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Poster Session 3

Hall J (level 1)


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Machine Learning on Graphs: A Model and Comprehensive Taxonomy

Ines Chami · Sami Abu-El-Haija · Bryan Perozzi · Christopher Ré · Kevin Murphy

There has been a surge of recent interest in graph representation learning (GRL). GRL methods have generally fallen into three main categories, based on the availability of labeled data. The first, network embedding, focuses on learning unsupervised representations of relational structure. The second, graph regularized neural networks, leverages graphs to augment neural network losses with a regularization objective for semi-supervised learning. The third, graph neural networks, aims to learn differentiable functions over discrete topologies with arbitrary structure. However, despite the popularity of these areas there has been surprisingly little work on unifying the three paradigms. Here, we aim to bridge the gap between network embedding, graph regularization and graph neural networks. We propose a comprehensive taxonomy of GRL methods, aiming to unify several disparate bodies of work. Specifically, we propose the GraphEDM framework, which generalizes popular algorithms for semi-supervised learning (e.g. GraphSage, GCN, GAT), and unsupervised learning (e.g. DeepWalk, node2vec) of graph representations into a single consistent approach. To illustrate the generality of GraphEDM, we fit over thirty existing methods into this framework. We believe that this unifying view both provides a solid foundation for understanding the intuition behind these methods, and enables future research in the area.

Cost-Sensitive Self-Training for Optimizing Non-Decomposable Metrics

Harsh Rangwani · shrinivas ramasubramanian · Sho Takemori · Kato Takashi · Yuhei Umeda · Venkatesh Babu R

Self-training based semi-supervised learning algorithms have enabled the learning of highly accurate deep neural networks, using only a fraction of labeled data. However, the majority of work on self-training has focused on the objective of improving accuracy whereas practical machine learning systems can have complex goals (e.g. maximizing the minimum of recall across classes, etc.) that are non-decomposable in nature. In this work, we introduce the Cost-Sensitive Self-Training (CSST) framework which generalizes the self-training-based methods for optimizing non-decomposable metrics. We prove that our framework can better optimize the desired non-decomposable metric utilizing unlabeled data, under similar data distribution assumptions made for the analysis of self-training. Using the proposed CSST framework, we obtain practical self-training methods (for both vision and NLP tasks) for optimizing different non-decomposable metrics using deep neural networks. Our results demonstrate that CSST achieves an improvement over the state-of-the-art in majority of the cases across datasets and objectives.

Discovering and Overcoming Limitations of Noise-engineered Data-free Knowledge Distillation

Piyush Raikwar · Deepak Mishra

Distillation in neural networks using only the samples randomly drawn from a Gaussian distribution is possibly the most straightforward solution one can think of for the complex problem of knowledge transfer from one network (teacher) to the other (student). If successfully done, it can eliminate the requirement of teacher's training data for knowledge distillation and avoid often arising privacy concerns in sensitive applications such as healthcare. There have been some recent attempts at Gaussian noise-based data-free knowledge distillation, however, none of them offer a consistent or reliable solution. We identify the shift in the distribution of hidden layer activation as the key limiting factor, which occurs when Gaussian noise is fed to the teacher network instead of the accustomed training data. We propose a simple solution to mitigate this shift and show that for vision tasks, such as classification, it is possible to achieve a performance close to the teacher by just using the samples randomly drawn from a Gaussian distribution. We validate our approach on CIFAR10, CIFAR100, SVHN, and Food101 datasets. We further show that in situations of sparsely available original data for distillation, the proposed Gaussian noise-based knowledge distillation method can outperform the distillation using the available data with a large margin. Our work lays the foundation for further research in the direction of noise-engineered knowledge distillation using random samples.

Exploration via Elliptical Episodic Bonuses

Mikael Henaff · Roberta Raileanu · Minqi Jiang · Tim Rocktäschel

In recent years, a number of reinforcement learning (RL) methods have been pro- posed to explore complex environments which differ across episodes. In this work, we show that the effectiveness of these methods critically relies on a count-based episodic term in their exploration bonus. As a result, despite their success in relatively simple, noise-free settings, these methods fall short in more realistic scenarios where the state space is vast and prone to noise. To address this limitation, we introduce Exploration via Elliptical Episodic Bonuses (E3B), a new method which extends count-based episodic bonuses to continuous state spaces and encourages an agent to explore states that are diverse under a learned embed- ding within each episode. The embedding is learned using an inverse dynamics model in order to capture controllable aspects of the environment. Our method sets a new state-of-the-art across 16 challenging tasks from the MiniHack suite, without requiring task-specific inductive biases. E3B also outperforms existing methods in reward-free exploration on Habitat, demonstrating that it can scale to high-dimensional pixel-based observations and realistic environments.

Uni[MASK]: Unified Inference in Sequential Decision Problems

Micah Carroll · Orr Paradise · Jessy Lin · Raluca Georgescu · Mingfei Sun · David Bignell · Stephanie Milani · Katja Hofmann · Matthew Hausknecht · Anca Dragan · Sam Devlin

Randomly masking and predicting word tokens has been a successful approach in pre-training language models for a variety of downstream tasks. In this work, we observe that the same idea also applies naturally to sequential decision making, where many well-studied tasks like behavior cloning, offline RL, inverse dynamics, and waypoint conditioning correspond to different sequence maskings over a sequence of states, actions, and returns. We introduce the UniMASK framework, which provides a unified way to specify models which can be trained on many different sequential decision making tasks. We show that a single UniMASK model is often capable of carrying out many tasks with performance similar to or better than single-task models. Additionally, after fine-tuning, our UniMASK models consistently outperform comparable single-task models.

Learning to Navigate Wikipedia by Taking Random Walks

Manzil Zaheer · Kenneth Marino · Will Grathwohl · John Schultz · Wendy Shang · Sheila Babayan · Arun Ahuja · Ishita Dasgupta · Christine Kaeser-Chen · Rob Fergus

A fundamental ability of an intelligent web-based agent is seeking out and acquiring new information. Internet search engines reliably find the correct vicinity but the top results may be a few links away from the desired target. A complementary approach is navigation via hyperlinks, employing a policy that comprehends local content and selects a link that moves it closer to the target. In this paper, we show that behavioral cloning of randomly sampled trajectories is sufficient to learn an effective link selection policy. We demonstrate the approach on a graph version of Wikipedia with 38M nodes and 387M edges. The model is able to efficiently navigate between nodes 5 and 20 steps apart 96% and 92% of the time, respectively. We then use the resulting embeddings and policy in downstream fact verification and question answering tasks where, in combination with basic TF-IDF search and ranking methods, they are competitive results to the state-of-the-art methods.

Reinforcement Learning with Neural Radiance Fields

Danny Driess · Ingmar Schubert · Pete Florence · Yunzhu Li · Marc Toussaint

It is a long-standing problem to find effective representations for training reinforcement learning (RL) agents. This paper demonstrates that learning state representations with supervision from Neural Radiance Fields (NeRFs) can improve the performance of RL compared to other learned representations or even low-dimensional, hand-engineered state information. Specifically, we propose to train an encoder that maps multiple image observations to a latent space describing the objects in the scene. The decoder built from a latent-conditioned NeRF serves as the supervision signal to learn the latent space. An RL algorithm then operates on the learned latent space as its state representation. We call this NeRF-RL. Our experiments indicate that NeRF as supervision leads to a latent space better suited for the downstream RL tasks involving robotic object manipulations like hanging mugs on hooks, pushing objects, or opening doors.Video:

Few-Shot Audio-Visual Learning of Environment Acoustics

Sagnik Majumder · Changan Chen · Ziad Al-Halah · Kristen Grauman

Room impulse response (RIR) functions capture how the surrounding physical environment transforms the sounds heard by a listener, with implications for various applications in AR, VR, and robotics. Whereas traditional methods to estimate RIRs assume dense geometry and/or sound measurements throughout the environment, we explore how to infer RIRs based on a sparse set of images and echoes observed in the space. Towards that goal, we introduce a transformer-based method that uses self-attention to build a rich acoustic context, then predicts RIRs of arbitrary query source-receiver locations through cross-attention. Additionally, we design a novel training objective that improves the match in the acoustic signature between the RIR predictions and the targets. In experiments using a state-of-the-art audio-visual simulator for 3D environments, we demonstrate that our method successfully generates arbitrary RIRs, outperforming state-of-the-art methods and---in a major departure from traditional methods---generalizing to novel environments in a few-shot manner. Project:

You Can’t Count on Luck: Why Decision Transformers and RvS Fail in Stochastic Environments

Keiran Paster · Sheila McIlraith · Jimmy Ba

Recently, methods such as Decision Transformer that reduce reinforcement learning to a prediction task and solve it via supervised learning (RvS) have become popular due to their simplicity, robustness to hyperparameters, and strong overall performance on offline RL tasks. However, simply conditioning a probabilistic model on a desired return and taking the predicted action can fail dramatically in stochastic environments since trajectories that result in a return may have only achieved that return due to luck. In this work, we describe the limitations of RvS approaches in stochastic environments and propose a solution. Rather than simply conditioning on returns, as is standard practice, our proposed method, ESPER, conditions on learned average returns which are independent from environment stochasticity. Doing so allows ESPER to achieve strong alignment between target return and expected performance in real environments. We demonstrate this in several challenging stochastic offline-RL tasks including the challenging puzzle game 2048, and Connect Four playing against a stochastic opponent. In all tested domains, ESPER achieves significantly better alignment between the target return and achieved return than simply conditioning on returns. ESPER also achieves higher maximum performance than even the value-based baselines.

Decision-Focused Learning without Decision-Making: Learning Locally Optimized Decision Losses

Sanket Shah · Kai Wang · Bryan Wilder · Andrew Perrault · Milind Tambe

Decision-Focused Learning (DFL) is a paradigm for tailoring a predictive model to a downstream optimization task that uses its predictions in order to perform better \textit{on that specific task}. The main technical challenge associated with DFL is that it requires being able to differentiate through the optimization problem, which is difficult due to discontinuous solutions and other challenges. Past work has largely gotten around this this issue by \textit{handcrafting} task-specific surrogates to the original optimization problem that provide informative gradients when differentiated through. However, the need to handcraft surrogates for each new task limits the usability of DFL. In addition, there are often no guarantees about the convexity of the resulting surrogates and, as a result, training a predictive model using them can lead to inferior local optima. In this paper, we do away with surrogates altogether and instead \textit{learn} loss functions that capture task-specific information. To the best of our knowledge, ours is the first approach that entirely replaces the optimization component of decision-focused learning with a loss that is automatically learned. Our approach (a) only requires access to a black-box oracle that can solve the optimization problem and is thus \textit{generalizable}, and (b) can be \textit{convex by construction} and so can be easily optimized over. We evaluate our approach on three resource allocation problems from the literature and find that our approach outperforms learning without taking into account task-structure in all three domains, and even hand-crafted surrogates from the literature.

Understanding and Improving Robustness of Vision Transformers through Patch-based Negative Augmentation

Yao Qin · Chiyuan Zhang · Ting Chen · Balaji Lakshminarayanan · Alex Beutel · Xuezhi Wang

We investigate the robustness of vision transformers (ViTs) through the lens of their special patch-based architectural structure, i.e., they process an image as a sequence of image patches. We find that ViTs are surprisingly insensitive to patch-based transformations, even when the transformation largely destroys the original semantics and makes the image unrecognizable by humans. This indicates that ViTs heavily use features that survived such transformations but are generally not indicative of the semantic class to humans. Further investigations show that these features are useful but non-robust, as ViTs trained on them can achieve high in-distribution accuracy, but break down under distribution shifts. From this understanding, we ask: can training the model to rely less on these features improve ViT robustness and out-of-distribution performance? We use the images transformed with our patch-based operations as negatively augmented views and offer losses to regularize the training away from using non-robust features. This is a complementary view to existing research that mostly focuses on augmenting inputs with semantic-preserving transformations to enforce models' invariance. We show that patch-based negative augmentation consistently improves robustness of ViTs on ImageNet based robustness benchmarks across 20+ different experimental settings. Furthermore, we find our patch-based negative augmentation are complementary to traditional (positive) data augmentation techniques and batch-based negative examples in contrastive learning.

Missing Data Imputation and Acquisition with Deep Hierarchical Models and Hamiltonian Monte Carlo

Ignacio Peis · Chao Ma · José Miguel Hernández-Lobato

Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) have recently been highly successful at imputing and acquiring heterogeneous missing data. However, within this specific application domain, existing VAE methods are restricted by using only one layer of latent variables and strictly Gaussian posterior approximations. To address these limitations, we present HH-VAEM, a Hierarchical VAE model for mixed-type incomplete data that uses Hamiltonian Monte Carlo with automatic hyper-parameter tuning for improved approximate inference. Our experiments show that HH-VAEM outperforms existing baselines in the tasks of missing data imputation and supervised learning with missing features. Finally, we also present a sampling-based approach for efficiently computing the information gain when missing features are to be acquired with HH-VAEM. Our experiments show that this sampling-based approach is superior to alternatives based on Gaussian approximations.

Local Latent Space Bayesian Optimization over Structured Inputs

Natalie Maus · Haydn Jones · Juston Moore · Matt Kusner · John Bradshaw · Jacob Gardner

Bayesian optimization over the latent spaces of deep autoencoder models (DAEs) has recently emerged as a promising new approach for optimizing challenging black-box functions over structured, discrete, hard-to-enumerate search spaces (e.g., molecules). Here the DAE dramatically simplifies the search space by mapping inputs into a continuous latent space where familiar Bayesian optimization tools can be more readily applied. Despite this simplification, the latent space typically remains high-dimensional. Thus, even with a well-suited latent space, these approaches do not necessarily provide a complete solution, but may rather shift the structured optimization problem to a high-dimensional one. In this paper, we propose LOL-BO, which adapts the notion of trust regions explored in recent work on high-dimensional Bayesian optimization to the structured setting. By reformulating the encoder to function as both an encoder for the DAE globally and as a deep kernel for the surrogate model within a trust region, we better align the notion of local optimization in the latent space with local optimization in the input space. LOL-BO achieves as much as 20 times improvement over state-of-the-art latent space Bayesian optimization methods across six real-world benchmarks, demonstrating that improvement in optimization strategies is as important as developing better DAE models.

Bayesian Clustering of Neural Spiking Activity Using a Mixture of Dynamic Poisson Factor Analyzers

Ganchao Wei · Ian H Stevenson · Xiaojing Wang

Modern neural recording techniques allow neuroscientists to observe the spiking activity of many neurons simultaneously. Although previous work has illustrated how activity within and between known populations of neurons can be summarized by low-dimensional latent vectors, in many cases what determines a unique population may be unclear. Neurons differ in their anatomical location, but also, in their cell types and response properties. Moreover, multiple distinct populations may not be well described by a single low-dimensional, linear representation.To tackle these challenges, we develop a clustering method based on a mixture of dynamic Poisson factor analyzers (DPFA) model, with the number of clusters treated as an unknown parameter. To do the analysis of DPFA model, we propose a novel Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) algorithm to efficiently sample its posterior distribution. Validating our proposed MCMC algorithm with simulations, we find that it can accurately recover the true clustering and latent states and is insensitive to the initial cluster assignments. We then apply the proposed mixture of DPFA model to multi-region experimental recordings, where we find that the proposed method can identify novel, reliable clusters of neurons based on their activity, and may, thus, be a useful tool for neural data analysis.

Spherical Channels for Modeling Atomic Interactions

Larry Zitnick · Abhishek Das · Adeesh Kolluru · Janice Lan · Muhammed Shuaibi · Anuroop Sriram · Zachary Ulissi · Brandon Wood

Modeling the energy and forces of atomic systems is a fundamental problem in computational chemistry with the potential to help address many of the world’s most pressing problems, including those related to energy scarcity and climate change. These calculations are traditionally performed using Density Functional Theory, which is computationally very expensive. Machine learning has the potential to dramatically improve the efficiency of these calculations from days or hours to seconds.We propose the Spherical Channel Network (SCN) to model atomic energies and forces. The SCN is a graph neural network where nodes represent atoms and edges their neighboring atoms. The atom embeddings are a set of spherical functions, called spherical channels, represented using spherical harmonics. We demonstrate, that by rotating the embeddings based on the 3D edge orientation, more information may be utilized while maintaining the rotational equivariance of the messages. While equivariance is a desirable property, we find that by relaxing this constraint in both message passing and aggregation, improved accuracy may be achieved. We demonstrate state-of-the-art results on the large-scale Open Catalyst 2020 dataset in both energy and force prediction for numerous tasks and metrics.

Understanding the Evolution of Linear Regions in Deep Reinforcement Learning

Setareh Cohan · Nam Hee Kim · David Rolnick · Michiel van de Panne

Policies produced by deep reinforcement learning are typically characterised by their learning curves, but they remain poorly understood in many other respects. ReLU-based policies result in a partitioning of the input space into piecewise linear regions. We seek to understand how observed region counts and their densities evolve during deep reinforcement learning using empirical results that span a range of continuous control tasks and policy network dimensions. Intuitively, we may expect that during training, the region density increases in the areas that are frequently visited by the policy, thereby affording fine-grained control. We use recent theoretical and empirical results for the linear regions induced by neural networks in supervised learning settings for grounding and comparison of our results. Empirically, we find that the region density increases only moderately throughout training, as measured along fixed trajectories coming from the final policy. However, the trajectories themselves also increase in length during training, and thus the region densities decrease as seen from the perspective of the current trajectory. Our findings suggest that the complexity of deep reinforcement learning policies does not principally emerge from a significant growth in the complexity of functions observed on-and-around trajectories of the policy.

A General Framework for Auditing Differentially Private Machine Learning

Fred Lu · Joseph Munoz · Maya Fuchs · Tyler LeBlond · Elliott Zaresky-Williams · Edward Raff · Francis Ferraro · Brian Testa

We present a framework to statistically audit the privacy guarantee conferred by a differentially private machine learner in practice. While previous works have taken steps toward evaluating privacy loss through poisoning attacks or membership inference, they have been tailored to specific models or have demonstrated low statistical power. Our work develops a general methodology to empirically evaluate the privacy of differentially private machine learning implementations, combining improved privacy search and verification methods with a toolkit of influence-based poisoning attacks. We demonstrate significantly improved auditing power over previous approaches on a variety of models including logistic regression, Naive Bayes, and random forest. Our method can be used to detect privacy violations due to implementation errors or misuse. When violations are not present, it can aid in understanding the amount of information that can be leaked from a given dataset, algorithm, and privacy specification.

CHIMLE: Conditional Hierarchical IMLE for Multimodal Conditional Image Synthesis

Shichong Peng · Seyed Alireza Moazenipourasil · Ke Li

A persistent challenge in conditional image synthesis has been to generate diverse output images from the same input image despite only one output image being observed per input image. GAN-based methods are prone to mode collapse, which leads to low diversity. To get around this, we leverage Implicit Maximum Likelihood Estimation (IMLE) which can overcome mode collapse fundamentally. IMLE uses the same generator as GANs but trains it with a different, non-adversarial objective which ensures each observed image has a generated sample nearby. Unfortunately, to generate high-fidelity images, prior IMLE-based methods require a large number of samples, which is expensive. In this paper, we propose a new method to get around this limitation, which we dub Conditional Hierarchical IMLE (CHIMLE), which can generate high-fidelity images without requiring many samples. We show CHIMLE significantly outperforms the prior best IMLE, GAN and diffusion-based methods in terms of image fidelity and mode coverage across four tasks, namely night-to-day, 16x single image super-resolution, image colourization and image decompression. Quantitatively, our method improves Fréchet Inception Distance (FID) by 36.9% on average compared to the prior best IMLE-based method, and by 27.5% on average compared to the best non-IMLE-based general-purpose methods. More results and code are available on the project website at

On the Effectiveness of Lipschitz-Driven Rehearsal in Continual Learning

Lorenzo Bonicelli · Matteo Boschini · Angelo Porrello · Concetto Spampinato · SIMONE CALDERARA

Rehearsal approaches enjoy immense popularity with Continual Learning (CL) practitioners. These methods collect samples from previously encountered data distributions in a small memory buffer; subsequently, they repeatedly optimize on the latter to prevent catastrophic forgetting. This work draws attention to a hidden pitfall of this widespread practice: repeated optimization on a small pool of data inevitably leads to tight and unstable decision boundaries, which are a major hindrance to generalization. To address this issue, we propose Lipschitz-DrivEn Rehearsal (LiDER), a surrogate objective that induces smoothness in the backbone network by constraining its layer-wise Lipschitz constants w.r.t. replay examples. By means of extensive experiments, we show that applying LiDER delivers a stable performance gain to several state-of-the-art rehearsal CL methods across multiple datasets, both in the presence and absence of pre-training. Through additional ablative experiments, we highlight peculiar aspects of buffer overfitting in CL and better characterize the effect produced by LiDER. Code is available at

Efficient Non-Parametric Optimizer Search for Diverse Tasks

Ruochen Wang · Yuanhao Xiong · Minhao Cheng · Cho-Jui Hsieh

Efficient and automated design of optimizers plays a crucial role in full-stack AutoML systems. However, prior methods in optimizer search are often limited by their scalability, generability, or sample efficiency. With the goal of democratizing research and application of optimizer search, we present the first efficient, scalable and generalizable framework that can directly search on the tasks of interest. We first observe that optimizer updates are fundamentally mathematical expressions applied to the gradient. Inspired by the innate tree structure of the underlying math expressions, we re-arrange the space of optimizers into a super-tree, where each path encodes an optimizer. This way, optimizer search can be naturally formulated as a path-finding problem, allowing a variety of well-established tree traversal methods to be used as the search algorithm. We adopt an adaptation of the Monte Carlo method to tree search, equipped with rejection sampling and equivalent-form detection that leverage the characteristics of optimizer update rules to further boost the sample efficiency. We provide a diverse set of tasks to benchmark our algorithm and demonstrate that, with only 128 evaluations, the proposed framework can discover optimizers that surpass both human-designed counterparts and prior optimizer search methods. Our code is publicly available at

Transform Once: Efficient Operator Learning in Frequency Domain

Michael Poli · Stefano Massaroli · Federico Berto · Jinkyoo Park · Tri Dao · Christopher Ré · Stefano Ermon

Spectral analysis provides one of the most effective paradigms for information-preserving dimensionality reduction, as simple descriptions of naturally occurring signals are often obtained via few terms of periodic basis functions. In this work, we study deep neural networks designed to harness the structure in frequency domain for efficient learning of long-range correlations in space or time: frequency-domain models (FDMs). Existing FDMs are based on complex-valued transforms i.e. Fourier Transforms (FT), and layers that perform computation on the spectrum and input data separately. This design introduces considerable computational overhead: for each layer, a forward and inverse FT. Instead, this work introduces a blueprint for frequency domain learning through a single transform: transform once (T1). To enable efficient, direct learning in the frequency domain we derive a variance preserving weight initialization scheme and investigate methods for frequency selection in reduced-order FDMs. Our results noticeably streamline the design process of FDMs, pruning redundant transforms, and leading to speedups of 3x to 10x that increase with data resolution and model size. We perform extensive experiments on learning the solution operator of spatio-temporal dynamics, including incompressible Navier-Stokes, turbulent flows around airfoils and high-resolution video of smoke. T1 models improve on the test performance of FDMs while requiring significantly less computation (5 hours instead of 32 for our large-scale experiment), with over 20% reduction in predictive error across tasks.

Sparse Interaction Additive Networks via Feature Interaction Detection and Sparse Selection

James Enouen · Yan Liu

There is currently a large gap in performance between the statistically rigorous methods like linear regression or additive splines and the powerful deep methods using neural networks. Previous works attempting to close this gap have failed to fully consider the exponentially growing number of feature combinations which deep networks consider automatically during training. In this work, we develop a tractable selection algorithm to efficiently identify the necessary feature combinations by leveraging techniques in feature interaction detection.Our proposed Sparse Interaction Additive Networks (SIAN) construct a bridge from these simple and interpretable models to a fully connected neural network. SIAN achieves competitive performance against state-of-the-art methods across multiple large-scale tabular datasets and consistently finds an optimal tradeoff between the modeling capacity of neural networks and the generalizability of simpler methods.

Meta-Learning Dynamics Forecasting Using Task Inference

Rui Wang · Robin Walters · Rose Yu

Current deep learning models for dynamics forecasting struggle with generalization. They can only forecast in a specific domain and fail when applied to systems with different parameters, external forces, or boundary conditions. We propose a model-based meta-learning method called DyAd which can generalize across heterogeneous domains by partitioning them into different tasks. DyAd has two parts: an encoder that infers the time-invariant hidden features of the task with weak supervision, and a forecaster which learns the shared dynamics of the entire domain. The encoder adapts and controls the forecaster during inference using adaptive instance normalization and adaptive padding. Theoretically, we prove that the generalization error of such a procedure is related to the task relatedness in the source domain, as well as the domain differences between source and target. Experimentally, we demonstrate that our model outperforms state-of-the-art approaches on forecasting complex physical dynamics including turbulent flow, real-world sea surface temperature, and ocean currents.

Implicit Neural Representations with Levels-of-Experts

Zekun Hao · Arun Mallya · Serge Belongie · Ming-Yu Liu

Coordinate-based networks, usually in the forms of MLPs, have been successfully applied to the task of predicting high-frequency but low-dimensional signals using coordinate inputs. To scale them to model large-scale signals, previous works resort to hybrid representations, combining a coordinate-based network with a grid-based representation, such as sparse voxels. However, such approaches lack a compact global latent representation in its grid, making it difficult to model a distribution of signals, which is important for generalization tasks. To address the limitation, we propose the Levels-of-Experts (LoE) framework, which is a novel coordinate-based representation consisting of an MLP with periodic, position-dependent weights arranged hierarchically. For each linear layer of the MLP, multiple candidate values of its weight matrix are tiled and replicated across the input space, with different layers replicating at different frequencies. Based on the input, only one of the weight matrices is chosen for each layer. This greatly increases the model capacity without incurring extra computation or compromising generalization capability. We show that the new representation is an efficient and competitive drop-in replacement for a wide range of tasks, including signal fitting, novel view synthesis, and generative modeling.

Towards Theoretically Inspired Neural Initialization Optimization

Yibo Yang · Hong Wang · Haobo Yuan · Zhouchen Lin

Automated machine learning has been widely explored to reduce human efforts in designing neural architectures and looking for proper hyperparameters. In the domain of neural initialization, however, similar automated techniques have rarely been studied. Most existing initialization methods are handcrafted and highly dependent on specific architectures. In this paper, we propose a differentiable quantity, named GradCoisne, with theoretical insights to evaluate the initial state of a neural network. Specifically, GradCosine is the cosine similarity of sample-wise gradients with respect to the initialized parameters. By analyzing the sample-wise optimization landscape, we show that both the training and test performance of a network can be improved by maximizing GradCosine under gradient norm constraint. Based on this observation, we further propose the neural initialization optimization (NIO) algorithm. Generalized from the sample-wise analysis into the real batch setting, NIO is able to automatically look for a better initialization with negligible cost compared with the training time. With NIO, we improve the classification performance of a variety of neural architectures on CIFAR10, CIFAR-100, and ImageNet. Moreover, we find that our method can even help to train large vision Transformer architecture without warmup.

Improving GANs with A Dynamic Discriminator

Ceyuan Yang · Yujun Shen · Yinghao Xu · Deli Zhao · Bo Dai · Bolei Zhou

Discriminator plays a vital role in training generative adversarial networks (GANs) via distinguishing real and synthesized samples. While the real data distribution remains the same, the synthesis distribution keeps varying because of the evolving generator, and thus effects a corresponding change of the bi-classification task assigned to the discriminator. We argue that a discriminator with an on-the-fly adjustment on its capacity can better accommodate such a time-varying task. A comprehensive empirical study confirms that the proposed training strategy, termed as DynamicD, improves the synthesis performance without incurring any additional computation cost or training objectives. Two capacity adjusting schemes are developed for training GANs under different data regimes: i) given a sufficient amount of training data, the discriminator benefits from a progressively increased learning capacity, and ii) when the training data is limited, gradually decreasing the layer width mitigates the over-fitting issue of the discriminator. Experiments on both 2D and 3D-aware image synthesis tasks conducted on a range of datasets substantiate the generalizability of our DynamicD as well as its substantial improvement over the baselines. Furthermore, DynamicD is synergistic to other discriminator-improving approaches (including data augmentation, regularizers, and pre-training), and brings continuous performance gain when combined with them for learning GANs. Code will be made publicly available.

Towards Learning Universal Hyperparameter Optimizers with Transformers

Yutian Chen · Xingyou Song · Chansoo Lee · Zi Wang · Richard Zhang · David Dohan · Kazuya Kawakami · Greg Kochanski · Arnaud Doucet · Marc'Aurelio Ranzato · Sagi Perel · Nando de Freitas

Meta-learning hyperparameter optimization (HPO) algorithms from prior experiments is a promising approach to improve optimization efficiency over objective functions from a similar distribution. However, existing methods are restricted to learning from experiments sharing the same set of hyperparameters. In this paper, we introduce the OptFormer, the first text-based Transformer HPO framework that provides a universal end-to-end interface for jointly learning policy and function prediction when trained on vast tuning data from the wild, such as Google’s Vizier database, one of the world’s largest HPO datasets. Our extensive experiments demonstrate that the OptFormer can simultaneously imitate at least 7 different HPO algorithms, which can be further improved via its function uncertainty estimates. Compared to a Gaussian Process, the OptFormer also learns a robust prior distribution for hyperparameter response functions, and can thereby provide more accurate and better calibrated predictions. This work paves the path to future extensions for training a Transformer-based model as a general HPO optimizer.

Graph Self-supervised Learning with Accurate Discrepancy Learning

Dongki Kim · Jinheon Baek · Sung Ju Hwang

Self-supervised learning of graph neural networks (GNNs) aims to learn an accurate representation of the graphs in an unsupervised manner, to obtain transferable representations of them for diverse downstream tasks. Predictive learning and contrastive learning are the two most prevalent approaches for graph self-supervised learning. However, they have their own drawbacks. While the predictive learning methods can learn the contextual relationships between neighboring nodes and edges, they cannot learn global graph-level similarities. Contrastive learning, while it can learn global graph-level similarities, its objective to maximize the similarity between two differently perturbed graphs may result in representations that cannot discriminate two similar graphs with different properties. To tackle such limitations, we propose a framework that aims to learn the exact discrepancy between the original and the perturbed graphs, coined as Discrepancy-based Self-supervised LeArning (D-SLA). Specifically, we create multiple perturbations of the given graph with varying degrees of similarity, and train the model to predict whether each graph is the original graph or the perturbed one. Moreover, we further aim to accurately capture the amount of discrepancy for each perturbed graph using the graph edit distance. We validate our D-SLA on various graph-related downstream tasks, including molecular property prediction, protein function prediction, and link prediction tasks, on which ours largely outperforms relevant baselines.

A2: Efficient Automated Attacker for Boosting Adversarial Training

Zhuoer Xu · Guanghui Zhu · Changhua Meng · shiwen cui · Zhenzhe Ying · Weiqiang Wang · Ming GU · Yihua Huang

Based on the significant improvement of model robustness by AT (Adversarial Training), various variants have been proposed to further boost the performance. Well-recognized methods have focused on different components of AT (e.g., designing loss functions and leveraging additional unlabeled data). It is generally accepted that stronger perturbations yield more robust models.However, how to generate stronger perturbations efficiently is still missed. In this paper, we propose an efficient automated attacker called A2 to boost AT by generating the optimal perturbations on-the-fly during training. A2 is a parameterized automated attacker to search in the attacker space for the best attacker against the defense model and examples. Extensive experiments across different datasets demonstrate that A2 generates stronger perturbations with low extra cost and reliably improves the robustness of various AT methods against different attacks.

Boosting Out-of-distribution Detection with Typical Features

Yao Zhu · YueFeng Chen · Chuanlong Xie · Xiaodan Li · Rong Zhang · Hui Xue' · Xiang Tian · bolun zheng · Yaowu Chen

Out-of-distribution (OOD) detection is a critical task for ensuring the reliability and safety of deep neural networks in real-world scenarios. Different from most previous OOD detection methods that focus on designing OOD scores or introducing diverse outlier examples to retrain the model, we delve into the obstacle factors in OOD detection from the perspective of typicality and regard the feature's high-probability region of the deep model as the feature's typical set. We propose to rectify the feature into its typical set and calculate the OOD score with the typical features to achieve reliable uncertainty estimation. The feature rectification can be conducted as a plug-and-play module with various OOD scores. We evaluate the superiority of our method on both the commonly used benchmark (CIFAR) and the more challenging high-resolution benchmark with large label space (ImageNet). Notably, our approach outperforms state-of-the-art methods by up to 5.11% in the average FPR95 on the ImageNet benchmark.

Unified Optimal Transport Framework for Universal Domain Adaptation

Wanxing Chang · Ye Shi · Hoang Tuan · Jingya Wang

Universal Domain Adaptation (UniDA) aims to transfer knowledge from a source domain to a target domain without any constraints on label sets. Since both domains may hold private classes, identifying target common samples for domain alignment is an essential issue in UniDA. Most existing methods require manually specified or hand-tuned threshold values to detect common samples thus they are hard to extend to more realistic UniDA because of the diverse ratios of common classes. Moreover, they cannot recognize different categories among target-private samples as these private samples are treated as a whole. In this paper, we propose to use Optimal Transport (OT) to handle these issues under a unified framework, namely UniOT. First, an OT-based partial alignment with adaptive filling is designed to detect common classes without any predefined threshold values for realistic UniDA. It can automatically discover the intrinsic difference between common and private classes based on the statistical information of the assignment matrix obtained from OT. Second, we propose an OT-based target representation learning that encourages both global discrimination and local consistency of samples to avoid the over-reliance on the source. Notably, UniOT is the first method with the capability to automatically discover and recognize private categories in the target domain for UniDA. Accordingly, we introduce a new metric H^3-score to evaluate the performance in terms of both accuracy of common samples and clustering performance of private ones. Extensive experiments clearly demonstrate the advantages of UniOT over a wide range of state-of-the-art methods in UniDA.

Geometric Order Learning for Rank Estimation

Seon-Ho Lee · Nyeong Ho Shin · Chang-Su Kim

A novel approach to rank estimation, called geometric order learning (GOL), is proposed in this paper. First, we construct an embedding space, in which the direction and distance between objects represent order and metric relations between their ranks, by enforcing two geometric constraints: the order constraint compels objects to be sorted according to their ranks, while the metric constraint makes the distance between objects reflect their rank difference. Then, we perform the simple $k$ nearest neighbor ($k$-NN) search in the embedding space to estimate the rank of a test object. Moreover, to assess the quality of embedding spaces for rank estimation, we propose a metric called discriminative ratio for ranking (DRR). Extensive experiments on facial age estimation, historical color image (HCI) classification, and aesthetic score regression demonstrate that GOL constructs effective embedding spaces and thus yields excellent rank estimation performances. The source codes are available at

MACK: Multimodal Aligned Conceptual Knowledge for Unpaired Image-text Matching

Yan Huang · Yuming Wang · Yunan Zeng · Liang Wang

Recently, the accuracy of image-text matching has been greatly improved by multimodal pretrained models, all of which are trained on millions or billions of paired images and texts. Different from them, this paper studies a new scenario as unpaired image-text matching, in which paired images and texts are assumed to be unavailable during model training. To deal with this, we propose a simple yet effective method namely Multimodal Aligned Conceptual Knowledge (MACK), which is inspired by the knowledge use in human brain. It can be directly used as general knowledge to correlate images and texts even without model training, or further fine-tuned based on unpaired images and texts to better generalize to certain datasets. In addition, we extend it as a re-ranking method, which can be easily combined with existing image-text matching models to substantially improve their performance.

Bridging the Gap between Object and Image-level Representations for Open-Vocabulary Detection

Hanoona Bangalath · Muhammad Maaz · Muhammad Uzair Khattak · Salman Khan · Fahad Shahbaz Khan

Existing open-vocabulary object detectors typically enlarge their vocabulary sizes by leveraging different forms of weak supervision. This helps generalize to novel objects at inference. Two popular forms of weak-supervision used in open-vocabulary detection (OVD) include pretrained CLIP model and image-level supervision. We note that both these modes of supervision are not optimally aligned for the detection task: CLIP is trained with image-text pairs and lacks precise localization of objects while the image-level supervision has been used with heuristics that do not accurately specify local object regions. In this work, we propose to address this problem by performing object-centric alignment of the language embeddings from the CLIP model. Furthermore, we visually ground the objects with only image-level supervision using a pseudo-labeling process that provides high-quality object proposals and helps expand the vocabulary during training. We establish a bridge between the above two object-alignment strategies via a novel weight transfer function that aggregates their complimentary strengths. In essence, the proposed model seeks to minimize the gap between object and image-centric representations in the OVD setting. On the COCO benchmark, our proposed approach achieves 36.6 AP50 on novel classes, an absolute 8.2 gain over the previous best performance. For LVIS, we surpass the state-of-the-art ViLD model by 5.0 mask AP for rare categories and 3.4 overall. Code:

Meta-Learning with Self-Improving Momentum Target

Jihoon Tack · Jongjin Park · Hankook Lee · Jaeho Lee · Jinwoo Shin

The idea of using a separately trained target model (or teacher) to improve the performance of the student model has been increasingly popular in various machine learning domains, and meta-learning is no exception; a recent discovery shows that utilizing task-wise target models can significantly boost the generalization performance. However, obtaining a target model for each task can be highly expensive, especially when the number of tasks for meta-learning is large. To tackle this issue, we propose a simple yet effective method, coined Self-improving Momentum Target (SiMT). SiMT generates the target model by adapting from the temporal ensemble of the meta-learner, i.e., the momentum network. This momentum network and its task-specific adaptations enjoy a favorable generalization performance, enabling self-improving of the meta-learner through knowledge distillation. Moreover, we found that perturbing parameters of the meta-learner, e.g., dropout, further stabilize this self-improving process by preventing fast convergence of the distillation loss during meta-training. Our experimental results demonstrate that SiMT brings a significant performance gain when combined with a wide range of meta-learning methods under various applications, including few-shot regression, few-shot classification, and meta-reinforcement learning. Code is available at

GBA: A Tuning-free Approach to Switch between Synchronous and Asynchronous Training for Recommendation Models

Wenbo Su · Yuanxing Zhang · Yufeng Cai · Kaixu Ren · Pengjie Wang · Huimin Yi · Yue Song · Jing Chen · Hongbo Deng · Jian Xu · Lin Qu · Bo Zheng

High-concurrency asynchronous training upon parameter server (PS) architecture and high-performance synchronous training upon all-reduce (AR) architecture are the most commonly deployed distributed training modes for recommendation models. Although synchronous AR training is designed to have higher training efficiency, asynchronous PS training would be a better choice for training speed when there are stragglers (slow workers) in the shared cluster, especially under limited computing resources. An ideal way to take full advantage of these two training modes is to switch between them upon the cluster status. However, switching training modes often requires tuning hyper-parameters, which is extremely time- and resource-consuming. We find two obstacles to a tuning-free approach: the different distribution of the gradient values and the stale gradients from the stragglers. This paper proposes Global Batch gradients Aggregation (GBA) over PS, which aggregates and applies gradients with the same global batch size as the synchronous training. A token-control process is implemented to assemble the gradients and decay the gradients with severe staleness. We provide the convergence analysis to reveal that GBA has comparable convergence properties with the synchronous training, and demonstrate the robustness of GBA the recommendation models against the gradient staleness. Experiments on three industrial-scale recommendation tasks show that GBA is an effective tuning-free approach for switching. Compared to the state-of-the-art derived asynchronous training, GBA achieves up to 0.2% improvement on the AUC metric, which is significant for the recommendation models. Meanwhile, under the strained hardware resource, GBA speeds up at least 2.4x compared to synchronous training.

CryptoGCN: Fast and Scalable Homomorphically Encrypted Graph Convolutional Network Inference

Ran Ran · Wei Wang · Quan Gang · Jieming Yin · Nuo Xu · Wujie Wen

Recently cloud-based graph convolutional network (GCN) has demonstrated great success and potential in many privacy-sensitive applications such as personal healthcare and financial systems. Despite its high inference accuracy and performance on the cloud, maintaining data privacy in GCN inference, which is of paramount importance to these practical applications, remains largely unexplored. In this paper, we take an initial attempt towards this and develop CryptoGCN--a homomorphic encryption (HE) based GCN inference framework. A key to the success of our approach is to reduce the tremendous computational overhead for HE operations, which can be orders of magnitude higher than its counterparts in the plaintext space. To this end, we develop a solution that can effectively take advantage of the sparsity of matrix operations in GCN inference to significantly reduce the encrypted computational overhead. Specifically, we propose a novel Adjacency Matrix-Aware (AMA) data formatting method along with the AMA assisted patterned sparse matrix partitioning, to exploit the complex graph structure and perform efficient matrix-matrix multiplication in HE computation. In this way, the number of HE operations can be significantly reduced. We also develop a co-optimization framework that can explore the trade-offs among the accuracy, security level, and computational overhead by judicious pruning and polynomial approximation of activation modules in GCNs. Based on the NTU-XVIEW skeleton joint dataset, i.e., the largest dataset evaluated homomorphically by far as we are aware of, our experimental results demonstrate that CryptoGCN outperforms state-of-the-art solutions in terms of the latency and number of homomorphic operations, i.e., achieving as much as a 3.10$\times$ speedup on latency and reduces the total Homomorphic Operation Count (HOC) by 77.4\% with a small accuracy loss of 1-1.5$\%$. Our code is publicly available at

Semi-supervised Vision Transformers at Scale

Zhaowei Cai · Avinash Ravichandran · Paolo Favaro · Manchen Wang · Davide Modolo · Rahul Bhotika · Zhuowen Tu · Stefano Soatto

We study semi-supervised learning (SSL) for vision transformers (ViT), an under-explored topic despite the wide adoption of the ViT architectures to different tasks. To tackle this problem, we use a SSL pipeline, consisting of first un/self-supervised pre-training, followed by supervised fine-tuning, and finally semi-supervised fine-tuning. At the semi-supervised fine-tuning stage, we adopt an exponential moving average (EMA)-Teacher framework instead of the popular FixMatch, since the former is more stable and delivers higher accuracy for semi-supervised vision transformers. In addition, we propose a probabilistic pseudo mixup mechanism to interpolate unlabeled samples and their pseudo labels for improved regularization, which is important for training ViTs with weak inductive bias. Our proposed method, dubbed Semi-ViT, achieves comparable or better performance than the CNN counterparts in the semi-supervised classification setting. Semi-ViT also enjoys the scalability benefits of ViTs that can be readily scaled up to large-size models with increasing accuracy. For example, Semi-ViT-Huge achieves an impressive 80\% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet using only 1\% labels, which is comparable with Inception-v4 using 100\% ImageNet labels. The code is available at

AdaptFormer: Adapting Vision Transformers for Scalable Visual Recognition

Shoufa Chen · Chongjian GE · Zhan Tong · Jiangliu Wang · Yibing Song · Jue Wang · Ping Luo

Pretraining Vision Transformers (ViTs) has achieved great success in visual recognition. A following scenario is to adapt a ViT to various image and video recognition tasks. The adaptation is challenging because of heavy computation and memory storage. Each model needs an independent and complete finetuning process to adapt to different tasks, which limits its transferability to different visual domains.To address this challenge, we propose an effective adaptation approach for Transformer, namely AdaptFormer, which can adapt the pre-trained ViTs into many different image and video tasks efficiently.It possesses several benefits more appealing than prior arts.Firstly, AdaptFormer introduces lightweight modules that only add less than 2% extra parameters to a ViT, while it is able to increase the ViT's transferability without updating its original pre-trained parameters, significantly outperforming the existing 100\% fully fine-tuned models on action recognition benchmarks.Secondly, it can be plug-and-play in different Transformers and scalable to many visual tasks.Thirdly, extensive experiments on five image and video datasets show that AdaptFormer largely improves ViTs in the target domains. For example, when updating just 1.5% extra parameters, it achieves about 10% and 19% relative improvement compared to the fully fine-tuned models on Something-Something~v2 and HMDB51, respectively. Code is available at

Fine-Tuning Pre-Trained Language Models Effectively by Optimizing Subnetworks Adaptively

Haojie Zhang · Ge Li · Jia Li · Zhongjin Zhang · YUQI ZHU · Zhi Jin

Large-scale pre-trained language models have achieved impressive results on a wide range of downstream tasks recently. However, fine-tuning an extremely large-scale pre-trained language model on limited target datasets is often plagued by overfitting and representation degradation. In this paper, we propose a Dynamic Parameter Selection (DPS) algorithm for the large-scale pre-trained models during fine-tuning, which adaptively selects a more promising subnetwork to perform staging updates based on gradients of back-propagation. Experiments on the GLUE benchmark show that DPS outperforms previous fine-tuning methods in terms of overall performance and stability, and consistently achieves better results with variable pre-trained language models. In addition, DPS brings a large magnitude of improvement in out-of-domain transferring experiments and low-resource scenarios, which shows that it can maintain stable general contextual features and reduce the representation collapse. We release our code at \url{}.

Self-Supervised Visual Representation Learning with Semantic Grouping

Xin Wen · Bingchen Zhao · Anlin Zheng · Xiangyu Zhang · Xiaojuan Qi

In this paper, we tackle the problem of learning visual representations from unlabeled scene-centric data. Existing works have demonstrated the potential of utilizing the underlying complex structure within scene-centric data; still, they commonly rely on hand-crafted objectness priors or specialized pretext tasks to build a learning framework, which may harm generalizability. Instead, we propose contrastive learning from data-driven semantic slots, namely SlotCon, for joint semantic grouping and representation learning. The semantic grouping is performed by assigning pixels to a set of learnable prototypes, which can adapt to each sample by attentive pooling over the feature and form new slots. Based on the learned data-dependent slots, a contrastive objective is employed for representation learning, which enhances the discriminability of features, and conversely facilitates grouping semantically coherent pixels together. Compared with previous efforts, by simultaneously optimizing the two coupled objectives of semantic grouping and contrastive learning, our approach bypasses the disadvantages of hand-crafted priors and is able to learn object/group-level representations from scene-centric images. Experiments show our approach effectively decomposes complex scenes into semantic groups for feature learning and significantly benefits downstream tasks, including object detection, instance segmentation, and semantic segmentation. Code is available at:

Geometry-aware Two-scale PIFu Representation for Human Reconstruction

Zheng Dong · Ke Xu · Ziheng Duan · Hujun Bao · Weiwei Xu · Rynson Lau

Although PIFu-based 3D human reconstruction methods are popular, the quality of recovered details is still unsatisfactory. In a sparse (e.g., 3 RGBD sensors) capture setting, the depth noise is typically amplified in the PIFu representation, resulting in flat facial surfaces and geometry-fallible bodies. In this paper, we propose a novel geometry-aware two-scale PIFu for 3D human reconstruction from sparse, noisy inputs. Our key idea is to exploit the complementary properties of depth denoising and 3D reconstruction, for learning a two-scale PIFu representation to reconstruct high-frequency facial details and consistent bodies separately. To this end, we first formulate depth denoising and 3D reconstruction as a multi-task learning problem. The depth denoising process enriches the local geometry information of the reconstruction features, while the reconstruction process enhances depth denoising with global topology information. We then propose to learn the two-scale PIFu representation using two MLPs based on the denoised depth and geometry-aware features. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in reconstructing facial details and bodies of different poses and its superiority over state-of-the-art methods.

360-MLC: Multi-view Layout Consistency for Self-training and Hyper-parameter Tuning

Bolivar Solarte · Chin-Hsuan Wu · Yueh-Cheng Liu · Yi-Hsuan Tsai · Min Sun

We present 360-MLC, a self-training method based on multi-view layout consistency for finetuning monocular room-layout models using unlabeled 360-images only. This can be valuable in practical scenarios where a pre-trained model needs to be adapted to a new data domain without using any ground truth annotations. Our simple yet effective assumption is that multiple layout estimations in the same scene must define a consistent geometry regardless of their camera positions. Based on this idea, we leverage a pre-trained model to project estimated layout boundaries from several camera views into the 3D world coordinate. Then, we re-project them back to the spherical coordinate and build a probability function, from which we sample the pseudo-labels for self-training. To handle unconfident pseudo-labels, we evaluate the variance in the re-projected boundaries as an uncertainty value to weight each pseudo-label in our loss function during training. In addition, since ground truth annotations are not available during training nor in testing, we leverage the entropy information in multiple layout estimations as a quantitative metric to measure the geometry consistency of the scene, allowing us to evaluate any layout estimator for hyper-parameter tuning, including model selection without ground truth annotations. Experimental results show that our solution achieves favorable performance against state-of-the-art methods when self-training from three publicly available source datasets to a unique, newly labeled dataset consisting of multi-view images of the same scenes.

FeLMi : Few shot Learning with hard Mixup

Aniket Roy · Anshul Shah · Ketul Shah · Prithviraj Dhar · Anoop Cherian · Rama Chellappa

Learning from a few examples is a challenging computer vision task. Traditionally,meta-learning-based methods have shown promise towards solving this problem.Recent approaches show benefits by learning a feature extractor on the abundantbase examples and transferring these to the fewer novel examples. However, thefinetuning stage is often prone to overfitting due to the small size of the noveldataset. To this end, we propose Few shot Learning with hard Mixup (FeLMi)using manifold mixup to synthetically generate samples that helps in mitigatingthe data scarcity issue. Different from a naïve mixup, our approach selects the hardmixup samples using an uncertainty-based criteria. To the best of our knowledge,we are the first to use hard-mixup for the few-shot learning problem. Our approachallows better use of the pseudo-labeled base examples through base-novel mixupand entropy-based filtering. We evaluate our approach on several common few-shotbenchmarks - FC-100, CIFAR-FS, miniImageNet and tieredImageNet and obtainimprovements in both 1-shot and 5-shot settings. Additionally, we experimented onthe cross-domain few-shot setting (miniImageNet → CUB) and obtain significantimprovements.

Contextual Squeeze-and-Excitation for Efficient Few-Shot Image Classification

Massimiliano Patacchiola · John Bronskill · Aliaksandra Shysheya · Katja Hofmann · Sebastian Nowozin · Richard Turner

Recent years have seen a growth in user-centric applications that require effective knowledge transfer across tasks in the low-data regime. An example is personalization, where a pretrained system is adapted by learning on small amounts of labeled data belonging to a specific user. This setting requires high accuracy under low computational complexity, therefore the Pareto frontier of accuracy vs. adaptation cost plays a crucial role. In this paper we push this Pareto frontier in the few-shot image classification setting with a key contribution: a new adaptive block called Contextual Squeeze-and-Excitation (CaSE) that adjusts a pretrained neural network on a new task to significantly improve performance with a single forward pass of the user data (context). We use meta-trained CaSE blocks to conditionally adapt the body of a network and a fine-tuning routine to adapt a linear head, defining a method called UpperCaSE. UpperCaSE achieves a new state-of-the-art accuracy relative to meta-learners on the 26 datasets of VTAB+MD and on a challenging real-world personalization benchmark (ORBIT), narrowing the gap with leading fine-tuning methods with the benefit of orders of magnitude lower adaptation cost.

