directed generation. The classic optimization goal of VAEs is to maximize the Evidence Lower Bound (ELBo), which consists of a conditional likelihood for generation and a negative Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence for regularization. In practice, optimizing ELBo often leads the posterior distribution of all samples converging to the same degenerated local optimum, namely posterior collapse or KL vanishing. There are effective ways proposed to prevent posterior collapse in VAEs, but we observe that they in essence make trade-offs between posterior collapse and the hole problem, i.e., the mismatch between the aggregated posterior distribution and the prior distribution. To this end, we introduce new training objectives to tackle both problems through a novel regularization based on the probabilistic density gap between the aggregated posterior distribution and the prior distribution. Through experiments on language modeling, latent space visualization, and interpolation, we show that our proposed method can solve both problems effectively and thus outperforms the existing methods in latent-directed generation. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to jointly solve the hole problem and posterior collapse.

End-to-end Stochastic Optimization with Energy-based Model

Lingkai Kong · Jiaming Cui · Yuchen Zhuang · Rui Feng · B. Aditya Prakash · Chao Zhang

Decision-focused learning (DFL) was recently proposed for stochastic optimization problems that involve unknown parameters. By integrating predictive modeling with an implicitly differentiable optimization layer, DFL has shown superior performance to the standard two-stage predict-then-optimize pipeline. However, most existing DFL methods are only applicable to convex problems or a subset of nonconvex problems that can be easily relaxed to convex ones. Further, they can be inefficient in training due to the requirement of solving and differentiating through the optimization problem in every training iteration. We propose SO-EBM, a general and efficient DFL method for stochastic optimization using energy-based models. Instead of relying on KKT conditions to induce an implicit optimization layer, SO-EBM explicitly parameterizes the original optimization problem using a differentiable optimization layer based on energy functions. To better approximate the optimization landscape, we propose a coupled training objective that uses a maximum likelihood loss to capture the optimum location and a distribution-based regularizer to capture the overall energy landscape. Finally, we propose an efficient training procedure for SO-EBM with a self-normalized importance sampler based on a Gaussian mixture proposal. We evaluate SO-EBM in three applications: power scheduling, COVID-19 resource allocation, and non-convex adversarial security game, demonstrating the effectiveness and efficiency of SO-EBM.

Physics-Embedded Neural Networks: Graph Neural PDE Solvers with Mixed Boundary Conditions

Masanobu Horie · NAOTO MITSUME

Graph neural network (GNN) is a promising approach to learning and predicting physical phenomena described in boundary value problems, such as partial differential equations (PDEs) with boundary conditions. However, existing models inadequately treat boundary conditions essential for the reliable prediction of such problems. In addition, because of the locally connected nature of GNNs, it is difficult to accurately predict the state after a long time, where interaction between vertices tends to be global. We present our approach termed physics-embedded neural networks that considers boundary conditions and predicts the state after a long time using an implicit method. It is built based on an $\mathrm{E}(n)$-equivariant GNN, resulting in high generalization performance on various shapes. We demonstrate that our model learns flow phenomena in complex shapes and outperforms a well-optimized classical solver and a state-of-the-art machine learning model in speed-accuracy trade-off. Therefore, our model can be a useful standard for realizing reliable, fast, and accurate GNN-based PDE solvers. The code is available at

Advancing Model Pruning via Bi-level Optimization

Yihua Zhang · Yuguang Yao · Parikshit Ram · Pu Zhao · Tianlong Chen · Mingyi Hong · Yanzhi Wang · Sijia Liu

The deployment constraints in practical applications necessitate the pruning of large-scale deep learning models, i.e., promoting their weight sparsity. As illustrated by the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis (LTH), pruning also has the potential of improving their generalization ability. At the core of LTH, iterative magnitude pruning (IMP) is the predominant pruning method to successfully find ‘winning tickets’. Yet, the computation cost of IMP grows prohibitively as the targeted pruning ratio increases. To reduce the computation overhead, various efficient ‘one-shot’ pruning methods have been developed, but these schemes are usually unable to find winning tickets as good as IMP. This raises the question of how to close the gap between pruning accuracy and pruning efficiency? To tackle it, we pursue the algorithmic advancement of model pruning. Specifically, we formulate the pruning problem from a fresh and novel viewpoint, bi-level optimization (BLO). We show that the BLO interpretation provides a technically-grounded optimization base for an efficient implementation of the pruning-retraining learning paradigm used in IMP. We also show that the proposed bi-level optimization-oriented pruning method (termed BiP) is a special class of BLO problems with a bi-linear problem structure. By leveraging such bi-linearity, we theoretically show that BiP can be solved as easily as first-order optimization, thus inheriting the computation efficiency. Through extensive experiments on both structured and unstructured pruning with 5 model architectures and 4 data sets, we demonstrate that BiP can find better winning tickets than IMP in most cases, and is computationally as efficient as the one-shot pruning schemes, demonstrating $2-7\times$ speedup over IMP for the same level of model accuracy and sparsity.

Earthformer: Exploring Space-Time Transformers for Earth System Forecasting

Zhihan Gao · Xingjian Shi · Hao Wang · Yi Zhu · Yuyang (Bernie) Wang · Mu Li · Dit-Yan Yeung

Conventionally, Earth system (e.g., weather and climate) forecasting relies on numerical simulation with complex physical models and hence is both expensive in computation and demanding on domain expertise. With the explosive growth of spatiotemporal Earth observation data in the past decade, data-driven models that apply Deep Learning (DL) are demonstrating impressive potential for various Earth system forecasting tasks. The Transformer as an emerging DL architecture, despite its broad success in other domains, has limited adoption in this area. In this paper, we propose Earthformer, a space-time Transformer for Earth system forecasting. Earthformer is based on a generic, flexible and efficient space-time attention block, named Cuboid Attention. The idea is to decompose the data into cuboids and apply cuboid-level self-attention in parallel. These cuboids are further connected with a collection of global vectors. We conduct experiments on the MovingMNIST dataset and a newly proposed chaotic $N$-body MNIST dataset to verify the effectiveness of cuboid attention and figure out the best design of Earthformer. Experiments on two real-world benchmarks about precipitation nowcasting and El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecasting show that Earthformer achieves state-of-the-art performance.

Is Integer Arithmetic Enough for Deep Learning Training?

Alireza Ghaffari · Marzieh S. Tahaei · Mohammadreza Tayaranian · Masoud Asgharian · Vahid Partovi Nia

The ever-increasing computational complexity of deep learning models makes their training and deployment difficult on various cloud and edge platforms. Replacing floating-point arithmetic with low-bit integer arithmetic is a promising approach to save energy, memory footprint, and latency of deep learning models. As such, quantization has attracted the attention of researchers in recent years. However, using integer numbers to form a fully functional integer training pipeline including forward pass, back-propagation, and stochastic gradient descent is not studied in detail. Our empirical and mathematical results reveal that integer arithmetic seems to be enough to train deep learning models. Unlike recent proposals, instead of quantization, we directly switch the number representation of computations. Our novel training method forms a fully integer training pipeline that does not change the trajectory of the loss and accuracy compared to floating-point, nor does it need any special hyper-parameter tuning, distribution adjustment, or gradient clipping. Our experimental results show that our proposed method is effective in a wide variety of tasks such as classification (including vision transformers), object detection, and semantic segmentation.

Dense Interspecies Face Embedding

Sejong Yang · Subin Jeon · Seonghyeon Nam · Seon Joo Kim

Dense Interspecies Face Embedding (DIFE) is a new direction for understanding faces of various animals by extracting common features among animal faces including human face. There are three main obstacles for interspecies face understanding: (1) lack of animal data compared to human, (2) ambiguous connection between faces of various animals, and (3) extreme shape and style variance. To cope with the lack of data, we utilize multi-teacher knowledge distillation of CSE and StyleGAN2 requiring no additional data or label. Then we synthesize pseudo pair images through the latent space exploration of StyleGAN2 to find implicit associations between different animal faces. Finally, we introduce the semantic matching loss to overcome the problem of extreme shape differences between species. To quantitatively evaluate our method over possible previous methodologies like unsupervised keypoint detection, we perform interspecies facial keypoint transfer on MAFL and AP-10K. Furthermore, the results of other applications like interspecies face image manipulation and dense keypoint transfer are provided. The code is available at

Learning State-Aware Visual Representations from Audible Interactions

Himangi Mittal · Pedro Morgado · Unnat Jain · Abhinav Gupta

We propose a self-supervised algorithm to learn representations from egocentric video data. Recently, significant efforts have been made to capture humans interacting with their own environments as they go about their daily activities. In result, several large egocentric datasets of interaction-rich multi-modal data have emerged. However, learning representations from videos can be challenging. First, given the uncurated nature of long-form continuous videos, learning effective representations require focusing on moments in time when interactions take place. Second, visual representations of daily activities should be sensitive to changes in the state of the environment. However, current successful multi-modal learning frameworks encourage representation invariance over time. To address these challenges, we leverage audio signals to identify moments of likely interactions which are conducive to better learning. We also propose a novel self-supervised objective that learns from audible state changes caused by interactions. We validate these contributions extensively on two large-scale egocentric datasets, EPIC-Kitchens-100 and the recently released Ego4D, and show improvements on several downstream tasks, including action recognition, long-term action anticipation, and object state change classification.

VITA: Video Instance Segmentation via Object Token Association

Miran Heo · Sukjun Hwang · Seoung Wug Oh · Joon-Young Lee · Seon Joo Kim

We introduce a novel paradigm for offline Video Instance Segmentation (VIS), based on the hypothesis that explicit object-oriented information can be a strong clue for understanding the context of the entire sequence. To this end, we propose VITA, a simple structure built on top of an off-the-shelf Transformer-based image instance segmentation model. Specifically, we use an image object detector as a means of distilling object-specific contexts into object tokens. VITA accomplishes video-level understanding by associating frame-level object tokens without using spatio-temporal backbone features. By effectively building relationships between objects using the condensed information, VITA achieves the state-of-the-art on VIS benchmarks with a ResNet-50 backbone: 49.8 AP, 45.7 AP on YouTube-VIS 2019 & 2021, and 19.6 AP on OVIS. Moreover, thanks to its object token-based structure that is disjoint from the backbone features, VITA shows several practical advantages that previous offline VIS methods have not explored - handling long and high-resolution videos with a common GPU, and freezing a frame-level detector trained on image domain. Code is available at the link.

Graph Convolution Network based Recommender Systems: Learning Guarantee and Item Mixture Powered Strategy

Leyan Deng · Defu Lian · Chenwang Wu · Enhong Chen

Inspired by their powerful representation ability on graph-structured data, Graph Convolution Networks (GCNs) have been widely applied to recommender systems, and have shown superior performance. Despite their empirical success, there is a lack of theoretical explorations such as generalization properties. In this paper, we take a first step towards establishing a generalization guarantee for GCN-based recommendation models under inductive and transductive learning. We mainly investigate the roles of graph normalization and non-linear activation, providing some theoretical understanding, and construct extensive experiments to further verify these findings empirically. Furthermore, based on the proven generalization bound and the challenge of existing models in discrete data learning, we propose Item Mixture (IMix) to enhance recommendation. It models discrete spaces in a continuous manner by mixing the embeddings of positive-negative item pairs, and its effectiveness can be strictly guaranteed from empirical and theoretical aspects.

Pyramid Attention For Source Code Summarization

Lei Chai · Ming LI

This paper presents a multi-granularity method for source code summarization, which generates a concise functional description for the given code snippet. We notice that skilled programmers write and read source codes hierarchically and pay close attention to conceptual entities like statements, tokens, sub-tokens, and the mapping relations between them. The entities have specific emphasis according to their granularities, e.g., statements in coarse-granularity reveal the global logical semantics of code, and the sub-tokens in fine-granularity are more related to the textual semantics. Driven by this observation, we demonstrate that a multi-granularity formulation incorporating these conceptual entities benefit the code summarization task. Concretely, the source code is transformed into a pyramidal representation, and then a pyramid attention mechanism is applied for efficient feature aggregation among different hierarchies in it. We instantiate our multi-granularity method using the proposed pyramid attention and name it PA-former (Pyramid Attention transformer). We evaluated it on two source code summarization benchmarks where it surpasses the prior works and achieves new state-of-the-art results. Our code and data are available at

An Empirical Study on Disentanglement of Negative-free Contrastive Learning

Jinkun Cao · Ruiqian Nai · Qing Yang · Jialei Huang · Yang Gao

Negative-free contrastive learning methods have attracted a lot of attention with simplicity and impressive performances for large-scale pretraining. However, its disentanglement property remains unexplored. In this paper, we examine negative-free contrastive learning methods to study the disentanglement property empirically. We find that existing disentanglement metrics fail to make meaningful measurements for high-dimensional representation models, so we propose a new disentanglement metric based on Mutual Information between latent representations and data factors. With this proposed metric, we benchmark the disentanglement property of negative-free contrastive learning on both popular synthetic datasets and a real-world dataset CelebA. Our study shows that the investigated methods can learn a well-disentangled subset of representation. As far as we know, we are the first to extend the study of disentangled representation learning to high-dimensional representation space and introduce negative-free contrastive learning methods into this area. The source code of this paper is available at

Cache-Augmented Inbatch Importance Resampling for Training Recommender Retriever

Jin Chen · Defu Lian · Yucheng Li · Baoyun Wang · Kai Zheng · Enhong Chen

Recommender retrievers aim to rapidly retrieve a fraction of items from the entire item corpus when a user query requests, with the representative two-tower model trained with the log softmax loss. For efficiently training recommender retrievers on modern hardwares, inbatch sampling, where the items in the mini-batch are shared as negatives to estimate the softmax function, has attained growing interest. However, existing inbatch sampling based strategies just correct the sampling bias of inbatch items with item frequency, being unable to distinguish the user queries within the mini-batch and still incurring significant bias from the softmax. In this paper, we propose a Cache-Augmented Inbatch Importance Resampling (XIR) for training recommender retrievers, which not only offers different negatives to user queries with inbatch items, but also adaptively achieves a more accurate estimation of the softmax distribution. Specifically, XIR resamples items from the given mini-batch training pairs based on certain probabilities, where a cache with more frequently sampled items is adopted to augment the candidate item set, with the purpose of reusing the historical informative samples. XIR enables to sample query-dependent negatives based on inbatch items and to capture dynamic changes of model training, which leads to a better approximation of the softmax and further contributes to better convergence. Finally, we conduct experiments to validate the superior performance of the proposed XIR compared with competitive approaches.

Draft-and-Revise: Effective Image Generation with Contextual RQ-Transformer

Doyup Lee · Chiheon Kim · Saehoon Kim · Minsu Cho · WOOK SHIN HAN

Although autoregressive models have achieved promising results on image generation, their unidirectional generation process prevents the resultant images from fully reflecting global contexts. To address the issue, we propose an effective image generation framework of \emph{Draft-and-Revise} with \emph{Contextual RQ-transformer} to consider global contexts during the generation process. As a generalized VQ-VAE, RQ-VAE first represents a high-resolution image as a sequence of discrete code stacks. After code stacks in the sequence are randomly masked, Contextual RQ-Transformer is trained to infill the masked code stacks based on the unmasked contexts of the image. Then, we propose the two-phase decoding, Draft-and-Revise, for Contextual RQ-Transformer to generates an image, while fully exploiting the global contexts of the image during the generation process. Specifically. in the \emph{draft} phase, our model first focuses on generating diverse images despite rather low quality. Then, in the \emph{revise} phase, the model iteratively improves the quality of images, while preserving the global contexts of generated images. In experiments, our method achieves state-of-the-art results on conditional image generation. We also validate that the Draft-and-Revise decoding can achieve high performance by effectively controlling the quality-diversity trade-off in image generation.

Get More at Once: Alternating Sparse Training with Gradient Correction

Li Yang · Jian Meng · Jae-sun Seo · Deliang Fan

Recently, a new trend of exploring training sparsity has emerged, which remove parameters during training, leading to both training and inference efficiency improvement. This line of works primarily aims to obtain a single sparse model under a pre-defined large sparsity ratio. It leads to a static/fixed sparse inference model that is not capable of adjusting or re-configuring its computation complexity (i.e., inference structure, latency) after training for real-world varying and dynamic hardware resource availability. To enable such run-time or post-training network morphing, the concept of dynamic inference' ortraining-once-for-all' has been proposed to train a single network consisting of multiple sub-nets once, but each sub-net could perform the same inference function with different computing complexity. However, the traditional dynamic inference training method requires a joint training scheme with multi-objective optimization, which suffers from very large training overhead. In this work, for the first time, we propose a novel alternating sparse training (AST) scheme to train multiple sparse sub-nets for dynamic inference without extra training cost compared to the case of training a single sparse model from scratch. Furthermore, to mitigate the interference of weight update among sub-nets, we propose gradient correction within the inner-group iterations to reduce their weight update interference. We validate the proposed AST on multiple datasets against state-of-the-art sparse training method, which shows that AST achieves similar or better accuracy, but only needs to train once to get multiple sparse sub-nets with different sparsity ratios. More importantly, compared with the traditional joint training based dynamic inference training methodology, the large training overhead is completely eliminated without affecting the accuracy of each sub-net.

Uncertainty Estimation for Multi-view Data: The Power of Seeing the Whole Picture

Myong Chol Jung · He Zhao · Joanna Dipnall · Belinda Gabbe · Lan Du

Uncertainty estimation is essential to make neural networks trustworthy in real-world applications. Extensive research efforts have been made to quantify and reduce predictive uncertainty. However, most existing works are designed for unimodal data, whereas multi-view uncertainty estimation has not been sufficiently investigated. Therefore, we propose a new multi-view classification framework for better uncertainty estimation and out-of-domain sample detection, where we associate each view with an uncertainty-aware classifier and combine the predictions of all the views in a principled way. The experimental results with real-world datasets demonstrate that our proposed approach is an accurate, reliable, and well-calibrated classifier, which predominantly outperforms the multi-view baselines tested in terms of expected calibration error, robustness to noise, and accuracy for the in-domain sample classification and the out-of-domain sample detection tasks

Synergy-of-Experts: Collaborate to Improve Adversarial Robustness

Sen Cui · Jingfeng ZHANG · Jian Liang · Bo Han · Masashi Sugiyama · Changshui Zhang

Learning adversarially robust models require invariant predictions to a small neighborhood of its natural inputs, often encountering insufficient model capacity. There is research showing that learning multiple sub-models in an ensemble could mitigate this insufficiency, further improving the generalization and the robustness. However, the ensemble's voting-based strategy excludes the possibility that the true predictions remain with the minority. Therefore, this paper further improves the ensemble through a collaboration scheme---Synergy-of-Experts (SoE). Compared with the voting-based strategy, the SoE enables the possibility of correct predictions even if there exists a single correct sub-model. In SoE, every sub-model fits its specific vulnerability area and reserves the rest of the sub-models to fit other vulnerability areas, which effectively optimizes the utilization of the model capacity. Empirical experiments verify that SoE outperforms various ensemble methods against white-box and transfer-based adversarial attacks.

Accelerating Certified Robustness Training via Knowledge Transfer

Pratik Vaishnavi · Kevin Eykholt · Amir Rahmati

Training deep neural network classifiers that are certifiably robust against adversarial attacks is critical to ensuring the security and reliability of AI-controlled systems. Although numerous state-of-the-art certified training methods have been developed, they are computationally expensive and scale poorly with respect to both dataset and network complexity. Widespread usage of certified training is further hindered by the fact that periodic retraining is necessary to incorporate new data and network improvements. In this paper, we propose Certified Robustness Transfer (CRT), a general-purpose framework for reducing the computational overhead of any certifiably robust training method through knowledge transfer. Given a robust teacher, our framework uses a novel training loss to transfer the teacher’s robustness to the student. We provide theoretical and empirical validation of CRT. Our experiments on CIFAR-10 show that CRT speeds up certified robustness training by 8× on average across three different architecture generations while achieving comparable robustness to state-of-the-art methods. We also show that CRT can scale to large-scale datasets like ImageNet.

Self-Supervised Contrastive Pre-Training For Time Series via Time-Frequency Consistency

Xiang Zhang · Ziyuan Zhao · Theodoros Tsiligkaridis · Marinka Zitnik

Pre-training on time series poses a unique challenge due to the potential mismatch between pre-training and target domains, such as shifts in temporal dynamics, fast-evolving trends, and long-range and short-cyclic effects, which can lead to poor downstream performance. While domain adaptation methods can mitigate these shifts, most methods need examples directly from the target domain, making them suboptimal for pre-training. To address this challenge, methods need to accommodate target domains with different temporal dynamics and be capable of doing so without seeing any target examples during pre-training. Relative to other modalities, in time series, we expect that time-based and frequency-based representations of the same example are located close together in the time-frequency space. To this end, we posit that time-frequency consistency (TF-C) --- embedding a time-based neighborhood of an example close to its frequency-based neighborhood --- is desirable for pre-training. Motivated by TF-C, we define a decomposable pre-training model, where the self-supervised signal is provided by the distance between time and frequency components, each individually trained by contrastive estimation. We evaluate the new method on eight datasets, including electrodiagnostic testing, human activity recognition, mechanical fault detection, and physical status monitoring. Experiments against eight state-of-the-art methods show that TF-C outperforms baselines by 15.4% (F1 score) on average in one-to-one settings (e.g., fine-tuning an EEG-pretrained model on EMG data) and by 8.4% (precision) in challenging one-to-many settings (e.g., fine-tuning an EEG-pretrained model for either hand-gesture recognition or mechanical fault prediction), reflecting the breadth of scenarios that arise in real-world applications. The source code and datasets are available at

Self-supervised Amodal Video Object Segmentation

Jian Yao · Yuxin Hong · Chiyu Wang · Tianjun Xiao · Tong He · Francesco Locatello · David P Wipf · Yanwei Fu · Zheng Zhang

Amodal perception requires inferring the full shape of an object that is partially occluded. This task is particularly challenging on two levels: (1) it requires more information than what is contained in the instant retina or imaging sensor, (2) it is difficult to obtain enough well-annotated amodal labels for supervision. To this end, this paper develops a new framework of Self-supervised amodal Video object segmentation (SaVos). Our method efficiently leverages the visual information of video temporal sequences to infer the amodal mask of objects. The key intuition is that the occluded part of an object can be explained away if that part is visible in other frames, possibly deformed as long as the deformation can be reasonably learned. Accordingly, we derive a novel self-supervised learning paradigm that efficiently utilizes the visible object parts as the supervision to guide the training on videos. In addition to learning type prior to complete masks for known types, SaVos also learns the spatiotemporal prior, which is also useful for the amodal task and could generalize to unseen types. The proposed framework achieves the state-of-the-art performance on the synthetic amodal segmentation benchmark FISHBOWL and the real world benchmark KINS-Video-Car. Further, it lends itself well to being transferred to novel distributions using test-time adaptation, outperforming existing models even after the transfer to a new distribution.

Rethinking Image Restoration for Object Detection

Shangquan Sun · Wenqi Ren · Tao Wang · Xiaochun Cao

Although image restoration has achieved significant progress, its potential to assist object detectors in adverse imaging conditions lacks enough attention. It is reported that the existing image restoration methods cannot improve the object detector performance and sometimes even reduce the detection performance. To address the issue, we propose a targeted adversarial attack in the restoration procedure to boost object detection performance after restoration. Specifically, we present an ADAM-like adversarial attack to generate pseudo ground truth for restoration training. Resultant restored images are close to original sharp images, and at the same time, lead to better results of object detection. We conduct extensive experiments in image dehazing and low light enhancement and show the superiority of our method over conventional training and other domain adaptation and multi-task methods. The proposed pipeline can be applied to all restoration methods and detectors in both one- and two-stage.

Unsupervised Learning of Shape Programs with Repeatable Implicit Parts

Boyang Deng · Sumith Kulal · Zhengyang Dong · Congyue Deng · Yonglong Tian · Jiajun Wu

Shape programs encode shape structures by representing object parts as subroutines and constructing the overall shape by composing these subroutines. This usually involves the reuse of subroutines for repeatable parts, enabling the modeling of correlations among shape elements such as geometric similarity. However, existing learning-based shape programs suffer from limited representation capacity, because they use coarse geometry representations such as geometric primitives and low-resolution voxel grids. Further, their training requires manually annotated ground-truth programs, which are expensive to attain. We address these limitations by proposing Shape Programs with Repeatable Implicit Parts (ProGRIP). Using implicit functions to represent parts, ProGRIP greatly boosts the representation capacity of shape programs while preserving the higher-level structure of repetitions and symmetry. Meanwhile, we free ProGRIP from any inaccessible supervised training via devising a matching-based unsupervised training objective. Our empirical studies show that ProGRIP outperforms existing structured representations in both shape reconstruction fidelity and segmentation accuracy of semantic parts.

ELASTIC: Numerical Reasoning with Adaptive Symbolic Compiler

Jiaxin Zhang · Yashar Moshfeghi

Numerical reasoning over text is a challenging task of Artificial Intelligence (AI), requiring reading comprehension and numerical reasoning abilities. Previous approaches use numerical reasoning programs to represent the reasoning process. However, most works do not separate the generation of operators and operands, which are key components of a numerical reasoning program, thus limiting their ability to generate such programs for complicated tasks. In this paper, we introduce the numEricaL reASoning with adapTive symbolIc Compiler (ELASTIC) model, which is constituted of the RoBERTa as the Encoder and a Compiler with four modules: Reasoning Manager, Operator Generator, Operands Generator, and Memory Register. ELASTIC is robust when conducting complicated reasoning. Also, it is domain agnostic by supporting the expansion of diverse operators without caring about the number of operands it contains. Experiments show that ELASTIC achieves 68.96 and 65.21 of execution accuracy and program accuracy on the FinQA dataset and 83.00 program accuracy on the MathQA dataset, outperforming previous state-of-the-art models significantly.

Learning dynamics of deep linear networks with multiple pathways

Jianghong Shi · Eric Shea-Brown · Michael Buice

Not only have deep networks become standard in machine learning, they are increasingly of interest in neuroscience as models of cortical computation that capture relationships between structural and functional properties. In addition they are a useful target of theoretical research into the properties of network computation. Deep networks typically have a serial or approximately serial organization across layers, and this is often mirrored in models that purport to represent computation in mammalian brains. There are, however, multiple examples of parallel pathways in mammalian brains. In some cases, such as the mouse, the entire visual system appears arranged in a largely parallel, rather than serial fashion. While these pathways may be formed by differing cost functions that drive different computations, here we present a new mathematical analysis of learning dynamics in networks that have parallel computational pathways driven by the same cost function. We use the approximation of deep linear networks with large hidden layer sizes to show that, as the depth of the parallel pathways increases, different features of the training set (defined by the singular values of the input-output correlation) will typically concentrate in one of the pathways. This result is derived analytically and demonstrated with numerical simulation. Thus, rather than sharing stimulus and task features across multiple pathways, parallel network architectures learn to produce sharply diversified representations with specialized and specific pathways, a mechanism which may hold important consequences for codes in both biological and artificial systems.

FP8 Quantization: The Power of the Exponent

Andrey Kuzmin · Mart van Baalen · Yuwei Ren · Markus Nagel · Jorn Peters · Tijmen Blankevoort

When quantizing neural networks for efficient inference, low-bit integers are the go-to format for efficiency. However, low-bit floating point numbers have an extra degree of freedom, assigning some bits to work on an exponential scale instead. This paper in-depth investigates this benefit of the floating point format for neural network inference. We detail the choices that can be made for the FP8 format, including the important choice of the number of bits for the mantissa and exponent, and show analytically in which settings these choices give better performance. Then we show how these findings translate to real networks, provide an efficient implementation for FP8 simulation, and a new algorithm that enables the learning of both the scale parameters and number of exponent bits in the FP8 format. Our chief conclusion is that when doing post-training quantization for a wide range of networks, the FP8 format is better than INT8 in terms of accuracy, and the choice of the number of exponent bits is driven by the severity of outliers in the network. We also conduct experiments with quantization-aware training where the difference in formats disappears as the network is trained to reduce the effect of outliers.

Pushing the limits of fairness impossibility: Who's the fairest of them all?

Brian Hsu · Rahul Mazumder · Preetam Nandy · Kinjal Basu

The impossibility theorem of fairness is a foundational result in the algorithmic fairness literature. It states that outside of special cases, one cannot exactly and simultaneously satisfy all three common and intuitive definitions of fairness - demographic parity, equalized odds, and predictive rate parity. This result has driven most works to focus on solutions for one or two of the metrics. Rather than follow suit, in this paper we present a framework that pushes the limits of the impossibility theorem in order to satisfy all three metrics to the best extent possible. We develop an integer-programming based approach that can yield a certifiably optimal post-processing method for simultaneously satisfying multiple fairness criteria under small violations. We show experiments demonstrating that our post-processor can improve fairness across the different definitions simultaneously with minimal model performance reduction. We also discuss applications of our framework for model selection and fairness explainability, thereby attempting to answer the question: Who's the fairest of them all?

Learning Dynamical Systems via Koopman Operator Regression in Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Spaces

Vladimir Kostic · Pietro Novelli · Andreas Maurer · Carlo Ciliberto · Lorenzo Rosasco · Massimiliano Pontil

We study a class of dynamical systems modelled as stationary Markov chains that admit an invariant distribution via the corresponding transfer or Koopman operator. While data-driven algorithms to reconstruct such operators are well known, their relationship with statistical learning is largely unexplored. We formalize a framework to learn the Koopman operator from finite data trajectories of the dynamical system. We consider the restriction of this operator to a reproducing kernel Hilbert space and introduce a notion of risk, from which different estimators naturally arise. We link the risk with the estimation of the spectral decomposition of the Koopman operator. These observations motivate a reduced-rank operator regression (RRR) estimator. We derive learning bounds for the proposed estimator, holding both in i.i.d and non i.i.d. settings, the latter in terms of mixing coefficients. Our results suggest RRR might be beneficial over other widely used estimators as confirmed in numerical experiments both for forecasting and mode decomposition.

Pseudo-Riemannian Graph Convolutional Networks

Bo Xiong · Shichao Zhu · Nico Potyka · Shirui Pan · Chuan Zhou · Steffen Staab

Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs) are powerful frameworks for learning embeddings of graph-structured data. GCNs are traditionally studied through the lens of Euclidean geometry. Recent works find that non-Euclidean Riemannian manifolds provide specific inductive biases for embedding hierarchical or spherical data. However, they cannot align well with data of mixed graph topologies. We consider a larger class of pseudo-Riemannian manifolds that generalize hyperboloid and sphere. We develop new geodesic tools that allow for extending neural network operations into geodesically disconnected pseudo-Riemannian manifolds. As a consequence, we derive a pseudo-Riemannian GCN that models data in pseudo-Riemannian manifolds of constant nonzero curvature in the context of graph neural networks. Our method provides a geometric inductive bias that is sufficiently flexible to model mixed heterogeneous topologies like hierarchical graphs with cycles. We demonstrate the representational capabilities of this method by applying it to the tasks of graph reconstruction, node classification, and link prediction on a series of standard graphs with mixed topologies. Empirical results demonstrate that our method outperforms Riemannian counterparts when embedding graphs of complex topologies.

PAC-Bayes Compression Bounds So Tight That They Can Explain Generalization

Sanae Lotfi · Marc Finzi · Sanyam Kapoor · Andres Potapczynski · Micah Goldblum · Andrew Wilson

While there has been progress in developing non-vacuous generalization bounds for deep neural networks, these bounds tend to be uninformative about why deep learning works. In this paper, we develop a compression approach based on quantizing neural network parameters in a linear subspace, profoundly improving on previous results to provide state-of-the-art generalization bounds on a variety of tasks, including transfer learning. We use these tight bounds to better understand the role of model size, equivariance, and the implicit biases of optimization, for generalization in deep learning. Notably, we find large models can be compressed to a much greater extent than previously known, encapsulating Occam’s razor.

Learning Mixed Multinomial Logits with Provable Guarantees

Yiqun Hu · David Simchi-Levi · Zhenzhen Yan

A mixture of multinomial logits (MMNL) generalizes the single logit model, which is commonly used in predicting the probabilities of different outcomes. While extensive algorithms have been developed in the literature to learn MMNL models, theoretical results are limited. Built on the Frank-Wolfe (FW) method, we propose a new algorithm that learns both mixture weights and component-specific logit parameters with provable convergence guarantees for an arbitrary number of mixtures. Our algorithm utilizes historical choice data to generate a set of candidate choice probability vectors, each being close to the ground truth with a high probability. We further provide a sample complexity analysis to show that only a polynomial number of samples is required to secure the performance guarantee of our algorithm. Finally, we conduct simulation studies to evaluate the performance and demonstrate how to apply our algorithm to real-world applications.

Truly Deterministic Policy Optimization

Ehsan Saleh · Saba Ghaffari · Tim Bretl · Matthew West

In this paper, we present a policy gradient method that avoids exploratory noise injection and performs policy search over the deterministic landscape, with the goal of improving learning with long horizons and non-local rewards. By avoiding noise injection all sources of estimation variance can be eliminated in systems with deterministic dynamics (up to the initial state distribution). Since deterministic policy regularization is impossible using traditional non-metric measures such as the KL divergence, we derive a Wasserstein-based quadratic model for our purposes. We state conditions on the system model under which it is possible to establish a monotonic policy improvement guarantee, propose a surrogate function for policy gradient estimation, and show that it is possible to compute exact advantage estimates if both the state transition model and the policy are deterministic. Finally, we describe two novel robotic control environments---one with non-local rewards in the frequency domain and the other with a long horizon (8000 time-steps)---for which our policy gradient method (TDPO) significantly outperforms existing methods (PPO, TRPO, DDPG, and TD3). Our implementation with all the experimental settings and a video of the physical hardware test is available at .

A Consistent and Differentiable Lp Canonical Calibration Error Estimator

Teodora Popordanoska · Raphael Sayer · Matthew Blaschko

Calibrated probabilistic classifiers are models whose predicted probabilities can directly be interpreted as uncertainty estimates. It has been shown recently that deep neural networks are poorly calibrated and tend to output overconfident predictions. As a remedy, we propose a low-bias, trainable calibration error estimator based on Dirichlet kernel density estimates, which asymptotically converges to the true $L_p$ calibration error. This novel estimator enables us to tackle the strongest notion of multiclass calibration, called canonical (or distribution) calibration, while other common calibration methods are tractable only for top-label and marginal calibration. The computational complexity of our estimator is $\mathcal{O}(n^2)$, the convergence rate is $\mathcal{O}(n^{-1/2})$, and it is unbiased up to $\mathcal{O}(n^{-2})$, achieved by a geometric series debiasing scheme. In practice, this means that the estimator can be applied to small subsets of data, enabling efficient estimation and mini-batch updates. The proposed method has a natural choice of kernel, and can be used to generate consistent estimates of other quantities based on conditional expectation, such as the sharpness of a probabilistic classifier. Empirical results validate the correctness of our estimator, and demonstrate its utility in canonical calibration error estimation and calibration error regularized risk minimization.

Frank-Wolfe-based Algorithms for Approximating Tyler's M-estimator

Lior Danon · Dan Garber

Tyler's M-estimator is a well known procedure for robust and heavy-tailed covariance estimation. Tyler himself suggested an iterative fixed-point algorithm for computing his estimator however, it requires super-linear (in the size of the data) runtime per iteration, which maybe prohibitive in large scale. In this work we propose, to the best of our knowledge, the first Frank-Wolfe-based algorithms for computing Tyler's estimator. One variant uses standard Frank-Wolfe steps, the second also considers \textit{away-steps} (AFW), and the third is a \textit{geodesic} version of AFW (GAFW). AFW provably requires, up to a log factor, only linear time per iteration, while GAFW runs in linear time (up to a log factor) in a large $n$ (number of data-points) regime. All three variants are shown to provably converge to the optimal solution with sublinear rate, under standard assumptions, despite the fact that the underlying optimization problem is not convex nor smooth. Under an additional fairly mild assumption, that holds with probability 1 when the (normalized) data-points are i.i.d. samples from a continuous distribution supported on the entire unit sphere, AFW and GAFW are proved to converge with linear rates. Importantly, all three variants are parameter-free and use adaptive step-sizes.

Reinforcement Learning with Logarithmic Regret and Policy Switches

Grigoris Velegkas · Zhuoran Yang · Amin Karbasi

In this paper, we study the problem of regret minimization for episodic Reinforcement Learning (RL) both in the model-free and the model-based setting. We focus on learning with general function classes and general model classes, and we derive results that scale with the eluder dimension of these classes. In contrast to the existing body of work that mainly establishes instance-independent regret guarantees, we focus on the instance-dependent setting and show that the regret scales logarithmically with the horizon $T$, provided that there is a gap between the best and the second best action in every state. In addition, we show that such a logarithmic regret bound is realizable by algorithms with $O(\log T)$ switching cost (also known as adaptivity complexity). In other words, these algorithms rarely switch their policy during the course of their execution. Finally, we complement our results with lower bounds which show that even in the tabular setting, we cannot hope for regret guarantees lower than $O(\log T)$.

Finite Sample Analysis Of Dynamic Regression Parameter Learning

Mark Kozdoba · Edward Moroshko · Shie Mannor · Yacov Crammer

We consider the dynamic linear regression problem, where the predictor vector may vary with time. This problem can be modeled as a linear dynamical system, with non-constant observation operator, where the parameters that need to be learned are the variance of both the process noise and the observation noise. While variance estimation for dynamic regression is a natural problem, with a variety of applications, existing approaches to this problem either lack guarantees altogether, or only have asymptotic guarantees without explicit rates. In particular, existing literature does not provide any clues to the following fundamental question: In terms of data characteristics, what does the convergence rate depend on? In this paper we study the global system operator -- the operator that maps the noise vectors to the output. We obtain estimates on its spectrum, and as a result derive the first known variance estimators with finite sample complexity guarantees. The proposed bounds depend on the shape of a certain spectrum related to the system operator, and thus provide the first known explicit geometric parameter of the data that can be used to bound estimation errors. In addition, the results hold for arbitrary sub Gaussian distributions of noise terms. We evaluate the approach on synthetic and real-world benchmarks.

Evaluating Robustness to Dataset Shift via Parametric Robustness Sets

Nikolaj Thams · Michael Oberst · David Sontag

We give a method for proactively identifying small, plausible shifts in distribution which lead to large differences in model performance. These shifts are defined via parametric changes in the causal mechanisms of observed variables, where constraints on parameters yield a "robustness set" of plausible distributions and a corresponding worst-case loss over the set. While the loss under an individual parametric shift can be estimated via reweighting techniques such as importance sampling, the resulting worst-case optimization problem is non-convex, and the estimate may suffer from large variance. For small shifts, however, we can construct a local second-order approximation to the loss under shift and cast the problem of finding a worst-case shift as a particular non-convex quadratic optimization problem, for which efficient algorithms are available. We demonstrate that this second-order approximation can be estimated directly for shifts in conditional exponential family models, and we bound the approximation error. We apply our approach to a computer vision task (classifying gender from images), revealing sensitivity to shifts in non-causal attributes.

Network change point localisation under local differential privacy

Mengchu Li · Tom Berrett · Yi Yu

Network data are ubiquitous in our daily life, containing rich but often sensitive information. In this paper, we expand the current static analysis of privatised networks to a dynamic framework by considering a sequence of networks with potential change points. We investigate the fundamental limits in consistently localising change points under both node and edge privacy constraints, demonstrating interesting phase transition in terms of the signal-to-noise ratio condition, accompanied by polynomial-time algorithms. The private signal-to-noise ratio conditions quantify the costs of the privacy for change point localisation problems and exhibit a different scaling in the sparsity parameter compared to the non-private counterparts. Our algorithms are shown to be optimal under the edge LDP constraint up to log factors. Under node LDP constraint, a gap exists between our upper bound and lower bound and we leave it as an interesting open problem, echoing the challenges in high-dimensional statistical inference under LDP constraints.

When Privacy Meets Partial Information: A Refined Analysis of Differentially Private Bandits

Achraf Azize · Debabrota Basu

We study the problem of multi-armed bandits with ε-global Differential Privacy (DP). First, we prove the minimax and problem-dependent regret lower bounds for stochastic and linear bandits that quantify the hardness of bandits with ε-global DP. These bounds suggest the existence of two hardness regimes depending on the privacy budget ε. In the high-privacy regime (small ε), the hardness depends on a coupled effect of privacy and partial information about the reward distributions. In the low-privacy regime (large ε), bandits with ε-global DP are not harder than the bandits without privacy. For stochastic bandits, we further propose a generic framework to design a near-optimal ε global DP extension of an index-based optimistic bandit algorithm. The framework consists of three ingredients: the Laplace mechanism, arm-dependent adaptive episodes, and usage of only the rewards collected in the last episode for computing private statistics. Specifically, we instantiate ε-global DP extensions of UCB and KL-UCB algorithms, namely AdaP-UCB and AdaP-KLUCB. AdaP-KLUCB is the first algorithm that both satisfies ε-global DP and yields a regret upper bound that matches the problem-dependent lower bound up to multiplicative constants.

Diversified Recommendations for Agents with Adaptive Preferences

William Brown · Arpit Agarwal

When an Agent visits a platform recommending a menu of content to select from, their choice of item depends not only on immutable preferences, but also on their prior engagements with the platform. The Recommender's primary objective is typically to encourage content consumption which optimizes some reward, such as ad revenue, but they often additionally aim to ensure that a sufficiently wide variety of content is consumed by the Agent over time. We formalize this problem as an adversarial bandit task. At each step, the Recommender presents a menu of $k$ (out of $n$) items to the Agent, who selects one item in the menu according to their unknown {\it preference model}, which maps their history of past items to relative selection probabilities. The Recommender then observes the Agent's selected item and receives bandit feedback of the item's (adversarial) reward. In addition to optimizing reward from the selected items at each step, the Recommender must also ensure that the total distribution of chosen items has sufficiently high entropy. We define a class of preference models which are {\it locally learnable}, i.e.\ behavior over the entire domain can be estimated by only observing behavior in a small region; this includes models representable by bounded-degree polynomials as well as functions with a sparse Fourier basis. For this class, we give an algorithm for the Recommender which obtains $\tilde{O}(T^{3/4})$ regret against all item distributions satisfying two conditions: they are sufficiently diversified, and they are {\it instantaneously realizable} at any history by some distribution over menus. We show that these conditions are closely connected: all sufficiently high-entropy distributions are instantaneously realizable at any history of selected items. We also give a set of negative results justifying our assumptions, in the form of a runtime lower bound for non-local learning and linear regret lower bounds for alternate benchmarks.

Confident Approximate Policy Iteration for Efficient Local Planning in $q^\pi$-realizable MDPs

Gellért Weisz · András György · Tadashi Kozuno · Csaba Szepesvari

We consider approximate dynamic programming in $\gamma$-discounted Markov decision processes and apply it to approximate planning with linear value-function approximation. Our first contribution is a new variant of Approximate Policy Iteration (API), called Confident Approximate Policy Iteration (CAPI), which computes a deterministic stationary policy with an optimal error bound scaling linearly with the product of the effective horizon $H$ and the worst-case approximation error $\epsilon$ of the action-value functions of stationary policies. This improvement over API (whose error scales with $H^2$) comes at the price of an $H$-fold increase in memory cost. Unlike Scherrer and Lesner [2012], who recommended computing a non-stationary policy to achieve a similar improvement (with the same memory overhead), we are able to stick to stationary policies. This allows for our second contribution, the application of CAPI to planning with local access to a simulator and $d$-dimensional linear function approximation. As such, we design a planning algorithm that applies CAPI to obtain a sequence of policies with successively refined accuracies on a dynamically evolving set of states. The algorithm outputs an $\tilde O(\sqrt{d}H\epsilon)$-optimal policy after issuing $\tilde O(dH^4/\epsilon^2)$ queries to the simulator, simultaneously achieving the optimal accuracy bound and the best known query complexity bound, while earlier algorithms in the literature achieve only one of them. This query complexity is shown to be tight in all parameters except $H$. These improvements come at the expense of a mild (polynomial) increase in memory and computational costs of both the algorithm and its output policy.

Parameter-free Regret in High Probability with Heavy Tails

Jiujia Zhang · Ashok Cutkosky

We present new algorithms for online convex optimization over unbounded domains that obtain parameter-free regret in high-probability given access only to potentially heavy-tailed subgradient estimates. Previous work in unbounded domains con- siders only in-expectation results for sub-exponential subgradients. Unlike in the bounded domain case, we cannot rely on straight-forward martingale concentration due to exponentially large iterates produced by the algorithm. We develop new regularization techniques to overcome these problems. Overall, with probability at most δ, for all comparators u our algorithm achieves regret O ̃(∥u∥T 1/p log(1/δ)) for subgradients with bounded pth moments for some p ∈ (1, 2].

Shape And Structure Preserving Differential Privacy

Carlos Soto · Karthik Bharath · Matthew Reimherr · Aleksandra Slavković

It is common for data structures such as images and shapes of 2D objects to be represented as points on a manifold. The utility of a mechanism to produce sanitized differentially private estimates from such data is intimately linked to how compatible it is with the underlying structure and geometry of the space. In particular, as recently shown, utility of the Laplace mechanism on a positively curved manifold, such as Kendall’s 2D shape space, is significantly influenced by the curvature. Focusing on the problem of sanitizing the Fr\'echet mean of a sample of points on a manifold, we exploit the characterization of the mean as the minimizer of an objective function comprised of the sum of squared distances and develop a K-norm gradient mechanism on Riemannian manifolds that favors values that produce gradients close to the the zero of the objective function. For the case of positively curved manifolds, we describe how using the gradient of the squared distance function offers better control over sensitivity than the Laplace mechanism, and demonstrate this numerically on a dataset of shapes of corpus callosa. Further illustrations of the mechanism’s utility on a sphere and the manifold of symmetric positive definite matrices are also presented.

Multi-layer State Evolution Under Random Convolutional Design

Max Daniels · Cedric Gerbelot · Florent Krzakala · Lenka Zdeborová

Signal recovery under generative neural network priors has emerged as a promising direction in statistical inference and computational imaging. Theoretical analysis of reconstruction algorithms under generative priors is, however, challenging. For generative priors with fully connected layers and Gaussian i.i.d. weights, this was achieved by the multi-layer approximate message (ML-AMP) algorithm via a rigorous state evolution. However, practical generative priors are typically convolutional, allowing for computational benefits and inductive biases, and so the Gaussian i.i.d. weight assumption is very limiting. In this paper, we overcome this limitation and establish the state evolution of ML-AMP for random convolutional layers. We prove in particular that random convolutional layers belong to the same universality class as Gaussian matrices. Our proof technique is of an independent interest as it establishes a mapping between convolutional matrices and spatially coupled sensing matrices used in coding theory.

Graph Neural Networks with Adaptive Readouts

David Buterez · Jon Paul Janet · Steven J Kiddle · Dino Oglic · Pietro Liò

An effective aggregation of node features into a graph-level representation via readout functions is an essential step in numerous learning tasks involving graph neural networks. Typically, readouts are simple and non-adaptive functions designed such that the resulting hypothesis space is permutation invariant. Prior work on deep sets indicates that such readouts might require complex node embeddings that can be difficult to learn via standard neighborhood aggregation schemes. Motivated by this, we investigate the potential of adaptive readouts given by neural networks that do not necessarily give rise to permutation invariant hypothesis spaces. We argue that in some problems such as binding affinity prediction where molecules are typically presented in a canonical form it might be possible to relax the constraints on permutation invariance of the hypothesis space and learn a more effective model of the affinity by employing an adaptive readout function. Our empirical results demonstrate the effectiveness of neural readouts on more than 40 datasets spanning different domains and graph characteristics. Moreover, we observe a consistent improvement over standard readouts (i.e., sum, max, and mean) relative to the number of neighborhood aggregation iterations and different convolutional operators.

On the detrimental effect of invariances in the likelihood for variational inference

Richard Kurle · Ralf Herbrich · Tim Januschowski · Yuyang (Bernie) Wang · Jan Gasthaus

Variational Bayesian posterior inference often requires simplifying approximations such as mean-field parametrisation to ensure tractability. However, prior work has associated the variational mean-field approximation for Bayesian neural networks with underfitting in the case of small datasets or large model sizes. In this work, we show that invariances in the likelihood function of over-parametrised models contribute to this phenomenon because these invariances complicate the structure of the posterior by introducing discrete and/or continuous modes which cannot be well approximated by Gaussian mean-field distributions. In particular, we show that the mean-field approximation has an additional gap in the evidence lower bound compared to a purpose-built posterior that takes into account the known invariances. Importantly, this invariance gap is not constant; it vanishes as the approximation reverts to the prior. We proceed by first considering translation invariances in a linear model with a single data point in detail. We show that, while the true posterior can be constructed from a mean-field parametrisation, this is achieved only if the objective function takes into account the invariance gap. Then, we transfer our analysis of the linear model to neural networks. Our analysis provides a framework for future work to explore solutions to the invariance problem.

Causally motivated multi-shortcut identification and removal

Jiayun Zheng · Maggie Makar

For predictive models to provide reliable guidance in decision making processes, they are often required to be accurate and robust to distribution shifts. Shortcut learning--where a model relies on spurious correlations or shortcuts to predict the target label--undermines the robustness property, leading to models with poor out-of-distribution accuracy despite good in-distribution performance. Existing work on shortcut learning either assumes that the set of possible shortcuts is known a priori or is discoverable using interpretability methods such as saliency maps, which might not always be true. Instead, we propose a two step approach to (1) efficiently identify relevant shortcuts, and (2) leverage the identified shortcuts to build models that are robust to distribution shifts. Our approach relies on having access to a (possibly) high dimensional set of auxiliary labels at training time, some of which correspond to possible shortcuts. We show both theoretically and empirically that our approach is able to identify a sufficient set of shortcuts leading to more efficient predictors in finite samples.

Learning Predictions for Algorithms with Predictions

Misha Khodak · Maria-Florina Balcan · Ameet Talwalkar · Sergei Vassilvitskii

A burgeoning paradigm in algorithm design is the field of algorithms with predictions, in which algorithms can take advantage of a possibly-imperfect prediction of some aspect of the problem. While much work has focused on using predictions to improve competitive ratios, running times, or other performance measures, less effort has been devoted to the question of how to obtain the predictions themselves, especially in the critical online setting. We introduce a general design approach for algorithms that learn predictors: (1) identify a functional dependence of the performance measure on the prediction quality and (2) apply techniques from online learning to learn predictors, tune robustness-consistency trade-offs, and bound the sample complexity. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach by applying it to bipartite matching, ski-rental, page migration, and job scheduling. In several settings we improve upon multiple existing results while utilizing a much simpler analysis, while in the others we provide the first learning-theoretic guarantees.

Near-Optimal Collaborative Learning in Bandits

Clémence Réda · Sattar Vakili · Emilie Kaufmann

This paper introduces a general multi-agent bandit model in which each agent is facing a finite set of arms and may communicate with other agents through a central controller in order to identify -in pure exploration- or play -in regret minimization- its optimal arm. The twist is that the optimal arm for each agent is the arm with largest expected mixed reward, where the mixed reward of an arm is a weighted sum of the rewards of this arm for all agents. This makes communication between agents often necessary. This general setting allows to recover and extend several recent models for collaborative bandit learning, including the recently proposed federated learning with personalization [Shi et al., 2021]. In this paper, we provide new lower bounds on the sample complexity of pure exploration and on the regret. We then propose a near-optimal algorithm for pure exploration. This algorithm is based on phased elimination with two novel ingredients: a data-dependent sampling scheme within each phase, aimed at matching a relaxation of the lower bound.

Incentivizing Combinatorial Bandit Exploration

Xinyan Hu · Dung Ngo · Aleksandrs Slivkins · Steven Wu

Consider a bandit algorithm that recommends actions to self-interested users in a recommendation system. The users are free to choose other actions and need to be incentivized to follow the algorithm's recommendations. While the users prefer to exploit, the algorithm can incentivize them to explore by leveraging the information collected from the previous users. All published work on this problem, known as incentivized exploration, focuses on small, unstructured action sets and mainly targets the case when the users' beliefs are independent across actions. However, realistic exploration problems often feature large, structured action sets and highly correlated beliefs. We focus on a paradigmatic exploration problem with structure: combinatorial semi-bandits. We prove that Thompson Sampling, when applied to combinatorial semi-bandits, is incentive-compatible when initialized with a sufficient number of samples of each arm (where this number is determined in advance by the Bayesian prior). Moreover, we design incentive-compatible algorithms for collecting the initial samples.

BR-SNIS: Bias Reduced Self-Normalized Importance Sampling

Gabriel Cardoso · Sergey Samsonov · Achille Thin · Eric Moulines · Jimmy Olsson

Importance Sampling (IS) is a method for approximating expectations with respect to a target distribution using independent samples from a proposal distribution and the associated to importance weights. In many cases, the target distribution is known up to a normalization constant and self-normalized IS (SNIS) is then used. While the use of self-normalization can have a positive effect on the dispersion of the estimator, it introduces bias. In this work, we propose a new method BR-SNIS whose complexity is essentially the same as SNIS and which significantly reduces bias. This method is a wrapper, in the sense that it uses the same proposal samples and importance weights but makes a clever use of iterated sampling-importance-resampling (i-SIR) to form a bias-reduced version of the estimator. We derive the proposed algorithm with rigorous theoretical results, including novel bias, variance, and high-probability bounds. We illustrate our findings with numerical examples.

Differentially Private Learning with Margin Guarantees

Raef Bassily · Mehryar Mohri · Ananda Theertha Suresh

We present a series of new differentially private (DP) algorithms with dimension-independent margin guarantees. For the family of linear hypotheses, we give a pure DP learning algorithm that benefits from relative deviation margin guarantees, as well as an efficient DP learning algorithm with margin guarantees. We also present a new efficient DP learning algorithm with margin guarantees for kernel-based hypotheses with shift-invariant kernels, such as Gaussian kernels, and point out how our results can be extended to other kernels using oblivious sketching techniques. We further give a pure DP learning algorithm for a family of feed-forward neural networks for which we prove margin guarantees that are independent of the input dimension. Additionally, we describe a general label DP learning algorithm, which benefits from relative deviation margin bounds and is applicable to a broad family of hypothesis sets, including that of neural networks. Finally, we show how our DP learning algorithms can be augmented in a general way to include model selection, to select the best confidence margin parameter.

Multiclass Learnability Beyond the PAC Framework: Universal Rates and Partial Concept Classes

Alkis Kalavasis · Grigoris Velegkas · Amin Karbasi

In this paper we study the problem of multiclass classification with a bounded number of different labels $k$, in the realizable setting. We extend the traditional PAC model to a) distribution-dependent learning rates, and b) learning rates under data-dependent assumptions. First, we consider the universal learning setting (Bousquet, Hanneke, Moran, van Handel and Yehudayoff, STOC'21), for which we provide a complete characterization of the achievable learning rates that holds for every fixed distribution. In particular, we show the following trichotomy: for any concept class, the optimal learning rate is either exponential, linear or arbitrarily slow. Additionally, we provide complexity measures of the underlying hypothesis class that characterize when these rates occur. Second, we consider the problem of multiclass classification with structured data (such as data lying on a low dimensional manifold or satisfying margin conditions), a setting which is captured by partial concept classes (Alon, Hanneke, Holzman and Moran, FOCS'21). Partial concepts are functions that can be undefined in certain parts of the input space. We extend the traditional PAC learnability of total concept classes to partial concept classes in the multiclass setting and investigate differences between partial and total concepts.

Planning to the Information Horizon of BAMDPs via Epistemic State Abstraction

Dilip Arumugam · Satinder Singh

The Bayes-Adaptive Markov Decision Process (BAMDP) formalism pursues the Bayes-optimal solution to the exploration-exploitation trade-off in reinforcement learning. As the computation of exact solutions to Bayesian reinforcement-learning problems is intractable, much of the literature has focused on developing suitable approximation algorithms. In this work, before diving into algorithm design, we first define, under mild structural assumptions, a complexity measure for BAMDP planning. As efficient exploration in BAMDPs hinges upon the judicious acquisition of information, our complexity measure highlights the worst-case difficulty of gathering information and exhausting epistemic uncertainty. To illustrate its significance, we establish a computationally-intractable, exact planning algorithm that takes advantage of this measure to show more efficient planning. We then conclude by introducing a specific form of state abstraction with the potential to reduce BAMDP complexity and gives rise to a computationally-tractable, approximate planning algorithm.

Pay attention to your loss : understanding misconceptions about Lipschitz neural networks

Louis Béthune · Thibaut Boissin · Mathieu Serrurier · Franck Mamalet · Corentin Friedrich · Alberto Gonzalez Sanz

Lipschitz constrained networks have gathered considerable attention in the deep learning community, with usages ranging from Wasserstein distance estimation to the training of certifiably robust classifiers. However they remain commonly considered as less accurate, and their properties in learning are still not fully understood. In this paper we clarify the matter: when it comes to classification 1-Lipschitz neural networks enjoy several advantages over their unconstrained counterpart. First, we show that these networks are as accurate as classical ones, and can fit arbitrarily difficult boundaries. Then, relying on a robustness metric that reflects operational needs we characterize the most robust classifier: the WGAN discriminator. Next, we show that 1-Lipschitz neural networks generalize well under milder assumptions. Finally, we show that hyper-parameters of the loss are crucial for controlling the accuracy-robustness trade-off. We conclude that they exhibit appealing properties to pave the way toward provably accurate, and provably robust neural networks.

What You See is What You Get: Principled Deep Learning via Distributional Generalization

Bogdan Kulynych · Yao-Yuan Yang · Yaodong Yu · Jarosław Błasiok · Preetum Nakkiran

Having similar behavior at training time and test time—what we call a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) property—is desirable in machine learning. Models trained with standard stochastic gradient descent (SGD), however, do not necessarily have this property, as their complex behaviors such as robustness or subgroup performance can differ drastically between training and test time. In contrast, we show that Differentially-Private (DP) training provably ensures the high-level WYSIWYG property, which we quantify using a notion of distributional generalization. Applying this connection, we introduce new conceptual tools for designing deep-learning methods by reducing generalization concerns to optimization ones: to mitigate unwanted behavior at test time, it is provably sufficient to mitigate this behavior on the training data. By applying this novel design principle, which bypasses “pathologies” of SGD, we construct simple algorithms that are competitive with SOTA in several distributional-robustness applications, significantly improve the privacy vs. disparate impact trade-off of DP-SGD, and mitigate robust overfitting in adversarial training. Finally, we also improve on theoretical bounds relating DP, stability, and distributional generalization.

Data-Driven Offline Decision-Making via Invariant Representation Learning

Han Qi · Yi Su · Aviral Kumar · Sergey Levine

The goal in offline data-driven decision-making is synthesize decisions that optimize a black-box utility function, using a previously-collected static dataset, with no active interaction. These problems appear in many forms: offline reinforcement learning (RL), where we must produce actions that optimize the long-term reward, bandits from logged data, where the goal is to determine the correct arm, and offline model-based optimization (MBO) problems, where we must find the optimal design provided access to only a static dataset. A key challenge in all these settings is distributional shift: when we optimize with respect to the input into a model trained from offline data, it is easy to produce an out-of-distribution (OOD) input that appears erroneously good. In contrast to prior approaches that utilize pessimism or conservatism to tackle this problem, in this paper, we formulate offline data-driven decision-making as domain adaptation, where the goal is to make accurate predictions for the value of optimized decisions (“target domain”), when training only on the dataset (“source domain”). This perspective leads to invariant objective models (IOM), our approach for addressing distributional shift by enforcing invariance between the learned representations of the training dataset and optimized decisions. In IOM, if the optimized decisions are too different from the training dataset, the representation will be forced to lose much of the information that distinguishes good designs from bad ones, making all choices seem mediocre. Critically, when the optimizer is aware of this representational tradeoff, it should choose not to stray too far from the training distribution, leading to a natural trade-off between distributional shift and learning performance.

Learning Manifold Dimensions with Conditional Variational Autoencoders

Yijia Zheng · Tong He · Yixuan Qiu · David P Wipf

Although the variational autoencoder (VAE) and its conditional extension (CVAE) are capable of state-of-the-art results across multiple domains, their precise behavior is still not fully understood, particularly in the context of data (like images) that lie on or near a low-dimensional manifold. For example, while prior work has suggested that the globally optimal VAE solution can learn the correct manifold dimension, a necessary (but not sufficient) condition for producing samples from the true data distribution, this has never been rigorously proven. Moreover, it remains unclear how such considerations would change when various types of conditioning variables are introduced, or when the data support is extended to a union of manifolds (e.g., as is likely the case for MNIST digits and related). In this work, we address these points by first proving that VAE global minima are indeed capable of recovering the correct manifold dimension. We then extend this result to more general CVAEs, demonstrating practical scenarios whereby the conditioning variables allow the model to adaptively learn manifolds of varying dimension across samples. Our analyses, which have practical implications for various CVAE design choices, are also supported by numerical results on both synthetic and real-world datasets.

Asymptotics of $\ell_2$ Regularized Network Embeddings

Andrew Davison

A common approach to solving prediction tasks on large networks, such as node classification or link prediction, begin by learning a Euclidean embedding of the nodes of the network, from which traditional machine learning methods can then be applied. This includes methods such as DeepWalk and node2vec, which learn embeddings by optimizing stochastic losses formed over subsamples of the graph at each iteration of stochastic gradient descent. In this paper, we study the effects of adding an $\ell_2$ penalty of the embedding vectors to the training loss of these types of methods. We prove that, under some exchangeability assumptions on the graph, this asymptotically leads to learning a graphon with a nuclear-norm-type penalty, and give guarantees for the asymptotic distribution of the learned embedding vectors. In particular, the exact form of the penalty depends on the choice of subsampling method used as part of stochastic gradient descent. We also illustrate empirically that concatenating node covariates to $\ell_2$ regularized node2vec embeddings leads to comparable, when not superior, performance to methods which incorporate node covariates and the network structure in a non-linear manner..

TabNAS: Rejection Sampling for Neural Architecture Search on Tabular Datasets

Chengrun Yang · Gabriel Bender · Hanxiao Liu · Pieter-Jan Kindermans · Madeleine Udell · Yifeng Lu · Quoc V Le · Da Huang

The best neural architecture for a given machine learning problem depends on many factors: not only the complexity and structure of the dataset, but also on resource constraints including latency, compute, energy consumption, etc. Neural architecture search (NAS) for tabular datasets is an important but under-explored problem. Previous NAS algorithms designed for image search spaces incorporate resource constraints directly into the reinforcement learning (RL) rewards. However, for NAS on tabular datasets, this protocol often discovers suboptimal architectures. This paper develops TabNAS, a new and more effective approach to handle resource constraints in tabular NAS using an RL controller motivated by the idea of rejection sampling. TabNAS immediately discards any architecture that violates the resource constraints without training or learning from that architecture. TabNAS uses a Monte-Carlo-based correction to the RL policy gradient update to account for this extra filtering step. Results on several tabular datasets demonstrate the superiority of TabNAS over previous reward-shaping methods: it finds better models that obey the constraints.

Which Explanation Should I Choose? A Function Approximation Perspective to Characterizing Post Hoc Explanations

Tessa Han · Suraj Srinivas · Himabindu Lakkaraju

A critical problem in the field of post hoc explainability is the lack of a common foundational goal among methods. For example, some methods are motivated by function approximation, some by game theoretic notions, and some by obtaining clean visualizations. This fragmentation of goals causes not only an inconsistent conceptual understanding of explanations but also the practical challenge of not knowing which method to use when.In this work, we begin to address these challenges by unifying eight popular post hoc explanation methods (LIME, C-LIME, KernelSHAP, Occlusion, Vanilla Gradients, Gradients × Input, SmoothGrad, and Integrated Gradients). We show that these methods all perform local function approximation of the black-box model, differing only in the neighbourhood and loss function used to perform the approximation. This unification enables us to (1) state a no free lunch theorem for explanation methods, demonstrating that no method can perform optimally across all neighbourhoods, and (2) provide a guiding principle to choose among methods based on faithfulness to the black-box model. We empirically validate these theoretical results using various real-world datasets, model classes, and prediction tasks.By bringing diverse explanation methods into a common framework, this work (1) advances the conceptual understanding of these methods, revealing their shared local function approximation objective, properties, and relation to one another, and (2) guides the use of these methods in practice, providing a principled approach to choose among methods and paving the way for the creation of new ones.

CS-Shapley: Class-wise Shapley Values for Data Valuation in Classification

Stephanie Schoch · Haifeng Xu · Yangfeng Ji

Data valuation, or the valuation of individual datum contributions, has seen growing interest in machine learning due to its demonstrable efficacy for tasks such as noisy label detection. In particular, due to the desirable axiomatic properties, several Shapley value approximations have been proposed. In these methods, the value function is usually defined as the predictive accuracy over the entire development set. However, this limits the ability to differentiate between training instances that are helpful or harmful to their own classes. Intuitively, instances that harm their own classes may be noisy or mislabeled and should receive a lower valuation than helpful instances. In this work, we propose CS-Shapley, a Shapley value with a new value function that discriminates between training instances’ in-class and out-of-class contributions. Our theoretical analysis shows the proposed value function is (essentially) the unique function that satisfies two desirable properties for evaluating data values in classification. Further, our experiments on two benchmark evaluation tasks (data removal and noisy label detection) and four classifiers demonstrate the effectiveness of CS-Shapley over existing methods. Lastly, we evaluate the “transferability” of data values estimated from one classifier to others, and our results suggest Shapley-based data valuation is transferable for application across different models.

Teacher Forcing Recovers Reward Functions for Text Generation

Yongchang Hao · Yuxin Liu · Lili Mou

Reinforcement learning (RL) has been widely used in text generation to alleviate the exposure bias issue or to utilize non-parallel datasets. The reward function plays an important role in making RL training successful. However, previous reward functions are typically task-specific and sparse, restricting the use of RL. In our work, we propose a task-agnostic approach that derives a step-wise reward function directly from a model trained with teacher forcing. We additionally propose a simple modification to stabilize the RL training on non-parallel datasets with our induced reward function. Empirical results show that our method outperforms self-training and reward regression methods on several text generation tasks, confirming the effectiveness of our reward function.

Making Sense of Dependence: Efficient Black-box Explanations Using Dependence Measure

Paul Novello · Thomas FEL · David Vigouroux

This paper presents a new efficient black-box attribution method built on Hilbert-Schmidt Independence Criterion (HSIC). Based on Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Spaces (RKHS), HSIC measures the dependence between regions of an input image and the output of a model using the kernel embedding of their distributions. It thus provides explanations enriched by RKHS representation capabilities. HSIC can be estimated very efficiently, significantly reducing the computational cost compared to other black-box attribution methods.Our experiments show that HSIC is up to 8 times faster than the previous best black-box attribution methods while being as faithful.Indeed, we improve or match the state-of-the-art of both black-box and white-box attribution methods for several fidelity metrics on Imagenet with various recent model architectures.Importantly, we show that these advances can be transposed to efficiently and faithfully explain object detection models such as YOLOv4. Finally, we extend the traditional attribution methods by proposing a new kernel enabling an ANOVA-like orthogonal decomposition of importance scores based on HSIC, allowing us to evaluate not only the importance of each image patch but also the importance of their pairwise interactions. Our implementation is available at \url{}.

MGNNI: Multiscale Graph Neural Networks with Implicit Layers

Juncheng Liu · Bryan Hooi · Kenji Kawaguchi · Xiaokui Xiao

Recently, implicit graph neural networks (GNNs) have been proposed to capture long-range dependencies in underlying graphs. In this paper, we introduce and justify two weaknesses of implicit GNNs: the constrained expressiveness due to their limited effective range for capturing long-range dependencies, and their lack of ability to capture multiscale information on graphs at multiple resolutions. To show the limited effective range of previous implicit GNNs, we first provide a theoretical analysis and point out the intrinsic relationship between the effective range and the convergence of iterative equations used in these models. To mitigate the mentioned weaknesses, we propose a multiscale graph neural network with implicit layers (MGNNI) which is able to model multiscale structures on graphs and has an expanded effective range for capturing long-range dependencies. We conduct comprehensive experiments for both node classification and graph classification to show that MGNNI outperforms representative baselines and has a better ability for multiscale modeling and capturing of long-range dependencies.

Gaussian Copula Embeddings

Chien Lu · Jaakko Peltonen

Learning latent vector representations via embedding models has been shown promising in machine learning. However, most of the embedding models are still limited to a single type of observation data. We propose a Gaussian copula embedding model to learn latent vector representations of items in a heterogeneous data setting. The proposed model can effectively incorporate different types of observed data and, at the same time, yield robust embeddings. We demonstrate the proposed model can effectively learn in many different scenarios, outperforming competing models in modeling quality and task performance.

On Learning Fairness and Accuracy on Multiple Subgroups

Changjian Shui · Gezheng Xu · Qi CHEN · Jiaqi Li · Charles Ling · Tal Arbel · Boyu Wang · Christian Gagné

We propose an analysis in fair learning that preserves the utility of the data while reducing prediction disparities under the criteria of group sufficiency. We focus on the scenario where the data contains multiple or even many subgroups, each with limited number of samples. As a result, we present a principled method for learning a fair predictor for all subgroups via formulating it as a bilevel objective. Specifically, the subgroup specific predictors are learned in the lower-level through a small amount of data and the fair predictor. In the upper-level, the fair predictor is updated to be close to all subgroup specific predictors. We further prove that such a bilevel objective can effectively control the group sufficiency and generalization error. We evaluate the proposed framework on real-world datasets. Empirical evidence suggests the consistently improved fair predictions, as well as the comparable accuracy to the baselines.

Mind the Gap: Understanding the Modality Gap in Multi-modal Contrastive Representation Learning

Victor Weixin Liang · Yuhui Zhang · Yongchan Kwon · Serena Yeung · James Zou

We present modality gap, an intriguing geometric phenomenon of the representation space of multi-modal models. Specifically, we show that different data modalities (e.g. images and text) are embedded at arm's length in their shared representation in multi-modal models such as CLIP. Our systematic analysis demonstrates that this gap is caused by a combination of model initialization and contrastive learning optimization. In model initialization, we show empirically and theoretically that the representation of a common deep neural network is restricted to a narrow cone. As a consequence, in a multi-modal model with two encoders, the representations of the two modalities are clearly apart when the model is initialized. During optimization, contrastive learning keeps the different modalities separate by a certain distance, which is influenced by the temperature parameter in the loss function. Our experiments further demonstrate that varying the modality gap distance has a significant impact in improving the model's downstream zero-shot classification performance and fairness.

Sequencer: Deep LSTM for Image Classification

Yuki Tatsunami · Masato Taki

In recent computer vision research, the advent of the Vision Transformer (ViT) has rapidly revolutionized various architectural design efforts: ViT achieved state-of-the-art image classification performance using self-attention found in natural language processing, and MLP-Mixer achieved competitive performance using simple multi-layer perceptrons. In contrast, several studies have also suggested that carefully redesigned convolutional neural networks (CNNs) can achieve advanced performance comparable to ViT without resorting to these new ideas. Against this background, there is growing interest in what inductive bias is suitable for computer vision. Here we propose Sequencer, a novel and competitive architecture alternative to ViT that provides a new perspective on these issues. Unlike ViTs, Sequencer models long-range dependencies using LSTMs rather than self-attention layers. We also propose a two-dimensional version of Sequencer module, where an LSTM is decomposed into vertical and horizontal LSTMs to enhance performance. Despite its simplicity, several experiments demonstrate that Sequencer performs impressively well: Sequencer2D-L, with 54M parameters, realizes 84.6% top-1 accuracy on only ImageNet-1K. Not only that, we show that it has good transferability and the robust resolution adaptability on double resolution-band. solution-band. Our source code is available at

Multimodal Contrastive Learning with LIMoE: the Language-Image Mixture of Experts

Basil Mustafa · Carlos Riquelme · Joan Puigcerver · Rodolphe Jenatton · Neil Houlsby

Large sparsely-activated models have obtained excellent performance in multiple domains.However, such models are typically trained on a single modality at a time.We present the Language-Image MoE, LIMoE, a sparse mixture of experts model capable of multimodal learning.LIMoE accepts both images and text simultaneously, while being trained using a contrastive loss.MoEs are a natural fit for a multimodal backbone, since expert layers can learn an appropriate partitioning of modalities.However, new challenges arise; in particular, training stability and balanced expert utilization, for which we propose an entropy-based regularization scheme.Across multiple scales, we demonstrate performance improvement over dense models of equivalent computational cost.LIMoE-L/16 trained comparably to CLIP-L/14 achieves 77.9% zero-shot ImageNet accuracy (vs. 76.2%), and when further scaled to H/14 (with additional data) it achieves 83.8%, approaching state-of-the-art methods which use custom per-modality backbones and pre-training schemes.We analyse the quantitative and qualitative behavior of LIMoE, and demonstrate phenomena such as differing treatment of the modalities and the emergence of modality-specific experts.

Sound and Complete Verification of Polynomial Networks

Elias Abad Rocamora · Mehmet Fatih Sahin · Fanghui Liu · Grigorios Chrysos · Volkan Cevher

Polynomial Networks (PNs) have demonstrated promising performance on face and image recognition recently. However, robustness of PNs is unclear and thus obtaining certificates becomes imperative for enabling their adoption in real-world applications. Existing verification algorithms on ReLU neural networks (NNs) based on classical branch and bound (BaB) techniques cannot be trivially applied to PN verification. In this work, we devise a new bounding method, equipped with BaB for global convergence guarantees, called Verification of Polynomial Networks or VPN for short. One key insight is that we obtain much tighter bounds than the interval bound propagation (IBP) and DeepT-Fast [Bonaert et al., 2021] baselines. This enables sound and complete PN verification with empirical validation on MNIST, CIFAR10 and STL10 datasets. We believe our method has its own interest to NN verification. The source code is publicly available at

DReS-FL: Dropout-Resilient Secure Federated Learning for Non-IID Clients via Secret Data Sharing

Jiawei Shao · Yuchang Sun · Songze Li · Jun Zhang

Federated learning (FL) strives to enable collaborative training of machine learning models without centrally collecting clients' private data. Different from centralized training, the local datasets across clients in FL are non-independent and identically distributed (non-IID). In addition, the data-owning clients may drop out of the training process arbitrarily. These characteristics will significantly degrade the training performance. This paper proposes a Dropout-Resilient Secure Federated Learning (DReS-FL) framework based on Lagrange coded computing (LCC) to tackle both the non-IID and dropout problems. The key idea is to utilize Lagrange coding to secretly share the private datasets among clients so that each client receives an encoded version of the global dataset, and the local gradient computation over this dataset is unbiased. To correctly decode the gradient at the server, the gradient function has to be a polynomial in a finite field, and thus we construct polynomial integer neural networks (PINNs) to enable our framework. Theoretical analysis shows that DReS-FL is resilient to client dropouts and provides privacy protection for the local datasets. Furthermore, we experimentally demonstrate that DReS-FL consistently leads to significant performance gains over baseline methods.

Generalized Laplacian Eigenmaps

Hao Zhu · Piotr Koniusz

Graph contrastive learning attracts/disperses node representations for similar/dissimilar node pairs under some notion of similarity. It may be combined with a low-dimensional embedding of nodes to preserve intrinsic and structural properties of a graph. COLES, a recent graph contrastive method combines traditional graph embedding and negative sampling into one framework. COLES in fact minimizes the trace difference between the within-class scatter matrix encapsulating the graph connectivity and the total scatter matrix encapsulating negative sampling. In this paper, we propose a more essential framework for graph embedding, called Generalized Laplacian EigeNmaps (GLEN), which learns a graph representation by maximizing the rank difference between the total scatter matrix and the within-class scatter matrix, resulting in the minimum class separation guarantee. However, the rank difference minimization is an NP-hard problem. Thus, we replace the trace difference that corresponds to the difference of nuclear norms by the difference of LogDet expressions, which we argue is a more accurate surrogate for the NP-hard rank difference than the trace difference. While enjoying a lesser computational cost, the difference of LogDet terms is lower-bounded by the Affine-invariant Riemannian metric (AIRM) and Jesen-Bregman the LogDet Divergence (JBLD), and upper-bounded by AIRM scaled by the factor of $\sqrt{m}$. We show that GLEN offers favourable accuracy/scalability compared to state-of-the-art baselines.

Statistical, Robustness, and Computational Guarantees for Sliced Wasserstein Distances

Sloan Nietert · Ziv Goldfeld · Ritwik Sadhu · Kengo Kato

Sliced Wasserstein distances preserve properties of classic Wasserstein distances while being more scalable for computation and estimation in high dimensions. The goal of this work is to quantify this scalability from three key aspects: (i) empirical convergence rates; (ii) robustness to data contamination; and (iii) efficient computational methods. For empirical convergence, we derive fast rates with explicit dependence of constants on dimension, subject to log-concavity of the population distributions. For robustness, we characterize minimax optimal, dimension-free robust estimation risks, and show an equivalence between robust sliced 1-Wasserstein estimation and robust mean estimation. This enables lifting statistical and algorithmic guarantees available for the latter to the sliced 1-Wasserstein setting. Moving on to computational aspects, we analyze the Monte Carlo estimator for the average-sliced distance, demonstrating that larger dimension can result in faster convergence of the numerical integration error. For the max-sliced distance, we focus on a subgradient-based local optimization algorithm that is frequently used in practice, albeit without formal guarantees, and establish an $O(\epsilon^{-4})$ computational complexity bound for it. Our theory is validated by numerical experiments, which altogether provide a comprehensive quantitative account of the scalability question.

Anchor-Changing Regularized Natural Policy Gradient for Multi-Objective Reinforcement Learning

Ruida Zhou · Tao Liu · Dileep Kalathil · P. R. Kumar · Chao Tian

We study policy optimization for Markov decision processes (MDPs) with multiple reward value functions, which are to be jointly optimized according to given criteria such as proportional fairness (smooth concave scalarization), hard constraints (constrained MDP), and max-min trade-off. We propose an Anchor-changing Regularized Natural Policy Gradient (ARNPG) framework, which can systematically incorporate ideas from well-performing first-order methods into the design of policy optimization algorithms for multi-objective MDP problems. Theoretically, the designed algorithms based on the ARNPG framework achieve $\tilde{O}(1/T)$ global convergence with exact gradients. Empirically, the ARNPG-guided algorithms also demonstrate superior performance compared to some existing policy gradient-based approaches in both exact gradients and sample-based scenarios.

RKHS-SHAP: Shapley Values for Kernel Methods

Siu Lun Chau · Robert Hu · Javier González · Dino Sejdinovic

Feature attribution for kernel methods is often heuristic and not individualised for each prediction. To address this, we turn to the concept of Shapley values (SV), a coalition game theoretical framework that has previously been applied to different machine learning model interpretation tasks, such as linear models, tree ensembles and deep networks. By analysing SVs from a functional perspective, we propose RKHS-SHAP, an attribution method for kernel machines that can efficiently compute both Interventional and Observational Shapley values using kernel mean embeddings of distributions. We show theoretically that our method is robust with respect to local perturbations - a key yet often overlooked desideratum for consistent model interpretation. Further, we propose Shapley regulariser, applicable to a general empirical risk minimisation framework, allowing learning while controlling the level of specific feature's contributions to the model. We demonstrate that the Shapley regulariser enables learning which is robust to covariate shift of a given feature and fair learning which controls the SVs of sensitive features.

Temporally-Consistent Survival Analysis

Lucas Maystre · Daniel Russo

We study survival analysis in the dynamic setting: We seek to model the time to an event of interest given sequences of states. Taking inspiration from temporal-difference learning, a central idea in reinforcement learning, we develop algorithms that estimate a discrete-time survival model by exploiting a temporal-consistency condition. Intuitively, this condition captures the fact that the survival distribution at consecutive states should be similar, accounting for the delay between states. Our method can be combined with any parametric survival model and naturally accommodates right-censored observations. We demonstrate empirically that it achieves better sample-efficiency and predictive performance compared to approaches that directly regress the observed survival outcome.

ULNeF: Untangled Layered Neural Fields for Mix-and-Match Virtual Try-On

Igor Santesteban · Miguel Otaduy · Nils Thuerey · Dan Casas

Recent advances in neural models have shown great results for virtual try-on (VTO) problems, where a 3D representation of a garment is deformed to fit a target body shape. However, current solutions are limited to a single garment layer, and cannot address the combinatorial complexity of mixing different garments. Motivated by this limitation, we investigate the use of neural fields for mix-and-match VTO, and identify and solve a fundamental challenge that existing neural-field methods cannot address: the interaction between layered neural fields. To this end, we propose a neural model that untangles layered neural fields to represent collision-free garment surfaces. The key ingredient is a neural untangling projection operator that works directly on the layered neural fields, not on explicit surface representations. Algorithms to resolve object-object interaction are inherently limited by the use of explicit geometric representations, and we show how methods that work directly on neural implicit representations could bring a change of paradigm and open the door to radically different approaches.

Diffusion-based Molecule Generation with Informative Prior Bridges

Lemeng Wu · Chengyue Gong · Xingchao Liu · Mao Ye · Qiang Liu

AI-based molecule generation provides a promising approach to a large area of biomedical sciences and engineering, such as antibody design, hydrolase engineering, or vaccine development. Because the molecules are governed by physical laws, a key challenge is to incorporate prior information into the training procedure to generate high-quality and realistic molecules. We propose a simple and novel approach to steer the training of diffusion-based generative models with physical and statistics prior information. This is achieved by constructing physically informed diffusion bridges, stochastic processes that guarantee to yield a given observation at the fixed terminal time. We develop a Lyapunov function based method to construct and determine bridges, and propose a number of proposals of informative prior bridges for both high-quality molecule generation and uniformity-promoted 3D point cloud generation. With comprehensive experiments, we show that our method provides a powerful approach to the 3D generation task, yielding molecule structures with better quality and stability scores and more uniformly distributed point clouds of high qualities.

Learning with convolution and pooling operations in kernel methods

Theodor Misiakiewicz · Song Mei

Recent empirical work has shown that hierarchical convolutional kernels inspired by convolutional neural networks (CNNs) significantly improve the performance of kernel methods in image classification tasks. A widely accepted explanation for their success is that these architectures encode hypothesis classes that are suitable for natural images. However, understanding the precise interplay between approximation and generalization in convolutional architectures remains a challenge. In this paper, we consider the stylized setting of covariates (image pixels) uniformly distributed on the hypercube, and characterize exactly the RKHS of kernels composed of single layers of convolution, pooling, and downsampling operations. We use this characterization to compute sharp asymptotics of the generalization error for any given function in high-dimension. In particular, we quantify the gain in sample complexity brought by enforcing locality with the convolution operation and approximate translation invariance with average pooling. Notably, these results provide a precise description of how convolution and pooling operations trade off approximation with generalization power in one layer convolutional kernels.

Optimizing Relevance Maps of Vision Transformers Improves Robustness

Hila Chefer · Idan Schwartz · Lior Wolf

It has been observed that visual classification models often rely mostly on spurious cues such as the image background, which hurts their robustness to distribution changes. To alleviate this shortcoming, we propose to monitor the model's relevancy signal and direct the model to base its prediction on the foreground object.This is done as a finetuning step, involving relatively few samples consisting of pairs of images and their associated foreground masks. Specifically, we encourage the model's relevancy map (i) to assign lower relevance to background regions, (ii) to consider as much information as possible from the foreground, and (iii) we encourage the decisions to have high confidence. When applied to Vision Transformer (ViT) models, a marked improvement in robustness to domain-shifts is observed. Moreover, the foreground masks can be obtained automatically, from a self-supervised variant of the ViT model itself; therefore no additional supervision is required. Our code is available at:

Unsupervised Causal Generative Understanding of Images

Titas Anciukevicius · Patrick Fox-Roberts · Edward Rosten · Paul Henderson

We present a novel framework for unsupervised object-centric 3D scene understanding that generalizes robustly to out-of-distribution images. To achieve this, we design a causal generative model reflecting the physical process by which an image is produced, when a camera captures a scene containing multiple objects. This model is trained to reconstruct multi-view images via a latent representation describing the shapes, colours and positions of the 3D objects they show. It explicitly represents object instances as separate neural radiance fields, placed into a 3D scene. We then propose an inference algorithm that can infer this latent representation given a single out-of-distribution image as input -- even when it shows an unseen combination of components, unseen spatial compositions or a radically new viewpoint. We conduct extensive experiments applying our approach to test datasets that have zero probability under the training distribution. These show that it accurately reconstructs a scene's geometry, segments objects and infers their positions, despite not receiving any supervision. Our approach significantly out-performs baselines that do not capture the true causal image generation process.

SelecMix: Debiased Learning by Contradicting-pair Sampling

Inwoo Hwang · Sangjun Lee · Yunhyeok Kwak · Seong Joon Oh · Damien Teney · Jin-Hwa Kim · Byoung-Tak Zhang

Neural networks trained with ERM (empirical risk minimization) sometimes learn unintended decision rules, in particular when their training data is biased, i.e., when training labels are strongly correlated with undesirable features. To prevent a network from learning such features, recent methods augment training data such that examples displaying spurious correlations (i.e., bias-aligned examples) become a minority, whereas the other, bias-conflicting examples become prevalent. However, these approaches are sometimes difficult to train and scale to real-world data because they rely on generative models or disentangled representations. We propose an alternative based on mixup, a popular augmentation that creates convex combinations of training examples. Our method, coined SelecMix, applies mixup to contradicting pairs of examples, defined as showing either (i) the same label but dissimilar biased features, or (ii) different labels but similar biased features. Identifying such pairs requires comparing examples with respect to unknown biased features. For this, we utilize an auxiliary contrastive model with the popular heuristic that biased features are learned preferentially during training. Experiments on standard benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of the method, in particular when label noise complicates the identification of bias-conflicting examples.

Controllable Text Generation with Neurally-Decomposed Oracle

Tao Meng · Sidi Lu · Nanyun Peng · Kai-Wei Chang

We propose a general and efficient framework to control auto-regressive generation models with NeurAlly-Decomposed Oracle (NADO). Given a pre-trained base language model and a sequence-level boolean oracle function, we aim to decompose the oracle function into token-level guidance to steer the base model in text generation. Specifically, the token-level guidance is provided by NADO, a neural model trained with examples sampled from the base model, demanding no additional auxiliary labeled data. Based on posterior regularization, we present the close-form optimal solution to incorporate the decomposed token-level guidance into the base model for controllable generation. We further discuss how the neural approximation affects the quality of the solution. These experiments conducted on two different applications: (1) text generation with lexical constraints and (2) machine translation with formality control demonstrate that our framework efficiently guides the base model towards the given oracle while keeping high generation quality.

Explain My Surprise: Learning Efficient Long-Term Memory by predicting uncertain outcomes

Artyom Sorokin · Nazar Buzun · Leonid Pugachev · Mikhail Burtsev

In many sequential tasks, a model needs to remember relevant events from the distant past to make correct predictions. Unfortunately, a straightforward application of gradient based training requires intermediate computations to be stored for every element of a sequence. This requires to store prohibitively large intermediate data if a sequence consists of thousands or even millions elements, and as a result, makes learning of very long-term dependencies infeasible. However, the majority of sequence elements can usually be predicted by taking into account only temporally local information. On the other hand, predictions affected by long-term dependencies are sparse and characterized by high uncertainty given only local information. We propose \texttt{MemUP}, a new training method that allows to learn long-term dependencies without backpropagating gradients through the whole sequence at a time. This method can potentially be applied to any recurrent architecture. LSTM network trained with \texttt{MemUP} performs better or comparable to baselines while requiring to store less intermediate data.

Rethinking Resolution in the Context of Efficient Video Recognition

Chuofan Ma · Qiushan Guo · Yi Jiang · Ping Luo · Zehuan Yuan · Xiaojuan Qi

In this paper, we empirically study how to make the most of low-resolution frames for efficient video recognition. Existing methods mainly focus on developing compact networks or alleviating temporal redundancy of video inputs to increase efficiency, whereas compressing frame resolution has rarely been considered a promising solution. A major concern is the poor recognition accuracy on low-resolution frames. We thus start by analyzing the underlying causes of performance degradation on low-resolution frames. Our key finding is that the major cause of degradation is not information loss in the down-sampling process, but rather the mismatch between network architecture and input scale. Motivated by the success of knowledge distillation (KD), we propose to bridge the gap between network and input size via cross-resolution KD (ResKD). Our work shows that ResKD is a simple but effective method to boost recognition accuracy on low-resolution frames. Without bells and whistles, ResKD considerably surpasses all competitive methods in terms of efficiency and accuracy on four large-scale benchmark datasets, i.e., ActivityNet, FCVID, Mini-Kinetics, Something-Something V2. In addition, we extensively demonstrate its effectiveness over state-of-the-art architectures, i.e., 3D-CNNs and Video Transformers, and scalability towards super low-resolution frames. The results suggest ResKD can serve as a general inference acceleration method for state-of-the-art video recognition. Our code will be available at

Unsupervised Visual Representation Learning via Mutual Information Regularized Assignment

Dong Hoon Lee · Sungik Choi · Hyunwoo Kim · Sae-Young Chung

This paper proposes Mutual Information Regularized Assignment (MIRA), a pseudo-labeling algorithm for unsupervised representation learning inspired by information maximization. We formulate online pseudo-labeling as an optimization problem to find pseudo-labels that maximize the mutual information between the label and data while being close to a given model probability. We derive a fixed-point iteration method and prove its convergence to the optimal solution. In contrast to baselines, MIRA combined with pseudo-label prediction enables a simple yet effective clustering-based representation learning without incorporating extra training techniques or artificial constraints such as sampling strategy, equipartition constraints, etc. With relatively small training epochs, representation learned by MIRA achieves state-of-the-art performance on various downstream tasks, including the linear/${\it k}$-NN evaluation and transfer learning. Especially, with only 400 epochs, our method applied to ImageNet dataset with ResNet-50 architecture achieves 75.6% linear evaluation accuracy.

Few-Shot Parameter-Efficient Fine-Tuning is Better and Cheaper than In-Context Learning

Haokun Liu · Derek Tam · Mohammed Muqeeth · Jay Mohta · Tenghao Huang · Mohit Bansal · Colin Raffel

Few-shot in-context learning (ICL) enables pre-trained language models to perform a previously-unseen task without any gradient-based training by feeding a small number of training examples as part of the input. ICL incurs substantial computational, memory, and storage costs because it involves processing all of the training examples every time a prediction is made. Parameter-efficient fine-tuning (PEFT) (e.g. adapter modules, prompt tuning, sparse update methods, etc.) offers an alternative paradigm where a small set of parameters are trained to enable a model to perform the new task. In this paper, we rigorously compare few-shot ICL and PEFT and demonstrate that the latter offers better accuracy as well as dramatically lower computational costs. Along the way, we introduce a new PEFT method called (IA)^3 that scales activations by learned vectors, attaining stronger performance while only introducing a relatively tiny amount of new parameters. We also propose a simple recipe based on the T0 model called T-Few that can be applied to new tasks without task-specific tuning or modifications. We validate the effectiveness of T-Few on completely unseen tasks by applying it to the RAFT benchmark, attaining super-human performance for the first time and outperforming the state-of-the-art by 6% absolute. All of the code used in our experiments will be publicly available.

Infinite-Fidelity Coregionalization for Physical Simulation

Shibo Li · Zheng Wang · Robert Kirby · Shandian Zhe

Multi-fidelity modeling and learning is important in physical simulation related applications. It can leverage both low-fidelity and high-fidelity examples for training so as to reduce the cost of data generation yet still achieving good performance. While existing approaches only model finite, discrete fidelities, in practice, the feasible fidelity choice is often infinite, which can correspond to a continuous mesh spacing or finite element length. In this paper, we propose Infinite Fidelity Coregionalization (IFC). Given the data, our method can extract and exploit rich information within infinite, continuous fidelities to bolster the prediction accuracy. Our model can interpolate and/or extrapolate the predictions to novel fidelities that are not covered by the training data. Specifically, we introduce a low-dimensional latent output as a continuous function of the fidelity and input, and multiple it with a basis matrix to predict high-dimensional solution outputs. We model the latent output as a neural Ordinary Differential Equation (ODE) to capture the complex relationships within and integrate information throughout the continuous fidelities. We then use Gaussian processes or another ODE to estimate the fidelity-varying bases. For efficient inference, we reorganize the bases as a tensor, and use a tensor-Gaussian variational posterior approximation to develop a scalable inference algorithm for massive outputs. We show the advantage of our method in several benchmark tasks in computational physics.

Transformers meet Stochastic Block Models: Attention with Data-Adaptive Sparsity and Cost

Sungjun Cho · Seonwoo Min · Jinwoo Kim · Moontae Lee · Honglak Lee · Seunghoon Hong

To overcome the quadratic cost of self-attention, recent works have proposed various sparse attention modules, most of which fall under one of two groups: 1) sparse attention under a hand-crafted patterns and 2) full attention followed by a sparse variant of softmax such as $\alpha$-entmax. Unfortunately, the first group lacks adaptability to data while the second still requires quadratic cost in training. In this work, we propose SBM-Transformer, a model that resolves both problems by endowing each attention head with a mixed-membership Stochastic Block Model (SBM). Then, each attention head data-adaptively samples a bipartite graph, the adjacency of which is used as an attention mask for each input. During backpropagation, a straight-through estimator is used to flow gradients beyond the discrete sampling step and adjust the probabilities of sampled edges based on the predictive loss. The forward and backward cost are thus linear to the number of edges, which each attention head can also choose flexibly based on the input. By assessing the distribution of graphs, we theoretically show that SBM-Transformer is a universal approximator for arbitrary sequence-to-sequence functions in expectation. Empirical evaluations under the LRA and GLUE benchmarks demonstrate that our model outperforms previous efficient variants as well as the original Transformer with full attention. Our implementation can be found in

Private Set Generation with Discriminative Information

Dingfan Chen · Raouf Kerkouche · Mario Fritz

Differentially private data generation techniques have become a promising solution to the data privacy challenge –– it enables sharing of data while complying with rigorous privacy guarantees, which is essential for scientific progress in sensitive domains. Unfortunately, restricted by the inherent complexity of modeling high-dimensional distributions, existing private generative models are struggling with the utility of synthetic samples. In contrast to existing works that aim at fitting the complete data distribution, we directly optimize for a small set of samples that are representative of the distribution, which is generally an easier task and more suitable for private training. Moreover, we exploit discriminative information from downstream tasks to further ease the training. Our work provides an alternative view for differentially private generation of high-dimensional data and introduces a simple yet effective method that greatly improves the sample utility of state-of-the-art approaches.

Private Synthetic Data for Multitask Learning and Marginal Queries

Giuseppe Vietri · Cedric Archambeau · Sergul Aydore · William Brown · Michael Kearns · Aaron Roth · Ankit Siva · Shuai Tang · Steven Wu

We provide a differentially private algorithm for producing synthetic data simultaneously useful for multiple tasks: marginal queries and multitask machine learning (ML). A key innovation in our algorithm is the ability to directly handle numerical features, in contrast to a number of related prior approaches which require numerical features to be first converted into {high cardinality} categorical features via {a binning strategy}. Higher binning granularity is required for better accuracy, but this negatively impacts scalability. Eliminating the need for binning allows us to produce synthetic data preserving large numbers of statistical queries such as marginals on numerical features, and class conditional linear threshold queries. Preserving the latter means that the fraction of points of each class label above a particular half-space is roughly the same in both the real and synthetic data. This is the property that is needed to train a linear classifier in a multitask setting. Our algorithm also allows us to produce high quality synthetic data for mixed marginal queries, that combine both categorical and numerical features. Our method consistently runs 2-5x faster than the best comparable techniques, and provides significant accuracy improvements in both marginal queries and linear prediction tasks for mixed-type datasets.

Deep Equilibrium Approaches to Diffusion Models

Ashwini Pokle · Zhengyang Geng · J. Zico Kolter

Diffusion-based generative models are extremely effective in generating high-quality images, with generated samples often surpassing the quality of those produced by other models under several metrics. One distinguishing feature of these models, however, is that they typically require long sampling chains in order to produce high-fidelity images. This presents a challenge not only from the lenses of sampling time, but also from the inherent difficulty in backpropagating through these chains in order to accomplish tasks such as model inversion, i.e., approximately finding latent states that generate known images. In this paper, we look at diffusion models through a different perspective, that of a (deep) equilibrium (DEQ) fixed point model. Specifically, we extend the recent denoising diffusion implicit model (DDIM), and model the entire sampling chain as a joint, multi-variate fixed point system. This setup provides an elegant unification of diffusion and equilibrium models, and shows benefits in 1) single-shot image sampling, as it replaces the fully-serial typical sampling process with a parallel one; and 2) model inversion, where we can leverage fast gradients in the DEQ setting to much more quickly find the noise that generates a given image. The approach is also orthogonal and thus complementary to other methods used to reduce the sampling time, or improve model inversion. We demonstrate our method's strong performance across several datasets, including CIFAR10, CelebA, and LSUN Bedroom and Churches.

A Reparametrization-Invariant Sharpness Measure Based on Information Geometry

Cheongjae Jang · Sungyoon Lee · Frank Park · Yung-Kyun Noh

It has been observed that the generalization performance of neural networks correlates with the sharpness of their loss landscape. Dinh et al. (2017) have observed that existing formulations of sharpness measures fail to be invariant with respect to scaling and reparametrization. While some scale-invariant measures have recently been proposed, reparametrization-invariant measures are still lacking. Moreover, they often do not provide any theoretical insights into generalization performance nor lead to practical use to improve the performance. Based on an information geometric analysis of the neural network parameter space, in this paper we propose a reparametrization-invariant sharpness measure that captures the change in loss with respect to changes in the probability distribution modeled by neural networks, rather than with respect to changes in the parameter values. We reveal some theoretical connections of our measure to generalization performance. In particular, experiments confirm that using our measure as a regularizer in neural network training significantly improves performance.

A Statistical Online Inference Approach in Averaged Stochastic Approximation

Chuhan Xie · Zhihua Zhang

In this paper we propose a general framework to perform statistical online inference in a class of constant step size stochastic approximation (SA) problems, including the well-known stochastic gradient descent (SGD) and Q-learning. Regarding a constant step size SA procedure as a time-homogeneous Markov chain, we establish a functional central limit theorem (FCLT) for it under weaker conditions, and then construct confidence intervals for parameters via random scaling. To leverage the FCLT results in the Markov chain setting, an alternative condition that is more applicable for SA problems is established. We conduct experiments to perform inference with both random scaling and other traditional inference methods, and finds that the former has a more accurate and robust performance.