Descent Steps of a Relation-Aware Energy Produce Heterogeneous Graph Neural Networks

Hongjoon Ahn · Yongyi Yang · Quan Gan · Taesup Moon · David P Wipf

Heterogeneous graph neural networks (GNNs) achieve strong performance on node classification tasks in a semi-supervised learning setting. However, as in the simpler homogeneous GNN case, message-passing-based heterogeneous GNNs may struggle to balance between resisting the oversmoothing that may occur in deep models, and capturing long-range dependencies of graph structured data. Moreover, the complexity of this trade-off is compounded in the heterogeneous graph case due to the disparate heterophily relationships between nodes of different types. To address these issues, we propose a novel heterogeneous GNN architecture in which layers are derived from optimization steps that descend a novel relation-aware energy function. The corresponding minimizer is fully differentiable with respect to the energy function parameters, such that bilevel optimization can be applied to effectively learn a functional form whose minimum provides optimal node representations for subsequent classification tasks. In particular, this methodology allows us to model diverse heterophily relationships between different node types while avoiding oversmoothing effects. Experimental results on 8 heterogeneous graph benchmarks demonstrates that our proposed method can achieve competitive node classification accuracy.

One-shot Neural Backdoor Erasing via Adversarial Weight Masking

Shuwen Chai · Jinghui Chen

Recent studies show that despite achieving high accuracy on a number of real-world applications, deep neural networks (DNNs) can be backdoored: by injecting triggered data samples into the training dataset, the adversary can mislead the trained model into classifying any test data to the target class as long as the trigger pattern is presented. To nullify such backdoor threats, various methods have been proposed. Particularly, a line of research aims to purify the potentially compromised model. However, one major limitation of this line of work is the requirement to access sufficient original training data: the purifying performance is a lot worse when the available training data is limited. In this work, we propose Adversarial Weight Masking (AWM), a novel method capable of erasing the neural backdoors even in the one-shot setting. The key idea behind our method is to formulate this into a min-max optimization problem: first, adversarially recover the non-robust perturbation patterns and then (soft) mask the network weights that are sensitive to the recovered patterns. Comprehensive evaluations of several benchmark datasets suggest that AWM can largely improve the purifying effects over other state-of-the-art methods on various available training dataset sizes.

BILCO: An Efficient Algorithm for Joint Alignment of Time Series

Xuelong Mi · Mengfan Wang · Alex Chen · Jing-Xuan Lim · Yizhi Wang · Misha B Ahrens · Guoqiang Yu

Multiple time series data occur in many real applications and the alignment among them is usually a fundamental step of data analysis. Frequently, these multiple time series are inter-dependent, which provides extra information for the alignment task and this information cannot be well utilized in the conventional pairwise alignment methods. Recently, the joint alignment was modeled as a max-flow problem, in which both the profile similarity between the aligned time series and the distance between adjacent warping functions are jointly optimized. However, despite the new model having elegant mathematical formulation and superior alignment accuracy, the long computation time and large memory usage, due to the use of the existing general-purpose max-flow algorithms, limit significantly its well-deserved wide use. In this report, we present BIdirectional pushing with Linear Component Operations (BILCO), a novel algorithm that solves the joint alignment max-flow problems efficiently and exactly. We develop the strategy of linear component operations that integrates dynamic programming technique and the push-relabel approach. This strategy is motivated by the fact that the joint alignment max-flow problem is a generalization of dynamic time warping (DTW) and numerous individual DTW problems are embedded. Further, a bidirectional-pushing strategy is proposed to introduce prior knowledge and reduce unnecessary computation, by leveraging another fact that good initialization can be easily computed for the joint alignment max-flow problem. We demonstrate the efficiency of BILCO using both synthetic and real experiments. Tested on thousands of datasets under various simulated scenarios and in three distinct application categories, BILCO consistently achieves at least 10 and averagely 20-folds increase in speed, and uses at most 1/8 and averagely 1/10 memory compared with the best existing max-flow method. Our source code can be found at

LOT: Layer-wise Orthogonal Training on Improving l2 Certified Robustness

Xiaojun Xu · Linyi Li · Bo Li

Recent studies show that training deep neural networks (DNNs) with Lipschitz constraints are able to enhance adversarial robustness and other model properties such as stability. In this paper, we propose a layer-wise orthogonal training method (LOT) to effectively train 1-Lipschitz convolution layers via parametrizing an orthogonal matrix with an unconstrained matrix. We then efficiently compute the inverse square root of a convolution kernel by transforming the input domain to the Fourier frequency domain. On the other hand, as existing works show that semi-supervised training helps improve empirical robustness, we aim to bridge the gap and prove that semi-supervised learning also improves the certified robustness of Lipschitz-bounded models. We conduct comprehensive evaluations for LOT under different settings. We show that LOT significantly outperforms baselines regarding deterministic l2 certified robustness, and scales to deeper neural networks. Under the supervised scenario, we improve the state-of-the-art certified robustness for all architectures (e.g. from 59.04% to 63.50% on CIFAR-10 and from 32.57% to 34.59% on CIFAR-100 at radius $\rho=36/255$ for 40-layer networks). With semi-supervised learning over unlabelled data, we are able to improve state-of-the-art certified robustness on CIFAR-10 at $\rho=108/255$ from 36.04% to 42.39%. In addition, LOT consistently outperforms baselines on different model architectures with only 1/3 evaluation time.

Momentum Adversarial Distillation: Handling Large Distribution Shifts in Data-Free Knowledge Distillation

Kien Do · Thai Hung Le · Dung Nguyen · Dang Nguyen · HARIPRIYA HARIKUMAR · Truyen Tran · Santu Rana · Svetha Venkatesh

Data-free Knowledge Distillation (DFKD) has attracted attention recently thanks to its appealing capability of transferring knowledge from a teacher network to a student network without using training data. The main idea is to use a generator to synthesize data for training the student. As the generator gets updated, the distribution of synthetic data will change. Such distribution shift could be large if the generator and the student are trained adversarially, causing the student to forget the knowledge it acquired at the previous steps. To alleviate this problem, we propose a simple yet effective method called Momentum Adversarial Distillation (MAD) which maintains an exponential moving average (EMA) copy of the generator and uses synthetic samples from both the generator and the EMA generator to train the student. Since the EMA generator can be considered as an ensemble of the generator's old versions and often undergoes a smaller change in updates compared to the generator, training on its synthetic samples can help the student recall the past knowledge and prevent the student from adapting too quickly to the new updates of the generator. Our experiments on six benchmark datasets including big datasets like ImageNet and Places365 demonstrate the superior performance of MAD over competing methods for handling the large distribution shift problem. Our method also compares favorably to existing DFKD methods and even achieves state-of-the-art results in some cases.

AutoMTL: A Programming Framework for Automating Efficient Multi-Task Learning

Lijun Zhang · Xiao Liu · Hui Guan

Multi-task learning (MTL) jointly learns a set of tasks by sharing parameters among tasks. It is a promising approach for reducing storage costs while improving task accuracy for many computer vision tasks. The effective adoption of MTL faces two main challenges. The first challenge is to determine what parameters to share across tasks to optimize for both memory efficiency and task accuracy. The second challenge is to automatically apply MTL algorithms to an arbitrary CNN backbone without requiring time-consuming manual re-implementation and significant domain expertise. This paper addresses the challenges by developing the first programming framework AutoMTL that automates efficient MTL model development for vision tasks. AutoMTL takes as inputs an arbitrary backbone convolutional neural network (CNN) and a set of tasks to learn, and automatically produces a multi-task model that achieves high accuracy and small memory footprint simultaneously. Experiments on three popular MTL benchmarks (CityScapes, NYUv2, Tiny-Taskonomy) demonstrate the effectiveness of AutoMTL over state-of-the-art approaches as well as the generalizability of AutoMTL across CNNs. AutoMTL is open-sourced and available at

Learning to Discover and Detect Objects

Vladimir Fomenko · Ismail Elezi · Deva Ramanan · Laura Leal-Taixé · Aljosa Osep

We tackle the problem of novel class discovery and localization (NCDL). In this setting, we assume a source dataset with supervision for only some object classes. Instances of other classes need to be discovered, classified, and localized automatically based on visual similarity without any human supervision. To tackle NCDL, we propose a two-stage object detection network Region-based NCDL (RNCDL) that uses a region proposal network to localize regions of interest (RoIs). We then train our network to learn to classify each RoI, either as one of the known classes, seen in the source dataset, or one of the novel classes, with a long-tail distribution constraint on the class assignments, reflecting the natural frequency of classes in the real world. By training our detection network with this objective in an end-to-end manner, it learns to classify all region proposals for a large variety of classes, including those not part of the labeled object class vocabulary. Our experiments conducted using COCO and LVIS datasets reveal that our method is significantly more effective than multi-stage pipelines that rely on traditional clustering algorithms. Furthermore, we demonstrate the generality of our approach by applying our method to a large-scale Visual Genome dataset, where our network successfully learns to detect various semantic classes without direct supervision.

Transfer Learning on Heterogeneous Feature Spaces for Treatment Effects Estimation

Ioana Bica · Mihaela van der Schaar

Consider the problem of improving the estimation of conditional average treatment effects (CATE) for a target domain of interest by leveraging related information from a source domain with a different feature space. This heterogeneous transfer learning problem for CATE estimation is ubiquitous in areas such as healthcare where we may wish to evaluate the effectiveness of a treatment for a new patient population for which different clinical covariates and limited data are available. In this paper, we address this problem by introducing several building blocks that use representation learning to handle the heterogeneous feature spaces and a flexible multi-task architecture with shared and private layers to transfer information between potential outcome functions across domains. Then, we show how these building blocks can be used to recover transfer learning equivalents of the standard CATE learners. On a new semi-synthetic data simulation benchmark for heterogeneous transfer learning, we not only demonstrate performance improvements of our heterogeneous transfer causal effect learners across datasets, but also provide insights into the differences between these learners from a transfer perspective.

Unsupervised Learning of Group Invariant and Equivariant Representations

Robin Winter · Marco Bertolini · Tuan Le · Frank Noe · Djork-Arné Clevert

Equivariant neural networks, whose hidden features transform according to representations of a group $G$ acting on the data, exhibit training efficiency and an improved generalisation performance. In this work, we extend group invariant and equivariant representation learning to the field of unsupervised deep learning. We propose a general learning strategy based on an encoder-decoder framework in which the latent representation is separated in an invariant term and an equivariant group action component. The key idea is that the network learns to encode and decode data to and from a group-invariant representation by additionally learning to predict the appropriate group action to align input and output pose to solve the reconstruction task. We derive the necessary conditions on the equivariant encoder, and we present a construction valid for any $G$, both discrete and continuous. We describe explicitly our construction for rotations, translations and permutations. We test the validity and the robustness of our approach in a variety of experiments with diverse data types employing different network architectures.

Towards Understanding Grokking: An Effective Theory of Representation Learning

Ziming Liu · Ouail Kitouni · Niklas S Nolte · Eric Michaud · Max Tegmark · Mike Williams

We aim to understand grokking, a phenomenon where models generalize long after overfitting their training set. We present both a microscopic analysis anchored by an effective theory and a macroscopic analysis of phase diagrams describing learning performance across hyperparameters. We find that generalization originates from structured representations, whose training dynamics and dependence on training set size can be predicted by our effective theory (in a toy setting). We observe empirically the presence of four learning phases: comprehension, grokking, memorization, and confusion. We find representation learning to occur only in a "Goldilocks zone" (including comprehension and grokking) between memorization and confusion. Compared to the comprehension phase, the grokking phase stays closer to the memorization phase, leading to delayed generalization. The Goldilocks phase is reminiscent of "intelligence from starvation" in Darwinian evolution, where resource limitations drive discovery of more efficient solutions. This study not only provides intuitive explanations of the origin of grokking, but also highlights the usefulness of physics-inspired tools, e.g., effective theories and phase diagrams, for understanding deep learning.

DMAP: a Distributed Morphological Attention Policy for learning to locomote with a changing body

Alberto Silvio Chiappa · Alessandro Marin Vargas · Alexander Mathis

Biological and artificial agents need to deal with constant changes in the real world. We study this problem in four classical continuous control environments, augmented with morphological perturbations. Learning to locomote when the length and the thickness of different body parts vary is challenging, as the control policy is required to adapt to the morphology to successfully balance and advance the agent. We show that a control policy based on the proprioceptive state performs poorly with highly variable body configurations, while an (oracle) agent with access to a learned encoding of the perturbation performs significantly better. We introduce DMAP, a biologically-inspired, attention-based policy network architecture. DMAP combines independent proprioceptive processing, a distributed policy with individual controllers for each joint, and an attention mechanism, to dynamically gate sensory information from different body parts to different controllers. Despite not having access to the (hidden) morphology information, DMAP can be trained end-to-end in all the considered environments, overall matching or surpassing the performance of an oracle agent. Thus DMAP, implementing principles from biological motor control, provides a strong inductive bias for learning challenging sensorimotor tasks. Overall, our work corroborates the power of these principles in challenging locomotion tasks. The code is available at the following link:

Decentralized Training of Foundation Models in Heterogeneous Environments

Binhang Yuan · Yongjun He · Jared Davis · Tianyi Zhang · Tri Dao · Beidi Chen · Percy Liang · Christopher Ré · Ce Zhang

Training foundation models, such as GPT-3 and PaLM, can be extremely expensive, often involving tens of thousands of GPUs running continuously for months. These models are typically trained in specialized clusters featuring fast, homogeneous interconnects and using carefully designed software systems that support both data parallelism and model/pipeline parallelism. Such dedicated clusters can be costly and difficult to obtain. Can we instead leverage the much greater amount of decentralized, heterogeneous, and lower-bandwidth interconnected compute? Previous works examining the heterogeneous, decentralized setting focus on relatively small models that can be trained in a purely data parallel manner. State-of-the-art schemes for model parallel foundation model training, such as Megatron and Deepspeed, only consider the homogeneous data center setting. In this paper, we present the first study of training large foundation models with model parallelism in a decentralized regime over a heterogeneous network. Our key technical contribution is a scheduling algorithm that allocates different computational “tasklets” in the training of foundation models to a group of decentralized GPU devices connected by a slow heterogeneous network. We provide a formal cost model and further propose an efficient evolutionary algorithm to find the optimal allocation strategy. We conduct extensive experiments that represent different scenarios for learning over geo-distributed devices simulated using real-world network measurements. In the most extreme case, across 8 different cities spanning 3 continents, our approach is 4.8× faster than prior state-of-the-art training systems.

Model-based Lifelong Reinforcement Learning with Bayesian Exploration

Haotian Fu · Shangqun Yu · Michael Littman · George Konidaris

We propose a model-based lifelong reinforcement-learning approach that estimates a hierarchical Bayesian posterior distilling the common structure shared across different tasks. The learned posterior combined with a sample-based Bayesian exploration procedure increases the sample efficiency of learning across a family of related tasks. We first derive an analysis of the relationship between the sample complexity and the initialization quality of the posterior in the finite MDP setting. We next scale the approach to continuous-state domains by introducing a Variational Bayesian Lifelong Reinforcement Learning algorithm that can be combined with recent model-based deep RL methods, and that exhibits backward transfer. Experimental results on several challenging domains show that our algorithms achieve both better forward and backward transfer performance than state-of-the-art lifelong RL methods.

Curriculum Reinforcement Learning using Optimal Transport via Gradual Domain Adaptation

Peide Huang · Mengdi Xu · Jiacheng Zhu · Laixi Shi · Fei Fang · DING ZHAO

Curriculum Reinforcement Learning (CRL) aims to create a sequence of tasks, starting from easy ones and gradually learning towards difficult tasks. In this work, we focus on the idea of framing CRL as interpolations between a source (auxiliary) and a target task distribution. Although existing studies have shown the great potential of this idea, it remains unclear how to formally quantify and generate the movement between task distributions. Inspired by the insights from gradual domain adaptation in semi-supervised learning, we create a natural curriculum by breaking down the potentially large task distributional shift in CRL into smaller shifts. We propose GRADIENT which formulates CRL as an optimal transport problem with a tailored distance metric between tasks. Specifically, we generate a sequence of task distributions as a geodesic interpolation between the source and target distributions, which are actually the Wasserstein barycenter. Different from many existing methods, our algorithm considers a task-dependent contextual distance metric and is capable of handling nonparametric distributions in both continuous and discrete context settings. In addition, we theoretically show that GRADIENT enables smooth transfer between subsequent stages in the curriculum under certain conditions. We conduct extensive experiments in locomotion and manipulation tasks and show that our proposed GRADIENT achieves higher performance than baselines in terms of learning efficiency and asymptotic performance.

FedSR: A Simple and Effective Domain Generalization Method for Federated Learning

A. Tuan Nguyen · Philip Torr · Ser Nam Lim

Federated Learning (FL) refers to the decentralized and privacy-preserving machine learning framework in which multiple clients collaborate (with the help of a central server) to train a global model without sharing their data. However, most existing FL methods only focus on maximizing the model's performance on the source clients' data (e.g., mobile users) without considering its generalization ability to unknown target data (e.g., a new user). In this paper, we incorporate the problem of Domain Generalization (DG) into Federated Learning to tackle the aforementioned issue. However, virtually all existing DG methods require a centralized setting where data is shared across the domains, which violates the principles of decentralized FL and hence not applicable. To this end, we propose a simple yet novel representation learning framework, namely FedSR, which enables domain generalization while still respecting the decentralized and privacy-preserving natures of this FL setting. Motivated by classical machine learning algorithms, we aim to learn a simple representation of the data for better generalization. In particular, we enforce an L2-norm regularizer on the representation and a conditional mutual information (between the representation and the data given the label) regularizer to encourage the model to only learn essential information (while ignoring spurious correlations such as the background). Furthermore, we provide theoretical connections between the above two objectives and representation alignment in domain generalization. Extensive experimental results suggest that our method significantly outperforms relevant baselines in this particular problem.

Sample-Then-Optimize Batch Neural Thompson Sampling

Zhongxiang Dai · YAO SHU · Bryan Kian Hsiang Low · Patrick Jaillet

Bayesian optimization (BO), which uses a Gaussian process (GP) as a surrogate to model its objective function, is popular for black-box optimization. However, due to the limitations of GPs, BO underperforms in some problems such as those with categorical, high-dimensional or image inputs. To this end, recent works have used the highly expressive neural networks (NNs) as the surrogate model and derived theoretical guarantees using the theory of neural tangent kernel (NTK). However, these works suffer from the limitations of the requirement to invert an extremely large parameter matrix and the restriction to the sequential (rather than batch) setting. To overcome these limitations, we introduce two algorithms based on the Thompson sampling (TS) policy named Sample-Then-Optimize Batch Neural TS (STO-BNTS) and STO-BNTS-Linear. To choose an input query, we only need to train an NN (resp. a linear model) and then choose the query by maximizing the trained NN (resp. linear model), which is equivalently sampled from the GP posterior with the NTK as the kernel function. As a result, our algorithms sidestep the need to invert the large parameter matrix yet still preserve the validity of the TS policy. Next, we derive regret upper bounds for our algorithms with batch evaluations, and use insights from batch BO and NTK to show that they are asymptotically no-regret under certain conditions. Finally, we verify their empirical effectiveness using practical AutoML and reinforcement learning experiments.

Improving Diffusion Models for Inverse Problems using Manifold Constraints

Hyungjin Chung · Byeongsu Sim · Dohoon Ryu · Jong Chul Ye

Recently, diffusion models have been used to solve various inverse problems in an unsupervised manner with appropriate modifications to the sampling process. However, the current solvers, which recursively apply a reverse diffusion step followed by a projection-based measurement consistency step, often produce sub-optimal results. By studying the generative sampling path, here we show that current solvers throw the sample path off the data manifold, and hence the error accumulates. To address this, we propose an additional correction term inspired by the manifold constraint, which can be used synergistically with the previous solvers to make the iterations close to the manifold. The proposed manifold constraint is straightforward to implement within a few lines of code, yet boosts the performance by a surprisingly large margin. With extensive experiments, we show that our method is superior to the previous methods both theoretically and empirically, producing promising results in many applications such as image inpainting, colorization, and sparse-view computed tomography. Code available

FedAvg with Fine Tuning: Local Updates Lead to Representation Learning

Liam Collins · Hamed Hassani · Aryan Mokhtari · Sanjay Shakkottai

The Federated Averaging (FedAvg) algorithm, which consists of alternating between a few local stochastic gradient updates at client nodes, followed by a model averaging update at the server, is perhaps the most commonly used method in Federated Learning. Notwithstanding its simplicity, several empirical studies have illustrated that the model output by FedAvg leads to a model that generalizes well to new unseen tasks after a few fine-tuning steps. This surprising performance of such a simple method, however, is not fully understood from a theoretical point of view. In this paper, we formally investigate this phenomenon in the multi-task linear regression setting. We show that the reason behind the generalizability of the FedAvg output is FedAvg’s power in learning the common data representation among the clients’ tasks, by leveraging the diversity among client data distributions via multiple local updates between communication rounds. We formally establish the iteration complexity required by the clients for proving such result in the setting where the underlying shared representation is a linear map. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first result showing that FedAvg learns an expressive representation in any setting. Moreover, we show that multiple local updates between communication rounds are necessary for representation learning, as distributed gradient methods that make only one local update between rounds provably cannot recover the ground-truth representation in the linear setting, and empirically yield neural network representations that generalize drastically worse to new clients than those learned by FedAvg trained on heterogeneous image classification datasets.

Optimal Transport-based Identity Matching for Identity-invariant Facial Expression Recognition

Daeha Kim · Byung Cheol Song

Identity-invariant facial expression recognition (FER) has been one of the challenging computer vision tasks. Since conventional FER schemes do not explicitly address the inter-identity variation of facial expressions, their neural network models still operate depending on facial identity. This paper proposes to quantify the inter-identity variation by utilizing pairs of similar expressions explored through a specific matching process. We formulate the identity matching process as an Optimal Transport (OT) problem. Specifically, to find pairs of similar expressions from different identities, we define the inter-feature similarity as a transportation cost. Then, optimal identity matching to find the optimal flow with minimum transportation cost is performed by Sinkhorn-Knopp iteration. The proposed matching method is not only easy to plug in to other models, but also requires only acceptable computational overhead. Extensive simulations prove that the proposed FER method improves the PCC/CCC performance by up to 10% or more compared to the runner-up on wild datasets. The source code and software demo are available at

Orthogonal Transformer: An Efficient Vision Transformer Backbone with Token Orthogonalization

Huaibo Huang · Xiaoqiang Zhou · Ran He

We present a general vision transformer backbone, called as Orthogonal Transformer, in pursuit of both efficiency and effectiveness. A major challenge for vision transformer is that self-attention, as the key element in capturing long-range dependency, is very computationally expensive for dense prediction tasks (e.g., object detection). Coarse global self-attention and local self-attention are then designed to reduce the cost, but they suffer from either neglecting local correlations or hurting global modeling. We present an orthogonal self-attention mechanism to alleviate these issues. Specifically, self-attention is computed in the orthogonal space that is reversible to the spatial domain but has much lower resolution. The capabilities of learning global dependency and exploring local correlations are maintained because every orthogonal token in self-attention can attend to the entire visual tokens. Remarkably, orthogonality is realized by constructing an endogenously orthogonal matrix that is friendly to neural networks and can be optimized as arbitrary orthogonal matrices. We also introduce Positional MLP to incorporate position information for arbitrary input resolutions as well as enhance the capacity of MLP. Finally, we develop a hierarchical architecture for Orthogonal Transformer. Extensive experiments demonstrate its strong performance on a broad range of vision tasks, including image classification, object detection, instance segmentation and semantic segmentation.

Jump Self-attention: Capturing High-order Statistics in Transformers

Haoyi Zhou · Siyang Xiao · Shanghang Zhang · Jieqi Peng · Shuai Zhang · Jianxin Li

The recent success of Transformer has benefited many real-world applications, with its capability of building long dependency through pairwise dot-products. However, the strong assumption that elements are directly attentive to each other limits the performance of tasks with high-order dependencies such as natural language understanding and Image captioning. To solve such problems, we are the first to define the Jump Self-attention (JAT) to build Transformers. Inspired by the pieces moving of English Draughts, we introduce the spectral convolutional technique to calculate JAT on the dot-product feature map. This technique allows JAT's propagation in each self-attention head and is interchangeable with the canonical self-attention. We further develop the higher-order variants under the multi-hop assumption to increase the generality. Moreover, the proposed architecture is compatible with the pre-trained models. With extensive experiments, we empirically show that our methods significantly increase the performance on ten different tasks.

Flamingo: a Visual Language Model for Few-Shot Learning

Jean-Baptiste Alayrac · Jeff Donahue · Pauline Luc · Antoine Miech · Iain Barr · Yana Hasson · Karel Lenc · Arthur Mensch · Katherine Millican · Malcolm Reynolds · Roman Ring · Eliza Rutherford · Serkan Cabi · Tengda Han · Zhitao Gong · Sina Samangooei · Marianne Monteiro · Jacob L Menick · Sebastian Borgeaud · Andy Brock · Aida Nematzadeh · Sahand Sharifzadeh · Mikołaj Bińkowski · Ricardo Barreira · Oriol Vinyals · Andrew Zisserman · Karén Simonyan

Building models that can be rapidly adapted to novel tasks using only a handful of annotated examples is an open challenge for multimodal machine learning research. We introduce Flamingo, a family of Visual Language Models (VLM) with this ability. We propose key architectural innovations to: (i) bridge powerful pretrained vision-only and language-only models, (ii) handle sequences of arbitrarily interleaved visual and textual data, and (iii) seamlessly ingest images or videos as inputs. Thanks to their flexibility, Flamingo models can be trained on large-scale multimodal web corpora containing arbitrarily interleaved text and images, which is key to endow them with in-context few-shot learning capabilities. We perform a thorough evaluation of our models, exploring and measuring their ability to rapidly adapt to a variety of image and video tasks. These include open-ended tasks such as visual question-answering, where the model is prompted with a question which it has to answer, captioning tasks, which evaluate the ability to describe a scene or an event, and close-ended tasks such as multiple-choice visual question-answering. For tasks lying anywhere on this spectrum, a single Flamingo model can achieve a new state of the art with few-shot learning, simply by prompting the model with task-specific examples. On numerous benchmarks, Flamingo outperforms models fine-tuned on thousands of times more task-specific data.

Visual Prompting via Image Inpainting

Amir Bar · Yossi Gandelsman · Trevor Darrell · Amir Globerson · Alexei Efros

How does one adapt a pre-trained visual model to novel downstream tasks without task-specific finetuning or any model modification? Inspired by prompting in NLP, this paper investigates visual prompting: given input-output image example(s) of a new task at test time and a new input image, the goal is to automatically produce the output image, consistent with the given examples. We show that posing this problem as simple image inpainting -- literally just filling in a hole in a concatenated visual prompt image -- turns out to be surprisingly effective, provided that the inpainting algorithm has been trained on the right data. We train masked auto-encoders on a new dataset that we curated -- 88k unlabeled figures from academic papers sources on Arxiv. We apply visual prompting to these pretrained models and demonstrate results on various downstream image-to-image tasks, including foreground segmentation, single object detection, colorization, edge detection, etc. Project page:

MAtt: A Manifold Attention Network for EEG Decoding

Yue-Ting Pan · Jing-Lun Chou · Chun-Shu Wei

Recognition of electroencephalographic (EEG) signals highly affect the efficiency of non-invasive brain-computer interfaces (BCIs). While recent advances of deep-learning (DL)-based EEG decoders offer improved performances, the development of geometric learning (GL) has attracted much attention for offering exceptional robustness in decoding noisy EEG data. However, there is a lack of studies on the merged use of deep neural networks (DNNs) and geometric learning for EEG decoding. We herein propose a manifold attention network (mAtt), a novel geometric deep learning (GDL)-based model, featuring a manifold attention mechanism that characterizes spatiotemporal representations of EEG data fully on a Riemannian symmetric positive definite (SPD). The evaluation of the proposed mAtt on both time-synchronous and -asyncronous EEG datasets suggests its superiority over other leading DL methods for general EEG decoding. Furthermore, analysis of model interpretation reveals the capability of mAtt in capturing informative EEG features and handling the non-stationarity of brain dynamics.

Distilled Gradient Aggregation: Purify Features for Input Attribution in the Deep Neural Network

Giyoung Jeon · Haedong Jeong · Jaesik Choi

Measuring the attribution of input features toward the model output is one of the popular post-hoc explanations on the Deep Neural Networks (DNNs). Among various approaches to compute the attribution, the gradient-based methods are widely used to generate attributions, because of its ease of implementation and the model-agnostic characteristic. However, existing gradient integration methods such as Integrated Gradients (IG) suffer from (1) the noisy attributions which cause the unreliability of the explanation, and (2) the selection for the integration path which determines the quality of explanations. FullGrad (FG) is an another approach to construct the reliable attributions by focusing the locality of piece-wise linear network with the bias gradient. Although FG has shown reasonable performance for the given input, as the shortage of the global property, FG is vulnerable to the small perturbation, while IG which includes the exploration over the input space is robust. In this work, we design a new input attribution method which adopt the strengths of both local and global attributions.In particular, we propose a novel approach to distill input features using weak and extremely positive contributor masks. We aggregate the intermediate local attributions obtained from the distillation sequence to provide reliable attribution. We perform the quantitative evaluation compared to various attribution methods and show that our method outperforms others. We also provide the qualitative result that our method obtains object-aligned and sharp attribution heatmap.

Visual Concepts Tokenization

Tao Yang · Yuwang Wang · Yan Lu · Nanning Zheng

Obtaining the human-like perception ability of abstracting visual concepts from concrete pixels has always been a fundamental and important target in machine learning research fields such as disentangled representation learning and scene decomposition. Towards this goal, we propose an unsupervised transformer-based Visual Concepts Tokenization framework, dubbed VCT, to perceive an image into a set of disentangled visual concept tokens, with each concept token responding to one type of independent visual concept. Particularly, to obtain these concept tokens, we only use cross-attention to extract visual information from the image tokens layer by layer without self-attention between concept tokens, preventing information leakage across concept tokens. We further propose a Concept Disentangling Loss to facilitate that different concept tokens represent independent visual concepts. The cross-attention and disentangling loss play the role of induction and mutual exclusion for the concept tokens, respectively. Extensive experiments on several popular datasets verify the effectiveness of VCT on the tasks of disentangled representation learning and scene decomposition. VCT achieves the state of the art results by a large margin.

Bi-directional Weakly Supervised Knowledge Distillation for Whole Slide Image Classification

Linhao Qu · xiaoyuan luo · Manning Wang · Zhijian Song

Computer-aided pathology diagnosis based on the classification of Whole Slide Image (WSI) plays an important role in clinical practice, and it is often formulated as a weakly-supervised Multiple Instance Learning (MIL) problem. Existing methods solve this problem from either a bag classification or an instance classification perspective. In this paper, we propose an end-to-end weakly supervised knowledge distillation framework (WENO) for WSI classification, which integrates a bag classifier and an instance classifier in a knowledge distillation framework to mutually improve the performance of both classifiers. Specifically, an attention-based bag classifier is used as the teacher network, which is trained with weak bag labels, and an instance classifier is used as the student network, which is trained using the normalized attention scores obtained from the teacher network as soft pseudo labels for the instances in positive bags. An instance feature extractor is shared between the teacher and the student to further enhance the knowledge exchange between them. In addition, we propose a hard positive instance mining strategy based on the output of the student network to force the teacher network to keep mining hard positive instances. WENO is a plug-and-play framework that can be easily applied to any existing attention-based bag classification methods. Extensive experiments on five datasets demonstrate the efficiency of WENO. Code is available at

HierSpeech: Bridging the Gap between Text and Speech by Hierarchical Variational Inference using Self-supervised Representations for Speech Synthesis

Sang-Hoon Lee · Seung-Bin Kim · Ji-Hyun Lee · Eunwoo Song · Min-Jae Hwang · Seong-Whan Lee

This paper presents HierSpeech, a high-quality end-to-end text-to-speech (TTS) system based on a hierarchical conditional variational autoencoder (VAE) utilizing self-supervised speech representations. Recently, single-stage TTS systems, which directly generate raw speech waveform from text, have been getting interest thanks to their ability in generating high-quality audio within a fully end-to-end training pipeline. However, there is still a room for improvement in the conventional TTS systems. Since it is challenging to infer both the linguistic and acoustic attributes from the text directly, missing the details of attributes, specifically linguistic information, is inevitable, which results in mispronunciation and over-smoothing problem in their synthetic speech. To address the aforementioned problem, we leverage self-supervised speech representations as additional linguistic representations to bridge an information gap between text and speech. Then, the hierarchical conditional VAE is adopted to connect these representations and to learn each attribute hierarchically by improving the linguistic capability in latent representations. Compared with the state-of-the-art TTS system, HierSpeech achieves +0.303 comparative mean opinion score, and reduces the phoneme error rate of synthesized speech from 9.16% to 5.78% on the VCTK dataset. Furthermore, we extend our model to HierSpeech-U, an untranscribed text-to-speech system. Specifically, HierSpeech-U can adapt to a novel speaker by utilizing self-supervised speech representations without text transcripts. The experimental results reveal that our method outperforms publicly available TTS models, and show the effectiveness of speaker adaptation with untranscribed speech.

Scaling & Shifting Your Features: A New Baseline for Efficient Model Tuning

Dongze Lian · Daquan Zhou · Jiashi Feng · Xinchao Wang

Existing fine-tuning methods either tune all parameters of the pre-trained model (full fine-tuning), which is not efficient, or only tune the last linear layer (linear probing), which suffers a significant accuracy drop compared to the full fine-tuning. In this paper, we propose a new parameter-efficient fine-tuning method termed as SSF, representing that researchers only need to Scale and Shift the deep Features extracted by a pre-trained model to catch up with the performance of full fine-tuning. In this way, SSF also surprisingly outperforms other parameter-efficient fine-tuning approaches even with a smaller number of tunable parameters. Furthermore, different from some existing parameter-efficient fine-tuning methods (e.g., Adapter or VPT) that introduce the extra parameters and computational cost in the training and inference stages, SSF only adds learnable parameters during the training stage, and these additional parameters can be merged into the original pre-trained model weights via re-parameterization in the inference phase. With the proposed SSF, our model obtains 2.46% (90.72% vs. 88.54%) and 11.48% (73.10% vs. 65.57%) performance improvement on FGVC and VTAB-1k in terms of Top-1 accuracy compared to the full fine-tuning but only fine-tuning about 0.3M parameters. We also conduct amounts of experiments in various model families (CNNs, Transformers, and MLPs) and datasets. Results on 26 image classification datasets in total and 3 robustness & out-of-distribution datasets show the effectiveness of SSF. Code is available at

Weighted Mutual Learning with Diversity-Driven Model Compression

Miao Zhang · Li Wang · David Campos · Wei Huang · Chenjuan Guo · Bin Yang

Online distillation attracts attention from the community as it simplifies the traditional two-stage knowledge distillation process into a single stage. Online distillation collaboratively trains a group of peer models, which are treated as students, and all students gain extra knowledge from each other. However, memory consumption and diversity among peers are two key challenges to the scalability and quality of online distillation. To address the two challenges, this paper presents a framework called Weighted Mutual Learning with Diversity-Driven Model Compression (WML) for online distillation. First, at the base of a hierarchical structure where peers share different parts, we leverage the structured network pruning to generate diversified peer models and reduce the memory requirements. Second, rather than taking the average of peers, this paper, for the first time, leverages a bi-level formulation to estimate the relative importance of peers with a close-form, to further boost the effectiveness of the distillation from each other. Extensive experiments show the generalization of the proposed framework, which outperforms existing online distillation methods on a variety of deep neural networks. More interesting, as a byproduct, \WML produces a series of pruned models under different model sizes in a single run, which also achieves competitive results compared with existing channel pruning methods.

Understanding Benign Overfitting in Gradient-Based Meta Learning

Lisha Chen · Songtao Lu · Tianyi Chen

Meta learning has demonstrated tremendous success in few-shot learning with limited supervised data. In those settings, the meta model is usually overparameterized. While the conventional statistical learning theory suggests that overparameterized models tend to overfit, empirical evidence reveals that overparameterized meta learning methods still work well -- a phenomenon often called ``benign overfitting.'' To understand this phenomenon, we focus on the meta learning settings with a challenging bilevel structure that we term the gradient-based meta learning, and analyze its generalization performance under an overparameterized meta linear regression model. While our analysis uses the relatively tractable linear models, our theory contributes to understanding the delicate interplay among data heterogeneity, model adaptation and benign overfitting in gradient-based meta learning tasks. We corroborate our theoretical claims through numerical simulations.

Friendly Noise against Adversarial Noise: A Powerful Defense against Data Poisoning Attack

Tian Yu Liu · Yu Yang · Baharan Mirzasoleiman

A powerful category of (invisible) data poisoning attacks modify a subset of training examples by small adversarial perturbations to change the prediction of certain test-time data. Existing defense mechanisms are not desirable to deploy in practice, as they ofteneither drastically harm the generalization performance, or are attack-specific, and prohibitively slow to apply. Here, we propose a simple but highly effective approach that unlike existing methods breaks various types of invisible poisoning attacks with the slightest drop in the generalization performance. We make the key observation that attacks introduce local sharp regions of high training loss, which when minimized, results in learning the adversarial perturbations and makes the attack successful. To break poisoning attacks, our key idea is to alleviate the sharp loss regions introduced by poisons. To do so, our approach comprises two components: an optimized friendly noise that is generated to maximally perturb examples without degrading the performance, and a randomly varying noise component. The combination of both components builds a very light-weight but extremely effective defense against the most powerful triggerless targeted and hidden-trigger backdoor poisoning attacks, including Gradient Matching, Bulls-eye Polytope, and Sleeper Agent. We show that our friendly noise is transferable to other architectures, and adaptive attacks cannot break our defense due to its random noise component.

TransTab: Learning Transferable Tabular Transformers Across Tables

Zifeng Wang · Jimeng Sun

Tabular data (or tables) are the most widely used data format in machine learning (ML). However, ML models often assume the table structure keeps fixed in training and testing. Before ML modeling, heavy data cleaning is required to merge disparate tables with different columns. This preprocessing often incurs significant data waste (e.g., removing unmatched columns and samples). How to learn ML models from multiple tables with partially overlapping columns? How to incrementally update ML models as more columns become available over time? Can we leverage model pretraining on multiple distinct tables? How to train an ML model which can predict on an unseen table? To answer all those questions, we propose to relax fixed table structures by introducing a Transferable Tabular Transformer (TransTab) for tables. The goal of TransTab is to convert each sample (a row in the table) to a generalizable embedding vector, and then apply stacked transformers for feature encoding. One methodology insight is combining column description and table cells as the raw input to a gated transformer model. The other insight is to introduce supervised and self-supervised pretraining to improve model performance. We compare TransTab with multiple baseline methods on diverse benchmark datasets and five oncology clinical trial datasets. Overall, TransTab ranks 1.00, 1.00, 1.78 out of 12 methods in supervised learning, incremental feature learning, and transfer learning scenarios, respectively; and the proposed pretraining leads to 2.3\% AUC lift on average over the supervised learning.

Federated Learning from Pre-Trained Models: A Contrastive Learning Approach

Yue Tan · Guodong Long · Jie Ma · LU LIU · Tianyi Zhou · Jing Jiang

Federated Learning (FL) is a machine learning paradigm that allows decentralized clients to learn collaboratively without sharing their private data. However, excessive computation and communication demands pose challenges to current FL frameworks, especially when training large-scale models. To prevent these issues from hindering the deployment of FL systems, we propose a lightweight framework where clients jointly learn to fuse the representations generated by multiple fixed pre-trained models rather than training a large-scale model from scratch. This leads us to a more practical FL problem by considering how to capture more client-specific and class-relevant information from the pre-trained models and jointly improve each client's ability to exploit those off-the-shelf models. Here, we design a Federated Prototype-wise Contrastive Learning (FedPCL) approach which shares knowledge across clients through their class prototypes and builds client-specific representations in a prototype-wise contrastive manner. Sharing prototypes rather than learnable model parameters allows each client to fuse the representations in a personalized way while keeping the shared knowledge in a compact form for efficient communication. We perform a thorough evaluation of the proposed FedPCL in the lightweight framework, measuring and visualizing its ability to fuse various pre-trained models on popular FL datasets.

Multi-objective Deep Data Generation with Correlated Property Control

Shiyu Wang · Xiaojie Guo · Xuanyang Lin · Bo Pan · Yuanqi Du · Yinkai Wang · Yanfang Ye · Ashley Petersen · Austin Leitgeb · Saleh Alkhalifa · Kevin Minbiole · William M. Wuest · Amarda Shehu · Liang Zhao

Developing deep generative models has been an emerging field due to the ability to model and generate complex data for various purposes, such as image synthesis and molecular design. However, the advance of deep generative models is limited by the challenges to generate objects that possess multiple desired properties because: 1) the existence of complex correlation among real-world properties is common but hard to identify; 2) controlling individual property enforces an implicit partially control of its correlated properties, which is difficult to model; 3) controlling multiple properties under variour manners simultaneously is hard and underexplored. We address these challenges by proposing a novel deep generative framework that recovers semantics and correlation of properties through disentangled latent vectors. The correlation is handled via an explainable mask pooling layer, and properties are precisely retained by the generated objects via the mutual dependence between latent vectors and properties. Our generative model preserves properties of interest while handles correlation and conflicts of properties under a multi-objective optimization framework. The experiments demonstrate our model's superior performance in generating objects with desired properties.

Learning to Sample and Aggregate: Few-shot Reasoning over Temporal Knowledge Graphs

Ruijie Wang · Zheng Li · Dachun Sun · Shengzhong Liu · Jinning Li · Bing Yin · Tarek Abdelzaher

In this paper, we investigate a realistic but underexplored problem, called few-shot temporal knowledge graph reasoning, that aims to predict future facts for newly emerging entities based on extremely limited observations in evolving graphs. It offers practical value in applications that need to derive instant new knowledge about new entities in temporal knowledge graphs (TKGs) with minimal supervision. The challenges mainly come from the few-shot and time shift properties of new entities. First, the limited observations associated with them are insufficient for training a model from scratch. Second, the potentially dynamic distributions from the initially observable facts to the future facts ask for explicitly modeling the evolving characteristics of new entities. We correspondingly propose a novel Meta Temporal Knowledge Graph Reasoning (MetaTKGR) framework. Unlike prior work that relies on rigid neighborhood aggregation schemes to enhance low-data entity representation, MetaTKGR dynamically adjusts the strategies of sampling and aggregating neighbors from recent facts for new entities, through temporally supervised signals on future facts as instant feedback. Besides, such a meta temporal reasoning procedure goes beyond existing meta-learning paradigms on static knowledge graphs that fail to handle temporal adaptation with large entity variance. We further provide a theoretical analysis and propose a temporal adaptation regularizer to stabilize the meta temporal reasoning over time. Empirically, extensive experiments on three real-world TKGs demonstrate the superiority of MetaTKGR over eight state-of-the-art baselines by a large margin.

The Policy-gradient Placement and Generative Routing Neural Networks for Chip Design

Ruoyu Cheng · Xianglong Lyu · Yang Li · Junjie Ye · Jianye Hao · Junchi Yan

Placement and routing are two critical yet time-consuming steps of chip design in modern VLSI systems. Distinct from traditional heuristic solvers, this paper on one hand proposes an RL-based model for mixed-size macro placement, which differs from existing learning-based placers that often consider the macro by coarse grid-based mask. While the standard cells are placed via gradient-based GPU acceleration. On the other hand, a one-shot conditional generative routing model, which is composed of a special-designed input-size-adapting generator and a bi-discriminator, is devised to perform one-shot routing to the pins within each net, and the order of nets to route is adaptively learned. Combining these techniques, we develop a flexible and efficient neural pipeline, which to our best knowledge, is the first joint placement and routing network without involving any traditional heuristic solver. Experimental results on chip design benchmarks showcase the effectiveness of our approach, with code that will be made publicly available.

Staircase Attention for Recurrent Processing of Sequences

Da JU · Stephen Roller · Sainbayar Sukhbaatar · Jason E Weston

Attention mechanisms have become a standard tool for sequence modeling tasks, in particular by stacking self-attention layers over the entire input sequence as in the Transformer architecture. In this work we introduce a novel attention procedure called staircase attention that, unlike self-attention, operates across the sequence (in time) recurrently processing the input by adding another step of processing. A step in the staircase comprises of backward tokens (encoding the sequence so far seen) and forward tokens (ingesting a new part of the sequence). Thus our model can trade off performance and compute, by increasing the amount of recurrence through time and depth. Staircase attention is shown to be able to solve tasks that involve tracking that conventional Transformers cannot, due to this recurrence. Further, it is shown to provide improved modeling power for the same size model (number of parameters) compared to self-attentive Transformers on large language modeling and dialogue tasks, yielding significant perplexity gains.

On the Stability and Scalability of Node Perturbation Learning

Naoki Hiratani · Yash Mehta · Timothy Lillicrap · Peter E Latham

To survive, animals must adapt synaptic weights based on external stimuli and rewards. And they must do so using local, biologically plausible, learning rules -- a highly nontrivial constraint. One possible approach is to perturb neural activity (or use intrinsic, ongoing noise to perturb it), determine whether performance increases or decreases, and use that information to adjust the weights. This algorithm -- known as node perturbation -- has been shown to work on simple problems, but little is known about either its stability or its scalability with respect to network size. We investigate these issues both analytically, in deep linear networks, and numerically, in deep nonlinear ones.We show analytically that in deep linear networks with one hidden layer, both learning time and performance depend very weakly on hidden layer size. However, unlike stochastic gradient descent, when there is model mismatch between the student and teacher networks, node perturbation is always unstable. The instability is triggered by weight diffusion, which eventually leads to very large weights. This instability can be suppressed by weight normalization, at the cost of bias in the learning rule. We confirm numerically that a similar instability, and to a lesser extent scalability, exist in deep nonlinear networks trained on both a motor control task and image classification tasks. Our study highlights the limitations and potential of node perturbation as a biologically plausible learning rule in the brain.

Unpacking Reward Shaping: Understanding the Benefits of Reward Engineering on Sample Complexity

Abhishek Gupta · Aldo Pacchiano · Yuexiang Zhai · Sham Kakade · Sergey Levine

The success of reinforcement learning in a variety of challenging sequential decision-making problems has been much discussed, but often ignored in this discussion is the consideration of how the choice of reward function affects the behavior of these algorithms. Most practical RL algorithms require copious amounts of reward engineering in order to successfully solve challenging tasks. The idea of this type of ``reward-shaping'' has been often discussed in the literature and is used in practical instantiations, but there is relatively little formal characterization of how the choice of reward shaping can yield benefits in sample complexity for RL problems. In this work, we build on the framework of novelty-based exploration to provide a simple scheme for incorporating shaped rewards into RL along with an analysis tool to show that particular choices of reward shaping provably improve sample efficiency. We characterize the class of problems where these gains are expected to be significant and show how this can be connected to practical algorithms in the literature. We show that these results hold in practice in experimental evaluations as well, providing an insight into the mechanisms through which reward shaping can significantly improve the complexity of reinforcement learning while retaining asymptotic performance.

Doubly Robust Counterfactual Classification

Kwangho Kim · Edward Kennedy · Jose Zubizarreta

We study counterfactual classification as a new tool for decision-making under hypothetical (contrary to fact) scenarios. We propose a doubly-robust nonparametric estimator for a general counterfactual classifier, where we can incorporate flexible constraints by casting the classification problem as a nonlinear mathematical program involving counterfactuals. We go on to analyze the rates of convergence of the estimator and provide a closed-form expression for its asymptotic distribution. Our analysis shows that the proposed estimator is robust against nuisance model misspecification, and can attain fast $\sqrt{n}$ rates with tractable inference even when using nonparametric machine learning approaches. We study the empirical performance of our methods by simulation and apply them for recidivism risk prediction.

PlasticityNet: Learning to Simulate Metal, Sand, and Snow for Optimization Time Integration

Xuan Li · Yadi Cao · Minchen Li · Yin Yang · Craig Schroeder · Chenfanfu Jiang

In this paper, we propose a neural network-based approach for learning to represent the behavior of plastic solid materials ranging from rubber and metal to sand and snow. Unlike elastic forces such as spring forces, these plastic forces do not result from the positional gradient of any potential energy, imposing great challenges on the stability and flexibility of their simulation. Our method effectively resolves this issue by learning a generalizable plastic energy whose derivative closely matches the analytical behavior of plastic forces. Our method, for the first time, enables the simulation of a wide range of arbitrary elasticity-plasticity combinations using time step-independent, unconditionally stable optimization-based time integrators. We demonstrate the efficacy of our method by learning and producing challenging 2D and 3D effects of metal, sand, and snow with complex dynamics.

Neural Estimation of Submodular Functions with Applications to Differentiable Subset Selection

Abir De · Soumen Chakrabarti

Submodular functions and variants, through their ability to characterize diversity and coverage, have emerged as a key tool for data selection and summarization. Many recent approaches to learn submodular functions suffer from limited expressiveness. In this work, we propose FlexSubNet, a family of flexible neural models for both monotone and non-monotone submodular functions. To fit a latent submodular function from (set, value) observations, our method applies a concave function on modular functions in a recursive manner. We do not draw the concave function from a restricted family, but rather learn from data using a highly expressive neural network that implements a differentiable quadrature procedure. Such an expressive neural model for concave functions may be of independent interest. Next, we extend this setup to provide a novel characterization of monotone $\alpha$-submodular functions, a recently introduced notion of approximate submodular functions. We then use this characterization to design a novel neural model for such functions. Finally, we consider learning submodular set functions under distant supervision in the form of (perimeter, high-value-subset) pairs. This yields a novel subset selection method based on an order-invariant, yet greedy sampler built around the above neural set functions. Our experiments on synthetic and real data show that FlexSubNet outperforms several baselines.

Leveraging Factored Action Spaces for Efficient Offline Reinforcement Learning in Healthcare

Shengpu Tang · Maggie Makar · Michael Sjoding · Finale Doshi-Velez · Jenna Wiens

Many reinforcement learning (RL) applications have combinatorial action spaces, where each action is a composition of sub-actions. A standard RL approach ignores this inherent factorization structure, resulting in a potential failure to make meaningful inferences about rarely observed sub-action combinations; this is particularly problematic for offline settings, where data may be limited. In this work, we propose a form of linear Q-function decomposition induced by factored action spaces. We study the theoretical properties of our approach, identifying scenarios where it is guaranteed to lead to zero bias when used to approximate the Q-function. Outside the regimes with theoretical guarantees, we show that our approach can still be useful because it leads to better sample efficiency without necessarily sacrificing policy optimality, allowing us to achieve a better bias-variance trade-off. Across several offline RL problems using simulators and real-world datasets motivated by healthcare, we demonstrate that incorporating factored action spaces into value-based RL can result in better-performing policies. Our approach can help an agent make more accurate inferences within underexplored regions of the state-action space when applying RL to observational datasets.

Learning to Branch with Tree MDPs

Lara Scavuzzo · Feng Chen · Didier Chetelat · Maxime Gasse · Andrea Lodi · Neil Yorke-Smith · Karen Aardal

State-of-the-art Mixed Integer Linear Programming (MILP) solvers combine systematic tree search with a plethora of hard-coded heuristics, such as branching rules. While approaches to learn branching strategies have received increasing attention and have shown very promising results, most of the literature focuses on learning fast approximations of the \emph{strong branching} rule. Instead, we propose to learn branching rules from scratch with Reinforcement Learning (RL). We revisit the work of Etheve et al. (2020) and propose a generalization of Markov Decisions Processes (MDP), which we call \emph{tree MDP}, that provides a more suitable formulation of the branching problem. We derive a policy gradient theorem for tree MDPs that exhibits a better credit assignment compared to its temporal counterpart. We demonstrate through computational experiments that this new framework is suitable to tackle the learning-to-branch problem in MILP, and improves the learning convergence.