Understanding Square Loss in Training Overparametrized Neural Network Classifiers

Tianyang Hu · Jun WANG · Wenjia Wang · Zhenguo Li

Deep learning has achieved many breakthroughs in modern classification tasks. Numerous architectures have been proposed for different data structures but when it comes to the loss function, the cross-entropy loss is the predominant choice. Recently, several alternative losses have seen revived interests for deep classifiers. In particular, empirical evidence seems to promote square loss but a theoretical justification is still lacking. In this work, we contribute to the theoretical understanding of square loss in classification by systematically investigating how it performs for overparametrized neural networks in the neural tangent kernel (NTK) regime. Interesting properties regarding the generalization error, robustness, and calibration error are revealed. We consider two cases, according to whether classes are separable or not. In the general non-separable case, fast convergence rate is established for both misclassification rate and calibration error. When classes are separable, the misclassification rate improves to be exponentially fast. Further, the resulting margin is proven to be lower bounded away from zero, providing theoretical guarantees for robustness. We expect our findings to hold beyond the NTK regime and translate to practical settings. To this end, we conduct extensive empirical studies on practical neural networks, demonstrating the effectiveness of square loss in both synthetic low-dimensional data and real image data. Comparing to cross-entropy, square loss has comparable generalization error but noticeable advantages in robustness and model calibration.

A Deep Reinforcement Learning Framework for Column Generation

Cheng Chi · Amine Aboussalah · Elias Khalil · Juyoung Wang · Zoha Sherkat-Masoumi

Column Generation (CG) is an iterative algorithm for solving linear programs (LPs) with an extremely large number of variables (columns). CG is the workhorse for tackling large-scale integer linear programs, which rely on CG to solve LP relaxations within a branch and bound algorithm. Two canonical applications are the Cutting Stock Problem (CSP) and Vehicle Routing Problem with Time Windows (VRPTW). In VRPTW, for example, each binary variable represents the decision to include or exclude a route, of which there are exponentially many; CG incrementally grows the subset of columns being used, ultimately converging to an optimal solution. We propose RLCG, the first Reinforcement Learning (RL) approach for CG. Unlike typical column selection rules which myopically select a column based on local information at each iteration, we treat CG as a sequential decision-making problem, as the column selected in an iteration affects subsequent iterations of the algorithm. This perspective lends itself to a Deep Reinforcement Learning approach that uses Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) to represent the variable-constraint structure in the LP of interest. We perform an extensive set of experiments using the publicly available BPPLIB benchmark for CSP and Solomon benchmark for VRPTW. RLCG converges faster and reduces the number of CG iterations by 22.4% for CSP and 40.9% for VRPTW on average compared to a commonly used greedy policy.

Monte Carlo Augmented Actor-Critic for Sparse Reward Deep Reinforcement Learning from Suboptimal Demonstrations

Albert Wilcox · Ashwin Balakrishna · Jules Dedieu · Wyame Benslimane · Daniel Brown · Ken Goldberg

Providing densely shaped reward functions for RL algorithms is often exceedingly challenging, motivating the development of RL algorithms that can learn from easier-to-specify sparse reward functions. This sparsity poses new exploration challenges. One common way to address this problem is using demonstrations to provide initial signal about regions of the state space with high rewards. However, prior RL from demonstrations algorithms introduce significant complexity and many hyperparameters, making them hard to implement and tune. We introduce Monte Carlo Actor-Critic (MCAC), a parameter free modification to standard actor-critic algorithms which initializes the replay buffer with demonstrations and computes a modified $Q$-value by taking the maximum of the standard temporal distance (TD) target and a Monte Carlo estimate of the reward-to-go. This encourages exploration in the neighborhood of high-performing trajectories by encouraging high $Q$-values in corresponding regions of the state space. Experiments across $5$ continuous control domains suggest that MCAC can be used to significantly increase learning efficiency across $6$ commonly used RL and RL-from-demonstrations algorithms. See for code and supplementary material.

Models Out of Line: A Fourier Lens on Distribution Shift Robustness

Sara Fridovich-Keil · Brian Bartoldson · James Diffenderfer · Bhavya Kailkhura · Timo Bremer

Improving the accuracy of deep neural networks on out-of-distribution (OOD) data is critical to an acceptance of deep learning in real world applications. It has been observed that accuracies on in-distribution (ID) versus OOD data follow a linear trend and models that outperform this baseline are exceptionally rare (and referred to as ``effectively robust”). Recently, some promising approaches have been developed to improve OOD robustness: model pruning, data augmentation, and ensembling or zero-shot evaluating large pretrained models. However, there still is no clear understanding of the conditions on OOD data and model properties that are required to observe effective robustness. We approach this issue by conducting a comprehensive empirical study of diverse approaches that are known to impact OOD robustness on a broad range of natural and synthetic distribution shifts of CIFAR-10 and ImageNet. In particular, we view the "effective robustness puzzle" through a Fourier lens and ask how spectral properties of both models and OOD data correlate with OOD robustness. We find this Fourier lens offers some insight into why certain robust models, particularly those from the CLIP family, achieve OOD robustness. However, our analysis also makes clear that no known metric is consistently the best explanation of OOD robustness. Thus, to aid future research into the OOD puzzle, we address the gap in publicly-available models with effective robustness by introducing a set of pretrained CIFAR-10 models---$RobustNets$---with varying levels of OOD robustness.

Pre-Trained Language Models for Interactive Decision-Making

Shuang Li · Xavier Puig · Chris Paxton · Yilun Du · Clinton Wang · Linxi Fan · Tao Chen · De-An Huang · Ekin Akyürek · Anima Anandkumar · Jacob Andreas · Igor Mordatch · Antonio Torralba · Yuke Zhu

Language model (LM) pre-training is useful in many language processing tasks. But can pre-trained LMs be further leveraged for more general machine learning problems? We propose an approach for using LMs to scaffold learning and generalization in general sequential decision-making problems. In this approach, goals and observations are represented as a sequence of embeddings, and a policy network initialized with a pre-trained LM predicts the next action. We demonstrate that this framework enables effective combinatorial generalization across different environments and supervisory modalities. We begin by assuming access to a set of expert demonstrations, and show that initializing policies with LMs and fine-tuning them via behavior cloning improves task completion rates by 43.6% in the VirtualHome environment. Next, we integrate an active data gathering procedure in which agents iteratively interact with the environment, relabel past "failed" experiences with new goals, and update their policies in a self-supervised loop. Active data gathering further improves combinatorial generalization, outperforming the best baseline by 25.1%. Finally, we explain these results by investigating three possible factors underlying the effectiveness of the LM-based policy. We find that sequential input representations (vs. fixed-dimensional feature vectors) and LM-based weight initialization are both important for generalization. Surprisingly, however, the format of the policy inputs encoding (e.g. as a natural language string vs. an arbitrary sequential encoding) has little influence. Together, these results suggest that language modeling induces representations that are useful for modeling not just language, but also goals and plans; these representations can aid learning and generalization even outside of language processing.

The Neural Testbed: Evaluating Joint Predictions

Ian Osband · Zheng Wen · Seyed Mohammad Asghari · Vikranth Dwaracherla · Xiuyuan Lu · MORTEZA IBRAHIMI · Dieterich Lawson · Botao Hao · Brendan O'Donoghue · Benjamin Van Roy

Predictive distributions quantify uncertainties ignored by point estimates. This paper introduces The Neural Testbed: an open source benchmark for controlled and principled evaluation of agents that generate such predictions. Crucially, the testbed assesses agents not only on the quality of their marginal predictions per input, but also on their joint predictions across many inputs. We evaluate a range of agents using a simple neural network data generating process.Our results indicate that some popular Bayesian deep learning agents do not fare well with joint predictions, even when they can produce accurate marginal predictions. We also show that the quality of joint predictions drives performance in downstream decision tasks. We find these results are robust across choice a wide range of generative models, and highlight the practical importance of joint predictions to the community.

Is a Modular Architecture Enough?

Sarthak Mittal · Yoshua Bengio · Guillaume Lajoie

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

A theory of weight distribution-constrained learning

Weishun Zhong · Ben Sorscher · Daniel Lee · Haim Sompolinsky

A central question in computational neuroscience is how structure determines function in neural networks. Recent large-scale connectomic studies have started to provide a wealth of structural information such as the distribution of excitatory/inhibitory cell and synapse types as well as the distribution of synaptic weights in the brains of different species. The emerging high-quality large structural datasets raise the question of what general functional principles can be gleaned from them. Motivated by this question, we developed a statistical mechanical theory of learning in neural networks that incorporates structural information as constraints. We derived an analytical solution for the memory capacity of the perceptron, a basic feedforward model of supervised learning, with constraint on the distribution of its weights. Interestingly, the theory predicts that the reduction in capacity due to the constrained weight-distribution is related to the Wasserstein distance between the cumulative distribution function of the constrained weights and that of the standard normal distribution. To test the theoretical predictions, we use optimal transport theory and information geometry to develop an SGD-based algorithm to find weights that simultaneously learn the input-output task and satisfy the distribution constraint. We show that training in our algorithm can be interpreted as geodesic flows in the Wasserstein space of probability distributions. Given a parameterized family of weight distributions, our theory predicts the shape of the distribution with optimal parameters. We apply our theory to map out the experimental parameter landscape for the estimated distribution of synaptic weights in mammalian cortex and show that our theory’s prediction for optimal distribution is close to the experimentally measured value. We further developed a statistical mechanical theory for teacher-student perceptron rule learning and ask for the best way for the student to incorporate prior knowledge of the rule (i.e., the teacher). Our theory shows that it is beneficial for the learner to adopt different prior weight distributions during learning, and shows that distribution-constrained learning outperforms unconstrained and sign-constrained learning. Our theory and algorithm provide novel strategies for incorporating prior knowledge about weights into learning, and reveal a powerful connection between structure and function in neural networks.

Fast Bayesian Estimation of Point Process Intensity as Function of Covariates

Hideaki Kim · Taichi Asami · Hiroyuki Toda

In this paper, we tackle the Bayesian estimation of point process intensity as a function of covariates. We propose a novel augmentation of permanental process called augmented permanental process, a doubly-stochastic point process that uses a Gaussian process on covariate space to describe the Bayesian a priori uncertainty present in the square root of intensity, and derive a fast Bayesian estimation algorithm that scales linearly with data size without relying on either domain discretization or Markov Chain Monte Carlo computation. The proposed algorithm is based on a non-trivial finding that the representer theorem, one of the most desirable mathematical property for machine learning problems, holds for the augmented permanental process, which provides us with many significant computational advantages. We evaluate our algorithm on synthetic and real-world data, and show that it outperforms state-of-the-art methods in terms of predictive accuracy while being substantially faster than a conventional Bayesian method.

PopArt: Efficient Sparse Regression and Experimental Design for Optimal Sparse Linear Bandits

Kyoungseok Jang · Chicheng Zhang · Kwang-Sung Jun

In sparse linear bandits, a learning agent sequentially selects an action from a fixed action set and receives reward feedback, and the reward function depends linearly on a few coordinates of the covariates of the actions. This has applications in many real-world sequential decision making problems. In this paper, we devise a simple, novel sparse linear estimation method called $\textrm{PopArt}$ that enjoys a tighter $\ell_1$ recovery guarantee compared to Lasso (Tibshirani, 1996). Our bound naturally motivates an experimental design criterion that is convex and thus computationally efficient to solve. Based on our novel estimator and design criterion, we derive sparse linear bandit algorithms that enjoy improved regret upper bounds upon the state of the art (Hao et al., 2020), especially in terms of the geometry of the given action set. Finally, we prove a matching lower bound for sparse linear bandits in the data-poor regime, which closes the gap between upper and lower bounds in prior work.

Parallel Tempering With a Variational Reference

Nikola Surjanovic · Saifuddin Syed · Alexandre Bouchard-Côté · Trevor Campbell

Sampling from complex target distributions is a challenging task fundamental to Bayesian inference. Parallel tempering (PT) addresses this problem by constructing a Markov chain on the expanded state space of a sequence of distributions interpolating between the posterior distribution and a fixed reference distribution, which is typically chosen to be the prior. However, in the typical case where the prior and posterior are nearly mutually singular, PT methods are computationally prohibitive. In this work we address this challenge by constructing a generalized annealing path connecting the posterior to an adaptively tuned variational reference. The reference distribution is tuned to minimize the forward (inclusive) KL divergence to the posterior distribution using a simple, gradient-free moment-matching procedure. We show that our adaptive procedure converges to the forward KL minimizer, and that the forward KL divergence serves as a good proxy to a previously developed measure of PT performance. We also show that in the large-data limit in typical Bayesian models, the proposed method improves in performance, while traditional PT deteriorates arbitrarily. Finally, we introduce PT with two references---one fixed, one variational---with a novel split annealing path that ensures stable variational reference adaptation. The paper concludes with experiments that demonstrate the large empirical gains achieved by our method in a wide range of realistic Bayesian inference scenarios.

Embrace the Gap: VAEs Perform Independent Mechanism Analysis

Patrik Reizinger · Luigi Gresele · Jack Brady · Julius von Kügelgen · Dominik Zietlow · Bernhard Schölkopf · Georg Martius · Wieland Brendel · Michel Besserve

Variational autoencoders (VAEs) are a popular framework for modeling complex data distributions; they can be efficiently trained via variational inference by maximizing the evidence lower bound (ELBO), at the expense of a gap to the exact (log-)marginal likelihood. While VAEs are commonly used for representation learning, it is unclear why ELBO maximization would yield useful representations, since unregularized maximum likelihood estimation cannot invert the data-generating process. Yet, VAEs often succeed at this task. We seek to elucidate this apparent paradox by studying nonlinear VAEs in the limit of near-deterministic decoders. We first prove that, in this regime, the optimal encoder approximately inverts the decoder---a commonly used but unproven conjecture---which we refer to as self-consistency. Leveraging self-consistency, we show that the ELBO converges to a regularized log-likelihood. This allows VAEs to perform what has recently been termed independent mechanism analysis (IMA): it adds an inductive bias towards decoders with column-orthogonal Jacobians, which helps recovering the true latent factors. The gap between ELBO and log-likelihood is therefore welcome, since it bears unanticipated benefits for nonlinear representation learning. In experiments on synthetic and image data, we show that VAEs uncover the true latent factors when the data generating process satisfies the IMA assumption.

Learning Deep Input-Output Stable Dynamics

Ryosuke Kojima · Yuji Okamoto

Learning stable dynamics from observed time-series data is an essential problem in robotics, physical modeling, and systems biology. Many of these dynamics are represented as an inputs-output system to communicate with the external environment. In this study, we focus on input-output stable systems, exhibiting robustness against unexpected stimuli and noise. We propose a method to learn nonlinear systems guaranteeing the input-output stability. Our proposed method utilizes the differentiable projection onto the space satisfying the Hamilton-Jacobi inequality to realize the input-output stability. The problem of finding this projection can be formulated as a quadratic constraint quadratic programming problem, and we derive the particular solution analytically. Also, we apply our method to a toy bistable model and the task of training a benchmark generated from a glucose-insulin simulator. The results show that the nonlinear system with neural networks by our method achieves the input-output stability, unlike naive neural networks. Our code is available at .

Towards Reliable Simulation-Based Inference with Balanced Neural Ratio Estimation

Arnaud Delaunoy · Joeri Hermans · François Rozet · Antoine Wehenkel · Gilles Louppe

Modern approaches for simulation-based inference build upon deep learning surrogates to enable approximate Bayesian inference with computer simulators. In practice, the estimated posteriors' computational faithfulness is, however, rarely guaranteed. For example, Hermans et al., 2021 have shown that current simulation-based inference algorithms can produce posteriors that are overconfident, hence risking false inferences. In this work, we introduce Balanced Neural Ratio Estimation (BNRE), a variation of the NRE algorithm designed to produce posterior approximations that tend to be more conservative, hence improving their reliability, while sharing the same Bayes optimal solution. We achieve this by enforcing a balancing condition that increases the quantified uncertainty in low simulation budget regimes while still converging to the exact posterior as the budget increases. We provide theoretical arguments showing that BNRE tends to produce posterior surrogates that are more conservative than NRE's. We evaluate BNRE on a wide variety of tasks and show that it produces conservative posterior surrogates on all tested benchmarks and simulation budgets. Finally, we emphasize that BNRE is straightforward to implement over NRE and does not introduce any computational overhead.

Hyperbolic Embedding Inference for Structured Multi-Label Prediction

Bo Xiong · Michael Cochez · Mojtaba Nayyeri · Steffen Staab

We consider a structured multi-label prediction problem where the labels are organized under implication and mutual exclusion constraints. A major concern is to produce predictions that are logically consistent with these constraints. To do so, we formulate this problem as an embedding inference problem where the constraints are imposed onto the embeddings of labels by geometric construction. Particularly, we consider a hyperbolic Poincaré ball model in which we encode labels as Poincaré hyperplanes that work as linear decision boundaries. The hyperplanes are interpreted as convex regions such that the logical relationships (implication and exclusion) are geometrically encoded using the insideness and disjointedness of these regions, respectively. We show theoretical groundings of the method for preserving logical relationships in the embedding space. Extensive experiments on 12 datasets show 1) significant improvements in mean average precision; 2) lower number of constraint violations; 3) an order of magnitude fewer dimensions than baselines.

Surprising Instabilities in Training Deep Networks and a Theoretical Analysis

Yuxin Sun · DONG LAO · Ganesh Sundaramoorthi · Anthony Yezzi

We empirically demonstrate numerical instabilities in training standard deep networks with SGD. Specifically, we show numerical error (on the order of the smallest floating point bit) induced from floating point arithmetic in training deep nets can be amplified significantly and result in significant test accuracy variance, comparable to the test accuracy variance due to stochasticity in SGD. We show how this is likely traced to instabilities of the optimization dynamics that are localized over iterations and regions of the weight tensor space. We do this by presenting a theoretical framework using numerical analysis of partial differential equations (PDE), and analyzing the gradient descent PDE of a one-layer convolutional neural network, which is sufficient to illustrate these instabilities. We show that it is stable only under certain conditions on the learning rate and weight decay. We reproduce the localized instabilities in the PDE for the one-layer network, which arise when the conditions are violated.

Object Representations as Fixed Points: Training Iterative Refinement Algorithms with Implicit Differentiation

Michael Chang · Tom Griffiths · Sergey Levine

Current work in object-centric learning has been motivated by developing learning algorithms that infer independent and symmetric entities from the perceptual input. This often requires the use iterative refinement procedures that break symmetries among equally plausible explanations for the data, but most prior works differentiate through the unrolled refinement process, which can make optimization exceptionally challenging. In this work, we observe that such iterative refinement methods can be made differentiable by means of the implicit function theorem, and develop an implicit differentiation approach that improves the stability and tractability of training such models by decoupling the forward and backward passes. This connection enables us to apply recent advances in optimizing implicit layers to not only improve the stability and optimization of the slot attention module in SLATE, a state-of-the-art method for learning entity representations, but do so with constant space and time complexity in backpropagation and only one additional line of code.

Boosting the Performance of Generic Deep Neural Network Frameworks with Log-supermodular CRFs

Hao Xiong · Yangxiao Lu · Nicholas Ruozzi

Historically, conditional random fields (CRFs) were popular tools in a variety of application areas from computer vision to natural language processing, but due to their higher computational cost and weaker practical performance, they have, in many situations, fallen out of favor and been replaced by end-to-end deep neural network (DNN) solutions. More recently, combined DNN-CRF approaches have been considered, but their speed and practical performance still falls short of the best performing pure DNN solutions. In this work, we present a generic combined approach in which a log-supermodular CRF acts as a regularizer to encourage similarity between outputs in a structured prediction task. We show that this combined approach is widely applicable, practical (it incurs only a moderate overhead on top of the base DNN solution) and, in some cases, it can rival carefully engineered pure DNN solutions for the same structured prediction task.

SnAKe: Bayesian Optimization with Pathwise Exploration

Jose Pablo Folch · Shiqiang Zhang · Robert Lee · Behrang Shafei · David Walz · Calvin Tsay · Mark van der Wilk · Ruth Misener

"Bayesian Optimization is a very effective tool for optimizing expensive black-box functions. Inspired by applications developing and characterizing reaction chemistry using droplet microfluidic reactors, we consider a novel setting where the expense of evaluating the function can increase significantly when making large input changes between iterations. We further assume we are working asynchronously, meaning we have to decide on new queries before we finish evaluating previous experiments. This paper investigates the problem and introduces 'Sequential Bayesian Optimization via Adaptive Connecting Samples' (SnAKe), which provides a solution by considering large batches of queries and preemptively building optimization paths that minimize input costs. We investigate some convergence properties and empirically show that the algorithm is able to achieve regret similar to classical Bayesian Optimization algorithms in both the synchronous and asynchronous settings, while reducing the input costs significantly. We show the method is robust to the choice of its single hyper-parameter and provide a parameter-free alternative."

On Measuring Excess Capacity in Neural Networks

Florian Graf · Sebastian Zeng · Bastian Rieck · Marc Niethammer · Roland Kwitt

We study the excess capacity of deep networks in the context of supervised classification. That is, given a capacity measure of the underlying hypothesis class - in our case, empirical Rademacher complexity - to what extent can we (a priori) constrain this class while retaining an empirical error on a par with the unconstrained regime? To assess excess capacity in modern architectures (such as residual networks), we extend and unify prior Rademacher complexity bounds to accommodate function composition and addition, as well as the structure of convolutions. The capacity-driving terms in our bounds are the Lipschitz constants of the layers and a (2,1) group norm distance to the initializations of the convolution weights. Experiments on benchmark datasets of varying task difficulty indicate that (1) there is a substantial amount of excess capacity per task, and (2) capacity can be kept at a surprisingly similar level across tasks. Overall, this suggests a notion of compressibility with respect to weight norms, complementary to classic compression via weight pruning. Source code is available at

Robust Reinforcement Learning using Offline Data

Kishan Panaganti · Zaiyan Xu · Dileep Kalathil · Mohammad Ghavamzadeh

The goal of robust reinforcement learning (RL) is to learn a policy that is robust against the uncertainty in model parameters. Parameter uncertainty commonly occurs in many real-world RL applications due to simulator modeling errors, changes in the real-world system dynamics over time, and adversarial disturbances. Robust RL is typically formulated as a max-min problem, where the objective is to learn the policy that maximizes the value against the worst possible models that lie in an uncertainty set. In this work, we propose a robust RL algorithm called Robust Fitted Q-Iteration (RFQI), which uses only an offline dataset to learn the optimal robust policy. Robust RL with offline data is significantly more challenging than its non-robust counterpart because of the minimization over all models present in the robust Bellman operator. This poses challenges in offline data collection, optimization over the models, and unbiased estimation. In this work, we propose a systematic approach to overcome these challenges, resulting in our RFQI algorithm. We prove that RFQI learns a near-optimal robust policy under standard assumptions and demonstrate its superior performance on standard benchmark problems.

Thinned random measures for sparse graphs with overlapping communities

Federica Zoe Ricci · Michele Guindani · Erik Sudderth

Network models for exchangeable arrays, including most stochastic block models, generate dense graphs with a limited ability to capture many characteristics of real-world social and biological networks. A class of models based on completely random measures like the generalized gamma process (GGP) have recently addressed some of these limitations. We propose a framework for thinning edges from realizations of GGP random graphs that models observed links via nodes' overall propensity to interact, as well as the similarity of node memberships within a large set of latent communities. Our formulation allows us to learn the number of communities from data, and enables efficient Monte Carlo methods that scale linearly with the number of observed edges, and thus (unlike dense block models) sub-quadratically with the number of entities or nodes. We compare to alternative models for both dense and sparse networks, and demonstrate effective recovery of latent community structure for real-world networks with thousands of nodes.

Value Function Decomposition for Iterative Design of Reinforcement Learning Agents

James MacGlashan · Evan Archer · Alisa Devlic · Takuma Seno · Craig Sherstan · Peter Wurman · Peter Stone

Designing reinforcement learning (RL) agents is typically a difficult process that requires numerous design iterations. Learning can fail for a multitude of reasons and standard RL methods provide too few tools to provide insight into the exact cause. In this paper, we show how to integrate \textit{value decomposition} into a broad class of actor-critic algorithms and use it to assist in the iterative agent-design process. Value decomposition separates a reward function into distinct components and learns value estimates for each. These value estimates provide insight into an agent's learning and decision-making process and enable new training methods to mitigate common problems. As a demonstration, we introduce SAC-D, a variant of soft actor-critic (SAC) adapted for value decomposition. SAC-D maintains similar performance to SAC, while learning a larger set of value predictions. We also introduce decomposition-based tools that exploit this information, including a new reward \textit{influence} metric, which measures each reward component's effect on agent decision-making. Using these tools, we provide several demonstrations of decomposition's use in identifying and addressing problems in the design of both environments and agents. Value decomposition is broadly applicable and easy to incorporate into existing algorithms and workflows, making it a powerful tool in an RL practitioner's toolbox.

The Privacy Onion Effect: Memorization is Relative

Nicholas Carlini · Matthew Jagielski · Chiyuan Zhang · Nicolas Papernot · Andreas Terzis · Florian Tramer

Machine learning models trained on private datasets have been shown to leak their private data. Recent work has found that the average data point is rarely leaked---it is often the outlier samples that are subject to memorization and, consequently, leakage. We demonstrate and analyze an Onion Effect of memorization: removing the "layer" of outlier points that are most vulnerable to a privacy attack exposes a new layer of previously-safe points to the same attack. We perform several experiments that are consistent with this hypothesis. For example, we show that for membership inference attacks, when the layer of easiest-to-attack examples is removed, another layer below becomes easy-to-attack. The existence of this effect has various consequences. For example, it suggests that proposals to defend against memorization without training with rigorous privacy guarantees are unlikely to be effective. Further, it suggests that privacy-enhancing technologies such as machine unlearning could actually harm the privacy of other users.

Evaluating Graph Generative Models with Contrastively Learned Features

Hamed Shirzad · Kaveh Hassani · Danica J. Sutherland

A wide range of models have been proposed for Graph Generative Models, necessitating effective methods to evaluate their quality. So far, most techniques use either traditional metrics based on subgraph counting, or the representations of randomly initialized Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). We propose using representations from constrastively trained GNNs, rather than random GNNs, and show this gives more reliable evaluation metrics. Neither traditional approaches nor GNN-based approaches dominate the other, however: we give examples of graphs that each approach is unable to distinguish. We demonstrate that Graph Substructure Networks (GSNs), which in a way combine both approaches, are better at distinguishing the distances between graph datasets.

Weakly supervised causal representation learning

Johann Brehmer · Pim de Haan · Phillip Lippe · Taco Cohen

Learning high-level causal representations together with a causal model from unstructured low-level data such as pixels is impossible from observational data alone. We prove under mild assumptions that this representation is however identifiable in a weakly supervised setting. This involves a dataset with paired samples before and after random, unknown interventions, but no further labels. We then introduce implicit latent causal models, variational autoencoders that represent causal variables and causal structure without having to optimize an explicit discrete graph structure. On simple image data, including a novel dataset of simulated robotic manipulation, we demonstrate that such models can reliably identify the causal structure and disentangle causal variables.

Kernel Memory Networks: A Unifying Framework for Memory Modeling

Georgios Iatropoulos · Johanni Brea · Wulfram Gerstner

We consider the problem of training a neural network to store a set of patterns with maximal noise robustness. A solution, in terms of optimal weights and state update rules, is derived by training each individual neuron to perform either kernel classification or interpolation with a minimum weight norm. By applying this method to feed-forward and recurrent networks, we derive optimal models, termed kernel memory networks, that include, as special cases, many of the hetero- and auto-associative memory models that have been proposed over the past years, such as modern Hopfield networks and Kanerva's sparse distributed memory. We modify Kanerva's model and demonstrate a simple way to design a kernel memory network that can store an exponential number of continuous-valued patterns with a finite basin of attraction. The framework of kernel memory networks offers a simple and intuitive way to understand the storage capacity of previous memory models, and allows for new biological interpretations in terms of dendritic non-linearities and synaptic cross-talk.

Wavelet Score-Based Generative Modeling

Florentin Guth · Simon Coste · Valentin De Bortoli · Stephane Mallat

Score-based generative models (SGMs) synthesize new data samples from Gaussian white noise by running a time-reversed Stochastic Differential Equation (SDE) whose drift coefficient depends on some probabilistic score. The discretization of such SDEs typically requires a large number of time steps and hence a high computational cost. This is because of ill-conditioning properties of the score that we analyze mathematically. Previous approaches have relied on multiscale generation to considerably accelerate SGMs. We explain how this acceleration results from an implicit factorization of the data distribution into a product of conditional probabilities of wavelet coefficients across scales. The resulting Wavelet Score-based Generative Model (WSGM) synthesizes wavelet coefficients with the same number of time steps at all scales, and its time complexity therefore grows linearly with the image size. This is proved mathematically for Gaussian distributions, and shown numerically for physical processes at phase transition and natural image datasets.

Monte Carlo Tree Descent for Black-Box Optimization

Yaoguang Zhai · Sicun Gao

The key to Black-Box Optimization is to efficiently search through input regions with potentially widely-varying numerical properties, to achieve low-regret descent and fast progress toward the optima. Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) methods have recently been introduced to improve Bayesian optimization by computing better partitioning of the search space that balances exploration and exploitation. Extending this promising framework, we study how to further integrate sample-based descent for faster optimization. We design novel ways of expanding Monte Carlo search trees, with new descent methods at vertices that incorporate stochastic search and Gaussian Processes. We propose the corresponding rules for balancing progress and uncertainty, branch selection, tree expansion, and backpropagation. The designed search process puts more emphasis on sampling for faster descent and uses localized Gaussian Processes as auxiliary metrics for both exploitation and exploration. We show empirically that the proposed algorithms can outperform state-of-the-art methods on many challenging benchmark problems.

Adaptive Sampling for Discovery

Ziping Xu · Eunjae Shim · Ambuj Tewari · Paul Zimmerman

In this paper, we study a sequential decision-making problem, called Adaptive Sampling for Discovery (ASD). Starting with a large unlabeled dataset, algorithms for ASD adaptively label the points with the goal to maximize the sum of responses.This problem has wide applications to real-world discovery problems, for example drug discovery with the help of machine learning models. ASD algorithms face the well-known exploration-exploitation dilemma. The algorithm needs to choose points that yield information to improve model estimates but it also needs to exploit the model. We rigorously formulate the problem and propose a general information-directed sampling (IDS) algorithm. We provide theoretical guarantees for the performance of IDS in linear, graph and low-rank models. The benefits of IDS are shown in both simulation experiments and real-data experiments for discovering chemical reaction conditions.

Data-IQ: Characterizing subgroups with heterogeneous outcomes in tabular data

Nabeel Seedat · Jonathan Crabbé · Ioana Bica · Mihaela van der Schaar

High model performance, on average, can hide that models may systematically underperform on subgroups of the data. We consider the tabular setting, which surfaces the unique issue of outcome heterogeneity - this is prevalent in areas such as healthcare, where patients with similar features can have different outcomes, thus making reliable predictions challenging. To tackle this, we propose Data-IQ, a framework to systematically stratify examples into subgroups with respect to their outcomes. We do this by analyzing the behavior of individual examples during training, based on their predictive confidence and, importantly, the aleatoric (data) uncertainty. Capturing the aleatoric uncertainty permits a principled characterization and then subsequent stratification of data examples into three distinct subgroups (Easy, Ambiguous, Hard). We experimentally demonstrate the benefits of Data-IQ on four real-world medical datasets. We show that Data-IQ's characterization of examples is most robust to variation across similarly performant (yet different models), compared to baselines. Since Data-IQ can be used with any ML model (including neural networks, gradient boosting etc.), this property ensures consistency of data characterization, while allowing flexible model selection. Taking this a step further, we demonstrate that the subgroups enable us to construct new approaches to both feature acquisition and dataset selection. Furthermore, we highlight how the subgroups can inform reliable model usage, noting the significant impact of the Ambiguous subgroup on model generalization.

Beyond Rewards: a Hierarchical Perspective on Offline Multiagent Behavioral Analysis

Shayegan Omidshafiei · Andrei Kapishnikov · Yannick Assogba · Lucas Dixon · Been Kim

Each year, expert-level performance is attained in increasingly-complex multiagent domains, where notable examples include Go, Poker, and StarCraft II. This rapid progression is accompanied by a commensurate need to better understand how such agents attain this performance, to enable their safe deployment, identify limitations, and reveal potential means of improving them. In this paper we take a step back from performance-focused multiagent learning, and instead turn our attention towards agent behavior analysis. We introduce a model-agnostic method for discovery of behavior clusters in multiagent domains, using variational inference to learn a hierarchy of behaviors at the joint and local agent levels. Our framework makes no assumption about agents' underlying learning algorithms, does not require access to their latent states or policies, and is trained using only offline observational data. We illustrate the effectiveness of our method for enabling the coupled understanding of behaviors at the joint and local agent level, detection of behavior changepoints throughout training, discovery of core behavioral concepts, demonstrate the approach's scalability to a high-dimensional multiagent MuJoCo control domain, and also illustrate that the approach can disentangle previously-trained policies in OpenAI's hide-and-seek domain.

Deep Hierarchical Planning from Pixels

Danijar Hafner · Kuang-Huei Lee · Ian Fischer · Pieter Abbeel

Intelligent agents need to select long sequences of actions to solve complex tasks. While humans easily break down tasks into subgoals and reach them through millions of muscle commands, current artificial intelligence is limited to tasks with horizons of a few hundred decisions, despite large compute budgets. Research on hierarchical reinforcement learning aims to overcome this limitation but has proven to be challenging, current methods rely on manually specified goal spaces or subtasks, and no general solution exists. We introduce Director, a practical method for learning hierarchical behaviors directly from pixels by planning inside the latent space of a learned world model. The high-level policy maximizes task and exploration rewards by selecting latent goals and the low-level policy learns to achieve the goals. Despite operating in latent space, the decisions are interpretable because the world model can decode goals into images for visualization. Director learns successful behaviors across a wide range of environments, including visual control, Atari games, and DMLab levels and outperforms exploration methods on tasks with very sparse rewards, including 3D maze traversal with a quadruped robot from an egocentric camera and proprioception, without access to the global position or top-down view used by prior work.

Private Multiparty Perception for Navigation

Hui Lu · Mia Chiquier · Carl Vondrick

We introduce a framework for navigating through cluttered environments by connecting multiple cameras together while simultanously preserving privacy. Occlusions and obstacles in large environments are often challenging situations for navigation agents because the environment is not fully observable from a single camera view. Given multiple camera views of an environment, our approach learns to produce a multiview scene representation that can only be used for navigation, provably preventing one party from inferring anything beyond the output task. On a new navigation dataset that we will publicly release, experiments show that private multiparty representations allow navigation through complex scenes and around obstacles while jointly preserving privacy. Our approach scales to an arbitrary number of camera viewpoints. We believe developing visual representations that preserve privacy is increasingly important for many applications such as navigation.

Mesoscopic modeling of hidden spiking neurons

Shuqi Wang · Valentin Schmutz · Guillaume Bellec · Wulfram Gerstner

Can we use spiking neural networks (SNN) as generative models of multi-neuronal recordings, while taking into account that most neurons are unobserved? Modeling the unobserved neurons with large pools of hidden spiking neurons leads to severely underconstrained problems that are hard to tackle with maximum likelihood estimation. In this work, we use coarse-graining and mean-field approximations to derive a bottom-up, neuronally-grounded latent variable model (neuLVM), where the activity of the unobserved neurons is reduced to a low-dimensional mesoscopic description. In contrast to previous latent variable models, neuLVM can be explicitly mapped to a recurrent, multi-population SNN, giving it a transparent biological interpretation. We show, on synthetic spike trains, that a few observed neurons are sufficient for neuLVM to perform efficient model inversion of large SNNs, in the sense that it can recover connectivity parameters, infer single-trial latent population activity, reproduce ongoing metastable dynamics, and generalize when subjected to perturbations mimicking optogenetic stimulation.

Toward a realistic model of speech processing in the brain with self-supervised learning

Juliette MILLET · Charlotte Caucheteux · pierre orhan · Yves Boubenec · Alexandre Gramfort · Ewan Dunbar · Christophe Pallier · Jean-Remi King

Several deep neural networks have recently been shown to generate activations similar to those of the brain in response to the same input. These algorithms, however, remain largely implausible: they require (1) extraordinarily large amounts of data, (2) unobtainable supervised labels, (3) textual rather than raw sensory input, and / or (4) implausibly large memory (e.g. thousands of contextual words). These elements highlight the need to identify algorithms that, under these limitations, would suffice to account for both behavioral and brain responses. Focusing on speech processing, we here hypothesize that self-supervised algorithms trained on the raw waveform constitute a promising candidate. Specifically, we compare a recent self-supervised model, wav2vec 2.0, to the brain activity of 412 English, French, and Mandarin individuals recorded with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), while they listened to approximately one hour of audio books. First, we show that this algorithm learns brain-like representations with as little as 600 hours of unlabelled speech -- a quantity comparable to what infants can be exposed to during language acquisition. Second, its functional hierarchy aligns with the cortical hierarchy of speech processing. Third, different training regimes reveal a functional specialization akin to the cortex: wav2vec 2.0 learns sound-generic, speech-specific and language-specific representations similar to those of the prefrontal and temporal cortices. Fourth, we confirm the similarity of this specialization with the behavior of 386 additional participants. These elements, resulting from the largest neuroimaging benchmark to date, show how self-supervised learning can account for a rich organization of speech processing in the brain, and thus delineate a path to identify the laws of language acquisition which shape the human brain.

Harmonizing the object recognition strategies of deep neural networks with humans

Thomas FEL · Ivan F Rodriguez Rodriguez · Drew Linsley · Thomas Serre

The many successes of deep neural networks (DNNs) over the past decade have largely been driven by computational scale rather than insights from biological intelligence. Here, we explore if these trends have also carried concomitant improvements in explaining the visual strategies humans rely on for object recognition. We do this by comparing two related but distinct properties of visual strategies in humans and DNNs: where they believe important visual features are in images and how they use those features to categorize objects. Across 84 different DNNs trained on ImageNet and three independent datasets measuring the where and the how of human visual strategies for object recognition on those images, we find a systematic trade-off between DNN categorization accuracy and alignment with human visual strategies for object recognition. \textit{State-of-the-art DNNs are progressively becoming less aligned with humans as their accuracy improves}. We rectify this growing issue with our neural harmonizer: a general-purpose training routine that both aligns DNN and human visual strategies and improves categorization accuracy. Our work represents the first demonstration that the scaling laws that are guiding the design of DNNs today have also produced worse models of human vision. We release our code and data at to help the field build more human-like DNNs.

Temporal Latent Bottleneck: Synthesis of Fast and Slow Processing Mechanisms in Sequence Learning

Aniket Didolkar · Kshitij Gupta · Anirudh Goyal · Nitesh Bharadwaj Gundavarapu · Alex Lamb · Nan Rosemary Ke · Yoshua Bengio

Recurrent neural networks have a strong inductive bias towards learning temporally compressed representations, as the entire history of a sequence is represented by a single vector. By contrast, Transformers have little inductive bias towards learning temporally compressed representations, as they allow for attention over all previously computed elements in a sequence. Having a more compressed representation of a sequence may be beneficial for generalization, as a high-level representation may be more easily re-used and re-purposed and will contain fewer irrelevant details. At the same time, excessive compression of representations comes at the cost of expressiveness. We propose a solution which divides computation into two streams. A slow stream that is recurrent in nature aims to learn a specialized and compressed representation, by forcing chunks of $K$ time steps into a single representation which is divided into multiple vectors. At the same time, a fast stream is parameterized as a Transformer to process chunks consisting of $K$ time-steps conditioned on the information in the slow-stream. In the proposed approach we hope to gain the expressiveness of the Transformer, while encouraging better compression and structuring of representations in the slow stream. We show the benefits of the proposed method in terms of improved sample efficiency and generalization performance as compared to various competitive baselines for visual perception and sequential decision making tasks.

Efficient Training of Low-Curvature Neural Networks

Suraj Srinivas · Kyle Matoba · Himabindu Lakkaraju · François Fleuret

Standard deep neural networks often have excess non-linearity, making them susceptible to issues such as low adversarial robustness and gradient instability. Common methods to address these downstream issues, such as adversarial training, are expensive and often sacrifice predictive accuracy. In this work, we address the core issue of excess non-linearity via curvature, and demonstrate low-curvature neural networks (LCNNs) that obtain drastically lower curvature than standard models while exhibiting similar predictive performance. This leads to improved robustness and stable gradients, at a fraction of the cost of standard adversarial training. To achieve this, we decompose overall model curvature in terms of curvatures and slopes of its constituent layers. To enable efficient curvature minimization of constituent layers, we introduce two novel architectural components: first, a non-linearity called centered-softplus that is a stable variant of the softplus non-linearity, and second, a Lipschitz-constrained batch normalization layer.Our experiments show that LCNNs have lower curvature, more stable gradients and increased off-the-shelf adversarial robustness when compared to standard neural networks, all without affecting predictive performance. Our approach is easy to use and can be readily incorporated into existing neural network architectures.

Consistent Sufficient Explanations and Minimal Local Rules for explaining the decision of any classifier or regressor

Salim I. Amoukou · Nicolas Brunel

To explain the decision of any regression and classification model, we extend the notion of probabilistic sufficient explanations (P-SE). For each instance, this approach selects the minimal subset of features that is sufficient to yield the same prediction with high probability, while removing other features. The crux of P-SE is to compute the conditional probability of maintaining the same prediction. Therefore, we introduce an accurate and fast estimator of this probability via random Forests for any data $(\boldsymbol{X}, Y)$ and show its efficiency through a theoretical analysis of its consistency. As a consequence, we extend the P-SE to regression problems. In addition, we deal with non-discrete features, without learning the distribution of $\boldsymbol{X}$ nor having the model for making predictions. Finally, we introduce local rule-based explanations for regression/classification based on the P-SE and compare our approaches w.r.t other explainable AI methods. These methods are available as a Python Package.

Social-Inverse: Inverse Decision-making of Social Contagion Management with Task Migrations

Guangmo Tong

Considering two decision-making tasks $A$ and $B$, each of which wishes to compute an effective decision $Y$ for a given query $X$, can we solve task $B$ by using query-decision pairs $(X, Y)$ of $A$ without knowing the latent decision-making model? Such problems, called inverse decision-making with task migrations, are of interest in that the complex and stochastic nature of real-world applications often prevents the agent from completely knowing the underlying system. In this paper, we introduce such a new problem with formal formulations and present a generic framework for addressing decision-making tasks in social contagion management. On the theory side, we present a generalization analysis for justifying the learning performance of our framework. In empirical studies, we perform a sanity check and compare the presented method with other possible learning-based and graph-based methods. We have acquired promising experimental results, confirming for the first time that it is possible to solve one decision-making task by using the solutions associated with another one.

Nonlinear Sufficient Dimension Reduction with a Stochastic Neural Network

SIQI LIANG · Yan Sun · Faming Liang

Sufficient dimension reduction is a powerful tool to extract core information hidden in the high-dimensional data and has potentially many important applications in machine learning tasks. However, the existing nonlinear sufficient dimension reduction methods often lack the scalability necessary for dealing with large-scale data. We propose a new type of stochastic neural network under a rigorous probabilistic framework and show that it can be used for sufficient dimension reduction for large-scale data. The proposed stochastic neural network is trained using an adaptive stochastic gradient Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm, whose convergence is rigorously studied in the paper as well. Through extensive experiments on real-world classification and regression problems, we show that the proposed method compares favorably with the existing state-of-the-art sufficient dimension reduction methods and is computationally more efficient for large-scale data.

Data-Driven Conditional Robust Optimization

Abhilash Reddy Chenreddy · Nymisha Bandi · Erick Delage

In this paper, we study a novel approach for data-driven decision-making under uncertainty in the presence of contextual information. Specifically, we solve this problem from a Conditional Robust Optimization (CRO) point of view. We propose an integrated framework that designs the conditional uncertainty set by jointly learning the partitions in the covariate data space and simultaneously constructing partition specific deep uncertainty sets for the random vector that perturbs the CRO problem. We also provide theoretical guarantees for the coverage of the uncertainty sets and value at risk performances obtained using the proposed CRO approach. Finally, we use the simulated and real world data to show the implementation of our approach and compare it against two non-contextual benchmark approaches to demonstrate the value of exploiting contextual information in robust optimization.

Subgame Solving in Adversarial Team Games

Brian Zhang · Luca Carminati · Federico Cacciamani · Gabriele Farina · Pierriccardo Olivieri · Nicola Gatti · Tuomas Sandholm

In adversarial team games, a team of players sequentially faces a team of adversaries. These games are the simplest setting with multiple players where cooperation and competition coexist, and it is known that the information asymmetry among the team members makes equilibrium approximation computationally hard. Although much effort has been spent designing scalable algorithms, the problem of solving large game instances is open. In this paper, we extend the successful approach of solving huge two-player zero-sum games, where a blueprint strategy is computed offline by using an abstract version of the game and then it is refined online, that is, during a playthrough. In particular, to the best of our knowledge, our paper provides the first method for online strategy refinement via subgame solving in adversarial team games. Our method, based on the team belief DAG, generates a gadget game and then refine the blueprint strategy by using column-generation approaches in anytime fashion. If the blueprint is sparse, then our whole algorithm runs end-to-end in polynomial time given a best-response oracle; in particular, it avoids expanding the whole team belief DAG, which has exponential worst-case size. We apply our method to a standard test suite, and we empirically show the performance improvement of the strategies thanks to subgame solving.

Nearly Optimal Algorithms for Linear Contextual Bandits with Adversarial Corruptions

Jiafan He · Dongruo Zhou · Tong Zhang · Quanquan Gu

We study the linear contextual bandit problem in the presence of adversarial corruption, where the reward at each round is corrupted by an adversary, and the corruption level (i.e., the sum of corruption magnitudes over the horizon) is $C\geq 0$. The best-known algorithms in this setting are limited in that they either are computationally inefficient or require a strong assumption on the corruption, or their regret is at least $C$ times worse than the regret without corruption. In this paper, to overcome these limitations, we propose a new algorithm based on the principle of optimism in the face of uncertainty. At the core of our algorithm is a weighted ridge regression where the weight of each chosen action depends on its confidence up to some threshold. We show that for both known $C$ and unknown $C$ cases, our algorithm with proper choice of hyperparameter achieves a regret that nearly matches the lower bounds. Thus, our algorithm is nearly optimal up to logarithmic factors for both cases. Notably, our algorithm achieves the near-optimal regret for both corrupted and uncorrupted cases ($C=0$) simultaneously.

Universal Rates for Interactive Learning

Steve Hanneke · Amin Karbasi · Shay Moran · Grigoris Velegkas

Consider the task of learning an unknown concept from a given concept class; to what extent does interacting with a domain expert accelerate the learning process? It is common to measure the effectiveness of learning algorithms by plotting the "learning curve", that is, the decay of the error rate as a function of the algorithm's resources (examples, queries, etc). Thus, the overarching question in this work is whether (and which kind of) interaction accelerates the learning curve. Previous work in interactive learning focused on uniform bounds on the learning rates which only capture the upper envelope of the learning curves over families of data distributions. We thus formalize our overarching question within the distribution dependent framework of universal learning, which aims to understand the performance of learning algorithms on every data distribution, but without requiring a single upper bound which applies uniformly to all distributions. Our main result reveals a fundamental trichotomy of interactive learning rates, thus providing a complete characterization of universal interactive learning. As a corollary we deduce a strong affirmative answer to our overarching question, showing that interaction is beneficial. Remarkably, we show that in important cases such benefits are realized with label queries, that is, by active learning algorithms. On the other hand, our lower bounds apply to arbitrary binary queries and, hence, they hold in any interactive learning setting.

Understanding the Generalization Benefit of Normalization Layers: Sharpness Reduction

Kaifeng Lyu · Zhiyuan Li · Sanjeev Arora

Normalization layers (e.g., Batch Normalization, Layer Normalization) were introduced to help with optimization difficulties in very deep nets, but they clearly also help generalization, even in not-so-deep nets. Motivated by the long-held belief that flatter minima lead to better generalization, this paper gives mathematical analysis and supporting experiments suggesting that normalization (together with accompanying weight-decay) encourages GD to reduce the sharpness of loss surface. Here ``sharpness'' is carefully defined given that the loss is scale-invariant, a known consequence of normalization. Specifically, for a fairly broad class of neural nets with normalization, our theory explains how GD with a finite learning rate enters the so-called Edge of Stability (EoS) regime, and characterizes the trajectory of GD in this regime via a continuous sharpness-reduction flow.

Learning from Label Proportions by Learning with Label Noise

Jianxin Zhang · Yutong Wang · Clay Scott

Learning from label proportions (LLP) is a weakly supervised classification problem where data points are grouped into bags, and the label proportions within each bag are observed instead of the instance-level labels. The task is to learn a classifier to predict the labels of future individual instances. Prior work on LLP for multi-class data has yet to develop a theoretically grounded algorithm. In this work, we propose an approach to LLP based on a reduction to learning with label noise, using the forward correction (FC) loss of \textcite{Patrini2017MakingDN}. We establish an excess risk bound and generalization error analysis for our approach, while also extending the theory of the FC loss which may be of independent interest. Our approach demonstrates improved empirical performance in deep learning scenarios across multiple datasets and architectures, compared to the leading methods.