Generalization Bounds for Stochastic Gradient Descent via Localized $\varepsilon$-Covers

Sejun Park · Umut Simsekli · Murat Erdogdu

In this paper, we propose a new covering technique localized for the trajectories of SGD. This localization provides an algorithm-specific complexity measured by the covering number, which can have dimension-independent cardinality in contrast to standard uniform covering arguments that result in exponential dimension dependency. Based on this localized construction, we show that if the objective function is a finite perturbation of a piecewise strongly convex and smooth function with $P$ pieces, i.e., non-convex and non-smooth in general, the generalization error can be upper bounded by $O(\sqrt{(\log n\log(nP))/n})$, where $n$ is the number of data samples. In particular, this rate is independent of dimension and does not require early stopping and decaying step size. Finally, we employ these results in various contexts and derive generalization bounds for multi-index linear models, multi-class support vector machines, and $K$-means clustering for both hard and soft label setups, improving the previously known state-of-the-art rates.

Global Linear and Local Superlinear Convergence of IRLS for Non-Smooth Robust Regression

Liangzu Peng · Christian Kümmerle · Rene Vidal

We advance both the theory and practice of robust $\ell_p$-quasinorm regression for $p \in (0,1]$ by using novel variants of iteratively reweighted least-squares (IRLS) to solve the underlying non-smooth problem. In the convex case, $p=1$, we prove that this IRLS variant converges globally at a linear rate under a mild, deterministic condition on the feature matrix called the stable range space property. In the non-convex case, $p\in(0,1)$, we prove that under a similar condition, IRLS converges locally to the global minimizer at a superlinear rate of order $2-p$; the rate becomes quadratic as $p\to 0$. We showcase the proposed methods in three applications: real phase retrieval, regression without correspondences, and robust face restoration. The results show that (1) IRLS can handle a larger number of outliers than other methods, (2) it is faster than competing methods at the same level of accuracy, (3) it restores a sparsely corrupted face image with satisfactory visual quality.

A Unifying Framework for Online Optimization with Long-Term Constraints

Matteo Castiglioni · Andrea Celli · Alberto Marchesi · Giulia Romano · Nicola Gatti

We study online learning problems in which a decision maker has to take a sequence of decisions subject to $m$ long-term constraints. The goal of the decision maker is to maximize their total reward, while at the same time achieving small cumulative constraints violations across the $T$ rounds. We present the first best-of-both-world type algorithm for this general class of problems, with no-regret guarantees both in the case in which rewards and constraints are selected according to an unknown stochastic model, and in the case in which they are selected at each round by an adversary. Our algorithm is the first to provide guarantees in the adversarial setting with respect to the optimal fixed strategy that satisfies the long-term constraints. In particular, it guarantees a $\rho/(1+\rho)$ fraction of the optimal utility and sublinear regret, where $\rho$ is a feasibility parameter related to the existence of strictly feasible solutions. Our framework employs traditional regret minimizers as black-box components. Therefore, by instantiating it with an appropriate choice of regret minimizers it can handle both the full-feedback as well as the bandit-feedback setting. Moreover, it allows the decision maker to seamlessly handle scenarios with non-convex reward and constraints. We show how our framework may be applied in the context of budget-management mechanisms for repeated auctions in order to guarantee long-term constraints which are not packing (e.g., ROI constraints).

Beyond IID: data-driven decision-making in heterogeneous environments

Omar Besbes · Will Ma · Omar Mouchtaki

In this work, we study data-driven decision-making and depart from the classical identically and independently distributed (i.i.d.) assumption. We present a new framework in which historical samples are generated from unknown and different distributions, which we dub \textit{heterogeneous environments}. These distributions are assumed to lie in a heterogeneity ball with known radius and centered around the (also) unknown future (out-of-sample) distribution on which the performance of a decision will be evaluated. We quantify the asymptotic worst-case regret that is achievable by central data-driven policies such as Sample Average Approximation, but also by rate-optimal ones, as a function of the radius of the heterogeneity ball. Our work shows that the type of achievable performance varies considerably across different combinations of problem classes and notions of heterogeneity. We demonstrate the versatility of our framework by comparing achievable guarantees for the heterogeneous version of widely studied data-driven problems such as pricing, ski-rental, and newsvendor. En route, we establish a new connection between data-driven decision-making and distributionally robust optimization.

Consistent Interpolating Ensembles via the Manifold-Hilbert Kernel

Yutong Wang · Clay Scott

Recent research in the theory of overparametrized learning has sought to establish generalization guarantees in the interpolating regime. Such results have been established for a few common classes of methods, but so far not for ensemble methods. We devise an ensemble classification method that simultaneously interpolates the training data, and is consistent for a broad class of data distributions. To this end, we define the manifold-Hilbert kernel for data distributed on a Riemannian manifold. We prove that kernel smoothing regression using the manifold-Hilbert kernel is weakly consistent in the setting of Devroye et al. 1998. For the sphere, we show that the manifold-Hilbert kernel can be realized as a weighted random partition kernel, which arises as an infinite ensemble of partition-based classifiers.

Optimal Efficiency-Envy Trade-Off via Optimal Transport

Steven Yin · Christian Kroer

We consider the problem of allocating a distribution of items to $n$ recipients where each recipient has to be allocated a fixed, pre-specified fraction of all items, while ensuring that each recipient does not experience too much envy. We show that this problem can be formulated as a variant of the semi-discrete optimal transport (OT) problem, whose solution structure in this case has a concise representation and a simple geometric interpretation. Unlike existing literature that treats envy-freeness as a hard constraint, our formulation allows us to \emph{optimally} trade off efficiency and envy continuously. Additionally, we study the statistical properties of the space of our OT based allocation policies by showing a polynomial bound on the number of samples needed to approximate the optimal solution from samples. Our approach is suitable for large-scale fair allocation problems such as the blood donation matching problem, and we show numerically that it performs well on a prior realistic data simulator.

On the Statistical Efficiency of Reward-Free Exploration in Non-Linear RL

Jinglin Chen · Aditya Modi · Akshay Krishnamurthy · Nan Jiang · Alekh Agarwal

We study reward-free reinforcement learning (RL) under general non-linear function approximation, and establish sample efficiency and hardness results under various standard structural assumptions. On the positive side, we propose the RFOLIVE (Reward-Free OLIVE) algorithm for sample-efficient reward-free exploration under minimal structural assumptions, which covers the previously studied settings of linear MDPs (Jin et al., 2020b), linear completeness (Zanette et al., 2020b) and low-rank MDPs with unknown representation (Modi et al., 2021). Our analyses indicate that the explorability or reachability assumptions, previously made for the latter two settings, are not necessary statistically for reward-free exploration. On the negative side, we provide a statistical hardness result for both reward-free and reward-aware exploration under linear completeness assumptions when the underlying features are unknown, showing an exponential separation between low-rank and linear completeness settings.

On the Epistemic Limits of Personalized Prediction

Lucas Monteiro Paes · Carol Long · Berk Ustun · Flavio Calmon

Machine learning models are often personalized by using group attributes that encode personal characteristics (e.g., sex, age group, HIV status). In such settings, individuals expect to receive more accurate predictions in return for disclosing group attributes to the personalized model. We study when we can tell that a personalized model upholds this principle for every group who provides personal data. We introduce a metric called the benefit of personalization (BoP) to measure the smallest gain in accuracy that any group expects to receive from a personalized model. We describe how the BoP can be used to carry out basic routines to audit a personalized model, including: (i) hypothesis tests to check that a personalized model improves performance for every group; (ii) estimation procedures to bound the minimum gain in personalization. We characterize the reliability of these routines in a finite-sample regime and present minimax bounds on both the probability of error for BoP hypothesis tests and the mean-squared error of BoP estimates. Our results show that we can only claim that personalization improves performance for each group who provides data when we explicitly limit the number of group attributes used by a personalized model. In particular, we show that it is impossible to reliably verify that a personalized classifier with $k \geq 19$ binary group attributes will benefit every group who provides personal data using a dataset of $n = 8\times10^9$ samples -- one for each person in the world.

Optimistic Posterior Sampling for Reinforcement Learning with Few Samples and Tight Guarantees

Daniil Tiapkin · Denis Belomestny · Daniele Calandriello · Eric Moulines · Remi Munos · Alexey Naumov · Mark Rowland · Michal Valko · Pierre Ménard

We consider reinforcement learning in an environment modeled by an episodic, tabular, step-dependent Markov decision process of horizon $H$ with $S$ states, and $A$ actions. The performance of an agent is measured by the regret after interacting with the environment for $T$ episodes. We propose an optimistic posterior sampling algorithm for reinforcement learning (OPSRL), a simple variant of posterior sampling that only needs a number of posterior samples logarithmic in $H$, $S$, $A$, and $T$ per state-action pair. For OPSRL we guarantee a high-probability regret bound of order at most $O(\sqrt{H^3SAT})$ ignoring $\text{poly}\log(HSAT)$ terms. The key novel technical ingredient is a new sharp anti-concentration inequality for linear forms of a Dirichlet random vector which may be of independent interest. Specifically, we extend the normal approximation-based lower bound for Beta distributions by Alfers and Dinges (1984) to Dirichlet distributions. Our bound matches the lower bound of order $\Omega(\sqrt{H^3SAT})$, thereby answering the open problems raised by Agrawal and Jia (2017) for the episodic setting.

Multi-Class $H$-Consistency Bounds

Pranjal Awasthi · Anqi Mao · Mehryar Mohri · Yutao Zhong

We present an extensive study of $H$-consistency bounds for multi-class classification. These are upper bounds on the target loss estimation error of a predictor in a hypothesis set $H$, expressed in terms of the surrogate loss estimation error of that predictor. They are stronger and more significant guarantees than Bayes-consistency, $H$-calibration or $H$-consistency, and more informative than excess error bounds derived for $H$ being the family of all measurable functions. We give a series of new $H$-consistency bounds for surrogate multi-class losses, including max losses, sum losses, and constrained losses, both in the non-adversarial and adversarial cases, and for different differentiable or convex auxiliary functions used. We also prove that no non-trivial $H$-consistency bound can be given in some cases. To our knowledge, these are the first $H$-consistency bounds proven for the multi-class setting. Our proof techniques are also novel and likely to be useful in the analysis of other such guarantees.

Debiased Machine Learning without Sample-Splitting for Stable Estimators

Qizhao Chen · Vasilis Syrgkanis · Morgane Austern

Estimation and inference on causal parameters is typically reduced to a generalized method of moments problem, which involves auxiliary functions that correspond to solutions to a regression or classification problem. Recent line of work on debiased machine learning shows how one can use generic machine learning estimators for these auxiliary problems, while maintaining asymptotic normality and root-$n$ consistency of the target parameter of interest, while only requiring mean-squared-error guarantees from the auxiliary estimation algorithms. The literature typically requires that these auxiliary problems are fitted on a separate sample or in a cross-fitting manner. We show that when these auxiliary estimation algorithms satisfy natural leave-one-out stability properties, then sample splitting is not required. This allows for sample re-use, which can be beneficial in moderately sized sample regimes. For instance, we show that the stability properties that we propose are satisfied for ensemble bagged estimators, built via sub-sampling without replacement, a popular technique in machine learning practice.

The Sample Complexity of One-Hidden-Layer Neural Networks

Gal Vardi · Ohad Shamir · Nati Srebro

We study norm-based uniform convergence bounds for neural networks, aiming at a tight understanding of how these are affected by the architecture and type of norm constraint, for the simple class of scalar-valued one-hidden-layer networks, and inputs bounded in Euclidean norm. We begin by proving that in general, controlling the spectral norm of the hidden layer weight matrix is insufficient to get uniform convergence guarantees (independent of the network width), while a stronger Frobenius norm control is sufficient, extending and improving on previous work. Motivated by the proof constructions, we identify and analyze two important settings where (perhaps surprisingly) a mere spectral norm control turns out to be sufficient: First, when the network's activation functions are sufficiently smooth (with the result extending to deeper networks); and second, for certain types of convolutional networks. In the latter setting, we study how the sample complexity is additionally affected by parameters such as the amount of overlap between patches and the overall number of patches.

coVariance Neural Networks

Saurabh Sihag · Gonzalo Mateos · Corey McMillan · Alejandro Ribeiro

Graph neural networks (GNN) are an effective framework that exploit inter-relationships within graph-structured data for learning. Principal component analysis (PCA) involves the projection of data on the eigenspace of the covariance matrix and draws similarities with the graph convolutional filters in GNNs. Motivated by this observation, we study a GNN architecture, called coVariance neural network (VNN), that operates on sample covariance matrices as graphs. We theoretically establish the stability of VNNs to perturbations in the covariance matrix, thus, implying an advantage over standard PCA-based data analysis approaches that are prone to instability due to principal components associated with close eigenvalues. Our experiments on real-world datasets validate our theoretical results and show that VNN performance is indeed more stable than PCA-based statistical approaches. Moreover, our experiments on multi-resolution datasets also demonstrate that VNNs are amenable to transferability of performance over covariance matrices of different dimensions; a feature that is infeasible for PCA-based approaches.

On the Safety of Interpretable Machine Learning: A Maximum Deviation Approach

Dennis Wei · Rahul Nair · Amit Dhurandhar · Kush Varshney · Elizabeth Daly · Moninder Singh

Interpretable and explainable machine learning has seen a recent surge of interest. We focus on safety as a key motivation behind the surge and make the relationship between interpretability and safety more quantitative. Toward assessing safety, we introduce the concept of maximum deviation via an optimization problem to find the largest deviation of a supervised learning model from a reference model regarded as safe. We then show how interpretability facilitates this safety assessment. For models including decision trees, generalized linear and additive models, the maximum deviation can be computed exactly and efficiently. For tree ensembles, which are not regarded as interpretable, discrete optimization techniques can still provide informative bounds. For a broader class of piecewise Lipschitz functions, we leverage the multi-armed bandit literature to show that interpretability produces tighter (regret) bounds on the maximum deviation. We present case studies, including one on mortgage approval, to illustrate our methods and the insights about models that may be obtained from deviation maximization.

Learning from Few Samples: Transformation-Invariant SVMs with Composition and Locality at Multiple Scales

Tao Liu · P. R. Kumar · Ruida Zhou · Xi Liu

Motivated by the problem of learning with small sample sizes, this paper shows how to incorporate into support-vector machines (SVMs) those properties that have made convolutional neural networks (CNNs) successful. Particularly important is the ability to incorporate domain knowledge of invariances, e.g., translational invariance of images. Kernels based on the \textit{maximum} similarity over a group of transformations are not generally positive definite. Perhaps it is for this reason that they have not been studied theoretically. We address this lacuna and show that positive definiteness indeed holds \textit{with high probability} for kernels based on the maximum similarity in the small training sample set regime of interest, and that they do yield the best results in that regime. We also show how additional properties such as their ability to incorporate local features at multiple spatial scales, e.g., as done in CNNs through max pooling, and to provide the benefits of composition through the architecture of multiple layers, can also be embedded into SVMs. We verify through experiments on widely available image sets that the resulting SVMs do provide superior accuracy in comparison to well-established deep neural network benchmarks for small sample sizes.

Adaptive Data Debiasing through Bounded Exploration

Yifan Yang · Yang Liu · Parinaz Naghizadeh

Biases in existing datasets used to train algorithmic decision rules can raise ethical and economic concerns due to the resulting disparate treatment of different groups. We propose an algorithm for sequentially debiasing such datasets through adaptive and bounded exploration in a classification problem with costly and censored feedback. Exploration in this context means that at times, and to a judiciously-chosen extent, the decision maker deviates from its (current) loss-minimizing rule, and instead accepts some individuals that would otherwise be rejected, so as to reduce statistical data biases. Our proposed algorithm includes parameters that can be used to balance between the ultimate goal of removing data biases -- which will in turn lead to more accurate and fair decisions, and the exploration risks incurred to achieve this goal. We analytically show that such exploration can help debias data in certain distributions. We further investigate how fairness criteria can work in conjunction with our data debiasing algorithm. We illustrate the performance of our algorithm using experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets.

Enhancing Safe Exploration Using Safety State Augmentation

Aivar Sootla · Alexander Cowen-Rivers · Jun Wang · Haitham Bou Ammar

Safe exploration is a challenging and important problem in model-free reinforcement learning (RL). Often the safety cost is sparse and unknown, which unavoidably leads to constraint violations - a phenomenon ideally to be avoided in safety-critical applications. We tackle this problem by augmenting the state-space with a safety state, which is nonnegative if and only if the constraint is satisfied. The value of this state also serves as a distance toward constraint violation, while its initial value indicates the available safety budget. This idea allows us to derive policies for scheduling the safety budget during training. We call our approach Simmer (Safe policy IMproveMEnt for RL) to reflect the careful nature of these schedules. We apply this idea to two safe RL problems: RL with constraints imposed on an average cost, and RL with constraints imposed on a cost with probability one. Our experiments suggest that "simmering" a safe algorithm can improve safety during training for both settings. We further show that Simmer can stabilize training and improve the performance of safe RL with average constraints.

Leveraging the Hints: Adaptive Bidding in Repeated First-Price Auctions

Wei Zhang · Yanjun Han · Zhengyuan Zhou · Aaron Flores · Tsachy Weissman

With the advent and increasing consolidation of e-commerce, digital advertising has very recently replaced traditional advertising as the main marketing force in the economy. In the past four years, a particularly important development in the digital advertising industry is the shift from second-price auctions to first-price auctions for online display ads. This shift immediately motivated the intellectually challenging question of how to bid in first-price auctions, because unlike in second-price auctions, bidding one's private value truthfully is no longer optimal. Following a series of recent works in this area, we consider a differentiated setup: we do not make any assumption about other bidders' maximum bid (i.e. it can be adversarial over time), and instead assume that we have access to a hint that serves as a prediction of other bidders' maximum bid, where the prediction is learned through some blackbox machine learning model. We consider two types of hints: one where a single point-prediction is available, and the other where a hint interval (representing a type of confidence region into which others' maximum bid falls) is available. We establish minimax optimal regret bounds for both cases and highlight the quantitatively different behavior between the two settings. We also provide improved regret bounds when the others' maximum bid exhibits the further structure of sparsity. Finally, we complement the theoretical results with demonstrations using real bidding data.

Off-Policy Evaluation for Action-Dependent Non-stationary Environments

Yash Chandak · Shiv Shankar · Nathaniel Bastian · Bruno da Silva · Emma Brunskill · Philip Thomas

Methods for sequential decision-making are often built upon a foundational assumption that the underlying decision process is stationary. This limits the application of such methods because real-world problems are often subject to changes due to external factors (\textit{passive} non-stationarity), changes induced by interactions with the system itself (\textit{active} non-stationarity), or both (\textit{hybrid} non-stationarity). In this work, we take the first steps towards the fundamental challenge of on-policy and off-policy evaluation amidst structured changes due to active, passive, or hybrid non-stationarity. Towards this goal, we make a \textit{higher-order stationarity} assumption such that non-stationarity results in changes over time, but the way changes happen is fixed. We propose, OPEN, an algorithm that uses a double application of counterfactual reasoning and a novel importance-weighted instrument-variable regression to obtain both a lower bias and a lower variance estimate of the structure in the changes of a policy's past performances. Finally, we show promising results on how OPEN can be used to predict future performances for several domains inspired by real-world applications that exhibit non-stationarity.

Lower Bounds and Nearly Optimal Algorithms in Distributed Learning with Communication Compression

Xinmeng Huang · Yiming Chen · Wotao Yin · Kun Yuan

Recent advances in distributed optimization and learning have shown that communication compression is one of the most effective means of reducing communication. While there have been many results for convergence rates with compressed communication, a lower bound is still missing.Analyses of algorithms with communication compression have identified two abstract properties that guarantee convergence: the unbiased property or the contractive property. They can be applied either unidirectionally (compressing messages from worker to server) or bidirectionally. In the smooth and non-convex stochastic regime, this paper establishes a lower bound for distributed algorithms whether using unbiased or contractive compressors in unidirection or bidirection. To close the gap between this lower bound and the best existing upper bound, we further propose an algorithm, NEOLITHIC, that almost reaches our lower bound (except for a logarithm factor) under mild conditions. Our results also show that using contractive compressors in bidirection can yield iterative methods that converge as fast as those using unbiased compressors unidirectionally. We report experimental results that validate our findings.

Bounding and Approximating Intersectional Fairness through Marginal Fairness

Mathieu Molina · Patrick Loiseau

Discrimination in machine learning often arises along multiple dimensions (a.k.a. protected attributes); it is then desirable to ensure \emph{intersectional fairness}---i.e., that no subgroup is discriminated against. It is known that ensuring \emph{marginal fairness} for every dimension independently is not sufficient in general. Due to the exponential number of subgroups, however, directly measuring intersectional fairness from data is impossible. In this paper, our primary goal is to understand in detail the relationship between marginal and intersectional fairness through statistical analysis. We first identify a set of sufficient conditions under which an exact relationship can be obtained. Then, we prove bounds (easily computable through marginal fairness and other meaningful statistical quantities) in high-probability on intersectional fairness in the general case. Beyond their descriptive value, we show that these theoretical bounds can be leveraged to derive a heuristic improving the approximation and bounds of intersectional fairness by choosing, in a relevant manner, protected attributes for which we describe intersectional subgroups. Finally, we test the performance of our approximations and bounds on real and synthetic data-sets.

Brownian Noise Reduction: Maximizing Privacy Subject to Accuracy Constraints

Justin Whitehouse · Aaditya Ramdas · Steven Wu · Ryan Rogers

There is a disconnect between how researchers and practitioners handle privacy-utility tradeoffs. Researchers primarily operate from a privacy first perspective, setting strict privacy requirements and minimizing risk subject to these constraints. Practitioners often desire an accuracy first perspective, possibly satisfied with the greatest privacy they can get subject to obtaining sufficiently small error. Ligett et al. have introduced a `"noise reduction" algorithm to address the latter perspective. The authors show that by adding correlated Laplace noise and progressively reducing it on demand, it is possible to produce a sequence of increasingly accurate estimates of a private parameter and only pay a privacy cost for the least noisy iterate released. In this work, we generalize noise reduction to the setting of Gaussian noise, introducing the Brownian mechanism. The Brownian mechanism works by first adding Gaussian noise of high variance corresponding to the final point of a simulated Brownian motion. Then, at the practitioner's discretion, noise is gradually decreased by tracing back along the Brownian path to an earlier time. Our mechanism is more naturally applicable to the common setting of bounded $\ell_2$-sensitivity, empirically outperforms existing work on common statistical tasks, and provides customizable control of privacy loss over the entire interaction with the practitioner. We complement our Brownian mechanism with ReducedAboveThreshold, a generalization of the classical AboveThreshold algorithm that provides adaptive privacy guarantees. Overall, our results demonstrate that one can meet utility constraints while still maintaining strong levels of privacy.

Asynchronous SGD Beats Minibatch SGD Under Arbitrary Delays

Konstantin Mishchenko · Francis Bach · Mathieu Even · Blake Woodworth

The existing analysis of asynchronous stochastic gradient descent (SGD) degrades dramatically when any delay is large, giving the impression that performance depends primarily on the delay. On the contrary, we prove much better guarantees for the same asynchronous SGD algorithm regardless of the delays in the gradients, depending instead just on the number of parallel devices used to implement the algorithm. Our guarantees are strictly better than the existing analyses, and we also argue that asynchronous SGD outperforms synchronous minibatch SGD in the settings we consider. For our analysis, we introduce a novel recursion based on ``virtual iterates'' and delay-adaptive stepsizes, which allow us to derive state-of-the-art guarantees for both convex and non-convex objectives.

A Reduction to Binary Approach for Debiasing Multiclass Datasets

Ibrahim Alabdulmohsin · Jessica Schrouff · Sanmi Koyejo

We propose a novel reduction-to-binary (R2B) approach that enforces demographic parity for multiclass classification with non-binary sensitive attributes via a reduction to a sequence of binary debiasing tasks. We prove that R2B satisfies optimality and bias guarantees and demonstrate empirically that it can lead to an improvement over two baselines: (1) treating multiclass problems as multi-label by debiasing labels independently and (2) transforming the features instead of the labels. Surprisingly, we also demonstrate that independent label debiasing yields competitive results in most (but not all) settings. We validate these conclusions on synthetic and real-world datasets from social science, computer vision, and healthcare.

Post-hoc estimators for learning to defer to an expert

Harikrishna Narasimhan · Wittawat Jitkrittum · Aditya Menon · Ankit Rawat · Sanjiv Kumar

Many practical settings allow a learner to defer predictions to one or more costly experts. For example, the learning to defer paradigm allows a learner to defer to a human expert, at some monetary cost. Similarly, the adaptive inference paradigm allows a base model to defer to one or more large models, at some computational cost. The goal in these settings is to learn classification and deferral mechanisms to optimise a suitable accuracy-cost tradeoff. To achieve this, a central issue studied in prior work is the design of a coherent loss function for both mechanisms. In this work, we demonstrate that existing losses have two subtle limitations: they can encourage underfitting when there is a high cost of deferring, and the deferral function can have a weak dependence on the base model predictions. To resolve these issues, we propose a post-hoc training scheme: we train a deferral function on top of a base model, with the objective of predicting to defer when the base model's error probability exceeds the cost of the expert model. This may be viewed as applying a partial surrogate to the ideal deferral loss, which can lead to a tighter approximation and thus better performance. Empirically, we verify the efficacy of post-hoc training on benchmarks for learning to defer and adaptive inference.

A Closer Look at Learned Optimization: Stability, Robustness, and Inductive Biases

James Harrison · Luke Metz · Jascha Sohl-Dickstein

Learned optimizers---neural networks that are trained to act as optimizers---have the potential to dramatically accelerate training of machine learning models. However, even when meta-trained across thousands of tasks at huge computational expense, blackbox learned optimizers often struggle with stability and generalization when applied to tasks unlike those in their meta-training set. In this paper, we use tools from dynamical systems to investigate the inductive biases and stability properties of optimization algorithms, and apply the resulting insights to designing inductive biases for blackbox optimizers. Our investigation begins with a noisy quadratic model, where we characterize conditions in which optimization is stable, in terms of eigenvalues of the training dynamics. We then introduce simple modifications to a learned optimizer's architecture and meta-training procedure which lead to improved stability, and improve the optimizer's inductive bias. We apply the resulting learned optimizer to a variety of neural network training tasks, where it outperforms the current state of the art learned optimizer---at matched optimizer computational overhead---with regard to optimization performance and meta-training speed, and is capable of generalization to tasks far different from those it was meta-trained on.

The Power and Limitation of Pretraining-Finetuning for Linear Regression under Covariate Shift

Jingfeng Wu · Difan Zou · Vladimir Braverman · Quanquan Gu · Sham Kakade

We study linear regression under covariate shift, where the marginal distribution over the input covariates differs in the source and the target domains, while the conditional distribution of the output given the input covariates is similar across the two domains. We investigate a transfer learning approach with pretraining on the source data and finetuning based on the target data (both conducted by online SGD) for this problem. We establish sharp instance-dependent excess risk upper and lower bounds for this approach. Our bounds suggest that for a large class of linear regression instances, transfer learning with $O(N^2)$ source data (and scarce or no target data) is as effective as supervised learning with $N$ target data. In addition, we show that finetuning, even with only a small amount of target data, could drastically reduce the amount of source data required by pretraining. Our theory sheds light on the effectiveness and limitation of pretraining as well as the benefits of finetuning for tackling covariate shift problems.

Policy Gradient With Serial Markov Chain Reasoning

Edoardo Cetin · Oya Celiktutan

We introduce a new framework that performs decision-making in reinforcement learning (RL) as an iterative reasoning process. We model agent behavior as the steady-state distribution of a parameterized reasoning Markov chain (RMC), optimized with a new tractable estimate of the policy gradient. We perform action selection by simulating the RMC for enough reasoning steps to approach its steady-state distribution. We show our framework has several useful properties that are inherently missing from traditional RL. For instance, it allows agent behavior to approximate any continuous distribution over actions by parameterizing the RMC with a simple Gaussian transition function. Moreover, the number of reasoning steps to reach convergence can scale adaptively with the difficulty of each action selection decision and can be accelerated by re-using past solutions. Our resulting algorithm achieves state-of-the-art performance in popular Mujoco and DeepMind Control benchmarks, both for proprioceptive and pixel-based tasks.

Outstanding Paper
Beyond neural scaling laws: beating power law scaling via data pruning

Ben Sorscher · Robert Geirhos · Shashank Shekhar · Surya Ganguli · Ari Morcos

Widely observed neural scaling laws, in which error falls off as a power of the training set size, model size, or both, have driven substantial performance improvements in deep learning. However, these improvements through scaling alone require considerable costs in compute and energy. Here we focus on the scaling of error with dataset size and show how in theory we can break beyond power law scaling and potentially even reduce it to exponential scaling instead if we have access to a high-quality data pruning metric that ranks the order in which training examples should be discarded to achieve any pruned dataset size. We then test this improved scaling prediction with pruned dataset size empirically, and indeed observe better than power law scaling in practice on ResNets trained on CIFAR-10, SVHN, and ImageNet. Next, given the importance of finding high-quality pruning metrics, we perform the first large-scale benchmarking study of ten different data pruning metrics on ImageNet. We find most existing high performing metrics scale poorly to ImageNet, while the best are computationally intensive and require labels for every image. We therefore developed a new simple, cheap and scalable self-supervised pruning metric that demonstrates comparable performance to the best supervised metrics. Overall, our work suggests that the discovery of good data-pruning metrics may provide a viable path forward to substantially improved neural scaling laws, thereby reducing the resource costs of modern deep learning.

Left Heavy Tails and the Effectiveness of the Policy and Value Networks in DNN-based best-first search for Sokoban Planning

Dieqiao Feng · Carla Gomes · Bart Selman

Despite the success of practical solvers in various NP-complete domains such as SAT and CSP as well as using deep reinforcement learning to tackle two-player games such as Go, certain classes of PSPACE-hard planning problems have remained out of reach. Even carefully designed domain-specialized solvers can fail quickly due to the exponential search space on hard instances. Recent works that combine traditional search methods, such as best-first search and Monte Carlo tree search, with Deep Neural Networks' (DNN) heuristics have shown promising progress and can solve a significant number of hard planning instances beyond specialized solvers. To better understand why these approaches work, we studied the interplay of the policy and value networks of DNN-based best-first search on Sokoban and show the surprising effectiveness of the policy network, further enhanced by the value network, as a guiding heuristic for the search. To further understand the phenomena, we studied the cost distribution of the search algorithms and found that Sokoban instances can have heavy-tailed runtime distributions, with tails both on the left and right-hand sides. In particular, for the first time, we show the existence of \textit{left heavy tails} and propose an abstract tree model that can empirically explain the appearance of these tails. The experiments show the critical role of the policy network as a powerful heuristic guiding the search, which can lead to left heavy tails with polynomial scaling by avoiding exploring exponentially sized subtrees. Our results also demonstrate the importance of random restarts, as are widely used in traditional combinatorial solvers, for DNN-based search methods to avoid left and right heavy tails.

Uncertainty-Aware Reinforcement Learning for Risk-Sensitive Player Evaluation in Sports Game

Guiliang Liu · Yudong Luo · Oliver Schulte · Pascal Poupart

A major task of sports analytics is player evaluation. Previous methods commonly measured the impact of players' actions on desirable outcomes (e.g., goals or winning) without considering the risk induced by stochastic game dynamics. In this paper, we design an uncertainty-aware Reinforcement Learning (RL) framework to learn a risk-sensitive player evaluation metric from stochastic game dynamics. To embed the risk of a player’s movements into the distribution of action-values, we model their 1) aleatoric uncertainty, which represents the intrinsic stochasticity in a sports game, and 2) epistemic uncertainty, which is due to a model's insufficient knowledge regarding Out-of-Distribution (OoD) samples. We demonstrate how a distributional Bellman operator and a feature-space density model can capture these uncertainties. Based on such uncertainty estimation, we propose a Risk-sensitive Game Impact Metric (RiGIM) that measures players' performance over a season by conditioning on a specific confidence level. Empirical evaluation, based on over 9M play-by-play ice hockey and soccer events, shows that RiGIM correlates highly with standard success measures and has a consistent risk sensitivity.

Structure-Aware Image Segmentation with Homotopy Warping

Xiaoling Hu

Besides per-pixel accuracy, topological correctness is also crucial for the segmentation of images with fine-scale structures, e.g., satellite images and biomedical images. In this paper, by leveraging the theory of digital topology, we identify pixels in an image that are critical for topology. By focusing on these critical pixels, we propose a new \textbf{homotopy warping loss} to train deep image segmentation networks for better topological accuracy. To efficiently identify these topologically critical pixels, we propose a new algorithm exploiting the distance transform. The proposed algorithm, as well as the loss function, naturally generalize to different topological structures in both 2D and 3D settings. The proposed loss function helps deep nets achieve better performance in terms of topology-aware metrics, outperforming state-of-the-art structure/topology-aware segmentation methods.

PhysGNN: A Physics--Driven Graph Neural Network Based Model for Predicting Soft Tissue Deformation in Image--Guided Neurosurgery

Yasmin Salehi · Dennis Giannacopoulos

Correctly capturing intraoperative brain shift in image-guided neurosurgical procedures is a critical task for aligning preoperative data with intraoperative geometry for ensuring accurate surgical navigation. While the finite element method (FEM) is a proven technique to effectively approximate soft tissue deformation through biomechanical formulations, their degree of success boils down to a trade-off between accuracy and speed. To circumvent this problem, the most recent works in this domain have proposed leveraging data-driven models obtained by training various machine learning algorithms---e.g., random forests, artificial neural networks (ANNs)---with the results of finite element analysis (FEA) to speed up tissue deformation approximations by prediction. These methods, however, do not account for the structure of the finite element (FE) mesh during training that provides information on node connectivities as well as the distance between them, which can aid with approximating tissue deformation based on the proximity of force load points with the rest of the mesh nodes. Therefore, this work proposes a novel framework, PhysGNN, a data-driven model that approximates the solution of the FEM by leveraging graph neural networks (GNNs), which are capable of accounting for the mesh structural information and inductive learning over unstructured grids and complex topological structures. Empirically, we demonstrate that the proposed architecture, PhysGNN, promises accurate and fast soft tissue deformation approximations, and is competitive with the state-of-the-art (SOTA) algorithms while promising enhanced computational feasibility, therefore suitable for neurosurgical settings.

Generating Long Videos of Dynamic Scenes

Tim Brooks · Janne Hellsten · Miika Aittala · Ting-Chun Wang · Timo Aila · Jaakko Lehtinen · Ming-Yu Liu · Alexei Efros · Tero Karras

We present a video generation model that accurately reproduces object motion, changes in camera viewpoint, and new content that arises over time. Existing video generation methods often fail to produce new content as a function of time while maintaining consistencies expected in real environments, such as plausible dynamics and object persistence. A common failure case is for content to never change due to over-reliance on inductive bias to provide temporal consistency, such as a single latent code that dictates content for the entire video. On the other extreme, without long-term consistency, generated videos may morph unrealistically between different scenes. To address these limitations, we prioritize the time axis by redesigning the temporal latent representation and learning long-term consistency from data by training on longer videos. We leverage a two-phase training strategy, where we separately train using longer videos at a low resolution and shorter videos at a high resolution. To evaluate the capabilities of our model, we introduce two new benchmark datasets with explicit focus on long-term temporal dynamics.

Rethinking Individual Global Max in Cooperative Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

Yitian Hong · Yaochu Jin · Yang Tang

In cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning, centralized training and decentralized execution (CTDE) has achieved remarkable success. Individual Global Max (IGM) decomposition, which is an important element of CTDE, measures the consistency between local and joint policies. The majority of IGM-based research focuses on how to establish this consistent relationship, but little attention has been paid to examining IGM's potential flaws. In this work, we reveal that the IGM condition is a lossy decomposition, and the error of lossy decomposition will accumulated in hypernetwork-based methods. To address the above issue, we propose to adopt an imitation learning strategy to separate the lossy decomposition from Bellman iterations, thereby avoiding error accumulation. The proposed strategy is theoretically proved and empirically verified on the StarCraft Multi-Agent Challenge benchmark problem with zero sight view. The results also confirm that the proposed method outperforms state-of-the-art IGM-based approaches.

Towards Reasonable Budget Allocation in Untargeted Graph Structure Attacks via Gradient Debias

Zihan Liu · Yun Luo · Lirong Wu · Zicheng Liu · Stan Z. Li

It has become cognitive inertia to employ cross-entropy loss function in classification related tasks. In the untargeted attacks on graph structure, the gradients derived from the attack objective are the attacker's basis for evaluating a perturbation scheme. Previous methods use negative cross-entropy loss as the attack objective in attacking node-level classification models. However, the suitability of the cross-entropy function for constructing the untargeted attack objective has yet been discussed in previous works. This paper argues about the previous unreasonable attack objective from the perspective of budget allocation. We demonstrate theoretically and empirically that negative cross-entropy tends to produce more significant gradients from nodes with lower confidence in the labeled classes, even if the predicted classes of these nodes have been misled. To free up these inefficient attack budgets, we propose a simple attack model for untargeted attacks on graph structure based on a novel attack objective which generates unweighted gradients on graph structures that are not affected by the node confidence. By conducting experiments in gray-box poisoning attack scenarios, we demonstrate that a reasonable budget allocation can significantly improve the effectiveness of gradient-based edge perturbations without any extra hyper-parameter.

SInGE: Sparsity via Integrated Gradients Estimation of Neuron Relevance

Edouard YVINEC · Arnaud Dapogny · Matthieu Cord · Kevin Bailly

The leap in performance in state-of-the-art computer vision methods is attributed to the development of deep neural networks. However it often comes at a computational price which may hinder their deployment. To alleviate this limitation, structured pruning is a well known technique which consists in removing channels, neurons or filters, and is commonly applied in order to produce more compact models. In most cases, the computations to remove are selected based on a relative importance criterion. At the same time, the need for explainable predictive models has risen tremendously and motivated the development of robust attribution methods that highlight the relative importance of pixels of an input image or feature map. In this work, we discuss the limitations of existing pruning heuristics, among which magnitude and gradient-based methods. We draw inspiration from attribution methods to design a novel integrated gradient pruning criterion, in which the relevance of each neuron is defined as the integral of the gradient variation on a path towards this neuron removal. Furthermore, We propose an entwined DNN pruning and fine-tuning flowchart to better preserve DNN accuracy while removing parameters. We show through extensive validation on several datasets, architectures as well as pruning scenarios that the proposed method, dubbed SInGE, significantly outperforms existing state-of-the-art DNN pruning methods.

Learning to Drop Out: An Adversarial Approach to Training Sequence VAEs

Djordje Miladinovic · Kumar Shridhar · Kushal Jain · Max Paulus · Joachim M Buhmann · Carl Allen

In principle, applying variational autoencoders (VAEs) to sequential data offers a method for controlled sequence generation, manipulation, and structured representation learning. However, training sequence VAEs is challenging: autoregressive decoders can often explain the data without utilizing the latent space, known as posterior collapse. To mitigate this, state-of-the-art models weaken' thepowerful decoder' by applying uniformly random dropout to the decoder input.We show theoretically that this removes pointwise mutual information provided by the decoder input, which is compensated for by utilizing the latent space. We then propose an adversarial training strategy to achieve information-based stochastic dropout. Compared to uniform dropout on standard text benchmark datasets, our targeted approach increases both sequence modeling performance and the information captured in the latent space.

Torsional Diffusion for Molecular Conformer Generation

Bowen Jing · Gabriele Corso · Jeffrey Chang · Regina Barzilay · Tommi Jaakkola

Molecular conformer generation is a fundamental task in computational chemistry. Several machine learning approaches have been developed, but none have outperformed state-of-the-art cheminformatics methods. We propose torsional diffusion, a novel diffusion framework that operates on the space of torsion angles via a diffusion process on the hypertorus and an extrinsic-to-intrinsic score model. On a standard benchmark of drug-like molecules, torsional diffusion generates superior conformer ensembles compared to machine learning and cheminformatics methods in terms of both RMSD and chemical properties, and is orders of magnitude faster than previous diffusion-based models. Moreover, our model provides exact likelihoods, which we employ to build the first generalizable Boltzmann generator. Code is available at

Personalized Online Federated Learning with Multiple Kernels

Pouya M. Ghari · Yanning Shen

Multi-kernel learning (MKL) exhibits well-documented performance in online non-linear function approximation. Federated learning enables a group of learners (called clients) to train an MKL model on the data distributed among clients to perform online non-linear function approximation. There are some challenges in online federated MKL that need to be addressed: i) Communication efficiency especially when a large number of kernels are considered ii) Heterogeneous data distribution among clients. The present paper develops an algorithmic framework to enable clients to communicate with the server to send their updates with affordable communication cost while clients employ a large dictionary of kernels. Utilizing random feature (RF) approximation, the present paper proposes scalable online federated MKL algorithm. We prove that using the proposed online federated MKL algorithm, each client enjoys sub-linear regret with respect to the RF approximation of its best kernel in hindsight, which indicates that the proposed algorithm can effectively deal with heterogeneity of the data distributed among clients. Experimental results on real datasets showcase the advantages of the proposed algorithm compared with other online federated kernel learning ones.

Normalizing Flows for Knockoff-free Controlled Feature Selection

Derek Hansen · Brian Manzo · Jeffrey Regier

Controlled feature selection aims to discover the features a response depends on while limiting the false discovery rate (FDR) to a predefined level. Recently, multiple deep-learning-based methods have been proposed to perform controlled feature selection through the Model-X knockoff framework. We demonstrate, however, that these methods often fail to control the FDR for two reasons. First, these methods often learn inaccurate models of features. Second, the "swap" property, which is required for knockoffs to be valid, is often not well enforced. We propose a new procedure called FlowSelect to perform controlled feature selection that does not suffer from either of these two problems. To more accurately model the features, FlowSelect uses normalizing flows, the state-of-the-art method for density estimation. Instead of enforcing the "swap" property, FlowSelect uses a novel MCMC-based procedure to calculate p-values for each feature directly. Asymptotically, FlowSelect computes valid p-values. Empirically, FlowSelect consistently controls the FDR on both synthetic and semi-synthetic benchmarks, whereas competing knockoff-based approaches do not. FlowSelect also demonstrates greater power on these benchmarks. Additionally, FlowSelect correctly infers the genetic variants associated with specific soybean traits from GWAS data.

Efficiency Ordering of Stochastic Gradient Descent

Jie Hu · Vishwaraj Doshi · Do-Young Eun

We consider the stochastic gradient descent (SGD) algorithm driven by a general stochastic sequence, including i.i.d noise and random walk on an arbitrary graph, among others; and analyze it in the asymptotic sense. Specifically, we employ the notion of `efficiency ordering', a well-analyzed tool for comparing the performance of Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) samplers, for SGD algorithms in the form of Loewner ordering of covariance matrices associated with the scaled iterate errors in the long term. Using this ordering, we show that input sequences that are more efficient for MCMC sampling also lead to smaller covariance of the errors for SGD algorithms in the limit. This also suggests that an arbitrarily weighted MSE of SGD iterates in the limit becomes smaller when driven by more efficient chains. Our finding is of particular interest in applications such as decentralized optimization and swarm learning, where SGD is implemented in a random walk fashion on the underlying communication graph for cost issues and/or data privacy. We demonstrate how certain non-Markovian processes, for which typical mixing-time based non-asymptotic bounds are intractable, can outperform their Markovian counterparts in the sense of efficiency ordering for SGD. We show the utility of our method by applying it to gradient descent with shuffling and mini-batch gradient descent, reaffirming key results from existing literature under a unified framework. Empirically, we also observe efficiency ordering for variants of SGD such as accelerated SGD and Adam, open up the possibility of extending our notion of efficiency ordering to a broader family of stochastic optimization algorithms.

Learning Bipartite Graphs: Heavy Tails and Multiple Components

José Vinícius de Miranda Cardoso · Jiaxi Ying · Daniel Palomar

We investigate the problem of learning an undirected, weighted bipartite graph under the Gaussian Markov random field model, for which we present an optimization formulation along with an efficient algorithm based on the projected gradient descent. Motivated by practical applications, where outliers or heavy-tailed events are present, we extend the proposed learning scheme to the case in which the data follow a multivariate Student-$t$ distribution. As a result, the optimization program is no longer convex, but a verifiably convergent iterative algorithm is proposed based on the majorization-minimization framework. Finally, we propose an efficient and provably convergent algorithm for learning $k$-component bipartite graphs that leverages rank constraints of the underlying graph Laplacian matrix. The proposed estimators outperform state-of-the-art methods for bipartite graph learning, as evidenced by real-world experiments using financial time series data.

Batch Bayesian optimisation via density-ratio estimation with guarantees

Rafael Oliveira · Louis Tiao · Fabio Ramos

Bayesian optimisation (BO) algorithms have shown remarkable success in applications involving expensive black-box functions. Traditionally BO has been set as a sequential decision-making process which estimates the utility of query points via an acquisition function and a prior over functions, such as a Gaussian process. Recently, however, a reformulation of BO via density-ratio estimation (BORE) allowed reinterpreting the acquisition function as a probabilistic binary classifier, removing the need for an explicit prior over functions and increasing scalability. In this paper, we present a theoretical analysis of BORE's regret and an extension of the algorithm with improved uncertainty estimates. We also show that BORE can be naturally extended to a batch optimisation setting by recasting the problem as approximate Bayesian inference. The resulting algorithms come equipped with theoretical performance guarantees and are assessed against other batch and sequential BO baselines in a series of experiments.

Discovery of Single Independent Latent Variable

Uri Shaham · Jonathan Svirsky · Ori Katz · Ronen Talmon

Latent variable discovery is a central problem in data analysis with a broad range of applications in applied science.In this work, we consider data given as an invertible mixture of two statistically independent components, and assume that one of the components is observed while the other is hidden. Our goal is to recover the hidden component.For this purpose, we propose an autoencoder equipped with a discriminator.Unlike the standard nonlinear ICA problem, which was shown to be non-identifiable, in the special case of ICA we consider here, we show that our approach can recover the component of interest up to entropy-preserving transformation.We demonstrate the performance of the proposed approach in several tasks, including image synthesis, voice cloning, and fetal ECG extraction.

Self-Similarity Priors: Neural Collages as Differentiable Fractal Representations

Michael Poli · Winnie Xu · Stefano Massaroli · Chenlin Meng · Kuno Kim · Stefano Ermon

Many patterns in nature exhibit self-similarity: they can be compactly described via self-referential transformations. Said patterns commonly appear in natural and artificial objects, such as molecules, shorelines, galaxies, and even images. In this work, we investigate the role of learning in the automated discovery of self-similarity and in its utilization for downstream tasks. To this end, we design a novel class of implicit operators, Neural Collages, which (1) represent data as the parameters of a self-referential, structured transformation, and (2) employ hypernetworks to amortize the cost of finding these parameters to a single forward pass. We detail how to leverage the representations produced by Neural Collages in various tasks, including data compression and generation. Neural Collage image compressors are orders of magnitude faster than other self-similarity-based algorithms during encoding and offer compression rates competitive with implicit methods. Finally, we showcase applications of Neural Collages for fractal art and as deep generative models.

Graph Coloring via Neural Networks for Haplotype Assembly and Viral Quasispecies Reconstruction

Hansheng Xue · Vaibhav Rajan · Yu Lin

Understanding genetic variation, e.g., through mutations, in organisms is crucial to unravel their effects on the environment and human health. A fundamental characterization can be obtained by solving the haplotype assembly problem, which yields the variation across multiple copies of chromosomes. Variations among fast evolving viruses that lead to different strains (called quasispecies) are also deciphered with similar approaches. In both these cases, high-throughput sequencing technologies that provide oversampled mixtures of large noisy fragments (reads) of genomes, are used to infer constituent components (haplotypes or quasispecies). The problem is harder for polyploid species where there are more than two copies of chromosomes. State-of-the-art neural approaches to solve this NP-hard problem do not adequately model relations among the reads that are important for deconvolving the input signal. We address this problem by developing a new method, called NeurHap, that combines graph representation learning with combinatorial optimization. Our experiments demonstrate the substantially better performance of NeurHap in real and synthetic datasets compared to competing approaches.

Better Uncertainty Calibration via Proper Scores for Classification and Beyond

Sebastian Gruber · Florian Buettner

With model trustworthiness being crucial for sensitive real-world applications, practitioners are putting more and more focus on improving the uncertainty calibration of deep neural networks.Calibration errors are designed to quantify the reliability of probabilistic predictions but their estimators are usually biased and inconsistent.In this work, we introduce the framework of \textit{proper calibration errors}, which relates every calibration error to a proper score and provides a respective upper bound with optimal estimation properties.This relationship can be used to reliably quantify the model calibration improvement.We theoretically and empirically demonstrate the shortcomings of commonly used estimators compared to our approach.Due to the wide applicability of proper scores, this gives a natural extension of recalibration beyond classification.

Invariance Learning in Deep Neural Networks with Differentiable Laplace Approximations

Alexander Immer · Tycho van der Ouderaa · Gunnar Rätsch · Vincent Fortuin · Mark van der Wilk

Data augmentation is commonly applied to improve performance of deep learning by enforcing the knowledge that certain transformations on the input preserve the output. Currently, the data augmentation parameters are chosen by human effort and costly cross-validation, which makes it cumbersome to apply to new datasets. We develop a convenient gradient-based method for selecting the data augmentation without validation data during training of a deep neural network. Our approach relies on phrasing data augmentation as an invariance in the prior distribution on the functions of a neural network, which allows us to learn it using Bayesian model selection. This has been shown to work in Gaussian processes, but not yet for deep neural networks. We propose a differentiable Kronecker-factored Laplace approximation to the marginal likelihood as our objective, which can be optimised without human supervision or validation data. We show that our method can successfully recover invariances present in the data, and that this improves generalisation and data efficiency on image datasets.

Rotation-Equivariant Conditional Spherical Neural Fields for Learning a Natural Illumination Prior

James Gardner · Bernhard Egger · William Smith

Inverse rendering is an ill-posed problem. Previous work has sought to resolve this by focussing on priors for object or scene shape or appearance. In this work, we instead focus on a prior for natural illuminations. Current methods rely on spherical harmonic lighting or other generic representations and, at best, a simplistic prior on the parameters. We propose a conditional neural field representation based on a variational auto-decoder with a SIREN network and, extending Vector Neurons, build equivariance directly into the network. Using this, we develop a rotation-equivariant, high dynamic range (HDR) neural illumination model that is compact and able to express complex, high-frequency features of natural environment maps. Training our model on a curated dataset of 1.6K HDR environment maps of natural scenes, we compare it against traditional representations, demonstrate its applicability for an inverse rendering task and show environment map completion from partial observations.