Efficient Methods for Non-stationary Online Learning

Peng Zhao · Yan-Feng Xie · Lijun Zhang · Zhi-Hua Zhou

Non-stationary online learning has drawn much attention in recent years. In particular, \emph{dynamic regret} and \emph{adaptive regret} are proposed as two principled performance measures for online convex optimization in non-stationary environments. To optimize them, a two-layer online ensemble is usually deployed due to the inherent uncertainty of the non-stationarity, in which a group of base-learners are maintained and a meta-algorithm is employed to track the best one on the fly. However, the two-layer structure raises the concern about the computational complexity--those methods typically maintain $O(\log T)$ base-learners simultaneously for a $T$-round online game and thus perform multiple projections onto the feasible domain per round, which becomes the computational bottleneck when the domain is complicated. In this paper, we present efficient methods for optimizing dynamic regret and adaptive regret, which reduce the number of projections per round from $O(\log T)$ to $1$. Moreover, our obtained algorithms require only one gradient query and one function evaluation at each round. Our technique hinges on the reduction mechanism developed in parameter-free online learning and requires non-trivial twists on non-stationary online methods. Empirical studies verify our theoretical findings.

Black-Box Generalization: Stability of Zeroth-Order Learning

Konstantinos Nikolakakis · Farzin Haddadpour · Dionysis Kalogerias · Amin Karbasi

We provide the first generalization error analysis for black-box learning through derivative-free optimization. Under the assumption of a Lipschitz and smooth unknown loss, we consider the Zeroth-order Stochastic Search (ZoSS) algorithm, that updates a $d$-dimensional model by replacing stochastic gradient directions with stochastic differences of $K+1$ perturbed loss evaluations per dataset (example) query. For both unbounded and bounded possibly nonconvex losses, we present the first generalization bounds for the ZoSS algorithm. These bounds coincide with those for SGD, and they are independent of $d$, $K$ and the batch size $m$, under appropriate choices of a slightly decreased learning rate. For bounded nonconvex losses and a batch size $m=1$, we additionally show that both generalization error and learning rate are independent of $d$ and $K$, and remain essentially the same as for the SGD, even for two function evaluations. Our results extensively extend and consistently recover established results for SGD in prior work, on both generalization bounds and corresponding learning rates. If additionally $m=n$, where $n$ is the dataset size, we recover generalization guarantees for full-batch GD as well.

Provably Efficient Offline Multi-agent Reinforcement Learning via Strategy-wise Bonus

Qiwen Cui · Simon Du

This paper considers offline multi-agent reinforcement learning. We propose the strategy-wise concentration principle which directly builds a confidence interval for the joint strategy, in contrast to the point-wise concentration principle which builds a confidence interval for each point in the joint action space. For two-player zero-sum Markov games, by exploiting the convexity of the strategy-wise bonus, we propose a computationally efficient algorithm whose sample complexity enjoys a better dependency on the number of actions than the prior methods based on the point-wise bonus. Furthermore, for offline multi-agent general-sum Markov games, based on the strategy-wise bonus and a novel surrogate function, we give the first algorithm whose sample complexity only scales $\sum_{i=1}^m A_i$ where $A_i$ is the action size of the $i$-th player and $m$ is the number of players. In sharp contrast, the sample complexity of methods based on the point-wise bonus would scale with the size of the joint action space $\Pi_{i=1}^m A_i$ due to the curse of multiagents. Lastly, all of our algorithms can naturally take a pre-specified strategy class $\Pi$ as input and output a strategy that is close to the best strategy in $\Pi$. In this setting, the sample complexity only scales with $\log |\Pi|$ instead of $\sum_{i=1}^m A_i$.

Minimax-Optimal Multi-Agent RL in Markov Games With a Generative Model

Gen Li · Yuejie Chi · Yuting Wei · Yuxin Chen

This paper studies multi-agent reinforcement learning in Markov games, with the goal of learning Nash equilibria or coarse correlated equilibria (CCE) sample-optimally. All prior results suffer from at least one of the two obstacles: the curse of multiple agents and the barrier of long horizon, regardless of the sampling protocol in use. We take a step towards settling this problem, assuming access to a flexible sampling mechanism: the generative model. Focusing on non-stationary finite-horizon Markov games, we develop a fast learning algorithm called Q-FTRL and an adaptive sampling scheme that leverage the optimism principle in online adversarial learning (particularly the Follow-the-Regularized-Leader (FTRL) method). Our algorithm learns an $\varepsilon$-approximate CCE in a general-sum Markov game using $$ \widetilde{O}\bigg( \frac{H^4 S \sum_{i=1}^m A_i}{\varepsilon^2} \bigg) $$ samples, where $m$ is the number of players, $S$ indicates the number of states, $H$ is the horizon, and $A_i$ denotes the number of actions for the $i$-th player. This is minimax-optimal (up to log factor) when $m$ is fixed. When applied to two-player zero-sum Markov games, our algorithm provably finds an $\varepsilon$-approximate Nash equilibrium with a minimal number of samples. Along the way, we derive a refined regret bound for FTRL that makes explicit the role of variance-type quantities, which might be of independent interest.

Decentralized Gossip-Based Stochastic Bilevel Optimization over Communication Networks

Shuoguang Yang · Xuezhou Zhang · Mengdi Wang

Bilevel optimization have gained growing interests, with numerous applications found in meta learning, minimax games, reinforcement learning, and nested composition optimization. This paper studies the problem of decentralized distributed bilevel optimization over a network where agents can only communicate with neighbors, and gives examples from multi-task, multi-agent learning and federated learning.In this paper, we propose a gossip-based distributed bilevel learning algorithm that allows networked agents to solve both the inner and outer optimization problems in a single timescale and share information through network propagation. We show that our algorithm enjoys the $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{K \epsilon^2})$ per-agent sample complexity for general nonconvex bilevel optimization and $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{K \epsilon})$ for Polyak-Łojasiewicz objective, achieving a speedup that scales linearly with the network size $K$. The sample complexities are optimal in both $\epsilon$ and $K$.We test our algorithm on the examples of hyperparameter tuning and decentralized reinforcement learning. Simulated experiments confirmed that our algorithm achieves the state-of-the-art training efficiency and test accuracy.

VaiPhy: a Variational Inference Based Algorithm for Phylogeny

Hazal Koptagel · Oskar Kviman · Harald Melin · Negar Safinianaini · Jens Lagergren

Phylogenetics is a classical methodology in computational biology that today has become highly relevant for medical investigation of single-cell data, e.g., in the context of development of cancer. The exponential size of the tree space is unfortunately a formidable obstacle for current Bayesian phylogenetic inference using Markov chain Monte Carlo based methods since these rely on local operations. And although more recent variational inference (VI) based methods offer speed improvements, they rely on expensive auto-differentiation operations for learning the variational parameters. We propose VaiPhy, a remarkably fast VI based algorithm for approximate posterior inference in an \textit{augmented tree space}. VaiPhy produces marginal log-likelihood estimates on par with the state-of-the-art methods on real data, and is considerably faster since it does not require auto-differentiation. Instead, VaiPhy combines coordinate ascent update equations with two novel sampling schemes: (i) \textit{SLANTIS}, a proposal distribution for tree topologies in the augmented tree space, and (ii) the \textit{JC sampler}, the, to the best of our knowledge, first ever scheme for sampling branch lengths directly from the popular Jukes-Cantor model. We compare VaiPhy in terms of density estimation and runtime. Additionally, we evaluate the reproducibility of the baselines. We provide our code on GitHub: \url{}.

Local-Global MCMC kernels: the best of both worlds

Sergey Samsonov · Evgeny Lagutin · Marylou Gabrié · Alain Durmus · Alexey Naumov · Eric Moulines

Recent works leveraging learning to enhance sampling have shown promising results, in particular by designing effective non-local moves and global proposals. However, learning accuracy is inevitably limited in regions where little data is available such as in the tails of distributions as well as in high-dimensional problems. In the present paper we study an Explore-Exploit Markov chain Monte Carlo strategy ($\operatorname{Ex^2MCMC}$) that combines local and global samplers showing that it enjoys the advantages of both approaches. We prove $V$-uniform geometric ergodicity of $\operatorname{Ex^2MCMC}$ without requiring a uniform adaptation of the global sampler to the target distribution. We also compute explicit bounds on the mixing rate of the Explore-Exploit strategy under realistic conditions. Moreover, we propose an adaptive version of the strategy ($\operatorname{FlEx^2MCMC}$) where a normalizing flow is trained while sampling to serve as a proposal for global moves. We illustrate the efficiency of $\operatorname{Ex^2MCMC}$ and its adaptive version on classical sampling benchmarks as well as in sampling high-dimensional distributions defined by Generative Adversarial Networks seen as Energy Based Models.

Posterior Matching for Arbitrary Conditioning

Ryan Strauss · Junier B Oliva

Arbitrary conditioning is an important problem in unsupervised learning, where we seek to model the conditional densities $p(\mathbf{x}_u \mid \mathbf{x}_o)$ that underly some data, for all possible non-intersecting subsets $o, u \subset \{1, \dots , d\}$. However, the vast majority of density estimation only focuses on modeling the joint distribution $p(\mathbf{x})$, in which important conditional dependencies between features are opaque. We propose a simple and general framework, coined Posterior Matching, that enables Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) to perform arbitrary conditioning, without modification to the VAE itself. Posterior Matching applies to the numerous existing VAE-based approaches to joint density estimation, thereby circumventing the specialized models required by previous approaches to arbitrary conditioning. We find that Posterior Matching is comparable or superior to current state-of-the-art methods for a variety of tasks with an assortment of VAEs (e.g.~discrete, hierarchical, VaDE).

FiLM: Frequency improved Legendre Memory Model for Long-term Time Series Forecasting

Tian Zhou · Ziqing MA · xue wang · Qingsong Wen · Liang Sun · Tao Yao · Wotao Yin · Rong Jin

Recent studies have shown that deep learning models such as RNNs and Transformers have brought significant performance gains for long-term forecasting of time series because they effectively utilize historical information. We found, however, that there is still great room for improvement in how to preserve historical information in neural networks while avoiding overfitting to noise present in the history. Addressing this allows better utilization of the capabilities of deep learning models. To this end, we design a Frequency improved Legendre Memory model, or FiLM: it applies Legendre polynomial projections to approximate historical information, uses Fourier projection to remove noise, and adds a low-rank approximation to speed up computation. Our empirical studies show that the proposed FiLM significantly improves the accuracy of state-of-the-art models in multivariate and univariate long-term forecasting by (19.2%, 22.6%), respectively. We also demonstrate that the representation module developed in this work can be used as a general plugin to improve the long-term prediction performance of other deep learning modules. Code is available at

LiteTransformerSearch: Training-free Neural Architecture Search for Efficient Language Models

Mojan Javaheripi · Gustavo de Rosa · Subhabrata Mukherjee · Shital Shah · Tomasz Religa · Caio Cesar Teodoro Mendes · Sebastien Bubeck · Farinaz Koushanfar · Debadeepta Dey

The Transformer architecture is ubiquitously used as the building block of largescale autoregressive language models. However, finding architectures with the optimal trade-off between task performance (perplexity) and hardware constraints like peak memory utilization and latency is non-trivial. This is exacerbated by the proliferation of various hardware. We leverage the somewhat surprising empirical observation that the number of decoder parameters in autoregressive Transformers has a high rank correlation with task performance, irrespective of the architecture topology. This observation organically induces a simple Neural Architecture Search (NAS) algorithm that uses decoder parameters as a proxy for perplexity without need for any model training. The search phase of our training-free algorithm, dubbed Lightweight Transformer Search (LTS), can be run directly on target devices since it does not require GPUs. Using on-target device measurements, LTS extracts the Pareto-frontier of perplexity versus any hardware performance cost. We evaluate LTS on diverse devices from ARM CPUs to NVIDIA GPUs and two popular autoregressive Transformer backbones: GPT-2 and Transformer-XL. Results show that the perplexity of 16-layer GPT-2 and Transformer-XL can be achieved with up to 1.5×, 2.5× faster runtime and 1.2×, 2.0× lower peak memory utilization. When evaluated in zero and one-shot settings, LTS Pareto-frontier models achieve higher average accuracy compared to the 350M parameter OPT across 14 tasks, with up to 1.6× lower latency. LTS extracts the Pareto-frontier in under 3 hours while running on a commodity laptop. We effectively remove the carbon footprint of hundreds of GPU hours of training during search, offering a strong simple baseline for future NAS methods in autoregressive language modeling.

Rare Gems: Finding Lottery Tickets at Initialization

Kartik Sreenivasan · Jy-yong Sohn · Liu Yang · Matthew Grinde · Alliot Nagle · Hongyi Wang · Eric Xing · Kangwook Lee · Dimitris Papailiopoulos

Large neural networks can be pruned to a small fraction of their original size, with little loss in accuracy, by following a time-consuming "train, prune, re-train" approach. Frankle & Carbin conjecture that we can avoid this by training lottery tickets, i.e., special sparse subnetworks found at initialization, that can be trained to high accuracy. However, a subsequent line of work presents concrete evidence that current algorithms for finding trainable networks at initialization, fail simple baseline comparisons, e.g., against training random sparse subnetworks. Finding lottery tickets that train to better accuracy compared to simple baselines remains an open problem. In this work, we resolve this open problem by proposing Gem-Miner which finds lottery tickets at initialization that beat current baselines. Gem-Miner finds lottery tickets trainable to accuracy competitive or better than Iterative Magnitude Pruning (IMP), and does so up to $19\times$ faster.

Rethinking the compositionality of point clouds through regularization in the hyperbolic space

Antonio Montanaro · Diego Valsesia · Enrico Magli

Point clouds of 3D objects exhibit an inherent compositional nature where simple parts can be assembled into progressively more complex shapes to form whole objects. Explicitly capturing such part-whole hierarchy is a long-sought objective in order to build effective models, but its tree-like nature has made the task elusive. In this paper, we propose to embed the features of a point cloud classifier into the hyperbolic space and explicitly regularize the space to account for the part-whole hierarchy. The hyperbolic space is the only space that can successfully embed the tree-like nature of the hierarchy. This leads to substantial improvements in the performance of state-of-art supervised models for point cloud classification.

QC-StyleGAN - Quality Controllable Image Generation and Manipulation

Dat Viet Thanh Nguyen · Phong Tran The · Tan M. Dinh · Cuong Pham · Anh Tran

The introduction of high-quality image generation models, particularly the StyleGAN family, provides a powerful tool to synthesize and manipulate images. However, existing models are built upon high-quality (HQ) data as desired outputs, making them unfit for in-the-wild low-quality (LQ) images, which are common inputs for manipulation. In this work, we bridge this gap by proposing a novel GAN structure that allows for generating images with controllable quality. The network can synthesize various image degradation and restore the sharp image via a quality control code. Our proposed QC-StyleGAN can directly edit LQ images without altering their quality by applying GAN inversion and manipulation techniques. It also provides for free an image restoration solution that can handle various degradations, including noise, blur, compression artifacts, and their mixtures. Finally, we demonstrate numerous other applications such as image degradation synthesis, transfer, and interpolation.

Look Around and Refer: 2D Synthetic Semantics Knowledge Distillation for 3D Visual Grounding

Eslam Bakr · Yasmeen Alsaedy · Mohamed Elhoseiny

3D visual grounding task has been explored with visual and language streams to comprehend referential language for identifying targeted objects in 3D scenes.However, most existing methods devote the visual stream to capture the 3D visual clues using off-the-shelf point clouds encoders. The main question we address is “can we consolidate the 3D visual stream by 2D clues and efficiently utilize them in both training and testing phases?”. The main idea is to assist the 3D encoder by incorporating rich 2D object representations without requiring extra 2D inputs. To this end, we leverage 2D clues, synthetically generated from 3D point clouds, that empirically show their aptitude to boost the quality of the learned visual representations. We validate our approach through comprehensive experiments on Nr3D, Sr3D, and ScanRefer datasets. Our experiments show consistent performance gains against counterparts, where our proposed module, dubbed as LAR, significantly outperforms state-of-the-art 3D visual grounding techniques on three benchmarks.Our code will be made publicly available.

Fine-Grained Semantically Aligned Vision-Language Pre-Training

Juncheng Li · XIN HE · Longhui Wei · Long Qian · Linchao Zhu · Lingxi Xie · Yueting Zhuang · Qi Tian · Siliang Tang

Large-scale vision-language pre-training has shown impressive advances in a wide range of downstream tasks. Existing methods mainly model the cross-modal alignment by the similarity of the global representations of images and text, or advanced cross-modal attention upon image and text features. However, they fail to explicitly learn the fine-grained semantic alignment between visual regions and textual phrases, as only global image-text alignment information is available. In this paper, we introduce LOUPE, a fine-grained semantically aLigned visiOn-langUage PrE-training framework, which learns fine-grained semantic alignment from the novel perspective of game-theoretic interactions. To efficiently estimate the game-theoretic interactions, we further propose an uncertainty-aware neural Shapley interaction learning module. Experiments show that LOUPE achieves state-of-the-art performance on a variety of vision-language tasks. Without any object-level human annotations and fine-tuning, LOUPE achieves competitive performance on object detection and visual grounding. More importantly, LOUPE opens a new promising direction of learning fine-grained semantics from large-scale raw image-text pairs.

Self-Supervised Aggregation of Diverse Experts for Test-Agnostic Long-Tailed Recognition

Yifan Zhang · Bryan Hooi · Lanqing Hong · Jiashi Feng

Existing long-tailed recognition methods, aiming to train class-balanced models from long-tailed data, generally assume the models would be evaluated on the uniform test class distribution. However, practical test class distributions often violate this assumption (e.g., being either long-tailed or even inversely long-tailed), which may lead existing methods to fail in real applications. In this paper, we study a more practical yet challenging task, called test-agnostic long-tailed recognition, where the training class distribution is long-tailed while the test class distribution is agnostic and not necessarily uniform. In addition to the issue of class imbalance, this task poses another challenge: the class distribution shift between the training and test data is unknown. To tackle this task, we propose a novel approach, called Self-supervised Aggregation of Diverse Experts, which consists of two strategies: (i) a new skill-diverse expert learning strategy that trains multiple experts from a single and stationary long-tailed dataset to separately handle different class distributions; (ii) a novel test-time expert aggregation strategy that leverages self-supervision to aggregate the learned multiple experts for handling unknown test class distributions. We theoretically show that our self-supervised strategy has a provable ability to simulate test-agnostic class distributions. Promising empirical results demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on both vanilla and test-agnostic long-tailed recognition. The source code is available at

Singular Value Fine-tuning: Few-shot Segmentation requires Few-parameters Fine-tuning

Yanpeng Sun · Qiang Chen · Xiangyu He · Jian Wang · Haocheng Feng · Junyu Han · Errui Ding · Jian Cheng · Zechao Li · Jingdong Wang

Freezing the pre-trained backbone has become a standard paradigm to avoid overfitting in few-shot segmentation. In this paper, we rethink the paradigm and explore a new regime: {\em fine-tuning a small part of parameters in the backbone}. We present a solution to overcome the overfitting problem, leading to better model generalization on learning novel classes. Our method decomposes backbone parameters into three successive matrices via the Singular Value Decomposition (SVD), then {\em only fine-tunes the singular values} and keeps others frozen. The above design allows the model to adjust feature representations on novel classes while maintaining semantic clues within the pre-trained backbone. We evaluate our {\em Singular Value Fine-tuning (SVF)} approach on various few-shot segmentation methods with different backbones. We achieve state-of-the-art results on both Pascal-5$^i$ and COCO-20$^i$ across 1-shot and 5-shot settings. Hopefully, this simple baseline will encourage researchers to rethink the role of backbone fine-tuning in few-shot settings.

SageMix: Saliency-Guided Mixup for Point Clouds

Sanghyeok Lee · Minkyu Jeon · Injae Kim · Yunyang Xiong · Hyunwoo Kim

Data augmentation is key to improving the generalization ability of deep learning models. Mixup is a simple and widely-used data augmentation technique that has proven effective in alleviating the problems of overfitting and data scarcity. Also, recent studies of saliency-aware Mixup in the image domain show that preserving discriminative parts is beneficial to improving the generalization performance. However, these Mixup-based data augmentations are underexplored in 3D vision, especially in point clouds. In this paper, we propose SageMix, a saliency-guided Mixup for point clouds to preserve salient local structures. Specifically, we extract salient regions from two point clouds and smoothly combine them into one continuous shape. With a simple sequential sampling by re-weighted saliency scores, SageMix preserves the local structure of salient regions. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed method consistently outperforms existing Mixup methods in various benchmark point cloud datasets. With PointNet++, our method achieves an accuracy gain of 2.6% and 4.0% over standard training in ModelNet40 and ScanObjectNN, respectively. In addition to generalization performance, SageMix improves robustness and uncertainty calibration. Moreover, when adopting our method to various tasks including part segmentation and standard image classification, our method achieves competitive performance. Code is available at

Local Spatiotemporal Representation Learning for Longitudinally-consistent Neuroimage Analysis

Mengwei Ren · Neel Dey · Martin Styner · Kelly Botteron · Guido Gerig

Recent self-supervised advances in medical computer vision exploit the global and local anatomical self-similarity for pretraining prior to downstream tasks such as segmentation. However, current methods assume i.i.d. image acquisition, which is invalid in clinical study designs where follow-up longitudinal scans track subject-specific temporal changes. Further, existing self-supervised methods for medically-relevant image-to-image architectures exploit only spatial or temporal self-similarity and do so via a loss applied only at a single image-scale, with naive multi-scale spatiotemporal extensions collapsing to degenerate solutions. To these ends, this paper makes two contributions: (1) It presents a local and multi-scale spatiotemporal representation learning method for image-to-image architectures trained on longitudinal images. It exploits the spatiotemporal self-similarity of learned multi-scale intra-subject image features for pretraining and develops several feature-wise regularizations that avoid degenerate representations; (2) During finetuning, it proposes a surprisingly simple self-supervised segmentation consistency regularization to exploit intra-subject correlation. Benchmarked across various segmentation tasks, the proposed framework outperforms both well-tuned randomly-initialized baselines and current self-supervised techniques designed for both i.i.d. and longitudinal datasets. These improvements are demonstrated across both longitudinal neurodegenerative adult MRI and developing infant brain MRI and yield both higher performance and longitudinal consistency.

Decomposing NeRF for Editing via Feature Field Distillation

Sosuke Kobayashi · Eiichi Matsumoto · Vincent Sitzmann

Emerging neural radiance fields (NeRF) are a promising scene representation for computer graphics, enabling high-quality 3D reconstruction and novel view synthesis from image observations.However, editing a scene represented by a NeRF is challenging, as the underlying connectionist representations such as MLPs or voxel grids are not object-centric or compositional.In particular, it has been difficult to selectively edit specific regions or objects.In this work, we tackle the problem of semantic scene decomposition of NeRFs to enable query-based local editing of the represented 3D scenes.We propose to distill the knowledge of off-the-shelf, self-supervised 2D image feature extractors such as CLIP-LSeg or DINO into a 3D feature field optimized in parallel to the radiance field.Given a user-specified query of various modalities such as text, an image patch, or a point-and-click selection, 3D feature fields semantically decompose 3D space without the need for re-training, and enables us to semantically select and edit regions in the radiance field.Our experiments validate that the distilled feature fields can transfer recent progress in 2D vision and language foundation models to 3D scene representations, enabling convincing 3D segmentation and selective editing of emerging neural graphics representations.

Dual-discriminative Graph Neural Network for Imbalanced Graph-level Anomaly Detection

GE ZHANG · Zhenyu Yang · Jia Wu · Jian Yang · Shan Xue · Hao Peng · Jianlin Su · Chuan Zhou · Quan Z. Sheng · Leman Akoglu · Charu Aggarwal

Graph-level anomaly detection aims to distinguish anomalous graphs in a graph dataset from normal graphs. Anomalous graphs represent a very few but essential patterns in the real world. The anomalous property of a graph may be referable to its anomalous attributes of particular nodes and anomalous substructures that refer to a subset of nodes and edges in the graph. In addition, due to the imbalance nature of anomaly problem, anomalous information will be diluted by normal graphs with overwhelming quantities. Various anomaly notions in the attributes and/or substructures and the imbalance nature together make detecting anomalous graphs a non-trivial task. In this paper, we propose a graph neural network for graph-level anomaly detection, namely iGAD. Specifically, an anomalous graph attribute-aware graph convolution and an anomalous graph substructure-aware deep Random Walk Kernel (deep RWK) are welded into a graph neural network to achieve the dual-discriminative ability on anomalous attributes and substructures. Deep RWK in iGAD makes up for the deficiency of graph convolution in distinguishing structural information caused by the simple neighborhood aggregation mechanism. Further, we propose a Point Mutual Information (PMI)-based loss function to target the problems caused by imbalance distributions. PMI-based loss function enables iGAD to capture essential correlation between input graphs and their anomalous/normal properties. We evaluate iGAD on four real-world graph datasets. Extensive experiments demonstrate the superiority of iGAD on the graph-level anomaly detection task.

Effective Adaptation in Multi-Task Co-Training for Unified Autonomous Driving

Xiwen Liang · Yangxin Wu · Jianhua Han · Hang Xu · Chunjing XU · Xiaodan Liang

Aiming towards a holistic understanding of multiple downstream tasks simultaneously, there is a need for extracting features with better transferability. Though many latest self-supervised pre-training methods have achieved impressive performance on various vision tasks under the prevailing pretrain-finetune paradigm, their generalization capacity to multi-task learning scenarios is yet to be explored. In this paper, we extensively investigate the transfer performance of various types of self-supervised methods, e.g., MoCo and SimCLR, on three downstream tasks, including semantic segmentation, drivable area segmentation, and traffic object detection, on the large-scale driving dataset BDD100K. We surprisingly find that their performances are sub-optimal or even lag far behind the single-task baseline, which may be due to the distinctions of training objectives and architectural design lied in the pretrain-finetune paradigm. To overcome this dilemma as well as avoid redesigning the resource-intensive pre-training stage, we propose a simple yet effective pretrain-adapt-finetune paradigm for general multi-task training, where the off-the-shelf pretrained models can be effectively adapted without increasing the training overhead. During the adapt stage, we utilize learnable multi-scale adapters to dynamically adjust the pretrained model weights supervised by multi-task objectives while leaving the pretrained knowledge untouched. Furthermore, we regard the vision-language pre-training model CLIP as a strong complement to the pretrain-adapt-finetune paradigm and propose a novel adapter named LV-Adapter, which incorporates language priors in the multi-task model via task-specific prompting and alignment between visual and textual features. Our experiments demonstrate that the adapt stage significantly improves the overall performance of those off-the-shelf pretrained models and the contextual features generated by LV-Adapter are of general benefits for downstream tasks.

Hierarchical Normalization for Robust Monocular Depth Estimation

Chi Zhang · Wei Yin · Billzb Wang · Gang Yu · BIN FU · Chunhua Shen

In this paper, we address monocular depth estimation with deep neural networks. To enable training of deep monocular estimation models with various sources of datasets, state-of-the-art methods adopt image-level normalization strategies to generate affine-invariant depth representations. However, learning with the image-level normalization mainly emphasizes the relations of pixel representations with the global statistic in the images, such as the structure of the scene, while the fine-grained depth difference may be overlooked. In this paper, we propose a novel multi-scale depth normalization method that hierarchically normalizes the depth representations based on spatial information and depth distributions. Compared with previous normalization strategies applied only at the holistic image level, the proposed hierarchical normalization can effectively preserve the fine-grained details and improve accuracy. We present two strategies that define the hierarchical normalization contexts in the depth domain and the spatial domain, respectively. Our extensive experiments show that the proposed normalization strategy remarkably outperforms previous normalization methods, and we set new state-of-the-art on five zero-shot transfer benchmark datasets.

GLIPv2: Unifying Localization and Vision-Language Understanding

Haotian Zhang · Pengchuan Zhang · Xiaowei Hu · Yen-Chun Chen · Liunian Li · Xiyang Dai · Lijuan Wang · Lu Yuan · Jenq-Neng Hwang · Jianfeng Gao

We present GLIPv2, a grounded VL understanding model, that serves both localization tasks (e.g., object detection, instance segmentation) and Vision-Language (VL) understanding tasks (e.g., VQA, image captioning). GLIPv2 elegantly unifies localization pre-training and Vision-Language Pre-training (VLP) with three pre-training tasks: phrase grounding as a VL reformulation of the detection task, region-word contrastive learning as a novel region-word level contrastive learning task, and the masked language modeling. This unification not only simplifies the previous multi-stage VLP procedure but also achieves mutual benefits between localization and understanding tasks. Experimental results show that a single GLIPv2 model (all model weights are shared) achieves near SoTA performance on various localization and understanding tasks. The model also shows (1) strong zero-shot and few-shot adaption performance on open-vocabulary object detection tasks and (2) superior grounding capability on VL understanding tasks.

AVLEN: Audio-Visual-Language Embodied Navigation in 3D Environments

Sudipta Paul · Amit Roy-Chowdhury · Anoop Cherian

Recent years have seen embodied visual navigation advance in two distinct directions: (i) in equipping the AI agent to follow natural language instructions, and (ii) in making the navigable world multimodal, e.g., audio-visual navigation. However, the real world is not only multimodal, but also often complex, and thus in spite of these advances, agents still need to understand the uncertainty in their actions and seek instructions to navigate. To this end, we present AVLEN -- an interactive agent for Audio-Visual-Language Embodied Navigation. Similar to audio-visual navigation tasks, the goal of our embodied agent is to localize an audio event via navigating the 3D visual world; however, the agent may also seek help from a human (oracle), where the assistance is provided in free-form natural language. To realize these abilities, AVLEN uses a multimodal hierarchical reinforcement learning backbone that learns: (a) high-level policies to choose either audio-cues for navigation or to query the oracle, and (b) lower-level policies to select navigation actions based on its audio-visual and language inputs. The policies are trained via rewarding for the success on the navigation task while minimizing the number of queries to the oracle. To empirically evaluate AVLEN, we present experiments on the SoundSpaces framework for semantic audio-visual navigation tasks. Our results show that equipping the agent to ask for help leads to a clear improvement in performances, especially in challenging cases, e.g., when the sound is unheard during training or in the presence of distractor sounds.

Single-phase deep learning in cortico-cortical networks

Will Greedy · Heng Wei Zhu · Joseph Pemberton · Jack Mellor · Rui Ponte Costa

The error-backpropagation (backprop) algorithm remains the most common solution to the credit assignment problem in artificial neural networks. In neuroscience, it is unclear whether the brain could adopt a similar strategy to correctly modify its synapses. Recent models have attempted to bridge this gap while being consistent with a range of experimental observations. However, these models are either unable to effectively backpropagate error signals across multiple layers or require a multi-phase learning process, neither of which are reminiscent of learning in the brain. Here, we introduce a new model, Bursting Cortico-Cortical Networks (BurstCCN), which solves these issues by integrating known properties of cortical networks namely bursting activity, short-term plasticity (STP) and dendrite-targeting interneurons. BurstCCN relies on burst multiplexing via connection-type-specific STP to propagate backprop-like error signals within deep cortical networks. These error signals are encoded at distal dendrites and induce burst-dependent plasticity as a result of excitatory-inhibitory top-down inputs. First, we demonstrate that our model can effectively backpropagate errors through multiple layers using a single-phase learning process. Next, we show both empirically and analytically that learning in our model approximates backprop-derived gradients. Finally, we demonstrate that our model is capable of learning complex image classification tasks (MNIST and CIFAR-10). Overall, our results suggest that cortical features across sub-cellular, cellular, microcircuit and systems levels jointly underlie single-phase efficient deep learning in the brain.

Understanding Robust Learning through the Lens of Representation Similarities

Christian Cianfarani · Arjun Nitin Bhagoji · Vikash Sehwag · Ben Zhao · Heather Zheng · Prateek Mittal

Representation learning, \textit{i.e.} the generation of representations useful for downstream applications, is a task of fundamental importance that underlies much of the success of deep neural networks (DNNs). Recently, \emph{robustness to adversarial examples} has emerged as a desirable property for DNNs, spurring the development of robust training methods that account for adversarialexamples. In this paper, we aim to understand how the properties of representations learned by robust training differ from those obtained from standard, non-robust training. This is critical to diagnosing numerous salient pitfalls in robust networks, such as, degradation of performance on benign inputs, poor generalization of robustness, and increase in over-fitting. We utilize a powerful set of tools known as representation similarity metrics, across 3 vision datasets, to obtain layer-wise comparisons between robust and non-robust DNNs with different architectures, training procedures and adversarial constraints. Our experiments highlight hitherto unseen properties of robust representations that we posit underlie the behavioral differences of robust networks. We discover a lack of specialization in robust networks' representations along with a disappearance of `block structure'. We also find overfitting during robust training largely impacts deeper layers. These, along with other findings, suggest ways forward for the design and training of better robust networks.

EF-BV: A Unified Theory of Error Feedback and Variance Reduction Mechanisms for Biased and Unbiased Compression in Distributed Optimization

Laurent Condat · Kai Yi · Peter Richtarik

In distributed or federated optimization and learning, communication between the different computing units is often the bottleneck and gradient compression is widely used to reduce the number of bits sent within each communication round of iterative methods. There are two classes of compression operators and separate algorithms making use of them. In the case of unbiased random compressors with bounded variance (e.g., rand-k), the DIANA algorithm of Mishchenko et al. (2019), which implements a variance reduction technique for handling the variance introduced by compression, is the current state of the art. In the case of biased and contractive compressors (e.g., top-k), the EF21 algorithm of Richtárik et al. (2021), which instead implements an error-feedback mechanism, is the current state of the art. These two classes of compression schemes and algorithms are distinct, with different analyses and proof techniques. In this paper, we unify them into a single framework and propose a new algorithm, recovering DIANA and EF21 as particular cases. Our general approach works with a new, larger class of compressors, which has two parameters, the bias and the variance, and includes unbiased and biased compressors as particular cases. This allows us to inherit the best of the two worlds: like EF21 and unlike DIANA, biased compressors, like top-k, whose good performance in practice is recognized, can be used. And like DIANA and unlike EF21, independent randomness at the compressors allows to mitigate the effects of compression, with the convergence rate improving when the number of parallel workers is large. This is the first time that an algorithm with all these features is proposed. We prove its linear convergence under certain conditions. Our approach takes a step towards better understanding of two so-far distinct worlds of communication-efficient distributed learning.

LST: Ladder Side-Tuning for Parameter and Memory Efficient Transfer Learning

Yi-Lin Sung · Jaemin Cho · Mohit Bansal

Fine-tuning large pre-trained models on downstream tasks has been adopted in a variety of domains recently. However, it is costly to update the entire parameter set of large pre-trained models. Although recently proposed parameter-efficient transfer learning (PETL) techniques allow updating a small subset of parameters (e.g. only using 2% of parameters) inside a pre-trained backbone network for a new task, they only reduce the training memory requirement by up to 30%. This is because the gradient computation for the trainable parameters still requires back-propagation through the large pre-trained backbone model. To address this, we propose Ladder Side-Tuning (LST), a new PETL technique that can reduce training memory requirements by more substantial amounts. Unlike existing parameter-efficient methods that insert additional parameters inside backbone networks, we train a ladder side network, a small and separate network that takes intermediate activations as input via shortcut connections (ladders) from backbone networks and makes predictions. LST has significantly lower memory requirements than previous methods, because it does not require back-propagation through the backbone network, but instead only through the side network and ladder connections. We evaluate our method with various models (T5 and CLIP-T5) on both natural language processing (GLUE) and vision-and-language (VQA, GQA, NLVR2, MSCOCO) tasks. LST saves 69% of the memory costs to fine-tune the whole network, while other methods only save 26% of that in similar parameter usages (hence, 2.7x more memory savings). Moreover, LST achieves higher accuracy than Adapter and LoRA in a low-memory regime. To further show the advantage of this better memory efficiency, we also apply LST to larger T5 models (T5-large, T5-3B), attaining better GLUE performance than full fine-tuning and other PETL methods. The trend also holds in the experiments on vision-and-language tasks, where LST achieves similar accuracy to other PETL methods when training a similar number of parameters while also having 2.7x more memory savings. Our code is available at:

Scalable Neural Video Representations with Learnable Positional Features

Subin Kim · Sihyun Yu · Jaeho Lee · Jinwoo Shin

Succinct representation of complex signals using coordinate-based neural representations (CNRs) has seen great progress, and several recent efforts focus on extending them for handling videos. Here, the main challenge is how to (a) alleviate a compute-inefficiency in training CNRs to (b) achieve high-quality video encoding while (c) maintaining the parameter-efficiency. To meet all requirements (a), (b), and (c) simultaneously, we propose neural video representations with learnable positional features (NVP), a novel CNR by introducing "learnable positional features" that effectively amortize a video as latent codes. Specifically, we first present a CNR architecture based on designing 2D latent keyframes to learn the common video contents across each spatio-temporal axis, which dramatically improves all of those three requirements. Then, we propose to utilize existing powerful image and video codecs as a compute-/memory-efficient compression procedure of latent codes. We demonstrate the superiority of NVP on the popular UVG benchmark; compared with prior arts, NVP not only trains 2 times faster (less than 5 minutes) but also exceeds their encoding quality as 34.07$\rightarrow$34.57 (measured with the PSNR metric), even using $>$8 times fewer parameters. We also show intriguing properties of NVP, e.g., video inpainting, video frame interpolation, etc.

Are All Losses Created Equal: A Neural Collapse Perspective

Jinxin Zhou · Chong You · Xiao Li · Kangning Liu · Sheng Liu · Qing Qu · Zhihui Zhu

While cross entropy (CE) is the most commonly used loss function to train deep neural networks for classification tasks, many alternative losses have been developed to obtain better empirical performance. Among them, which one is the best to use is still a mystery, because there seem to be multiple factors affecting the answer, such as properties of the dataset, the choice of network architecture, and so on. This paper studies the choice of loss function by examining the last-layer features of deep networks, drawing inspiration from a recent line work showing that the global optimal solution of CE and mean-square-error (MSE) losses exhibits a Neural Collapse phenomenon. That is, for sufficiently large networks trained until convergence, (i) all features of the same class collapse to the corresponding class mean and (ii) the means associated with different classes are in a configuration where their pairwise distances are all equal and maximized. We extend such results and show through global solution and landscape analyses that a broad family of loss functions including commonly used label smoothing (LS) and focal loss (FL) exhibits Neural Collapse. Hence, all relevant losses (i.e., CE, LS, FL, MSE) produce equivalent features on training data. In particular, based on the unconstrained feature model assumption, we provide either the global landscape analysis for LS loss or the local landscape analysis for FL loss and show that the (only!) global minimizers are neural collapse solutions, while all other critical points are strict saddles whose Hessian exhibit negative curvature directions either in the global scope for LS loss or in the local scope for FL loss near the optimal solution. The experiments further show that Neural Collapse features obtained from all relevant losses (i.e., CE, LS, FL, MSE) lead to largely identical performance on test data as well, provided that the network is sufficiently large and trained until convergence.

Lazy and Fast Greedy MAP Inference for Determinantal Point Process

Shinichi Hemmi · Taihei Oki · Shinsaku Sakaue · Kaito Fujii · Satoru Iwata

The maximum a posteriori (MAP) inference for determinantal point processes (DPPs) is crucial for selecting diverse items in many machine learning applications. Although DPP MAP inference is NP-hard, the greedy algorithm often finds high-quality solutions, and many researchers have studied its efficient implementation. One classical and practical method is the lazy greedy algorithm, which is applicable to general submodular function maximization, while a recent fast greedy algorithm based on the Cholesky factorization is more efficient for DPP MAP inference. This paper presents how to combine the ideas of lazy'' andfast'', which have been considered incompatible in the literature. Our lazy and fast greedy algorithm achieves almost the same time complexity as the current best one and runs faster in practice. The idea of ``lazy + fast'' is extendable to other greedy-type algorithms. We also give a fast version of the double greedy algorithm for unconstrained DPP MAP inference. Experiments validate the effectiveness of our acceleration ideas.

Smoothed Online Convex Optimization Based on Discounted-Normal-Predictor

Lijun Zhang · Wei Jiang · Jinfeng Yi · Tianbao Yang

In this paper, we investigate an online prediction strategy named as Discounted-Normal-Predictor [Kapralov and Panigrahy, 2010] for smoothed online convex optimization (SOCO), in which the learner needs to minimize not only the hitting cost but also the switching cost. In the setting of learning with expert advice, Daniely and Mansour [2019] demonstrate that Discounted-Normal-Predictor can be utilized to yield nearly optimal regret bounds over any interval, even in the presence of switching costs. Inspired by their results, we develop a simple algorithm for SOCO: Combining online gradient descent (OGD) with different step sizes sequentially by Discounted-Normal-Predictor. Despite its simplicity, we prove that it is able to minimize the adaptive regret with switching cost, i.e., attaining nearly optimal regret with switching cost on every interval. By exploiting the theoretical guarantee of OGD for dynamic regret, we further show that the proposed algorithm can minimize the dynamic regret with switching cost in every interval.

Privacy Induces Robustness: Information-Computation Gaps and Sparse Mean Estimation

Kristian Georgiev · Samuel Hopkins

We establish a simple connection between robust and differentially-private algorithms: private mechanisms which perform well with very high probability are automatically robust in the sense that they retain accuracy even if a constant fraction of the samples they receive are adversarially corrupted. Since optimal mechanisms typically achieve these high success probabilities, our results imply that optimal private mechanisms for many basic statistics problems are robust. We investigate the consequences of this observation for both algorithms and computational complexity across different statistical problems. Assuming the Brennan-Bresler secret-leakage planted clique conjecture, we demonstrate a fundamental tradeoff between computational efficiency, privacy leakage, and success probability for sparse mean estimation. Private algorithms which match this tradeoff are not yet known -- we achieve that (up to polylogarithmic factors) in a polynomially-large range of parameters via theSum-of-Squares method.To establish an information-computation gap for sparse mean estimation, we also design new (exponential-time) mechanisms using fewer samples than efficient algorithms must use. Finally, we give evidence for privacy-induced information-computation gaps for several other statistics and learning problems, including PAC learning parity functions and estimation of the mean of a multivariate Gaussian.

Fast Bayesian Coresets via Subsampling and Quasi-Newton Refinement

Cian Naik · Judith Rousseau · Trevor Campbell

Bayesian coresets approximate a posterior distribution by building a small weighted subset of the data points. Any inference procedure that is too computationally expensive to be run on the full posterior can instead be run inexpensively on the coreset, with results that approximate those on the full data. However, current approaches are limited by either a significant run-time or the need for the user to specify a low-cost approximation to the full posterior. We propose a Bayesian coreset construction algorithm that first selects a uniformly random subset of data, and then optimizes the weights using a novel quasi-Newton method. Our algorithm is a simple to implement, black-box method, that does not require the user to specify a low-cost posterior approximation. It is the first to come with a general high-probability bound on the KL divergence of the output coreset posterior. Experiments demonstrate that our method provides significant improvements in coreset quality against alternatives with comparable construction times, with far less storage cost and user input required.

Biological Learning of Irreducible Representations of Commuting Transformations

Alexander Genkin · David Lipshutz · Siavash Golkar · Tiberiu Tesileanu · Dmitri Chklovskii

A longstanding challenge in neuroscience is to understand neural mechanisms underlying the brain’s remarkable ability to learn and detect transformations of objects due to motion. Translations and rotations of images can be viewed as orthogonal transformations in the space of pixel intensity vectors. Every orthogonal transformation can be decomposed into rotations within irreducible two-dimensional subspaces (or representations). For sets of commuting transformations, known as toroidal groups, Cohen and Welling proposed a mathematical framework for learning the irreducible representations. We explore the possibility that the brain also learns irreducible representations using a biologically plausible learning mechanism. The first is based on SVD of the anti-symmetrized outer product of the vectors representing consecutive images and is implemented by a single-layer neural network. The second is based on PCA of the difference between consecutive frames and is implemented in a two-layer network but with greater biological plausibility. Both networks learn image rotations (replicating Cohen and Welling’s results) as well as translations. It would be interesting to search for the proposed networks in nascent connectomics and physiology datasets.

When to Ask for Help: Proactive Interventions in Autonomous Reinforcement Learning

Annie Xie · Fahim Tajwar · Archit Sharma · Chelsea Finn

A long-term goal of reinforcement learning is to design agents that can autonomously interact and learn in the world. A critical challenge to such autonomy is the presence of irreversible states which require external assistance to recover from, such as when a robot arm has pushed an object off of a table. While standard agents require constant monitoring to decide when to intervene, we aim to design proactive agents that can request human intervention only when needed. To this end, we propose an algorithm that efficiently learns to detect and avoid states that are irreversible, and proactively asks for help in case the agent does enter them. On a suite of continuous control environments with unknown irreversible states, we find that our algorithm exhibits better sample- and intervention-efficiency compared to existing methods.

PALMER: Perception - Action Loop with Memory for Long-Horizon Planning

Onur Beker · Mohammad Mohammadi · Amir Zamir

To achieve autonomy in a priori unknown real-world scenarios, agents should be able to: i) act from high-dimensional sensory observations (e.g., images), ii) learn from past experience to adapt and improve, and iii) be capable of long horizon planning. Classical planning algorithms (e.g. PRM, RRT) are proficient at handling long-horizon planning. Deep learning based methods in turn can provide the necessary representations to address the others, by modeling statistical contingencies between observations. In this direction, we introduce a general-purpose planning algorithm called PALMER that combines classical sampling-based planning algorithms with learning-based perceptual representations. For training these perceptual representations, we combine Q-learning with contrastive representation learning to create a latent space where the distance between the embeddings of two states captures how easily an optimal policy can traverse between them. For planning with these perceptual representations, we re-purpose classical sampling-based planning algorithms to retrieve previously observed trajectory segments from a replay buffer and restitch them into approximately optimal paths that connect any given pair of start and goal states. This creates a tight feedback loop between representation learning, memory, reinforcement learning, and sampling-based planning. The end result is an experiential framework for long-horizon planning that is significantly more robust and sample efficient compared to existing methods.

Training Subset Selection for Weak Supervision

Hunter Lang · Aravindan Vijayaraghavan · David Sontag

Existing weak supervision approaches use all the data covered by weak signals to train a classifier. We show both theoretically and empirically that this is not always optimal. Intuitively, there is a tradeoff between the amount of weakly-labeled data and the precision of the weak labels. We explore this tradeoff by combining pretrained data representations with the cut statistic to select (hopefully) high-quality subsets of the weakly-labeled training data. Subset selection applies to any label model and classifier and is very simple to plug in to existing weak supervision pipelines, requiring just a few lines of code. We show our subset selection method improves the performance of weak supervision for a wide range of label models, classifiers, and datasets. Using less weakly-labeled data improves the accuracy of weak supervision pipelines by up to 19% (absolute) on benchmark tasks.

Contrastive Learning as Goal-Conditioned Reinforcement Learning

Benjamin Eysenbach · Tianjun Zhang · Sergey Levine · Russ Salakhutdinov

In reinforcement learning (RL), it is easier to solve a task if given a good representation. While deep RL should automatically acquire such good representations, prior work often finds that learning representations in an end-to-end fashion is unstable and instead equip RL algorithms with additional representation learning parts (e.g., auxiliary losses, data augmentation). How can we design RL algorithms that directly acquire good representations? In this paper, instead of adding representation learning parts to an existing RL algorithm, we show (contrastive) representation learning methods are already RL algorithms in their own right. To do this, we build upon prior work and apply contrastive representation learning to action-labeled trajectories, in such a way that the (inner product of) learned representations exactly corresponds to a goal-conditioned value function. We use this idea to reinterpret a prior RL method as performing contrastive learning, and then use the idea to propose a much simpler method that achieves similar performance. Across a range of goal-conditioned RL tasks, we demonstrate that contrastive RL methods achieve higher success rates than prior non-contrastive methods. We also show that contrastive RL outperforms prior methods on image-based tasks, without using data augmentation or auxiliary objectives

CyCLIP: Cyclic Contrastive Language-Image Pretraining

Shashank Goel · Hritik Bansal · Sumit Bhatia · Ryan Rossi · Vishwa Vinay · Aditya Grover

Recent advances in contrastive representation learning over paired image-text data have led to models such as CLIP that achieve state-of-the-art performance for zero-shot classification and distributional robustness. Such models typically require joint reasoning in the image and text representation spaces for downstream inference tasks. Contrary to prior beliefs, we demonstrate that the image and text representations learned via a standard contrastive objective are not interchangeable and can lead to inconsistent downstream predictions. To mitigate this issue, we formalize consistency and propose CyCLIP, a framework for contrastive representation learning that explicitly optimizes for the learned representations to be geometrically consistent in the image and text space. In particular, we show that consistent representations can be learned by explicitly symmetrizing (a) the similarity between the two mismatched image-text pairs (cross-modal consistency); and (b) the similarity between the image-image pair and the text-text pair (in-modal consistency). Empirically, we show that the improved consistency in CyCLIP translates to significant gains over CLIP, with gains ranging from 10%-24% for zero-shot classification on standard benchmarks (CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, ImageNet1K) and 10%-27% for robustness to various natural distribution shifts.