Understanding Programmatic Weak Supervision via Source-aware Influence Function

Jieyu Zhang · Haonan Wang · Cheng-Yu Hsieh · Alexander Ratner

Programmatic Weak Supervision (PWS) aggregates the source votes of multiple weak supervision sources into probabilistic training labels, which are in turn used to train an end model. With its increasing popularity, it is critical to have some tool for users to understand the influence of each component (\eg, the source vote or training data) in the pipeline and interpret the end model behavior. To achieve this, we build on Influence Function (IF) and propose source-aware IF, which leverages the generation process of the probabilistic labels to decompose the end model's training objective and then calculate the influence associated with each (data, source, class) tuple. These primitive influence score can then be used to estimate the influence of individual component of PWS, such as source vote, supervision source, and training data. On datasets of diverse domains, we demonstrate multiple use cases: (1) interpreting incorrect predictions from multiple angles that reveals insights for debugging the PWS pipeline, (2) identifying mislabeling of sources with a gain of 9\%-37\% over baselines, and (3) improving the end model's generalization performance by removing harmful components in the training objective (13\%-24\% better than ordinary IF).

CoPur: Certifiably Robust Collaborative Inference via Feature Purification

Jing Liu · Chulin Xie · Sanmi Koyejo · Bo Li

Collaborative inference leverages diverse features provided by different agents (e.g., sensors) for more accurate inference. A common setup is where each agent sends its embedded features instead of the raw data to the Fusion Center (FC) for joint prediction. In this setting, we consider the inference-time attacks when a small fraction of agents are compromised. The compromised agent either does not send embedded features to the FC, or sends arbitrarily embedded features. To address this, we propose a certifiably robust COllaborative inference framework via feature PURification (CoPur), by leveraging the block-sparse nature of adversarial perturbations on the feature vector, as well as exploring the underlying redundancy across the embedded features (by assuming the overall features lie on an underlying lower dimensional manifold). We theoretically show that the proposed feature purification method can robustly recover the true feature vector, despite adversarial corruptions and/or incomplete observations. We also propose and test an untargeted distributed feature-flipping attack, which is agnostic to the model, training data, label, as well as the features held by other agents, and is shown to be effective in attacking state-of-the-art defenses. Experiments on ExtraSensory and NUS-WIDE datasets show that CoPur significantly outperforms existing defenses in terms of robustness against targeted and untargeted adversarial attacks.

TA-GATES: An Encoding Scheme for Neural Network Architectures

Xuefei Ning · Zixuan Zhou · Junbo Zhao · Tianchen Zhao · Yiping Deng · Changcheng Tang · Shuang Liang · Huazhong Yang · Yu Wang

Neural architecture search tries to shift the manual design of neural network (NN) architectures to algorithmic design. In these cases, the NN architecture itself can be viewed as data and needs to be modeled. A better modeling could help explore novel architectures automatically and open the black box of automated architecture design. To this end, this work proposes a new encoding scheme for neural architectures, the Training-Analogous Graph-based ArchiTecture Encoding Scheme (TA-GATES). TA-GATES encodes an NN architecture in a way that is analogous to its training. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the flexibility and discriminative power of TA-GATES lead to better modeling of NN architectures. We expect our methodology of explicitly modeling the NN training process to benefit broader automated deep learning systems. The code is available at

MaskPlace: Fast Chip Placement via Reinforced Visual Representation Learning

Yao Lai · Yao Mu · Ping Luo

Placement is an essential task in modern chip design, aiming at placing millions of circuit modules on a 2D chip canvas. Unlike the human-centric solution, which requires months of intense effort by hardware engineers to produce a layout to minimize delay and energy consumption, deep reinforcement learning has become an emerging autonomous tool. However, the learning-centric method is still in its early stage, impeded by a massive design space of size ten to the order of a few thousand. This work presents MaskPlace to automatically generate a valid chip layout design within a few hours, whose performance can be superior or comparable to recent advanced approaches. It has several appealing benefits that prior arts do not have. Firstly, MaskPlace recasts placement as a problem of learning pixel-level visual representation to comprehensively describe millions of modules on a chip, enabling placement in a high-resolution canvas and a large action space. It outperforms recent methods that represent a chip as a hypergraph. Secondly, it enables training the policy network by an intuitive reward function with dense reward, rather than a complicated reward function with sparse reward from previous methods. Thirdly, extensive experiments on many public benchmarks show that MaskPlace outperforms existing RL approaches in all key performance metrics, including wirelength, congestion, and density. For example, it achieves 60%-90% wirelength reduction and guarantees zero overlaps. We believe MaskPlace can improve AI-assisted chip layout design. The deliverables are released at

BiMLP: Compact Binary Architectures for Vision Multi-Layer Perceptrons

Yixing Xu · Xinghao Chen · Yunhe Wang

This paper studies the problem of designing compact binary architectures for vision multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs). We provide extensive analysis on the difficulty of binarizing vision MLPs and find that previous binarization methods perform poorly due to limited capacity of binary MLPs. In contrast with the traditional CNNs that utilizing convolutional operations with large kernel size, fully-connected (FC) layers in MLPs can be treated as convolutional layers with kernel size $1\times1$. Thus, the representation ability of the FC layers will be limited when being binarized, and places restrictions on the capability of spatial mixing and channel mixing on the intermediate features. To this end, we propose to improve the performance of binary MLP (BiMLP) model by enriching the representation ability of binary FC layers. We design a novel binary block that contains multiple branches to merge a series of outputs from the same stage, and also a universal shortcut connection that encourages the information flow from the previous stage. The downsampling layers are also carefully designed to reduce the computational complexity while maintaining the classification performance. Experimental results on benchmark dataset ImageNet-1k demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed BiMLP models, which achieve state-of-the-art accuracy compared to prior binary CNNs.The MindSpore code is available at \url{}.

ORIENT: Submodular Mutual Information Measures for Data Subset Selection under Distribution Shift

Athresh Karanam · Krishnateja Killamsetty · Harsha Kokel · Rishabh Iyer

Real-world machine-learning applications require robust models that generalize well to distribution shift settings, which is typical in real-world situations. Domain adaptation techniques aim to address this issue of distribution shift by minimizing the disparities between domains to ensure that the model trained on the source domain performs well on the target domain. Nevertheless, the existing domain adaptation methods are computationally very expensive. In this work, we aim to improve the efficiency of existing supervised domain adaptation (SDA) methods by using a subset of source data that is similar to target data for faster model training. Specifically, we propose ORIENT, a subset selection framework that uses the submodular mutual information (SMI) functions to select a source data subset similar to the target data for faster training. Additionally, we demonstrate how existing robust subset selection strategies, such as GLISTER, GRADMATCH, and CRAIG, when used with a held-out query set, fit within our proposed framework and demonstrate the connections with them. Finally, we empirically demonstrate that SDA approaches like d-SNE, CCSA, and standard Cross-entropy training, when employed together with ORIENT, achieve a) faster training and b) better performance on the target data.

Learning to Reconstruct Missing Data from Spatiotemporal Graphs with Sparse Observations

Ivan Marisca · Andrea Cini · Cesare Alippi

Modeling multivariate time series as temporal signals over a (possibly dynamic) graph is an effective representational framework that allows for developing models for time series analysis. In fact, discrete sequences of graphs can be processed by autoregressive graph neural networks to recursively learn representations at each discrete point in time and space. Spatiotemporal graphs are often highly sparse, with time series characterized by multiple, concurrent, and long sequences of missing data, e.g., due to the unreliable underlying sensor network. In this context, autoregressive models can be brittle and exhibit unstable learning dynamics. The objective of this paper is, then, to tackle the problem of learning effective models to reconstruct, i.e., impute, missing data points by conditioning the reconstruction only on the available observations. In particular, we propose a novel class of attention-based architectures that, given a set of highly sparse discrete observations, learn a representation for points in time and space by exploiting a spatiotemporal propagation architecture aligned with the imputation task. Representations are trained end-to-end to reconstruct observations w.r.t. the corresponding sensor and its neighboring nodes. Compared to the state of the art, our model handles sparse data without propagating prediction errors or requiring a bidirectional model to encode forward and backward time dependencies. Empirical results on representative benchmarks show the effectiveness of the proposed method.

Decomposed Knowledge Distillation for Class-Incremental Semantic Segmentation

Donghyeon Baek · Youngmin Oh · Sanghoon Lee · Junghyup Lee · Bumsub Ham

Class-incremental semantic segmentation (CISS) labels each pixel of an image with a corresponding object/stuff class continually. To this end, it is crucial to learn novel classes incrementally without forgetting previously learned knowledge. Current CISS methods typically use a knowledge distillation (KD) technique for preserving classifier logits, or freeze a feature extractor, to avoid the forgetting problem. The strong constraints, however, prevent learning discriminative features for novel classes. We introduce a CISS framework that alleviates the forgetting problem and facilitates learning novel classes effectively. We have found that a logit can be decomposed into two terms. They quantify how likely an input belongs to a particular class or not, providing a clue for a reasoning process of a model. The KD technique, in this context, preserves the sum of two terms ($\textit{i.e.}$, a class logit), suggesting that each could be changed and thus the KD does not imitate the reasoning process. To impose constraints on each term explicitly, we propose a new decomposed knowledge distillation (DKD) technique, improving the rigidity of a model and addressing the forgetting problem more effectively. We also introduce a novel initialization method to train new classifiers for novel classes. In CISS, the number of negative training samples for novel classes is not sufficient to discriminate old classes. To mitigate this, we propose to transfer knowledge of negatives to the classifiers successively using an auxiliary classifier, boosting the performance significantly. Experimental results on standard CISS benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework.

Rethinking Value Function Learning for Generalization in Reinforcement Learning

Seungyong Moon · JunYeong Lee · Hyun Oh Song

Our work focuses on training RL agents on multiple visually diverse environments to improve observational generalization performance. In prior methods, policy and value networks are separately optimized using a disjoint network architecture to avoid interference and obtain a more accurate value function. We identify that a value network in the multi-environment setting is more challenging to optimize and prone to memorizing the training data than in the conventional single-environment setting. In addition, we find that appropriate regularization on the value network is necessary to improve both training and test performance. To this end, we propose Delayed-Critic Policy Gradient (DCPG), a policy gradient algorithm that implicitly penalizes value estimates by optimizing the value network less frequently with more training data than the policy network. This can be implemented using a single unified network architecture. Furthermore, we introduce a simple self-supervised task that learns the forward and inverse dynamics of environments using a single discriminator, which can be jointly optimized with the value network. Our proposed algorithms significantly improve observational generalization performance and sample efficiency on the Procgen Benchmark.

Weighted Distillation with Unlabeled Examples

Fotis Iliopoulos · Vasilis Kontonis · Cenk Baykal · Gaurav Menghani · Khoa Trinh · Erik Vee

Distillation with unlabeled examples is a popular and powerful method for training deep neural networks in settings where the amount of labeled data is limited: A large “teacher” neural network is trained on the labeled data available, and then it is used to generate labels on an unlabeled dataset (typically much larger in size). These labels are then utilized to train the smaller “student” model which will actually be deployed. Naturally, the success of the approach depends on the quality of the teacher’s labels, since the student could be confused if trained on inaccurate data. This paper proposes a principled approach for addressing this issue based on a “debiasing" reweighting of the student’s loss function tailored to the distillation training paradigm. Our method is hyper-parameter free, data-agnostic, and simple to implement. We demonstrate significant improvements on popular academic datasets and we accompany our results with a theoretical analysis which rigorously justifies the performance of our method in certain settings.

A Theoretical View on Sparsely Activated Networks

Cenk Baykal · Nishanth Dikkala · Rina Panigrahy · Cyrus Rashtchian · Xin Wang

Deep and wide neural networks successfully fit very complex functions today, but dense models are starting to be prohibitively expensive for inference. To mitigate this, one promising research direction is networks that activate a sparse subgraph of the network. The subgraph is chosen by a data-dependent routing function, enforcing a fixed mapping of inputs to subnetworks (e.g., the Mixture of Experts (MoE) paradigm in Switch Transformers). However, there is no theoretical grounding for these sparsely activated models. As our first contribution, we present a formal model of data-dependent sparse networks that captures salient aspects of popular architectures. Then, we show how to construct sparse networks that provably match the approximation power and total size of dense networks on Lipschitz functions. The sparse networks use much fewer inference operations than dense networks, leading to a faster forward pass. The key idea is to use locality sensitive hashing on the input vectors and then interpolate the function in subregions of the input space. This offers a theoretical insight into why sparse networks work well in practice. Finally, we present empirical findings that support our theory; compared to dense networks, sparse networks give a favorable trade-off between number of active units and approximation quality.

Deep Learning Methods for Proximal Inference via Maximum Moment Restriction

Benjamin Kompa · David Bellamy · Tom Kolokotrones · james m robins · Andrew Beam

The No Unmeasured Confounding Assumption is widely used to identify causal effects in observational studies. Recent work on proximal inference has provided alternative identification results that succeed even in the presence of unobserved confounders, provided that one has measured a sufficiently rich set of proxy variables, satisfying specific structural conditions. However, proximal inference requires solving an ill-posed integral equation. Previous approaches have used a variety of machine learning techniques to estimate a solution to this integral equation, commonly referred to as the bridge function. However, prior work has often been limited by relying on pre-specified kernel functions, which are not data adaptive and struggle to scale to large datasets. In this work, we introduce a flexible and scalable method based on a deep neural network to estimate causal effects in the presence of unmeasured confounding using proximal inference. Our method achieves state of the art performance on two well-established proximal inference benchmarks. Finally, we provide theoretical consistency guarantees for our method.

Stability and Generalization Analysis of Gradient Methods for Shallow Neural Networks

Yunwen Lei · Rong Jin · Yiming Ying

While significant theoretical progress has been achieved, unveiling the generalization mystery of overparameterized neural networks still remains largely elusive. In this paper, we study the generalization behavior of shallow neural networks (SNNs) by leveraging the concept of algorithmic stability. We consider gradient descent (GD) and stochastic gradient descent (SGD) to train SNNs, for both of which we develop consistent excess risk bounds by balancing the optimization and generalization via early-stopping. As compared to existing analysis on GD, our new analysis requires a relaxed overparameterization assumption and also applies to SGD. The key for the improvement is a better estimation of the smallest eigenvalues of the Hessian matrices of the empirical risks and the loss function along the trajectories of GD and SGD by providing a refined estimation of their iterates.

A Quantitative Geometric Approach to Neural-Network Smoothness

Zi Wang · Gautam Prakriya · Somesh Jha

Fast and precise Lipschitz constant estimation of neural networks is an important task for deep learning. Researchers have recently found an intrinsic trade-off between the accuracy and smoothness of neural networks, so training a network with a loose Lipschitz constant estimation imposes a strong regularization, and can hurt the model accuracy significantly. In this work, we provide a unified theoretical framework, a quantitative geometric approach, to address the Lipschitz constant estimation. By adopting this framework, we can immediately obtain several theoretical results, including the computational hardness of Lipschitz constant estimation and its approximability. We implement the algorithms induced from this quantitative geometric approach, which are based on semidefinite programming (SDP). Our empirical evaluation demonstrates that they are more scalable and precise than existing tools on Lipschitz constant estimation for $\ell_\infty$-perturbations. Furthermore, we also show their intricate relations with other recent SDP-based techniques, both theoretically and empirically. We believe that this unified quantitative geometric perspective can bring new insights and theoretical tools to the investigation of neural-network smoothness and robustness.

Large-Scale Differentiable Causal Discovery of Factor Graphs

Romain Lopez · Jan-Christian Huetter · Jonathan Pritchard · Aviv Regev

A common theme in causal inference is learning causal relationships between observed variables, also known as causal discovery. This is usually a daunting task, given the large number of candidate causal graphs and the combinatorial nature of the search space. Perhaps for this reason, most research has so far focused on relatively small causal graphs, with up to hundreds of nodes. However, recent advances in fields like biology enable generating experimental data sets with thousands of interventions followed by rich profiling of thousands of variables, raising the opportunity and urgent need for large causal graph models. Here, we introduce the notion of factor directed acyclic graphs ($f$-DAGs) as a way to restrict the search space to non-linear low-rank causal interaction models. Combining this novel structural assumption with recent advances that bridge the gap between causal discovery and continuous optimization, we achieve causal discovery on thousands of variables. Additionally, as a model for the impact of statistical noise on this estimation procedure, we study a model of edge perturbations of the $f$-DAG skeleton based on random graphs and quantify the effect of such perturbations on the $f$-DAG rank. This theoretical analysis suggests that the set of candidate $f$-DAGs is much smaller than the whole DAG space and thus may be more suitable as a search space in the high-dimensional regime where the underlying skeleton is hard to assess. We propose Differentiable Causal Discovery of Factor Graphs (DCD-FG), a scalable implementation of $f$-DAG constrained causal discovery for high-dimensional interventional data. DCD-FG uses a Gaussian non-linear low-rank structural equation model and shows significant improvements compared to state-of-the-art methods in both simulations as well as a recent large-scale single-cell RNA sequencing data set with hundreds of genetic interventions.

Off-Team Learning

Brandon Cui · Hengyuan Hu · Andrei Lupu · Samuel Sokota · Jakob Foerster

Zero-shot coordination (ZSC) evaluates an algorithm by the performance of a team of agents that were trained independently under that algorithm. Off-belief learning (OBL) is a recent method that achieves state-of-the-art results in ZSC in the game Hanabi. However, the implementation of OBL relies on a belief model that experiences covariate shift. Moreover, during ad-hoc coordination, OBL or any other neural policy may experience test-time covariate shift. We present two methods addressing these issues. The first method, off-team belief learning (OTBL), attempts to improve the accuracy of the belief model of a target policy πT on a broader range of inputs by weighting trajectories approximately according to the distribution induced by a different policy πb. The second, off-team off-belief learning (OT-OBL), attempts to compute an OBL equilibrium, where fixed point error is weighted according to the distribution induced by cross-play between the training policy π and a different fixed policy πb instead of self-play of π. We investigate these methods in variants of Hanabi.

Neural Basis Models for Interpretability

Filip Radenovic · Abhimanyu Dubey · Dhruv Mahajan

Due to the widespread use of complex machine learning models in real-world applications, it is becoming critical to explain model predictions. However, these models are typically black-box deep neural networks, explained post-hoc via methods with known faithfulness limitations. Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) are an inherently interpretable class of models that address this limitation by learning a non-linear shape function for each feature separately, followed by a linear model on top. However, these models are typically difficult to train, require numerous parameters, and are difficult to scale. We propose an entirely new subfamily of GAMs that utilizes basis decomposition of shape functions. A small number of basis functions are shared among all features, and are learned jointly for a given task, thus making our model scale much better to large-scale data with high-dimensional features, especially when features are sparse. We propose an architecture denoted as the Neural Basis Model (NBM) which uses a single neural network to learn these bases. On a variety of tabular and image datasets, we demonstrate that for interpretable machine learning, NBMs are the state-of-the-art in accuracy, model size, and, throughput and can easily model all higher-order feature interactions. Source code is available at \href{}{\ttfamily}.

Semantic Exploration from Language Abstractions and Pretrained Representations

Allison Tam · Neil Rabinowitz · Andrew Lampinen · Nicholas Roy · Stephanie Chan · DJ Strouse · Jane Wang · Andrea Banino · Felix Hill

Effective exploration is a challenge in reinforcement learning (RL). Novelty-based exploration methods can suffer in high-dimensional state spaces, such as continuous partially-observable 3D environments. We address this challenge by defining novelty using semantically meaningful state abstractions, which can be found in learned representations shaped by natural language. In particular, we evaluate vision-language representations, pretrained on natural image captioning datasets. We show that these pretrained representations drive meaningful, task-relevant exploration and improve performance on 3D simulated environments. We also characterize why and how language provides useful abstractions for exploration by considering the impacts of using representations from a pretrained model, a language oracle, and several ablations. We demonstrate the benefits of our approach with on- and off-policy RL algorithms and in two very different task domains---one that stresses the identification and manipulation of everyday objects, and one that requires navigational exploration in an expansive world. Our results suggest that using language-shaped representations could improve exploration for various algorithms and agents in challenging environments.

Deconfounded Representation Similarity for Comparison of Neural Networks

Tianyu Cui · Yogesh Kumar · Pekka Marttinen · Samuel Kaski

Similarity metrics such as representational similarity analysis (RSA) and centered kernel alignment (CKA) have been used to understand neural networks by comparing their layer-wise representations. However, these metrics are confounded by the population structure of data items in the input space, leading to inconsistent conclusions about the \emph{functional} similarity between neural networks, such as spuriously high similarity of completely random neural networks and inconsistent domain relations in transfer learning. We introduce a simple and generally applicable fix to adjust for the confounder with covariate adjustment regression, which improves the ability of CKA and RSA to reveal functional similarity and also retains the intuitive invariance properties of the original similarity measures. We show that deconfounding the similarity metrics increases the resolution of detecting functionally similar neural networks across domains. Moreover, in real-world applications, deconfounding improves the consistency between CKA and domain similarity in transfer learning, and increases the correlation between CKA and model out-of-distribution accuracy similarity.

If Influence Functions are the Answer, Then What is the Question?

Juhan Bae · Nathan Ng · Alston Lo · Marzyeh Ghassemi · Roger Grosse

Influence functions efficiently estimate the effect of removing a single training data point on a model's learned parameters. While influence estimates align well with leave-one-out retraining for linear models, recent works have shown this alignment is often poor in neural networks. In this work, we investigate the specific factors that cause this discrepancy by decomposing it into five separate terms. We study the contributions of each term on a variety of architectures and datasets and how they vary with factors such as network width and training time. While practical influence function estimates may be a poor match to leave-one-out retraining for nonlinear networks, we show that they are often a good approximation to a different object we term the proximal Bregman response function (PBRF). Since the PBRF can still be used to answer many of the questions motivating influence functions, such as identifying influential or mislabeled examples, our results suggest that current algorithms for influence function estimation give more informative results than previous error analyses would suggest.

Early Stage Convergence and Global Convergence of Training Mildly Parameterized Neural Networks

Mingze Wang · Chao Ma

The convergence of GD and SGD when training mildly parameterized neural networks starting from random initialization is studied. For a broad range of models and loss functions, including the widely used square loss and cross entropy loss, we prove an ''early stage convergence'' result. We show that the loss is decreased by a significant amount in the early stage of the training, and this decreasing is fast. Furthurmore, for exponential type loss functions, and under some assumptions on the training data, we show global convergence of GD. Instead of relying on extreme over-parameterization, our study is based on a microscopic analysis of the activation patterns for the neurons, which helps us derive gradient lower bounds. The results on activation patterns, which we call ``neuron partition'', help build intuitions for understanding the behavior of neural networks' training dynamics, and may be of independent interest.

Iterative Feature Matching: Toward Provable Domain Generalization with Logarithmic Environments

Yining Chen · Elan Rosenfeld · Mark Sellke · Tengyu Ma · Andrej Risteski

Domain generalization aims at performing well on unseen test environments with data from a limited number of training environments. Despite a proliferation of proposed algorithms for this task, assessing their performance both theoretically and empirically is still very challenging. Distributional matching algorithms such as (Conditional) Domain Adversarial Networks [Ganin et al., 2016, Long et al., 2018] are popular and enjoy empirical success, but they lack formal guarantees. Other approaches such as Invariant Risk Minimization (IRM) require a prohibitively large number of training environments---linear in the dimension of the spurious feature space $d_s$---even on simple data models like the one proposed by [Rosenfeld et al., 2021]. Under a variant of this model, we show that ERM and IRM can fail to find the optimal invariant predictor with $o(d_s)$ environments. We then present an iterative feature matching algorithm that is guaranteed with high probability to find the optimal invariant predictor after seeing only $O(\log d_s)$ environments. Our results provide the first theoretical justification for distribution-matching algorithms widely used in practice under a concrete nontrivial data model.

Chaotic Regularization and Heavy-Tailed Limits for Deterministic Gradient Descent

Soon Hoe Lim · Yijun Wan · Umut Simsekli

Recent studies have shown that gradient descent (GD) can achieve improved generalization when its dynamics exhibits a chaotic behavior. However, to obtain the desired effect, the step-size should be chosen sufficiently large, a task which is problem dependent and can be difficult in practice. In this study, we incorporate a chaotic component to GD in a controlled manner, and introduce \emph{multiscale perturbed GD} (MPGD), a novel optimization framework where the GD recursion is augmented with chaotic perturbations that evolve via an independent dynamical system. We analyze MPGD from three different angles: (i) By building up on recent advances in rough paths theory, we show that, under appropriate assumptions, as the step-size decreases, the MPGD recursion converges weakly to a stochastic differential equation (SDE) driven by a heavy-tailed L\'{e}vy-stable process. (ii) By making connections to recently developed generalization bounds for heavy-tailed processes, we derive a generalization bound for the limiting SDE and relate the worst-case generalization error over the trajectories of the process to the parameters of MPGD. (iii) We analyze the implicit regularization effect brought by the dynamical regularization and show that, in the weak perturbation regime, MPGD introduces terms that penalize the Hessian of the loss function. Empirical results are provided to demonstrate the advantages of MPGD.

Challenging Common Assumptions in Convex Reinforcement Learning

Mirco Mutti · Riccardo De Santi · Piersilvio De Bartolomeis · Marcello Restelli

The classic Reinforcement Learning (RL) formulation concerns the maximization of a scalar reward function. More recently, convex RL has been introduced to extend the RL formulation to all the objectives that are convex functions of the state distribution induced by a policy. Notably, convex RL covers several relevant applications that do not fall into the scalar formulation, including imitation learning, risk-averse RL, and pure exploration. In classic RL, it is common to optimize an infinite trials objective, which accounts for the state distribution instead of the empirical state visitation frequencies, even though the actual number of trajectories is always finite in practice. This is theoretically sound since the infinite trials and finite trials objectives are equivalent and thus lead to the same optimal policy. In this paper, we show that this hidden assumption does not hold in convex RL. In particular, we prove that erroneously optimizing the infinite trials objective in place of the actual finite trials one, as it is usually done, can lead to a significant approximation error. Since the finite trials setting is the default in both simulated and real-world RL, we believe shedding light on this issue will lead to better approaches and methodologies for convex RL, impacting relevant research areas such as imitation learning, risk-averse RL, and pure exploration among others.

Max-Min Off-Policy Actor-Critic Method Focusing on Worst-Case Robustness to Model Misspecification

Takumi Tanabe · Rei Sato · Kazuto Fukuchi · Jun Sakuma · Youhei Akimoto

In the field of reinforcement learning, because of the high cost and risk of policy training in the real world, policies are trained in a simulation environment and transferred to the corresponding real-world environment.However, the simulation environment does not perfectly mimic the real-world environment, lead to model misspecification. Multiple studies report significant deterioration of policy performance in a real-world environment.In this study, we focus on scenarios involving a simulation environment with uncertainty parameters and the set of their possible values, called the uncertainty parameter set. The aim is to optimize the worst-case performance on the uncertainty parameter set to guarantee the performance in the corresponding real-world environment.To obtain a policy for the optimization, we propose an off-policy actor-critic approach called the Max-Min Twin Delayed Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient algorithm (M2TD3), which solves a max-min optimization problem using a simultaneous gradient ascent descent approach.Experiments in multi-joint dynamics with contact (MuJoCo) environments show that the proposed method exhibited a worst-case performance superior to several baseline approaches.

Contrastive Neural Ratio Estimation

Benjamin K Miller · Christoph Weniger · Patrick Forré

Likelihood-to-evidence ratio estimation is usually cast as either a binary (NRE-A) or a multiclass (NRE-B) classification task. In contrast to the binary classification framework, the current formulation of the multiclass version has an intrinsic and unknown bias term, making otherwise informative diagnostics unreliable. We propose a multiclass framework free from the bias inherent to NRE-B at optimum, leaving us in the position to run diagnostics that practitioners depend on. It also recovers NRE-A in one corner case and NRE-B in the limiting case. For fair comparison, we benchmark the behavior of all algorithms in both familiar and novel training regimes: when jointly drawn data is unlimited, when data is fixed but prior draws are unlimited, and in the commonplace fixed data and parameters setting. Our investigations reveal that the highest performing models are distant from the competitors (NRE-A, NRE-B) in hyperparameter space. We make a recommendation for hyperparameters distinct from the previous models. We suggest a bound on the mutual information as a performance metric for simulation-based inference methods, without the need for posterior samples, and provide experimental results.

Symmetry Teleportation for Accelerated Optimization

Bo Zhao · Nima Dehmamy · Robin Walters · Rose Yu

Existing gradient-based optimization methods update parameters locally, in a direction that minimizes the loss function. We study a different approach, symmetry teleportation, that allows parameters to travel a large distance on the loss level set, in order to improve the convergence speed in subsequent steps. Teleportation exploits symmetries in the loss landscape of optimization problems. We derive loss-invariant group actions for test functions in optimization and multi-layer neural networks, and prove a necessary condition for teleportation to improve convergence rate. We also show that our algorithm is closely related to second order methods. Experimentally, we show that teleportation improves the convergence speed of gradient descent and AdaGrad for several optimization problems including test functions, multi-layer regressions, and MNIST classification.

VectorAdam for Rotation Equivariant Geometry Optimization

Selena Zihan Ling · Nicholas Sharp · Alec Jacobson

The Adam optimization algorithm has proven remarkably effective for optimization problems across machine learning and even traditional tasks in geometry processing. At the same time, the development of equivariant methods, which preserve their output under the action of rotation or some other transformation, has proven to be important for geometry problems across these domains. In this work, we observe that Adam — when treated as a function that maps initial conditions to optimized results — is not rotation equivariant for vector-valued parameters due to per-coordinate moment updates. This leads to significant artifacts and biases in practice. We propose to resolve this deficiency with VectorAdam, a simple modification which makes Adam rotation-equivariant by accounting for the vector structure of optimization variables. We demonstrate this approach on problems in machine learning and traditional geometric optimization, showing that equivariant VectorAdam resolves the artifacts and biases of traditional Adam when applied to vector-valued data, with equivalent or even improved rates of convergence.

Neural Stochastic PDEs: Resolution-Invariant Learning of Continuous Spatiotemporal Dynamics

Cristopher Salvi · Maud Lemercier · Andris Gerasimovics

Stochastic partial differential equations (SPDEs) are the mathematical tool of choice for modelling spatiotemporal PDE-dynamics under the influence of randomness. Based on the notion of mild solution of an SPDE, we introduce a novel neural architecture to learn solution operators of PDEs with (possibly stochastic) forcing from partially observed data. The proposed Neural SPDE model provides an extension to two popular classes of physics-inspired architectures. On the one hand, it extends Neural CDEs and variants -- continuous-time analogues of RNNs -- in that it is capable of processing incoming sequential information arriving at arbitrary spatial resolutions. On the other hand, it extends Neural Operators -- generalizations of neural networks to model mappings between spaces of functions -- in that it can parameterize solution operators of SPDEs depending simultaneously on the initial condition and a realization of the driving noise. By performing operations in the spectral domain, we show how a Neural SPDE can be evaluated in two ways, either by calling an ODE solver (emulating a spectral Galerkin scheme), or by solving a fixed point problem. Experiments on various semilinear SPDEs, including the stochastic Navier-Stokes equations, demonstrate how the Neural SPDE model is capable of learning complex spatiotemporal dynamics in a resolution-invariant way, with better accuracy and lighter training data requirements compared to alternative models, and up to 3 orders of magnitude faster than traditional solvers.

Constrained Predictive Coding as a Biologically Plausible Model of the Cortical Hierarchy

Siavash Golkar · Tiberiu Tesileanu · Yanis Bahroun · Anirvan Sengupta · Dmitri Chklovskii

Predictive coding (PC) has emerged as an influential normative model of neural computation with numerous extensions and applications. As such, much effort has been put into mapping PC faithfully onto the cortex, but there are issues that remain unresolved or controversial. In particular, current implementations often involve separate value and error neurons and require symmetric forward and backward weights across different brain regions. These features have not been experimentally confirmed. In this work, we show that the PC framework in the linear regime can be modified to map faithfully onto the cortical hierarchy in a manner compatible with empirical observations. By employing a disentangling-inspired constraint on hidden-layer neural activities, we derive an upper bound for the PC objective. Optimization of this upper bound leads to an algorithm that shows the same performance as the original objective and maps onto a biologically plausible network. The units of this network can be interpreted as multi-compartmental neurons with non-Hebbian learning rules, with a remarkable resemblance to recent experimental findings. There exist prior models which also capture these features, but they are phenomenological, while our work is a normative derivation. This allows us to determine which features are necessary for the functioning of the model. For instance, the network we derive does not involve one-to-one connectivity or signal multiplexing, which the phenomenological models require, indicating that these features are not necessary for learning in the cortex. The normative nature of our algorithm in the simplified linear case also allows us to prove interesting properties of the framework and analytically understand the computational role of our network's components. The parameters of our network have natural interpretations as physiological quantities in a multi-compartmental model of pyramidal neurons, providing a concrete link between PC and experimental measurements carried out in the cortex.

Fault-Aware Neural Code Rankers

Jeevana Priya Inala · Chenglong Wang · Mei Yang · Andres Codas · Mark Encarnación · Shuvendu Lahiri · Madanlal Musuvathi · Jianfeng Gao

Large language models (LLMs) have demonstrated an impressive ability to generate code for various programming tasks. In many instances, LLMs can generate a correct program for a task when given numerous trials. Consequently, a recent trend is to do large scale sampling of programs using a model and then filtering/ranking the programs based on the program execution on a small number of known unit tests to select one candidate solution. However, these approaches assume that the unit tests are given and assume the ability to safely execute the generated programs (which can do arbitrary dangerous operations such as file manipulations). Both of the above assumptions are impractical in real-world software development. In this paper, we propose CodeRanker, a neural ranker that can predict the correctness of a sampled program without executing it. Our CodeRanker is fault-aware i.e., it is trained to predict different kinds of execution information such as predicting the exact compile/runtime error type (e.g., an IndexError or a TypeError). We show that CodeRanker can significantly increase the pass@1 accuracy of various code generation models (including Codex, GPT-Neo, GPT-J) on APPS, HumanEval and MBPP datasets.

End-to-end Symbolic Regression with Transformers

Pierre-alexandre Kamienny · Stéphane d'Ascoli · Guillaume Lample · Francois Charton

Symbolic regression, the task of predicting the mathematical expression of a function from the observation of its values, is a difficult task which usually involves a two-step procedure: predicting the "skeleton" of the expression up to the choice of numerical constants, then fitting the constants by optimizing a non-convex loss function. The dominant approach is genetic programming, which evolves candidates by iterating this subroutine a large number of times. Neural networks have recently been tasked to predict the correct skeleton in a single try, but remain much less powerful.In this paper, we challenge this two-step procedure, and task a Transformer to directly predict the full mathematical expression, constants included. One can subsequently refine the predicted constants by feeding them to the non-convex optimizer as an informed initialization. We present ablations to show that this end-to-end approach yields better results, sometimes even without the refinement step. We evaluate our model on problems from the SRBench benchmark and show that our model approaches the performance of state-of-the-art genetic programming with several orders of magnitude faster inference.

Masked Prediction: A Parameter Identifiability View

Bingbin Liu · Daniel Hsu · Pradeep Ravikumar · Andrej Risteski

The vast majority of work in self-supervised learning have focused on assessing recovered features by a chosen set of downstream tasks. While there are several commonly used benchmark datasets, this lens of feature learning requires assumptions on the downstream tasks which are not inherent to the data distribution itself. In this paper, we present an alternative lens, one of parameter identifiability: assuming data comes from a parametric probabilistic model, we train a self-supervised learning predictor with a suitable parametric form, and ask whether the parameters of the optimal predictor can be used to extract the parameters of the ground truth generative model.Specifically, we focus on latent-variable models capturing sequential structures, namely Hidden Markov Models with both discrete and conditionally Gaussian observations. We focus on masked prediction as the self-supervised learning task and study the optimal masked predictor. We show that parameter identifiability is governed by the task difficulty, which is determined by the choice of data model and the amount of tokens to predict. Technique-wise, we uncover close connections with the uniqueness of tensor rank decompositions, a widely used tool in studying identifiability through the lens of the method of moments.

Moment Distributionally Robust Tree Structured Prediction

Yeshu Li · Danyal Saeed · Xinhua Zhang · Brian Ziebart · Kevin Gimpel

Structured prediction of tree-shaped objects is heavily studied under the name of syntactic dependency parsing. Current practice based on maximum likelihood or margin is either agnostic to or inconsistent with the evaluation loss. Risk minimization alleviates the discrepancy between training and test objectives but typically induces a non-convex problem. These approaches adopt explicit regularization to combat overfitting without probabilistic interpretation. We propose a moment-based distributionally robust optimization approach for tree structured prediction, where the worst-case expected loss over a set of distributions within bounded moment divergence from the empirical distribution is minimized. We develop efficient algorithms for arborescences and other variants of trees. We derive Fisher consistency, convergence rates and generalization bounds for our proposed method. We evaluate its empirical effectiveness on dependency parsing benchmarks.

Inference and Sampling for Archimax Copulas

Yuting Ng · Ali Hasan · Vahid Tarokh

Understanding multivariate dependencies in both the bulk and the tails of a distribution is an important problem for many applications, such as ensuring algorithms are robust to observations that are infrequent but have devastating effects. Archimax copulas are a family of distributions endowed with a precise representation that allows simultaneous modeling of the bulk and the tails of a distribution. Rather than separating the two as is typically done in practice, incorporating additional information from the bulk may improve inference of the tails, where observations are limited. Building on the stochastic representation of Archimax copulas, we develop a non-parametric inference method and sampling algorithm. Our proposed methods, to the best of our knowledge, are the first that allow for highly flexible and scalable inference and sampling algorithms, enabling the increased use of Archimax copulas in practical settings. We experimentally compare to state-of-the-art density modeling techniques, and the results suggest that the proposed method effectively extrapolates to the tails while scaling to higher dimensional data. Our findings suggest that the proposed algorithms can be used in a variety of applications where understanding the interplay between the bulk and the tails of a distribution is necessary, such as healthcare and safety.

Operative dimensions in unconstrained connectivity of recurrent neural networks

Renate Krause · Matthew Cook · Sepp Kollmorgen · Valerio Mante · Giacomo Indiveri

Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) are commonly used models to study neural computation. However, a comprehensive understanding of how dynamics in RNN emerge from the underlying connectivity is largely lacking. Previous work derived such an understanding for RNN fulfilling very specific constraints on their connectivity, but it is unclear whether the resulting insights apply more generally. Here we study how network dynamics are related to network connectivity in RNN trained without any specific constraints on several tasks previously employed in neuroscience. Despite the apparent high-dimensional connectivity of these RNN, we show that a low-dimensional, functionally relevant subspace of the weight matrix can be found through the identification of \textit{operative} dimensions, which we define as components of the connectivity whose removal has a large influence on local RNN dynamics. We find that a weight matrix built from only a few operative dimensions is sufficient for the RNN to operate with the original performance, implying that much of the high-dimensional structure of the trained connectivity is functionally irrelevant. The existence of a low-dimensional, operative subspace in the weight matrix simplifies the challenge of linking connectivity to network dynamics and suggests that independent network functions may be placed in specific, separate subspaces of the weight matrix to avoid catastrophic forgetting in continual learning.

Sleeper Agent: Scalable Hidden Trigger Backdoors for Neural Networks Trained from Scratch

Hossein Souri · Liam Fowl · Rama Chellappa · Micah Goldblum · Tom Goldstein

As the curation of data for machine learning becomes increasingly automated, dataset tampering is a mounting threat. Backdoor attackers tamper with training data to embed a vulnerability in models that are trained on that data. This vulnerability is then activated at inference time by placing a "trigger'' into the model's input. Typical backdoor attacks insert the trigger directly into the training data, although the presence of such an attack may be visible upon inspection. In contrast, the Hidden Trigger Backdoor Attack achieves poisoning without placing a trigger into the training data at all. However, this hidden trigger attack is ineffective at poisoning neural networks trained from scratch. We develop a new hidden trigger attack, Sleeper Agent, which employs gradient matching, data selection, and target model re-training during the crafting process. Sleeper Agent is the first hidden trigger backdoor attack to be effective against neural networks trained from scratch. We demonstrate its effectiveness on ImageNet and in black-box settings. Our implementation code can be found at:

Chain-of-Thought Prompting Elicits Reasoning in Large Language Models

Jason Wei · Xuezhi Wang · Dale Schuurmans · Maarten Bosma · brian ichter · Fei Xia · Ed Chi · Quoc V Le · Denny Zhou

We explore how generating a chain of thought---a series of intermediate reasoning steps---significantly improves the ability of large language models to perform complex reasoning. In particular, we show how such reasoning abilities emerge naturally in sufficiently large language models via a simple method called chain of thought prompting, where a few chain of thought demonstrations are provided as exemplars in prompting. Experiments on three large language models show that chain of thought prompting improves performance on a range of arithmetic, commonsense, and symbolic reasoning tasks. The empirical gains can be striking. For instance, prompting a 540B-parameter language model with just eight chain of thought exemplars achieves state of the art accuracy on the GSM8K benchmark of math word problems, surpassing even finetuned GPT-3 with a verifier.

Flexible Diffusion Modeling of Long Videos

William Harvey · Saeid Naderiparizi · Vaden Masrani · Christian Weilbach · Frank Wood

We present a framework for video modeling based on denoising diffusion probabilistic models that produces long-duration video completions in a variety of realistic environments. We introduce a generative model that can at test-time sample any arbitrary subset of video frames conditioned on any other subset and present an architecture adapted for this purpose. Doing so allows us to efficiently compare and optimize a variety of schedules for the order in which frames in a long video are sampled and use selective sparse and long-range conditioning on previously sampled frames. We demonstrate improved video modeling over prior work on a number of datasets and sample temporally coherent videos over 25 minutes in length. We additionally release a new video modeling dataset and semantically meaningful metrics based on videos generated in the CARLA autonomous driving simulator.

Free Probability for predicting the performance of feed-forward fully connected neural networks

Reda CHHAIBI · Tariq Daouda · Ezechiel Kahn

Gradient descent during the learning process of a neural network can be subject to many instabilities. The spectral density of the Jacobian is a key component for analyzing stability. Following the works of Pennington et al., such Jacobians are modeled using free multiplicative convolutions from Free Probability Theory (FPT).We present a reliable and very fast method for computing the associated spectral densities, for given architecture and initialization. This method has a controlled and proven convergence. Our technique is based on an homotopy method: it is an adaptative Newton-Raphson scheme which chains basins of attraction. We find contiguous lilypad-like basins and step from one to the next, heading towards the objective.In order to demonstrate the relevance of our method we show that the relevant FPT metrics computed before training are highly correlated to final test losses – up to 85%. We also give evidence that a very desirable feature for neural networks is the hyperbolicity of their Jacobian at initialization, while remaining at the edge of chaos.

Gold-standard solutions to the Schrödinger equation using deep learning: How much physics do we need?

Leon Gerard · Michael Scherbela · Philipp Marquetand · Philipp Grohs

Finding accurate solutions to the Schrödinger equation is the key unsolved challenge of computational chemistry. Given its importance for the development of new chemical compounds, decades of research have been dedicated to this problem, but due to the large dimensionality even the best available methods do not yet reach the desired accuracy.Recently the combination of deep learning with Monte Carlo methods has emerged as a promising way to obtain highly accurate energies and moderate scaling of computational cost. In this paper we significantly contribute towards this goal by introducing a novel deep-learning architecture that achieves 40-70% lower energy error at 6x lower computational cost compared to previous approaches. Using our method we establish a new benchmark by calculating the most accurate variational ground state energies ever published for a number of different atoms and molecules.We systematically break down and measure our improvements, focusing in particular on the effect of increasing physical prior knowledge.We surprisingly find that increasing the prior knowledge given to the architecture can actually decrease accuracy.

Manifold Interpolating Optimal-Transport Flows for Trajectory Inference

Guillaume Huguet · Daniel Sumner Magruder · Alexander Tong · Oluwadamilola Fasina · Manik Kuchroo · Guy Wolf · Smita Krishnaswamy

We present a method called Manifold Interpolating Optimal-Transport Flow (MIOFlow) that learns stochastic, continuous population dynamics from static snapshot samples taken at sporadic timepoints. MIOFlow combines dynamic models, manifold learning, and optimal transport by training neural ordinary differential equations (Neural ODE) to interpolate between static population snapshots as penalized by optimal transport with manifold ground distance. Further, we ensure that the flow follows the geometry by operating in the latent space of an autoencoder that we call a geodesic autoencoder (GAE). In GAE the latent space distance between points is regularized to match a novel multiscale geodesic distance on the data manifold that we define. We show that this method is superior to normalizing flows, Schr\"odinger bridges and other generative models that are designed to flow from noise to data in terms of interpolating between populations. Theoretically, we link these trajectories with dynamic optimal transport. We evaluate our method on simulated data with bifurcations and merges, as well as scRNA-seq data from embryoid body differentiation, and acute myeloid leukemia treatment.

Reinforcement Learning with a Terminator

Guy Tennenholtz · Nadav Merlis · Lior Shani · Shie Mannor · Uri Shalit · Gal Chechik · Assaf Hallak · Gal Dalal

We present the problem of reinforcement learning with exogenous termination. We define the Termination Markov Decision Process (TerMDP), an extension of the MDP framework, in which episodes may be interrupted by an external non-Markovian observer. This formulation accounts for numerous real-world situations, such as a human interrupting an autonomous driving agent for reasons of discomfort. We learn the parameters of the TerMDP and leverage the structure of the estimation problem to provide state-wise confidence bounds. We use these to construct a provably-efficient algorithm, which accounts for termination, and bound its regret. Motivated by our theoretical analysis, we design and implement a scalable approach, which combines optimism (w.r.t. termination) and a dynamic discount factor, incorporating the termination probability. We deploy our method on high-dimensional driving and MinAtar benchmarks. Additionally, we test our approach on human data in a driving setting. Our results demonstrate fast convergence and significant improvement over various baseline approaches.

DigGAN: Discriminator gradIent Gap Regularization for GAN Training with Limited Data

Tiantian Fang · Ruoyu Sun · Alex Schwing

Generative adversarial nets (GANs) have been remarkably successful at learning to sample from distributions specified by a given dataset, particularly if the given dataset is reasonably large compared to its dimensionality. However, given limited data, classical GANs have struggled, and strategies like output-regularization, data-augmentation, use of pre-trained models and pruning have been shown to lead to improvements. Notably, the applicability of these strategies is often constrained to particular settings, e.g., availability of a pretrained GAN, or increases training time, e.g., when using pruning. In contrast, we propose a Discriminator gradIent Gap regularized GAN (DigGAN) formulation which can be added to any existing GAN. DigGAN augments existing GANs by encouraging to narrow the gap between the norm of the gradient of a discriminator's prediction w.r.t. real images and w.r.t. the generated samples. We observe this formulation to avoid bad attractors within the GAN loss landscape, and we find DigGAN to significantly improve the results of GAN training when limited data is available.

Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning is a Sequence Modeling Problem

Muning Wen · Jakub Kuba · Runji Lin · Weinan Zhang · Ying Wen · Jun Wang · Yaodong Yang

Large sequence models (SM) such as GPT series and BERT have displayed outstanding performance and generalization capabilities in natural language process, vision and recently reinforcement learning. A natural follow-up question is how to abstract multi-agent decision making also as an sequence modeling problem and benefit from the prosperous development of the SMs. In this paper, we introduce a novel architecture named Multi-Agent Transformer (MAT) that effectively casts cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) into SM problems wherein the objective is to map agents' observation sequences to agents' optimal action sequences. Our goal is to build the bridge between MARL and SMs so that the modeling power of modern sequence models can be unleashed for MARL. Central to our MAT is an encoder-decoder architecture which leverages the multi-agent advantage decomposition theorem to transform the joint policy search problem into a sequential decision making process; this renders only linear time complexity for multi-agent problems and, most importantly, endows MAT with monotonic performance improvement guarantee. Unlike prior arts such as Decision Transformer fit only pre-collected offline data, MAT is trained by online trial and error from the environment in an on-policy fashion. To validate MAT, we conduct extensive experiments on StarCraftII, Multi-Agent MuJoCo, Dexterous Hands Manipulation, and Google Research Football benchmarks. Results demonstrate that MAT achieves superior performance and data efficiency compared to strong baselines including MAPPO and HAPPO. Furthermore, we demonstrate that MAT is an excellent few-short learner on unseen tasks regardless of changes in the number of agents.See our project page at

Curious Exploration via Structured World Models Yields Zero-Shot Object Manipulation

Cansu Sancaktar · Sebastian Blaes · Georg Martius

It has been a long-standing dream to design artificial agents that explore their environment efficiently via intrinsic motivation, similar to how children perform curious free play. Despite recent advances in intrinsically motivated reinforcement learning (RL), sample-efficient exploration in object manipulation scenarios remains a significant challenge as most of the relevant information lies in the sparse agent-object and object-object interactions. In this paper, we propose to use structured world models to incorporate relational inductive biases in the control loop to achieve sample-efficient and interaction-rich exploration in compositional multi-object environments. By planning for future novelty inside structured world models, our method generates free-play behavior that starts to interact with objects early on and develops more complex behavior over time. Instead of using models only to compute intrinsic rewards, as commonly done, our method showcases that the self-reinforcing cycle between good models and good exploration also opens up another avenue: zero-shot generalization to downstream tasks via model-based planning. After the entirely intrinsic task-agnostic exploration phase, our method solves challenging downstream tasks such as stacking, flipping, pick & place, and throwing that generalizes to unseen numbers and arrangements of objects without any additional training.

VoxGRAF: Fast 3D-Aware Image Synthesis with Sparse Voxel Grids

Katja Schwarz · Axel Sauer · Michael Niemeyer · Yiyi Liao · Andreas Geiger

State-of-the-art 3D-aware generative models rely on coordinate-based MLPs to parameterize 3D radiance fields. While demonstrating impressive results, querying an MLP for every sample along each ray leads to slow rendering.Therefore, existing approaches often render low-resolution feature maps and process them with an upsampling network to obtain the final image. Albeit efficient, neural rendering often entangles viewpoint and content such that changing the camera pose results in unwanted changes of geometry or appearance.Motivated by recent results in voxel-based novel view synthesis, we investigate the utility of sparse voxel grid representations for fast and 3D-consistent generative modeling in this paper.Our results demonstrate that monolithic MLPs can indeed be replaced by 3D convolutions when combining sparse voxel grids with progressive growing, free space pruning and appropriate regularization.To obtain a compact representation of the scene and allow for scaling to higher voxel resolutions, our model disentangles the foreground object (modeled in 3D) from the background (modeled in 2D).In contrast to existing approaches, our method requires only a single forward pass to generate a full 3D scene. It hence allows for efficient rendering from arbitrary viewpoints while yielding 3D consistent results with high visual fidelity. Code and models are available at

Symmetry-induced Disentanglement on Graphs

Giangiacomo Mercatali · Andre Freitas · Vikas Garg

Learning disentangled representations is important for unraveling the underlying complex interactions between latent generative factors. Disentanglement has been formalized using a symmetry-centric notion for unstructured spaces, however, graphs have eluded a similarly rigorous treatment. We fill this gap with a new notion of conditional symmetry for disentanglement, and leverage tools from Lie algebras to encode graph properties into subgroups using suitable adaptations of generative models such as Variational Autoencoders. Unlike existing works on disentanglement, the proposed models segregate the latent space into uncoupled and entangled parts. Experiments on synthetic and real datasets suggest that these models can learn effective disengaged representations, and improve performance on downstream tasks such as few-shot classification and molecular generation.