Tempo: Accelerating Transformer-Based Model Training through Memory Footprint Reduction

Muralidhar Andoorveedu · Zhanda Zhu · Bojian Zheng · Gennady Pekhimenko

Training deep learning models can be computationally expensive. Prior works have shown that increasing the batch size can potentially lead to better overall throughput. However, the batch size is frequently limited by the accelerator memory capacity due to the activations/feature maps stored for the training backward pass, as larger batch sizes require larger feature maps to be stored. Transformer-based models, which have recently seen a surge in popularity due to their good performance and applicability to a variety of tasks, have a similar problem. To remedy this issue, we propose Tempo, a new approach to efficiently use accelerator (e.g., GPU) memory resources for training Transformer-based models. Our approach provides drop-in replacements for the GELU, LayerNorm, and Attention layers, reducing the memory usage and ultimately leading to more efficient training. We implement Tempo and evaluate the throughput, memory usage, and accuracy/loss on the BERT Large pre-training task. We demonstrate that Tempo enables up to 2× higher batch sizes and 16% higher training throughput over the state-of-the-art baseline. We also evaluate Tempo on GPT2 and RoBERTa models, showing 19% and 26% speedup over the baseline.

Trading off Utility, Informativeness, and Complexity in Emergent Communication

Mycal Tucker · Roger Levy · Julie Shah · Noga Zaslavsky

Emergent communication (EC) research often focuses on optimizing task-specific utility as a driver for communication. However, there is increasing evidence that human languages are shaped by task-general communicative constraints and evolve under pressure to optimize the Information Bottleneck (IB) tradeoff between the informativeness and complexity of the lexicon. Here, we integrate these two approaches by trading off utility, informativeness, and complexity in EC. To this end, we propose Vector-Quantized Variational Information Bottleneck (VQ-VIB), a method for training neural agents to encode inputs into discrete signals embedded in a continuous space. We evaluate our approach in multi-agent reinforcement learning settings and in color reference games and show that: (1) VQ-VIB agents can continuously adapt to changing communicative needs and, in the color domain, align with human languages; (2) the emergent VQ-VIB embedding spaces are semantically meaningful and perceptually grounded; and (3) encouraging informativeness leads to faster convergence rates and improved utility, both in VQ-VIB and in prior neural architectures for symbolic EC, with VQ-VIB achieving higher utility for any given complexity. This work offers a new framework for EC that is grounded in information-theoretic principles that are believed to characterize human language evolution and that may facilitate human-agent interaction.

Reduced Representation of Deformation Fields for Effective Non-rigid Shape Matching

Ramana Subramanyam Sundararaman · Riccardo Marin · Emanuele Rodolà · Maks Ovsjanikov

In this work we present a novel approach for computing correspondences between non-rigid objects, by exploiting a reduced representation of deformation fields. Different from existing works that represent deformation fields by training a general-purpose neural network, we advocate for an approximation based on mesh-free methods. By letting the network learn deformation parameters at a sparse set of positions in space (nodes), we reconstruct the continuous deformation field in a closed-form with guaranteed smoothness. With this reduction in degrees of freedom, we show significant improvement in terms of data-efficiency thus enabling limited supervision. Furthermore, our approximation provides direct access to first-order derivatives of deformation fields, which facilitates enforcing desirable regularization effectively. Our resulting model has high expressive power and is able to capture complex deformations. We illustrate its effectiveness through state-of-the-art results across multiple deformable shape matching benchmarks. Our code and data are publicly available at:

Revisiting Neural Scaling Laws in Language and Vision

Ibrahim Alabdulmohsin · Behnam Neyshabur · Xiaohua Zhai

The remarkable progress in deep learning in recent years is largely driven by improvements in scale, where bigger models are trained on larger datasets for longer schedules. To predict the benefit of scale empirically, we argue for a more rigorous methodology based on the extrapolation loss, instead of reporting the best-fitting (interpolating) parameters. We then present a recipe for estimating scaling law parameters reliably from learning curves. We demonstrate that it extrapolates more accurately than previous methods in a wide range of architecture families across several domains, including image classification, neural machine translation (NMT) and language modeling, in addition to tasks from the BIG-Bench evaluation benchmark. Finally, we release a benchmark dataset comprising of 90 evaluation tasks to facilitate research in this domain.

FourierFormer: Transformer Meets Generalized Fourier Integral Theorem

Tan Nguyen · Minh Pham · Tam Nguyen · Khai Nguyen · Stanley Osher · Nhat Ho

Multi-head attention empowers the recent success of transformers, the state-of-the-art models that have achieved remarkable success in sequence modeling and beyond. These attention mechanisms compute the pairwise dot products between the queries and keys, which results from the use of unnormalized Gaussian kernels with the assumption that the queries follow a mixture of Gaussian distribution. There is no guarantee that this assumption is valid in practice. In response, we first interpret attention in transformers as a nonparametric kernel regression. We then propose the FourierFormer, a new class of transformers in which the dot-product kernels are replaced by the novel generalized Fourier integral kernels. Different from the dot-product kernels, where we need to choose a good covariance matrix to capture the dependency of the features of data, the generalized Fourier integral kernels can automatically capture such dependency and remove the need to tune the covariance matrix. We theoretically prove that our proposed Fourier integral kernels can efficiently approximate any key and query distributions. Compared to the conventional transformers with dot-product attention, FourierFormers attain better accuracy and reduce the redundancy between attention heads. We empirically corroborate the advantages of FourierFormers over the baseline transformers in a variety of practical applications including language modeling and image classification.

Real-Valued Backpropagation is Unsuitable for Complex-Valued Neural Networks

Zhi-Hao Tan · Yi Xie · Yuan Jiang · Zhi-Hua Zhou

Recently complex-valued neural networks have received increasing attention due to successful applications in various tasks and the potential advantages of better theoretical properties and richer representational capacity. However, the training dynamics of complex networks compared to real networks remains an open problem. In this paper, we investigate the dynamics of deep complex networks during real-valued backpropagation in the infinite-width limit via neural tangent kernel (NTK). We first extend the Tensor Program to the complex domain, to show that the dynamics of any basic complex network architecture is governed by its NTK under real-valued backpropagation. Then we propose a way to investigate the comparison of training dynamics between complex and real networks by studying their NTKs. As a result, we surprisingly prove that for most complex activation functions, the commonly used real-valued backpropagation reduces the training dynamics of complex networks to that of ordinary real networks as the widths tend to infinity, thus eliminating the characteristics of complex-valued neural networks. Finally, the experiments validate our theoretical findings numerically.

Enhanced Bilevel Optimization via Bregman Distance

Feihu Huang · Junyi Li · Shangqian Gao · Heng Huang

Bilevel optimization has been recently used in many machine learning problems such as hyperparameter optimization, policy optimization, and meta learning. Although many bilevel optimization methods have been proposed, they still suffer from the high computational complexities and do not consider the more general bilevel problems with nonsmooth regularization. In the paper, thus, we propose a class of enhanced bilevel optimization methods with using Bregman distance to solve bilevel optimization problems, where the outer subproblem is nonconvex and possibly nonsmooth, and the inner subproblem is strongly convex. Specifically, we propose a bilevel optimization method based on Bregman distance (BiO-BreD) to solve deterministic bilevel problems, which achieves a lower computational complexity than the best known results. Meanwhile, we also propose a stochastic bilevel optimization method (SBiO-BreD) to solve stochastic bilevel problems based on stochastic approximated gradients and Bregman distance. Moreover, we further propose an accelerated version of SBiO-BreD method (ASBiO-BreD) using the variance-reduced technique, which can achieve a lower computational complexity than the best known computational complexities with respect to condition number $\kappa$ and target accuracy $\epsilon$ for finding an $\epsilon$-stationary point. We conduct data hyper-cleaning task and hyper-representation learning task to demonstrate that our new algorithms outperform related bilevel optimization approaches.

Adaptive Multi-stage Density Ratio Estimation for Learning Latent Space Energy-based Model

Zhisheng Xiao · Tian Han

This paper studies the fundamental problem of learning energy-based model (EBM) in the latent space of the generator model. Learning such prior model typically requires running costly Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC). Instead, we propose to use noise contrastive estimation (NCE) to discriminatively learn the EBM through density ratio estimation between the latent prior density and latent posterior density. However, the NCE typically fails to accurately estimate such density ratio given large gap between two densities. To effectively tackle this issue and further learn more expressive prior model, we develop the adaptive multi-stage density ratio estimation which breaks the estimation into multiple stages and learn different stages of density ratio sequentially and adaptively. The latent prior model can be gradually learned using ratio estimated in previous stage so that the final latent space EBM prior can be naturally formed by product of ratios in different stages. The proposed method enables informative and much sharper prior than existing baselines, and can be trained efficiently. Our experiments demonstrate strong performances in terms of image generation and reconstruction as well as anomaly detection.

Learning Robust Rule Representations for Abstract Reasoning via Internal Inferences

Wenbo Zhang · likai tang · Site Mo · Xianggen Liu · Sen Song

Abstract reasoning, as one of the hallmarks of human intelligence, involves collecting information, identifying abstract rules, and applying the rules to solve new problems. Although neural networks have achieved human-level performances in several tasks, the abstract reasoning techniques still far lag behind due to the complexity of learning and applying the logic rules, especially in an unsupervised manner. In this work, we propose a novel framework, ARII, that learns rule representations for Abstract Reasoning via Internal Inferences. The key idea is to repeatedly apply a rule to different instances in hope of having a comprehensive understanding (i.e., representations) of the rule. Specifically, ARII consists of a rule encoder, a reasoner, and an internal referrer. Based on the representations produced by the rule encoder, the reasoner draws the conclusion while the referrer performs internal inferences to regularize rule representations to be robust and generalizable. We evaluate ARII on two benchmark datasets, including PGM and I-RAVEN. We observe that ARII achieves new state-of-the-art records on the majority of the reasoning tasks, including most of the generalization tests in PGM. Our codes are available at

Saliency-Aware Neural Architecture Search

Ramtin Hosseini · Pengtao Xie

Recently a wide variety of NAS methods have been proposed and achieved considerable success in automatically identifying highly-performing architectures of neural networks for the sake of reducing the reliance on human experts. Existing NAS methods ignore the fact that different input data elements (e.g., image pixels) have different importance (or saliency) in determining the prediction outcome. They treat all data elements as being equally important and therefore lead to suboptimal performance. To address this problem, we propose an end-to-end framework which dynamically detects saliency of input data, reweights data using saliency maps, and searches architectures on saliency-reweighted data. Our framework is based on four-level optimization, which performs four learning stages in a unified way. At the first stage, a model is trained with its architecture tentatively fixed. At the second stage, saliency maps are generated using the trained model. At the third stage, the model is retrained on saliency-reweighted data. At the fourth stage, the model is evaluated on a validation set and the architecture is updated by minimizing the validation loss. Experiments on several datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework.

Training with More Confidence: Mitigating Injected and Natural Backdoors During Training

Zhenting Wang · Hailun Ding · Juan Zhai · Shiqing Ma

The backdoor or Trojan attack is a severe threat to deep neural networks (DNNs). Researchers find that DNNs trained on benign data and settings can also learn backdoor behaviors, which is known as the natural backdoor. Existing works on anti-backdoor learning are based on weak observations that the backdoor and benign behaviors can differentiate during training. An adaptive attack with slow poisoning can bypass such defenses. Moreover, these methods cannot defend natural backdoors. We found the fundamental differences between backdoor-related neurons and benign neurons: backdoor-related neurons form a hyperplane as the classification surface across input domains of all affected labels. By further analyzing the training process and model architectures, we found that piece-wise linear functions cause this hyperplane surface. In this paper, we design a novel training method that forces the training to avoid generating such hyperplanes and thus remove the injected backdoors. Our extensive experiments on five datasets against five state-of-the-art attacks and also benign training show that our method can outperform existing state-of-the-art defenses. On average, the ASR (attack success rate) of the models trained with NONE is 54.83 times lower than undefended models under standard poisoning backdoor attack and 1.75 times lower under the natural backdoor attack. Our code is available at

First is Better Than Last for Language Data Influence

Chih-Kuan Yeh · Ankur Taly · Mukund Sundararajan · Frederick Liu · Pradeep Ravikumar

The ability to identify influential training examples enables us to debug training data and explain model behavior. Existing techniques to do so are based on the flow of training data influence through the model parameters. For large models in NLP applications, it is often computationally infeasible to study this flow through all model parameters, therefore techniques usually pick the last layer of weights. However, we observe that since the activation connected to the last layer of weights contains "shared logic", the data influenced calculated via the last layer weights prone to a "cancellation effect", where the data influence of different examples have large magnitude that contradicts each other. The cancellation effect lowers the discriminative power of the influence score, and deleting influential examples according to this measure often does not change the model's behavior by much. To mitigate this, we propose a technique called TracIn-WE that modifies a method called TracIn to operate on the word embedding layer instead of the last layer, where the cancellation effect is less severe. One potential concern is that influence based on the word embedding layer may not encode sufficient high level information.  However, we find that gradients (unlike embeddings) do not suffer from this, possibly because they chain through higher layers. We show that TracIn-WE significantly outperforms other data influence methods applied on the last layer significantly on the case deletion evaluation on three language classification tasks for different models. In addition, TracIn-WE can produce scores not just at the level of the overall training input, but also at the level of words within the training input, a further aid in debugging.

When to Make Exceptions: Exploring Language Models as Accounts of Human Moral Judgment

Zhijing Jin · Sydney Levine · Fernando Gonzalez Adauto · Ojasv Kamal · Maarten Sap · Mrinmaya Sachan · Rada Mihalcea · Josh Tenenbaum · Bernhard Schölkopf

AI systems are becoming increasingly intertwined with human life. In order to effectively collaborate with humans and ensure safety, AI systems need to be able to understand, interpret and predict human moral judgments and decisions. Human moral judgments are often guided by rules, but not always. A central challenge for AI safety is capturing the flexibility of the human moral mind — the ability to determine when a rule should be broken, especially in novel or unusual situations. In this paper, we present a novel challenge set consisting of moral exception question answering (MoralExceptQA) of cases that involve potentially permissible moral exceptions – inspired by recent moral psychology studies. Using a state-of-the-art large language model (LLM) as a basis, we propose a novel moral chain of thought (MoralCoT) prompting strategy that combines the strengths of LLMs with theories of moral reasoning developed in cognitive science to predict human moral judgments. MoralCoT outperforms seven existing LLMs by 6.2% F1, suggesting that modeling human reasoning might be necessary to capture the flexibility of the human moral mind. We also conduct a detailed error analysis to suggest directions for future work to improve AI safety using MoralExceptQA. Our data is open-sourced at and code at

Learning to Break the Loop: Analyzing and Mitigating Repetitions for Neural Text Generation

Jin Xu · Xiaojiang Liu · Jianhao Yan · Deng Cai · Huayang Li · Jian Li

While large-scale neural language models, such as GPT2 and BART,have achieved impressive results on various text generation tasks, they tend to get stuck in undesirable sentence-level loops with maximization-based decoding algorithms (\textit{e.g.}, greedy search). This phenomenon is counter-intuitive since there are few consecutive sentence-level repetitions in the human corpus (e.g., 0.02\% in Wikitext-103). To investigate the underlying reasons for generating consecutive sentence-level repetitions, we study the relationship between the probability of repetitive tokens and their previous repetitions in context. Through our quantitative experiments, we find that 1) Models have a preference to repeat the previous sentence; 2) The sentence-level repetitions have a \textit{self-reinforcement effect}: the more times a sentence is repeated in the context, the higher the probability of continuing to generate that sentence; 3) The sentences with higher initial probabilities usually have a stronger self-reinforcement effect. Motivated by our findings, we propose a simple and effective training method \textbf{DITTO} (Pseu\underline{D}o-Repet\underline{IT}ion Penaliza\underline{T}i\underline{O}n), where the model learns to penalize probabilities of sentence-level repetitions from synthetic repetitive data. Although our method is motivated by mitigating repetitions, our experiments show that DITTO not only mitigates the repetition issue without sacrificing perplexity, but also achieves better generation quality. Extensive experiments on open-ended text generation (Wikitext-103) and text summarization (CNN/DailyMail) demonstrate the generality and effectiveness of our method.

A simple but strong baseline for online continual learning: Repeated Augmented Rehearsal

Yaqian Zhang · Bernhard Pfahringer · Eibe Frank · Albert Bifet · Nick Jin Sean Lim · Yunzhe Jia

Online continual learning (OCL) aims to train neural networks incrementally from a non-stationary data stream with a single pass through data. Rehearsal-based methods attempt to approximate the observed input distributions over time with a small memory and revisit them later to avoid forgetting. Despite their strong empirical performance, rehearsal methods still suffer from a poor approximation of past data’s loss landscape with memory samples. This paper revisits the rehearsal dynamics in online settings. We provide theoretical insights on the inherent memory overfitting risk from the viewpoint of biased and dynamic empirical risk minimization, and examine the merits and limits of repeated rehearsal.Inspired by our analysis, a simple and intuitive baseline, repeated augmented rehearsal (RAR), is designed to address the underfitting-overfitting dilemma of online rehearsal. Surprisingly, across four rather different OCL benchmarks,this simple baseline outperforms vanilla rehearsal by 9\%-17\% and also significantly improves the state-of-the-art rehearsal-based methods MIR, ASER, and SCR. We also demonstrate that RAR successfully achieves an accurate approximation of the loss landscape of past data and high-loss ridge aversion in its learning trajectory. Extensive ablation studies are conducted to study the interplay between repeated and augmented rehearsal, and reinforcement learning (RL) is applied to dynamically adjust the hyperparameters of RAR to balance the stability-plasticity trade-off online.

Maximum Likelihood Training of Implicit Nonlinear Diffusion Model

Dongjun Kim · Byeonghu Na · Se Jung Kwon · Dongsoo Lee · Wanmo Kang · Il-chul Moon

Whereas diverse variations of diffusion models exist, extending the linear diffusion into a nonlinear diffusion process is investigated by very few works. The nonlinearity effect has been hardly understood, but intuitively, there would be promising diffusion patterns to efficiently train the generative distribution towards the data distribution. This paper introduces a data-adaptive nonlinear diffusion process for score-based diffusion models. The proposed Implicit Nonlinear Diffusion Model (INDM) learns by combining a normalizing flow and a diffusion process. Specifically, INDM implicitly constructs a nonlinear diffusion on the data space by leveraging a linear diffusion on the latent space through a flow network. This flow network is key to forming a nonlinear diffusion, as the nonlinearity depends on the flow network. This flexible nonlinearity improves the learning curve of INDM to nearly Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) against the non-MLE curve of DDPM++, which turns out to be an inflexible version of INDM with the flow fixed as an identity mapping. Also, the discretization of INDM shows the sampling robustness. In experiments, INDM achieves the state-of-the-art FID of 1.75 on CelebA. We release our code at

On Divergence Measures for Bayesian Pseudocoresets

Balhae Kim · Jungwon Choi · Seanie Lee · Yoonho Lee · Jung-Woo Ha · Juho Lee

A Bayesian pseudocoreset is a small synthetic dataset for which the posterior over parameters approximates that of the original dataset. While promising, the scalability of Bayesian pseudocoresets is not yet validated in large-scale problems such as image classification with deep neural networks. On the other hand, dataset distillation methods similarly construct a small dataset such that the optimization with the synthetic dataset converges to a solution similar to optimization with full data. Although dataset distillation has been empirically verified in large-scale settings, the framework is restricted to point estimates, and their adaptation to Bayesian inference has not been explored. This paper casts two representative dataset distillation algorithms as approximations to methods for constructing pseudocoresets by minimizing specific divergence measures: reverse KL divergence and Wasserstein distance. Furthermore, we provide a unifying view of such divergence measures in Bayesian pseudocoreset construction. Finally, we propose a novel Bayesian pseudocoreset algorithm based on minimizing forward KL divergence. Our empirical results demonstrate that the pseudocoresets constructed from these methods reflect the true posterior even in large-scale Bayesian inference problems.

Towards Practical Few-shot Query Sets: Transductive Minimum Description Length Inference

Ségolène Martin · Malik Boudiaf · Emilie Chouzenoux · Jean-Christophe Pesquet · Ismail Ayed

Standard few-shot benchmarks are often built upon simplifying assumptions on the query sets, which may not always hold in practice. In particular, for each task at testing time, the classes effectively present in the unlabeled query set are known a priori, and correspond exactly to the set of classes represented in the labeled support set. We relax these assumptions and extend current benchmarks, so that the query-set classes of a given task are unknown, but just belong to a much larger set of possible classes. Our setting could be viewed as an instance of the challenging yet practical problem of extremely imbalanced $K$-way classification, $K$ being much larger than the values typically used in standard benchmarks, and with potentially irrelevant supervision from the support set. Expectedly, our setting incurs drops in the performances of state-of-the-art methods. Motivated by these observations, we introduce a \textbf{P}rim\textbf{A}l \textbf{D}ual Minimum \textbf{D}escription \textbf{LE}ngth (\textbf{PADDLE}) formulation, which balances data-fitting accuracy and model complexity for a given few-shot task, under supervision constraints from the support set. Our constrained MDL-like objective promotes competition among a large set of possible classes, preserving only effective classes that befit better the data of a few-shot task. It is hyper-parameter free, and could be applied on top of any base-class training. Furthermore, we derive a fast block coordinate descent algorithm for optimizing our objective, with convergence guarantee, and a linear computational complexity at each iteration. Comprehensive experiments over the standard few-shot datasets and the more realistic and challenging \textit{i-Nat} dataset show highly competitive performances of our method, more so when the numbers of possible classes in the tasks increase. Our code is publicly available at \url{}.

MABSplit: Faster Forest Training Using Multi-Armed Bandits

Mo Tiwari · Ryan Kang · Jaeyong Lee · Chris Piech · Ilan Shomorony · Sebastian Thrun · Martin Zhang

Random forests are some of the most widely used machine learning models today, especially in domains that necessitate interpretability. We present an algorithm that accelerates the training of random forests and other popular tree-based learning methods. At the core of our algorithm is a novel node-splitting subroutine, dubbed MABSplit, used to efficiently find split points when constructing decision trees. Our algorithm borrows techniques from the multi-armed bandit literature to judiciously determine how to allocate samples and computational power across candidate split points. We provide theoretical guarantees that MABSplit improves the sample complexity of each node split from linear to logarithmic in the number of data points. In some settings, MABSplit leads to 100x faster training (an 99% reduction in training time) without any decrease in generalization performance. We demonstrate similar speedups when MABSplit is used across a variety of forest-based variants, such as Extremely Random Forests and Random Patches. We also show our algorithm can be used in both classification and regression tasks. Finally, we show that MABSplit outperforms existing methods in generalization performance and feature importance calculations under a fixed computational budget. All of our experimental results are reproducible via a one-line script at

Reconstructing Training Data From Trained Neural Networks

Niv Haim · Gal Vardi · Gilad Yehudai · Ohad Shamir · Michal Irani

Understanding to what extent neural networks memorize training data is an intriguing question with practical and theoretical implications. In this paper we show that in some cases a significant fraction of the training data can in fact be reconstructed from the parameters of a trained neural network classifier.We propose a novel reconstruction scheme that stems from recent theoretical results about the implicit bias in training neural networks with gradient-based methods.To the best of our knowledge, our results are the first to show that reconstructing a large portion of the actual training samples from a trained neural network classifier is generally possible.This has negative implications on privacy, as it can be used as an attack for revealing sensitive training data. We demonstrate our method for binary MLP classifiers on a few standard computer vision datasets.

Information-Theoretic Safe Exploration with Gaussian Processes

Alessandro Bottero · Carlos Luis · Julia Vinogradska · Felix Berkenkamp · Jan Peters

We consider a sequential decision making task where we are not allowed to evaluate parameters that violate an a priori unknown (safety) constraint. A common approach is to place a Gaussian process prior on the unknown constraint and allow evaluations only in regions that are safe with high probability. Most current methods rely on a discretization of the domain and cannot be directly extended to the continuous case. Moreover, the way in which they exploit regularity assumptions about the constraint introduces an additional critical hyperparameter. In this paper, we propose an information-theoretic safe exploration criterion that directly exploits the GP posterior to identify the most informative safe parameters to evaluate. Our approach is naturally applicable to continuous domains and does not require additional hyperparameters. We theoretically analyze the method and show that we do not violate the safety constraint with high probability and that we explore by learning about the constraint up to arbitrary precision. Empirical evaluations demonstrate improved data-efficiency and scalability.

Pruning’s Effect on Generalization Through the Lens of Training and Regularization

Tian Jin · Michael Carbin · Dan Roy · Jonathan Frankle · Gintare Karolina Dziugaite

Practitioners frequently observe that pruning improves model generalization. A long-standing hypothesis based on bias-variance trade-off attributes this generalization improvement to model size reduction. However, recent studies on over-parameterization characterize a new model size regime, in which larger models achieve better generalization. Pruning models in this over-parameterized regime leads to a contradiction -- while theory predicts that reducing model size harms generalization, pruning to a range of sparsities nonetheless improves it. Motivated by this contradiction, we re-examine pruning’s effect on generalization empirically.We show that size reduction cannot fully account for the generalization-improving effect of standard pruning algorithms. Instead, we find that pruning leads to better training at specific sparsities, improving the training loss over the dense model. We find that pruning also leads to additional regularization at other sparsities, reducing the accuracy degradation due to noisy examples over the dense model. Pruning extends model training time and reduces model size. These two factors improve training and add regularization respectively. We empirically demonstrate that both factors are essential to fully explaining pruning's impact on generalization.

End-to-end Algorithm Synthesis with Recurrent Networks: Extrapolation without Overthinking

Arpit Bansal · Avi Schwarzschild · Eitan Borgnia · Zeyad Emam · Furong Huang · Micah Goldblum · Tom Goldstein

Machine learning systems perform well on pattern matching tasks, but their ability to perform algorithmic or logical reasoning is not well understood. One important reasoning capability is algorithmic extrapolation, in which models trained only on small/simple reasoning problems can synthesize complex strategies for large/complex problems at test time. Algorithmic extrapolation can be achieved through recurrent systems, which can be iterated many times to solve difficult reasoning problems. We observe that this approach fails to scale to highly complex problems because behavior degenerates when many iterations are applied -- an issue we refer to as "overthinking." We propose a recall architecture that keeps an explicit copy of the problem instance in memory so that it cannot be forgotten. We also employ a progressive training routine that prevents the model from learning behaviors that are specific to iteration number and instead pushes it to learn behaviors that can be repeated indefinitely. These innovations prevent the overthinking problem, and enable recurrent systems to solve extremely hard extrapolation tasks.

Conformal Prediction with Temporal Quantile Adjustments

Zhen Lin · Shubhendu Trivedi · Jimeng Sun

We develop Temporal Quantile Adjustment (TQA), a general method to construct efficient and valid prediction intervals (PIs) for regression on cross-sectional time series data. Such data is common in many domains, including econometrics and healthcare. A canonical example in healthcare is predicting patient outcomes using physiological time-series data, where a population of patients composes a cross-section. Reliable PI estimators in this setting must address two distinct notions of coverage: cross-sectional coverage across a cross-sectional slice, and longitudinal coverage along the temporal dimension for each time series. Recent works have explored adapting Conformal Prediction (CP) to obtain PIs in the time series context. However, none handles both notions of coverage simultaneously. CP methods typically query a pre-specified quantile from the distribution of nonconformity scores on a calibration set. TQA adjusts the quantile to query in CP at each time $t$, accounting for both cross-sectional and longitudinal coverage in a theoretically-grounded manner. The post-hoc nature of TQA facilitates its use as a general wrapper around any time series regression model. We validate TQA's performance through extensive experimentation: TQA generally obtains efficient PIs and improves longitudinal coverage while preserving cross-sectional coverage.

Expected Frequency Matrices of Elections: Computation, Geometry, and Preference Learning

Niclas Boehmer · Robert Bredereck · Edith Elkind · Piotr Faliszewski · Stanisław Szufa

We use the "map of elections" approach of Szufa et al. (AAMAS 2020) to analyze several well-known vote distributions. For each of them, we give an explicit formula or an efficient algorithm for computing its frequency matrix, which captures the probability that a given candidate appears in a given position in a sampled vote. We use these matrices to draw the "skeleton map" of distributions, evaluate its robustness, and analyze its properties. We further develop a general and unified framework for learning the distribution of real-world preferences using the frequency matrices of established vote distributions.

Fast Bayesian Inference with Batch Bayesian Quadrature via Kernel Recombination

Masaki Adachi · Satoshi Hayakawa · Martin Jørgensen · Harald Oberhauser · Michael A Osborne

Calculation of Bayesian posteriors and model evidences typically requires numerical integration. Bayesian quadrature (BQ), a surrogate-model-based approach to numerical integration, is capable of superb sample efficiency, but its lack of parallelisation has hindered its practical applications. In this work, we propose a parallelised (batch) BQ method, employing techniques from kernel quadrature, that possesses an empirically exponential convergence rate.Additionally, just as with Nested Sampling, our method permits simultaneous inference of both posteriors and model evidence.Samples from our BQ surrogate model are re-selected to give a sparse set of samples, via a kernel recombination algorithm, requiring negligible additional time to increase the batch size.Empirically, we find that our approach significantly outperforms the sampling efficiency of both state-of-the-art BQ techniques and Nested Sampling in various real-world datasets, including lithium-ion battery analytics.

Online PAC-Bayes Learning

Maxime Haddouche · Benjamin Guedj

Most PAC-Bayesian bounds hold in the batch learning setting where data is collected at once, prior to inference or prediction. This somewhat departs from many contemporary learning problems where data streams are collected and the algorithms must dynamically adjust. We prove new PAC-Bayesian bounds in this online learning framework, leveraging an updated definition of regret, and we revisit classical PAC-Bayesian results with a batch-to-online conversion, extending their remit to the case of dependent data. Our results hold for bounded losses, potentially \emph{non-convex}, paving the way to promising developments in online learning.

On the inability of Gaussian process regression to optimally learn compositional functions

Matteo Giordano · Kolyan Ray · Johannes Schmidt-Hieber

We rigorously prove that deep Gaussian process priors can outperform Gaussian process priors if the target function has a compositional structure. To this end, we study information-theoretic lower bounds for posterior contraction rates for Gaussian process regression in a continuous regression model. We show that if the true function is a generalized additive function, then the posterior based on any mean-zero Gaussian process can only recover the truth at a rate that is strictly slower than the minimax rate by a factor that is polynomially suboptimal in the sample size $n$.

Online Agnostic Multiclass Boosting

Vinod Raman · Ambuj Tewari

Boosting is a fundamental approach in machine learning that enjoys both strong theoretical and practical guarantees. At a high-level, boosting algorithms cleverly aggregate weak learners to generate predictions with arbitrarily high accuracy. In this way, boosting algorithms convert weak learners into strong ones. Recently, Brukhim et al. [2020] extended boosting to the online agnostic binary classification setting. A key ingredient in their approach is a clean and simple reduction to online convex optimization, one that efficiently converts an arbitrary online convex optimizer to an agnostic online booster. In this work, we extend this reduction to multiclass problems and give the first boosting algorithm for online agnostic mutliclass classification. Our reduction also enables the construction of algorithms for statistical agnostic, online realizable, and statistical realizable multiclass boosting.

Beyond the Best: Distribution Functional Estimation in Infinite-Armed Bandits

Yifei Wang · Tavor Baharav · Yanjun Han · Jiantao Jiao · David Tse

In the infinite-armed bandit problem, each arm's average reward is sampled from an unknown distribution, and each arm can be sampled further to obtain noisy estimates of the average reward of that arm. Prior work focuses on the best arm, i.e. estimating the maximum of the average reward distribution. We consider a general class of distribution functionals beyond the maximum and obtain optimal sample complexities in both offline and online settings. We show that online estimation, where the learner can sequentially choose whether to sample a new or existing arm, offers no advantage over the offline setting for estimating the mean functional, but significantly reduces the sample complexity for other functionals such as the median, maximum, and trimmed mean. We propose unified meta algorithms for the online and offline settings and derive matching lower bounds using different Wasserstein distances. For the special case of median estimation, we identify a curious thresholding phenomenon on the indistinguishability between Gaussian convolutions with respect to the noise level, which may be of independent interest.

Efficient Submodular Optimization under Noise: Local Search is Robust

Lingxiao Huang · Yuyi Wang · Chunxue Yang · Huanjian Zhou

The problem of monotone submodular maximization has been studied extensively due to its wide range of applications. However, there are cases where one can only access the objective function in a distorted or noisy form because of the uncertain nature or the errors involved in the evaluation. This paper considers the problem of constrained monotone submodular maximization with noisy oracles introduced by Hassidim and Singer (2017). For a cardinality constraint, we propose an algorithm achieving a near-optimal (1-1/e-O(epsilon))-approximation guarantee (for arbitrary epsilon > 0) with only a polynomial number of queries to the noisy value oracle, which improves the exponential query complexity of Singer and Hassidim (2018). For general matroid constraints, we show the first constant approximation algorithm in the presence of noise. Our main approaches are to design a novel local search framework that can handle the effect of noise and to construct certain smoothing surrogate functions for noise reduction.

Adversarially Robust Learning: A Generic Minimax Optimal Learner and Characterization

Omar Montasser · Steve Hanneke · Nati Srebro

We present a minimax optimal learner for the problem of learning predictors robust to adversarial examples at test-time. Interestingly, we find that this requires new algorithmic ideas and approaches to adversarially robust learning. In particular, we show, in a strong negative sense, the suboptimality of the robust learner proposed by Montasser, Hanneke, and Srebro [2019] and a broader family of learners we identify as local learners. Our results are enabled by adopting a global perspective, specifically, through a key technical contribution: the the global one-inclusion graph, which may be of independent interest, that generalizes the classical one-inclusion graph due to Haussler, Littlestone, and Warmuth [1994]. Finally, as a byproduct, we identify a dimension characterizing qualitatively and quantitatively what classes of predictors $\mathcal{H}$ are robustly learnable. This resolves an open problem due to Montasser et al. [2019], and closes a (potentially) infinite gap between the established upper and lower bounds on the sample complexity of adversarially robust learning.

A Regret-Variance Trade-Off in Online Learning

Dirk van der Hoeven · Nikita Zhivotovskiy · Nicolò Cesa-Bianchi

We consider prediction with expert advice for strongly convex and bounded losses, and investigate trade-offs between regret and ``variance'' (i.e., squared difference of learner's predictions and best expert predictions).With $K$ experts, the Exponentially Weighted Average (EWA) algorithm is known to achieve $O(\log K)$ regret.We prove that a variant of EWA either achieves a \textsl{negative} regret (i.e., the algorithm outperforms the best expert), or guarantees a $O(\log K)$ bound on \textsl{both} variance and regret.Building on this result, we show several examples of how variance of predictions can be exploited in learning.In the online to batch analysis, we show that a large empirical variance allows to stop the online to batch conversion early and outperform the risk of the best predictor in the class. We also recover the optimal rate of model selection aggregation when we do not consider early stopping.In online prediction with corrupted losses, we show that the effect of corruption on the regret can be compensated by a large variance.In online selective sampling, we design an algorithm that samples less when the variance is large, while guaranteeing the optimal regret bound in expectation.In online learning with abstention, we use a similar term as the variance to derive the first high-probability $O(\log K)$ regret bound in this setting.Finally, we extend our results to the setting of online linear regression.

On the Effective Number of Linear Regions in Shallow Univariate ReLU Networks: Convergence Guarantees and Implicit Bias

Itay Safran · Gal Vardi · Jason Lee

We study the dynamics and implicit bias of gradient flow (GF) on univariate ReLU neural networks with a single hidden layer in a binary classification setting. We show that when the labels are determined by the sign of a target network with $r$ neurons, with high probability over the initialization of the network and the sampling of the dataset, GF converges in direction (suitably defined) to a network achieving perfect training accuracy and having at most $\mathcal{O}(r)$ linear regions, implying a generalization bound. Unlike many other results in the literature, under an additional assumption on the distribution of the data, our result holds even for mild over-parameterization, where the width is $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(r)$ and independent of the sample size.

Off-Policy Evaluation for Episodic Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes under Non-Parametric Models

Rui Miao · Zhengling Qi · Xiaoke Zhang

We study the problem of off-policy evaluation (OPE) for episodic Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDPs) with continuous states. Motivated by the recently proposed proximal causal inference framework, we develop a non-parametric identification result for estimating the policy value via a sequence of so-called V-bridge functions with the help of time-dependent proxy variables. We then develop a fitted-Q-evaluation-type algorithm to estimate V-bridge functions recursively, where a non-parametric instrumental variable (NPIV) problem is solved at each step. By analyzing this challenging sequential NPIV estimation, we establish the finite-sample error bounds for estimating the V-bridge functions and accordingly that for evaluating the policy value, in terms of the sample size, length of horizon and so-called (local) measure of ill-posedness at each step. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first finite-sample error bound for OPE in POMDPs under non-parametric models.

Probabilistic Missing Value Imputation for Mixed Categorical and Ordered Data

Yuxuan Zhao · Alex Townsend · Madeleine Udell

Many real-world datasets contain missing entries and mixed data types including categorical and ordered (e.g. continuous and ordinal) variables. Imputing the missing entries is necessary, since many data analysis pipelines require complete data, but challenging especially for mixed data. This paper proposes a probabilistic imputation method using an extended Gaussian copula model that supports both single and multiple imputation. The method models mixed categorical and ordered data using a latent Gaussian distribution. The unordered characteristics of categorical variables is explicitly modeled using the argmax operator. The method makes no assumptions on the data marginals nor does it require tuning any hyperparameters. Experimental results on synthetic and real datasets show that imputation with the extended Gaussian copula outperforms the current state-of-the-art for both categorical and ordered variables in mixed data.

Double Bubble, Toil and Trouble: Enhancing Certified Robustness through Transitivity

Andrew Cullen · Paul Montague · Shijie Liu · Sarah Erfani · Benjamin Rubinstein

In response to subtle adversarial examples flipping classifications of neural network models, recent research has promoted certified robustness as a solution. There, invariance of predictions to all norm-bounded attacks is achieved through randomised smoothing of network inputs. Today's state-of-the-art certifications make optimal use of the class output scores at the input instance under test: no better radius of certification (under the $L_2$ norm) is possible given only these score. However, it is an open question as to whether such lower bounds can be improved using local information around the instance under test. In this work, we demonstrate how today's ``optimal'' certificates can be improved by exploiting both the transitivity of certifications, and the geometry of the input space, giving rise to what we term Geometrically-Informed Certified Robustness. By considering the smallest distance to points on the boundary of a set of certifications this approach improves certifications for more than $80 \%$ of Tiny-Imagenet instances, yielding an on average $5\%$ increase in the associated certification. When incorporating training time processes that enhance the certified radius, our technique shows even more promising results, with a uniform $4$ percentage point increase in the achieved certified radius.

Ensemble of Averages: Improving Model Selection and Boosting Performance in Domain Generalization

Devansh Arpit · Huan Wang · Yingbo Zhou · Caiming Xiong

In Domain Generalization (DG) settings, models trained independently on a given set of training domains have notoriously chaotic performance on distribution shifted test domains, and stochasticity in optimization (e.g. seed) plays a big role. This makes deep learning models unreliable in real world settings. We first show that this chaotic behavior exists even along the training optimization trajectory of a single model, and propose a simple model averaging protocol that both significantly boosts domain generalization and diminishes the impact of stochasticity by improving the rank correlation between the in-domain validation accuracy and out-domain test accuracy, which is crucial for reliable early stopping. Taking advantage of our observation, we show that instead of ensembling unaveraged models (that is typical in practice), ensembling moving average models (EoA) from independent runs further boosts performance. We theoretically explain the boost in performance of ensembling and model averaging by adapting the well known Bias-Variance trade-off to the domain generalization setting. On the DomainBed benchmark, when using a pre-trained ResNet-50, this ensemble of averages achieves an average of $68.0\%$, beating vanilla ERM (w/o averaging/ensembling) by $\sim 4\%$, and when using a pre-trained RegNetY-16GF, achieves an average of $76.6\%$, beating vanilla ERM by $\sim 6\%$.

Coresets for Vertical Federated Learning: Regularized Linear Regression and $K$-Means Clustering

Lingxiao Huang · Zhize Li · Jialin Sun · Haoyu Zhao

Vertical federated learning (VFL), where data features are stored in multiple parties distributively, is an important area in machine learning. However, the communication complexity for VFL is typically very high. In this paper, we propose a unified framework by constructing \emph{coresets} in a distributed fashion for communication-efficient VFL. We study two important learning tasks in the VFL setting: regularized linear regression and $k$-means clustering, and apply our coreset framework to both problems. We theoretically show that using coresets can drastically alleviate the communication complexity, while nearly maintain the solution quality. Numerical experiments are conducted to corroborate our theoretical findings.

Active Bayesian Causal Inference

Christian Toth · Lars Lorch · Christian Knoll · Andreas Krause · Franz Pernkopf · Robert Peharz · Julius von Kügelgen

Causal discovery and causal reasoning are classically treated as separate and consecutive tasks: one first infers the causal graph, and then uses it to estimate causal effects of interventions. However, such a two-stage approach is uneconomical, especially in terms of actively collected interventional data, since the causal query of interest may not require a fully-specified causal model. From a Bayesian perspective, it is also unnatural, since a causal query (e.g., the causal graph or some causal effect) can be viewed as a latent quantity subject to posterior inference—quantities that are not of direct interest ought to be marginalized out in this process, thus contributing to our overall uncertainty. In this work, we propose Active Bayesian Causal Inference (ABCI), a fully-Bayesian active learning framework for integrated causal discovery and reasoning, i.e., for jointly inferring a posterior over causal models and queries of interest. In our approach to ABCI, we focus on the class of causally-sufficient nonlinear additive Gaussian noise models, which we model using Gaussian processes. To capture the space of causal graphs, we use a continuous latent graph representation, allowing our approach to scale to practically relevant problem sizes. We sequentially design experiments that are maximally informative about our target causal query, collect the corresponding interventional data, update our beliefs, and repeat. Through simulations, we demonstrate that our approach is more data-efficient than existing methods that only focus on learning the full causal graph. This allows us to accurately learn downstream causal queries from fewer samples, while providing well-calibrated uncertainty estimates of the quantities of interest.

All Politics is Local: Redistricting via Local Fairness

Shao-Heng Ko · Erin Taylor · Pankaj Agarwal · Kamesh Munagala

In this paper, we propose to use the concept of local fairness for auditing and ranking redistricting plans. Given a redistricting plan, a deviating group is a population-balanced contiguous region in which a majority of individuals are of the same interest and in the minority of their respective districts; such a set of individuals have a justified complaint with how the redistricting plan was drawn. A redistricting plan with no deviating groups is called locally fair. We show that the problem of auditing a given plan for local fairness is NP-complete. We present an MCMC approach for auditing as well as ranking redistricting plans. We also present a dynamic programming based algorithm for the auditing problem that we use to demonstrate the efficacy of our MCMC approach. Using these tools, we test local fairness on real-world election data, showing that it is indeed possible to find plans that are almost or exactly locally fair. Further, we show that such plans can be generated while sacrificing very little in terms of compactness and existing fairness measures such as competitiveness of the districts or seat shares of the plans.

Sequence Model Imitation Learning with Unobserved Contexts

Gokul Swamy · Sanjiban Choudhury · J. Bagnell · Steven Wu

We consider imitation learning problems where the learner's ability to mimic the expert increases throughout the course of an episode as more information is revealed. One example of this is when the expert has access to privileged information: while the learner might not be able to accurately reproduce expert behavior early on in an episode, by considering the entire history of states and actions, they might be able to eventually identify the hidden context and act as the expert would. We prove that on-policy imitation learning algorithms (with or without access to a queryable expert) are better equipped to handle these sorts of asymptotically realizable problems than off-policy methods. This is because on-policy algorithms provably learn to recover from their initially suboptimal actions, while off-policy methods treat their suboptimal past actions as though they came from the expert. This often manifests as a latching behavior: a naive repetition of past actions. We conduct experiments in a toy bandit domain that show that there exist sharp phase transitions of whether off-policy approaches are able to match expert performance asymptotically, in contrast to the uniformly good performance of on-policy approaches. We demonstrate that on several continuous control tasks, on-policy approaches are able to use history to identify the context while off-policy approaches actually perform worse when given access to history.

Anticipating Performativity by Predicting from Predictions

Celestine Mendler-Dünner · Frances Ding · Yixin Wang

Predictions about people, such as their expected educational achievement or their credit risk, can be performative and shape the outcome that they are designed to predict. Understanding the causal effect of predictions on the eventual outcomes is crucial for foreseeing the implications of future predictive models and selecting which models to deploy. However, this causal estimation task poses unique challenges: model predictions are usually deterministic functions of input features and highly correlated with outcomes, which can make the causal effects of predictions on outcomes impossible to disentangle from the direct effect of the covariates. We study this problem through the lens of causal identifiability. Despite the hardness of this problem in full generality, we highlight three natural scenarios where the causal effect of predictions can be identified from observational data: randomization in predictions, overparameterization of the predictive model deployed during data collection, and discrete prediction outputs. Empirically we show that given our identifiability conditions hold, standard variants of supervised learning that predict from predictions by treating the prediction as an input feature can find transferable functional relationships that allow for conclusions about newly deployed predictive models. These positive results fundamentally rely on model predictions being recorded during data collection, bringing forward the importance of rethinking standard data collection practices to enable progress towards a better understanding of social outcomes and performative feedback loops.

Graphein - a Python Library for Geometric Deep Learning and Network Analysis on Biomolecular Structures and Interaction Networks

Arian Jamasb · Ramon Viñas Torné · Eric Ma · Yuanqi Du · Charles Harris · Kexin Huang · Dominic Hall · Pietro Lió · Tom Blundell

Geometric deep learning has broad applications in biology, a domain where relational structure in data is often intrinsic to modelling the underlying phenomena. Currently, efforts in both geometric deep learning and, more broadly, deep learning applied to biomolecular tasks have been hampered by a scarcity of appropriate datasets accessible to domain specialists and machine learning researchers alike. To address this, we introduce Graphein as a turn-key tool for transforming raw data from widely-used bioinformatics databases into machine learning-ready datasets in a high-throughput and flexible manner. Graphein is a Python library for constructing graph and surface-mesh representations of biomolecular structures, such as proteins, nucleic acids and small molecules, and biological interaction networks for computational analysis and machine learning. Graphein provides utilities for data retrieval from widely-used bioinformatics databases for structural data, including the Protein Data Bank, the AlphaFold Structure Database, chemical data from ZINC and ChEMBL, and for biomolecular interaction networks from STRINGdb, BioGrid, TRRUST and RegNetwork. The library interfaces with popular geometric deep learning libraries: DGL, Jraph, PyTorch Geometric and PyTorch3D though remains framework agnostic as it is built on top of the PyData ecosystem to enable inter-operability with scientific computing tools and libraries. Graphein is designed to be highly flexible, allowing the user to specify each step of the data preparation, scalable to facilitate working with large protein complexes and interaction graphs, and contains useful pre-processing tools for preparing experimental files. Graphein facilitates network-based, graph-theoretic and topological analyses of structural and interaction datasets in a high-throughput manner. We envision that Graphein will facilitate developments in computational biology, graph representation learning and drug discovery. Availability and implementation: Graphein is written in Python. Source code, example usage and tutorials, datasets, and documentation are made freely available under the MIT License at the following URL:

The computational and learning benefits of Daleian neural networks

Adam Haber · Elad Schneidman

Dale’s principle implies that biological neural networks are composed of neurons that are either excitatory or inhibitory. While the number of possible architectures of such Daleian networks is exponentially smaller than the number of non-Daleian ones, the computational and functional implications of using Daleian networks by the brain are mostly unknown. Here, we use models of recurrent spiking neural networks and rate-based ones to show, surprisingly, that despite the structural limitations on Daleian networks, they can approximate the computation performed by non-Daleian networks to a very high degree of accuracy. Moreover, we find that Daleian networks are more functionally robust to synaptic noise. We then show that unlike non-Daleian networks, Daleian ones can learn efficiently by tuning of single neuron features, nearly as well as learning by tuning individual synaptic weights. Importantly, this suggests a simpler and more biologically plausible learning mechanisms. We therefore suggest that in addition to architectural simplicity, Dale's principle confers computational and learning benefits for biological networks, and offer new directions for constructing and training biologically-inspired artificial neural networks.

Optimal Algorithms for Decentralized Stochastic Variational Inequalities

Dmitry Kovalev · Aleksandr Beznosikov · Abdurakhmon Sadiev · Michael Persiianov · Peter Richtarik · Alexander Gasnikov

Variational inequalities are a formalism that includes games, minimization, saddle point, and equilibrium problems as special cases. Methods for variational inequalities are therefore universal approaches for many applied tasks, including machine learning problems. This work concentrates on the decentralized setting, which is increasingly important but not well understood. In particular, we consider decentralized stochastic (sum-type) variational inequalities over fixed and time-varying networks. We present lower complexity bounds for both communication and local iterations and construct optimal algorithms that match these lower bounds. Our algorithms are the best among the available literature not only in the decentralized stochastic case, but also in the decentralized deterministic and non-distributed stochastic cases. Experimental results confirm the effectiveness of the presented algorithms.

Theory and Approximate Solvers for Branched Optimal Transport with Multiple Sources

Peter Lippmann · Enrique Fita Sanmartín · Fred Hamprecht

Branched optimal transport (BOT) is a generalization of optimal transport in which transportation costs along an edge are subadditive. This subadditivity models an increase in transport efficiency when shipping mass along the same route, favoring branched transportation networks. We here study the NP-hard optimization of BOT networks connecting a finite number of sources and sinks in $\mathbb{R}^2$. First, we show how to efficiently find the best geometry of a BOT network for many sources and sinks, given a topology. Second, we argue that a topology with more than three edges meeting at a branching point is never optimal. Third, we show that the results obtained for the Euclidean plane generalize directly to optimal transportation networks on two-dimensional Riemannian manifolds. Finally, we present a simple but effective approximate BOT solver combining geometric optimization with a combinatorial optimization of the network topology.

Algorithms with Prediction Portfolios

Michael Dinitz · Sungjin Im · Thomas Lavastida · Benjamin Moseley · Sergei Vassilvitskii

The research area of algorithms with predictions has seen recent success showing how to incorporate machine learning into algorithm design to improve performance when the predictions are correct, while retaining worst-case guarantees when they are not. Most previous work has assumed that the algorithm has access to a single predictor. However, in practice, there are many machine learning methods available, often with incomparable generalization guarantees, making it hard to pick a best method a priori. In this work we consider scenarios where multiple predictors are available to the algorithm and the question is how to best utilize them. Ideally, we would like the algorithm's performance to depend on the quality of the {\em best} predictor. However, utilizing more predictions comes with a cost, since we now have to identify which prediction is best. We study the use of multiple predictors for a number of fundamental problems, including matching, load balancing, and non-clairvoyant scheduling, which have been well-studied in the single predictor setting. For each of these problems we introduce new algorithms that take advantage of multiple predictors, and prove bounds on the resulting performance.

Logical Activation Functions: Logit-space equivalents of Probabilistic Boolean Operators

Scott Lowe · Robert Earle · Jason d'Eon · Thomas Trappenberg · Sageev Oore

The choice of activation functions and their motivation is a long-standing issue within the neural network community. Neuronal representations within artificial neural networks are commonly understood as logits, representing the log-odds score of presence of features within the stimulus. We derive logit-space operators equivalent to probabilistic Boolean logic-gates AND, OR, and XNOR for independent probabilities. Such theories are important to formalize more complex dendritic operations in real neurons, and these operations can be used as activation functions within a neural network, introducing probabilistic Boolean-logic as the core operation of the neural network. Since these functions involve taking multiple exponents and logarithms, they are computationally expensive and not well suited to be directly used within neural networks. Consequently, we construct efficient approximations named $\text{AND}_\text{AIL}$ (the AND operator Approximate for Independent Logits), $\text{OR}_\text{AIL}$, and $\text{XNOR}_\text{AIL}$, which utilize only comparison and addition operations, have well-behaved gradients, and can be deployed as activation functions in neural networks. Like MaxOut, $\text{AND}_\text{AIL}$ and $\text{OR}_\text{AIL}$ are generalizations of ReLU to two-dimensions. While our primary aim is to formalize dendritic computations within a logit-space probabilistic-Boolean framework, we deploy these new activation functions, both in isolation and in conjunction to demonstrate their effectiveness on a variety of tasks including tabular classification, image classification, transfer learning, abstract reasoning, and compositional zero-shot learning.

Understanding the Eluder Dimension

Gene Li · Pritish Kamath · Dylan J Foster · Nati Srebro

We provide new insights on eluder dimension, a complexity measure that has been extensively used to bound the regret of algorithms for online bandits and reinforcement learning with function approximation. First, we study the relationship between the eluder dimension for a function class and a generalized notion of \emph{rank}, defined for any monotone ``activation'' $\sigma : \mathbb{R}\to \mathbb{R}$, which corresponds to the minimal dimension required to represent the class as a generalized linear model. It is known that when $\sigma$ has derivatives bounded away from $0$, $\sigma$-rank gives rise to an upper bound on eluder dimension for any function class; we show however that eluder dimension can be exponentially smaller than $\sigma$-rank. We also show that the condition on the derivative is necessary; namely, when $\sigma$ is the $\mathsf{relu}$ activation, the eluder dimension can be exponentially larger than $\sigma$-rank. For Boolean-valued function classes, we obtain a characterization of the eluder dimension in terms of star number and threshold dimension, quantities which are relevant in active learning and online learning respectively.

A Projection-free Algorithm for Constrained Stochastic Multi-level Composition Optimization

Tesi Xiao · Krishnakumar Balasubramanian · Saeed Ghadimi

We propose a projection-free conditional gradient-type algorithm for smooth stochastic multi-level composition optimization, where the objective function is a nested composition of $T$ functions and the constraint set is a closed convex set. Our algorithm assumes access to noisy evaluations of the functions and their gradients, through a stochastic first-order oracle satisfying certain standard unbiasedness and second-moment assumptions. We show that the number of calls to the stochastic first-order oracle and the linear-minimization oracle required by the proposed algorithm, to obtain an $\epsilon$-stationary solution, are of order $\mathcal{O}_T(\epsilon^{-2})$ and $\mathcal{O}_T(\epsilon^{-3})$ respectively, where $\mathcal{O}_T$ hides constants in $T$. Notably, the dependence of these complexity bounds on $\epsilon$ and $T$ are separate in the sense that changing one does not impact the dependence of the bounds on the other. For the case of $T=1$, we also provide a high-probability convergence result that depends poly-logarithmically on the inverse confidence level. Moreover, our algorithm is parameter-free and does not require any (increasing) order of mini-batches to converge unlike the common practice in the analysis of stochastic conditional gradient-type algorithms.

Robust Model Selection and Nearly-Proper Learning for GMMs

Allen Liu · Jerry Li · Ankur Moitra

In learning theory, a standard assumption is that the data is generated from a finite mixture model. But what happens when the number of components is not known in advance? The problem of estimating the number of components, also called model selection, is important in its own right but there are essentially no known efficient algorithms with provable guarantees. In this work, we study the problem of model selection for univariate Gaussian mixture models (GMMs). Given $\textsf{poly}(k/\epsilon)$ samples from a distribution that is $\epsilon$-close in TV distance to a GMM with $k$ components, we can construct a GMM with $\widetilde{O}(k)$ components that approximates the distribution to within $\widetilde{O}(\epsilon)$ in $\textsf{poly}(k/\epsilon)$ time. Thus we are able to approximately determine the minimum number of components needed to fit the distribution within a logarithmic factor. Moreover, by adapting the techniques we obtain similar results for reconstructing Fourier-sparse signals. Prior to our work, the only known algorithms for learning arbitrary univariate GMMs either output significantly more than $k$ components (e.g. $k/\epsilon^2$ components for kernel density estimates) or run in time exponential in $k$.

On Gap-dependent Bounds for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Xinqi Wang · Qiwen Cui · Simon Du

This paper presents a systematic study on gap-dependent sample complexity in offline reinforcement learning. Prior works showed when the density ratio between an optimal policy and the behavior policy is upper bounded (single policy coverage), then the agent can achieve an $O\left(\frac{1}{\epsilon^2}\right)$ rate, which is also minimax optimal. We show under the same single policy coverage assumption, the rate can be improved to $O\left(\frac{1}{\epsilon}\right)$ when there is a gap in the optimal $Q$-function. Furthermore, we show under a stronger uniform single policy coverage assumption, the sample complexity can be further improved to $O(1)$. Lastly, we also present nearly-matching lower bounds to complement our gap-dependent upper bounds.

Perfect Sampling from Pairwise Comparisons

Dimitris Fotakis · Alkis Kalavasis · Christos Tzamos

In this work, we study how to efficiently obtain perfect samples from a discrete distribution $\mathcal{D}$ given access only to pairwise comparisons of elements of its support. Specifically, we assume access to samples $(x, S)$, where $S$ is drawn from a distribution over sets $\mathcal{Q}$ (indicating the elements being compared), and $x$ is drawn from the conditional distribution $\mathcal{D}_S$ (indicating the winner of the comparison) and aim to output a clean sample $y$ distributed according to $\mathcal{D}$. We mainly focus on the case of pairwise comparisons where all sets $S$ have size 2. We design a Markov chain whose stationary distribution coincides with $\mathcal{D}$ and give an algorithm to obtain exact samples using the technique of Coupling from the Past. However, the sample complexity of this algorithm depends on the structure of the distribution $\mathcal{D}$ and can be even exponential in the support of $\mathcal{D}$ in many natural scenarios. Our main contribution is to provide an efficient exact sampling algorithm whose complexity does not depend on the structure of $\mathcal{D}$. To this end, we give a parametric Markov chain that mixes significantly faster given a good approximation to the stationary distribution. We can obtain such an approximation using an efficient learning from pairwise comparisons algorithm (Shah et al., JMLR 17, 2016). Our technique for speeding up sampling from a Markov chain whose stationary distribution is approximately known is simple, general and possibly of independent interest.

Fast Stochastic Composite Minimization and an Accelerated Frank-Wolfe Algorithm under Parallelization

Benjamin Dubois-Taine · Francis Bach · Quentin Berthet · Adrien Taylor

We consider the problem of minimizing the sum of two convex functions. One of those functions has Lipschitz-continuous gradients, and can be accessed via stochastic oracles, whereas the other is ``simple''. We provide a Bregman-type algorithm with accelerated convergence in function values to a ball containing the minimum. The radius of this ball depends on problem-dependent constants, including the variance of the stochastic oracle. We further show that this algorithmic setup naturally leads to a variant of Frank-Wolfe achieving acceleration under parallelization. More precisely, when minimizing a smooth convex function on a bounded domain, we show that one can achieve an $\epsilon$ primal-dual gap (in expectation) in $\tilde{O}(1 /\sqrt{\epsilon})$ iterations, by only accessing gradients of the original function and a linear maximization oracle with $O(1 / \sqrt{\epsilon})$ computing units in parallel. We illustrate this fast convergence on synthetic numerical experiments.

Finding Correlated Equilibrium of Constrained Markov Game: A Primal-Dual Approach

Ziyi Chen · Shaocong Ma · Yi Zhou

Constrained Markov game is a fundamental problem that covers many applications, where multiple players compete with each other under behavioral constraints. The existing literature has proved the existence of Nash equilibrium for constrained Markov games, which turns out to be PPAD-complete and cannot be computed in polynomial time. In this work, we propose a surrogate notion of correlated equilibrium (CE) for constrained Markov games that can be computed in polynomial time, and study its fundamental properties. We show that the modification structure of CE of constrained Markov games is fundamentally different from that of unconstrained Markov games. Moreover, we prove that the corresponding Lagrangian function has zero duality gap. Based on this result, we develop the first primal-dual algorithm that provably converges to CE of constrained Markov games. In particular, we prove that both the duality gap and the constraint violation of the output policy converge at the rate $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{\sqrt{T}})$. Moreover, when adopting the V-learning algorithm as the subroutine in the primal update, our algorithm achieves an approximate CE with $\epsilon$ duality gap with the sample complexity $\mathcal{O}(H^9|\mathcal{S}||\mathcal{A}|^{2} \epsilon^{-4})$.

Multi-block-Single-probe Variance Reduced Estimator for Coupled Compositional Optimization

Wei Jiang · Gang Li · Yibo Wang · Lijun Zhang · Tianbao Yang

Variance reduction techniques such as SPIDER/SARAH/STORM have been extensively studied to improve the convergence rates of stochastic non-convex optimization, which usually maintain and update a sequence of estimators for a single function across iterations. What if we need to track multiple functional mappings across iterations but only with access to stochastic samples of $\mathcal{O}(1)$ functional mappings at each iteration? There is an important application in solving an emerging family of coupled compositional optimization problems in the form of $\sum_{i=1}^m f_i(g_i(\mathbf{w}))$, where $g_i$ is accessible through a stochastic oracle. The key issue is to track and estimate a sequence of $\mathbf g(\mathbf{w})=(g_1(\mathbf{w}), \ldots, g_m(\mathbf{w}))$ across iterations, where $\mathbf g(\mathbf{w})$ has $m$ blocks and it is only allowed to probe $\mathcal{O}(1)$ blocks to attain their stochastic values and Jacobians. To improve the complexity for solving these problems, we propose a novel stochastic method named Multi-block-Single-probe Variance Reduced (MSVR) estimator to track the sequence of $\mathbf g(\mathbf{w})$. It is inspired by STORM but introduces a customized error correction term to alleviate the noise not only in stochastic samples for the selected blocks but also in those blocks that are not sampled. With the help of the MSVR estimator, we develop several algorithms for solving the aforementioned compositional problems with improved complexities across a spectrum of settings with non-convex/convex/strongly convex/Polyak-Lojasiewicz (PL) objectives. Our results improve upon prior ones in several aspects, including the order of sample complexities and dependence on the strong convexity parameter. Empirical studies on multi-task deep AUC maximization demonstrate the better performance of using the new estimator.

Provably expressive temporal graph networks

Amauri Souza · Diego Mesquita · Samuel Kaski · Vikas Garg

Temporal graph networks (TGNs) have gained prominence as models for embedding dynamic interactions, but little is known about their theoretical underpinnings. We establish fundamental results about the representational power and limits of the two main categories of TGNs: those that aggregate temporal walks (WA-TGNs), and those that augment local message passing with recurrent memory modules (MP-TGNs). Specifically, novel constructions reveal the inadequacy of MP-TGNs and WA-TGNs, proving that neither category subsumes the other. We extend the 1-WL (Weisfeiler-Leman) test to temporal graphs, and show that the most powerful MP-TGNs should use injective updates, as in this case they become as expressive as the temporal WL. Also, we show that sufficiently deep MP-TGNs cannot benefit from memory, and MP/WA-TGNs fail to compute graph properties such as girth. These theoretical insights lead us to PINT --- a novel architecture that leverages injective temporal message passing and relative positional features. Importantly, PINT is provably more expressive than both MP-TGNs and WA-TGNs. PINT significantly outperforms existing TGNs on several real-world benchmarks.

What's the Harm? Sharp Bounds on the Fraction Negatively Affected by Treatment

Nathan Kallus

The fundamental problem of causal inference -- that we never observe counterfactuals -- prevents us from identifying how many might be negatively affected by a proposed intervention. If, in an A/B test, half of users click (or buy, or watch, or renew, etc.), whether exposed to the standard experience A or a new one B, hypothetically it could be because the change affects no one, because the change positively affects half the user population to go from no-click to click while negatively affecting the other half, or something in between. While unknowable, this impact is clearly of material importance to the decision to implement a change or not, whether due to fairness, long-term, systemic, or operational considerations. We therefore derive the tightest-possible (i.e., sharp) bounds on the fraction negatively affected (and other related estimands) given data with only factual observations, whether experimental or observational. Naturally, the more we can stratify individuals by observable covariates, the tighter the sharp bounds. Since these bounds involve unknown functions that must be learned from data, we develop a robust inference algorithm that is efficient almost regardless of how and how fast these functions are learned, remains consistent when some are mislearned, and still gives valid conservative bounds when most are mislearned. Our methodology altogether therefore strongly supports credible conclusions: it avoids spuriously point-identifying this unknowable impact, focusing on the best bounds instead, and it permits exceedingly robust inference on these. We demonstrate our method in simulation studies and in a case study of career counseling for the unemployed.

Dynamic Fair Division with Partial Information

Gerdus Benade · Daniel Halpern · Alexandros Psomas

We consider the fundamental problem of fairly and efficiently allocating $T$ indivisible items among $n$ agents with additive preferences. The items become available over a sequence of rounds, and every item must be allocated immediately and irrevocably before the next one arrives. Previous work shows that when the agents' valuations for the items are drawn from known distributions, it is possible (under mild technical assumptions) to find allocations that are envy-free with high probability and Pareto efficient ex-post. We study a \emph{partial-information} setting, where it is possible to elicit ordinal but not cardinal information. When a new item arrives, the algorithm can query each agent for the relative rank of this item with respect to a subset of the past items. When values are drawn from i.i.d.\ distributions, we give an algorithm that is envy-free and $(1-\epsilon)$-welfare-maximizing with high probability. We provide similar guarantees (envy-freeness and a constant approximation to welfare with high probability) even with minimally expressive queries that ask for a comparison to a single previous item. For independent but non-identical agents, we obtain envy-freeness and a constant approximation to Pareto efficiency with high probability. We prove that all our results are asymptotically tight.

On Computing Probabilistic Explanations for Decision Trees

Marcelo Arenas · Pablo Barceló · Miguel Romero Orth · Bernardo Subercaseaux

Formal XAI (explainable AI) is a growing area that focuses on computing explanations with mathematical guarantees for the decisions made by ML models. Inside formal XAI, one of the most studied cases is that of explaining the choices taken by decision trees, as they are traditionally deemed as one of the most interpretable classes of models. Recent work has focused on studying the computation of sufficient reasons, a kind of explanation in which given a decision tree $T$ and an instance $x$, one explains the decision $T(x)$ by providing a subset $y$ of the features of $x$ such that for any other instance $z$ compatible with $y$, it holds that $T(z) = T(x)$, intuitively meaning that the features in $y$ are already enough to fully justify the classification of $x$ by $T$. It has been argued, however, that sufficient reasons constitute a restrictive notion of explanation. For such a reason, the community has started to study their probabilistic counterpart, in which one requires that the probability of $T(z) = T(x)$ must be at least some value $\delta \in (0, 1]$, where $z$ is a random instance that is compatible with $y$. Our paper settles the computational complexity of $\delta$-sufficient-reasons over decision trees, showing that both (1) finding $\delta$-sufficient-reasons that are minimal in size, and (2) finding $\delta$-sufficient-reasons that are minimal inclusion-wise, do not admit polynomial-time algorithms (unless P = NP). This is in stark contrast with the deterministic case ($\delta = 1$) where inclusion-wise minimal sufficient-reasons are easy to compute. By doing this, we answer two open problems originally raised by Izza et al., and extend the hardness of explanations for Boolean circuits presented by W{\"a}ldchen et al. to the more restricted case of decision trees. On the positive side, we identify structural restrictions of decision trees that make the problem tractable, and show how SAT solvers might be able to tackle these problems in practical settings.

Anonymized Histograms in Intermediate Privacy Models

Badih Ghazi · Pritish Kamath · Ravi Kumar · Pasin Manurangsi

We study the problem of privately computing the $\mbox{\it anonymized histogram}$ (a.k.a. $\mbox{\it unattributed histogram}$), which is defined as the histogram without item labels. Previous works have provided algorithms with $\ell_1$- and $\ell_2^2$-errors of $O_\varepsilon(\sqrt{n})$ in the central model of differential privacy (DP).In this work, we provide an algorithm with a nearly matching error guarantee of $\widetilde{O}_\varepsilon(\sqrt{n})$ in the shuffle DP and pan-private models. Our algorithm is very simple: it just post-processes the discrete Laplace-noised histogram! Using this algorithm as a subroutine, we show applications in privately estimating symmetric properties of distributions such as entropy, support coverage, and support size.

List-Decodable Sparse Mean Estimation via Difference-of-Pairs Filtering

Ilias Diakonikolas · Daniel Kane · Sushrut Karmalkar · Ankit Pensia · Thanasis Pittas

We study the problem of list-decodable sparse mean estimation. Specifically, for a parameter $\alpha \in (0, 1/2)$, we are given $m$ points in $\mathbb{R}^n$, $\lfloor \alpha m \rfloor$ of which are i.i.d. samples from a distribution $D$ with unknown $k$-sparse mean $\mu$. No assumptions are made on the remaining points, which form the majority of the dataset. The goal is to return a small list of candidates containing a vector $\hat \mu$ such that $\|\hat \mu - \mu\|_2$ is small. Prior work had studied the problem of list-decodable mean estimation in the dense setting. In this work, we develop a novel, conceptually simpler technique for list-decodable mean estimation. As the main application of our approach, we provide the first sample and computationally efficient algorithm for list-decodable sparse mean estimation. In particular, for distributions with ``certifiably bounded'' $t$-th moments in $k$-sparse directions and sufficiently light tails, our algorithm achieves error of $(1/\alpha)^{O(1/t)}$ with sample complexity $m = (k\log(n))^{O(t)}/\alpha$ and running time $\mathrm{poly}(mn^t)$. For the special case of Gaussian inliers, our algorithm achieves the optimal error guarantee $\Theta (\sqrt{\log(1/\alpha)})$ with quasi-polynomial complexity. We complement our upper bounds with nearly-matching statistical query and low-degree polynomial testing lower bounds.

The First Optimal Acceleration of High-Order Methods in Smooth Convex Optimization

Dmitry Kovalev · Alexander Gasnikov

In this paper, we study the fundamental open question of finding the optimal high-order algorithm for solving smooth convex minimization problems. Arjevani et al. (2019) established the lower bound $\Omega\left(\epsilon^{-2/(3p+1)}\right)$ on the number of the $p$-th order oracle calls required by an algorithm to find an $\epsilon$-accurate solution to the problem, where the $p$-th order oracle stands for the computation of the objective function value and the derivatives up to the order $p$. However, the existing state-of-the-art high-order methods of Gasnikov et al. (2019b); Bubeck et al. (2019); Jiang et al. (2019) achieve the oracle complexity $\mathcal{O}\left(\epsilon^{-2/(3p+1)} \log (1/\epsilon)\right)$, which does not match the lower bound. The reason for this is that these algorithms require performing a complex binary search procedure, which makes them neither optimal nor practical. We fix this fundamental issue by providing the first algorithm with $\mathcal{O}\left(\epsilon^{-2/(3p+1)}\right)$ $p$-th order oracle complexity.

Near-Optimal Sample Complexity Bounds for Constrained MDPs

Sharan Vaswani · Lin Yang · Csaba Szepesvari

In contrast to the advances in characterizing the sample complexity for solving Markov decision processes (MDPs), the optimal statistical complexity for solving constrained MDPs (CMDPs) remains unknown. We resolve this question by providing minimax upper and lower bounds on the sample complexity for learning near-optimal policies in a discounted CMDP with access to a generative model (simulator). In particular, we design a model-based algorithm that addresses two settings: (i) relaxed feasibility, where small constraint violations are allowed, and (ii) strict feasibility, where the output policy is required to satisfy the constraint. For (i), we prove that our algorithm returns an $\epsilon$-optimal policy with probability $1 - \delta$, by making $\tilde{O}\left(\frac{S A \log(1/\delta)}{(1 - \gamma)^3 \epsilon^2}\right)$ queries to the generative model, thus matching the sample-complexity for unconstrained MDPs. For (ii), we show that the algorithm's sample complexity is upper-bounded by $\tilde{O} \left(\frac{S A \, \log(1/\delta)}{(1 - \gamma)^5 \, \epsilon^2 \zeta^2} \right)$ where $\zeta$ is the problem-dependent Slater constant that characterizes the size of the feasible region. Finally, we prove a matching lower-bound for the strict feasibility setting, thus obtaining the first near minimax optimal bounds for discounted CMDPs. Our results show that learning CMDPs is as easy as MDPs when small constraint violations are allowed, but inherently more difficult when we demand zero constraint violation.

Verification and search algorithms for causal DAGs

Davin Choo · Kirankumar Shiragur · Arnab Bhattacharyya

We study two problems related to recovering causal graphs from interventional data: (i) $\textit{verification}$, where the task is to check if a purported causal graph is correct, and (ii) $\textit{search}$, where the task is to recover the correct causal graph. For both, we wish to minimize the number of interventions performed. For the first problem, we give a characterization of a minimal sized set of atomic interventions that is necessary and sufficient to check the correctness of a claimed causal graph. Our characterization uses the notion of $\textit{covered edges}$, which enables us to obtain simple proofs and also easily reason about earlier known results. We also generalize our results to the settings of bounded size interventions and node-dependent interventional costs. For all the above settings, we provide the first known provable algorithms for efficiently computing (near)-optimal verifying sets on general graphs. For the second problem, we give a simple adaptive algorithm based on graph separators that produces an atomic intervention set which fully orients any essential graph while using $\mathcal{O}(\log n)$ times the optimal number of interventions needed to $\textit{verify}$ (verifying size) the underlying DAG on $n$ vertices. This approximation is tight as $\textit{any}$ search algorithm on an essential line graph has worst case approximation ratio of $\Omega(\log n)$ with respect to the verifying size. With bounded size interventions, each of size $\leq k$, our algorithm gives an $\mathcal{O}(\log n \cdot \log k)$ factor approximation. Our result is the first known algorithm that gives a non-trivial approximation guarantee to the verifying size on general unweighted graphs and with bounded size interventions.

Learning and Covering Sums of Independent Random Variables with Unbounded Support

Alkis Kalavasis · Konstantinos Stavropoulos · Emmanouil Zampetakis

We study the problem of covering and learning sums $X = X_1 + \cdots + X_n$ of independent integer-valued random variables $X_i$ (SIIRVs) with infinite support. De et al. at FOCS 2018, showed that even when the collective support of $X_i$'s is of size $4$, the maximum value of the support necessarily appears in the sample complexity of learning $X$. In this work, we address two questions: (i) Are there general families of SIIRVs with infinite support that can be learned with sample complexity independent of both $n$ and the maximal element of the support? (ii) Are there general families of SIIRVs with infinite support that admit proper sparse covers in total variation distance? As for question (i), we provide a set of simple conditions that allow the infinitely supported SIIRV to be learned with complexity $ \text{poly}(1/\epsilon)$ bypassing the aforementioned lower bound. We further address question (ii) in the general setting where each variable $X_i$ has unimodal probability mass function and is a different member of some, possibly multi-parameter, exponential family $\mathcal{E}$ that satisfies some structural properties. These properties allow $\mathcal{E}$ to contain heavy tailed and non log-concave distributions. Moreover, we show that for every $\epsilon > 0$, and every $k$-parameter family $\mathcal{E}$ that satisfies some structural assumptions, there exists an algorithm with $\widetilde{O}(k) \cdot \text{poly}(1/\epsilon)$ samples that learns a sum of $n$ arbitrary members of $\mathcal{E}$ within $\epsilon$ in TV distance. The output of the learning algorithm is also a sum of random variables within the family $\mathcal{E}$. En route, we prove that any discrete unimodal exponential family with bounded constant-degree central moments can be approximated by the family corresponding to a bounded subset of the initial (unbounded) parameter space.

Fast Mixing of Stochastic Gradient Descent with Normalization and Weight Decay

Zhiyuan Li · Tianhao Wang · Dingli Yu

We prove the Fast Equilibrium Conjecture proposed by Li et al., (2020), i.e., stochastic gradient descent (SGD) on a scale-invariant loss (e.g., using networks with various normalization schemes) with learning rate $\eta$ and weight decay factor $\lambda$ mixes in function space in $\mathcal{\tilde{O}}(\frac{1}{\lambda\eta})$ steps, under two standard assumptions: (1) the noise covariance matrix is non-degenerate and (2) the minimizers of the loss form a connected, compact and analytic manifold. The analysis uses the framework of Li et al., (2021) and shows that for every $T>0$, the iterates of SGD with learning rate $\eta$ and weight decay factor $\lambda$ on the scale-invariant loss converge in distribution in $\Theta\left(\eta^{-1}\lambda^{-1}(T+\ln(\lambda/\eta))\right)$ iterations as $\eta\lambda\to 0$ while satisfying $\eta \le O(\lambda)\le O(1)$. Moreover, the evolution of the limiting distribution can be described by a stochastic differential equation that mixes to the same equilibrium distribution for every initialization around the manifold of minimizers as $T\to\infty$.

Robust Testing in High-Dimensional Sparse Models

Anand Jerry George · Clément L Canonne

We consider the problem of robustly testing the norm of a high-dimensional sparse signal vector under two different observation models. In the first model, we are given $n$ i.i.d. samples from the distribution $\mathcal{N}\left(\theta,I_d\right)$ (with unknown $\theta$), of which a small fraction has been arbitrarily corrupted. Under the promise that $\|\theta\|_0\le s$, we want to correctly distinguish whether $\|\theta\|_2=0$ or $\|\theta\|_2>\gamma$, for some input parameter $\gamma>0$. We show that any algorithm for this task requires $n=\Omega\left(s\log\frac{ed}{s}\right)$ samples, which is tight up to logarithmic factors. We also extend our results to other common notions of sparsity, namely, $\|\theta\|_q\le s$ for any $0 < q < 2$. In the second observation model that we consider, the data is generated according to a sparse linear regression model, where the covariates are i.i.d. Gaussian and the regression coefficient (signal) is known to be $s$-sparse. Here too we assume that an $\epsilon$-fraction of the data is arbitrarily corrupted. We show that any algorithm that reliably tests the norm of the regression coefficient requires at least $n=\Omega\left(\min(s\log d,{1}/{\gamma^4})\right)$ samples. Our results show that the complexity of testing in these two settings significantly increases under robustness constraints. This is in line with the recent observations made in robust mean testing and robust covariance testing.

Dynamic Tensor Product Regression

Aravind Reddy · Zhao Song · Lichen Zhang

In this work, we initiate the study of \emph{Dynamic Tensor Product Regression}. One has matrices $A_1\in \mathbb{R}^{n_1\times d_1},\ldots,A_q\in \mathbb{R}^{n_q\times d_q}$ and a label vector $b\in \mathbb{R}^{n_1\ldots n_q}$, and the goal is to solve the regression problem with the design matrix $A$ being the tensor product of the matrices $A_1, A_2, \dots, A_q$ i.e. $\min_{x\in \mathbb{R}^{d_1\ldots d_q}}~\|(A_1\otimes \ldots\otimes A_q)x-b\|_2$. At each time step, one matrix $A_i$ receives a sparse change, and the goal is to maintain a sketch of the tensor product $A_1\otimes\ldots \otimes A_q$ so that the regression solution can be updated quickly. Recomputing the solution from scratch for each round is extremely expensive so it is important to develop algorithms which can quickly update the solution with the new design matrix. Our main result is a dynamic tree data structure where any update to a single matrix can be propagated quickly throughout the tree. We show that our data structure can be used to solve dynamic versions of not only Tensor Product Regression, but also Tensor Product Spline regression (which is a generalization of ridge regression) and for maintaining Low Rank Approximations for the tensor product.

Semi-supervised Active Linear Regression

Nived Rajaraman · Fnu Devvrit · Pranjal Awasthi

Labeled data often comes at a high cost as it may require recruiting human labelers or running costly experiments. At the same time, in many practical scenarios, one already has access to a partially labeled, potentially biased dataset that can help with the learning task at hand. Motivated by such settings, we formally initiate a study of ``semi-supervised active learning'' through the frame of linear regression. Here, the learner has access to a dataset $X \in \mathbb{R}^{(n_{\text{un}}+n_{\text{lab}}) \times d}$ composed of $n_{\text{un}}$ unlabeled examples that a learner can actively query, and $n_{\text{lab}}$ examples labeled a priori. Denoting the true labels by $Y \in \mathbb{R}^{n_{\text{un}} + n_{\text{lab}}}$, the learner's objective is to find $\widehat{\beta} \in \mathbb{R}^d$ such that,$$\| X \widehat{\beta} - Y \|_2^2 \le (1 + \epsilon) \min_{\beta \in \mathbb{R}^d} \| X \beta - Y \|_2^2$$while querying the labels of as few unlabeled points as possible. In this paper, we introduce an instance dependent parameter called the reduced rank, denoted $\text{R}_X$, and propose an efficient algorithm with query complexity $O(\text{R}_X/\epsilon)$. This result directly implies improved upper bounds for two important special cases: $(i)$ active ridge regression, and $(ii)$ active kernel ridge regression, where the reduced-rank equates to the ``statistical dimension'', $\textsf{sd}_\lambda$ and ``effective dimension'', $d_\lambda$ of the problem respectively, where $\lambda \ge 0$ denotes the regularization parameter. Finally, we introduce a distributional version of the problem as a special case of the agnostic formulation we consider earlier; here, for every $X$, we prove a matching instance-wise lower bound of $\Omega (\text{R}_X / \epsilon)$ on the query complexity of any algorithm.

Quantum Speedups of Optimizing Approximately Convex Functions with Applications to Logarithmic Regret Stochastic Convex Bandits

Tongyang Li · Ruizhe Zhang

We initiate the study of quantum algorithms for optimizing approximately convex functions. Given a convex set $\mathcal{K}\subseteq\mathbb{R}^{n}$ and a function $F\colon\mathbb{R}^{n}\to\mathbb{R}$ such that there exists a convex function $f\colon\mathcal{K}\to\mathbb{R}$ satisfying $\sup_{x\in\mathcal{K}}|F(x)-f(x)|\leq \epsilon/n$, our quantum algorithm finds an $x^{*}\in\mathcal{K}$ such that $F(x^{*})-\min_{x\in\mathcal{K}} F(x)\leq\epsilon$ using $\tilde{O}(n^{3})$ quantum evaluation queries to $F$. This achieves a polynomial quantum speedup compared to the best-known classical algorithms. As an application, we give a quantum algorithm for zeroth-order stochastic convex bandits with $\tilde{O}(n^{5}\log^{2} T)$ regret, an exponential speedup in $T$ compared to the classical $\Omega(\sqrt{T})$ lower bound. Technically, we achieve quantum speedup in $n$ by exploiting a quantum framework of simulated annealing and adopting a quantum version of the hit-and-run walk. Our speedup in $T$ for zeroth-order stochastic convex bandits is due to a quadratic quantum speedup in multiplicative error of mean estimation.

Independence Testing for Bounded Degree Bayesian Networks

Arnab Bhattacharyya · Clément L Canonne · Qiping Yang

We study the following independence testing problem: given access to samples from a distribution $P$ over $\{0,1\}^n$, decide whether $P$ is a product distribution or whether it is $\varepsilon$-far in total variation distance from any product distribution. For arbitrary distributions, this problem requires $\exp(n)$ samples. We show in this work that if $P$ has a sparse structure, then in fact only linearly many samples are required.Specifically, if $P$ is Markov with respect to a Bayesian network whose underlying DAG has in-degree bounded by $d$, then $\tilde{\Theta}(2^{d/2}\cdot n/\varepsilon^2)$ samples are necessary and sufficient for independence testing.

Re-Analyze Gauss: Bounds for Private Matrix Approximation via Dyson Brownian Motion

Oren Mangoubi · Nisheeth Vishnoi

Given a symmetric matrix $M$ and a vector $\lambda$, we present new bounds on the Frobenius-distance utility of the Gaussian mechanism for approximating $M$ by a matrix whose spectrum is $\lambda$, under $(\varepsilon,\delta)$-differential privacy. Our bounds depend on both $\lambda$ and the gaps in the eigenvalues of $M$, and hold whenever the top $k+1$ eigenvalues of $M$ have sufficiently large gaps. When applied to the problems of private rank-$k$ covariance matrix approximation and subspace recovery, our bounds yield improvements over previous bounds. Our bounds are obtained by viewing the addition of Gaussian noise as a continuous-time matrix Brownian motion. This viewpoint allows us to track the evolution of eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the matrix, which are governed by stochastic differential equations discovered by Dyson. These equations allow us to bound the utility as the square-root of a sum-of-squares of perturbations to the eigenvectors, as opposed to a sum of perturbation bounds obtained via Davis-Kahan-type theorems.

Context-Based Dynamic Pricing with Partially Linear Demand Model

Jinzhi Bu · David Simchi-Levi · Chonghuan Wang

In today’s data-rich environment, context-based dynamic pricing has gained much attention. To model the demand as a function of price and context, the existing literature either adopts a parametric model or a non-parametric model. The former is easier to implement but may suffer from model mis-specification, whereas the latter is more robust but does not leverage many structural properties of the underlying problem. This paper combines these two approaches by studying the context-based dynamic pricing with online learning, where the unknown expected demand admits a semi-parametric partially linear structure. Specifically, we consider two demand models, whose expected demand at price $p$ and context $x \in \mathbb{R}^d$ is given by $bp+g(x)$ and $ f(p)+ a^\top x$ respectively. We assume that $g(x)$ is $\beta$-H{\"o}lder continuous in the first model, and $f(p)$ is $k$th-order smooth with an additional parameter $\delta$ in the second model. For both models, we design an efficient online learning algorithm with provable regret upper bounds, and establish matching lower bounds. This enables us to characterize the statistical complexity for the two learning models, whose optimal regret rates are $\widetilde \Theta(\sqrt T \vee T^{\frac{d}{d+2\beta}})$ and $\widetilde \Theta(\sqrt T \vee (\delta T^{k+1})^{\frac{1}{2k+1}})$ respectively. The numerical results demonstrate that our learning algorithms are more effective than benchmark algorithms, and also reveal the effects of parameters $d$, $\beta$ and $\delta$ on the algorithm's empirical regret, which are consistent with our theoretical findings.

Extra-Newton: A First Approach to Noise-Adaptive Accelerated Second-Order Methods

Kimon Antonakopoulos · Ali Kavis · Volkan Cevher

In this work, we propose a universal and adaptive second-order method for minimization of second-order smooth, convex functions. Precisely, our algorithm achieves $O(\sigma / \sqrt{T})$ when the oracle feedback is stochastic with variance $\sigma$, and obtains the improved $O( 1 / T^3)$ convergence with deterministic oracles. Our method achieves this rate interpolation without knowing the nature of the oracle a priori, which was enabled by a parameter-free step-size that is oblivious to the knowledge of smoothness modulus, variance bounds and the diameter of the constrained set. To our knowledge, this is the first universal algorithm that achieves the aforementioned global guarantees within second-order convex optimization literature.

Neural Lyapunov Control of Unknown Nonlinear Systems with Stability Guarantees

Ruikun Zhou · Thanin Quartz · Hans De Sterck · Jun Liu

Learning for control of dynamical systems with formal guarantees remains a challenging task. This paper proposes a learning framework to simultaneously stabilize an unknown nonlinear system with a neural controller and learn a neural Lyapunov function to certify a region of attraction (ROA) for the closed-loop system with provable guarantees. The algorithmic structure consists of two neural networks and a satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) solver. The first neural network is responsible for learning the unknown dynamics. The second neural network aims to identify a valid Lyapunov function and a provably stabilizing nonlinear controller. The SMT solver verifies the candidate Lyapunov function satisfies the Lyapunov conditions. We further provide theoretical guarantees of the proposed learning framework and show that the obtained Lyapunov function indeed verifies for the unknown nonlinear system under mild assumptions. We illustrate the effectiveness of the results with a few numerical experiments.

Causal Inference with Non-IID Data using Linear Graphical Models

Chi Zhang · Karthika Mohan · Judea Pearl

Traditional causal inference techniques assume data are independent and identically distributed (IID) and thus ignores interactions among units. However, a unit’s treatment may affect another unit's outcome (interference), a unit’s treatment may be correlated with another unit’s outcome, or a unit’s treatment and outcome may be spuriously correlated through another unit. To capture such nuances, we model the data generating process using causal graphs and conduct a systematic analysis of the bias caused by different types of interactions when computing causal effects. We derive theorems to detect and quantify the interaction bias, and derive conditions under which it is safe to ignore interactions. Put differently, we present conditions under which causal effects can be computed with negligible bias by assuming that samples are IID. Furthermore, we develop a method to eliminate bias in cases where blindly assuming IID is expected to yield a significantly biased estimate. Finally, we test the coverage and performance of our methods through simulations.

Submodular Maximization in Clean Linear Time

Wenxin Li · Moran Feldman · Ehsan Kazemi · Amin Karbasi

In this paper, we provide the first deterministic algorithm that achieves $1/2$-approximation for monotone submodular maximization subject to a knapsack constraint, while making a number of queries that scales only linearly with the size of the ground set $n$. Moreover, our result automatically paves the way for developing a linear-time deterministic algorithm that achieves the tight $1-1/e$ approximation guarantee for monotone submodular maximization under a cardinality (size) constraint. To complement our positive results, we also show strong information-theoretic lower bounds. More specifically, we show that when the maximum cardinality allowed for a solution is constant, no deterministic or randomized algorithm making a sub-linear number of function evaluations can guarantee any constant approximation ratio. Furthermore, when the constraint allows the selection of a constant fraction of the ground set, we show that any algorithm making fewer than $\Omega(n/\log(n))$ function evaluations cannot perform better than an algorithm that simply outputs a uniformly random subset of the ground set of the right size. We extend our results to the general case of maximizing a monotone submodular function subject to the intersection of a $p$-set system and multiple knapsack constraints. Finally, we evaluate the performance of our algorithms on multiple real-life applications, including movie recommendation, location summarization, Twitter text summarization, and video summarization.

Continuously Tempered PDMP samplers

Matthew Sutton · Robert Salomone · Augustin Chevallier · Paul Fearnhead

New sampling algorithms based on simulating continuous-time stochastic processes called piece-wise deterministic Markov processes (PDMPs) have shown considerable promise. However, these methods can struggle to sample from multi-modal or heavy-tailed distributions. We show how tempering ideas can improve the mixing of PDMPs in such cases. We introduce an extended distribution defined over the state of the posterior distribution and an inverse temperature, which interpolates between a tractable distribution when the inverse temperature is 0 and the posterior when the inverse temperature is 1. The marginal distribution of the inverse temperature is a mixture of a continuous distribution on $[0,1)$ and a point mass at 1: which means that we obtain samples when the inverse temperature is 1, and these are draws from the posterior, but sampling algorithms will also explore distributions at lower temperatures which will improve mixing. We show how PDMPs, and particularly the Zig-Zag sampler, can be implemented to sample from such an extended distribution. The resulting algorithm is easy to implement and we show empirically that it can outperform existing PDMP-based samplers on challenging multimodal posteriors.

Regret Bounds for Multilabel Classification in Sparse Label Regimes

Róbert Busa-Fekete · Heejin Choi · Krzysztof Dembczynski · Claudio Gentile · Henry Reeve · Balazs Szorenyi

Multi-label classification (MLC) has wide practical importance, but the theoretical understanding of its statistical properties is still limited. As an attempt to fill this gap, we thoroughly study upper and lower regret bounds for two canonical MLC performance measures, Hamming loss and Precision@$\kappa$. We consider two different statistical and algorithmic settings, a non-parametric setting tackled by plug-in classifiers \`a la $k$-nearest neighbors, and a parametric one tackled by empirical risk minimization operating on surrogate loss functions. For both, we analyze the interplay between a natural MLC variant of the low noise assumption, widely studied in binary classification, and the label sparsity, the latter being a natural property of large-scale MLC problems. We show that those conditions are crucial in improving the bounds, but the way they are tangled is not obvious, and also different across the two settings.

Provable Benefit of Multitask Representation Learning in Reinforcement Learning

Yuan Cheng · Songtao Feng · Jing Yang · Hong Zhang · Yingbin Liang

As representation learning becomes a powerful technique to reduce sample complexity in reinforcement learning (RL) in practice, theoretical understanding of its advantage is still limited. In this paper, we theoretically characterize the benefit of representation learning under the low-rank Markov decision process (MDP) model. We first study multitask low-rank RL (as upstream training), where all tasks share a common representation, and propose a new multitask reward-free algorithm called REFUEL. REFUEL learns both the transition kernel and the near-optimal policy for each task, and outputs a well-learned representation for downstream tasks. Our result demonstrates that multitask representation learning is provably more sample-efficient than learning each task individually, as long as the total number of tasks is above a certain threshold. We then study the downstream RL in both online and offline settings, where the agent is assigned with a new task sharing the same representation as the upstream tasks. For both online and offline settings, we develop a sample-efficient algorithm, and show that it finds a near-optimal policy with the suboptimality gap bounded by the sum of the estimation error of the learned representation in upstream and a vanishing term as the number of downstream samples becomes large. Our downstream results of online and offline RL further capture the benefit of employing the learned representation from upstream as opposed to learning the representation of the low-rank model directly. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first theoretical study that characterizes the benefit of representation learning in exploration-based reward-free multitask RL for both upstream and downstream tasks.

BEER: Fast $O(1/T)$ Rate for Decentralized Nonconvex Optimization with Communication Compression

Haoyu Zhao · Boyue Li · Zhize Li · Peter Richtarik · Yuejie Chi

Communication efficiency has been widely recognized as the bottleneck for large-scale decentralized machine learning applications in multi-agent or federated environments. To tackle the communication bottleneck, there have been many efforts to design communication-compressed algorithms for decentralized nonconvex optimization, where the clients are only allowed to communicate a small amount of quantized information (aka bits) with their neighbors over a predefined graph topology. Despite significant efforts, the state-of-the-art algorithm in the nonconvex setting still suffers from a slower rate of convergence $O((G/T)^{2/3})$ compared with their uncompressed counterpart, where $G$ measures the data heterogeneity across different clients, and $T$ is the number of communication rounds. This paper proposes BEER, which adopts communication compression with gradient tracking, and shows it converges at a faster rate of $O(1/T)$. This significantly improves over the state-of-the-art rate, by matching the rate without compression even under arbitrary data heterogeneity. Numerical experiments are also provided to corroborate our theory and confirm the practical superiority of beer in the data heterogeneous regime.

Incrementality Bidding via Reinforcement Learning under Mixed and Delayed Rewards

Ashwinkumar Badanidiyuru Varadaraja · Zhe Feng · Tianxi Li · Haifeng Xu

Incrementality, which measures the causal effect of showing an ad to a potential customer (e.g. a user in an internet platform) versus not, is a central object for advertisers in online advertising platforms. This paper investigates the problem of how an advertiser can learn to optimize the bidding sequence in an online manner \emph{without} knowing the incrementality parameters in advance. We formulate the offline version of this problem as a specially structured episodic Markov Decision Process (MDP) and then, for its online learning counterpart, propose a novel reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm with regret at most $\widetilde{O}(H^2\sqrt{T})$, which depends on the number of rounds $H$ and number of episodes $T$, but does not depend on the number of actions (i.e., possible bids). A fundamental difference between our learning problem from standard RL problems is that the realized reward feedback from conversion incrementality is \emph{mixed} and \emph{delayed}. To handle this difficulty we propose and analyze a novel pairwise moment-matching algorithm to learn the conversion incrementality, which we believe is of independent interest.

DataMUX: Data Multiplexing for Neural Networks

Vishvak Murahari · Carlos Jimenez · Runzhe Yang · Karthik Narasimhan

In this paper, we introduce \emph{data multiplexing} (DataMUX), a technique that enables deep neural networks to process multiple inputs simultaneously using a single compact representation. DataMUX demonstrates that neural networks are capable of generating accurate predictions over \emph{mixtures} of inputs, resulting in increased inference throughput with minimal extra memory requirements. Our approach uses two key components -- 1) a multiplexing layer that performs a fixed linear transformation to each input before combining them to create a "mixed" representation of the same size as a single input, which is then processed by the base network, and 2) a demultiplexing layer that converts the base network's output back into independent representations before producing predictions for each input. We show the viability of DataMUX for different architectures (Transformers, and to a much lesser extent MLPs and CNNs) across six different tasks spanning sentence classification, named entity recognition and image classification. For instance, DataMUX for Transformers can multiplex up to 20x/40x inputs, achieving up to 11x/18x increase in inference throughput with absolute performance drops of $<2\%$ and $<4\%$ respectively compared to a vanilla Transformer on MNLI, a natural language inference task. We also provide a theoretical construction for multiplexing in self-attention networks and analyze the effect of various design elements in DataMUX.

Adaptively Exploiting d-Separators with Causal Bandits

Blair Bilodeau · Linbo Wang · Dan Roy

Multi-armed bandit problems provide a framework to identify the optimal intervention over a sequence of repeated experiments. Without additional assumptions, minimax optimal performance (measured by cumulative regret) is well-understood. With access to additional observed variables that d-separate the intervention from the outcome (i.e., they are a d-separator), recent "causal bandit" algorithms provably incur less regret. However, in practice it is desirable to be agnostic to whether observed variables are a d-separator. Ideally, an algorithm should be adaptive; that is, perform nearly as well as an algorithm with oracle knowledge of the presence or absence of a d-separator. In this work, we formalize and study this notion of adaptivity, and provide a novel algorithm that simultaneously achieves (a) optimal regret when a d-separator is observed, improving on classical minimax algorithms, and (b) significantly smaller regret than recent causal bandit algorithms when the observed variables are not a d-separator. Crucially, our algorithm does not require any oracle knowledge of whether a d-separator is observed. We also generalize this adaptivity to other conditions, such as the front-door criterion.

Spending Thinking Time Wisely: Accelerating MCTS with Virtual Expansions

Weirui Ye · Pieter Abbeel · Yang Gao

One of the most important AI research questions is to trade off computation versus performance since ``perfect rationality" exists in theory but is impossible to achieve in practice. Recently, Monte-Carlo tree search (MCTS) has attracted considerable attention due to the significant performance improvement in various challenging domains. However, the expensive time cost during search severely restricts its scope for applications. This paper proposes the Virtual MCTS (V-MCTS), a variant of MCTS that spends more search time on harder states and less search time on simpler states adaptively. We give theoretical bounds of the proposed method and evaluate the performance and computations on $9 \times 9$ Go board games and Atari games. Experiments show that our method can achieve comparable performances to the original search algorithm while requiring less than $50\%$ search time on average. We believe that this approach is a viable alternative for tasks under limited time and resources. The code is available at \url{}.