An efficient graph generative model for navigating ultra-large combinatorial synthesis libraries

Aryan Pedawi · Pawel Gniewek · Chaoyi Chang · Brandon Anderson · Henry van den Bedem

Virtual, make-on-demand chemical libraries have transformed early-stage drug discovery by unlocking vast, synthetically accessible regions of chemical space. Recent years have witnessed rapid growth in these libraries from millions to trillions of compounds, hiding undiscovered, potent hits for a variety of therapeutic targets. However, they are quickly approaching a size beyond that which permits explicit enumeration, presenting new challenges for virtual screening. To overcome these challenges, we propose the Combinatorial Synthesis Library Variational Auto-Encoder (CSLVAE). The proposed generative model represents such libraries as a differentiable, hierarchically-organized database. Given a compound from the library, the molecular encoder constructs a query for retrieval, which is utilized by the molecular decoder to reconstruct the compound by first decoding its chemical reaction and subsequently decoding its reactants. Our design minimizes autoregression in the decoder, facilitating the generation of large, valid molecular graphs. Our method performs fast and parallel batch inference for ultra-large synthesis libraries, enabling a number of important applications in early-stage drug discovery. Compounds proposed by our method are guaranteed to be in the library, and thus synthetically and cost-effectively accessible. Importantly, CSLVAE can encode out-of-library compounds and search for in-library analogues. In experiments, we demonstrate the capabilities of the proposed method in the navigation of massive combinatorial synthesis libraries.

STaR: Bootstrapping Reasoning With Reasoning

Eric Zelikman · Yuhuai Wu · Jesse Mu · Noah Goodman

Generating step-by-step "chain-of-thought" rationales improves language model performance on complex reasoning tasks like mathematics or commonsense question-answering. However, inducing language model rationale generation currently requires either constructing massive rationale datasets or sacrificing accuracy by using only few-shot inference. We propose a technique to iteratively leverage a small number of rationale examples and a large dataset without rationales, to bootstrap the ability to perform successively more complex reasoning. This technique, the "Self-Taught Reasoner" (STaR), relies on a simple loop: generate rationales to answer many questions, prompted with a few rationale examples; if the generated answers are wrong, try again to generate a rationale given the correct answer; fine-tune on all the rationales that ultimately yielded correct answers; repeat. We show that STaR significantly improves performance on multiple datasets compared to a model fine-tuned to directly predict final answers, and performs comparably to fine-tuning a 30$\times$ larger state-of-the-art language model on CommensenseQA. Thus, STaR lets a model improve itself by learning from its own generated reasoning.

Learning Physics Constrained Dynamics Using Autoencoders

Tsung-Yen Yang · Justinian Rosca · Karthik Narasimhan · Peter J Ramadge

We consider the problem of estimating states (e.g., position and velocity) and physical parameters (e.g., friction, elasticity) from a sequence of observations when provided a dynamic equation that describes the behavior of the system. The dynamic equation can arise from first principles (e.g., Newton’s laws) and provide useful cues for learning, but its physical parameters are unknown. To address this problem, we propose a model that estimates states and physical parameters of the system using two main components. First, an autoencoder compresses a sequence of observations (e.g., sensor measurements, pixel images) into a sequence for the state representation that is consistent with physics by including a simulation of the dynamic equation. Second, an estimator is coupled with the autoencoder to predict the values of the physical parameters. We also theoretically and empirically show that using Fourier feature mappings improves generalization of the estimator in predicting physical parameters compared to raw state sequences. In our experiments on three visual and one sensor measurement tasks, our model imposes interpretability on latent states and achieves improved generalization performance for long-term prediction of system dynamics over state-of-the-art baselines.

LAMP: Extracting Text from Gradients with Language Model Priors

Mislav Balunovic · Dimitar Dimitrov · Nikola Jovanović · Martin Vechev

Recent work shows that sensitive user data can be reconstructed from gradient updates, breaking the key privacy promise of federated learning. While success was demonstrated primarily on image data, these methods do not directly transfer to other domains such as text. In this work, we propose LAMP, a novel attack tailored to textual data, that successfully reconstructs original text from gradients. Our attack is based on two key insights: (i) modelling prior text probability via an auxiliary language model, guiding the search towards more natural text, and (ii) alternating continuous and discrete optimization which minimizes reconstruction loss on embeddings while avoiding local minima via discrete text transformations. Our experiments demonstrate that LAMP is significantly more effective than prior work: it reconstructs 5x more bigrams and $23\%$ longer subsequences on average. Moreover, we are first to recover inputs from batch sizes larger than 1 for textual models. These findings indicate that gradient updates of models operating on textual data leak more information than previously thought.

Imbalance Trouble: Revisiting Neural-Collapse Geometry

Christos Thrampoulidis · Ganesh Ramachandra Kini · Vala Vakilian · Tina Behnia

Neural Collapse refers to the remarkable structural properties characterizing the geometry of class embeddings and classifier weights, found by deep nets when trained beyond zero training error. However, this characterization only holds for balanced data. Here we thus ask whether it can be made invariant to class imbalances. Towards this end, we adopt the unconstrained feature model (UFM), a recent theoretical model for studying neural collapse, and introduce $\text{\emph{Simplex-Encoded-Labels Interpolation}}$ (SELI) as an invariant characterization of the neural collapse phenomenon. Specifically, we prove for the UFM with cross-entropy loss and vanishing regularization that, irrespective of class imbalances, the embeddings and classifiers always interpolate a simplex-encoded label matrix and that their individual geometries are determined by the SVD factors of this same label matrix. We then present extensive experiments on synthetic and real datasets that confirm convergence to the SELI geometry. However, we caution that convergence worsens with increasing imbalances. We theoretically support this finding by showing that unlike the balanced case, when minorities are present, ridge-regularization plays a critical role in tweaking the geometry. This defines new questions and motivates further investigations into the impact of class imbalances on the rates at which first-order methods converge to their asymptotically preferred solutions.

ComENet: Towards Complete and Efficient Message Passing for 3D Molecular Graphs

Limei Wang · Yi Liu · Yuchao Lin · Haoran Liu · Shuiwang Ji

Many real-world data can be modeled as 3D graphs, but learning representations that incorporates 3D information completely and efficiently is challenging. Existing methods either use partial 3D information, or suffer from excessive computational cost. To incorporate 3D information completely and efficiently, we propose a novel message passing scheme that operates within 1-hop neighborhood. Our method guarantees full completeness of 3D information on 3D graphs by achieving global and local completeness. Notably, we propose the important rotation angles to fulfill global completeness. Additionally, we show that our method is orders of magnitude faster than prior methods. We provide rigorous proof of completeness and analysis of time complexity for our methods. As molecules are in essence quantum systems, we build the \underline{com}plete and \underline{e}fficient graph neural network (ComENet) by combing quantum inspired basis functions and the proposed message passing scheme. Experimental results demonstrate the capability and efficiency of ComENet, especially on real-world datasets that are large in both numbers and sizes of graphs. Our code is publicly available as part of the DIG library (\url{}).

Improved Imaging by Invex Regularizers with Global Optima Guarantees

Samuel Pinilla · Tingting Mu · Neil Bourne · Jeyan Thiyagalingam

Image reconstruction enhanced by regularizers, e.g., to enforce sparsity, low rank or smoothness priors on images, has many successful applications in vision tasks such as computer photography, biomedical and spectral imaging. It has been well accepted that non-convex regularizers normally perform better than convex ones in terms of the reconstruction quality. But their convergence analysis is only established to a critical point, rather than the global optima. To mitigate the loss of guarantees for global optima, we propose to apply the concept of invexity and provide the first list of proved invex regularizers for improving image reconstruction. Moreover, we establish convergence guarantees to global optima for various advanced image reconstruction techniques after being improved by such invex regularization. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first practical work applying invex regularization to improve imaging with global optima guarantees. To demonstrate the effectiveness of invex regularization, numerical experiments are conducted for various imaging tasks using benchmark datasets.

Trade-off between Payoff and Model Rewards in Shapley-Fair Collaborative Machine Learning

Quoc Phong Nguyen · Bryan Kian Hsiang Low · Patrick Jaillet

This paper investigates the problem of fairly trading off between payoff and model rewards in collaborative machine learning (ML) where parties aggregate their datasets together to obtain improved ML models over that of each party. Supposing parties can afford the optimal model trained on the aggregated dataset, we propose an allocation scheme that distributes the payoff fairly. Notably, the same scheme can be derived from two different approaches based on (a) desirable properties of the parties' payoffs or (b) that of the underlying payoff flows from one party to another. While the former is conceptually simpler, the latter can be used to handle the practical constraint on the budgets of parties. In particular, we propose desirable properties for achieving a fair adjustment of the payoff flows that can trade off between the model reward's performance and the payoff reward. We empirically demonstrate that our proposed scheme is a sensible solution in several scenarios of collaborative ML with different budget constraints.

Follow-the-Perturbed-Leader for Adversarial Markov Decision Processes with Bandit Feedback

Yan Dai · Haipeng Luo · Liyu Chen

We consider regret minimization for Adversarial Markov Decision Processes (AMDPs), where the loss functions are changing over time and adversarially chosen, and the learner only observes the losses for the visited state-action pairs (i.e., bandit feedback). While there has been a surge of studies on this problem using Online-Mirror-Descent (OMD) methods, very little is known about the Follow-the-Perturbed-Leader (FTPL) methods, which are usually computationally more efficient and also easier to implement since it only requires solving an offline planning problem. Motivated by this, we take a closer look at FTPL for learning AMDPs, starting from the standard episodic finite-horizon setting. We find some unique and intriguing difficulties in the analysis and propose a workaround to eventually show that FTPL is also able to achieve near-optimal regret bounds in this case. More importantly, we then find two significant applications: First, the analysis of FTPL turns out to be readily generalizable to delayed bandit feedback with order-optimal regret, while OMD methods exhibit extra difficulties (Jin et al., 2022). Second, using FTPL, we also develop the first no-regret algorithm for learning communicating AMDPs in the infinite-horizon setting with bandit feedback and stochastic transitions. Our algorithm is efficient assuming access to an offline planning oracle, while even for the easier full-information setting, the only existing algorithm (Chandrasekaran and Tewari, 2021) is computationally inefficient.

Learning from Distributed Users in Contextual Linear Bandits Without Sharing the Context

Osama Hanna · Lin Yang · Christina Fragouli

Contextual linear bandits is a rich and theoretically important model that has many practical applications. Recently, this setup gained a lot of interest in applications over wireless where communication constraints can be a performance bottleneck, especially when the contexts come from a large $d$-dimensional space. In this paper, we consider the distributed contextual linear bandit learning problem, where the agents who observe the contexts and take actions are geographically separated from the learner who performs the learning while not seeing the contexts. We assume that contexts are generated from a distribution and propose a method that uses $\approx 5d$ bits per context for the case of unknown context distribution and $0$ bits per context if the context distribution is known, while achieving nearly the same regret bound as if the contexts were directly observable. The former bound improves upon existing bounds by a $\log(T)$ factor, where $T$ is the length of the horizon, while the latter achieves information theoretical tightness.

Consistency of Constrained Spectral Clustering under Graph Induced Fair Planted Partitions

Shubham Gupta · Ambedkar Dukkipati

Spectral clustering is popular among practitioners and theoreticians alike. While performance guarantees for spectral clustering are well understood, recent studies have focused on enforcing "fairness" in clusters, requiring them to be "balanced" with respect to a categorical sensitive node attribute (e.g. the race distribution in clusters must match the race distribution in the population). In this paper, we consider a setting where sensitive attributes indirectly manifest in an auxiliary representation graph rather than being directly observed. This graph specifies node pairs that can represent each other with respect to sensitive attributes and is observed in addition to the usual similarity graph. Our goal is to find clusters in the similarity graph while respecting a new individual-level fairness constraint encoded by the representation graph. We develop variants of unnormalized and normalized spectral clustering for this task and analyze their performance under a fair planted partition model induced by the representation graph. This model uses both the cluster membership of the nodes and the structure of the representation graph to generate random similarity graphs. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first consistency results for constrained spectral clustering under an individual-level fairness constraint. Numerical results corroborate our theoretical findings.

Adversarial Reprogramming Revisited

Matthias Englert · Ranko Lazic

Adversarial reprogramming, introduced by Elsayed, Goodfellow, and Sohl-Dickstein, seeks to repurpose a neural network to perform a different task, by manipulating its input without modifying its weights. We prove that two-layer ReLU neural networks with random weights can be adversarially reprogrammed to achieve arbitrarily high accuracy on Bernoulli data models over hypercube vertices, provided the network width is no greater than its input dimension. We also substantially strengthen a recent result of Phuong and Lampert on directional convergence of gradient flow, and obtain as a corollary that training two-layer ReLU neural networks on orthogonally separable datasets can cause their adversarial reprogramming to fail. We support these theoretical results by experiments that demonstrate that, as long as batch normalisation layers are suitably initialised, even untrained networks with random weights are susceptible to adversarial reprogramming. This is in contrast to observations in several recent works that suggested that adversarial reprogramming is not possible for untrained networks to any degree of reliability.

AutoML Two-Sample Test

Jonas M. Kübler · Vincent Stimper · Simon Buchholz · Krikamol Muandet · Bernhard Schölkopf

Two-sample tests are important in statistics and machine learning, both as tools for scientific discovery as well as to detect distribution shifts.This led to the development of many sophisticated test procedures going beyond the standard supervised learning frameworks, whose usage can require specialized knowledge about two-sample testing. We use a simple test that takes the mean discrepancy of a witness function as the test statistic and prove that minimizing a squared loss leads to a witness with optimal testing power. This allows us to leverage recent advancements in AutoML. Without any user input about the problems at hand, and using the same method for all our experiments, our AutoML two-sample test achieves competitive performance on a diverse distribution shift benchmark as well as on challenging two-sample testing problems.

A Communication-efficient Algorithm with Linear Convergence for Federated Minimax Learning

Zhenyu Sun · Ermin Wei

In this paper, we study a large-scale multi-agent minimax optimization problem, which models many interesting applications in statistical learning and game theory, including Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). The overall objective is a sum of agents' private local objective functions. We focus on the federated setting, where agents can perform local computation and communicate with a central server. Most existing federated minimax algorithms either require communication per iteration or lack performance guarantees with the exception of Local Stochastic Gradient Descent Ascent (SGDA), a multiple-local-update descent ascent algorithm which guarantees convergence under a diminishing stepsize. By analyzing Local SGDA under the ideal condition of no gradient noise, we show that generally it cannot guarantee exact convergence with constant stepsizes and thus suffers from slow rates of convergence. To tackle this issue, we propose FedGDA-GT, an improved Federated (Fed) Gradient Descent Ascent (GDA) method based on Gradient Tracking (GT). When local objectives are Lipschitz smooth and strongly-convex-strongly-concave, we prove that FedGDA-GT converges linearly with a constant stepsize to global $\epsilon$-approximation solution with $\mathcal{O}(\log (1/\epsilon))$ rounds of communication, which matches the time complexity of centralized GDA method. Then, we analyze the general distributed minimax problem from a statistical aspect, where the overall objective approximates a true population minimax risk by empirical samples. We provide generalization bounds for learning with this objective through Rademacher complexity analysis. Finally, we numerically show that FedGDA-GT outperforms Local SGDA.

Randomized Sketches for Clustering: Fast and Optimal Kernel $k$-Means

Rong Yin · Yong Liu · Weiping Wang · Dan Meng

Kernel $k$-means is arguably one of the most common approaches to clustering. In this paper, we investigate the efficiency of kernel $k$-means combined with randomized sketches in terms of both statistical analysis and computational requirements. More precisely, we propose a unified randomized sketches framework to kernel $k$-means and investigate its excess risk bounds, obtaining the state-of-the-art risk bound with only a fraction of computations. Indeed, we prove that it suffices to choose the sketch dimension $\Omega(\sqrt{n})$ to obtain the same accuracy of exact kernel $k$-means with greatly reducing the computational costs, for sub-Gaussian sketches, the randomized orthogonal system (ROS) sketches, and Nystr\"{o}m kernel $k$-means, where $n$ is the number of samples. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first result of this kind for unsupervised learning. Finally, the numerical experiments on simulated data and real-world datasets validate our theoretical analysis.

Outstanding Paper
On-Demand Sampling: Learning Optimally from Multiple Distributions

Nika Haghtalab · Michael Jordan · Eric Zhao

Societal and real-world considerations such as robustness, fairness, social welfare and multi-agent tradeoffs have given rise to multi-distribution learning paradigms, such as collaborative [Blum et al. 2017], group distributionally robust [Sagawa et al. 2019], and fair federated learning [Mohri et al. 2019]. In each of these settings, a learner seeks to minimize its worstcase loss over a set of $n$ predefined distributions, while using as few samples as possible. In this paper, we establish the optimal sample complexity of these learning paradigms and give algorithms that meet this sample complexity. Importantly, our sample complexity bounds exceed that of the sample complexity of learning a single distribution only by an additive factor of $\frac{n\log(n)}{\epsilon^2}$. These improve upon the best known sample complexity of agnostic federated learning by Mohri et al. 2019 by a multiplicative factor of $n$, the sample complexity of collaborative learning by Nguyen and Zakynthinou 2018 by a multiplicative factor $\frac{\log(n)}{\epsilon^3}$, and give the first sample complexity bounds for the group DRO objective of Sagawa et al. 2019. To achieve optimal sample complexity, our algorithms learn to sample and learn from distributions on demand. Our algorithm design and analysis extends stochastic optimization techniques to solve zero-sum games in a new stochastic setting.

Constrained Langevin Algorithms with L-mixing External Random Variables

Yuping Zheng · Andrew Lamperski

Langevin algorithms are gradient descent methods augmented with additive noise, and are widely used in Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling, optimization, and machine learning. In recent years, the non-asymptotic analysis of Langevin algorithms for non-convex learning has been extensively explored. For constrained problems with non-convex losses over a compact convex domain with IID data variables, the projected Langevin algorithm achieves a deviation of $O(T^{-1/4} (\log T)^{1/2})$ from its target distribution \cite{lamperski2021projected} in $1$-Wasserstein distance. In this paper, we obtain a deviation of $O(T^{-1/2} \log T)$ in $1$-Wasserstein distance for non-convex losses with $L$-mixing data variables and polyhedral constraints (which are not necessarily bounded). This improves on the previous bound for constrained problems and matches the best-known bound for unconstrained problems.

Gradient-Free Methods for Deterministic and Stochastic Nonsmooth Nonconvex Optimization

Tianyi Lin · Zeyu Zheng · Michael Jordan

Nonsmooth nonconvex optimization problems broadly emerge in machine learning and business decision making, whereas two core challenges impede the development of efficient solution methods with finite-time convergence guarantee: the lack of computationally tractable optimality criterion and the lack of computationally powerful oracles. The contributions of this paper are two-fold. First, we establish the relationship between the celebrated Goldstein subdifferential~\citep{Goldstein-1977-Optimization} and uniform smoothing, thereby providing the basis and intuition for the design of gradient-free methods that guarantee the finite-time convergence to a set of Goldstein stationary points. Second, we propose the gradient-free method (GFM) and stochastic GFM for solving a class of nonsmooth nonconvex optimization problems and prove that both of them can return a $(\delta,\epsilon)$-Goldstein stationary point of a Lipschitz function $f$ at an expected convergence rate at $O(d^{3/2}\delta^{-1}\epsilon^{-4})$ where $d$ is the problem dimension. Two-phase versions of GFM and SGFM are also proposed and proven to achieve improved large-deviation results. Finally, we demonstrate the effectiveness of 2-SGFM on training ReLU neural networks with the \textsc{Minst} dataset.

Fair Wrapping for Black-box Predictions

Alexander Soen · Ibrahim Alabdulmohsin · Sanmi Koyejo · Yishay Mansour · Nyalleng Moorosi · Richard Nock · Ke Sun · Lexing Xie

We introduce a new family of techniques to post-process (``wrap") a black-box classifier in order to reduce its bias. Our technique builds on the recent analysis of improper loss functions whose optimization can correct any twist in prediction, unfairness being treated as a twist. In the post-processing, we learn a wrapper function which we define as an $\alpha$-tree, which modifies the prediction. We provide two generic boosting algorithms to learn $\alpha$-trees. We show that our modification has appealing properties in terms of composition of $\alpha$-trees, generalization, interpretability, and KL divergence between modified and original predictions. We exemplify the use of our technique in three fairness notions: conditional value-at-risk, equality of opportunity, and statistical parity; and provide experiments on several readily available datasets.

Do Residual Neural Networks discretize Neural Ordinary Differential Equations?

Michael Sander · Pierre Ablin · Gabriel Peyré

Neural Ordinary Differential Equations (Neural ODEs) are the continuous analog of Residual Neural Networks (ResNets). We investigate whether the discrete dynamics defined by a ResNet are close to the continuous one of a Neural ODE. We first quantify the distance between the ResNet's hidden state trajectory and the solution of its corresponding Neural ODE. Our bound is tight and, on the negative side, does not go to $0$ with depth $N$ if the residual functions are not smooth with depth. On the positive side, we show that this smoothness is preserved by gradient descent for a ResNet with linear residual functions and small enough initial loss. It ensures an implicit regularization towards a limit Neural ODE at rate $\frac1N$, uniformly with depth and optimization time. As a byproduct of our analysis, we consider the use of a memory-free discrete adjoint method to train a ResNet by recovering the activations on the fly through a backward pass of the network, and show that this method theoretically succeeds at large depth if the residual functions are Lipschitz with the input. We then show that Heun's method, a second order ODE integration scheme, allows for better gradient estimation with the adjoint method when the residual functions are smooth with depth. We experimentally validate that our adjoint method succeeds at large depth, and that Heun’s method needs fewer layers to succeed. We finally use the adjoint method successfully for fine-tuning very deep ResNets without memory consumption in the residual layers.

Recipe for a General, Powerful, Scalable Graph Transformer

Ladislav Rampášek · Michael Galkin · Vijay Prakash Dwivedi · Anh Tuan Luu · Guy Wolf · Dominique Beaini

We propose a recipe on how to build a general, powerful, scalable (GPS) graph Transformer with linear complexity and state-of-the-art results on a diverse set of benchmarks. Graph Transformers (GTs) have gained popularity in the field of graph representation learning with a variety of recent publications but they lack a common foundation about what constitutes a good positional or structural encoding, and what differentiates them. In this paper, we summarize the different types of encodings with a clearer definition and categorize them as being $\textit{local}$, $\textit{global}$ or $\textit{relative}$. The prior GTs are constrained to small graphs with a few hundred nodes, here we propose the first architecture with a complexity linear in the number of nodes and edges $O(N+E)$ by decoupling the local real-edge aggregation from the fully-connected Transformer. We argue that this decoupling does not negatively affect the expressivity, with our architecture being a universal function approximator on graphs. Our GPS recipe consists of choosing 3 main ingredients: (i) positional/structural encoding, (ii) local message-passing mechanism, and (iii) global attention mechanism. We provide a modular framework $\textit{GraphGPS}$ that supports multiple types of encodings and that provides efficiency and scalability both in small and large graphs. We test our architecture on 16 benchmarks and show highly competitive results in all of them, show-casing the empirical benefits gained by the modularity and the combination of different strategies.

Confident Adaptive Language Modeling

Tal Schuster · Adam Fisch · Jai Gupta · Mostafa Dehghani · Dara Bahri · Vinh Tran · Yi Tay · Donald Metzler

Recent advances in Transformer-based large language models (LLMs) have led to significant performance improvements across many tasks. These gains come with a drastic increase in the models' size, potentially leading to slow and costly use at inference time. In practice, however, the series of generations made by LLMs is composed of varying levels of difficulty. While certain predictions truly benefit from the models' full capacity, other continuations are more trivial and can be solved with reduced compute. In this work, we introduce Confident Adaptive Language Modeling (CALM), a framework for dynamically allocating different amounts of compute per input and generation timestep. Early exit decoding involves several challenges that we address here, such as: (1) what confidence measure to use; (2) connecting sequence-level constraints to local per-token exit decisions; and (3) attending back to missing hidden representations due to early exits in previous tokens. Through theoretical analysis and empirical experiments on three diverse text generation tasks, we demonstrate the efficacy of our framework in reducing compute---potential speedup of up to $\times 3$---while provably maintaining high performance.

Are AlphaZero-like Agents Robust to Adversarial Perturbations?

Li-Cheng Lan · Huan Zhang · Ti-Rong Wu · Meng-Yu Tsai · I-Chen Wu · Cho-Jui Hsieh

The success of AlphaZero (AZ) has demonstrated that neural-network-based Go AIs can surpass human performance by a large margin. Given that the state space of Go is extremely large and a human player can play the game from any legal state, we ask whether adversarial states exist for Go AIs that may lead them to play surprisingly wrong actions.In this paper, we first extend the concept of adversarial examples to the game of Go: we generate perturbed states that are ``semantically'' equivalent to the original state by adding meaningless moves to the game, and an adversarial state is a perturbed state leading to an undoubtedly inferior action that is obvious even for Go beginners. However, searching the adversarial state is challenging due to the large, discrete, and non-differentiable search space. To tackle this challenge, we develop the first adversarial attack on Go AIs that can efficiently search for adversarial states by strategically reducing the search space. This method can also be extended to other board games such as NoGo. Experimentally, we show that the actions taken by both Policy-Value neural network (PV-NN) and Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS) can be misled by adding one or two meaningless stones; for example, on 58\% of the AlphaGo Zero self-play games, our method can make the widely used KataGo agent with 50 simulations of MCTS plays a losing action by adding two meaningless stones. We additionally evaluated the adversarial examples found by our algorithm with amateur human Go players, and 90\% of examples indeed lead the Go agent to play an obviously inferior action. Ourcode is available at \url{}.

Non-rigid Point Cloud Registration with Neural Deformation Pyramid

YANG LI · Tatsuya Harada

Non-rigid point cloud registration is a key component in many computer vision and computer graphics applications. The high complexity of the unknown non-rigid motion make this task a challenging problem. In this paper, we break down this problem via hierarchical motion decomposition. Our method called Neural Deformation Pyramid (NDP) represents non-rigid motion using a pyramid architecture. Each pyramid level, denoted by a Multi-Layer Perception (MLP), takes as input a sinusoidally encoded 3D point and outputs its motion increments from the previous level. The sinusoidal function starts with a low input frequency and gradually increases when the pyramid level goes down. This allows a multi-level rigid to nonrigid motion decomposition and also speeds up the solving by ×50 times compared to the existing MLP-based approach. Our method achieves advanced partial-to-partial non-rigid point cloud registration results on the 4DMatch/4DLoMatchbenchmark under both no-learned and supervised settings.

Peripheral Vision Transformer

Juhong Min · Yucheng Zhao · Chong Luo · Minsu Cho

Human vision possesses a special type of visual processing systems called peripheral vision. Partitioning the entire visual field into multiple contour regions based on the distance to the center of our gaze, the peripheral vision provides us the ability to perceive various visual features at different regions. In this work, we take a biologically inspired approach and explore to model peripheral vision in deep neural networks for visual recognition. We propose to incorporate peripheral position encoding to the multi-head self-attention layers to let the network learn to partition the visual field into diverse peripheral regions given training data. We evaluate the proposed network, dubbed PerViT, on ImageNet-1K and systematically investigate the inner workings of the model for machine perception, showing that the network learns to perceive visual data similarly to the way that human vision does. The performance improvements in image classification over the baselines across different model sizes demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed method.

Mind Reader: Reconstructing complex images from brain activities

Sikun Lin · Thomas Sprague · Ambuj K Singh

Understanding how the brain encodes external stimuli and how these stimuli can be decoded from the measured brain activities are long-standing and challenging questions in neuroscience. In this paper, we focus on reconstructing the complex image stimuli from fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) signals. Unlike previous works that reconstruct images with single objects or simple shapes, our work aims to reconstruct image stimuli that are rich in semantics, closer to everyday scenes, and can reveal more perspectives. However, data scarcity of fMRI datasets is the main obstacle to applying state-of-the-art deep learning models to this problem. We find that incorporating an additional text modality is beneficial for the reconstruction problem compared to directly translating brain signals to images. Therefore, the modalities involved in our method are: (i) voxel-level fMRI signals, (ii) observed images that trigger the brain signals, and (iii) textual description of the images. To further address data scarcity, we leverage an aligned vision-language latent space pre-trained on massive datasets. Instead of training models from scratch to find a latent space shared by the three modalities, we encode fMRI signals into this pre-aligned latent space. Then, conditioned on embeddings in this space, we reconstruct images with a generative model. The reconstructed images from our pipeline balance both naturalness and fidelity: they are photo-realistic and capture the ground truth image contents well.

RTFormer: Efficient Design for Real-Time Semantic Segmentation with Transformer

Jian Wang · Chenhui Gou · Qiman Wu · Haocheng Feng · Junyu Han · Errui Ding · Jingdong Wang

Recently, transformer-based networks have shown impressive results in semantic segmentation. Yet for real-time semantic segmentation, pure CNN-based approaches still dominate in this field, due to the time-consuming computation mechanism of transformer. We propose RTFormer, an efficient dual-resolution transformer for real-time semantic segmenation, which achieves better trade-off between performance and efficiency than CNN-based models. To achieve high inference efficiency on GPU-like devices, our RTFormer leverages GPU-Friendly Attention with linear complexity and discards the multi-head mechanism. Besides, we find that cross-resolution attention is more efficient to gather global context information for high-resolution branch by spreading the high level knowledge learned from low-resolution branch. Extensive experiments on mainstream benchmarks demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed RTFormer, it achieves state-of-the-art on Cityscapes, CamVid and COCOStuff, and shows promising results on ADE20K.

Few-shot Relational Reasoning via Connection Subgraph Pretraining

Qian Huang · Hongyu Ren · Jure Leskovec

Few-shot knowledge graph (KG) completion task aims to perform inductive reasoning over the KG: given only a few support triplets of a new relation $\bowtie$ (e.g., (chop,$\bowtie$,kitchen), (read,$\bowtie$,library), the goal is to predict the query triplets of the same unseen relation $\bowtie$, e.g., (sleep,$\bowtie$,?). Current approaches cast the problem in a meta-learning framework, where the model needs to be first jointly trained over many training few-shot tasks, each being defined by its own relation, so that learning/prediction on the target few-shot task can be effective. However, in real-world KGs, curating many training tasks is a challenging ad hoc process. Here we propose Connection Subgraph Reasoner (CSR), which can make predictions for the target few-shot task directly without the need for pre-training on the human curated set of training tasks. The key to CSR is that we explicitly model a shared connection subgraph between support and query triplets, as inspired by the principle of eliminative induction. To adapt to specific KG, we design a corresponding self-supervised pretraining scheme with the objective of reconstructing automatically sampled connection subgraphs. Our pretrained model can then be directly applied to target few-shot tasks on without the need for training few-shot tasks. Extensive experiments on real KGs, including NELL, FB15K-237, and ConceptNet, demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework: we show that even a learning-free implementation of CSR can already perform competitively to existing methods on target few-shot tasks; with pretraining, CSR can achieve significant gains of up to 52% on the more challenging inductive few-shot tasks where the entities are also unseen during (pre)training.

ASPiRe: Adaptive Skill Priors for Reinforcement Learning

Mengda Xu · Manuela Veloso · Shuran Song

We introduce ASPiRe (Adaptive Skill Prior for RL), a new approach that leverages prior experience to accelerate reinforcement learning. Unlike existing methods that learn a single skill prior from a large and diverse dataset, our framework learns a library of different distinction skill priors (i.e., behavior priors) from a collection of specialized datasets, and learns how to combine them to solve a new task. This formulation allows the algorithm to acquire a set of specialized skill priors that are more reusable for downstream tasks; however, it also brings up additional challenges of how to effectively combine these unstructured sets of skill priors to form a new prior for new tasks. Specifically, it requires the agent not only to identify which skill prior(s) to use but also how to combine them (either sequentially or concurrently) to form a new prior. To achieve this goal, ASPiRe includes Adaptive Weight Module (AWM) that learns to infer an adaptive weight assignment between different skill priors and uses them to guide policy learning for downstream tasks via weighted Kullback-Leibler divergences. Our experiments demonstrate that ASPiRe can significantly accelerate the learning of new downstream tasks in the presence of multiple priors and show improvement on competitive baselines.

Point Transformer V2: Grouped Vector Attention and Partition-based Pooling

Xiaoyang Wu · Yixing Lao · Li Jiang · Xihui Liu · Hengshuang Zhao

As a pioneering work exploring transformer architecture for 3D point cloud understanding, Point Transformer achieves impressive results on multiple highly competitive benchmarks. In this work, we analyze the limitations of the Point Transformer and propose our powerful and efficient Point Transformer V2 model with novel designs that overcome the limitations of previous work. In particular, we first propose group vector attention, which is more effective than the previous version of vector attention. Inheriting the advantages of both learnable weight encoding and multi-head attention, we present a highly effective implementation of grouped vector attention with a novel grouped weight encoding layer. We also strengthen the position information for attention by an additional position encoding multiplier. Furthermore, we design novel and lightweight partition-based pooling methods which enable better spatial alignment and more efficient sampling. Extensive experiments show that our model achieves better performance than its predecessor and achieves state-of-the-art on several challenging 3D point cloud understanding benchmarks, including 3D point cloud segmentation on ScanNet v2 and S3DIS and 3D point cloud classification on ModelNet40. Our code will be available at

M³ViT: Mixture-of-Experts Vision Transformer for Efficient Multi-task Learning with Model-Accelerator Co-design

hanxue liang · Zhiwen Fan · Rishov Sarkar · Ziyu Jiang · Tianlong Chen · Kai Zou · Yu Cheng · Cong Hao · Zhangyang Wang

Multi-task learning (MTL) encapsulates multiple learned tasks in a single model and often lets those tasks learn better jointly. Multi-tasking models have become successful and often essential for many sophisticated systems such as autonomous driving and indoor robots. However, when deploying MTL onto those real-world systems that are often resource-constrained or latency-sensitive, two prominent challenges arise: (i) during training, simultaneously optimizing all tasks is often difficult due to gradient conflicts across tasks, and the challenge is amplified when a growing number of tasks have to be squeezed into one compact model; (ii) at inference, current MTL regimes have to activate nearly the entire model even to just execute a single task. Yet most real systems demand only one or two tasks at each moment, while flexibly switching between tasks per need: therefore such “all tasks activated” inference is also highly inefficient and non-scalable in practice. In this paper, we present a model-accelerator co-design framework to enable efficient on-device MTL, that tackles both training and inference bottlenecks. Our framework, dubbed M³ViT, customizes mixture-of-experts (MoE) layers into a vision transformer (ViT) backbone for MTL, and sparsely activates task-specific experts during training, which effectively disentangles the parameter spaces to avoid different tasks’ training conflicts. Then at inference with any task of interest, the same design allows for activating only the task-corresponding sparse “expert” pathway, instead of the full model. Our new model design is further enhanced by hardware-level innovations, in particular, a novel computation reordering scheme tailored for memory-constrained MTL that achieves zero-overhead switching between tasks and can scale to any number of experts. Extensive experiments on PASCAL-Context and NYUD-v2 datasets at both software and hardware levels are conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed design. When executing the practical scenario of single-task inference, M³ViT achieves higher accuracies than encoder-focused MTL methods, while significantly reducing 88% inference FLOPs. When implemented on a hardware platform of one Xilinx ZCU104 FPGA, our co-design framework reduces the memory requirement by 2.40×, while achieving energy efficiency (as the product of latency and power) up to 9.23× times higher than a comparable FPGA baseline.

Deep Compression of Pre-trained Transformer Models

Naigang Wang · Chi-Chun (Charlie) Liu · Swagath Venkataramani · Sanchari Sen · Chia-Yu Chen · Kaoutar El Maghraoui · Vijayalakshmi (Viji) Srinivasan · Leland Chang

Pre-trained transformer models have achieved remarkable success in natural language processing (NLP) and have recently become competitive alternatives to Convolution Neural Networks (CNN) and Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) in vision and speech tasks, respectively. Due to excellent computational efficiency and scalability, transformer models can be trained on exceedingly large amounts of data; however, model sizes can grow tremendously. As high performance, large-scale, and pre-trained transformer models become available for users to download and fine-tune for customized downstream tasks, the deployment of these models becomes challenging due to the vast amount of operations and large memory footprint. To address this challenge, we introduce methods to deeply compress pre-trained transformer models across three major application domains: NLP, speech, and vision. Specifically, we quantize transformer backbones down to 4-bit and further achieve 50% fine-grained structural sparsity on pre-trained BERT, Wav2vec2.0 and Vision Transformer (ViT) models to achieve 16x compression while maintaining model accuracy. This is achieved by identifying the critical initialization for quantization/sparsity aware fine-tuning, as well as novel techniques including quantizers with zero-preserving format and scheduled dropout. These hardware-friendly techniques need only to be applied in the fine-tuning phase for downstream tasks; hence, are especially suitable for acceleration and deployment of pre-trained transformer models.

A Variational Edge Partition Model for Supervised Graph Representation Learning

Yilin He · Chaojie Wang · Hao Zhang · Bo Chen · Mingyuan Zhou

Graph neural networks (GNNs), which propagate the node features through the edges and learn how to transform the aggregated features under label supervision, have achieved great success in supervised feature extraction for both node-level and graph-level classification tasks. However, GNNs typically treat the graph structure as given and ignore how the edges are formed. This paper introduces a graph generative process to model how the observed edges are generated by aggregating the node interactions over a set of overlapping node communities, each of which contributes to the edges via a logical OR mechanism. Based on this generative model, we partition each edge into the summation of multiple community-specific weighted edges and use them to define community-specific GNNs. A variational inference framework is proposed to jointly learn a GNN-based inference network that partitions the edges into different communities, these community-specific GNNs, and a GNN-based predictor that combines community-specific GNNs for the end classification task. Extensive evaluations on real-world graph datasets have verified the effectiveness of the proposed method in learning discriminative representations for both node-level and graph-level classification tasks.

MCMAE: Masked Convolution Meets Masked Autoencoders

Peng Gao · Teli Ma · Hongsheng Li · Ziyi Lin · Jifeng Dai · Yu Qiao

Vision Transformers (ViT) become widely-adopted architectures for various vision tasks. Masked auto-encoding for feature pretraining and multi-scale hybrid convolution-transformer architectures can further unleash the potentials of ViT, leading to state-of-the-art performances on image classification, detection and semantic segmentation. In this paper, our MCMAE framework demonstrates that multi-scale hybrid convolution-transformer can learn more discriminative representations via the mask auto-encoding scheme. However, directly using the original masking strategy leads to the heavy computational cost and pretraining-finetuning discrepancy. To tackle the issue, we adopt the masked convolution to prevent information leakage in the convolution blocks. A simple block-wise masking strategy is proposed to ensure computational efficiency. We also propose to more directly supervise the multi-scale features of the encoder to boost multi-scale features. Based on our pretrained MCMAE models, MCMAE-Base improves ImageNet-1K finetuning accuracy by 1.4% compared with MAE-Base. On object detection, MCMAE-Base finetuned for only 25 epochs surpasses MAE-Base fined-tuned for 100 epochs by 2.9% box AP and 2.2% mask AP respectively. Code and pretrained models are available at \url{}.

Neural-Symbolic Entangled Framework for Complex Query Answering

Zezhong Xu · Wen Zhang · Peng Ye · Hui Chen · Huajun Chen

Answering complex queries over knowledge graphs (KG) is an important yet challenging task because of the KG incompleteness issue and cascading errors during reasoning. Recent query embedding (QE) approaches embed the entities and relations in a KG and the first-order logic (FOL) queries into a low dimensional space, making the query can be answered by dense similarity searching. However, previous works mainly concentrate on the target answers, ignoring intermediate entities' usefulness, which is essential for relieving the cascading error problem in logical query answering. In addition, these methods are usually designed with their own geometric or distributional embeddings to handle logical operators like union, intersection, and negation, with the sacrifice of the accuracy of the basic operator -- projection, and they could not absorb other embedding methods to their models. In this work, we propose a Neural and Symbolic Entangled framework (ENeSy) for complex query answering, which enables the neural and symbolic reasoning to enhance each other to alleviate the cascading error and KG incompleteness. The projection operator in ENeSy could be any embedding method with the capability of link prediction, and the other FOL operators are handled without parameters. With both neural and symbolic reasoning results contained, ENeSy answers queries in ensembles. We evaluate ENeSy on complex query answering benchmarks, and ENeSy achieves the state-of-the-art, especially in the setting of training model only with the link prediction task.

SwinTrack: A Simple and Strong Baseline for Transformer Tracking

Liting Lin · Heng Fan · Zhipeng Zhang · Yong Xu · Haibin Ling

Recently Transformer has been largely explored in tracking and shown state-of-the-art (SOTA) performance. However, existing efforts mainly focus on fusing and enhancing features generated by convolutional neural networks (CNNs). The potential of Transformer in representation learning remains under-explored. In this paper, we aim to further unleash the power of Transformer by proposing a simple yet efficient fully-attentional tracker, dubbed SwinTrack, within classic Siamese framework. In particular, both representation learning and feature fusion in SwinTrack leverage the Transformer architecture, enabling better feature interactions for tracking than pure CNN or hybrid CNN-Transformer frameworks. Besides, to further enhance robustness, we present a novel motion token that embeds historical target trajectory to improve tracking by providing temporal context. Our motion token is lightweight with negligible computation but brings clear gains. In our thorough experiments, SwinTrack exceeds existing approaches on multiple benchmarks. Particularly, on the challenging LaSOT, SwinTrack sets a new record with 0.713 SUC score. It also achieves SOTA results on other benchmarks. We expect SwinTrack to serve as a solid baseline for Transformer tracking and facilitate future research. Our codes and results are released at

OnePose++: Keypoint-Free One-Shot Object Pose Estimation without CAD Models

Xingyi He · Jiaming Sun · Yuang Wang · Di Huang · Hujun Bao · Xiaowei Zhou

We propose a new method for object pose estimation without CAD models. The previous feature-matching-based method OnePose has shown promising results under a one-shot setting which eliminates the need for CAD models or object-specific training. However, OnePose relies on detecting repeatable image keypoints and is thus prone to failure on low-textured objects. We propose a keypoint-free pose estimation pipeline to remove the need for repeatable keypoint detection. Built upon the detector-free feature matching method LoFTR, we devise a new keypoint-free SfM method to reconstruct a semi-dense point-cloud model for the object. Given a query image for object pose estimation, a 2D-3D matching network directly establishes 2D-3D correspondences between the query image and the reconstructed point-cloud model without first detecting keypoints in the image. Experiments show that the proposed pipeline outperforms existing one-shot CAD-model-free methods by a large margin and is comparable to CAD-model-based methods on LINEMOD even for low-textured objects. We also collect a new dataset composed of 80 sequences of 40 low-textured objects to facilitate future research on one-shot object pose estimation. The supplementary material, code and dataset are available on the project page:

Learning Neural Acoustic Fields

Andrew Luo · Yilun Du · Michael Tarr · Josh Tenenbaum · Antonio Torralba · Chuang Gan

Our environment is filled with rich and dynamic acoustic information. When we walk into a cathedral, the reverberations as much as appearance inform us of the sanctuary's wide open space. Similarly, as an object moves around us, we expect the sound emitted to also exhibit this movement. While recent advances in learned implicit functions have led to increasingly higher quality representations of the visual world, there have not been commensurate advances in learning spatial auditory representations. To address this gap, we introduce Neural Acoustic Fields (NAFs), an implicit representation that captures how sounds propagate in a physical scene. By modeling acoustic propagation in a scene as a linear time-invariant system, NAFs learn to continuously map all emitter and listener location pairs to a neural impulse response function that can then be applied to arbitrary sounds. We demonstrate NAFs on both synthetic and real data, and show that the continuous nature of NAFs enables us to render spatial acoustics for a listener at arbitrary locations. We further show that the representation learned by NAFs can help improve visual learning with sparse views. Finally we show that a representation informative of scene structure emerges during the learning of NAFs.

Subgroup Robustness Grows On Trees: An Empirical Baseline Investigation

Josh Gardner · Zoran Popovic · Ludwig Schmidt

Researchers have proposed many methods for fair and robust machine learning, but comprehensive empirical evaluation of their subgroup robustness is lacking. In this work, we address this gap in the context of tabular data, where sensitive subgroups are clearly-defined, real-world fairness problems abound, and prior works often do not compare to state-of-the-art tree-based models as baselines. We conduct an empirical comparison of several previously-proposed methods for fair and robust learning alongside state-of-the-art tree-based methods and other baselines. Via experiments with more than $340{,}000$ model configurations on eight datasets, we show that tree-based methods have strong subgroup robustness, even when compared to robustness- and fairness-enhancing methods. Moreover, the best tree-based models tend to show good performance over a range of metrics, while robust or group-fair models can show brittleness, with significant performance differences across different metrics for a fixed model. We also demonstrate that tree-based models show less sensitivity to hyperparameter configurations, and are less costly to train. Our work suggests that tree-based ensemble models make an effective baseline for tabular data, and are a sensible default when subgroup robustness is desired. See for code to reproduce our experiments and detailed experimental results.

Interpolation and Regularization for Causal Learning

Leena Chennuru Vankadara · Luca Rendsburg · Ulrike Luxburg · Debarghya Ghoshdastidar

Recent work shows that in complex model classes, interpolators can achieve statistical generalization and even be optimal for statistical learning. However, despite increasing interest in learning models with good causal properties, there is no understanding of whether such interpolators can also achieve causal generalization. To address this gap, we study causal learning from observational data through the lens of interpolation and its counterpart---regularization. Under a simple linear causal model, we derive precise asymptotics for the causal risk of the min-norm interpolator and ridge regressors in the high-dimensional regime. We find a large range of behavior that can be precisely characterized by a new measure of confounding strength. When confounding strength is positive, which holds under independent causal mechanisms---a standard assumption in causal learning---we find that interpolators cannot be optimal. Indeed, causal learning requires stronger regularization than statistical learning. Beyond this assumption, when confounding is negative, we observe a phenomenon of self-induced regularization due to positive alignment between statistical and causal signals. Here, causal learning requires weaker regularization than statistical learning, interpolators can be optimal, and optimal regularization can even be negative.

Blackbox Attacks via Surrogate Ensemble Search

Zikui Cai · Chengyu Song · Srikanth Krishnamurthy · Amit Roy-Chowdhury · Salman Asif

Blackbox adversarial attacks can be categorized into transfer- and query-based attacks. Transfer methods do not require any feedback from the victim model, but provide lower success rates compared to query-based methods. Query attacks often require a large number of queries for success. To achieve the best of both approaches, recent efforts have tried to combine them, but still require hundreds of queries to achieve high success rates (especially for targeted attacks). In this paper, we propose a novel method for Blackbox Attacks via Surrogate Ensemble Search (BASES) that can generate highly successful blackbox attacks using an extremely small number of queries. We first define a perturbation machine that generates a perturbed image by minimizing a weighted loss function over a fixed set of surrogate models. To generate an attack for a given victim model, we search over the weights in the loss function using queries generated by the perturbation machine. Since the dimension of the search space is small (same as the number of surrogate models), the search requires a small number of queries. We demonstrate that our proposed method achieves better success rate with at least $30\times$ fewer queries compared to state-of-the-art methods on different image classifiers trained with ImageNet (including VGG-19, DenseNet-121, and ResNext-50). In particular, our method requires as few as 3 queries per image (on average) to achieve more than a $90\%$ success rate for targeted attacks and 1--2 queries per image for over a $99\%$ success rate for untargeted attacks. Our method is also effective on Google Cloud Vision API and achieved a $91\%$ untargeted attack success rate with 2.9 queries per image. We also show that the perturbations generated by our proposed method are highly transferable and can be adopted for hard-label blackbox attacks. Furthermore, we argue that BASES can be used to create attacks for a variety of tasks and show its effectiveness for attacks on object detection models. Our code is available at

Green Hierarchical Vision Transformer for Masked Image Modeling

Lang Huang · Shan You · Mingkai Zheng · Fei Wang · Chen Qian · Toshihiko Yamasaki

We present an efficient approach for Masked Image Modeling (MIM) with hierarchical Vision Transformers (ViTs), allowing the hierarchical ViTs to discard masked patches and operate only on the visible ones. Our approach consists of three key designs. First, for window attention, we propose a Group Window Attention scheme following the Divide-and-Conquer strategy. To mitigate the quadratic complexity of the self-attention w.r.t. the number of patches, group attention encourages a uniform partition that visible patches within each local window of arbitrary size can be grouped with equal size, where masked self-attention is then performed within each group. Second, we further improve the grouping strategy via the Dynamic Programming algorithm to minimize the overall computation cost of the attention on the grouped patches. Third, as for the convolution layers, we convert them to the Sparse Convolution that works seamlessly with the sparse data, i.e., the visible patches in MIM. As a result, MIM can now work on most, if not all, hierarchical ViTs in a green and efficient way. For example, we can train the hierarchical ViTs, e.g., Swin Transformer and Twins Transformer, about 2.7$\times$ faster and reduce the GPU memory usage by 70%, while still enjoying competitive performance on ImageNet classification and the superiority on downstream COCO object detection benchmarks.

A Practical, Progressively-Expressive GNN

Lingxiao Zhao · Neil Shah · Leman Akoglu

Message passing neural networks (MPNNs) have become a dominant flavor of graph neural networks (GNNs) in recent years. Yet, MPNNs come with notable limitations; namely, they are at most as powerful as the 1-dimensional Weisfeiler-Leman (1-WL) test in distinguishing graphs in a graph isomorphism testing frame-work. To this end, researchers have drawn inspiration from the k-WL hierarchy to develop more expressive GNNs. However, current k-WL-equivalent GNNs are not practical for even small values of k, as k-WL becomes combinatorially more complex as k grows. At the same time, several works have found great empirical success in graph learning tasks without highly expressive models, implying that chasing expressiveness with a “coarse-grained ruler” of expressivity like k-WL is often unneeded in practical tasks. To truly understand the expressiveness-complexity tradeoff, one desires a more “fine-grained ruler,” which can more gradually increase expressiveness. Our work puts forth such a proposal: Namely, we first propose the (k, c)(≤)-SETWL hierarchy with greatly reduced complexity from k-WL, achieved by moving from k-tuples of nodes to sets with ≤k nodes defined over ≤c connected components in the induced original graph. We show favorable theoretical results for this model in relation to k-WL, and concretize it via (k, c)(≤)-SETGNN, which is as expressive as (k, c)(≤)-SETWL. Our model is practical and progressively-expressive, increasing in power with k and c. We demonstrate effectiveness on several benchmark datasets, achieving several state-of-the-art results with runtime and memory usage applicable to practical graphs. We open source our implementation at

Improving Neural Ordinary Differential Equations with Nesterov's Accelerated Gradient Method

Ho Huu Nghia Nguyen · Tan Nguyen · Huyen Vo · Stanley Osher · Thieu Vo

We propose the Nesterov neural ordinary differential equations (NesterovNODEs), whose layers solve the second-order ordinary differential equations (ODEs) limit of Nesterov's accelerated gradient (NAG) method, and a generalization called GNesterovNODEs. Taking the advantage of the convergence rate $\mathcal{O}(1/k^{2})$ of the NAG scheme, GNesterovNODEs speed up training and inference by reducing the number of function evaluations (NFEs) needed to solve the ODEs. We also prove that the adjoint state of a GNesterovNODEs also satisfies a GNesterovNODEs, thus accelerating both forward and backward ODE solvers and allowing the model to be scaled up for large-scale tasks. We empirically corroborate the advantage of GNesterovNODEs on a wide range of practical applications, including point cloud separation, image classification, and sequence modeling. Compared to NODEs, GNesterovNODEs require a significantly smaller number of NFEs while achieving better accuracy across our experiments.