Toward Efficient Robust Training against Union of $\ell_p$ Threat Models

Gaurang Sriramanan · Maharshi Gor · Soheil Feizi

The overwhelming vulnerability of deep neural networks to carefully crafted perturbations known as adversarial attacks has led to the development of various training techniques to produce robust models. While the primary focus of existing approaches has been directed toward addressing the worst-case performance achieved under a single-threat model, it is imperative that safety-critical systems are robust with respect to multiple threat models simultaneously. Existing approaches that address worst-case performance under the union of such threat models ($\ell_{\infty}, \ell_2, \ell_1$) either utilize adversarial training methods that require multi-step attacks which are computationally expensive in practice, or rely upon fine-tuning of pre-trained models that are robust with respect to a single-threat model. In this work, we show that by carefully choosing the objective function used for robust training, it is possible to achieve similar, or improved worst-case performance over a union of threat models while utilizing only single-step attacks, thereby achieving a significant reduction in computational resources necessary for training. Furthermore, prior work showed that adversarial training specific to the $\ell_1$ threat model is relatively difficult, to the extent that even multi-step adversarially trained models were shown to be prone to gradient-masking. However, the proposed method—when applied on the $\ell_1$ threat model specifically—enables us to obtain the first $\ell_1$ robust model trained solely with single-step adversaries. Finally, to demonstrate the merits of our approach, we utilize a modern set of attack evaluations to better estimate the worst-case performance under the considered union of threat models.

Inverse Game Theory for Stackelberg Games: the Blessing of Bounded Rationality

Jibang Wu · Weiran Shen · Fei Fang · Haifeng Xu

Optimizing strategic decisions (a.k.a. computing equilibrium) is key to the success of many non-cooperative multi-agent applications. However, in many real-world situations, we may face the exact opposite of this game-theoretic problem --- instead of prescribing equilibrium of a given game, we may directly observe the agents' equilibrium behaviors but want to infer the underlying parameters of an unknown game. This research question, also known as inverse game theory, has been studied in multiple recent works in the context of Stackelberg games. Unfortunately, existing works exhibit quite negative results, showing statistical hardness and computational hardness, assuming follower's perfectly rational behaviors. Our work relaxes the perfect rationality agent assumption to the classic quantal response model, a more realistic behavior model of bounded rationality. Interestingly, we show that the smooth property brought by such bounded rationality model actually leads to provably more efficient learning of the follower utility parameters in general Stackelberg games. Systematic empirical experiments on synthesized games confirm our theoretical results and further suggest its robustness beyond the strict quantal response model.

Global Normalization for Streaming Speech Recognition in a Modular Framework

Ehsan Variani · Ke Wu · Michael D Riley · David Rybach · Matt Shannon · Cyril Allauzen

We introduce the Globally Normalized Autoregressive Transducer (GNAT) for addressing the label bias problem in streaming speech recognition. Our solution admits a tractable exact computation of the denominator for the sequence-level normalization. Through theoretical and empirical results, we demonstrate that by switching to a globally normalized model, the word error rate gap between streaming and non-streaming speech-recognition models can be greatly reduced (by more than 50% on the Librispeech dataset). This model is developed in a modular framework which encompasses all the common neural speech recognition models. The modularity of this framework enables controlled comparison of modelling choices and creation of new models. A JAX implementation of our models has been open sourced.

Trajectory-guided Control Prediction for End-to-end Autonomous Driving: A Simple yet Strong Baseline

Penghao Wu · Xiaosong Jia · Li Chen · Junchi Yan · Hongyang Li · Yu Qiao

Current end-to-end autonomous driving methods either run a controller based on a planned trajectory or perform control prediction directly, which have spanned two separately studied lines of research. Seeing their potential mutual benefits to each other, this paper takes the initiative to explore the combination of these two well-developed worlds. Specifically, our integrated approach has two branches for trajectory planning and direct control, respectively. The trajectory branch predicts the future trajectory, while the control branch involves a novel multi-step prediction scheme such that the relationship between current actions and future states can be reasoned. The two branches are connected so that the control branch receives corresponding guidance from the trajectory branch at each time step. The outputs from two branches are then fused to achieve complementary advantages. Our results are evaluated in the closed-loop urban driving setting with challenging scenarios using the CARLA simulator. Even with a monocular camera input, the proposed approach ranks first on the official CARLA Leaderboard, outperforming other complex candidates with multiple sensors or fusion mechanisms by a large margin. The sourcecode is publicly available at

DeepInteraction: 3D Object Detection via Modality Interaction

Zeyu Yang · Jiaqi Chen · Zhenwei Miao · Wei Li · Xiatian Zhu · Li Zhang

Existing top-performance 3D object detectors typically rely on the multi-modal fusion strategy. This design is however fundamentally restricted due to overlooking the modality-specific useful information and finally hampering the model performance. To address this limitation, in this work we introduce a novel modality interaction strategy where individual per-modality representations are learned and maintained throughout for enabling their unique characteristics to be exploited during object detection. To realize this proposed strategy, we design a DeepInteraction architecture characterized by a multi-modal representational interaction encoder and a multi-modal predictive interaction decoder. Experiments on the large-scale nuScenes dataset show that our proposed method surpasses all prior arts often by a large margin. Crucially, our method is ranked at the first position at the highly competitive nuScenes object detection leaderboard.

Category-Level 6D Object Pose Estimation in the Wild: A Semi-Supervised Learning Approach and A New Dataset

Yanjie Ze · Xiaolong Wang

6D object pose estimation is one of the fundamental problems in computer vision and robotics research. While a lot of recent efforts have been made on generalizing pose estimation to novel object instances within the same category, namely category-level 6D pose estimation, it is still restricted in constrained environments given the limited number of annotated data. In this paper, we collect Wild6D, a new unlabeled RGBD object video dataset with diverse instances and backgrounds. We utilize this data to generalize category-level 6D object pose estimation in the wild with semi-supervised learning. We propose a new model, called Rendering for Pose estimation network RePoNet), that is jointly trained using the free ground-truths with the synthetic data, and a silhouette matching objective function on the real-world data. Without using any 3D annotations on real data, our method outperforms state-of-the-art methods on the previous dataset and our Wild6D test set (with manual annotations for evaluation) by a large margin. Project page with Wild6D data: \url{}.

Planning for Sample Efficient Imitation Learning

Zhao-Heng Yin · Weirui Ye · Qifeng Chen · Yang Gao

Imitation learning is a class of promising policy learning algorithms that is free from many practical issues with reinforcement learning, such as the reward design issue and the exploration hardness. However, the current imitation algorithm struggles to achieve both high performance and high in-environment sample efficiency simultaneously. Behavioral Cloning (BC) does not need in-environment interactions, but it suffers from the covariate shift problem which harms its performance. Adversarial Imitation Learning (AIL) turns imitation learning into a distribution matching problem. It can achieve better performance on some tasks but it requires a large number of in-environment interactions. Inspired by the recent success of EfficientZero in RL, we propose EfficientImitate (EI), a planning-based imitation learning method that can achieve high in-environment sample efficiency and performance simultaneously. Our algorithmic contribution in this paper is two-fold. First, we extend AIL into the MCTS-based RL. Second, we show the seemingly incompatible two classes of imitation algorithms (BC and AIL) can be naturally unified under our framework, enjoying the benefits of both. We benchmark our method not only on the state-based DeepMind Control Suite but also on the image version which many previous works find highly challenging. Experimental results show that EI achieves state-of-the-art results in performance and sample efficiency. EI shows over 4x gain in performance in the limited sample setting on state-based and image-based tasks and can solve challenging problems like Humanoid, where previous methods fail with a small amount of interactions. Our code is available at

On Enforcing Better Conditioned Meta-Learning for Rapid Few-Shot Adaptation

Markus Hiller · Mehrtash Harandi · Tom Drummond

Inspired by the concept of preconditioning, we propose a novel method to increase adaptation speed for gradient-based meta-learning methods without incurring extra parameters. We demonstrate that recasting the optimisation problem to a non-linear least-squares formulation provides a principled way to actively enforce a well-conditioned parameter space for meta-learning models based on the concepts of the condition number and local curvature. Our comprehensive evaluations show that the proposed method significantly outperforms its unconstrained counterpart especially during initial adaptation steps, while achieving comparable or better overall results on several few-shot classification tasks – creating the possibility of dynamically choosing the number of adaptation steps at inference time.

Polynomial Neural Fields for Subband Decomposition and Manipulation

Guandao Yang · Sagie Benaim · Varun Jampani · Kyle Genova · Jonathan Barron · Thomas Funkhouser · Bharath Hariharan · Serge Belongie

Neural fields have emerged as a new paradigm for representing signals, thanks to their ability to do it compactly while being easy to optimize. In most applications, however, neural fields are treated like a black box, which precludes many signal manipulation tasks. In this paper, we propose a new class of neural fields called basis-encoded polynomial neural fields (PNFs). The key advantage of a PNF is that it can represent a signal as a composition of a number of manipulable and interpretable components without losing the merits of neural fields representation. We develop a general theoretical framework to analyze and design PNFs. We use this framework to design Fourier PNFs, which match state-of-the-art performance in signal representation tasks that use neural fields. In addition, we empirically demonstrate that Fourier PNFs enable signal manipulation applications such as texture transfer and scale-space interpolation. Code is available at

Improving Self-Supervised Learning by Characterizing Idealized Representations

Yann Dubois · Stefano Ermon · Tatsunori Hashimoto · Percy Liang

Despite the empirical successes of self-supervised learning (SSL) methods, it is unclear what characteristics of their representations lead to high downstream accuracies. In this work, we characterize properties that SSL representations should ideally satisfy. Specifically, we prove necessary and sufficient conditions such that for any task invariant to given data augmentations, probes (e.g., linear or MLP) trained on that representation attain perfect accuracy. These requirements lead to a unifying conceptual framework for improving existing SSL methods and deriving new ones. For contrastive learning, our framework prescribes simple but significant improvements to previous methods such as using asymmetric projection heads. For non-contrastive learning, we use our framework to derive a simple and novel objective. Our resulting SSL algorithms outperform baselines on standard benchmarks, including SwAV+multicrops on linear probing of ImageNet.

Deep Ensembles Work, But Are They Necessary?

Taiga Abe · Estefany Kelly Buchanan · Geoff Pleiss · Richard Zemel · John Cunningham

Ensembling neural networks is an effective way to increase accuracy, and can often match the performance of individual larger models. This observation poses a natural question: given the choice between a deep ensemble and a single neural network with similar accuracy, is one preferable over the other? Recent work suggests that deep ensembles may offer distinct benefits beyond predictive power: namely, uncertainty quantification and robustness to dataset shift. In this work, we demonstrate limitations to these purported benefits, and show that a single (but larger) neural network can replicate these qualities. First, we show that ensemble diversity, by any metric, does not meaningfully contribute to an ensemble's ability to detect out-of-distribution (OOD) data, but is instead highly correlated with the relative improvement of a single larger model. Second, we show that the OOD performance afforded by ensembles is strongly determined by their in-distribution (InD) performance, and - in this sense - is not indicative of any "effective robustness." While deep ensembles are a practical way to achieve improvements to predictive power, uncertainty quantification, and robustness, our results show that these improvements can be replicated by a (larger) single model.

Learning to Mitigate AI Collusion on Economic Platforms

Gianluca Brero · Eric Mibuari · Nicolas Lepore · David Parkes

Algorithmic pricing on online e-commerce platforms raises the concern of tacit collusion, where reinforcement learning algorithms learn to set collusive prices in a decentralized manner and through nothing more than profit feedback. This raises the question as to whether collusive pricing can be prevented through the design of suitable "buy boxes," i.e., through the design of the rules that govern the elements of e-commerce sites that promote particular products and prices to consumers. In this paper, we demonstrate that reinforcement learning (RL) can also be used by platforms to learn buy box rules that are effective in preventing collusion by RL sellers. For this, we adopt the methodology of Stackelberg POMDPs, and demonstrate success in learning robust rules that continue to provide high consumer welfare together with sellers employing different behavior models or having out-of-distribution costs for goods.

Hamiltonian Latent Operators for content and motion disentanglement in image sequences

Asif Khan · Amos Storkey

We introduce \textit{HALO} -- a deep generative model utilising HAmiltonian Latent Operators to reliably disentangle content and motion information in image sequences. The \textit{content} represents summary statistics of a sequence, and \textit{motion} is a dynamic process that determines how information is expressed in any part of the sequence. By modelling the dynamics as a Hamiltonian motion, important desiderata are ensured: (1) the motion is reversible, (2) the symplectic, volume-preserving structure in phase space means paths are continuous and are not divergent in the latent space. Consequently, the nearness of sequence frames is realised by the nearness of their coordinates in the phase space, which proves valuable for disentanglement and long-term sequence generation. The sequence space is generally comprised of different types of dynamical motions. To ensure long-term separability and allow controlled generation, we associate every motion with a unique Hamiltonian that acts in its respective subspace. We demonstrate the utility of \textit{HALO} by swapping the motion of a pair of sequences, controlled generation, and image rotations.

Posterior Collapse of a Linear Latent Variable Model

Zihao Wang · Liu Ziyin

This work identifies the existence and cause of a type of posterior collapse that frequently occurs in the Bayesian deep learning practice. For a general linear latent variable model that includes linear variational autoencoders as a special case, we precisely identify the nature of posterior collapse to be the competition between the likelihood and the regularization of the mean due to the prior. Our result also suggests that posterior collapse may be a general problem of learning for deeper architectures and deepens our understanding of Bayesian deep learning.

TREC: Transient Redundancy Elimination-based Convolution

Jiawei Guan · Feng Zhang · Jiesong Liu · Hsin-Hsuan Sung · Ruofan Wu · Xiaoyong Du · Xipeng Shen

The intensive computations in convolutional neural networks (CNNs) pose challenges for resource-constrained devices; eliminating redundant computations from convolution is essential. This paper gives a principled method to detect and avoid transient redundancy, a type of redundancy existing in input data or activation maps and hence changing across inferences. By introducing a new form of convolution (TREC), this new method makes transient redundancy detection and avoidance an inherent part of the CNN architecture, and the determination of the best configurations for redundancy elimination part of CNN backward propagation. We provide a rigorous proof of the robustness and convergence of TREC-equipped CNNs. TREC removes over 96% computations and achieves 3.51x average speedups on microcontrollers with minimal (about 0.7%) accuracy loss.

Unsupervised Reinforcement Learning with Contrastive Intrinsic Control

Michael Laskin · Hao Liu · Xue Bin Peng · Denis Yarats · Aravind Rajeswaran · Pieter Abbeel

We introduce Contrastive Intrinsic Control (CIC), an unsupervised reinforcement learning (RL) algorithm that maximizes the mutual information between state-transitions and latent skill vectors. CIC utilizes contrastive learning between state-transitions and skills vectors to learn behaviour embeddings and maximizes the entropy of these embeddings as an intrinsic reward to encourage behavioural diversity. We evaluate our algorithm on the Unsupervised RL Benchmark (URLB) in the asymptotic state-based setting, which consists of a long reward-free pre-training phase followed by a short adaptation phase to downstream tasks with extrinsic rewards. We find that CIC improves over prior exploration algorithms in terms of adaptation efficiency to downstream tasks on state-based URLB.

Learnable Polyphase Sampling for Shift Invariant and Equivariant Convolutional Networks

Renan A. Rojas-Gomez · Teck-Yian Lim · Alex Schwing · Minh Do · Raymond A. Yeh

We propose learnable polyphase sampling (LPS), a pair of learnable down/upsampling layers that enable truly shift-invariant and equivariant convolutional networks. LPS can be trained end-to-end from data and generalizes existing handcrafted downsampling layers. It is widely applicable as it can be integrated into any convolutional network by replacing down/upsampling layers. We evaluate LPS on image classification and semantic segmentation. Experiments show that LPS is on-par with or outperforms existing methods in both performance and shift consistency. For the first time, we achieve true shift-equivariance on semantic segmentation (PASCAL VOC), i.e., 100% shift consistency, outperforming baselines by an absolute 3.3%.

Unsupervised Cross-Task Generalization via Retrieval Augmentation

Bill Yuchen Lin · Kangmin Tan · Chris Miller · Beiwen Tian · Xiang Ren

Humans can perform unseen tasks by recalling relevant skills acquired previously and then generalizing them to the target tasks, even if there is no supervision at all. In this paper, we aim to improve this kind of cross-task generalization ability of massive multi-task language models, such as T0 and FLAN, in an unsupervised setting. We propose a retrieval-augmentation method named ReCross that takes a few unlabelled examples as queries to retrieve a small subset of upstream data and uses them to update the multi-task model for better generalization. ReCross is a straightforward yet effective retrieval method that combines both efficient dense retrieval and effective pair-wise reranking. Our results and analysis show that it significantly outperforms both non-retrieval methods and other baseline methods.

Self-Supervised Learning Through Efference Copies

Franz Scherr · Qinghai Guo · Timoleon Moraitis

Self-supervised learning (SSL) methods aim to exploit the abundance of unlabelled data for machine learning (ML), however the underlying principles are often method-specific. An SSL framework derived from biological first principles of embodied learning could unify the various SSL methods, help elucidate learning in the brain, and possibly improve ML. SSL commonly transforms each training datapoint into a pair of views, uses the knowledge of this pairing as a positive (i.e. non-contrastive) self-supervisory sign, and potentially opposes it to unrelated, (i.e. contrastive) negative examples. Here, we show that this type of self-supervision is an incomplete implementation of a concept from neuroscience, the Efference Copy (EC). Specifically, the brain also transforms the environment through efference, i.e. motor commands, however it sends to itself an EC of the full commands, i.e. more than a mere SSL sign. In addition, its action representations are likely egocentric. From such a principled foundation we formally recover and extend SSL methods such as SimCLR, BYOL, and ReLIC under a common theoretical framework, i.e. Self-supervision Through Efference Copies (S-TEC). Empirically, S-TEC restructures meaningfully the within- and between-class representations. This manifests as improvement in recent strong SSL baselines in image classification, segmentation, object detection, and in audio. These results hypothesize a testable positive influence from the brain's motor outputs onto its sensory representations.

Aligning individual brains with fused unbalanced Gromov Wasserstein

Alexis Thual · Quang Huy TRAN · Tatiana Zemskova · Nicolas Courty · Rémi Flamary · Stanislas Dehaene · Bertrand Thirion

Individual brains vary in both anatomy and functional organization, even within a given species. Inter-individual variability is a major impediment when trying to draw generalizable conclusions from neuroimaging data collected on groups of subjects. Current co-registration procedures rely on limited data, and thus lead to very coarse inter-subject alignments. In this work, we present a novel method for inter-subject alignment based on Optimal Transport, denoted as Fused Unbalanced Gromov Wasserstein (FUGW). The method aligns two cortical surfaces based on the similarity of their functional signatures in response to a variety of stimuli, while penalizing large deformations of individual topographic organization.We demonstrate that FUGW is suited for whole-brain landmark-free alignment. The unbalanced feature allows to deal with the fact that functional areas vary in size across subjects. Results show that FUGW alignment significantly increases between-subject correlation of activity during new independent fMRI tasks and runs, and leads to more precise maps of fMRI results at the group level.

Formalizing Consistency and Coherence of Representation Learning

Harald Strömfelt · Luke Dickens · Artur Garcez · Alessandra Russo

In the study of reasoning in neural networks, recent efforts have sought to improve consistency and coherence of sequence models, leading to important developments in the area of neuro-symbolic AI. In symbolic AI, the concepts of consistency and coherence can be defined and verified formally, but for neural networks these definitions are lacking. The provision of such formal definitions is crucial to offer a common basis for the quantitative evaluation and systematic comparison of connectionist, neuro-symbolic and transfer learning approaches. In this paper, we introduce formal definitions of consistency and coherence for neural systems. To illustrate the usefulness of our definitions, we propose a new dynamic relation-decoder model built around the principles of consistency and coherence. We compare our results with several existing relation-decoders using a partial transfer learning task based on a novel data set introduced in this paper. Our experiments show that relation-decoders that maintain consistency over unobserved regions of representation space retaincoherence across domains, whilst achieving better transfer learning performance.

Non-deep Networks

Ankit Goyal · Alexey Bochkovskiy · Jia Deng · Vladlen Koltun

Latency is of utmost importance in safety-critical systems. In neural networks, lowest theoretical latency is dependent on the depth of the network. This begs the question -- is it possible to build high-performing ``non-deep" neural networks? We show that it is. To do so, we use parallel subnetworks instead of stacking one layer after another. This helps effectively reduce depth while maintaining high performance. By utilizing parallel substructures, we show, for the first time, that a network with a depth of just 12 can achieve top-1 accuracy over 80% on ImageNet, 96% on CIFAR10, and 81% on CIFAR100. We also show that a network with a low-depth (12) backbone can achieve an AP of 48% on MS-COCO. We analyze the scaling rules for our design and show how to increase performance without changing the network's depth. Finally, we provide a proof of concept for how non-deep networks could be used to build low-latency recognition systems. Code is available at

Mining Unseen Classes via Regional Objectness: A Simple Baseline for Incremental Segmentation

Zekang Zhang · Guangyu Gao · Zhiyuan Fang · Jianbo Jiao · Yunchao Wei

Incremental or continual learning has been extensively studied for image classification tasks to alleviate catastrophic forgetting, a phenomenon in which earlier learned knowledge is forgotten when learning new concepts. For class incremental semantic segmentation, such a phenomenon often becomes much worse due to the semantic shift of the background class, \ie, some concepts learned at previous stages are assigned to the background class at the current training stage, therefore, significantly reducing the performance of these old concepts. To address this issue, we propose a simple yet effective method in this paper, named Mining unseen Classes via Regional Objectness (MicroSeg). Our MicroSeg is based on the assumption that \emph{background regions with strong objectness possibly belong to those concepts in the historical or future stages}. Therefore, to avoid forgetting old knowledge at the current training stage, our MicroSeg first splits the given image into hundreds of segment proposals with a proposal generator. Those segment proposals with strong objectness from the background are then clustered and assigned new defined labels during the optimization. In this way, the distribution characterizes of old concepts in the feature space could be better perceived, relieving the catastrophic forgetting caused by the semantic shift of the background class accordingly. We conduct extensive experiments on Pascal VOC and ADE20K, and competitive results well demonstrate the effectiveness of our MicroSeg. Code is available at \href{}{\textcolor{orange}{\texttt{}}}.

Class-Dependent Label-Noise Learning with Cycle-Consistency Regularization

De Cheng · Yixiong Ning · Nannan Wang · Xinbo Gao · Heng Yang · Yuxuan Du · Bo Han · Tongliang Liu

In label-noise learning, estimating the transition matrix plays an important role in building statistically consistent classifier. Current state-of-the-art consistent estimator for the transition matrix has been developed under the newly proposed sufficiently scattered assumption, through incorporating the minimum volume constraint of the transition matrix T into label-noise learning. To compute the volume of T, it heavily relies on the estimated noisy class posterior. However, the estimation error of the noisy class posterior could usually be large as deep learning methods tend to easily overfit the noisy labels. Then, directly minimizing the volume of such obtained T could lead the transition matrix to be poorly estimated. Therefore, how to reduce the side-effects of the inaccurate noisy class posterior has become the bottleneck of such method. In this paper, we creatively propose to estimate the transition matrix under the forward-backward cycle-consistency regularization, of which we have greatly reduced the dependency of estimating the transition matrix T on the noisy class posterior. We show that the cycle-consistency regularization helps to minimize the volume of the transition matrix T indirectly without exploiting the estimated noisy class posterior, which could further encourage the estimated transition matrix T to converge to its optimal solution. Extensive experimental results consistently justify the effectiveness of the proposed method, on reducing the estimation error of the transition matrix and greatly boosting the classification performance.

Solving Quantitative Reasoning Problems with Language Models

Aitor Lewkowycz · Anders Andreassen · David Dohan · Ethan Dyer · Henryk Michalewski · Vinay Ramasesh · Ambrose Slone · Cem Anil · Imanol Schlag · Theo Gutman-Solo · Yuhuai Wu · Behnam Neyshabur · Guy Gur-Ari · Vedant Misra

Language models have achieved remarkable performance on a wide range of tasks that require natural language understanding. Nevertheless, state-of-the-art models have generally struggled with tasks that require quantitative reasoning, such as solving mathematics, science, and engineering questions at the college level. To help close this gap, we introduce Minerva, a large language model pretrained on general natural language data and further trained on technical content. The model achieves strong performance in a variety of evaluations, including state-of-the-art performance on the MATH dataset. We also evaluate our model on over two hundred undergraduate-level problems in physics, biology, chemistry, economics, and other sciences that require quantitative reasoning, and find that the model can correctly answer nearly a quarter of them.

GENIE: Higher-Order Denoising Diffusion Solvers

Tim Dockhorn · Arash Vahdat · Karsten Kreis

Denoising diffusion models (DDMs) have emerged as a powerful class of generative models. A forward diffusion process slowly perturbs the data, while a deep model learns to gradually denoise. Synthesis amounts to solving a differential equation (DE) defined by the learnt model. Solving the DE requires slow iterative solvers for high-quality generation. In this work, we propose Higher-Order Denoising Diffusion Solvers (GENIE): Based on truncated Taylor methods, we derive a novel higher-order solver that significantly accelerates synthesis. Our solver relies on higher-order gradients of the perturbed data distribution, that is, higher-order score functions. In practice, only Jacobian-vector products (JVPs) are required and we propose to extract them from the first-order score network via automatic differentiation. We then distill the JVPs into a separate neural network that allows us to efficiently compute the necessary higher-order terms for our novel sampler during synthesis. We only need to train a small additional head on top of the first-order score network. We validate GENIE on multiple image generation benchmarks and demonstrate that GENIE outperforms all previous solvers. Unlike recent methods that fundamentally alter the generation process in DDMs, our GENIE solves the true generative DE and still enables applications such as encoding and guided sampling. Project page and code:

Estimating the Arc Length of the Optimal ROC Curve and Lower Bounding the Maximal AUC

Song Liu

In this paper, we show the arc length of the optimal ROC curve is an $f$-divergence. By leveraging this result, we express the arc length using a variational objective and estimate it accurately using positive and negative samples. We show this estimator has a non-parametric convergence rate $O_p(n^{-\beta/4})$ ($\beta \in (0,1]$ depends on the smoothness). Using the same technique, we show the surface area sandwiched between the optimal ROC curve and the diagonal can be expressed via a similar variational objective. These new insights lead to a novel two-step classification procedure that maximizes an approximate lower bound of the maximal AUC. Experiments on CIFAR-10 datasets show the proposed two-step procedure achieves good AUC performance in imbalanced binary classification tasks.

Marksman Backdoor: Backdoor Attacks with Arbitrary Target Class

Khoa D Doan · Yingjie Lao · Ping Li

In recent years, machine learning models have been shown to be vulnerable to backdoor attacks. Under such attacks, an adversary embeds a stealthy backdoor into the trained model such that the compromised models will behave normally on clean inputs but will misclassify according to the adversary's control on maliciously constructed input with a trigger. While these existing attacks are very effective, the adversary's capability is limited: given an input, these attacks can only cause the model to misclassify toward a single pre-defined or target class. In contrast, this paper exploits a novel backdoor attack with a much more powerful payload, denoted as Marksman, where the adversary can arbitrarily choose which target class the model will misclassify given any input during inference. To achieve this goal, we propose to represent the trigger function as a class-conditional generative model and to inject the backdoor in a constrained optimization framework, where the trigger function learns to generate an optimal trigger pattern to attack any target class at will while simultaneously embedding this generative backdoor into the trained model. Given the learned trigger-generation function, during inference, the adversary can specify an arbitrary backdoor attack target class, and an appropriate trigger causing the model to classify toward this target class is created accordingly. We show empirically that the proposed framework achieves high attack performance (e.g., 100% attack success rates in several experiments) while preserving the clean-data performance in several benchmark datasets, including MNIST, CIFAR10, GTSRB, and TinyImageNet. The proposed Marksman backdoor attack can also easily bypass existing backdoor defenses that were originally designed against backdoor attacks with a single target class. Our work takes another significant step toward understanding the extensive risks of backdoor attacks in practice.

Fuzzy Learning Machine

Junbiao Cui · Jiye Liang

Classification is one of the most important problems in machine learning and the nature of it is concept cognition. So far, dozens of different classifiers have been designed. Although their working mechanisms vary widely, few of them fully consider concept cognition. In this paper, a new learning machine, fuzzy learning machine (FLM), is proposed from the perspective of concept cognition. Inspired by cognitive science, its working mechanism is of strong interpretability. At the same time, FLM roots in set theory and fuzzy set theory, so FLM has a solid mathematical foundation. The systematic experimental results on a large number of data sets show that FLM can achieve excellent performance, even with the simple implementation.

Second Thoughts are Best: Learning to Re-Align With Human Values from Text Edits

Ruibo Liu · Chenyan Jia · Ge Zhang · Ziyu Zhuang · Tony Liu · Soroush Vosoughi

We present Second Thoughts, a new learning paradigm that enables language models (LMs) to re-align with human values. By modeling the chain-of-edits between value-unaligned and value-aligned text, with LM fine-tuning and additional refinement through reinforcement learning, Second Thoughts not only achieves superior performance in three value alignment benchmark datasets but also shows strong human-value transfer learning ability in few-shot scenarios. The generated editing steps also offer better interpretability and ease for interactive error correction. Extensive human evaluations further confirm its effectiveness.

Grounded Video Situation Recognition

Zeeshan Khan · C.V. Jawahar · Makarand Tapaswi

Dense video understanding requires answering several questions such as who is doing what to whom, with what, how, why, and where. Recently, Video Situation Recognition (VidSitu) is framed as a task for structured prediction of multiple events, their relationships, and actions and various verb-role pairs attached to descriptive entities. This task poses several challenges in identifying, disambiguating, and co-referencing entities across multiple verb-role pairs, but also faces some challenges of evaluation. In this work, we propose the addition of spatio-temporal grounding as an essential component of the structured prediction task in a weakly supervised setting, and present a novel three stage Transformer model, VideoWhisperer, that is empowered to make joint predictions. In stage one, we learn contextualised embeddings for video features in parallel with key objects that appear in the video clips to enable fine-grained spatio-temporal reasoning. The second stage sees verb-role queries attend and pool information from object embeddings, localising answers to questions posed about the action. The final stage generates these answers as captions to describe each verb-role pair present in the video. Our model operates on a group of events (clips) simultaneously and predicts verbs, verb-role pairs, their nouns, and their grounding on-the-fly. When evaluated on a grounding-augmented version of the VidSitu dataset, we observe a large improvement in entity captioning accuracy, as well as the ability to localize verb-roles without grounding annotations at training time.

Robust Neural Posterior Estimation and Statistical Model Criticism

Daniel Ward · Patrick Cannon · Mark Beaumont · Matteo Fasiolo · Sebastian Schmon

Computer simulations have proven a valuable tool for understanding complex phenomena across the sciences. However, the utility of simulators for modelling and forecasting purposes is often restricted by low data quality, as well as practical limits to model fidelity. In order to circumvent these difficulties, we argue that modellers must treat simulators as idealistic representations of the true data generating process, and consequently should thoughtfully consider the risk of model misspecification. In this work we revisit neural posterior estimation (NPE), a class of algorithms that enable black-box parameter inference in simulation models, and consider the implication of a simulation-to-reality gap. While recent works have demonstrated reliable performance of these methods, the analyses have been performed using synthetic data generated by the simulator model itself, and have therefore only addressed the well-specified case. In this paper, we find that the presence of misspecification, in contrast, leads to unreliable inference when NPE is used naïvely. As a remedy we argue that principled scientific inquiry with simulators should incorporate a model criticism component, to facilitate interpretable identification of misspecification and a robust inference component, to fit ‘wrong but useful’ models. We propose robust neural posterior estimation (RNPE), an extension of NPE to simultaneously achieve both these aims, through explicitly modelling the discrepancies between simulations and the observed data. We assess the approach on a range of artificially misspecified examples, and find RNPE performs well across the tasks, whereas naïvely using NPE leads to misleading and erratic posteriors.

RAMBO-RL: Robust Adversarial Model-Based Offline Reinforcement Learning

Marc Rigter · Bruno Lacerda · Nick Hawes

Offline reinforcement learning (RL) aims to find performant policies from logged data without further environment interaction. Model-based algorithms, which learn a model of the environment from the dataset and perform conservative policy optimisation within that model, have emerged as a promising approach to this problem. In this work, we present Robust Adversarial Model-Based Offline RL (RAMBO), a novel approach to model-based offline RL. We formulate the problem as a two-player zero sum game against an adversarial environment model. The model is trained to minimise the value function while still accurately predicting the transitions in the dataset, forcing the policy to act conservatively in areas not covered by the dataset. To approximately solve the two-player game, we alternate between optimising the policy and adversarially optimising the model. The problem formulation that we address is theoretically grounded, resulting in a probably approximately correct (PAC) performance guarantee and a pessimistic value function which lower bounds the value function in the true environment. We evaluate our approach on widely studied offline RL benchmarks, and demonstrate that it outperforms existing state-of-the-art baselines.

Instance-based Learning for Knowledge Base Completion

Wanyun Cui · Xingran Chen

In this paper, we propose a new method for knowledge base completion (KBC): instance-based learning (IBL). For example, to answer (Jill Biden, lived city,? ), instead of going directly to Washington D.C., our goal is to find Joe Biden, who has the same lived city as Jill Biden. Through prototype entities, IBL provides interpretability. We develop theories for modeling prototypes and combining IBL with translational models. Experiments on various tasks confirmed the IBL model's effectiveness and interpretability.In addition, IBL shed light on the mechanism of rule-based KBC models. Previous research has generally agreed that rule-based models provide rules with semantically compatible premise and hypothesis. We challenge this view. We begin by demonstrating that some logical rules represent {\it instance-based equivalence} (i.e. prototypes) rather than semantic compatibility. These are denoted as {\it IBL rules}. Surprisingly, despite occupying only a small portion of the rule space, IBL rules outperform non-IBL rules in all four benchmarks. %KBC can be achieved using only IBL rules in two benchmarks without sacrificing effectiveness. We use a variety of experiments to demonstrate that rule-based models work because they have the ability to represent instance-based equivalence via IBL rules. The findings provide new insights of how rule-based models work and how to interpret their rules.

Sub-exponential time Sum-of-Squares lower bounds for Principal Components Analysis

Aaron Potechin · Goutham Rajendran

Principal Components Analysis (PCA) is a dimension-reduction technique widely used in machine learning and statistics. However, due to the dependence of the principal components on all the dimensions, the components are notoriously hard to interpret. Therefore, a variant known as sparse PCA is often preferred. Sparse PCA learns principal components of the data but enforces that such components must be sparse. This has applications in diverse fields such as computational biology and image processing. To learn sparse principal components, it's well known that standard PCA will not work, especially in high dimensions, and therefore algorithms for sparse PCA are often studied as a separate endeavor. Various algorithms have been proposed for Sparse PCA over the years, but given how fundamental it is for applications in science, the limits of efficient algorithms are only partially understood. In this work, we study the limits of the powerful Sum of Squares (SoS) family of algorithms for Sparse PCA. SoS algorithms have recently revolutionized robust statistics, leading to breakthrough algorithms for long-standing open problems in machine learning, such as optimally learning mixtures of gaussians, robust clustering, robust regression, etc. Moreover, it is believed to be the optimal robust algorithm for many statistical problems. Therefore, for sparse PCA, it's plausible that it can beat simpler algorithms such as diagonal thresholding that have been traditionally used. In this work, we show that this is not the case, by exhibiting strong tradeoffs between the number of samples required, the sparsity and the ambient dimension, for which SoS algorithms, even if allowed sub-exponential time, will fail to optimally recover the component. Our results are complemented by known algorithms in literature, thereby painting an almost complete picture of the behavior of efficient algorithms for sparse PCA. Since SoS algorithms encapsulate many algorithmic techniques such as spectral or statistical query algorithms, this solidifies the message that known algorithms are optimal for sparse PCA. Moreover, our techniques are strong enough to obtain similar tradeoffs for Tensor PCA, another important higher order variant of PCA with applications in topic modeling, video processing, etc.

Tight Mutual Information Estimation With Contrastive Fenchel-Legendre Optimization

Qing Guo · Junya Chen · Dong Wang · Yuewei Yang · Xinwei Deng · Jing Huang · Larry Carin · Fan Li · Chenyang Tao

Successful applications of InfoNCE (Information Noise-Contrastive Estimation) and its variants have popularized the use of contrastive variational mutual information (MI) estimators in machine learning . While featuring superior stability, these estimators crucially depend on costly large-batch training, and they sacrifice bound tightness for variance reduction. To overcome these limitations, we revisit the mathematics of popular variational MI bounds from the lens of unnormalized statistical modeling and convex optimization. Our investigation yields a new unified theoretical framework encompassing popular variational MI bounds, and leads to a novel, simple, and powerful contrastive MI estimator we name FLO. Theoretically, we show that the FLO estimator is tight, and it converges under stochastic gradient descent. Empirically, the proposed FLO estimator overcomes the limitations of its predecessors and learns more efficiently. The utility of FLO is verified using extensive benchmarks, and we further inspire the community with novel applications in meta-learning. Our presentation underscores the foundational importance of variational MI estimation in data-efficient learning.

A Rotated Hyperbolic Wrapped Normal Distribution for Hierarchical Representation Learning

Seunghyuk Cho · Juyong Lee · Jaesik Park · Dongwoo Kim

We present a rotated hyperbolic wrapped normal distribution (RoWN), a simple yet effective alteration of a hyperbolic wrapped normal distribution (HWN). The HWN expands the domain of probabilistic modeling from Euclidean to hyperbolic space, where a tree can be embedded with arbitrary low distortion in theory. In this work, we analyze the geometric properties of the diagonal HWN, a standard choice of distribution in probabilistic modeling. The analysis shows that the distribution is inappropriate to represent the data points at the same hierarchy level through their angular distance with the same norm in the Poincar\'e disk model. We then empirically verify the presence of limitations of HWN, and show how RoWN, the proposed distribution, can alleviate the limitations on various hierarchical datasets, including noisy synthetic binary tree, WordNet, and Atari 2600 Breakout. The code is available at

Finding and Listing Front-door Adjustment Sets

Hyunchai Jeong · Jin Tian · Elias Bareinboim

Identifying the effects of new interventions from data is a significant challenge found across a wide range of the empirical sciences. A well-known strategy for identifying such effects is Pearl's front-door (FD) criterion. The definition of the FD criterion is declarative, only allowing one to decide whether a specific set satisfies the criterion. In this paper, we present algorithms for finding and enumerating possible sets satisfying the FD criterion in a given causal diagram. These results are useful in facilitating the practical applications of the FD criterion for causal effects estimation and helping scientists to select estimands with desired properties, e.g., based on cost, feasibility of measurement, or statistical power.

SALSA: Attacking Lattice Cryptography with Transformers

Emily Wenger · Mingjie Chen · Francois Charton · Kristin E. Lauter

Currently deployed public-key cryptosystems will be vulnerable to attacks by full-scale quantum computers. Consequently, "quantum resistant" cryptosystems are in high demand, and lattice-based cryptosystems, based on a hard problem known as Learning With Errors (LWE), have emerged as strong contenders for standardization. In this work, we train transformers to perform modular arithmetic and mix half-trained models and statistical cryptanalysis techniques to propose SALSA: a machine learning attack on LWE-based cryptographic schemes. SALSA can fully recover secrets for small-to-mid size LWE instances with sparse binary secrets, and may scale to attack real world LWE-based cryptosystems.

Automatic differentiation of nonsmooth iterative algorithms

Jerome Bolte · Edouard Pauwels · Samuel Vaiter

Differentiation along algorithms, i.e., piggyback propagation of derivatives, is now routinely used to differentiate iterative solvers in differentiable programming. Asymptotics is well understood for many smooth problems but the nondifferentiable case is hardly considered. Is there a limiting object for nonsmooth piggyback automatic differentiation (AD)? Does it have any variational meaning and can it be used effectively in machine learning? Is there a connection with classical derivative? All these questions are addressed under appropriate contractivity conditions in the framework of conservative derivatives which has proved useful in understanding nonsmooth AD. For nonsmooth piggyback iterations, we characterize the attractor set of nonsmooth piggyback iterations as a set-valued fixed point which remains in the conservative framework. This has various consequences and in particular almost everywhere convergence of classical derivatives. Our results are illustrated on parametric convex optimization problems with forward-backward, Douglas-Rachford and Alternating Direction of Multiplier algorithms as well as the Heavy-Ball method.

Learning from a Sample in Online Algorithms

C.J. Argue · Alan Frieze · Anupam Gupta · Christopher Seiler

We consider three central problems in optimization: the restricted assignment load-balancing problem, the Steiner tree network design problem, and facility location clustering. We consider the online setting, where the input arrives over time, and irrevocable decisions must be made without knowledge of the future. For all these problems, any online algorithm must incur a cost that is approximately $\log |I|$ times the optimal cost in the worst-case, where $|I|$ is the length of the input. But can we go beyond the worst-case? In this work we give algorithms that perform substantially better when a $p$-fraction of the input is given as a sample: the algorithm use this sample to \emph{learn} a good strategy to use for the rest of the input.

Trajectory of Mini-Batch Momentum: Batch Size Saturation and Convergence in High Dimensions

Kiwon Lee · Andrew Cheng · Elliot Paquette · Courtney Paquette

We analyze the dynamics of large batch stochastic gradient descent with momentum (SGD+M) on the least squares problem when both the number of samples and dimensions are large. In this setting, we show that the dynamics of SGD+M converge to a deterministic discrete Volterra equation as dimension increases, which we analyze. We identify a stability measurement, the implicit conditioning ratio (ICR), which regulates the ability of SGD+M to accelerate the algorithm. When the batch size exceeds this ICR, SGD+M converges linearly at a rate of $\mathcal{O}(1/\sqrt{\kappa})$, matching optimal full-batch momentum (in particular performing as well as a full-batch but with a fraction of the size). For batch sizes smaller than the ICR, in contrast, SGD+M has rates that scale like a multiple of the single batch SGD rate. We give explicit choices for the learning rate and momentum parameter in terms of the Hessian spectra that achieve this performance.

Improved Algorithms for Neural Active Learning

Yikun Ban · Yuheng Zhang · Hanghang Tong · Arindam Banerjee · Jingrui He

We improve the theoretical and empirical performance of neural-network(NN)-based active learning algorithms for the non-parametric streaming setting. In particular, we introduce two regret metrics by minimizing the population loss that are more suitable in active learning than the one used in state-of-the-art (SOTA) related work. Then, the proposed algorithm leverages the powerful representation of NNs for both exploitation and exploration, has the query decision-maker tailored for $k$-class classification problems with the performance guarantee, utilizes the full feedback, and updates parameters in a more practical and efficient manner. These careful designs lead to an instance-dependent regret upper bound, roughly improving by a multiplicative factor $O(\log T)$ and removing the curse of input dimensionality. Furthermore, we show that the algorithm can achieve the same performance as the Bayes-optimal classifier in the long run under the hard-margin setting in classification problems. In the end, we use extensive experiments to evaluate the proposed algorithm and SOTA baselines, to show the improved empirical performance.

Matching in Multi-arm Bandit with Collision

YiRui Zhang · Siwei Wang · Zhixuan Fang

In this paper, we consider the matching of multi-agent multi-armed bandit problem, i.e., while agents prefer arms with higher expected reward, arms also have preferences on agents. In such case, agents pulling the same arm may encounter collisions, which leads to a reward of zero.For this problem, we design a specific communication protocol which uses deliberate collision to transmit information among agents, and propose a layer-based algorithm that helps establish optimal stable matching between agents and arms. With this subtle communication protocol, our algorithm achieves a state-of-the-art $O(\log T)$ regret in the decentralized matching market, and outperforms existing baselines in experimental results.

A Spectral Approach to Item Response Theory

Duc Nguyen · Anderson Ye Zhang

The Rasch model is one of the most fundamental models in item response theory and has wide-ranging applications from education testing to recommendation systems. In a universe with $n$ users and $m$ items, the Rasch model assumes that the binary response $X_{li} \in \{0,1\}$ of a user $l$ with parameter $\theta^*_l$ to an item $i$ with parameter $\beta^*_i$ (e.g., a user likes a movie, a student correctly solves a problem) is distributed as $\mathbb{P}(X_{li}=1) = 1/(1 + \exp(-(\theta^*_l - \beta^*_i)))$. In this paper, we propose a new item estimation algorithm for this celebrated model (i.e., to estimate $\beta^*$). The core of our algorithm is the computation of the stationary distribution of a Markov chain defined on an item-item graph. We complement our algorithmic contributions with finite-sample error guarantees, the first of their kind in the literature, showing that our algorithm is consistent and enjoys favorable optimality properties. We discuss practical modifications to accelerate and robustify the algorithm that practitioners can adopt. Experiments on synthetic and real-life datasets, ranging from small education testing datasets to large recommendation systems datasets show that our algorithm is scalable, accurate, and competitive with the most commonly used methods in the literature.

JAWS: Auditing Predictive Uncertainty Under Covariate Shift

Drew Prinster · Anqi Liu · Suchi Saria

We propose \textbf{JAWS}, a series of wrapper methods for distribution-free uncertainty quantification tasks under covariate shift, centered on the core method \textbf{JAW}, the \textbf{JA}ckknife+ \textbf{W}eighted with data-dependent likelihood-ratio weights. JAWS also includes computationally efficient \textbf{A}pproximations of JAW using higher-order influence functions: \textbf{JAWA}. Theoretically, we show that JAW relaxes the jackknife+'s assumption of data exchangeability to achieve the same finite-sample coverage guarantee even under covariate shift. JAWA further approaches the JAW guarantee in the limit of the sample size or the influence function order under common regularity assumptions. Moreover, we propose a general approach to repurposing predictive interval-generating methods and their guarantees to the reverse task: estimating the probability that a prediction is erroneous, based on user-specified error criteria such as a safe or acceptable tolerance threshold around the true label. We then propose \textbf{JAW-E} and \textbf{JAWA-E} as the repurposed proposed methods for this \textbf{E}rror assessment task. Practically, JAWS outperform state-of-the-art predictive inference baselines in a variety of biased real world data sets for interval-generation and error-assessment predictive uncertainty auditing tasks.

Bessel Equivariant Networks for Inversion of Transmission Effects in Multi-Mode Optical Fibres

Joshua Mitton · Simon Mekhail · Miles Padgett · Daniele Faccio · Marco Aversa · Roderick Murray-Smith

We develop a new type of model for solving the task of inverting the transmission effects of multi-mode optical fibres through the construction of an $\mathrm{SO}^{+}(2,1)$-equivariant neural network. This model takes advantage of the of the azimuthal correlations known to exist in fibre speckle patterns and naturally accounts for the difference in spatial arrangement between input and speckle patterns. In addition, we use a second post-processing network to remove circular artifacts, fill gaps, and sharpen the images, which is required due to the nature of optical fibre transmission. This two stage approach allows for the inspection of the predicted images produced by the more robust physically motivated equivariant model, which could be useful in a safety-critical application, or by the output of both models, which produces high quality images. Further, this model can scale to previously unachievable resolutions of imaging with multi-mode optical fibres and is demonstrated on $256 \times 256$ pixel images. This is a result of improving the trainable parameter requirement from $\mathcal{O}(N^4)$ to $\mathcal{O}(m)$, where $N$ is pixel size and $m$ is number of fibre modes. Finally, this model generalises to new images, outside of the set of training data classes, better than previous models.

MetricFormer: A Unified Perspective of Correlation Exploring in Similarity Learning

Jiexi Yan · Erkun Yang · Cheng Deng · Heng Huang

Similarity learning can be significantly advanced by informative relationships among different samples and features. The current methods try to excavate the multiple correlations in different aspects, but cannot integrate them into a unified framework. In this paper, we provide to consider the multiple correlations from a unified perspective and propose a new method called MetricFormer, which can effectively capture and model the multiple correlations with an elaborate metric transformer. In MetricFormer, the feature decoupling block is adopted to learn an ensemble of distinct and diverse features with different discriminative characteristics. After that, we apply the batch-wise correlation block into the batch dimension of each mini-batch to implicitly explore sample relationships. Finally, the feature-wise correlation block is performed to discover the intrinsic structural pattern of the ensemble of features and obtain the aggregated feature embedding for similarity measuring. With three kinds of transformer blocks, we can learn more representative features through the proposed MetricFormer. Moreover, our proposed method can be flexibly integrated with any metric learning framework. Extensive experiments on three widely-used datasets demonstrate the superiority of our proposed method over state-of-the-art methods.