Risk Bounds of Multi-Pass SGD for Least Squares in the Interpolation Regime

Difan Zou · Jingfeng Wu · Vladimir Braverman · Quanquan Gu · Sham Kakade

Stochastic gradient descent (SGD) has achieved great success due to its superior performance in both optimization and generalization. Most of existing generalization analyses are made for single-pass SGD, which is a less practical variant compared to the commonly-used multi-pass SGD. Besides, theoretical analyses for multi-pass SGD often concern a worst-case instance in a class of problems, which may be pessimistic to explain the superior generalization ability for some particular problem instance. The goal of this paper is to provide an instance-dependent excess risk bound of multi-pass SGD for least squares in the interpolation regime, which is expressed as a function of the iteration number, stepsize, and data covariance. We show that the excess risk of SGD can be exactly decomposed into the excess risk of GD and a positive fluctuation error, suggesting that SGD always performs worse, instance-wisely, than GD, in generalization. On the other hand, we show that although SGD needs more iterations than GD to achieve the same level of excess risk, it saves the number of stochastic gradient evaluations, and therefore is preferable in terms of computational time.

Between Stochastic and Adversarial Online Convex Optimization: Improved Regret Bounds via Smoothness

Sarah Sachs · Hedi Hadiji · Tim van Erven · Cristóbal Guzmán

Stochastic and adversarial data are two widely studied settings in online learning. But many optimizationtasks are neither i.i.d. nor fully adversarial, which makes it of fundamental interest to get a better theoretical understanding of the world between these extremes. In this work we establish novel regret bounds for online convex optimization in a setting that interpolates between stochastic i.i.d. and fully adversarial losses. By exploiting smoothness of the expected losses, these bounds replace a dependence on the maximum gradient length by the variance of the gradients, which was previously known only for linear losses. In addition, they weaken the i.i.d. assumption by allowing, for example, adversarially poisoned rounds, which were previously considered in the expert and bandit setting. Our results extend this to the online convex optimization framework. In the fully i.i.d. case, our bounds match the rates one would expect from results in stochastic acceleration, and in the fully adversarial case they gracefully deteriorate to match the minimax regret. We further provide lower bounds showing that our regret upper bounds aretight for all intermediate regimes in terms of the stochastic variance and theadversarial variation of the loss gradients.

DeepTOP: Deep Threshold-Optimal Policy for MDPs and RMABs

Khaled Nakhleh · I-Hong Hou

We consider the problem of learning the optimal threshold policy for control problems. Threshold policies make control decisions by evaluating whether an element of the system state exceeds a certain threshold, whose value is determined by other elements of the system state. By leveraging the monotone property of threshold policies, we prove that their policy gradients have a surprisingly simple expression. We use this simple expression to build an off-policy actor-critic algorithm for learning the optimal threshold policy. Simulation results show that our policy significantly outperforms other reinforcement learning algorithms due to its ability to exploit the monotone property.In addition, we show that the Whittle index, a powerful tool for restless multi-armed bandit problems, is equivalent to the optimal threshold policy for an alternative problem. This observation leads to a simple algorithm that finds the Whittle index by learning the optimal threshold policy in the alternative problem. Simulation results show that our algorithm learns the Whittle index much faster than several recent studies that learn the Whittle index through indirect means.

Learning Symmetric Rules with SATNet

Sangho Lim · Eun-Gyeol Oh · Hongseok Yang

SATNet is a differentiable constraint solver with a custom backpropagation algorithm, which can be used as a layer in a deep-learning system. It is a promising proposal for bridging deep learning and logical reasoning. In fact, SATNet has been successfully applied to learn, among others, the rules of a complex logical puzzle, such as Sudoku, just from input and output pairs where inputs are given as images. In this paper, we show how to improve the learning of SATNet by exploiting symmetries in the target rules of a given but unknown logical puzzle or more generally a logical formula. We present SymSATNet, a variant of SATNet that translates the given symmetries of the target rules to a condition on the parameters of SATNet and requires that the parameters should have a particular parametric form that guarantees the condition. The requirement dramatically reduces the number of parameters to learn for the rules with enough symmetries, and makes the parameter learning of SymSATNet much easier than that of SATNet. We also describe a technique for automatically discovering symmetries of the target rules from examples. Our experiments with Sudoku and Rubik's cube show the substantial improvement of SymSATNet over the baseline SATNet.

Evaluation beyond Task Performance: Analyzing Concepts in AlphaZero in Hex

Charles Lovering · Jessica Forde · George Konidaris · Ellie Pavlick · Michael Littman

AlphaZero, an approach to reinforcement learning that couples neural networks and Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS), has produced state-of-the-art strategies for traditional board games like chess, Go, shogi, and Hex. While researchers and game commentators have suggested that AlphaZero uses concepts that humans consider important, it is unclear how these concepts are captured in the network. We investigate AlphaZero's internal representations in the game of Hex using two evaluation techniques from natural language processing (NLP): model probing and behavioral tests. In doing so, we introduce several new evaluation tools to the RL community, and illustrate how evaluations other than task performance can be used to provide a more complete picture of a model's strengths and weaknesses. Our analyses in the game of Hex reveal interesting patterns and generate some testable hypotheses about how such models learn in general. For example, we find that the MCTS discovers concepts before the neural network learns to encode them. We also find that concepts related to short-term end-game planning are best encoded in the final layers of the model, whereas concepts related to long-term planning are encoded in the middle layers of the model.

Distributionally Adaptive Meta Reinforcement Learning

Anurag Ajay · Abhishek Gupta · Dibya Ghosh · Sergey Levine · Pulkit Agrawal

Meta-reinforcement learning algorithms provide a data-driven way to acquire policies that quickly adapt to many tasks with varying rewards or dynamics functions. However, learned meta-policies are often effective only on the exact task distribution on which they were trained and struggle in the presence of distribution shift of test-time rewards or transition dynamics. In this work, we develop a framework for meta-RL algorithms that are able to behave appropriately under test-time distribution shifts in the space of tasks. Our framework centers on an adaptive approach to distributional robustness that trains a population of meta-policies to be robust to varying levels of distribution shift. When evaluated on a potentially shifted test-time distribution of tasks, this allows us to choose the meta-policy with the most appropriate level of robustness, and use it to perform fast adaptation. We formally show how our framework allows for improved regret under distribution shift, and empirically show its efficacy on simulated robotics problems under a wide range of distribution shifts.

HyperTree Proof Search for Neural Theorem Proving

Guillaume Lample · Timothee Lacroix · Marie-Anne Lachaux · Aurelien Rodriguez · Amaury Hayat · Thibaut Lavril · Gabriel Ebner · Xavier Martinet

We propose an online training procedure for a transformer-based automated theorem prover. Our approach leverages a new search algorithm, HyperTree Proof Search (HTPS), that learns from previous proof searches through online training, allowing it to generalize to domains far from the training distribution. We report detailed ablations of our pipeline’s main components by studying performance on three environments of increasing complexity. In particular, we show that with HTPS alone, a model trained on annotated proofs manages to prove 65.4% of a held-out set of Metamath theorems, significantly outperforming the previous state of the art of 56.5% by GPT-f. Online training on these unproved theorems increases accuracy to 82.6%. With a similar computational budget, we improve the state of the art on the Lean-based miniF2F-curriculum dataset from 31% to 42% proving accuracy.

You Only Live Once: Single-Life Reinforcement Learning

Annie Chen · Archit Sharma · Sergey Levine · Chelsea Finn

Reinforcement learning algorithms are typically designed to learn a performant policy that can repeatedly and autonomously complete a task, usually starting from scratch. However, in many real-world situations, the goal might not be to learn a policy that can do the task repeatedly, but simply to perform a new task successfully once in a single trial. For example, imagine a disaster relief robot tasked with retrieving an item from a fallen building, where it cannot get direct supervision from humans. It must retrieve this object within one test-time trial, and must do so while tackling unknown obstacles, though it may leverage knowledge it has of the building before the disaster. We formalize this problem setting, which we call single-life reinforcement learning (SLRL), where an agent must complete a task within a single episode without interventions, utilizing its prior experience while contending with some form of novelty. SLRL provides a natural setting to study the challenge of autonomously adapting to unfamiliar situations, and we find that algorithms designed for standard episodic reinforcement learning often struggle to recover from out-of-distribution states in this setting. Motivated by this observation, we propose an algorithm, Q-weighted adversarial learning (QWALE), which employs a distribution matching strategy that leverages the agent's prior experience as guidance in novel situations. Our experiments on several single-life continuous control problems indicate that methods based on our distribution matching formulation are 20-60% more successful because they can more quickly recover from novel states.

CroCo: Self-Supervised Pre-training for 3D Vision Tasks by Cross-View Completion

Philippe Weinzaepfel · Vincent Leroy · Thomas Lucas · Romain BRÉGIER · Yohann Cabon · Vaibhav ARORA · Leonid Antsfeld · Boris Chidlovskii · Gabriela Csurka · Jerome Revaud

Masked Image Modeling (MIM) has recently been established as a potent pre-training paradigm. A pretext task is constructed by masking patches in an input image, and this masked content is then predicted by a neural network using visible patches as sole input. This pre-training leads to state-of-the-art performance when finetuned for high-level semantic tasks, e.g. image classification and object detection. In this paper we instead seek to learn representations that transfer well to a wide variety of 3D vision and lower-level geometric downstream tasks, such as depth prediction or optical flow estimation. Inspired by MIM, we propose an unsupervised representation learning task trained from pairs of images showing the same scene from different viewpoints. More precisely, we propose the pretext task of cross-view completion where the first input image is partially masked, and this masked content has to be reconstructed from the visible content and the second image. In single-view MIM, the masked content often cannot be inferred precisely from the visible portion only, so the model learns to act as a prior influenced by high-level semantics. In contrast, this ambiguity can be resolved with cross-view completion from the second unmasked image, on the condition that the model is able to understand the spatial relationship between the two images. Our experiments show that our pretext task leads to significantly improved performance for monocular 3D vision downstream tasks such as depth estimation. In addition, our model can be directly applied to binocular downstream tasks like optical flow or relative camera pose estimation, for which we obtain competitive results without bells and whistles, i.e., using a generic architecture without any task-specific design.

Are all Frames Equal? Active Sparse Labeling for Video Action Detection

Aayush Rana · Yogesh Rawat

Video action detection requires annotations at every frame, which drastically increases the labeling cost. In this work, we focus on efficient labeling of videos for action detection to minimize this cost. We propose active sparse labeling (ASL), a novel active learning strategy for video action detection. Sparse labeling will reduce the annotation cost but poses two main challenges; 1) how to estimate the utility of annotating a single frame for action detection as detection is performed at video level?, and 2) how these sparse labels can be used for action detection which require annotations on all the frames? This work attempts to address these challenges within a simple active learning framework. For the first challenge, we propose a novel frame-level scoring mechanism aimed at selecting most informative frames in a video. Next, we introduce a novel loss formulation which enables training of action detection model with these sparsely selected frames. We evaluate the proposed approach on two different action detection benchmark datasets, UCF-101-24 and J-HMDB-21, and observed that active sparse labeling can be very effective in saving annotation costs. We demonstrate that the proposed approach performs better than random selection, outperforming all other baselines, with performance comparable to supervised approach using merely 10% annotations.

The Impact of Task Underspecification in Evaluating Deep Reinforcement Learning

Vindula Jayawardana · Catherine Tang · Sirui Li · Dajiang Suo · Cathy Wu

Evaluations of Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) methods are an integral part of scientific progress of the field. Beyond designing DRL methods for general intelligence, designing task-specific methods is becoming increasingly prominent for real-world applications. In these settings, the standard evaluation practice involves using a few instances of Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) to represent the task. However, many tasks induce a large family of MDPs owing to variations in the underlying environment, particularly in real-world contexts. For example, in traffic signal control, variations may stem from intersection geometries and traffic flow levels. The select MDP instances may thus inadvertently cause overfitting, lacking the statistical power to draw conclusions about the method's true performance across the family. In this article, we augment DRL evaluations to consider parameterized families of MDPs. We show that in comparison to evaluating DRL methods on select MDP instances, evaluating the MDP family often yields a substantially different relative ranking of methods, casting doubt on what methods should be considered state-of-the-art. We validate this phenomenon in standard control benchmarks and the real-world application of traffic signal control. At the same time, we show that accurately evaluating on an MDP family is nontrivial. Overall, this work identifies new challenges for empirical rigor in reinforcement learning, especially as the outcomes of DRL trickle into downstream decision-making.

Diffusion-LM Improves Controllable Text Generation

Xiang Li · John Thickstun · Ishaan Gulrajani · Percy Liang · Tatsunori Hashimoto

Controlling the behavior of language models (LMs) without re-training is a major open problem in natural language generation. While recent works have demonstrated successes on controlling simple sentence attributes (e.g., sentiment), there has been little progress on complex, fine-grained controls (e.g., syntactic structure). To address this challenge, we develop a new non-autoregressive language model based on continuous diffusions that we call Diffusion-LM. Building upon the recent successes of diffusion models in continuous domains, Diffusion-LM iteratively denoises a sequence of Gaussian vectors into word vectors, yielding a sequence of intermediate latent variables. The continuous, hierarchical nature of these intermediate variables enables a simple gradient-based algorithm to perform complex, controllable generation tasks. We demonstrate successful control of Diffusion-LM for six challenging fine-grained control tasks, significantly outperforming prior work.

Variable-rate hierarchical CPC leads to acoustic unit discovery in speech

Santiago Cuervo · Adrian Lancucki · Ricard Marxer · Paweł Rychlikowski · Jan Chorowski

The success of deep learning comes from its ability to capture the hierarchical structure of data by learning high-level representations defined in terms of low-level ones. In this paper we explore self-supervised learning of hierarchical representations of speech by applying multiple levels of Contrastive Predictive Coding (CPC). We observe that simply stacking two CPC models does not yield significant improvements over single-level architectures. Inspired by the fact that speech is often described as a sequence of discrete units unevenly distributed in time, we propose a model in which the output of a low-level CPC module is non-uniformly downsampled to directly minimize the loss of a high-level CPC module. The latter is designed to also enforce a prior of separability and discreteness in its representations by enforcing dissimilarity of successive high-level representations through focused negative sampling, and by quantization of the prediction targets. Accounting for the structure of the speech signal improves upon single-level CPC features and enhances the disentanglement of the learned representations, as measured by downstream speech recognition tasks, while resulting in a meaningful segmentation of the signal that closely resembles phone boundaries.

Low-rank lottery tickets: finding efficient low-rank neural networks via matrix differential equations

Steffen Schotthöfer · Emanuele Zangrando · Jonas Kusch · Gianluca Ceruti · Francesco Tudisco

Neural networks have achieved tremendous success in a large variety of applications. However, their memory footprint and computational demand can render them impractical in application settings with limited hardware or energy resources. In this work, we propose a novel algorithm to find efficient low-rank subnetworks. Remarkably, these subnetworks are determined and adapted already during the training phase and the overall time and memory resources required by both training and evaluating them is significantly reduced. The main idea is to restrict the weight matrices to a low-rank manifold and to update the low-rank factors rather than the full matrix during training. To derive training updates that are restricted to the prescribed manifold, we employ techniques from dynamic model order reduction for matrix differential equations. Moreover, our method automatically and dynamically adapts the ranks during training to achieve a desired approximation accuracy.The efficiency of the proposed method is demonstrated through a variety of numerical experiments on fully-connected and convolutional networks.

Stochastic Adaptive Activation Function

Kyungsu Lee · Jaeseung Yang · Haeyun Lee · Jae Youn Hwang

The simulation of human neurons and neurotransmission mechanisms has been realized in deep neural networks based on the theoretical implementations of activation functions. However, recent studies have reported that the threshold potential of neurons exhibits different values according to the locations and types of individual neurons, and that the activation functions have limitations in terms of representing this variability. Therefore, this study proposes a simple yet effective activation function that facilitates different thresholds and adaptive activations according to the positions of units and the contexts of inputs. Furthermore, the proposed activation function mathematically exhibits a more generalized form of Swish activation function, and thus we denoted it as Adaptive SwisH (ASH). ASH highlights informative features that exhibit large values in the top percentiles in an input, whereas it rectifies low values. Most importantly, ASH exhibits trainable, adaptive, and context-aware properties compared to other activation functions. Furthermore, ASH represents general formula of the previously studied activation function and provides a reasonable mathematical background for the superior performance. To validate the effectiveness and robustness of ASH, we implemented ASH into many deep learning models for various tasks, including classification, detection, segmentation, and image generation. Experimental analysis demonstrates that our activation function can provide the benefits of more accurate prediction and earlier convergence in many deep learning applications.

Benefits of Permutation-Equivariance in Auction Mechanisms

Tian Qin · Fengxiang He · Dingfeng Shi · Wenbing Huang · Dacheng Tao

Designing an incentive-compatible auction mechanism that maximizes the auctioneer's revenue while minimizes the bidders’ ex-post regret is an important yet intricate problem in economics. Remarkable progress has been achieved through learning the optimal auction mechanism by neural networks. In this paper, we consider the popular additive valuation and symmetric valuation setting; i.e., the valuation for a set of items is defined as the sum of all items’ valuations in the set, and the valuation distribution is invariant when the bidders and/or the items are permutated. We prove that permutation-equivariant neural networks have significant advantages: the permutation-equivariance decreases the expected ex-post regret, improves the model generalizability, while maintains the expected revenue invariant. This implies that the permutation-equivariance helps approach the theoretically optimal dominant strategy incentive compatible condition, and reduces the required sample complexity for desired generalization. Extensive experiments fully support our theory. To our best knowledge, this is the first work towards understanding the benefits of permutation-equivariance in auction mechanisms.

Random Sharpness-Aware Minimization

Yong Liu · Siqi Mai · Minhao Cheng · Xiangning Chen · Cho-Jui Hsieh · Yang You

Currently, Sharpness-Aware Minimization (SAM) is proposed to seek the parameters that lie in a flat region to improve the generalization when training neural networks. In particular, a minimax optimization objective is defined to find the maximum loss value centered on the weight, out of the purpose of simultaneously minimizing loss value and loss sharpness. For the sake of simplicity, SAM applies one-step gradient ascent to approximate the solution of the inner maximization. However, one-step gradient ascent may not be sufficient and multi-step gradient ascents will cause additional training costs. Based on this observation, we propose a novel random smoothing based SAM (R-SAM) algorithm. To be specific, R-SAM essentially smooths the loss landscape, based on which we are able to apply the one-step gradient ascent on the smoothed weights to improve the approximation of the inner maximization. Further, we evaluate our proposed R-SAM on CIFAR and ImageNet datasets. The experimental results illustrate that R-SAM can consistently improve the performance on ResNet and Vision Transformer (ViT) training.

On-Device Training Under 256KB Memory

Ji Lin · Ligeng Zhu · Wei-Ming Chen · Wei-Chen Wang · Chuang Gan · Song Han

On-device training enables the model to adapt to new data collected from the sensors by fine-tuning a pre-trained model. Users can benefit from customized AI models without having to transfer the data to the cloud, protecting the privacy. However, the training memory consumption is prohibitive for IoT devices that have tiny memory resources. We propose an algorithm-system co-design framework to make on-device training possible with only 256KB of memory. On-device training faces two unique challenges: (1) the quantized graphs of neural networks are hard to optimize due to low bit-precision and the lack of normalization; (2) the limited hardware resource (memory and computation) does not allow full backpropagation. To cope with the optimization difficulty, we propose Quantization- Aware Scaling to calibrate the gradient scales and stabilize 8-bit quantized training. To reduce the memory footprint, we propose Sparse Update to skip the gradient computation of less important layers and sub-tensors. The algorithm innovation is implemented by a lightweight training system, Tiny Training Engine, which prunes the backward computation graph to support sparse updates and offload the runtime auto-differentiation to compile time. Our framework is the first practical solution for on-device transfer learning of visual recognition on tiny IoT devices (e.g., a microcontroller with only 256KB SRAM), using less than 1/1000 of the memory of PyTorch and TensorFlow while matching the accuracy. Our study enables IoT devices not only to perform inference but also to continuously adapt to new data for on-device lifelong learning. A video demo can be found here:

Factorized-FL: Personalized Federated Learning with Parameter Factorization & Similarity Matching

Wonyong Jeong · Sung Ju Hwang

In real-world federated learning scenarios, participants could have their own personalized labels incompatible with those from other clients, due to using different label permutations or tackling completely different tasks or domains. However, most existing FL approaches cannot effectively tackle such extremely heterogeneous scenarios since they often assume that (1) all participants use a synchronized set of labels, and (2) they train on the same tasks from the same domain. In this work, to tackle these challenges, we introduce Factorized-FL, which allows to effectively tackle label- and task-heterogeneous federated learning settings by factorizing the model parameters into a pair of rank-1 vectors, where one captures the common knowledge across different labels and tasks and the other captures knowledge specific to the task for each local model. Moreover, based on the distance in the client-specific vector space, Factorized-FL performs a selective aggregation scheme to utilize only the knowledge from the relevant participants for each client. We extensively validate our method on both label- and domain-heterogeneous settings, on which it outperforms the state-of-the-art personalized federated learning methods. The code is available at

A Closer Look at Prototype Classifier for Few-shot Image Classification

Mingcheng Hou · Issei Sato

The prototypical network is a prototype classifier based on meta-learning and is widely used for few-shot learning because it classifies unseen examples by constructing class-specific prototypes without adjusting hyper-parameters during meta-testing.Interestingly, recent research has attracted a lot of attention, showing that training a new linear classifier, which does not use a meta-learning algorithm, performs comparably with the prototypical network.However, the training of a new linear classifier requires the retraining of the classifier every time a new class appears.In this paper, we analyze how a prototype classifier works equally well without training a new linear classifier or meta-learning.We experimentally find that directly using the feature vectors, which is extracted by using standard pre-trained models to construct a prototype classifier in meta-testing, does not perform as well as the prototypical network and training new linear classifiers on the feature vectors of pre-trained models.Thus, we derive a novel generalization bound for a prototypical classifier and show that the transformation of a feature vector can improve the performance of prototype classifiers.We experimentally investigate several normalization methods for minimizing the derived bound and find that the same performance can be obtained by using the L2 normalization and minimizing the ratio of the within-class variance to the between-class variance without training a new classifier or meta-learning.

On the Strong Correlation Between Model Invariance and Generalization

Weijian Deng · Stephen Gould · Liang Zheng

Generalization and invariance are two essential properties of machine learning models. Generalization captures a model's ability to classify unseen data while invariance measures consistency of model predictions on transformations of the data. Existing research suggests a positive relationship: a model generalizing well should be invariant to certain visual factors. Building on this qualitative implication we make two contributions. First, we introduce effective invariance (EI), a simple and reasonable measure of model invariance which does not rely on image labels. Given predictions on a test image and its transformed version, EI measures how well the predictions agree and with what level of confidence. Second, using invariance scores computed by EI, we perform large-scale quantitative correlation studies between generalization and invariance, focusing on rotation and grayscale transformations. From a model-centric view, we observe generalization and invariance of different models exhibit a strong linear relationship, on both in-distribution and out-of-distribution datasets. From a dataset-centric view, we find a certain model's accuracy and invariance linearly correlated on different test sets. Apart from these major findings, other minor but interesting insights are also discussed.

“Why Not Other Classes?”: Towards Class-Contrastive Back-Propagation Explanations

Yipei Wang · Xiaoqian Wang

Numerous methods have been developed to explain the inner mechanism of deep neural network (DNN) based classifiers. Existing explanation methods are often limited to explaining predictions of a pre-specified class, which answers the question “why is the input classified into this class?” However, such explanations with respect to a single class are inherently insufficient because they do not capture features with class-discriminative power. That is, features that are important for predicting one class may also be important for other classes. To capture features with true class-discriminative power, we should instead ask “why is the input classified into this class, but not others?” To answer this question, we propose a weighted contrastive framework for explaining DNNs. Our framework can easily convert any existing back-propagation explanation methods to build class-contrastive explanations. We theoretically validate our weighted contrast explanation in general back-propagation explanations, and show that our framework enables class-contrastive explanations with significant improvements in both qualitative and quantitative experiments. Based on the results, we point out an important blind spot in the current explainable artificial intelligence (XAI) study, where explanations towards the predicted logits and the probabilities are obfuscated. We suggest that these two aspects should be distinguished explicitly any time explanation methods are applied.

Parameter-Efficient Masking Networks

Yue Bai · Huan Wang · Xu Ma · Yitian Zhang · Zhiqiang Tao · Yun Fu

A deeper network structure generally handles more complicated non-linearity and performs more competitively. Nowadays, advanced network designs often contain a large number of repetitive structures (e.g., Transformer). They empower the network capacity to a new level but also increase the model size inevitably, which is unfriendly to either model restoring or transferring. In this study, we are the first to investigate the representative potential of fixed random weights with limited unique values by learning diverse masks and introduce the Parameter-Efficient Masking Networks (PEMN). It also naturally leads to a new paradigm for model compression to diminish the model size. Concretely, motivated by the repetitive structures in modern neural networks, we utilize one random initialized layer, accompanied with different masks, to convey different feature mappings and represent repetitive network modules. Therefore, the model can be expressed as \textit{one-layer} with a bunch of masks, which significantly reduce the model storage cost. Furthermore, we enhance our strategy by learning masks for a model filled by padding a given random weights vector. In this way, our method can further lower the space complexity, especially for models without many repetitive architectures. We validate the potential of PEMN learning masks on random weights with limited unique values and test its effectiveness for a new compression paradigm based on different network architectures.Code is available at \href{}{\textcolor{magenta}{}}.

Make Some Noise: Reliable and Efficient Single-Step Adversarial Training

Pau de Jorge Aranda · Adel Bibi · Riccardo Volpi · Amartya Sanyal · Philip Torr · Gregory Rogez · Puneet Dokania

Recently, Wong et al. (2020) showed that adversarial training with single-step FGSM leads to a characteristic failure mode named catastrophic overfitting (CO), in which a model becomes suddenly vulnerable to multi-step attacks. Experimentally they showed that simply adding a random perturbation prior to FGSM (RS-FGSM) could prevent CO. However, Andriushchenko & Flammarion (2020) observed that RS-FGSM still leads to CO for larger perturbations, and proposed a computationally expensive regularizer (GradAlign) to avoid it. In this work, we methodically revisit the role of noise and clipping in single-step adversarial training. Contrary to previous intuitions, we find that using a stronger noise around the clean sample combined with \textit{not clipping} is highly effective in avoiding CO for large perturbation radii. We then propose Noise-FGSM (N-FGSM) that, while providing the benefits of single-step adversarial training, does not suffer from CO. Empirical analyses on a large suite of experiments show that N-FGSM is able to match or surpass the performance of previous state of-the-art GradAlign while achieving 3$\times$ speed-up.

ZooD: Exploiting Model Zoo for Out-of-Distribution Generalization

Qishi Dong · Awais Muhammad · Fengwei Zhou · Chuanlong Xie · Tianyang Hu · Yongxin Yang · Sung-Ho Bae · Zhenguo Li

Recent advances on large-scale pre-training have shown great potentials of leveraging a large set of Pre-Trained Models (PTMs) for improving Out-of-Distribution (OoD) generalization, for which the goal is to perform well on possible unseen domains after fine-tuning on multiple training domains. However, maximally exploiting a zoo of PTMs is challenging since fine-tuning all possible combinations of PTMs is computationally prohibitive while accurate selection of PTMs requires tackling the possible data distribution shift for OoD tasks. In this work, we propose ZooD, a paradigm for PTMs ranking and ensemble with feature selection. Our proposed metric ranks PTMs by quantifying inter-class discriminability and inter-domain stability of the features extracted by the PTMs in a leave-one-domain-out cross-validation manner. The top-K ranked models are then aggregated for the target OoD task. To avoid accumulating noise induced by model ensemble, we propose an efficient variational EM algorithm to select informative features. We evaluate our paradigm on a diverse model zoo consisting of 35 models for various OoD tasks and demonstrate: (i) model ranking is better correlated with fine-tuning ranking than previous methods and up to 9859x faster than brute-force fine-tuning; (ii) OoD generalization after model ensemble with feature selection outperforms the state-of-the-art methods and the accuracy on most challenging task DomainNet is improved from 46.5\% to 50.6\%. Furthermore, we provide the fine-tuning results of 35 PTMs on 7 OoD datasets, hoping to help the research of model zoo and OoD generalization. Code will be available at \href{}{}.

One Positive Label is Sufficient: Single-Positive Multi-Label Learning with Label Enhancement

Ning Xu · Congyu Qiao · Jiaqi Lv · Xin Geng · Min-Ling Zhang

Multi-label learning (MLL) learns from the examples each associated with multiple labels simultaneously, where the high cost of annotating all relevant labels for each training example is challenging for real-world applications. To cope with the challenge, we investigate single-positive multi-label learning (SPMLL) where each example is annotated with only one relevant label and show that one can successfully learn a theoretically grounded multi-label classifier for the problem. In this paper, a novel SPMLL method named SMILE, i.e., Single-positive MultI-label learning with Label Enhancement, is proposed. Specifically, an unbiased risk estimator is derived, which could be guaranteed to approximately converge to the optimal risk minimizer of fully supervised learning and shows that one positive label of each instance is sufficient to train the predictive model. Then, the corresponding empirical risk estimator is established via recovering the latent soft label as a label enhancement process, where the posterior density of the latent soft labels is approximate to the variational Beta density parameterized by an inference model. Experiments on benchmark datasets validate the effectiveness of the proposed method.

Why So Pessimistic? Estimating Uncertainties for Offline RL through Ensembles, and Why Their Independence Matters

Kamyar Ghasemipour · Shixiang (Shane) Gu · Ofir Nachum

Motivated by the success of ensembles for uncertainty estimation in supervised learning, we take a renewed look at how ensembles of $Q$-functions can be leveraged as the primary source of pessimism for offline reinforcement learning (RL). We begin by identifying a critical flaw in a popular algorithmic choice used by many ensemble-based RL algorithms, namely the use of shared pessimistic target values when computing each ensemble member's Bellman error. Through theoretical analyses and construction of examples in toy MDPs, we demonstrate that shared pessimistic targets can paradoxically lead to value estimates that are effectively optimistic. Given this result, we propose MSG, a practical offline RL algorithm that trains an ensemble of $Q$-functions with independently computed targets based on completely separate networks, and optimizes a policy with respect to the lower confidence bound of predicted action values. Our experiments on the popular D4RL and RL Unplugged offline RL benchmarks demonstrate that on challenging domains such as antmazes, MSG with deep ensembles surpasses highly well-tuned state-of-the-art methods by a wide margin. Additionally, through ablations on benchmarks domains, we verify the critical significance of using independently trained $Q$-functions, and study the role of ensemble size. Finally, as using separate networks per ensemble member can become computationally costly with larger neural network architectures, we investigate whether efficient ensemble approximations developed for supervised learning can be similarly effective, and demonstrate that they do not match the performance and robustness of MSG with separate networks, highlighting the need for new efforts into efficient uncertainty estimation directed at RL.

Identifiability of deep generative models without auxiliary information

Bohdan Kivva · Goutham Rajendran · Pradeep Ravikumar · Bryon Aragam

We prove identifiability of a broad class of deep latent variable models that (a) have universal approximation capabilities and (b) are the decoders of variational autoencoders that are commonly used in practice. Unlike existing work, our analysis does not require weak supervision, auxiliary information, or conditioning in the latent space. Specifically, we show that for a broad class of generative (i.e. unsupervised) models with universal approximation capabilities, the side information $u$ is not necessary: We prove identifiability of the entire generative model where we do not observe $u$ and only observe the data $x$. The models we consider match autoencoder architectures used in practice that leverage mixture priors in the latent space and ReLU/leaky-ReLU activations in the encoder, such as VaDE and MFC-VAE. Our main result is an identifiability hierarchy that significantly generalizes previous work and exposes how different assumptions lead to different ``strengths'' of identifiability, and includes certain ``vanilla'' VAEs with isotropic Gaussian priors as a special case. For example, our weakest result establishes (unsupervised) identifiability up to an affine transformation, and thus partially resolves an open problem regarding model identifiability raised in prior work. These theoretical results are augmented with experiments on both simulated and real data.

Beyond spectral gap: the role of the topology in decentralized learning

Thijs Vogels · Hadrien Hendrikx · Martin Jaggi

In data-parallel optimization of machine learning models, workers collaborate to improve their estimates of the model: more accurate gradients allow them to use larger learning rates and optimize faster. We consider the setting in which all workers sample from the same dataset, and communicate over a sparse graph (decentralized). In this setting, current theory fails to capture important aspects of real-world behavior. First, the ‘spectral gap’ of the communication graph is not predictive of its empirical performance in (deep) learning. Second, current theory does not explain that collaboration enables larger learning rates than training alone. In fact, it prescribes smaller learning rates, which further decrease as graphs become larger, failing to explain convergence in infinite graphs. This paper aims to paint an accurate picture of sparsely-connected distributed optimization when workers share the same data distribution. We quantify how the graph topology influences convergence in a quadratic toy problem and provide theoretical results for general smooth and (strongly) convex objectives. Our theory matches empirical observations in deep learning, and accurately describes the relative merits of different graph topologies.

Change-point Detection for Sparse and Dense Functional Data in General Dimensions

Carlos Misael Madrid Padilla · Daren Wang · Zifeng Zhao · Yi Yu

We study the problem of change-point detection and localisation for functional data sequentially observed on a general $d$-dimensional space, where we allow the functional curves to be either sparsely or densely sampled. Data of this form naturally arise in a wide range of applications such as biology, neuroscience, climatology and finance. To achieve such a task, we propose a kernel-based algorithm named functional seeded binary segmentation (FSBS). FSBS is computationally efficient, can handle discretely observed functional data, and is theoretically sound for heavy-tailed and temporally-dependent observations. Moreover, FSBS works for a general $d$-dimensional domain, which is the first in the literature of change-point estimation for functional data. We show the consistency of FSBS for multiple change-point estimation and further provide a sharp localisation error rate, which reveals an interesting phase transition phenomenon depending on the number of functional curves observed and the sampling frequency for each curve. Extensive numerical experiments illustrate the effectiveness of FSBS and its advantage over existing methods in the literature under various settings. A real data application is further conducted, where FSBS localises change-points of sea surface temperature patterns in the south Pacific attributed to El Ni\~{n}o.

Invariant and Transportable Representations for Anti-Causal Domain Shifts

Yibo Jiang · Victor Veitch

Real-world classification problems must contend with domain shift, the (potential) mismatch between the domain where a model is deployed and the domain(s) where the training data was gathered. Methods to handle such problems must specify what structure is held in common between the domains and what is allowed to vary. A natural assumption is that causal (structural) relationships are invariant in all domains. Then, it is tempting to learn a predictor for label $Y$ that depends only on its causal parents. However, many real-world problems are ``anti-causal'' in the sense that $Y$ is a cause of the covariates $X$---in this case, $Y$ has no causal parents and the naive causal invariance is useless. In this paper, we study representation learning under a particular notion of domain shift that both respects causal invariance and that naturally handles the ``anti-causal'' structure. We show how to leverage the shared causal structure of the domains to learn a representation that both admits an invariant predictor and that also allows fast adaptation in new domains. The key is to translate causal assumptions into learning principles that disentangle ``invariant'' and ``non-stable'' features. Experiments on both synthetic and real-world data demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed learning algorithm.

Robust Feature-Level Adversaries are Interpretability Tools

Stephen Casper · Max Nadeau · Dylan Hadfield-Menell · Gabriel Kreiman

The literature on adversarial attacks in computer vision typically focuses on pixel-level perturbations. These tend to be very difficult to interpret. Recent work that manipulates the latent representations of image generators to create "feature-level" adversarial perturbations gives us an opportunity to explore perceptible, interpretable adversarial attacks. We make three contributions. First, we observe that feature-level attacks provide useful classes of inputs for studying representations in models. Second, we show that these adversaries are uniquely versatile and highly robust. We demonstrate that they can be used to produce targeted, universal, disguised, physically-realizable, and black-box attacks at the ImageNet scale. Third, we show how these adversarial images can be used as a practical interpretability tool for identifying bugs in networks. We use these adversaries to make predictions about spurious associations between features and classes which we then test by designing "copy/paste" attacks in which one natural image is pasted into another to cause a targeted misclassification. Our results suggest that feature-level attacks are a promising approach for rigorous interpretability research. They support the design of tools to better understand what a model has learned and diagnose brittle feature associations. Code is available at

Posterior Refinement Improves Sample Efficiency in Bayesian Neural Networks

Agustinus Kristiadi · Runa Eschenhagen · Philipp Hennig

Monte Carlo (MC) integration is the de facto method for approximating the predictive distribution of Bayesian neural networks (BNNs). But, even with many MC samples, Gaussian-based BNNs could still yield bad predictive performance due to the posterior approximation's error. Meanwhile, alternatives to MC integration are expensive. In this work, we experimentally show that the key to good MC-approximated predictive distributions is the quality of the approximate posterior itself. However, previous methods for obtaining accurate posterior approximations are expensive and non-trivial to implement. We, therefore, propose to refine Gaussian approximate posteriors with normalizing flows. When applied to last-layer BNNs, it yields a simple, cost-efficient, post hoc method for improving pre-existing parametric approximations. We show that the resulting posterior approximation is competitive with even the gold-standard full-batch Hamiltonian Monte Carlo.

Anonymous Bandits for Multi-User Systems

Hossein Esfandiari · Vahab Mirrokni · Jon Schneider

In this work, we present and study a new framework for online learning in systems with multiple users that provide user anonymity. Specifically, we extend the notion of bandits to obey the standard $k$-anonymity constraint by requiring each observation to be an aggregation of rewards for at least $k$ users. This provides a simple yet effective framework where one can learn a clustering of users in an online fashion without observing any user's individual decision. We initiate the study of anonymous bandits and provide the first sublinear regret algorithms and lower bounds for this setting.

Branch & Learn for Recursively and Iteratively Solvable Problems in Predict+Optimize

Xinyi Hu · Jasper Lee · Jimmy Lee · Allen Z. Zhong

This paper proposes Branch & Learn, a framework for Predict+Optimize to tackle optimization problems containing parameters that are unknown at the time of solving. Given an optimization problem solvable by a recursive algorithm satisfying simple conditions, we show how a corresponding learning algorithm can be constructed directly and methodically from the recursive algorithm. Our framework applies also to iterative algorithms by viewing them as a degenerate form of recursion. Extensive experimentation shows better performance for our proposal over classical and state of the art approaches.

Model-based RL with Optimistic Posterior Sampling: Structural Conditions and Sample Complexity

Alekh Agarwal · Tong Zhang

We propose a general framework to design posterior sampling methods for model-based RL. We show that the proposed algorithms can be analyzed by reducing regret to Hellinger distance in conditional probability estimation. We further show that optimistic posterior sampling can control this Hellinger distance, when we measure model error via data likelihood. This technique allows us to design and analyze unified posterior sampling algorithms with state-of-the-art sample complexity guarantees for many model-based RL settings. We illustrate our general result in many special cases, demonstrating the versatility of our framework.

Reproducibility in Optimization: Theoretical Framework and Limits

Kwangjun Ahn · Prateek Jain · Ziwei Ji · Satyen Kale · Praneeth Netrapalli · Gil I Shamir

We initiate a formal study of reproducibility in optimization. We define a quantitative measure of reproducibility of optimization procedures in the face of noisy or error-prone operations such as inexact or stochastic gradient computations or inexact initialization. We then analyze several convex optimization settings of interest such as smooth, non-smooth, and strongly-convex objective functions and establish tight bounds on the limits of reproducibility in each setting. Our analysis reveals a fundamental trade-off between computation and reproducibility: more computation is necessary (and sufficient) for better reproducibility.

Adversarial Robustness is at Odds with Lazy Training

Yunjuan Wang · Enayat Ullah · Poorya Mianjy · Raman Arora

Recent works show that adversarial examples exist for random neural networks [Daniely and Schacham, 2020] and that these examples can be found using a single step of gradient ascent [Bubeck et al., 2021]. In this work, we extend this line of work to ``lazy training'' of neural networks -- a dominant model in deep learning theory in which neural networks are provably efficiently learnable. We show that over-parametrized neural networks that are guaranteed to generalize well and enjoy strong computational guarantees remain vulnerable to attacks generated using a single step of gradient ascent.

The Curse of Unrolling: Rate of Differentiating Through Optimization

Damien Scieur · Gauthier Gidel · Quentin Bertrand · Fabian Pedregosa

Computing the Jacobian of the solution of an optimization problem is a central problem in machine learning, with applications in hyperparameter optimization, meta-learning, optimization as a layer, and dataset distillation, to name a few. Unrolled differentiation is a popular heuristic that approximates the solution using an iterative solver and differentiates it through the computational path. This work provides a non-asymptotic convergence-rate analysis of this approach on quadratic objectives for gradient descent and the Chebyshev method. We show that to ensure convergence of the Jacobian, we can either 1) choose a large learning rate leading to a fast asymptotic convergence but accept that the algorithm may have an arbitrarily long burn-in phase or 2) choose a smaller learning rate leading to an immediate but slower convergence. We refer to this phenomenon as the curse of unrolling.Finally, we discuss open problems relative to this approach, such as deriving a practical update rule for the optimal unrolling strategy and making novel connections with the field of Sobolev orthogonal polynomials.

On the Theoretical Properties of Noise Correlation in Stochastic Optimization

Aurelien Lucchi · Frank Proske · Antonio Orvieto · Francis Bach · Hans Kersting

Studying the properties of stochastic noise to optimize complex non-convex functions has been an active area of research in the field of machine learning. Prior work~\citep{zhou2019pgd, wei2019noise} has shown that the noise of stochastic gradient descent improves optimization by overcoming undesirable obstacles in the landscape. Moreover, injecting artificial Gaussian noise has become a popular idea to quickly escape saddle points. Indeed, in the absence of reliable gradient information, the noise is used to explore the landscape, but it is unclear what type of noise is optimal in terms of exploration ability. In order to narrow this gap in our knowledge, we study a general type of continuous-time non-Markovian process, based on fractional Brownian motion, that allows for the increments of the process to be correlated. This generalizes processes based on Brownian motion, such as the Ornstein-Uhlenbeck process. We demonstrate how to discretize such processes which gives rise to the new algorithm ``fPGD''. This method is a generalization of the known algorithms PGD and Anti-PGD~\citep{orvieto2022anti}. We study the properties of fPGD both theoretically and empirically, demonstrating that it possesses exploration abilities that, in some cases, are favorable over PGD and Anti-PGD. These results open the field to novel ways to exploit noise for training machine learning models.

Support Recovery in Sparse PCA with Incomplete Data

Hanbyul Lee · Qifan Song · Jean Honorio

We study a practical algorithm for sparse principal component analysis (PCA) of incomplete and noisy data.Our algorithm is based on the semidefinite program (SDP) relaxation of the non-convex $l_1$-regularized PCA problem.We provide theoretical and experimental evidence that SDP enables us to exactly recover the true support of the sparse leading eigenvector of the unknown true matrix, despite only observing an incomplete (missing uniformly at random) and noisy version of it.We derive sufficient conditions for exact recovery, which involve matrix incoherence, the spectral gap between the largest and second-largest eigenvalues, the observation probability and the noise variance.We validate our theoretical results with incomplete synthetic data, and show encouraging and meaningful results on a gene expression dataset.

Finite-Time Regret of Thompson Sampling Algorithms for Exponential Family Multi-Armed Bandits

Tianyuan Jin · Pan Xu · Xiaokui Xiao · Anima Anandkumar

We study the regret of Thompson sampling (TS) algorithms for exponential family bandits, where the reward distribution is from a one-dimensional exponential family, which covers many common reward distributions including Bernoulli, Gaussian, Gamma, Exponential, etc. We propose a Thompson sampling algorithm, termed ExpTS, which uses a novel sampling distribution to avoid the under-estimation of the optimal arm. We provide a tight regret analysis for ExpTS, which simultaneously yields both the finite-time regret bound as well as the asymptotic regret bound. In particular, for a $K$-armed bandit with exponential family rewards, ExpTS over a horizon $T$ is sub-UCB (a strong criterion for the finite-time regret that is problem-dependent), minimax optimal up to a factor $\sqrt{\log K}$, and asymptotically optimal, for exponential family rewards. Moreover, we propose ExpTS$^+$, by adding a greedy exploitation step in addition to the sampling distribution used in ExpTS, to avoid the over-estimation of sub-optimal arms. ExpTS$^+$ is an anytime bandit algorithm and achieves the minimax optimality and asymptotic optimality simultaneously for exponential family reward distributions. Our proof techniques are general and conceptually simple and can be easily applied to analyze standard Thompson sampling with specific reward distributions.

A gradient estimator via L1-randomization for online zero-order optimization with two point feedback

Arya Akhavan · Evgenii Chzhen · Massimiliano Pontil · Alexandre Tsybakov

This work studies online zero-order optimization of convex and Lipschitz functions. We present a novel gradient estimator based on two function evaluations and randomization on the $\ell_1$-sphere. Considering different geometries of feasible sets and Lipschitz assumptions we analyse online dual averaging algorithm with our estimator in place of the usual gradient. We consider two types of assumptions on the noise of the zero-order oracle: canceling noise and adversarial noise. We provide an anytime and completely data-driven algorithm, which is adaptive to all parameters of the problem. In the case of canceling noise that was previously studied in the literature, our guarantees are either comparable or better than state-of-the-art bounds obtained by~\citet{duchi2015} and \citet{Shamir17} for non-adaptive algorithms. Our analysis is based on deriving a new weighted Poincaré type inequality for the uniform measure on the $\ell_1$-sphere with explicit constants, which may be of independent interest.

Hypothesis Testing for Differentially Private Linear Regression

Daniel Alabi · Salil Vadhan

In this work, we design differentially private hypothesis tests for the following problems in the general linear model: testing a linear relationship and testing for the presence of mixtures. The majority of our hypothesis tests are based on differentially private versions of the $F$-statistic for the general linear model framework, which are uniformly most powerful unbiased in the non-private setting. We also present another test for testing mixtures, based on the differentially private nonparametric tests of Couch, Kazan, Shi, Bray, and Groce (CCS 2019), which is especially suited for the small dataset regime. We show that the differentially private $F$-statistic converges to the asymptotic distribution of its non-private counterpart. As a corollary, the statistical power of the differentially private $F$-statistic converges to the statistical power of the non-private $F$-statistic. Through a suite of Monte Carlo based experiments, we show that our tests achieve desired \textit{significance levels} and have a high \textit{power} that approaches the power of the non-private tests as we increase sample sizes or the privacy-loss parameter. We also show when our tests outperform existing methods in the literature.

Sound and Complete Causal Identification with Latent Variables Given Local Background Knowledge

Tian-Zuo Wang · Tian Qin · Zhi-Hua Zhou

Great efforts have been devoted to causal discovery from observational data, and it is well known that introducing some background knowledge attained from experiments or human expertise can be very helpful. However, it remains unknown that \emph{what causal relations are identifiable given background knowledge in the presence of latent confounders}. In this paper, we solve the problem with sound and complete orientation rules when the background knowledge is given in a \emph{local} form. Furthermore, based on the solution to the problem, this paper proposes a general active learning framework for causal discovery in the presence of latent confounders, with its effectiveness and efficiency validated by experiments.

One for All: Simultaneous Metric and Preference Learning over Multiple Users

Gregory Canal · Blake Mason · Ramya Korlakai Vinayak · Robert Nowak

This paper investigates simultaneous preference and metric learning from a crowd of respondents. A set of items represented by $d$-dimensional feature vectors and paired comparisons of the form ``item $i$ is preferable to item $j$'' made by each user is given. Our model jointly learns a distance metric that characterizes the crowd's general measure of item similarities along with a latent ideal point for each user reflecting their individual preferences. This model has the flexibility to capture individual preferences, while enjoying a metric learning sample cost that is amortized over the crowd. We first study this problem in a noiseless, continuous response setting (i.e., responses equal to differences of item distances) to understand the fundamental limits of learning. Next, we establish prediction error guarantees for noisy, binary measurements such as may be collected from human respondents, and show how the sample complexity improves when the underlying metric is low-rank. Finally, we establish recovery guarantees under assumptions on the response distribution. We demonstrate the performance of our model on both simulated data and on a dataset of color preference judgements across a large number of users.

AdaFocal: Calibration-aware Adaptive Focal Loss

Arindam Ghosh · Thomas Schaaf · Matthew Gormley

Much recent work has been devoted to the problem of ensuring that a neural network's confidence scores match the true probability of being correct, i.e. the calibration problem. Of note, it was found that training with focal loss leads to better calibration than cross-entropy while achieving similar level of accuracy \cite{mukhoti2020}. This success stems from focal loss regularizing the entropy of the model's prediction (controlled by the parameter $\gamma$), thereby reining in the model's overconfidence. Further improvement is expected if $\gamma$ is selected independently for each training sample (Sample-Dependent Focal Loss (FLSD-53) \cite{mukhoti2020}). However, FLSD-53 is based on heuristics and does not generalize well. In this paper, we propose a calibration-aware adaptive focal loss called AdaFocal that utilizes the calibration properties of focal (and inverse-focal) loss and adaptively modifies $\gamma_t$ for different groups of samples based on $\gamma_{t-1}$ from the previous step and the knowledge of model's under/over-confidence on the validation set. We evaluate AdaFocal on various image recognition and one NLP task, covering a wide variety of network architectures, to confirm the improvement in calibration while achieving similar levels of accuracy. Additionally, we show that models trained with AdaFocal achieve a significant boost in out-of-distribution detection.

Learning Distributed and Fair Policies for Network Load Balancing as Markov Potential Game

Zhiyuan Yao · Zihan Ding

This paper investigates the network load balancing problem in data centers (DCs) where multiple load balancers (LBs) are deployed, using the multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) framework. The challenges of this problem consist of the heterogeneous processing architecture and dynamic environments, as well as limited and partial observability of each LB agent in distributed networking systems, which can largely degrade the performance of in-production load balancing algorithms in real-world setups. Centralised training and distributed execution (CTDE) RL scheme has been proposed to improve MARL performance, yet it incurs -- especially in distributed networking systems, which prefer distributed and plug-and-play design schemes -- additional communication and management overhead among agents. We formulate the multi-agent load balancing problem as a Markov potential game, with a carefully and properly designed workload distribution fairness as the potential function. A fully distributed MARL algorithm is proposed to approximate the Nash equilibrium of the game. Experimental evaluations involve both an event-driven simulator and a real-world system, where the proposed MARL load balancing algorithm shows close-to-optimal performance in simulations and superior results over in-production LBs in the real-world system.