ZSON: Zero-Shot Object-Goal Navigation using Multimodal Goal Embeddings

Arjun Majumdar · Gunjan Aggarwal · Bhavika Devnani · Judy Hoffman · Dhruv Batra

We present a scalable approach for learning open-world object-goal navigation (ObjectNav) – the task of asking a virtual robot (agent) to find any instance of an object in an unexplored environment (e.g., “find a sink”). Our approach is entirely zero-shot – i.e., it does not require ObjectNav rewards or demonstrations of any kind. Instead, we train on the image-goal navigation (ImageNav) task, in which agents find the location where a picture (i.e., goal image) was captured. Specifically, we encode goal images into a multimodal, semantic embedding space to enable training semantic-goal navigation (SemanticNav) agents at scale in unannotated 3D environments (e.g., HM3D). After training, SemanticNav agents can be instructed to find objects described in free-form natural language (e.g., “sink,” “bathroom sink,” etc.) by projecting language goals into the same multimodal, semantic embedding space. As a result, our approach enables open-world ObjectNav. We extensively evaluate our agents on three ObjectNav datasets (Gibson, HM3D, and MP3D) and observe absolute improvements in success of 4.2% - 20.0% over existing zero-shot methods. For reference, these gains are similar or better than the 5% improvement in success between the Habitat 2020 and 2021 ObjectNav challenge winners. In an open-world setting, we discover that our agents can generalize to compound instructions with a room explicitly mentioned (e.g., “Find a kitchen sink”) and when the target room can be inferred (e.g., “Find a sink and a stove”).

Learning Recourse on Instance Environment to Enhance Prediction Accuracy

Lokesh N · Guntakanti Sai Koushik · Abir De · Sunita Sarawagi

Machine Learning models are often susceptible to poor performance on instances sampled from bad environments. For example, an image classifier could provide low accuracy on images captured under low lighting conditions. In high stake ML applications, such as AI-driven medical diagnostics, a better option could be to provide recourse in the form of alternative environment settings in which to recapture the instance for more reliable diagnostics. In this paper, we propose a model called {\em RecourseNet} that learns to apply recourse on the space of environments so that the recoursed instances are amenable to better predictions by the classifier. Learning to output optimal recourse is challenging because we do not assume access to the underlying physical process that generates the recoursed instances. Also, the optimal setting could be instance-dependent --- for example the best camera angle for object recognition could be a function of the object's shape. We propose a novel three-level training method that (a) Learns a classifier that is optimized for high performance under recourse, (b) Learns a recourse predictor when the training data may contain only limited instances under good environment settings, and (c) Triggers recourse selectively only when recourse is likely to improve classifier confidence.

Spherization Layer: Representation Using Only Angles

Hoyong Kim · kangil kim

In neural network literature, angular similarity between feature vectors is frequently used for interpreting or re-using learned representations. However, the inner product in neural networks partially disperses information over the scales and angles of the involved input vectors and weight vectors. Therefore, when using only angular similarity on representations trained with the inner product, information loss occurs in downstream methods, which limits their performance. In this paper, we proposed the $\textit{spherization layer}$ to represent all information on angular similarity. The layer 1) maps the pre-activations of input vectors into the specific range of angles, 2) converts the angular coordinates of the vectors to Cartesian coordinates with an additional dimension, and 3) trains decision boundaries from hyperplanes, without bias parameters, passing through the origin. This approach guarantees that representation learning always occurs on the hyperspherical surface without the loss of any information unlike other projection-based methods. Furthermore, this method can be applied to any network by replacing an existing layer. We validate the functional correctness of the proposed method in a toy task, retention ability in well-known image classification tasks, and effectiveness in word analogy test and few-shot learning. Code is publicly available at

Disentangling the Predictive Variance of Deep Ensembles through the Neural Tangent Kernel

Seijin Kobayashi · Pau Vilimelis Aceituno · Johannes von Oswald

Identifying unfamiliar inputs, also known as out-of-distribution (OOD) detection, is a crucial property of any decision making process. A simple and empirically validated technique is based on deep ensembles where the variance of predictions over different neural networks acts as a substitute for input uncertainty. Nevertheless, a theoretical understanding of the inductive biases leading to the performance of deep ensemble's uncertainty estimation is missing. To improve our description of their behavior, we study deep ensembles with large layer widths operating in simplified linear training regimes, in which the functions trained with gradient descent can be described by the neural tangent kernel. We identify two sources of noise, each inducing a distinct inductive bias in the predictive variance at initialization. We further show theoretically and empirically that both noise sources affect the predictive variance of non-linear deep ensembles in toy models and realistic settings after training. Finally, we propose practical ways to eliminate part of these noise sources leading to significant changes and improved OOD detection in trained deep ensembles.

Agreement-on-the-line: Predicting the Performance of Neural Networks under Distribution Shift

Christina Baek · Yiding Jiang · Aditi Raghunathan · J. Zico Kolter

Recently, Miller et al. showed that a model's in-distribution (ID) accuracy has a strong linear correlation with its out-of-distribution (OOD) accuracy, on several OOD benchmarks, a phenomenon they dubbed ``accuracy-on-the-line''. While a useful tool for model selection (i.e., the model most likely to perform the best OOD is the one with highest ID accuracy), this fact does not help to estimate the actual OOD performance of models without access to a labeled OOD validation set. In this paper, we show a similar surprising phenomena also holds for the agreement between pairs of neural network classifiers: whenever accuracy-on-the-line holds, we observe that the OOD agreement between the predictions of any two pairs of neural networks (with potentially different architectures) also observes a strong linear correlation with their ID agreement. Furthermore, we observe that the slope and bias of OOD vs ID agreement closely matches that of OOD vs ID accuracy. This phenomenon which we call agreement-on-the-line, has important practical applications: without any labeled data, we can predict the OOD accuracy of classifiers, since OOD agreement can be estimated with just unlabeled data. Our prediction algorithm outperforms previous methods both in shifts where agreement-on-the-line holds and, surprisingly, when accuracy is not on the line. This phenomenon also provides new insights into neural networks: unlike accuracy-on-the-line, agreement-on-the-line only appears to hold for neural network classifiers.

Efficient and Stable Fully Dynamic Facility Location

Sayan Bhattacharya · Silvio Lattanzi · Nikos Parotsidis

We consider the classic facility location problem in fully dynamic data streams, where elements can be both inserted and deleted. In this problem, one is interested in maintaining a stable and high quality solution throughout the data stream while using only little time per update (insertion or deletion). We study the problem and provide the first algorithm that at the same time maintains a constant approximation and incurs polylogarithmic amortized recourse per update. We complement our theoretical results with an experimental analysis showing the practical efficiency of our method.

Coresets for Wasserstein Distributionally Robust Optimization Problems

Ruomin Huang · Jiawei Huang · Wenjie Liu · Hu Ding

Wasserstein distributionally robust optimization (\textsf{WDRO}) is a popular model to enhance the robustness of machine learning with ambiguous data. However, the complexity of \textsf{WDRO} can be prohibitive in practice since solving its ``minimax'' formulation requires a great amount of computation. Recently, several fast \textsf{WDRO} training algorithms for some specific machine learning tasks (e.g., logistic regression) have been developed. However, the research on designing efficient algorithms for general large-scale \textsf{WDRO}s is still quite limited, to the best of our knowledge. \textit{Coreset} is an important tool for compressing large dataset, and thus it has been widely applied to reduce the computational complexities for many optimization problems. In this paper, we introduce a unified framework to construct the $\epsilon$-coreset for the general \textsf{WDRO} problems. Though it is challenging to obtain a conventional coreset for \textsf{WDRO} due to the uncertainty issue of ambiguous data, we show that we can compute a ``dual coreset'' by using the strong duality property of \textsf{WDRO}. Also, the error introduced by the dual coreset can be theoretically guaranteed for the original \textsf{WDRO} objective. To construct the dual coreset, we propose a novel grid sampling approach that is particularly suitable for the dual formulation of \textsf{WDRO}. Finally, we implement our coreset approach and illustrate its effectiveness for several \textsf{WDRO} problems in the experiments. See \href{}{arXiv:2210.04260} for the full version of this paper. The code is available at \url{}.

Differentially Private Online-to-batch for Smooth Losses

Qinzi Zhang · Hoang Tran · Ashok Cutkosky

We develop a new reduction that converts any online convex optimization algorithm suffering $O(\sqrt{T})$ regret into an $\epsilon$-differentially private stochastic convex optimization algorithm with the optimal convergence rate $\tilde O(1/\sqrt{T} + 1/\epsilon T)$ on smooth losses in linear time, forming a direct analogy to the classical non-private ``online-to-batch'' conversion. By applying our techniques to more advanced adaptive online algorithms, we produce adaptive differentially private counterparts whose convergence rates depend on apriori unknown variances or parameter norms.

How Transferable are Video Representations Based on Synthetic Data?

Yo-whan Kim · Samarth Mishra · SouYoung Jin · Rameswar Panda · Hilde Kuehne · Leonid Karlinsky · Venkatesh Saligrama · Kate Saenko · Aude Oliva · Rogerio Feris

Action recognition has improved dramatically with massive-scale video datasets. Yet, these datasets are accompanied with issues related to curation cost, privacy, ethics, bias, and copyright. Compared to that, only minor efforts have been devoted toward exploring the potential of synthetic video data. In this work, as a stepping stone towards addressing these shortcomings, we study the transferability of video representations learned solely from synthetically-generated video clips, instead of real data. We propose SynAPT, a novel benchmark for action recognition based on a combination of existing synthetic datasets, in which a model is pre-trained on synthetic videos rendered by various graphics simulators, and then transferred to a set of downstream action recognition datasets, containing different categories than the synthetic data. We provide an extensive baseline analysis on SynAPT revealing that the simulation-to-real gap is minor for datasets with low object and scene bias, where models pre-trained with synthetic data even outperform their real data counterparts. We posit that the gap between real and synthetic action representations can be attributed to contextual bias and static objects related to the action, instead of the temporal dynamics of the action itself. The SynAPT benchmark is available at

SafeBench: A Benchmarking Platform for Safety Evaluation of Autonomous Vehicles

Chejian Xu · Wenhao Ding · Weijie Lyu · ZUXIN LIU · Shuai Wang · Yihan He · Hanjiang Hu · DING ZHAO · Bo Li

As shown by recent studies, machine intelligence-enabled systems are vulnerable to test cases resulting from either adversarial manipulation or natural distribution shifts. This has raised great concerns about deploying machine learning algorithms for real-world applications, especially in safety-critical domains such as autonomous driving (AD). On the other hand, traditional AD testing on naturalistic scenarios requires hundreds of millions of driving miles due to the high dimensionality and rareness of the safety-critical scenarios in the real world. As a result, several approaches for autonomous driving evaluation have been explored, which are usually, however, based on different simulation platforms, types of safety-critical scenarios, scenario generation algorithms, and driving route variations. Thus, despite a large amount of effort in autonomous driving testing, it is still challenging to compare and understand the effectiveness and efficiency of different testing scenario generation algorithms and testing mechanisms under similar conditions. In this paper, we aim to provide the first unified platform SafeBench to integrate different types of safety-critical testing scenarios, scenario generation algorithms, and other variations such as driving routes and environments. In particular, we consider 8 safety-critical testing scenarios following National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and develop 4 scenario generation algorithms considering 10 variations for each scenario. Meanwhile, we implement 4 deep reinforcement learning-based AD algorithms with 4 types of input (e.g., bird’s-eye view, camera) to perform fair comparisons on SafeBench. We find our generated testing scenarios are indeed more challenging and observe the trade-off between the performance of AD agents under benign and safety-critical testing scenarios. We believe our unified platform SafeBench for large-scale and effective autonomous driving testing will motivate the development of new testing scenario generation and safe AD algorithms. SafeBench is available at

GLOBEM Dataset: Multi-Year Datasets for Longitudinal Human Behavior Modeling Generalization

Xuhai Xu · Han Zhang · Yasaman Sefidgar · Yiyi Ren · Xin Liu · Woosuk Seo · Jennifer Brown · Kevin Kuehn · Mike Merrill · Paula Nurius · Shwetak Patel · Tim Althoff · Margaret Morris · Eve Riskin · Jennifer Mankoff · Anind Dey

Recent research has demonstrated the capability of behavior signals captured by smartphones and wearables for longitudinal behavior modeling. However, there is a lack of a comprehensive public dataset that serves as an open testbed for fair comparison among algorithms. Moreover, prior studies mainly evaluate algorithms using data from a single population within a short period, without measuring the cross-dataset generalizability of these algorithms. We present the first multi-year passive sensing datasets, containing over 700 user-years and 497 unique users’ data collected from mobile and wearable sensors, together with a wide range of well-being metrics. Our datasets can support multiple cross-dataset evaluations of behavior modeling algorithms’ generalizability across different users and years. As a starting point, we provide the benchmark results of 18 algorithms on the task of depression detection. Our results indicate that both prior depression detection algorithms and domain generalization techniques show potential but need further research to achieve adequate cross-dataset generalizability. We envision our multi-year datasets can support the ML community in developing generalizable longitudinal behavior modeling algorithms.

DABS 2.0: Improved Datasets and Algorithms for Universal Self-Supervision

Alex Tamkin · Gaurab Banerjee · Mohamed Owda · Vincent Liu · Shashank Rammoorthy · Noah Goodman

Universal self-supervised (SSL) algorithms hold enormous promise for making machine learning accessible to high-impact domains such as protein biology, manufacturing, and genomics. We present DABS 2.0: a set of improved datasets and algorithms for advancing research on universal SSL. We extend the recently-introduced DABS benchmark with the addition of five real-world science and engineering domains: protein biology, bacterial genomics, multispectral satellite imagery, semiconductor wafers, and particle physics, bringing the total number of domains in the benchmark to twelve. We also propose a new universal SSL algorithm, Capri, and a generalized version of masked autoencoding, and apply both on all twelve domains---the most wide-ranging exploration of SSL yet. We find that multiple algorithms show gains across domains, outperforming previous baselines. In addition, we demonstrate the usefulness of DABS for scientific study of SSL by investigating the optimal corruption rate for each algorithm, showing that the best setting varies based on the domain. Code will be released at}{

GOOD: A Graph Out-of-Distribution Benchmark

Shurui Gui · Xiner Li · Limei Wang · Shuiwang Ji

Out-of-distribution (OOD) learning deals with scenarios in which training and test data follow different distributions. Although general OOD problems have been intensively studied in machine learning, graph OOD is only an emerging area of research. Currently, there lacks a systematic benchmark tailored to graph OOD method evaluation. In this work, we aim at developing an OOD benchmark, known as GOOD, for graphs specifically. We explicitly make distinctions between covariate and concept shifts and design data splits that accurately reflect different shifts. We consider both graph and node prediction tasks as there are key differences in designing shifts. Overall, GOOD contains 11 datasets with 17 domain selections. When combined with covariate, concept, and no shifts, we obtain 51 different splits. We provide performance results on 10 commonly used baseline methods with 10 random runs. This results in 510 dataset-model combinations in total. Our results show significant performance gaps between in-distribution and OOD settings. Our results also shed light on different performance trends between covariate and concept shifts by different methods. Our GOOD benchmark is a growing project and expects to expand in both quantity and variety of resources as the area develops. The GOOD benchmark can be accessed via

AnoShift: A Distribution Shift Benchmark for Unsupervised Anomaly Detection

Marius Dragoi · Elena Burceanu · Emanuela Haller · Andrei Manolache · Florin Brad

Analyzing the distribution shift of data is a growing research direction in nowadays Machine Learning (ML), leading to emerging new benchmarks that focus on providing a suitable scenario for studying the generalization properties of ML models. The existing benchmarks are focused on supervised learning, and to the best of our knowledge, there is none for unsupervised learning. Therefore, we introduce an unsupervised anomaly detection benchmark with data that shifts over time, built over Kyoto-2006+, a traffic dataset for network intrusion detection. This type of data meets the premise of shifting the input distribution: it covers a large time span (10 years), with naturally occurring changes over time (e.g. users modifying their behavior patterns, and software updates). We first highlight the non-stationary nature of the data, using a basic per-feature analysis, t-SNE, and an Optimal Transport approach for measuring the overall distribution distances between years. Next, we propose AnoShift, a protocol splitting the data in IID, NEAR, and FAR testing splits. We validate the performance degradation over time with diverse models, ranging from classical approaches to deep learning. Finally, we show that by acknowledging the distribution shift problem and properly addressing it, the performance can be improved compared to the classical training which assumes independent and identically distributed data (on average, by up to 3% for our approach). Dataset and code are available at

Outstanding Paper
MineDojo: Building Open-Ended Embodied Agents with Internet-Scale Knowledge

Linxi Fan · Guanzhi Wang · Yunfan Jiang · Ajay Mandlekar · Yuncong Yang · Haoyi Zhu · Andrew Tang · De-An Huang · Yuke Zhu · Anima Anandkumar

Autonomous agents have made great strides in specialist domains like Atari games and Go. However, they typically learn tabula rasa in isolated environments with limited and manually conceived objectives, thus failing to generalize across a wide spectrum of tasks and capabilities. Inspired by how humans continually learn and adapt in the open world, we advocate a trinity of ingredients for building generalist agents: 1) an environment that supports a multitude of tasks and goals, 2) a large-scale database of multimodal knowledge, and 3) a flexible and scalable agent architecture. We introduce MineDojo, a new framework built on the popular Minecraft game that features a simulation suite with thousands of diverse open-ended tasks and an internet-scale knowledge base with Minecraft videos, tutorials, wiki pages, and forum discussions. Using MineDojo's data, we propose a novel agent learning algorithm that leverages large pre-trained video-language models as a learned reward function. Our agent is able to solve a variety of open-ended tasks specified in free-form language without any manually designed dense shaping reward. We open-source the simulation suite, knowledge bases, algorithm implementation, and pretrained models ( to promote research towards the goal of generally capable embodied agents.

EnvPool: A Highly Parallel Reinforcement Learning Environment Execution Engine

Jiayi Weng · Min Lin · Shengyi Huang · Bo Liu · Denys Makoviichuk · Viktor Makoviychuk · Zichen Liu · Yufan Song · Ting Luo · Yukun Jiang · Zhongwen Xu · Shuicheng Yan

There has been significant progress in developing reinforcement learning (RL) training systems. Past works such as IMPALA, Apex, Seed RL, Sample Factory, and others, aim to improve the system's overall throughput. In this paper, we aim to address a common bottleneck in the RL training system, i.e., parallel environment execution, which is often the slowest part of the whole system but receives little attention. With a curated design for paralleling RL environments, we have improved the RL environment simulation speed across different hardware setups, ranging from a laptop and a modest workstation, to a high-end machine such as NVIDIA DGX-A100. On a high-end machine, EnvPool achieves one million frames per second for the environment execution on Atari environments and three million frames per second on MuJoCo environments. When running EnvPool on a laptop, the speed is 2.8x that of the Python subprocess. Moreover, great compatibility with existing RL training libraries has been demonstrated in the open-sourced community, including CleanRL, rl_games, DeepMind Acme, etc. Finally, EnvPool allows researchers to iterate their ideas at a much faster pace and has great potential to become the de facto RL environment execution engine. Example runs show that it only takes five minutes to train agents to play Atari Pong and MuJoCo Ant on a laptop. EnvPool is open-sourced at

DART: Articulated Hand Model with Diverse Accessories and Rich Textures

Daiheng Gao · Yuliang Xiu · Kailin Li · Lixin Yang · Feng Wang · Peng Zhang · Bang Zhang · Cewu Lu · Ping Tan

Hand, the bearer of human productivity and intelligence, is receiving much attention due to the recent fever of digital twins. Among different hand morphable models, MANO has been widely used in vision and graphics community. However, MANO disregards textures and accessories, which largely limits its power to synthesize photorealistic hand data. In this paper, we extend MANO with Diverse Accessories and Rich Textures, namely DART. DART is composed of 50 daily 3D accessories which varies in appearance and shape, and 325 hand-crafted 2D texture maps covers different kinds of blemishes or make-ups. Unity GUI is also provided to generate synthetic hand data with user-defined settings, e.g., pose, camera, background, lighting, textures, and accessories. Finally, we release DARTset, which contains large-scale (800K), high-fidelity synthetic hand images, paired with perfect-aligned 3D labels. Experiments demonstrate its superiority in diversity. As a complement to existing hand datasets, DARTset boosts the generalization in both hand pose estimation and mesh recovery tasks. Raw ingredients (textures, accessories), Unity GUI, source code and DARTset are publicly available at

HandMeThat: Human-Robot Communication in Physical and Social Environments

Yanming Wan · Jiayuan Mao · Josh Tenenbaum

We introduce HandMeThat, a benchmark for a holistic evaluation of instruction understanding and following in physical and social environments. While previous datasets primarily focused on language grounding and planning, HandMeThat considers the resolution of human instructions with ambiguities based on the physical (object states and relations) and social (human actions and goals) information. HandMeThat contains 10,000 episodes of human-robot interactions. In each episode, the robot first observes a trajectory of human actions towards her internal goal. Next, the robot receives a human instruction and should take actions to accomplish the subgoal set through the instruction. In this paper, we present a textual interface for our benchmark, where the robot interacts with a virtual environment through textual commands. We evaluate several baseline models on HandMeThat, and show that both offline and online reinforcement learning algorithms perform poorly on HandMeThat, suggesting significant room for future work on physical and social human-robot communications and interactions.

The Dollar Street Dataset: Images Representing the Geographic and Socioeconomic Diversity of the World

William Gaviria Rojas · Sudnya Diamos · Keertan Kini · David Kanter · Vijay Janapa Reddi · Cody Coleman

It is crucial that image datasets for computer vision are representative and contain accurate demographic information to ensure their robustness and fairness, especially for smaller subpopulations. To address this issue, we present Dollar Street - a supervised dataset that contains 38,479 images of everyday household items from homes around the world. This dataset was manually curated and fully labeled, including tags for objects (e.g. “toilet,” “toothbrush,” “stove”) and demographic data such as region, country and home monthly income. This dataset includes images from homes with no internet access and incomes as low as \$26.99 per month, visually capturing valuable socioeconomic diversity of traditionally under-represented populations. All images and data are licensed under CC-BY, permitting their use in academic and commercial work. Moreover, we show that this dataset can improve the performance of classification tasks for images of household items from lower income homes, addressing a critical need for datasets that combat bias.

PulseImpute: A Novel Benchmark Task for Pulsative Physiological Signal Imputation

Maxwell Xu · Alexander Moreno · Supriya Nagesh · Varol Aydemir · David Wetter · Santosh Kumar · James Rehg

The promise of Mobile Health (mHealth) is the ability to use wearable sensors to monitor participant physiology at high frequencies during daily life to enable temporally-precise health interventions. However, a major challenge is frequent missing data. Despite a rich imputation literature, existing techniques are ineffective for the pulsative signals which comprise many mHealth applications, and a lack of available datasets has stymied progress. We address this gap with PulseImpute, the first large-scale pulsative signal imputation challenge which includes realistic mHealth missingness models, an extensive set of baselines, and clinically-relevant downstream tasks. Our baseline models include a novel transformer-based architecture designed to exploit the structure of pulsative signals. We hope that PulseImpute will enable the ML community to tackle this important and challenging task.

Unravelling the Performance of Physics-informed Graph Neural Networks for Dynamical Systems

Abishek Thangamuthu · Gunjan Kumar · Suresh Bishnoi · Ravinder Bhattoo · N M Anoop Krishnan · Sayan Ranu

Recently, graph neural networks have been gaining a lot of attention to simulate dynamical systems due to their inductive nature leading to zero-shot generalizability. Similarly, physics-informed inductive biases in deep-learning frameworks have been shown to give superior performance in learning the dynamics of physical systems. There is a growing volume of literature that attempts to combine these two approaches. Here, we evaluate the performance of thirteen different graph neural networks, namely, Hamiltonian and Lagrangian graph neural networks, graph neural ODE, and their variants with explicit constraints and different architectures. We briefly explain the theoretical formulation highlighting the similarities and differences in the inductive biases and graph architecture of these systems. Then, we evaluate them on spring, pendulum, and gravitational and 3D deformable solid systems to compare the performance in terms of rollout error, conserved quantities such as energy and momentum, and generalizability to unseen system sizes. Our study demonstrates that GNNs with additional inductive biases, such as explicit constraints and decoupling of kinetic and potential energies, exhibit significantly enhanced performance. Further, all the physics-informed GNNs exhibit zero-shot generalizability to system sizes an order of magnitude larger than the training system, thus providing a promising route to simulate large-scale realistic systems.

Enabling Detailed Action Recognition Evaluation Through Video Dataset Augmentation

Jihoon Chung · Yu Wu · Olga Russakovsky

It is well-known in the video understanding community that human action recognition models suffer from background bias, i.e., over-relying on scene cues in making their predictions. However, it is difficult to quantify this effect using existing evaluation frameworks. We introduce the Human-centric Analysis Toolkit (HAT), which enables evaluation of learned background bias without the need for new manual video annotation. It does so by automatically generating synthetically manipulated videos and leveraging the recent advances in image segmentation and video inpainting. Using HAT we perform an extensive analysis of 74 action recognition models trained on the Kinetics dataset. We confirm that all these models focus more on the scene background than on the human motion; further, we demonstrate that certain model design decisions (such as training with fewer frames per video or using dense as opposed to uniform temporal sampling) appear to worsen the background bias. We open-source HAT to enable the community to design more robust and generalizable human action recognition models.

Multi-LexSum: Real-world Summaries of Civil Rights Lawsuits at Multiple Granularities

Zejiang Shen · Kyle Lo · Lauren Yu · Nathan Dahlberg · Margo Schlanger · Doug Downey

With the advent of large language models, methods for abstractive summarization have made great strides, creating potential for use in applications to aid knowledge workers processing unwieldy document collections. One such setting is the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse (CRLC,, which posts information about large-scale civil rights lawsuits, serving lawyers, scholars, and the general public. Today, summarization in the CRLC requires extensive training of lawyers and law students who spend hours per case understanding multiple relevant documents in order to produce high-quality summaries of key events and outcomes. Motivated by this ongoing real-world summarization effort, we introduce Multi-LexSum, a collection of 9,280 expert-authored summaries drawn from ongoing CRLC writing. Multi-LexSum presents a challenging multi-document summarization task given the length of the source documents, often exceeding two hundred pages per case. Furthermore, Multi-LexSum is distinct from other datasets in its multiple target summaries, each at a different granularity (ranging from one-sentence "extreme" summaries to multi-paragraph narrations of over five hundred words). We present extensive analysis demonstrating that despite the high-quality summaries in the training data (adhering to strict content and style guidelines), state-of-the-art summarization models perform poorly on this task. We release Multi-LexSum for further summarization research and to facilitate the development of applications to assist in the CRLC's mission at

SurDis: A Surface Discontinuity Dataset for Wearable Technology to Assist Blind Navigation in Urban Environments

Kuan Yew Leong · Siew Mooi Lim

According to World Health Organization, there is an estimated 2.2 billion people with a near or distance vision impairment worldwide. Difficulty in self-navigation is one of the greatest challenges to independence for the blind and low vision (BLV) people. Through consultations with several BLV service providers, we realized that negotiating surface discontinuities is one of the very prominent challenges when navigating an outdoor environment within the urban. Surface discontinuities are commonly formed by rises and drop-offs along a pathway. They could be a threat to balancing during a walk and perceiving such a threat is highly challenging to the BLVs. In this paper, we introduce SurDis, a novel dataset of depth maps and stereo images that exemplifies the issue of surface discontinuity in the urban areas of Klang Valley, Malaysia. We seek to address the limitation of existing datasets of such nature in these areas. Current mobility tools for the BLVs predominantly focus on furniture, indoor built environments, traffic signs, vehicles, humans and various types of objects' detection above the surface of a pathway. We emphasize a specific purpose for SurDis – to support the development of assistive wearable technology for the BLVs to negotiate surface discontinuity. We consulted BLV volunteers on the specifications of surface condition that could become hazardous for navigation using 3D printed replicas of actual scaled-down scenes, and identified locations that are frequented by the BLVs as our target data collection fields. With feedback from these volunteers, we developed a lightweight, small and unobtrusive prototype equipped with a tiny stereo camera and an embedded system on a single board computer to capture the samples from 10 different locations. We describe instrument development, data collection, preprocessing, annotation, and experiments conducted. The dataset contains: (1) more than 17000 depth maps generated from 200 sets of stereo image sequences, (2) annotations of surface discontinuity in the depth maps, and (3) bitmap stereo image pairs corresponding to the depth maps in (1).

Ontologue: Declarative Benchmark Construction for Ontological Multi-Label Classification

Sean Yang · Bernease Herman · Bill Howe

We describe a customizable benchmark for hierarchical and ontological multi-label classification, a task where labels are equipped with a graph structure and data items can be assigned multiple labels. We find that current benchmarks do not adequately represent the problem space, casting doubt on the generalizability of current results. We consider three dimensions of the problem space: context (availability of rich features on the data and labels), distribution of labels over data, and graph structure. For context, the lack of complex features on the labels (and in some cases, the data) artificially prevent the use of modern representation learning techniques as an appropriate baseline. For distribution, we find the long tail of labels over data constitute a few-shot learning problem that artificially confounds the results: for most common benchmarks, over 40% of the labels have fewer than 5 data points in the training set. For structure, we find that the correlation between performance and the height of the tree can explain some of the variation in performance, informing practical utility. In this paper, we demonstrate how the lack of diversity in benchmarks can confound performance analysis, then present a declarative query system called Ontologue for generating custom benchmarks with specific properties, then use this system to design 4 new benchmarks extracted from DBPedia that better represent the problem space. We evaluate state-of-the-art algorithms on both existing and new benchmarks and show that the performance conclusions can vary significantly depending on the dimensions we consider. We intend the system and derived benchmarks to improve the analysis of generalizability for these problems.

StrokeRehab: A Benchmark Dataset for Sub-second Action Identification

Aakash Kaku · Kangning Liu · Avinash Parnandi · Haresh Rengaraj Rajamohan · Kannan Venkataramanan · Anita Venkatesan · Audre Wirtanen · Natasha Pandit · Heidi Schambra · Carlos Fernandez-Granda

Automatic action identification from video and kinematic data is an important machine learning problem with applications ranging from robotics to smart health. Most existing works focus on identifying coarse actions such as running, climbing, or cutting vegetables, which have relatively long durations and a complex series of motions. This is an important limitation for applications that require identification of more elemental motions at high temporal resolution. For example, in the rehabilitation of arm impairment after stroke, quantifying the training dose (number of repetitions) requires differentiating motions with sub-second durations. Our goal is to bridge this gap. To this end, we introduce a large-scale, multimodal dataset, StrokeRehab, as a new action-recognition benchmark that includes elemental short-duration actions labeled at a high temporal resolution. StrokeRehab consists of a high-quality inertial measurement unit sensor and video data of 51 stroke-impaired patients and 20 healthy subjects performing activities of daily living like feeding, brushing teeth, etc. Because it contains data from both healthy and impaired individuals, StrokeRehab can be used to study the influence of distribution shift in action-recognition tasks. When evaluated on StrokeRehab, current state-of-the-art models for action segmentation produce noisy predictions, which reduces their accuracy in identifying the corresponding sequence of actions. To address this, we propose a novel approach for high-resolution action identification, inspired by speech-recognition techniques, which is based on a sequence-to-sequence model that directly predicts the sequence of actions. This approach outperforms current state-of-the-art methods on StrokeRehab, as well as on the standard benchmark datasets 50Salads, Breakfast, and Jigsaws.

A new dataset for multilingual keyphrase generation

Frédéric Piedboeuf · Philippe Langlais

Keyphrases are an important tool for efficiently dealing with the ever-increasing amount of information present on the internet. While there are many recent papers on English keyphrase generation, keyphrase generation for other languages remains vastly understudied, mostly due to the absence of datasets. To address this, we present a novel dataset called Papyrus, composed of 16427 pairs of abstracts and keyphrases. We release four versions of this dataset, corresponding to different subtasks. Papyrus-e considers only English keyphrases, Papyrus-f considers French keyphrases, Papyrus-m considers keyphrase generation in any language (mostly French and English), and Papyrus-a considers keyphrase generation in several languages. We train a state-of-the-art model on all four tasks and show that they lead to better results for non-English languages, with an average improvement of 14.2\% on keyphrase extraction and 2.0\% on generation. We also show an improvement of 0.4\% on extraction and 0.7\% on generation over English state-of-the-art results by concatenating Papyrus-e with the Kp20K training set.

Communicating Natural Programs to Humans and Machines

Sam Acquaviva · Yewen Pu · Marta Kryven · Theodoros Sechopoulos · Catherine Wong · Gabrielle Ecanow · Maxwell Nye · Michael Tessler · Josh Tenenbaum

The Abstraction and Reasoning Corpus (ARC) is a set of procedural tasks that tests an agent's ability to flexibly solve novel problems. While most ARC tasks are easy for humans, they are challenging for state-of-the-art AI. What makes building intelligent systems that can generalize to novel situations such as ARC difficult? We posit that the answer might be found by studying the difference of $\textit{language}$: While humans readily generate and interpret instructions in a general language, computer systems are shackled to a narrow domain-specific language that they can precisely execute. We present LARC, the $\textit{Language-complete ARC}$: a collection of natural language descriptions by a group of human participants who instruct each other on how to solve ARC tasks using language alone, which contains successful instructions for 88\% of the ARC tasks. We analyze the collected instructions as `natural programs', finding that while they resemble computer programs, they are distinct in two ways: First, they contain a wide range of primitives; Second, they frequently leverage communicative strategies beyond directly executable codes. We demonstrate that these two distinctions prevent current program synthesis techniques from leveraging LARC to its full potential, and give concrete suggestions on how to build the next-generation program synthesizers.

ComMU: Dataset for Combinatorial Music Generation

Hyun Lee · Taehyun Kim · Hyolim Kang · Minjoo Ki · Hyeonchan Hwang · kwanho park · Sharang Han · Seon Joo Kim

Commercial adoption of automatic music composition requires the capability of generating diverse and high-quality music suitable for the desired context (e.g., music for romantic movies, action games, restaurants, etc.). In this paper, we introduce combinatorial music generation, a new task to create varying background music based on given conditions. Combinatorial music generation creates short samples of music with rich musical metadata, and combines them to produce a complete music. In addition, we introduce ComMU, the first symbolic music dataset consisting of short music samples and their corresponding 12 musical metadata for combinatorial music generation. Notable properties of ComMU are that (1) dataset is manually constructed by professional composers with an objective guideline that induces regularity, and (2) it has 12 musical metadata that embraces composers' intentions. Our results show that we can generate diverse high-quality music only with metadata, and that our unique metadata such as track-role and extended chord quality improves the capacity of the automatic composition. We highly recommend watching our video before reading the paper (

The BigScience ROOTS Corpus: A 1.6TB Composite Multilingual Dataset

Hugo Laurençon · Lucile Saulnier · Thomas Wang · Christopher Akiki · Albert Villanova del Moral · Teven Le Scao · Leandro Von Werra · Chenghao Mou · Eduardo González Ponferrada · Huu Nguyen · Jörg Frohberg · Mario Šaško · Quentin Lhoest · Angelina McMillan-Major · Gerard Dupont · Stella Biderman · Anna Rogers · Loubna Ben allal · Francesco De Toni · Giada Pistilli · Olivier Nguyen · Somaieh Nikpoor · Maraim Masoud · Pierre Colombo · Javier de la Rosa · Paulo Villegas · Tristan Thrush · Shayne Longpre · Sebastian Nagel · Leon Weber · Manuel Muñoz · Jian Zhu · Daniel Van Strien · Zaid Alyafeai · Khalid Almubarak · Minh Chien Vu · Itziar Gonzalez-Dios · Aitor Soroa · Kyle Lo · Manan Dey · Pedro Ortiz Suarez · Aaron Gokaslan · Shamik Bose · David Adelani · Long Phan · Hieu Tran · Ian Yu · Suhas Pai · Jenny Chim · Violette Lepercq · Suzana Ilic · Margaret Mitchell · Sasha Alexandra Luccioni · Yacine Jernite

As language models grow ever larger, the need for large-scale high-quality text datasets has never been more pressing, especially in multilingual settings. The BigScience workshop, a 1-year international and multidisciplinary initiative, was formed with the goal of researching and training large language models as a values-driven undertaking, putting issues of ethics, harm, and governance in the foreground. This paper documents the data creation and curation efforts undertaken by BigScience to assemble the Responsible Open-science Open-collaboration Text Sources (ROOTS) corpus, a 1.6TB dataset spanning 59 languages that was used to train the 176-billion-parameter BigScience Large Open-science Open-access Multilingual (BLOOM) language model. We further release a large initial subset of the corpus and analyses thereof, and hope to empower large-scale monolingual and multilingual modeling projects with both the data and the processing tools, as well as stimulate research around this large multilingual corpus.

This is the way: designing and compiling LEPISZCZE, a comprehensive NLP benchmark for Polish

Lukasz Augustyniak · Kamil Tagowski · Albert Sawczyn · Denis Janiak · Roman Bartusiak · Adrian Szymczak · Arkadiusz Janz · Piotr Szymański · Marcin Wątroba · Mikołaj Morzy · Tomasz Kajdanowicz · Maciej Piasecki

The availability of compute and data to train larger and larger language models increases the demand for robust methods of benchmarking the true progress of LM training. Recent years witnessed significant progress in standardized benchmarking for English. Benchmarks such as GLUE, SuperGLUE, or KILT have become a de facto standard tools to compare large language models. Following the trend to replicate GLUE for other languages, the KLEJ benchmark\ (klej is the word for glue in Polish) has been released for Polish. In this paper, we evaluate the progress in benchmarking for low-resourced languages. We note that only a handful of languages have such comprehensive benchmarks. We also note the gap in the number of tasks being evaluated by benchmarks for resource-rich English/Chinese and the rest of the world.In this paper, we introduce LEPISZCZE (lepiszcze is the Polish word for glew, the Middle English predecessor of glue), a new, comprehensive benchmark for Polish NLP with a large variety of tasks and high-quality operationalization of the benchmark.We design LEPISZCZE with flexibility in mind. Including new models, datasets, and tasks is as simple as possible while still offering data versioning and model tracking. In the first run of the benchmark, we test 13 experiments (task and dataset pairs) based on the five most recent LMs for Polish. We use five datasets from the Polish benchmark and add eight novel datasets. As the paper's main contribution, apart from LEPISZCZE, we provide insights and experiences learned while creating the benchmark for Polish as the blueprint to design similar benchmarks for other low-resourced languages.

Flare7K: A Phenomenological Nighttime Flare Removal Dataset

Yuekun Dai · Chongyi Li · Shangchen Zhou · Ruicheng Feng · Chen Change Loy

Artificial lights commonly leave strong lens flare artifacts on images captured at night. Nighttime flare not only affects the visual quality but also degrades the performance of vision algorithms. Existing flare removal methods mainly focus on removing daytime flares and fail in nighttime. Nighttime flare removal is challenging because of the unique luminance and spectrum of artificial lights and the diverse patterns and image degradation of the flares captured at night. The scarcity of nighttime flare removal datasets limits the research on this crucial task. In this paper, we introduce, Flare7K, the first nighttime flare removal dataset, which is generated based on the observation and statistics of real-world nighttime lens flares. It offers 5,000 scattering and 2,000 reflective flare images, consisting of 25 types of scattering flares and 10 types of reflective flares. The 7,000 flare patterns can be randomly added to flare-free images, forming the flare-corrupted and flare-free image pairs. With the paired data, we can train deep models to restore flare-corrupted images taken in the real world effectively. Apart from abundant flare patterns, we also provide rich annotations, including the labeling of light source, glare with shimmer, reflective flare, and streak, which are commonly absent from existing datasets. Hence, our dataset can facilitate new work in nighttime flare removal and more fine-grained analysis of flare patterns. Extensive experiments show that our dataset adds diversity to existing flare datasets and pushes the frontier of nighttime flare removal.

Online Nonnegative CP-dictionary Learning for Markovian Data

Hanbaek Lyu · Christopher Strohmeier · Deanna Needell

Online Tensor Factorization (OTF) is a fundamental tool in learning low-dimensional interpretable features from streaming multi-modal data. While various algorithmic and theoretical aspects of OTF have been investigated recently, a general convergence guarantee to stationary points of the objective function without any incoherence or sparsity assumptions is still lacking even for the i.i.d. case. In this work, we introduce a novel algorithm that learns a CANDECOMP/PARAFAC (CP) basis from a given stream of tensor-valued data under general constraints, including nonnegativity constraints that induce interpretability of the learned CP basis. We prove that our algorithm converges almost surely to the set of stationary points of the objective function under the hypothesis that the sequence of data tensors is generated by an underlying Markov chain. Our setting covers the classical i.i.d. case as well as a wide range of application contexts including data streams generated by independent or MCMC sampling. Our result closes a gap between OTF and Online Matrix Factorization in global convergence analysis for CP-decompositions. Experimentally, we show that our algorithm converges much faster than standard algorithms for nonnegative tensor factorization tasks on both synthetic and real-world data. Also, we demonstrate the utility of our algorithm on a diverse set of examples from image, video, and time-series data, illustrating how one may learn qualitatively different CP-dictionaries from the same tensor data by exploiting the tensor structure in multiple ways.

Supervised Dimensionality Reduction and Visualization using Centroid-Encoder

Tomojit Ghosh · Michael Kirby

We propose a new tool for visualizing complex, and potentially large and high-dimensional, data sets called Centroid-Encoder (CE). The architecture of the Centroid-Encoder is similar to the autoencoder neural network but it has a modified target, i.e., the class centroid in the ambient space. As such, CE incorporates label information and performs a supervised data visualization. The training of CE is done in the usual way with a training set whose parameters are tuned using a validation set. The evaluation of the resulting CE visualization is performed on a sequestered test set where the generalization of the model is assessed both visually and quantitatively. We present a detailed comparative analysis of the method using a wide variety of data sets and techniques, both supervised and unsupervised, including NCA, non-linear NCA, t-distributed NCA, t-distributed MCML, supervised UMAP, supervised PCA, Colored Maximum Variance Unfolding, supervised Isomap, Parametric Embedding, supervised Neighbor Retrieval Visualizer, and Multiple Relational Embedding. An analysis of variance using PCA demonstrates that a non-linear preprocessing by the CE transformation of the data captures more variance than PCA by dimension.

Accelerated Zeroth-Order and First-Order Momentum Methods from Mini to Minimax Optimization

Feihu Huang · Shangqian Gao · Jian Pei · Heng Huang

In the paper, we propose a class of accelerated zeroth-order and first-order momentum methods for both nonconvex mini-optimization and minimax-optimization. Specifically, we propose a new accelerated zeroth-order momentum (Acc-ZOM) method for black-box mini-optimization where only function values can be obtained. Moreover, we prove that our Acc-ZOM method achieves a lower query complexity of $\tilde{O}(d^{3/4}\epsilon^{-3})$ for finding an $\epsilon$-stationary point, which improves the best known result by a factor of $O(d^{1/4})$ where $d$ denotes the variable dimension. In particular, our Acc-ZOM does not need large batches required in the existing zeroth-order stochastic algorithms. Meanwhile, we propose an accelerated zeroth-order momentum descent ascent (Acc-ZOMDA) method for black-box minimax optimization, where only function values can be obtained. Our Acc-ZOMDA obtains a low query complexity of $\tilde{O}((d_1+d_2)^{3/4}\kappa_y^{4.5}\epsilon^{-3})$ without requiring large batches for finding an $\epsilon$-stationary point, where $d_1$ and $d_2$ denote variable dimensions and $\kappa_y$ is condition number. Moreover, we propose an accelerated first-order momentum descent ascent (Acc-MDA) method for minimax optimization, whose explicit gradients are accessible. Our Acc-MDA achieves a low gradient complexity of $\tilde{O}(\kappa_y^{4.5}\epsilon^{-3})$ without requiring large batches for finding an $\epsilon$-stationary point. In particular, our Acc-MDA can obtain a lower gradient complexity of $\tilde{O}(\kappa_y^{2.5}\epsilon^{-3})$ with a batch size $O(\kappa_y^4)$, which improves the best known result by a factor of $O(\kappa_y^{1/2})$. Extensive experimental results on black-box adversarial attack to deep neural networks and poisoning attack to logistic regression demonstrate efficiency of our algorithms.

Joint Estimation and Inference for Data Integration Problems based on Multiple Multi-layered Gaussian Graphical Models

Subhabrata Majumdar · George Michailidis

The rapid development of high-throughput technologies has enabled the generation of data from biological or disease processes that span multiple layers, like genomic, proteomic or metabolomic data, and further pertain to multiple sources, like disease subtypes or experimental conditions. In this work, we propose a general statistical framework based on Gaussian graphical models for horizontal (i.e. across conditions or subtypes) and vertical (i.e. across different layers containing data on molecular compartments) integration of information in such datasets. We start with decomposing the multi-layer problem into a series of two-layer problems. For each two-layer problem, we model the outcomes at a node in the lower layer as dependent on those of other nodes in that layer, as well as all nodes in the upper layer. We use a combination of neighborhood selection and group-penalized regression to obtain sparse estimates of all model parameters. Following this, we develop a debiasing technique and asymptotic distributions of inter-layer directed edge weights that utilize already computed neighborhood selection coefficients for nodes in the upper layer. Subsequently, we establish global and simultaneous testing procedures for these edge weights. Performance of the proposed methodology is evaluated on synthetic and real data.

[Re] Explaining in Style: Training a GAN to explain a classifier in StyleSpace

Noah van der Vleuten · Tadija Radusinović · Rick Akkerman · Meilina Reksoprodjo

StylEx is a novel approach for classifier-conditioned training of StyleGan2, intending to capture classifier-specific attributes in its disentangled StyleSpace. Using the StylEx method, the behavior of a classifier can be explained and visualized by producing counterfactual images. The original authors, Lang et al., claim that its explanations are human-interpretable, distinct, coherent and sufficient to flip classifier predictions. Our replication efforts are five-fold: 1) As the training procedure and code were missing, we reimplemented the StylEx method in PyTorch to enable from the ground up reproducibility efforts of the original results. 2) We trained custom models on three datasets with a reduced image dimensionality to verify the original author’s claims. 3) We evaluate the Fréchet Inception Distance (FID) scores of generated images and show that the FID scores increase with the number of attributes used to generate a counterfactual explanation. 4) We conduct a user study (n=54) to evaluate the distinctiveness and coherence of the images, additionally we evaluate the ‘sufficiency’ scores of our models. 5) We release additional details on the training procedure of StylEx. Our experimental results support the claims posed in the original paper - the attributes detected by StylEx are identifiable by humans to a certain degree, distinct and sufficient. However, due to the significantly lower resolution and poorer image quality of the models, these results are not directly comparable to the ones posed in the original paper.

[Re] Replication Study of DECAF: Generating Fair Synthetic Data Using Causally-Aware Generative Networks

Velizar Shulev · Paul Verhagen · Shuai Wang · Jennifer Zhuge

We attempt to reproduce the results of "DECAF: Generating Fair Synthetic Data Using Causally-Aware Generative Networks". The goal of the original paper is to create a model that takes as input a biased dataset and outputs a debiased synthetic dataset that can be used to train downstream models to make unbiased predictions both on synthetic and real data. We built upon the (incomplete) code provided by the authors to repeat the first experiment which involves removing existing bias from real data, and the second experiment where synthetically injected bias is added to real data and then removed. Overall, we find that the results are reproducible but difficult to interpret and compare because reproducing the experiments required rewriting or adding large sections of code. We reproduced most of the data utility results reported in the first experiment for the Adult dataset. Though the fairness metrics generally match the original paper, they are numerically not comparable in absolute or relative terms. For the second experiment, we were unsuccessful in reproducing results. However, we note that we made considerable changes to the experimental setup, which may make it difficult to perform a direct comparison. There are several possible interpretations of the paper on methodological and conceptual levels that made it difficult to be confident in the reproduction. Although we were not able to reproduce the results in full, we believe methods like DECAF have great potential for future work.

[Re] Value Alignment Verification

Siba Smarak Panigrahi · Sohan Patnaik

Scope of Reproducibility: The main goal of the paper 'Value Alignment Verification' is to test the alignment of a robot's behavior efficiently with human expectations by constructing a minimal set of questions. To accomplish this, the authors propose algorithms and heuristics to create the above questionnaire. They choose a wide range of gridworld environments and a continuous autonomous driving domain to validate their put forth claims. We explore value alignment verification for gridworlds incorporating a non-linear feature reward mapping as well as an extended action space. Methodology: We re-implemented the pipeline with Python using mathematical libraries such as Numpy and Scipy. We spent approximately two months reproducing the targeted claims in the paper with the first month aimed at reproducing the results for algorithms and heuristics for exact value alignment verification. The second month focused on extending the action space, additional experiments, and refining the structure of our code. Since our experiments were not computationally expensive, we carried out the experiments on CPU. Results: The techniques proposed by authors can successfully address the value alignment verification problem in different settings. We empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of their proposals by performing exhaustive experiments with several variations to their original claims. We show high accuracy and low false positive and false negative rates in the value alignment verification task with a minimum number of questions for different algorithms and heuristics. What was easy: The problem statement, as well as the implementation of algorithms and heuristics, were straightforward. We also took aid from the original repository published with the paper. However, we implemented the entire pipeline from scratch and incorporated several variations to our code to perform additional designed experiments. What was difficult: Comprehending different algorithms and heuristics proposed in prior works along with their mathematical formulation and reasoning for their success in the given task was considerably difficult. Additionally, the original code base had several redundant files, which created initial confusion. We iterated and discussed the arguments in the paper and prior work several times to thoroughly understand the pipeline. Nevertheless, once the basics were clear, the implementation was comparatively simple. Communication with original authors: We reached out to the authors numerous times via email to seek clarifications and additional implementation details. The authors were incredibly receptive to our inquiries, and we appreciate their thorough and prompt responses.