Fair Ranking with Noisy Protected Attributes

Anay Mehrotra · Nisheeth Vishnoi

The fair-ranking problem, which asks to rank a given set of items to maximize utility subject to group fairness constraints, has received attention in the fairness, information retrieval, and machine learning literature. Recent works, however, observe that errors in socially-salient (including protected) attributes of items can significantly undermine fairness guarantees of existing fair-ranking algorithms and raise the problem of mitigating the effect of such errors. We study the fair-ranking problem under a model where socially-salient attributes of items are randomly and independently perturbed. We present a fair-ranking framework that incorporates group fairness requirements along with probabilistic information about perturbations in socially-salient attributes. We provide provable guarantees on the fairness and utility attainable by our framework and show that it is information-theoretically impossible to significantly beat these guarantees. Our framework works for multiple non-disjoint attributes and a general class of fairness constraints that includes proportional and equal representation. Empirically, we observe that, compared to baselines, our algorithm outputs rankings with higher fairness, and has a similar or better fairness-utility trade-off compared to baselines.

Off-Policy Evaluation with Deficient Support Using Side Information

Nicolò Felicioni · Maurizio Ferrari Dacrema · Marcello Restelli · Paolo Cremonesi

The Off-Policy Evaluation (OPE) problem consists in evaluating the performance of new policies from the data collected by another one. OPE is crucial when evaluating a new policy online is too expensive or risky. Many of the state-of-the-art OPE estimators are based on the Inverse Propensity Scoring (IPS) technique, which provides an unbiased estimator when the full support assumption holds, i.e., when the logging policy assigns a non-zero probability to each action. However, there are several scenarios where this assumption does not hold in practice, i.e., there is deficient support, and the IPS estimator is biased in the general case.In this paper, we consider two alternative estimators for the deficient support OPE problem. We first show how to adapt an estimator that was originally proposed for a different domain to the deficient support setting.Then, we propose another estimator, which is a novel contribution of this paper.These estimators exploit additional information about the actions, which we call side information, in order to make reliable estimates on the unsupported actions. Under alternative assumptions that do not require full support, we show that the considered estimators are unbiased.We also provide a theoretical analysis of the concentration when relaxing all the assumptions. Finally, we provide an experimental evaluation showing how the considered estimators are better suited for the deficient support setting compared to the baselines.

How to talk so AI will learn: Instructions, descriptions, and autonomy

Theodore Sumers · Robert Hawkins · Mark Ho · Tom Griffiths · Dylan Hadfield-Menell

From the earliest years of our lives, humans use language to express our beliefs and desires. Being able to talk to artificial agents about our preferences would thus fulfill a central goal of value alignment. Yet today, we lack computational models explaining such language use. To address this challenge, we formalize learning from language in a contextual bandit setting and ask how a human might communicate preferences over behaviors. We study two distinct types of language: instructions, which provide information about the desired policy, and descriptions, which provide information about the reward function. We show that the agent's degree of autonomy determines which form of language is optimal: instructions are better in low-autonomy settings, but descriptions are better when the agent will need to act independently. We then define a pragmatic listener agent that robustly infers the speaker's reward function by reasoning about how the speaker expresses themselves. We validate our models with a behavioral experiment, demonstrating that (1) our speaker model predicts human behavior, and (2) our pragmatic listener successfully recovers humans' reward functions. Finally, we show that this form of social learning can integrate with and reduce regret in traditional reinforcement learning. We hope these insights facilitate a shift from developing agents that obey language to agents that learn from it.

Capturing Failures of Large Language Models via Human Cognitive Biases

Erik Jones · Jacob Steinhardt

Large language models generate complex, open-ended outputs: instead of outputting a class label they write summaries, generate dialogue, or produce working code. In order to asses the reliability of these open-ended generation systems, we aim to identify qualitative categories of erroneous behavior, beyond identifying individual errors. To hypothesize and test for such qualitative errors, we draw inspiration from human cognitive biases---systematic patterns of deviation from rational judgement. Specifically, we use cognitive biases as motivation to (i) generate hypotheses for problems that models may have, and (ii) develop experiments that elicit these problems. Using code generation as a case study, we find that OpenAI’s Codex errs predictably based on how the input prompt is framed, adjusts outputs towards anchors, and is biased towards outputs that mimic frequent training examples. We then use our framework to elicit high-impact errors such as incorrectly deleting files. Our results indicate that experimental methodology from cognitive science can help characterize how machine learning systems behave.

A time-resolved theory of information encoding in recurrent neural networks

Rainer Engelken · Sven Goedeke

Information encoding in neural circuits depends on how well time-varying stimuli are encoded by neural populations.Slow neuronal timescales, noise and network chaos can compromise reliable and rapid population response to external stimuli.A dynamic balance of externally incoming currents by strong recurrent inhibition was previously proposed as a mechanism to accurately and robustly encode a time-varying stimulus in balanced networks of binary neurons, but a theory for recurrent rate networks was missing. Here, we develop a non-stationary dynamic mean-field theory that transparently explains how a tight balance of excitatory currents by recurrent inhibition improves information encoding. We demonstrate that the mutual information rate of a time-varying input increases linearly with the tightness of balance, both in the presence of additive noise and with recurrently generated chaotic network fluctuations. We corroborated our findings in numerical experiments and demonstrated that recurrent networks with positive firing rates trained to transmit a time-varying stimulus generically use recurrent inhibition to increase the information rate. We also found that networks trained to transmit multiple independent time-varying signals spontaneously form multiple local inhibitory clusters, one for each input channel.Our findings suggest that feedforward excitatory input and local recurrent inhibition - as observed in many biological circuits - is a generic circuit motif for encoding and transmitting time-varying information in recurrent neural circuits.

Learning Chaotic Dynamics in Dissipative Systems

Zongyi Li · Miguel Liu-Schiaffini · Nikola Kovachki · Kamyar Azizzadenesheli · Burigede Liu · Kaushik Bhattacharya · Andrew Stuart · Anima Anandkumar

Chaotic systems are notoriously challenging to predict because of their sensitivity to perturbations and errors due to time stepping. Despite this unpredictable behavior, for many dissipative systems the statistics of the long term trajectories are governed by an invariant measure supported on a set, known as the global attractor; for many problems this set is finite dimensional, even if the state space is infinite dimensional. For Markovian systems, the statistical properties of long-term trajectories are uniquely determined by the solution operator that maps the evolution of the system over arbitrary positive time increments. In this work, we propose a machine learning framework to learn the underlying solution operator for dissipative chaotic systems, showing that the resulting learned operator accurately captures short-time trajectories and long-time statistical behavior. Using this framework, we are able to predict various statistics of the invariant measure for the turbulent Kolmogorov Flow dynamics with Reynolds numbers up to $5000$.

On Elimination Strategies for Bandit Fixed-Confidence Identification

Andrea Tirinzoni · Rémy Degenne

Elimination algorithms for bandit identification, which prune the plausible correct answers sequentially until only one remains, are computationally convenient since they reduce the problem size over time. However, existing elimination strategies are often not fully adaptive (they update their sampling rule infrequently) and are not easy to extend to combinatorial settings, where the set of answers is exponentially large in the problem dimension. On the other hand, most existing fully-adaptive strategies to tackle general identification problems are computationally demanding since they repeatedly test the correctness of every answer, without ever reducing the problem size. We show that adaptive methods can be modified to use elimination in both their stopping and sampling rules, hence obtaining the best of these two worlds: the algorithms (1) remain fully adaptive, (2) suffer a sample complexity that is never worse of their non-elimination counterpart, and (3) provably eliminate certain wrong answers early. We confirm these benefits experimentally, where elimination improves significantly the computational complexity of adaptive methods on common tasks like best-arm identification in linear bandits.

(Optimal) Online Bipartite Matching with Degree Information

Anders Aamand · Justin Chen · Piotr Indyk

We propose a model for online graph problems where algorithms are given access to an oracle that predicts (e.g., based on modeling assumptions or past data) the degrees of nodes in the graph. Within this model, we study the classic problem of online bipartite matching, and a natural greedy matching algorithm called MinPredictedDegree, which uses predictions of the degrees of offline nodes. For the bipartite version of a stochastic graph model due to Chung, Lu, and Vu where the expected values of the offline degrees are known and used as predictions, we show that MinPredictedDegree stochastically dominates any other online algorithm, i.e., it is optimal for graphs drawn from this model. Since the "symmetric" version of the model, where all online nodes are identical, is a special case of the well-studied "known i.i.d. model", it follows that the competitive ratio of MinPredictedDegree on such inputs is at least 0.7299. For the special case of graphs with power law degree distributions, we show that MinPredictedDegree frequently produces matchings almost as large as the true maximum matching on such graphs. We complement these results with an extensive empirical evaluation showing that MinPredictedDegree compares favorably to state-of-the-art online algorithms for online matching.

Scalable and Efficient Non-adaptive Deterministic Group Testing

Dariusz Kowalski · Dominik Pajak

Group Testing (GT) is about learning a (hidden) subset $K$, of size $k$, of some large domain $N$, of size $n \gg k$, using a sequence of queries. A result of a query provides some information about the intersection of the query with the unknown set $K$. The goal is to design efficient (polynomial time) and scalable (polylogarithmic number of queries per element in $K$) algorithms for constructing queries that allow to decode every hidden set $K$ based on the results of the queries. A vast majority of the previous work focused on randomized algorithms minimizing the number of queries; however, in case of large domains N, randomization may result in asignificant deviation from the expected precision of learning the set $K$. Others assumed unlimited computational power (existential results) or adaptiveness of queries (next query could be constructed taking into account the results of the previous queries) – the former approach is less practical due to non-efficiency, and the latter has several drawbacks including non-parallelization. To avoid all the abovementioned drawbacks, for Quantitative Group Testing (QGT) where query result is the size of its intersection with the hidden set, we present the first efficient and scalable non-adaptive deterministic algorithms for constructing queries and decoding a hidden set K from the results of the queries – these solutions do not use any randomization, adaptiveness or unlimited computational power.

Subspace clustering in high-dimensions: Phase transitions & Statistical-to-Computational gap

Luca Pesce · Bruno Loureiro · Florent Krzakala · Lenka Zdeborová

A simple model to study subspace clustering is the high-dimensional $k$-Gaussian mixture model where the cluster means are sparse vectors. Here we provide an exact asymptotic characterization of the statistically optimal reconstruction error in this model in the high-dimensional regime with extensive sparsity, i.e. when the fraction of non-zero components of the cluster means $\rho$, as well as the ratio $\alpha$ between the number of samples and the dimension are fixed, while the dimension diverges. We identify the information-theoretic threshold below which obtaining a positive correlation with the true cluster means is statistically impossible. Additionally, we investigate the performance of the approximate message passing (AMP) algorithm analyzed via its state evolution, which is conjectured to be optimal among polynomial algorithm for this task. We identify in particular the existence of a statistical-to-computational gap between the algorithm that requires a signal-to-noise ratio $\lambda_{\text{alg}} \ge k / \sqrt{\alpha}$ to perform better than random, and the information theoretic threshold at $\lambda_{\text{it}} \approx \sqrt{-k \rho \log{\rho}} / \sqrt{\alpha}$. Finally, we discuss the case of sub-extensive sparsity $\rho$ by comparing the performance of the AMP with other sparsity-enhancing algorithms, such as sparse-PCA and diagonal thresholding.

A Few Expert Queries Suffices for Sample-Efficient RL with Resets and Linear Value Approximation

Philip Amortila · Nan Jiang · Dhruv Madeka · Dean Foster

The current paper studies sample-efficient Reinforcement Learning (RL) in settings where only the optimal value function is assumed to be linearly-realizable. It has recently been understood that, even under this seemingly strong assumption and access to a generative model, worst-case sample complexities can be prohibitively (i.e., exponentially) large. We investigate the setting where the learner additionally has access to interactive demonstrations from an expert policy, and we present a statistically and computationally efficient algorithm (Delphi) for blending exploration with expert queries. In particular, Delphi requires $\tilde O(d)$ expert queries and a $\texttt{poly}(d,H,|A|,1/\varepsilon)$ amount of exploratory samples to provably recover an $\varepsilon$-suboptimal policy. Compared to pure RL approaches, this corresponds to an exponential improvement in sample complexity with surprisingly-little expert input. Compared to prior imitation learning (IL) approaches, our required number of expert demonstrations is independent of $H$ and logarithmic in $1/\varepsilon$, whereas all prior work required at least linear factors of both in addition to the same dependence on $d$. Towards establishing the minimal amount of expert queries needed, we show that, in the same setting, any learner whose exploration budget is \textit{polynomially-bounded} (in terms of $d,H,$ and $|A|$) will require \textit{at least} $\tilde\Omega(\sqrt{d})$ oracle calls to recover a policy competing with the expert's value function. Under the weaker assumption that the expert's policy is linear, we show that the lower bound increases to $\tilde\Omega(d)$.

Sample Complexity of Learning Heuristic Functions for Greedy-Best-First and A* Search

Shinsaku Sakaue · Taihei Oki

Greedy best-first search (GBFS) and A* search (A*) are popular algorithms for path-finding on large graphs. Both use so-called heuristic functions, which estimate how close a vertex is to the goal. While heuristic functions have been handcrafted using domain knowledge, recent studies demonstrate that learning heuristic functions from data is effective in many applications. Motivated by this emerging approach, we study the sample complexity of learning heuristic functions for GBFS and A*. We build on a recent framework called \textit{data-driven algorithm design} and evaluate the \textit{pseudo-dimension} of a class of utility functions that measure the performance of parameterized algorithms. Assuming that a vertex set of size $n$ is fixed, we present $\mathrm{O}(n\lg n)$ and $\mathrm{O}(n^2\lg n)$ upper bounds on the pseudo-dimensions for GBFS and A*, respectively, parameterized by heuristic function values. The upper bound for A* can be improved to $\mathrm{O}(n^2\lg d)$ if every vertex has a degree of at most $d$ and to $\mathrm{O}(n \lg n)$ if edge weights are integers bounded by $\mathrm{poly}(n)$. We also give $\Omega(n)$ lower bounds for GBFS and A*, which imply that our bounds for GBFS and A* under the integer-weight condition are tight up to a $\lg n$ factor. Finally, we discuss a case where the performance of A* is measured by the suboptimality and show that we can sometimes obtain a better guarantee by combining a parameter-dependent worst-case bound with a sample complexity bound.

Distributionally Robust Optimization via Ball Oracle Acceleration

Yair Carmon · Danielle Hausler

We develop and analyze algorithms for distributionally robust optimization (DRO) of convex losses. In particular, we consider group-structured and bounded $f$-divergence uncertainty sets. Our approach relies on an accelerated method that queries a ball optimization oracle, i.e., a subroutine that minimizes the objective within a small ball around the query point. Our main contribution is efficient implementations of this oracle for DRO objectives. For DRO with $N$ non-smooth loss functions, the resulting algorithms find an $\epsilon$-accurate solution with $\widetilde{O}\left(N\epsilon^{-2/3} + \epsilon^{-2}\right)$ first-order oracle queries to individual loss functions. Compared to existing algorithms for this problem, we improve complexity by a factor of up to $\epsilon^{-4/3}$.

Online Bipartite Matching with Advice: Tight Robustness-Consistency Tradeoffs for the Two-Stage Model

Billy Jin · Will Ma

We study the two-stage vertex-weighted online bipartite matching problem of Feng, Niazadeh, and Saberi (SODA ‘21) in a setting where the algorithm has access to a suggested matching that is recommended in the first stage. We evaluate an algorithm by its robustness $R$, which is its performance relative to that of the optimal offline matching, and its consistency $C$, which is its performance when the advice or the prediction given is correct. We characterize for this problem the Pareto-efficient frontier between robustness and consistency, which is rare in the literature on advice-augmented algorithms, yet necessary for quantifying such an algorithm to be optimal. Specifically, we propose an algorithm that is $R$-robust and $C$-consistent for any $(R,C)$ with $0 \leq R \leq \frac{3}{4}$ and $\sqrt{1-R} + \sqrt{1-C} = 1$, and prove that no other algorithm can achieve a better tradeoff.

GraB: Finding Provably Better Data Permutations than Random Reshuffling

Yucheng Lu · Wentao Guo · Christopher De Sa

Random reshuffling, which randomly permutes the dataset each epoch, is widely adopted in model training because it yields faster convergence than with-replacement sampling. Recent studies indicate greedily chosen data orderings can further speed up convergence empirically, at the cost of using more computation and memory. However, greedy ordering lacks theoretical justification and has limited utility due to its non-trivial memory and computation overhead. In this paper, we first formulate an example-ordering framework named \emph{herding} and answer affirmatively that SGD with herding converges at the rate $O(T^{-2/3})$ on smooth, non-convex objectives, faster than the $O(n^{1/3}T^{-2/3})$ obtained by random reshuffling, where $n$ denotes the number of data points and $T$ denotes the total number of iterations. To reduce the memory overhead, we leverage discrepancy minimization theory to propose an online Gradient Balancing algorithm (GraB) that enjoys the same rate as herding, while reducing the memory usage from $O(nd)$ to just $O(d)$ and computation from $O(n^2)$ to $O(n)$, where $d$ denotes the model dimension. We show empirically on applications including MNIST, CIFAR10, WikiText and GLUE that GraB can outperform random reshuffling in terms of both training and validation performance, and even outperform state-of-the-art greedy ordering while reducing memory usage over $100\times$.

House of Cans: Covert Transmission of Internal Datasets via Capacity-Aware Neuron Steganography

Xudong Pan · Shengyao Zhang · Mi Zhang · Yifan Yan · Min Yang

In this paper, we present a capacity-aware neuron steganography scheme (i.e., Cans) to covertly transmit multiple private machine learning (ML) datasets via a scheduled-to-publish deep neural network (DNN) as the carrier model. Unlike existing steganography schemes which treat the DNN parameters as bit strings, \textit{Cans} for the first time exploits the learning capacity of the carrier model via a novel parameter sharing mechanism. Extensive evaluation shows, Cans is the first working scheme which can covertly transmit over $10000$ real-world data samples within a carrier model which has $220\times$ less parameters than the total size of the stolen data, and simultaneously transmit multiple heterogeneous datasets within a single carrier model, under a trivial distortion rate ($<10^{-5}$) and with almost no utility loss on the carrier model ($<1\%$). Besides, Cans implements by-design redundancy to be resilient against common post-processing techniques on the carrier model before the publishing.

A Causal Analysis of Harm

Sander Beckers · Hana Chockler · Joseph Halpern

As autonomous systems rapidly become ubiquitous, there is a growing need for a legal and regulatory framework toaddress when and how such a system harms someone. There have been several attempts within the philosophy literature to define harm, but none of them has proven capable of dealing with with the many examples that have been presented, leading some to suggest that the notion of harm should be abandoned and ``replaced by more well-behaved notions''. As harm is generally something that is caused, most of these definitions have involved causality at some level. Yet surprisingly, none of them makes use of causal models and the definitions of actual causality that they can express. In this paper we formally define a qualitative notion of harm that uses causal models and is based on a well-known definition of actual causality (Halpern, 2016). The key novelty of our definition is that it is based on contrastive causation and uses a default utility to which the utility of actual outcomes is compared. We show that our definition is able to handle the examples from the literature, and illustrate its importance for reasoning about situations involving autonomous systems.

Simple Mechanisms for Welfare Maximization in Rich Advertising Auctions

Gagan Aggarwal · Kshipra Bhawalkar · Aranyak Mehta · Divyarthi Mohan · Alexandros Psomas

Internet ad auctions have evolved from a few lines of text to richer informational layouts that include images, sitelinks, videos, etc. Ads in these new formats occupy varying amounts of space, and an advertiser can provide multiple formats, only one of which can be shown.The seller is now faced with a multi-parameter mechanism design problem.Computing an efficient allocation is computationally intractable, and therefore the standard Vickrey-Clarke-Groves (VCG) auction, while truthful and welfare-optimal, is impractical. In this paper, we tackle a fundamental problem in the design of modern ad auctions. We adopt a ``Myersonian'' approach and study allocation rules that are monotone both in the bid and set of rich ads. We show that such rules can be paired with a payment function to give a truthful auction. Our main technical challenge is designing a monotone rule that yields a good approximation to the optimal welfare. Monotonicity doesn't hold for standard algorithms, e.g. the incremental bang-per-buck order, that give good approximations to ``knapsack-like'' problems such as ours. In fact, we show that no deterministic monotone rule can approximate the optimal welfare within a factor better than $2$ (while there is a non-monotone FPTAS). Our main result is a new, simple, greedy and monotone allocation rule that guarantees a $3$ approximation. In ad auctions in practice, monotone allocation rules are often paired with the so-called \emph{Generalized Second Price (GSP)} payment rule, which charges the minimum threshold price below which the allocation changes. We prove that, even though our monotone allocation rule paired with GSP is not truthful, its Price of Anarchy (PoA) is bounded. Under standard no-overbidding assumptions, we prove bounds on the a pure and Bayes-Nash PoA. Finally, we experimentally test our algorithms on real-world data.

On Image Segmentation With Noisy Labels: Characterization and Volume Properties of the Optimal Solutions to Accuracy and Dice

Marcus Nordstrom · Henrik Hult · Fredrik Löfman · Jonas Söderberg

We study two of the most popular performance metrics in medical image segmentation, Accuracy and Dice, when the target labels are noisy. For both metrics, several statements related to characterization and volume properties of the set of optimal segmentations are proved, and associated experiments are provided. Our main insights are: (i) the volume of the solutions to both metrics may deviate significantly from the expected volume of the target, (ii) the volume of a solution to Accuracy is always less than or equal to the volume of a solution to Dice and (iii) the optimal solutions to both of these metrics coincide when the set of feasible segmentations is constrained to the set of segmentations with the volume equal to the expected volume of the target.

Online Algorithms for the Santa Claus Problem

Max Springer · MohammadTaghi Hajiaghayi · Debmalya Panigrahi · Mohammad Khani

The Santa Claus problem is a fundamental problem in {\em fair division}: the goal is to partition a set of {\em heterogeneous} items among {\em heterogeneous} agents so as to maximize the minimum value of items received by any agent. In this paper, we study the online version of this problem where the items are not known in advance and have to be assigned to agents as they arrive over time. If the arrival order of items is arbitrary, then no good assignment rule exists in the worst case. However, we show that, if the arrival order is random, then for $n$ agents and any $\varepsilon > 0$, we can obtain a competitive ratio of $1-\varepsilon$ when the optimal assignment gives value at least $\Omega(\log n / \varepsilon^2)$ to every agent (assuming each item has at most unit value). We also show that this result is almost tight: namely, if the optimal solution has value at most $C \ln n / \varepsilon$ for some constant $C$, then there is no $(1-\varepsilon)$-competitive algorithm even for random arrival order.

Learning on the Edge: Online Learning with Stochastic Feedback Graphs

Emmanuel Esposito · Federico Fusco · Dirk van der Hoeven · Nicolò Cesa-Bianchi

The framework of feedback graphs is a generalization of sequential decision-making with bandit or full information feedback. In this work, we study an extension where the directed feedback graph is stochastic, following a distribution similar to the classical Erdős-Rényi model. Specifically, in each round every edge in the graph is either realized or not with a distinct probability for each edge. We prove nearly optimal regret bounds of order $\min\bigl\{\min_{\varepsilon} \sqrt{(\alpha_\varepsilon/\varepsilon) T},\, \min_{\varepsilon} (\delta_\varepsilon/\varepsilon)^{1/3} T^{2/3}\bigr\}$ (ignoring logarithmic factors), where $\alpha_{\varepsilon}$ and $\delta_{\varepsilon}$ are graph-theoretic quantities measured on the support of the stochastic feedback graph $\mathcal{G}$ with edge probabilities thresholded at $\varepsilon$. Our result, which holds without any preliminary knowledge about $\mathcal{G}$, requires the learner to observe only the realized out-neighborhood of the chosen action. When the learner is allowed to observe the realization of the entire graph (but only the losses in the out-neighborhood of the chosen action), we derive a more efficient algorithm featuring a dependence on weighted versions of the independence and weak domination numbers that exhibits improved bounds for some special cases.

Optimal Dynamic Regret in LQR Control

Dheeraj Baby · Yu-Xiang Wang

We consider the problem of nonstochastic control with a sequence of quadratic losses, i.e., LQR control. We provide an efficient online algorithm that achieves an optimal dynamic (policy) regret of $\tilde{O}(n^{1/3} \mathcal{TV}(M_{1:n}^{2/3} \vee 1)$, where $\mathcal{TV}(M_{1:n})$ is the total variation of any oracle sequence of \emph{Disturbance Action} policies parameterized by $M_1,...,M_n$ --- chosen in hindsight to cater to unknown nonstationarity. The rate improves the best known rate of $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{n (\mathcal{TV}(M_{1:n})+1)} )$ for general convex losses and is information-theoretically optimal for LQR. Main technical components include the reduction of LQR to online linear regression with delayed feedback due to Foster & Simchowitz 2020, as well as a new \emph{proper} learning algorithm with an optimal $\tilde{O}(n^{1/3})$ dynamic regret on a family of "minibatched'' quadratic losses, which could be of independent interest.

Improved Regret Analysis for Variance-Adaptive Linear Bandits and Horizon-Free Linear Mixture MDPs

Yeoneung Kim · Insoon Yang · Kwang-Sung Jun

In online learning problems, exploiting low variance plays an important role in obtaining tight performance guarantees yet is challenging because variances are often not known a priori. Recently, considerable progress has been made by Zhang et al. (2021) where they obtain a variance-adaptive regret bound for linear bandits without knowledge of the variances and a horizon-free regret bound for linear mixture Markov decision processes (MDPs). In this paper, we present novel analyses that improve their regret bounds significantly. For linear bandits, we achieve $\tilde O(\min\{d\sqrt{K}, d^{1.5}\sqrt{\sum_{k=1}^K \sigma_k^2}\} + d^2)$ where $d$ is the dimension of the features, $K$ is the time horizon, and $\sigma_k^2$ is the noise variance at time step $k$, and $\tilde O$ ignores polylogarithmic dependence, which is a factor of $d^3$ improvement. For linear mixture MDPs with the assumption of maximum cumulative reward in an episode being in $[0,1]$, we achieve a horizon-free regret bound of $\tilde O(d \sqrt{K} + d^2)$ where $d$ is the number of base models and $K$ is the number of episodes. This is a factor of $d^{3.5}$ improvement in the leading term and $d^7$ in the lower order term. Our analysis critically relies on a novel peeling-based regret analysis that leverages the elliptical potential `count' lemma.

Optimistic Mirror Descent Either Converges to Nash or to Strong Coarse Correlated Equilibria in Bimatrix Games

Ioannis Anagnostides · Gabriele Farina · Ioannis Panageas · Tuomas Sandholm

We show that, for any sufficiently small fixed $\epsilon > 0$, when both players in a general-sum two-player (bimatrix) game employ optimistic mirror descent (OMD) with smooth regularization, learning rate $\eta = O(\epsilon^2)$ and $T = \Omega(poly(1/\epsilon))$ repetitions, either the dynamics reach an $\epsilon$-approximate Nash equilibrium (NE), or the average correlated distribution of play is an $\Omega(poly(\epsilon))$-strong coarse correlated equilibrium (CCE): any possible unilateral deviation does not only leave the player worse, but will decrease its utility by $\Omega(poly(\epsilon))$. As an immediate consequence, when the iterates of OMD are bounded away from being Nash equilibria in a bimatrix game, we guarantee convergence to an \emph{exact} CCE after only $O(1)$ iterations. Our results reveal that uncoupled no-regret learning algorithms can converge to CCE in general-sum games remarkably faster than to NE in, for example, zero-sum games. To establish this, we show that when OMD does not reach arbitrarily close to a NE, the (cumulative) regret of both players is not only negative, but decays linearly with time. Given that regret is the canonical measure of performance in online learning, our results suggest that cycling behavior of no-regret learning algorithms in games can be justified in terms of efficiency.

Online Convex Optimization with Hard Constraints: Towards the Best of Two Worlds and Beyond

Hengquan Guo · Xin Liu · Honghao Wei · Lei Ying

This paper considers online convex optimization with hard constraints and analyzes achievable regret and cumulative hard constraint violation (violation for short). The problem distinguishes itself from online convex optimization with soft constraints, where a violation at one round can be compensated/cancelled by a conservative decision at a different round. We propose a RECtified Online Optimization algorithm (RECOO) and consider two settings: fixed constraints and adversarial constraints. Both settings have been considered in the literature. Compared with existing results, {\em RECOO achieves the best of two worlds and beyond.} For the fixed-constraints setting, RECOO achieves $O\left(\sqrt{T}\right)$ regret and $O(1)$ violation, where $T$ is the learning horizon. The best known results in this case are $O(\sqrt{T})$ regret and $O\left(T^{1/4}\right)$ violation. For the adversarial-constraints setting, it guarantees $O(\sqrt{T})$ regret and $O(T^{3/4})$ violation, which match the best existing results. When the loss functions are strongly convex, RECOO can guarantee $O(\log T)$ regret and $O(1)$ violation for fixed constraints, and $O(\log T)$ regret and $O(\sqrt{T\log T})$ violation for adversarial constraints. Both these results are order-wise better than the existing bounds. The regret and violation bounds mentioned above use the best fixed decision in hindsight as the baseline. This paper further considers a dynamic baseline where the comparator sequence is time-varying. This paper shows that RECOO not only improves the existing results in the fixed-constraints setting but also {\em for the first time,} guarantees dynamic regret and violation bounds in the adversarial-constraints setting. Our experiment results confirm that RECOO outperforms several existing algorithms for both fixed and adversarial constraints.

Pessimism for Offline Linear Contextual Bandits using $\ell_p$ Confidence Sets

Gene Li · Cong Ma · Nati Srebro

We present a family $\{\widehat{\pi}_p\}_{p\ge 1}$ of pessimistic learning rules for offline learning of linear contextual bandits, relying on confidence sets with respect to different $\ell_p$ norms, where $\widehat{\pi}_2$ corresponds to Bellman-consistent pessimism (BCP), while $\widehat{\pi}_\infty$ is a novel generalization of lower confidence bound (LCB) to the linear setting. We show that the novel $\widehat{\pi}_\infty$ learning rule is, in a sense, adaptively optimal, as it achieves the minimax performance (up to log factors) against all $\ell_q$-constrained problems, and as such it strictly dominates all other predictors in the family, including $\widehat{\pi}_2$.

Mean Estimation in High-Dimensional Binary Markov Gaussian Mixture Models

Yihan Zhang · Nir Weinberger

We consider a high-dimensional mean estimation problem over a binary hidden Markov model, which illuminates the interplay between memory in data, sample size, dimension, and signal strength in statistical inference. In this model, an estimator observes $n$ samples of a $d$-dimensional parameter vector $\theta_{*}\in\mathbb{R}^{d}$, multiplied by a random sign $ S_i $ ($1\le i\le n$), and corrupted by isotropic standard Gaussian noise. The sequence of signs $\{S_{i}\}_{i\in[n]}\in\{-1,1\}^{n}$ is drawn from a stationary homogeneous Markov chain with flip probability $\delta\in[0,1/2]$. As $\delta$ varies, this model smoothly interpolates two well-studied models: the Gaussian Location Model for which $\delta=0$ and the Gaussian Mixture Model for which $\delta=1/2$. Assuming that the estimator knows $\delta$, we establish a nearly minimax optimal (up to logarithmic factors) estimation error rate, as a function of $\|\theta_{*}\|,\delta,d,n$. We then provide an upper bound to the case of estimating $\delta$, assuming a (possibly inaccurate) knowledge of $\theta_{*}$. The bound is proved to be tight when $\theta_{*}$ is an accurately known constant. These results are then combined to an algorithm which estimates $\theta_{*}$ with $\delta$ unknown a priori, and theoretical guarantees on its error are stated.

Queue Up Your Regrets: Achieving the Dynamic Capacity Region of Multiplayer Bandits

Ilai Bistritz · Nicholas Bambos

Abstract Consider $N$ cooperative agents such that for $T$ turns, each agent n takes an action $a_{n}$ and receives a stochastic reward $r_{n}\left(a_{1},\ldots,a_{N}\right)$. Agents cannot observe the actions of other agents and do not know even their own reward function. The agents can communicate with their neighbors on a connected graph $G$ with diameter $d\left(G\right)$. We want each agent $n$ to achieve an expected average reward of at least $\lambda_{n}$ over time, for a given quality of service (QoS) vector $\boldsymbol{\lambda}$. A QoS vector $\boldsymbol{\lambda}$ is not necessarily achievable. By giving up on immediate reward, knowing that the other agents will compensate later, agents can improve their achievable capacity region. Our main observation is that the gap between $\lambda_{n}t$ and the accumulated reward of agent $n$, which we call the QoS regret, behaves like a queue. Inspired by this observation, we propose a distributed algorithm that aims to learn a max-weight matching of agents to actions. In each epoch, the algorithm employs a consensus phase where the agents agree on a certain weighted sum of rewards by communicating only $O\left(d\left(G\right)\right)$ numbers every turn. Then, the algorithm uses distributed successive elimination on a random subset of action profiles to approximately maximize this weighted sum of rewards. We prove a bound on the accumulated sum of expected QoS regrets of all agents, that holds if $\boldsymbol{\lambda}$ is a safety margin $\varepsilon_{T}$ away from the boundary of the capacity region, where $\varepsilon_{T}\rightarrow0$ as $T\rightarrow\infty$. This bound implies that, for large $T$, our algorithm can achieve any $\boldsymbol{\lambda}$ in the interior of the dynamic capacity region, while all agents are guaranteed an empirical average expected QoS regret of $\tilde{O}\left(1\right)$ over $t=1,\ldots,T$ which never exceeds $\tilde{O}\left(\sqrt{t}\right)$ for any $t$. We then extend our result to time-varying i.i.d. communication graphs.

The First Optimal Algorithm for Smooth and Strongly-Convex-Strongly-Concave Minimax Optimization

Dmitry Kovalev · Alexander Gasnikov

In this paper, we revisit the smooth and strongly-convex-strongly-concave minimax optimization problem. Zhang et al. (2021) and Ibrahim et al. (2020) established the lower bound $\Omega\left(\sqrt{\kappa_x\kappa_y} \log \frac{1}{\epsilon}\right)$ on the number of gradient evaluations required to find an ϵ-accurate solution, where κx and κy are condition numbers for the strong convexity and strong concavity assumptions. However, the existing state-of-the-art methods do not match this lower bound: algorithms of Lin et al. (2020) and Wang and Li (2020) have gradient evaluation complexity $\mathcal{O}\left(\sqrt{\kappa_x\kappa_y} \log^3 \frac{1}{\epsilon}\right)$ and $\mathcal{O}\left( \sqrt{\kappa_x\kappa_y}\log^3 (\kappa_x\kappa_y)\log\frac{1}{\epsilon}\right)$, respectively. We fix this fundamental issue by providing the first algorithm with $\mathcal{O}\left(\sqrt{\kappa_x\kappa_y} \log \frac{1}{\epsilon}\right)$ gradient evaluation complexity. We design our algorithm in three steps: (i) we reformulate the original problem as a minimization problem via the pointwise conjugate function; (ii) we apply a specific variant of the proximal point algorithm to the reformulated problem; (iii) we compute the proximal operator inexactly using the optimal algorithm for operator norm reduction in monotone inclusions.

Beyond black box densities: Parameter learning for the deviated components

Dat Do · Nhat Ho · XuanLong Nguyen

As we collect additional samples from a data population for which a known density function estimate may have been previously obtained by a black box method, the increased complexity of the data set may result in the true density being deviated from the known estimate by a mixture distribution. To model this phenomenon, we consider the \emph{deviating mixture model} $(1-\lambda^{*})h_0 + \lambda^{*} (\sum_{i = 1}^{k} p_{i}^{*} f(x|\theta_{i}^{*}))$, where $h_0$ is a known density function, while the deviated proportion $\lambda^{*}$ and latent mixing measure $G_{*} = \sum_{i = 1}^{k} p_{i}^{*} \delta_{\theta_i^{*}}$ associated with the mixture distribution are unknown. Via a novel notion of distinguishability between the known density $h_{0}$ and the deviated mixture distribution, we establish rates of convergence for the maximum likelihood estimates of $\lambda^{*}$ and $G^{*}$ under Wasserstein metric. Simulation studies are carried out to illustrate the theory.

A Best-of-Both-Worlds Algorithm for Bandits with Delayed Feedback

Saeed Masoudian · Julian Zimmert · Yevgeny Seldin

We present a modified tuning of the algorithm of Zimmert and Seldin [2020] for adversarial multiarmed bandits with delayed feedback, which in addition to the minimax optimal adversarial regret guarantee shown by Zimmert and Seldin [2020] simultaneously achieves a near-optimal regret guarantee in the stochastic setting with fixed delays. Specifically, the adversarial regret guarantee is $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{TK} + \sqrt{dT\log K})$, where $T$ is the time horizon, $K$ is the number of arms, and $d$ is the fixed delay, whereas the stochastic regret guarantee is $\mathcal{O}\left(\sum_{i \neq i^*}(\frac{1}{\Delta_i} \log(T) + \frac{d}{\Delta_{i}}) + d K^{1/3}\log K\right)$, where $\Delta_i$ are the suboptimality gaps. We also present an extension of the algorithm to the case of arbitrary delays, which is based on an oracle knowledge of the maximal delay $d_{max}$ and achieves $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{TK} + \sqrt{D\log K} + d_{max}K^{1/3} \log K)$ regret in the adversarial regime, where $D$ is the total delay, and $\mathcal{O}\left(\sum_{i \neq i^*}(\frac{1}{\Delta_i} \log(T) + \frac{\sigma_{max}}{\Delta_{i}}) + d_{max}K^{1/3}\log K\right)$ regret in the stochastic regime, where $\sigma_{max}$ is the maximal number of outstanding observations. Finally, we present a lower bound that matches regret upper bound achieved by the skipping technique of Zimmert and Seldin [2020] in the adversarial setting.

New Lower Bounds for Private Estimation and a Generalized Fingerprinting Lemma

Gautam Kamath · Argyris Mouzakis · Vikrant Singhal

We prove new lower bounds for statistical estimation tasks under the constraint of $(\varepsilon,\delta)$-differential privacy. First, we provide tight lower bounds for private covariance estimation of Gaussian distributions. We show that estimating the covariance matrix in Frobenius norm requires $\Omega(d^2)$ samples, and in spectral norm requires $\Omega(d^{3/2})$ samples, both matching upper bounds up to logarithmic factors. We prove these bounds via our main technical contribution, a broad generalization of the fingerprinting method to exponential families. Additionally, using the private Assouad method of Acharya, Sun, and Zhang, we show a tight $\Omega(d/(\alpha^2 \varepsilon))$ lower bound for estimating the mean of a distribution with bounded covariance to $\alpha$-error in $\ell_2$-distance. Prior known lower bounds for all these problems were either polynomially weaker or held under the stricter condition of $(\varepsilon,0)$-differential privacy.

Policy Optimization for Markov Games: Unified Framework and Faster Convergence

Runyu Zhang · Qinghua Liu · Huan Wang · Caiming Xiong · Na Li · Yu Bai

This paper studies policy optimization algorithms for multi-agent reinforcement learning. We begin by proposing an algorithm framework for two-player zero-sum Markov Games in the full-information setting, where each iteration consists of a policy update step at each state using a certain matrix game algorithm, and a value update step with a certain learning rate. This framework unifies many existing and new policy optimization algorithms. We show that the \emph{state-wise average policy} of this algorithm converges to an approximate Nash equilibrium (NE) of the game, as long as the matrix game algorithms achieve low weighted regret at each state, with respect to weights determined by the speed of the value updates. Next, we show that this framework instantiated with the Optimistic Follow-The-Regularized-Leader (OFTRL) algorithm at each state (and smooth value updates) can find an $\mathcal{\widetilde{O}}(T^{-5/6})$ approximate NE in $T$ iterations, and a similar algorithm with slightly modified value update rule achieves a faster $\mathcal{\widetilde{O}}(T^{-1})$ convergence rate. These improve over the current best $\mathcal{\widetilde{O}}(T^{-1/2})$ rate of symmetric policy optimization type algorithms. We also extend this algorithm to multi-player general-sum Markov Games and show an $\mathcal{\widetilde{O}}(T^{-3/4})$ convergence rate to Coarse Correlated Equilibria (CCE). Finally, we provide a numerical example to verify our theory and investigate the importance of smooth value updates, and find that using ''eager'' value updates instead (equivalent to the independent natural policy gradient algorithm) may significantly slow down the convergence, even on a simple game with $H=2$ layers.

A Damped Newton Method Achieves Global $\mathcal O \left(\frac{1}{k^2}\right)$ and Local Quadratic Convergence Rate

Slavomír Hanzely · Dmitry Kamzolov · Dmitry Pasechnyuk · Alexander Gasnikov · Peter Richtarik · Martin Takac

In this paper, we present the first stepsize schedule for Newton method resulting in fast global and local convergence guarantees. In particular, we a) prove an $\mathcal O \left( 1/{k^2} \right)$ global rate, which matches the state-of-the-art global rate of cubically regularized Newton method of Polyak and Nesterov (2006) and of regularized Newton method of Mishchenko (2021), and the later variant of Doikov and Nesterov (2021), b) prove a local quadratic rate, which matches the best-known local rate of second-order methods, and c) our stepsize formula is simple, explicit, and does not require solving any subproblem. Our convergence proofs hold under affine-invariant assumptions closely related to the notion of self-concordance. Finally, our method has competitive performance when compared to existing baselines which share the same fast global convergence guarantees.

Local Identifiability of Deep ReLU Neural Networks: the Theory

Joachim Bona-Pellissier · François Malgouyres · Francois Bachoc

Is a sample rich enough to determine, at least locally, the parameters of a neural network? To answer this question, we introduce a new local parameterization of a given deep ReLU neural network by fixing the values of some of its weights. This allows us to define local lifting operators whose inverses are charts of a smooth manifold of a high dimensional space. The function implemented by the deep ReLU neural network composes the local lifting with a linear operator which depends on the sample. We derive from this convenient representation a geometrical necessary and sufficient condition of local identifiability. Looking at tangent spaces, the geometrical condition provides: 1/ a sharp and testable necessary condition of identifiability and 2/ a sharp and testable sufficient condition of local identifiability. The validity of the conditions can be tested numerically using backpropagation and matrix rank computations.

Conditional Independence Testing with Heteroskedastic Data and Applications to Causal Discovery

Wiebke Günther · Urmi Ninad · Jonas Wahl · Jakob Runge

Conditional independence (CI) testing is frequently used in data analysis and machine learning for various scientific fields and it forms the basis of constraint-based causal discovery. Oftentimes, CI testing relies on strong, rather unrealistic assumptions. One of these assumptions is homoskedasticity, in other words, a constant conditional variance is assumed. We frame heteroskedasticity in a structural causal model framework and present an adaptation of the partial correlation CI test that works well in the presence of heteroskedastic noise, given that expert knowledge about the heteroskedastic relationships is available. Further, we provide theoretical consistency results for the proposed CI test which carry over to causal discovery under certain assumptions. Numerical causal discovery experiments demonstrate that the adapted partial correlation CI test outperforms the standard test in the presence of heteroskedasticity and is on par for the homoskedastic case. Finally, we discuss the general challenges and limits as to how expert knowledge about heteroskedasticity can be accounted for in causal discovery.

Online Allocation and Learning in the Presence of Strategic Agents

Steven Yin · Shipra Agrawal · Assaf Zeevi

We study the problem of allocating $T$ sequentially arriving items among $n$ homogenous agents under the constraint that each agent must receive a prespecified fraction of all items, with the objective of maximizing the agents' total valuation of items allocated to them. The agents' valuations for the item in each round are assumed to be i.i.d. but their distribution is apriori unknown to the central planner.vTherefore, the central planner needs to implicitly learn these distributions from the observed values in order to pick a good allocation policy. However, an added challenge here is that the agents are strategic with incentives to misreport their valuations in order to receive better allocations. This sets our work apart both from the online auction mechanism design settings which typically assume known valuation distributions and/or involve payments, and from the online learning settings that do not consider strategic agents. To that end, our main contribution is an online learning based allocation mechanism that is approximately Bayesian incentive compatible, and when all agents are truthful, guarantees a sublinear regret for individual agents' utility compared to that under the optimal offline allocation policy.

Signal Recovery with Non-Expansive Generative Network Priors

Jorio Cocola

We study compressive sensing with a deep generative network prior. Initial theoretical guarantees for efficient recovery from compressed linear measurements have been developed for signals in the range of a ReLU network with Gaussian weights and logarithmic expansivity: that is when each layer is larger than the previous one by a logarithmic factor. It was later shown that constant expansivity is sufficient for recovery. It has remained open whether the expansivity can be relaxed, allowing for networks with contractive layers (as often the case of real generators). In this work we answer this question, proving that a signal in the range of a Gaussian generative network can be recovered from few linear measurements provided that the width of the layers is proportional to the input layer size (up to log factors). This condition allows the generative network to have contractive layers. Our result is based on showing that Gaussian matrices satisfy a matrix concentration inequality which we term Range Restricted Weight Distribution Condition (R2WDC) and which weakens the Weight Distribution Condition (WDC) upon which previous theoretical guarantees were based. The WDC has also been used to analyze other signal recovery problems with generative network priors. By replacing the WDC with the R2WDC, we are able to extend previous results for signal recovery with expansive generative network priors to non-expansive ones. We discuss these extensions for phase retrieval, denoising, and spiked matrix recovery.

Practical Adversarial Multivalid Conformal Prediction

Osbert Bastani · Varun Gupta · Christopher Jung · Georgy Noarov · Ramya Ramalingam · Aaron Roth

We give a simple, generic conformal prediction method for sequential prediction that achieves target empirical coverage guarantees on adversarial data. It is computationally lightweight --- comparable to split conformal prediction --- but does not require having a held-out validation set, and so all data can be used for training models from which to derive a conformal score. Furthermore, it gives stronger than marginal coverage guarantees in two ways. First, it gives threshold-calibrated prediction sets that have correct empirical coverage even conditional on the threshold used to form the prediction set from the conformal score. Second, the user can specify an arbitrary collection of subsets of the feature space --- possibly intersecting --- and the coverage guarantees will also hold conditional on membership in each of these subsets. We call our algorithm MVP, short for MultiValid Prediction. We give both theory and an extensive set of empirical evaluations.

Sublinear Algorithms for Hierarchical Clustering

Arpit Agarwal · Sanjeev Khanna · Huan Li · Prathamesh Patil

Hierarchical clustering over graphs is a fundamental task in data mining and machine learning with applications in many domains including phylogenetics, social network analysis, and information retrieval. Specifically, we consider the recently popularized objective function for hierarchical clustering due to Dasgupta~\cite{Dasgupta16}, namely, minimum cost hierarchical partitioning. Previous algorithms for (approximately) minimizing this objective function require linear time/space complexity. In many applications the underlying graph can be massive in size making it computationally challenging to process the graph even using a linear time/space algorithm. As a result, there is a strong interest in designing algorithms that can perform global computation using only sublinear resources (space, time, and communication). The focus of this work is to study hierarchical clustering for massive graphs under three well-studied models of sublinear computation which focus on space, time, and communication, respectively, as the primary resources to optimize: (1) (dynamic) streaming model where edges are presented as a stream, (2) query model where the graph is queried using neighbor and degree queries, (3) massively parallel computation (MPC) model where the edges of the graph are partitioned over several machines connected via a communication channel.We design sublinear algorithms for hierarchical clustering in all three models above. At the heart of our algorithmic results is a view of the objective in terms of cuts in the graph, which allows us to use a relaxed notion of cut sparsifiers to do hierarchical clustering while introducing only a small distortion in the objective function. Our main algorithmic contributions are then to show how cut sparsifiers of the desired form can be efficiently constructed in the query model and the MPC model. We complement our algorithmic results by establishing nearly matching lower bounds that rule out the possibility of designing algorithms with better performance guarantees in each of these models.

Large-scale Optimization of Partial AUC in a Range of False Positive Rates

Yao Yao · Qihang Lin · Tianbao Yang

The area under the ROC curve (AUC) is one of the most widely used performance measures for classification models in machine learning. However, it summarizes the true positive rates (TPRs) over all false positive rates (FPRs) in the ROC space, which may include the FPRs with no practical relevance in some applications. The partial AUC, as a generalization of the AUC, summarizes only the TPRs over a specific range of the FPRs and is thus a more suitable performance measure in many real-world situations. Although partial AUC optimization in a range of FPRs had been studied, existing algorithms are not scalable to big data and not applicable to deep learning. To address this challenge, we cast the problem into a non-smooth difference-of-convex (DC) program for any smooth predictive functions (e.g., deep neural networks), which allowed us to develop an efficient approximated gradient descent method based on the Moreau envelope smoothing technique, inspired by recent advances in non-smooth DC optimization. To increase the efficiency of large data processing, we used an efficient stochastic block coordinate update in our algorithm. Our proposed algorithm can also be used to minimize the sum of ranked range loss, which also lacks efficient solvers. We established a complexity of $\tilde O(1/\epsilon^6)$ for finding a nearly $\epsilon$-critical solution. Finally, we numerically demonstrated the effectiveness of our proposed algorithms in training both linear models and deep neural networks for partial AUC maximization and sum of ranked range loss minimization.

Stability Analysis and Generalization Bounds of Adversarial Training

Jiancong Xiao · Yanbo Fan · Ruoyu Sun · Jue Wang · Zhi-Quan Luo

In adversarial machine learning, deep neural networks can fit the adversarial examples on the training dataset but have poor generalization ability on the test set. This phenomenon is called robust overfitting, and it can be observed when adversarially training neural nets on common datasets, including SVHN, CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and ImageNet. In this paper, we study the robust overfitting issue of adversarial training by using tools from uniform stability. One major challenge is that the outer function (as a maximization of the inner function) is nonsmooth, so the standard technique (e.g., Hardt et al., 2016) cannot be applied. Our approach is to consider $\eta$-approximate smoothness: we show that the outer function satisfies this modified smoothness assumption with $\eta$ being a constant related to the adversarial perturbation $\epsilon$. Based on this, we derive stability-based generalization bounds for stochastic gradient descent (SGD) on the general class of $\eta$-approximate smooth functions, which covers the adversarial loss. Our results suggest that robust test accuracy decreases in $\epsilon$ when $T$ is large, with a speed between $\Omega(\epsilon\sqrt{T})$ and $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon T)$. This phenomenon is also observed in practice. Additionally, we show that a few popular techniques for adversarial training (\emph{e.g.,} early stopping, cyclic learning rate, and stochastic weight averaging) are stability-promoting in theory.

Globally Gated Deep Linear Networks

Qianyi Li · Haim Sompolinsky

Recently proposed Gated Linear Networks (GLNs) present a tractable nonlinear network architecture, and exhibit interesting capabilities such as learning with local error signals and reduced forgetting in sequential learning. In this work, we introduce a novel gating architecture, named Globally Gated Deep Linear Networks (GGDLNs) where gating units are shared among all processing units in each layer, thereby decoupling the architectures of the nonlinear but unlearned gating and the learned linear processing motifs. We derive exact equations for the generalization properties of Bayesian Learning in these networks in the finite-width thermodynamic limit, defined by $N, P\rightarrow\infty$ while $P/N=O(1)$ where $N$ and $P$ are the hidden layers' width and size of training data sets respectfully. We find that the statistics of the network predictor can be expressed in terms of kernels that undergo shape renormalization through a data-dependent order-parameter matrix compared to the infinite-width Gaussian Process (GP) kernels. Our theory accurately captures the behavior of finite width GGDLNs trained with gradient descent (GD) dynamics. We show that kernel shape renormalization gives rise to rich generalization properties w.r.t. network width, depth, and $L_2$ regularization amplitude. Interestingly, networks with a large number of gating units behave similarly to standard ReLU architectures. Although gating units in the model do not participate in supervised learning, we show the utility of unsupervised learning of the gating parameters. Additionally, our theory allows the evaluation of the network capacity for learning multiple tasks by incorporating task-relevant information into the gating units. In summary, our work is the first exact theoretical solution of learning in a family of nonlinear networks with finite width. The rich and diverse behavior of the GGDLNs suggests that they are helpful analytically tractable models of learning single and multiple tasks, in finite-width nonlinear deep networks.

Generalization Analysis on Learning with a Concurrent Verifier

Masaaki Nishino · Kengo Nakamura · Norihito Yasuda

Machine learning technologies have been used in a wide range of practical systems.In practical situations, it is natural to expect the input-output pairs of a machine learning model to satisfy some requirements.However, it is difficult to obtain a model that satisfies requirements by just learning from examples.A simple solution is to add a module that checks whether the input-output pairs meet the requirements and then modifies the model's outputs. Such a module, which we call a {\em concurrent verifier} (CV), can give a certification, although how the generalizability of the machine learning model changes using a CV is unclear. This paper gives a generalization analysis of learning with a CV. We analyze how the learnability of a machine learning model changes with a CV and show a condition where we can obtain a guaranteed hypothesis using a verifier only in the inference time.We also show that typical error bounds based on Rademacher complexity will be no larger than that of the original model when using a CV in multi-class classification and structured prediction settings.

Efficiently Computing Local Lipschitz Constants of Neural Networks via Bound Propagation

Zhouxing Shi · Yihan Wang · Huan Zhang · J. Zico Kolter · Cho-Jui Hsieh

Lipschitz constants are connected to many properties of neural networks, such as robustness, fairness, and generalization. Existing methods for computing Lipschitz constants either produce relatively loose upper bounds or are limited to small networks. In this paper, we develop an efficient framework for computing the $\ell_\infty$ local Lipschitz constant of a neural network by tightly upper bounding the norm of Clarke Jacobian via linear bound propagation. We formulate the computation of local Lipschitz constants with a linear bound propagation process on a high-order backward graph induced by the chain rule of Clarke Jacobian. To enable linear bound propagation, we derive tight linear relaxations for specific nonlinearities in Clarke Jacobian. This formulate unifies existing ad-hoc approaches such as RecurJac, which can be seen as a special case of ours with weaker relaxations. The bound propagation framework also allows us to easily borrow the popular Branch-and-Bound (BaB) approach from neural network verification to further tighten Lipschitz constants. Experiments show that on tiny models, our method produces comparable bounds compared to exact methods that cannot scale to slightly larger models; on larger models, our method efficiently produces tighter results than existing relaxed or naive methods, and our method scales to much larger practical models that previous works could not handle. We also demonstrate an application on provable monotonicity analysis. Code is available at

Test Time Adaptation via Conjugate Pseudo-labels

Sachin Goyal · Mingjie Sun · Aditi Raghunathan · J. Zico Kolter

Test-time adaptation (TTA) refers to adapting neural networks to distribution shifts, specifically with just access to unlabeled test samples from the new domain at test-time. Prior TTA methods optimize over unsupervised objectives such as the entropy of model predictions in TENT (Wang et al., 2021), but it is unclear what exactly makes a good TTA loss. In this paper, we start by presenting a surprising phenomenon: if we attempt to $\textit{meta-learn}$ the ``best'' possible TTA loss over a wide class of functions, then we recover a function that is $\textit{remarkably}$ similar to (a temperature-scaled version of) the softmax-entropy employed by TENT. This only holds, however, if the classifier we are adapting is trained via cross-entropy loss; if the classifier is trained via squared loss, a different ``best'' TTA loss emerges.To explain this phenomenon, we analyze test-time adaptation through the lens of the training losses's $\textit{convex conjugate}$. We show that under natural conditions, this (unsupervised) conjugate function can be viewed as a good local approximation to the original supervised loss and indeed, it recovers the ``best'' losses found by meta-learning. This leads to a generic recipe than be used to find a good TTA loss for $\textit{any}$ given supervised training loss function of a general class. Empirically, our approach dominates other TTA alternatives over a wide range of domain adaptation benchmarks. Our approach is particularly of interest when applied to classifiers trained with $\textit{novel}$ loss functions, e.g., the recently-proposed PolyLoss (Leng et al., 2022) function, where it differs substantially from (and outperforms) an entropy-based loss. Further, we show that our conjugate based approach can also be interpreted as a kind of self-training using a very specific soft label, which we refer to as the $\textit{conjugate pseudo-label}$. Overall, therefore, our method provides a broad framework for better understanding and improving test-time adaptation. Code is available at

Best of Both Worlds Model Selection

Aldo Pacchiano · Christoph Dann · Claudio Gentile

We study the problem of model selection in bandit scenarios in the presence of nested policy classes, with the goal of obtaining simultaneous adversarial and stochastic (``best of both worlds") high-probability regret guarantees. Our approach requires that each base learner comes with a candidate regret bound that may or may not hold, while our meta algorithm plays each base learner according to a schedule that keeps the base learner's candidate regret bounds balanced until they are detected to violate their guarantees. We develop careful mis-specification tests specifically designed to blend the above model selection criterion with the ability to leverage the (potentially benign) nature of the environment. We recover the model selection guarantees of the CORRAL algorithm for adversarial environments, but with the additional benefit of achieving high probability regret bounds. More importantly, our model selection results also hold simultaneously in stochastic environments under gap assumptions. These are the first theoretical results that achieve best-of-both world (stochastic and adversarial) guarantees while performing model selection in contextual bandit scenarios.

Logical Credal Networks

Radu Marinescu · Haifeng Qian · Alexander Gray · Debarun Bhattacharjya · Francisco Barahona · Tian Gao · Ryan Riegel · Pravinda Sahu

We introduce Logical Credal Networks (or LCNs for short) -- an expressive probabilistic logic that generalizes prior formalisms that combine logic and probability. Given imprecise information represented by probability bounds and conditional probability bounds on logic formulas, an LCN specifies a set of probability distributions over all its interpretations. Our approach allows propositional and first-order logic formulas with few restrictions, e.g., without requiring acyclicity. We also define a generalized Markov condition that allows us to identify implicit independence relations between atomic formulas. We evaluate our method on benchmark problems such as random networks, Mastermind games with uncertainty and credit card fraud detection. Our results show that the LCN outperforms existing approaches; its advantage lies in aggregating multiple sources of imprecise information.

Low-Rank Modular Reinforcement Learning via Muscle Synergy

Heng Dong · Tonghan Wang · Jiayuan Liu · Chongjie Zhang

Modular Reinforcement Learning (RL) decentralizes the control of multi-joint robots by learning policies for each actuator. Previous work on modular RL has proven its ability to control morphologically different agents with a shared actuator policy. However, with the increase in the Degree of Freedom (DoF) of robots, training a morphology-generalizable modular controller becomes exponentially difficult. Motivated by the way the human central nervous system controls numerous muscles, we propose a Synergy-Oriented LeARning (SOLAR) framework that exploits the redundant nature of DoF in robot control. Actuators are grouped into synergies by an unsupervised learning method, and a synergy action is learned to control multiple actuators in synchrony. In this way, we achieve a low-rank control at the synergy level. We extensively evaluate our method on a variety of robot morphologies, and the results show its superior efficiency and generalizability, especially on robots with a large DoF like Humanoids++ and UNIMALs.

LogiGAN: Learning Logical Reasoning via Adversarial Pre-training

Xinyu Pi · Wanjun Zhong · Yan Gao · Nan Duan · Jian-Guang Lou

We present LogiGAN, an unsupervised adversarial pre-training framework for improving logical reasoning abilities of language models. Upon automatic identification of logical reasoning phenomena in massive text corpus via detection heuristics, we train language models to predict the masked-out logical statements. Inspired by the facilitation effect of reflective thinking in human learning, we analogically simulate the learning-thinking process with an adversarial Generator-Verifier architecture to assist logic learning. LogiGAN implements a novel sequential GAN approach that (a) circumvents the non-differentiable challenge of the sequential GAN by leveraging the Generator as a sentence-level generative likelihood scorer with a learning objective of reaching scoring consensus with the Verifier; (b) is computationally feasible for large-scale pre-training with arbitrary target length. Both base and large size language models pre-trained with LogiGAN demonstrate obvious performance improvement on 12 datasets requiring general reasoning abilities, revealing the fundamental role of logic in broad reasoning, as well as the effectiveness of LogiGAN. Ablation studies on LogiGAN components reveal the relative orthogonality between linguistic and logic abilities and suggest that reflective thinking's facilitation effect might also generalize to machine learning.

Self-supervised surround-view depth estimation with volumetric feature fusion

Jung-Hee Kim · Junhwa Hur · Tien Phuoc Nguyen · Seong-Gyun Jeong

We present a self-supervised depth estimation approach using a unified volumetric feature fusion for surround-view images. Given a set of surround-view images, our method constructs a volumetric feature map by extracting image feature maps from surround-view images and fuse the feature maps into a shared, unified 3D voxel space. The volumetric feature map then can be used for estimating a depth map at each surround view by projecting it into an image coordinate. A volumetric feature contains 3D information at its local voxel coordinate; thus our method can also synthesize a depth map at arbitrary rotated viewpoints by projecting the volumetric feature map into the target viewpoints. Furthermore, assuming static camera extrinsics in the multi-camera system, we propose to estimate a canonical camera motion from the volumetric feature map. Our method leverages 3D spatio- temporal context to learn metric-scale depth and the canonical camera motion in a self-supervised manner. Our method outperforms the prior arts on DDAD and nuScenes datasets, especially estimating more accurate metric-scale depth and consistent depth between neighboring views.

Promising or Elusive? Unsupervised Object Segmentation from Real-world Single Images

Yafei YANG · Bo Yang

In this paper, we study the problem of unsupervised object segmentation from single images. We do not introduce a new algorithm, but systematically investigate the effectiveness of existing unsupervised models on challenging real-world images. We firstly introduce four complexity factors to quantitatively measure the distributions of object- and scene-level biases in appearance and geometry for datasets with human annotations. With the aid of these factors, we empirically find that, not surprisingly, existing unsupervised models catastrophically fail to segment generic objects in real-world images, although they can easily achieve excellent performance on numerous simple synthetic datasets, due to the vast gap in objectness biases between synthetic and real images. By conducting extensive experiments on multiple groups of ablated real-world datasets, we ultimately find that the key factors underlying the colossal failure of existing unsupervised models on real-world images are the challenging distributions of object- and scene-level biases in appearance and geometry. Because of this, the inductive biases introduced in existing unsupervised models can hardly capture the diverse object distributions. Our research results suggest that future work should exploit more explicit objectness biases in the network design.

Learning to Attack Federated Learning: A Model-based Reinforcement Learning Attack Framework

Henger Li · Xiaolin Sun · Zizhan Zheng

We propose a model-based reinforcement learning framework to derive untargeted poisoning attacks against federated learning (FL) systems. Our framework first approximates the distribution of the clients' aggregated data using model updates from the server. The learned distribution is then used to build a simulator of the FL environment, which is utilized to learn an adaptive attack policy through reinforcement learning. Our framework is capable of learning strong attacks automatically even when the server adopts a robust aggregation rule. We further derive an upper bound on the attacker's performance loss due to inaccurate distribution estimation. Experimental results on real-world datasets demonstrate that the proposed attack framework significantly outperforms state-of-the-art poisoning attacks. This indicates the importance of developing adaptive defenses for FL systems.

Sparse Probabilistic Circuits via Pruning and Growing

Meihua Dang · Anji Liu · Guy Van den Broeck

Probabilistic circuits (PCs) are a tractable representation of probability distributions allowing for exact and efficient computation of likelihoods and marginals. There has been significant recent progress on improving the scale and expressiveness of PCs. However, PC training performance plateaus as model size increases. We discover that most capacity in existing large PC structures is wasted: fully-connected parameter layers are only sparsely used. We propose two operations: pruning and growing, that exploit the sparsity of PC structures. Specifically, the pruning operation removes unimportant sub-networks of the PC for model compression and comes with theoretical guarantees. The growing operation increases model capacity by increasing the dimensions of latent states. By alternatingly applying pruning and growing, we increase the capacity that is meaningfully used, allowing us to significantly scale up PC learning. Empirically, our learner achieves state-of-the-art likelihoods on MNIST-family image datasets and an Penn Tree Bank language data compared to other PC learners and less tractable deep generative models such as flow-based models and variational autoencoders (VAEs).

Explaining Preferences with Shapley Values

Robert Hu · Siu Lun Chau · Jaime Ferrando Huertas · Dino Sejdinovic

While preference modelling is becoming one of the pillars of machine learning, the problem of preference explanation remains challenging and underexplored. In this paper, we propose \textsc{Pref-SHAP}, a Shapley value-based model explanation framework for pairwise comparison data. We derive the appropriate value functions for preference models and further extend the framework to model and explain \emph{context specific} information, such as the surface type in a tennis game. To demonstrate the utility of \textsc{Pref-SHAP}, we apply our method to a variety of synthetic and real-world datasets and show that richer and more insightful explanations can be obtained over the baseline.

Implications of Model Indeterminacy for Explanations of Automated Decisions

Marc-Etienne Brunet · Ashton Anderson · Richard Zemel

There has been a significant research effort focused on explaining predictive models, for example through post-hoc explainability and recourse methods. Most of the proposed techniques operate upon a single, fixed, predictive model. However, it is well-known that given a dataset and a predictive task, there may be a multiplicity of models that solve the problem (nearly) equally well. In this work, we investigate the implications of this kind of model indeterminacy on the post-hoc explanations of predictive models. We show how it can lead to explanatory multiplicity, and we explore the underlying drivers. We show how predictive multiplicity, and the related concept of epistemic uncertainty, are not reliable indicators of explanatory multiplicity. We further illustrate how a set of models showing very similar aggregate performance on a test dataset may show large variations in their local explanations, i.e., for a specific input. We explore these effects for Shapley value based explanations on three risk assessment datasets. Our results indicate that model indeterminacy may have a substantial impact on explanations in practice, leading to inconsistent and even contradicting explanations.

Self-Explaining Deviations for Coordination

Hengyuan Hu · Samuel Sokota · David Wu · Anton Bakhtin · Andrei Lupu · Brandon Cui · Jakob Foerster

Fully cooperative, partially observable multi-agent problems are ubiquitous in the real world. In this paper, we focus on a specific subclass of coordination problems in which humans are able to discover self-explaining deviations (SEDs). SEDs are actions that deviate from the common understanding of what reasonable behavior would be in normal circumstances. They are taken with the intention of causing another agent or other agents to realize, using theory of mind, that the circumstance must be abnormal. We motivate this idea with a real world example and formalize its definition. Next, we introduce an algorithm for improvement maximizing SEDs (IMPROVISED). Lastly, we evaluate IMPROVISED both in an illustrative toy setting and the popular benchmark setting Hanabi, where we show that it can produce so called finesse plays.

A Direct Approximation of AIXI Using Logical State Abstractions

Samuel Yang-Zhao · Tianyu Wang · Kee Siong Ng

We propose a practical integration of logical state abstraction with AIXI, a Bayesian optimality notion for reinforcement learning agents, to significantly expand the model class that AIXI agents can be approximated over to complex history-dependent and structured environments. The state representation and reasoning framework is based on higher-order logic, which can be used to define and enumerate complex features on non-Markovian and structured environments. We address the problem of selecting the right subset of features to form state abstractions by adapting the $\Phi$-MDP optimisation criterion from state abstraction theory. Exact Bayesian model learning is then achieved using a suitable generalisation of Context Tree Weighting over abstract state sequences. The resultant architecture can be integrated with different planning algorithms. Experimental results on controlling epidemics on large-scale contact networks validates the agent's performance.

Adjoint-aided inference of Gaussian process driven differential equations

Paterne GAHUNGU · Christopher Lanyon · Mauricio A Álvarez · Engineer Bainomugisha · Michael T Smith · Richard Wilkinson

Linear systems occur throughout engineering and the sciences, most notably as differential equations. In many cases the forcing function for the system is unknown, and interest lies in using noisy observations of the system to infer the forcing, as well as other unknown parameters. In differential equations, the forcing function is an unknown function of the independent variables (typically time and space), and can be modelled as a Gaussian process (GP). In this paper we show how the adjoint of a linear system can be used to efficiently infer forcing functions modelled as GPs, after using a truncated basis expansion of the GP kernel. We show how exact conjugate Bayesian inference for the truncated GP can be achieved, in many cases with substantially lower computation than would be required using MCMC methods. We demonstrate the approach on systems of both ordinary and partial differential equations, and show that the basis expansion approach approximates well the true forcing with a modest number of basis vectors. Finally, we show how to infer point estimates for the non-linear model parameters, such as the kernel length-scales, using Bayesian optimisation.

Beyond L1: Faster and Better Sparse Models with skglm

Quentin Bertrand · Quentin Klopfenstein · Pierre-Antoine Bannier · Gauthier Gidel · Mathurin Massias

We propose a new fast algorithm to estimate any sparse generalized linear model with convex or non-convex separable penalties. Our algorithm is able to solve problems with millions of samples and features in seconds, by relying on coordinate descent, working sets and Anderson acceleration. It handles previously unaddressed models, and is extensively shown to improve state-of-art algorithms. We provide a flexible, scikit-learn compatible package, which easily handles customized datafits and penalties.

Robust Imitation of a Few Demonstrations with a Backwards Model

Jung Yeon Park · Lawson Wong

Behavior cloning of expert demonstrations can speed up learning optimal policies in a more sample-efficient way over reinforcement learning. However, the policy cannot extrapolate well to unseen states outside of the demonstration data, creating covariate shift (agent drifting away from demonstrations) and compounding errors. In this work, we tackle this issue by extending the region of attraction around the demonstrations so that the agent can learn how to get back onto the demonstrated trajectories if it veers off-course. We train a generative backwards dynamics model and generate short imagined trajectories from states in the demonstrations. By imitating both demonstrations and these model rollouts, the agent learns the demonstrated paths and how to get back onto these paths. With optimal or near-optimal demonstrations, the learned policy will be both optimal and robust to deviations, with a wider region of attraction. On continuous control domains, we evaluate the robustness when starting from different initial states unseen in the demonstration data. While both our method and other imitation learning baselines can successfully solve the tasks for initial states in the training distribution, our method exhibits considerably more robustness to different initial states.

Improving Policy Learning via Language Dynamics Distillation

Victor Zhong · Jesse Mu · Luke Zettlemoyer · Edward Grefenstette · Tim Rocktäschel

Recent work has shown that augmenting environments with language descriptions improves policy learning. However, for environments with complex language abstractions, learning how to ground language to observations is difficult due to sparse, delayed rewards. We propose Language Dynamics Distillation (LDD), which pretrains a model to predict environment dynamics given demonstrations with language descriptions, and then fine-tunes these language-aware pretrained representations via reinforcement learning (RL). In this way, the model is trained to both maximize expected reward and retain knowledge about how language relates to environment dynamics. On SILG, a benchmark of five tasks with language descriptions that evaluate distinct generalization challenges on unseen environments (NetHack, ALFWorld, RTFM, Messenger, and Touchdown), LDD outperforms tabula-rasa RL, VAE pretraining, and methods that learn from unlabeled demonstrations in inverse RL and reward shaping with pretrained experts. In our analyses, we show that language descriptions in demonstrations improve sample-efficiency and generalization across environments, and that dynamics modeling with expert demonstrations is more effective than with non-experts.

Monocular Dynamic View Synthesis: A Reality Check

Hang Gao · Ruilong Li · Shubham Tulsiani · Bryan Russell · Angjoo Kanazawa

We study the recent progress on dynamic view synthesis (DVS) from monocular video. Though existing approaches have demonstrated impressive results, we show a discrepancy between the practical capture process and the existing experimental protocols, which effectively leaks in multi-view signals during training. We define effective multi-view factors (EMFs) to quantify the amount of multi-view signal present in the input capture sequence based on the relative camera-scene motion. We introduce two new metrics: co-visibility masked image metrics and correspondence accuracy, which overcome the issue in existing protocols. We also propose a new iPhone dataset that includes more diverse real-life deformation sequences. Using our proposed experimental protocol, we show that the state-of-the-art approaches observe a 1-2 dB drop in masked PSNR in the absence of multi-view cues and 4-5 dB drop when modeling complex motion. Code and data can be found at

VAEL: Bridging Variational Autoencoders and Probabilistic Logic Programming

Eleonora Misino · Giuseppe Marra · Emanuele Sansone

We present VAEL, a neuro-symbolic generative model integrating variational autoencoders (VAE) with the reasoning capabilities of probabilistic logic (L) programming. Besides standard latent subsymbolic variables, our model exploits a probabilistic logic program to define a further structured representation, which is used for logical reasoning. The entire process is end-to-end differentiable. Once trained, VAEL can solve new unseen generation tasks by (i) leveraging the previously acquired knowledge encoded in the neural component and (ii) exploiting new logical programs on the structured latent space. Our experiments provide support on the benefits of this neuro-symbolic integration both in terms of task generalization and data efficiency. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first to propose a general-purpose end-to-end framework integrating probabilistic logic programming into a deep generative model.

Test-Time Training with Masked Autoencoders

Yossi Gandelsman · Yu Sun · Xinlei Chen · Alexei Efros

Test-time training adapts to a new test distribution on the fly by optimizing a model for each test input using self-supervision.In this paper, we use masked autoencoders for this one-sample learning problem.Empirically, our simple method improves generalization on many visual benchmarks for distribution shifts.Theoretically, we characterize this improvement in terms of the bias-variance trade-off.

Learning Modular Simulations for Homogeneous Systems

Jayesh Gupta · Sai Vemprala · Ashish Kapoor

Complex systems are often decomposed into modular subsystems for engineering tractability. Although various equation based white-box modeling techniques make use of such structure, learning based methods have yet to incorporate these ideas broadly. We present a modular simulation framework for modeling homogeneous multibody dynamical systems, which combines ideas from graph neural networks and neural differential equations. We learn to model the individual dynamical subsystem as a neural ODE module. Full simulation of the composite system is orchestrated via spatio-temporal message passing between these modules. An arbitrary number of modules can be combined to simulate systems of a wide variety of coupling topologies. We evaluate our framework on a variety of systems and show that message passing allows coordination between multiple modules over time for accurate predictions and in certain cases, enables zero-shot generalization to new system configurations. Furthermore, we show that our models can be transferred to new system configurations with lower data requirement and training effort, compared to those trained from scratch.

Flowification: Everything is a normalizing flow

Bálint Máté · Samuel Klein · Tobias Golling · François Fleuret

The two key characteristics of a normalizing flow is that it is invertible (in particular, dimension preserving) and that it monitors the amount by which it changes the likelihood of data points as samples are propagated along the network. Recently, multiple generalizations of normalizing flows have been introduced that relax these two conditions \citep{nielsen2020survae,huang2020augmented}. On the other hand, neural networks only perform a forward pass on the input, there is neither a notion of an inverse of a neural network nor is there one of its likelihood contribution. In this paper we argue that certain neural network architectures can be enriched with a stochastic inverse pass and that their likelihood contribution can be monitored in a way that they fall under the generalized notion of a normalizing flow mentioned above. We term this enrichment \emph{flowification}. We prove that neural networks only containing linear and convolutional layers and invertible activations such as LeakyReLU can be flowified and evaluate them in the generative setting on image datasets.

Focal Modulation Networks

Jianwei Yang · Chunyuan Li · Xiyang Dai · Jianfeng Gao

We propose focal modulation networks (FocalNets in short), where self-attention (SA) is completely replaced by a focal modulation module for modeling token interactions in vision. Focal modulation comprises three components: $(i)$ hierarchical contextualization, implemented using a stack of depth-wise convolutional layers, to encode visual contexts from short to long ranges, $(ii)$ gated aggregation to selectively gather contexts for each query token based on its content, and $(iii)$ element-wise modulation or affine transformation to fuse the aggregated context into the query. Extensive experiments show FocalNets outperform the state-of-the-art SA counterparts (e.g., Swin and Focal Transformers) with similar computational cost on the tasks of image classification, object detection, and semantic segmentation. Specifically, FocalNets with tiny and base size achieve 82.3% and 83.9% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet-1K. After pretrained on ImageNet-22K, it attains 86.5% and 87.3% top-1 accuracy when finetuned with resolution 224$^2$ and 384$^2$, respectively. When transferred to downstream tasks, FocalNets exhibit clear superiority. For object detection with Mask R-CNN, FocalNet base trained with 1$\times$ outperforms the Swin counterpart by 2.1 points and already surpasses Swin trained with 3$\times$ schedule (49.0 v.s. 48.5). For semantic segmentation with UPerNet, FocalNet base at single-scale outperforms Swin by 2.4, and beats Swin at multi-scale (50.5 v.s. 49.7). Using large FocalNet and mask2former, we achieve 58.5 mIoU for ADE20K semantic segmentation, and 57.9 PQ for COCO Panoptic Segmentation. These results render focal modulation a favorable alternative to SA for effective and efficient visual modeling. Code is available at:

OpenAUC: Towards AUC-Oriented Open-Set Recognition

Zitai Wang · Qianqian Xu · Zhiyong Yang · Yuan He · Xiaochun Cao · Qingming Huang

Traditional machine learning follows a close-set assumption that the training and test set share the same label space. While in many practical scenarios, it is inevitable that some test samples belong to unknown classes (open-set). To fix this issue, Open-Set Recognition (OSR), whose goal is to make correct predictions on both close-set samples and open-set samples, has attracted rising attention. In this direction, the vast majority of literature focuses on the pattern of open-set samples. However, how to evaluate model performance in this challenging task is still unsolved. In this paper, a systematic analysis reveals that most existing metrics are essentially inconsistent with the aforementioned goal of OSR: (1) For metrics extended from close-set classification, such as Open-set F-score, Youden's index, and Normalized Accuracy, a poor open-set prediction can escape from a low performance score with a superior close-set prediction. (2) Novelty detection AUC, which measures the ranking performance between close-set and open-set samples, ignores the close-set performance. To fix these issues, we propose a novel metric named OpenAUC. Compared with existing metrics, OpenAUC enjoys a concise pairwise formulation that evaluates open-set performance and close-set performance in a coupling manner. Further analysis shows that OpenAUC is free from the aforementioned inconsistency properties. Finally, an end-to-end learning method is proposed to minimize the OpenAUC risk, and the experimental results on popular benchmark datasets speak to its effectiveness.

Beyond Separability: Analyzing the Linear Transferability of Contrastive Representations to Related Subpopulations

Jeff Z. HaoChen · Colin Wei · Ananya Kumar · Tengyu Ma

Contrastive learning is a highly effective method for learning representations from unlabeled data. Recent works show that contrastive representations can transfer across domains, leading to simple state-of-the-art algorithms for unsupervised domain adaptation. In particular, a linear classifier trained to separate the representations on the source domain can also predict classes on the target domain accurately, even though the representations of the two domains are far from each other. We refer to this phenomenon as linear transferability. This paper analyzes when and why contrastive representations exhibit linear transferability in a general unsupervised domain adaptation setting. We prove that linear transferability can occur when data from the same class in different domains (e.g., photo dogs and cartoon dogs) are more related with each other than data from different classes in different domains (e.g., photo dogs and cartoon cats) are. Our analyses are in a realistic regime where the source and target domains can have unbounded density ratios and be weakly related, and they have distant representations across domains.

Contrastive Adapters for Foundation Model Group Robustness

Michael Zhang · Christopher Ré

While large pretrained foundation models (FMs) have shown remarkable zero-shot classification robustness to dataset-level distribution shifts, their robustness to subpopulation or group shifts is relatively underexplored. We study this problem, and find that foundation models such as CLIP may not be robust to various group shifts. Across 9 robustness benchmarks, zero-shot classification with their embeddings results in gaps of up to 80.7 percentage points (pp) between average and worst-group accuracy. Unfortunately, existing methods to improve robustness require retraining, which can be prohibitively expensive on large foundation models. We also find that efficient ways to improve model inference (e.g. via adapters, lightweight networks that transform FM embeddings) do not consistently improve and can sometimes hurt group robustness compared to zero-shot. We therefore develop an adapter training strategy to effectively and efficiently improve FM group robustness. Our motivating observation is that while poor robustness results from groups in the same class being embedded far apart in the foundation model "embedding space," standard adapter training may not actually bring these points closer together. We thus propose contrastive adapting, which contrastively trains adapters to bring sample embeddings close to both their ground-truth class embeddings and same-class sample embeddings. Across the 9 robustness benchmarks, contrastive adapting consistently improves group robustness, raising worst-group accuracy by 8.5 to 56.0 pp over zero-shot. Our approach is also efficient, doing so without any FM finetuning and only a fixed set of FM embeddings. On popular benchmarks such as Waterbirds and CelebA, this leads to worst-group accuracy comparable to state-of-the-art methods, while only training <1% of the model parameters.

Two-layer neural network on infinite dimensional data: global optimization guarantee in the mean-field regime

Naoki Nishikawa · Taiji Suzuki · Atsushi Nitanda · Denny Wu

Analysis of neural network optimization in the mean-field regime is important as the setting allows for feature learning. Existing theory has been developed mainly for neural networks in finite dimensions, i.e., each neuron has a finite-dimensional parameter. However, the setting of infinite-dimensional input naturally arises in machine learning problems such as nonparametric functional data analysis and graph classification. In this paper, we develop a new mean-field analysis of two-layer neural network in an infinite-dimensional parameter space. We first give a generalization error bound, which shows that the regularized empirical risk minimizer properly generalizes when the data size is sufficiently large, despite the neurons being infinite-dimensional. Next, we present two gradient-based optimization algorithms for infinite-dimensional mean-field networks, by extending the recently developed particle optimization framework to the infinite-dimensional setting. We show that the proposed algorithms converge to the (regularized) global optimal solution, and moreover, their rates of convergence are of polynomial order in the online setting and exponential order in the finite sample setting, respectively. To our knowledge this is the first quantitative global optimization guarantee of neural network on infinite-dimensional input and in the presence of feature learning.

Rethinking Lipschitz Neural Networks and Certified Robustness: A Boolean Function Perspective

Bohang Zhang · Du Jiang · Di He · Liwei Wang

Designing neural networks with bounded Lipschitz constant is a promising way to obtain certifiably robust classifiers against adversarial examples. However, the relevant progress for the important $\ell_\infty$ perturbation setting is rather limited, and a principled understanding of how to design expressive $\ell_\infty$ Lipschitz networks is still lacking. In this paper, we bridge the gap by studying certified $\ell_\infty$ robustness from a novel perspective of representing Boolean functions. We derive two fundamental impossibility results that hold for any standard Lipschitz network: one for robust classification on finite datasets, and the other for Lipschitz function approximation. These results identify that networks built upon norm-bounded affine layers and Lipschitz activations intrinsically lose expressive power even in the two-dimensional case, and shed light on how recently proposed Lipschitz networks (e.g., GroupSort and $\ell_\infty$-distance nets) bypass these impossibilities by leveraging order statistic functions. Finally, based on these insights, we develop a unified Lipschitz network that generalizes prior works, and design a practical version that can be efficiently trained (making certified robust training free). Extensive experiments show that our approach is scalable, efficient, and consistently yields better certified robustness across multiple datasets and perturbation radii than prior Lipschitz networks.

Riemannian Neural SDE: Learning Stochastic Representations on Manifolds

Sung Woo Park · Hyomin Kim · Kyungjae Lee · Junseok Kwon

In recent years, the neural stochastic differential equation (NSDE) has gained attention for modeling stochastic representations with great success in various types of applications. However, it typically loses expressivity when the data representation is manifold-valued. To address this issue, we suggest a principled method for expressing the stochastic representation with the Riemannian neural SDE (RNSDE), which extends the conventional Euclidean NSDE. Empirical results for various tasks demonstrate that the proposed method significantly outperforms baseline methods.

Discovering Design Concepts for CAD Sketches

Yuezhi Yang · Hao Pan

Sketch design concepts are recurring patterns found in parametric CAD sketches. Though rarely explicitly formalized by the CAD designers, these concepts are implicitly used in design for modularity and regularity. In this paper, we propose a learning based approach that discovers the modular concepts by induction over raw sketches. We propose the dual implicit-explicit representation of concept structures that allows implicit detection and explicit generation, and the separation of structure generation and parameter instantiation for parameterized concept generation, to learn modular concepts by end-to-end training. We demonstrate the design concept learning on a large scale CAD sketch dataset and show its applications for design intent interpretation and auto-completion.

Outstanding Paper
🏘️ ProcTHOR: Large-Scale Embodied AI Using Procedural Generation

Matt Deitke · Eli VanderBilt · Alvaro Herrasti · Luca Weihs · Kiana Ehsani · Jordi Salvador · Winson Han · Eric Kolve · Aniruddha Kembhavi · Roozbeh Mottaghi

Massive datasets and high-capacity models have driven many recent advancements in computer vision and natural language understanding. This work presents a platform to enable similar success stories in Embodied AI. We propose ProcTHOR, a framework for procedural generation of Embodied AI environments. ProcTHOR enables us to sample arbitrarily large datasets of diverse, interactive, customizable, and performant virtual environments to train and evaluate embodied agents across navigation, interaction, and manipulation tasks. We demonstrate the power and potential of ProcTHOR via a sample of 10,000 generated houses and a simple neural model. Models trained using only RGB images on ProcTHOR, with no explicit mapping and no human task supervision produce state-of-the-art results across 6 embodied AI benchmarks for navigation, rearrangement, and arm manipulation, including the presently running Habitat 2022, AI2-THOR Rearrangement 2022, and RoboTHOR challenges. We also demonstrate strong 0-shot results on these benchmarks, via pre-training on ProcTHOR with no fine-tuning on the downstream benchmark, often beating previous state-of-the-art systems that access the downstream training data.

Picking on the Same Person: Does Algorithmic Monoculture lead to Outcome Homogenization?

Rishi Bommasani · Kathleen A. Creel · Ananya Kumar · Dan Jurafsky · Percy Liang

As the scope of machine learning broadens, we observe a recurring theme of algorithmic monoculture: the same systems, or systems that share components (e.g. datasets, models), are deployed by multiple decision-makers. While sharing offers advantages like amortizing effort, it also has risks. We introduce and formalize one such risk, outcome homogenization: the extent to which particular individuals or groups experience the same outcomes across different deployments. If the same individuals or groups exclusively experience undesirable outcomes, this may institutionalize systemic exclusion and reinscribe social hierarchy. We relate algorithmic monoculture and outcome homogenization by proposing the component sharing hypothesis: if algorithmic systems are increasingly built on the same data or models, then they will increasingly homogenize outcomes. We test this hypothesis on algorithmic fairness benchmarks, demonstrating that increased data-sharing reliably exacerbates homogenization and individual-level effects generally exceed group-level effects. Further, given the current regime in AI of foundation models, i.e. pretrained models that can be adapted to myriad downstream tasks, we test whether model-sharing homogenizes outcomes across tasks. We observe mixed results: we find that for both vision and language settings, the specific methods for adapting a foundation model significantly influence the degree of outcome homogenization. We also identify societal challenges that inhibit the measurement, diagnosis, and rectification of outcome homogenization in deployed machine learning systems.

Risk-Driven Design of Perception Systems

Anthony Corso · Sydney Katz · Craig Innes · Xin Du · Subramanian Ramamoorthy · Mykel J Kochenderfer

Modern autonomous systems rely on perception modules to process complex sensor measurements into state estimates. These estimates are then passed to a controller, which uses them to make safety-critical decisions. It is therefore important that we design perception systems to minimize errors that reduce the overall safety of the system. We develop a risk-driven approach to designing perception systems that accounts for the effect of perceptual errors on the performance of the fully-integrated, closed-loop system. We formulate a risk function to quantify the effect of a given perceptual error on overall safety, and show how we can use it to design safer perception systems by including a risk-dependent term in the loss function and generating training data in risk-sensitive regions. We evaluate our techniques on a realistic vision-based aircraft detect and avoid application and show that risk-driven design reduces collision risk by 37% over a baseline system.

Finding Differences Between Transformers and ConvNets Using Counterfactual Simulation Testing

Nataniel Ruiz · Sarah Bargal · Cihang Xie · Kate Saenko · Stan Sclaroff

Modern deep neural networks tend to be evaluated on static test sets. One shortcoming of this is the fact that these deep neural networks cannot be easily evaluated for robustness issues with respect to specific scene variations. For example, it is hard to study the robustness of these networks to variations of object scale, object pose, scene lighting and 3D occlusions. The main reason is that collecting real datasets with fine-grained naturalistic variations of sufficient scale can be extremely time-consuming and expensive. In this work, we present Counterfactual Simulation Testing, a counterfactual framework that allows us to study the robustness of neural networks with respect to some of these naturalistic variations by building realistic synthetic scenes that allow us to ask counterfactual questions to the models, ultimately providing answers to questions such as "Would your classification still be correct if the object were viewed from the top?" or "Would your classification still be correct if the object were partially occluded by another object?". Our method allows for a fair comparison of the robustness of recently released, state-of-the-art Convolutional Neural Networks and Vision Transformers, with respect to these naturalistic variations. We find evidence that ConvNext is more robust to pose and scale variations than Swin, that ConvNext generalizes better to our simulated domain and that Swin handles partial occlusion better than ConvNext. We also find that robustness for all networks improves with network scale and with data scale and variety. We release the Naturalistic Variation Object Dataset (NVD), a large simulated dataset of 272k images of everyday objects with naturalistic variations such as object pose, scale, viewpoint, lighting and occlusions. Project page:

On the Generalization Power of the Overfitted Three-Layer Neural Tangent Kernel Model

Peizhong Ju · Xiaojun Lin · Ness Shroff

In this paper, we study the generalization performance of overparameterized 3-layer NTK models. We show that, for a specific set of ground-truth functions (which we refer to as the "learnable set"), the test error of the overfitted 3-layer NTK is upper bounded by an expression that decreases with the number of neurons of the two hidden layers. Different from 2-layer NTK where there exists only one hidden-layer, the 3-layer NTK involves interactions between two hidden-layers. Our upper bound reveals that, between the two hidden-layers, the test error descends faster with respect to the number of neurons in the second hidden-layer (the one closer to the output) than with respect to that in the first hidden-layer (the one closer to the input). We also show that the learnable set of 3-layer NTK without bias is no smaller than that of 2-layer NTK models with various choices of bias in the neurons. However, in terms of the actual generalization performance, our results suggest that 3-layer NTK is much less sensitive to the choices of bias than 2-layer NTK, especially when the input dimension is large.

Escaping from the Barren Plateau via Gaussian Initializations in Deep Variational Quantum Circuits

Kaining Zhang · Liu Liu · Min-Hsiu Hsieh · Dacheng Tao

Variational quantum circuits have been widely employed in quantum simulation and quantum machine learning in recent years. However, quantum circuits with random structures have poor trainability due to the exponentially vanishing gradient with respect to the circuit depth and the qubit number. This result leads to a general standpoint that deep quantum circuits would not be feasible for practical tasks. In this work, we propose an initialization strategy with theoretical guarantees for the vanishing gradient problem in general deep quantum circuits. Specifically, we prove that under proper Gaussian initialized parameters, the norm of the gradient decays at most polynomially when the qubit number and the circuit depth increase. Our theoretical results hold for both the local and the global observable cases, where the latter was believed to have vanishing gradients even for very shallow circuits. Experimental results verify our theoretical findings in quantum simulation and quantum chemistry.

On Deep Generative Models for Approximation and Estimation of Distributions on Manifolds

Biraj Dahal · Alexander Havrilla · Minshuo Chen · Tuo Zhao · Wenjing Liao

Deep generative models have experienced great empirical successes in distribution learning. Many existing experiments have demonstrated that deep generative networks can efficiently generate high-dimensional complex data from a low-dimensional easy-to-sample distribution. However, this phenomenon can not be justified by existing theories. The widely held manifold hypothesis speculates that real-world data sets, such as natural images and signals, exhibit low-dimensional geometric structures. In this paper, we take such low-dimensional data structures into consideration by assuming that data distributions are supported on a low-dimensional manifold. We prove approximation and estimation theories of deep generative networks for estimating distributions on a low-dimensional manifold under the Wasserstein-1 loss. We show that the Wasserstein-1 loss converges to zero at a fast rate depending on the intrinsic dimension instead of the ambient data dimension. Our theory leverages the low-dimensional geometric structures in data sets and justifies the practical power of deep generative models. We require no smoothness assumptions on the data distribution which is desirable in practice.

Constants of motion network

Muhammad Firmansyah Kasim · Yi Heng Lim

The beauty of physics is that there is usually a conserved quantity in an always-changing system, known as the constant of motion. Finding the constant of motion is important in understanding the dynamics of the system, but typically requires mathematical proficiency and manual analytical work. In this paper, we present a neural network that can simultaneously learn the dynamics of the system and the constants of motion from data. By exploiting the discovered constants of motion, it can produce better predictions on dynamics and can work on a wider range of systems than Hamiltonian-based neural networks. In addition, the training progresses of our method can be used as an indication of the number of constants of motion in a system which could be useful in studying a novel physical system.

Graph Scattering beyond Wavelet Shackles

Christian Koke · Gitta Kutyniok

This work develops a flexible and mathematically sound framework for the design and analysis of graph scattering networks with variable branching ratios and generic functional calculus filters.Spectrally-agnostic stability guarantees for node- and graph-level perturbations are derived; the vertex-set non-preserving case is treated by utilizing recently developed mathematical-physics based tools. Energy propagation through the network layers is investigated and related to truncation stability. New methods of graph-level feature aggregation are introduced and stability of the resulting composite scattering architectures is established. Finally, scattering transforms are extended to edge- and higher order tensorial input. Theoretical results are complemented by numerical investigations: Suitably chosen scattering networks conforming to the developed theory perform better than traditional graph-wavelet based scattering approaches in social network graph classification tasks andsignificantly outperform other graph-based learning approaches to regression of quantum-chemical energies on QM$7$.

On Margins and Generalisation for Voting Classifiers

Felix Biggs · Valentina Zantedeschi · Benjamin Guedj

We study the generalisation properties of majority voting on finite ensembles of classifiers, proving margin-based generalisation bounds via the PAC-Bayes theory. These provide state-of-the-art guarantees on a number of classification tasks. Our central results leverage the Dirichlet posteriors studied recently by Zantedeschi et al. (2021) for training voting classifiers; in contrast to that work our bounds apply to non-randomised votes via the use of margins. Our contributions add perspective to the debate on the ``margins theory'' proposed by Schapire et al. (1998) for the generalisation of ensemble classifiers.

Stochastic Online Learning with Feedback Graphs: Finite-Time and Asymptotic Optimality

Teodor Vanislavov Marinov · Mehryar Mohri · Julian Zimmert

We revisit the problem of stochastic online learning with feedbackgraphs, with the goal of devising algorithms that are optimal, up toconstants, both asymptotically and in finite time. We show that,surprisingly, the notion of optimal finite-time regret is not auniquely defined property in this context and that, in general, itis decoupled from the asymptotic rate. We discuss alternativechoices and propose a notion of finite-time optimality that we argueis \emph{meaningful}. For that notion, we give an algorithm thatadmits quasi-optimal regret both in finite-time and asymptotically.

Learning Infinite-Horizon Average-Reward Restless Multi-Action Bandits via Index Awareness

GUOJUN XIONG · Shufan Wang · Jian Li

We consider the online restless bandits with average-reward and multiple actions, where the state of each arm evolves according to a Markov decision process (MDP), and the reward of pulling an arm depends on both the current state of the corresponding MDP and the action taken. Since finding the optimal control is typically intractable for restless bandits, existing learning algorithms are often computationally expensive or with a regret bound that is exponential in the number of arms and states. In this paper, we advocate \textit{index-aware reinforcement learning} (RL) solutions to design RL algorithms operating on a much smaller dimensional subspace by exploiting the inherent structure in restless bandits. Specifically, we first propose novel index policies to address dimensionality concerns, which are provably optimal. We then leverage the indices to develop two low-complexity index-aware RL algorithms, namely, (i) GM-R2MAB, which has access to a generative model; and (ii) UC-R2MAB, which learns the model using an upper confidence style online exploitation method. We prove that both algorithms achieve a sub-linear regret that is only polynomial in the number of arms and states. A key differentiator between our algorithms and existing ones stems from the fact that our RL algorithms contain a novel exploitation that leverages our proposed provably optimal index policies for decision-makings.

Conservative Dual Policy Optimization for Efficient Model-Based Reinforcement Learning

Shenao Zhang

Provably efficient Model-Based Reinforcement Learning (MBRL) based on optimism or posterior sampling (PSRL) is ensured to attain the global optimality asymptotically by introducing the complexity measure of the model. However, the complexity might grow exponentially for the simplest nonlinear models, where global convergence is impossible within finite iterations. When the model suffers a large generalization error, which is quantitatively measured by the model complexity, the uncertainty can be large. The sampled model that current policy is greedily optimized upon will thus be unsettled, resulting in aggressive policy updates and over-exploration. In this work, we propose Conservative Dual Policy Optimization (CDPO) that involves a Referential Update and a Conservative Update. The policy is first optimized under a reference model, which imitates the mechanism of PSRL while offering more stability. A conservative range of randomness is guaranteed by maximizing the expectation of model value. Without harmful sampling procedures, CDPO can still achieve the same regret as PSRL. More importantly, CDPO enjoys monotonic policy improvement and global optimality simultaneously. Empirical results also validate the exploration efficiency of CDPO.

Provable Defense against Backdoor Policies in Reinforcement Learning

Shubham Bharti · Xuezhou Zhang · Adish Singla · Jerry Zhu

We propose a provable defense mechanism against backdoor policies in reinforcement learning under subspace trigger assumption. A backdoor policy is a security threat where an adversary publishes a seemingly well-behaved policy which in fact allows hidden triggers. During deployment, the adversary can modify observed states in a particular way to trigger unexpected actions and harm the agent. We assume the agent does not have the resources to re-train a good policy. Instead, our defense mechanism sanitizes the backdoor policy by projecting observed states to a `safe subspace', estimated from a small number of interactions with a clean (non-triggered) environment. Our sanitized policy achieves $\epsilon$ approximate optimality in the presence of triggers, provided the number of clean interactions is $O\left(\frac{D}{(1-\gamma)^4 \epsilon^2}\right)$ where $\gamma$ is the discounting factor and $D$ is the dimension of state space. Empirically, we show that our sanitization defense performs well on two Atari game environments.

Cost-efficient Gaussian tensor network embeddings for tensor-structured inputs

Linjian Ma · Edgar Solomonik

This work discusses tensor network embeddings, which are random matrices ($S$) with tensor network structure. These embeddings have been used to perform dimensionality reduction of tensor network structured inputs $x$ and accelerate applications such as tensor decomposition and kernel regression. Existing works have designed embeddings for inputs $x$ with specific structures, such as the Kronecker product or Khatri-Rao product, such that the computational cost for calculating $Sx$ is efficient. We provide a systematic way to design tensor network embeddings consisting of Gaussian random tensors, such that for inputs with more general tensor network structures, both the sketch size (row size of $S$) and the sketching computational cost are low.We analyze general tensor network embeddings that can be reduced to a sequence of sketching matrices. We provide a sufficient condition to quantify the accuracy of such embeddings and derive sketching asymptotic cost lower bounds using embeddings that satisfy this condition and have a sketch size lower than any input dimension. We then provide an algorithm to efficiently sketch input data using such embeddings. The sketch size of the embedding used in the algorithm has a linear dependence on the number of sketching dimensions of the input. Assuming tensor contractions are performed with classical dense matrix multiplication algorithms, this algorithm achieves asymptotic cost within a factor of $O(\sqrt{m})$ of our cost lower bound, where $m$ is the sketch size. Further, when each tensor in the input has a dimension that needs to be sketched, this algorithm yields the optimal sketching asymptotic cost. We apply our sketching analysis to inexact tensor decomposition optimization algorithms. We provide a sketching algorithm for CP decomposition that is asymptotically faster than existing work in multiple regimes, and show the optimality of an existing algorithm for tensor train rounding.

Online Learning and Pricing for Network Revenue Management with Reusable Resources

Huiwen Jia · Cong Shi · Siqian Shen

We consider a price-based network revenue management problem with multiple products and multiple reusable resources. Each randomly arriving customer requests a product (service) that needs to occupy a sequence of reusable resources (servers). We adopt an incomplete information setting where the firm does not know the price-demand function for each product and the goal is to dynamically set prices of all products to maximize the total expected revenue of serving customers. We propose novel batched bandit learning algorithms for finding near-optimal pricing policies, and show that they admit a near-optimal cumulative regret bound of $\tilde{O}(J\sqrt{XT})$, where $J$, $X$, and $T$ are the numbers of products, candidate prices, and service periods, respectively. As part of our regret analysis, we develop the first finite-time mixing time analysis of an open network queueing system (i.e., the celebrated Jackson Network), which could be of independent interest. Our numerical studies show that the proposed approaches perform consistently well.

MultiScan: Scalable RGBD scanning for 3D environments with articulated objects

Yongsen Mao · Yiming Zhang · Hanxiao Jiang · Angel Chang · Manolis Savva

We introduce MultiScan, a scalable RGBD dataset construction pipeline leveraging commodity mobile devices to scan indoor scenes with articulated objects and web-based semantic annotation interfaces to efficiently annotate object and part semantics and part mobility parameters. We use this pipeline to collect 273 scans of 117 indoor scenes containing 10957 objects and 5129 parts. The resulting MultiScan dataset provides RGBD streams with per-frame camera poses, textured 3D surface meshes, richly annotated part-level and object-level semantic labels, and part mobility parameters. We validate our dataset on instance segmentation and part mobility estimation tasks and benchmark methods for these tasks from prior work. Our experiments show that part segmentation and mobility estimation in real 3D scenes remain challenging despite recent progress in 3D object segmentation.

FairVFL: A Fair Vertical Federated Learning Framework with Contrastive Adversarial Learning

Tao Qi · Fangzhao Wu · Chuhan Wu · Lingjuan Lyu · Tong Xu · Hao Liao · Zhongliang Yang · Yongfeng Huang · Xing Xie

Vertical federated learning (VFL) is a privacy-preserving machine learning paradigm that can learn models from features distributed on different platforms in a privacy-preserving way. Since in real-world applications the data may contain bias on fairness-sensitive features (e.g., gender), VFL models may inherit bias from training data and become unfair for some user groups. However, existing fair machine learning methods usually rely on the centralized storage of fairness-sensitive features to achieve model fairness, which are usually inapplicable in federated scenarios. In this paper, we propose a fair vertical federated learning framework (FairVFL), which can improve the fairness of VFL models. The core idea of FairVFL is to learn unified and fair representations of samples based on the decentralized feature fields in a privacy-preserving way. Specifically, each platform with fairness-insensitive features first learns local data representations from local features. Then, these local representations are uploaded to a server and aggregated into a unified representation for the target task. In order to learn a fair unified representation, we send it to each platform storing fairness-sensitive features and apply adversarial learning to remove bias from the unified representation inherited from the biased data. Moreover, for protecting user privacy, we further propose a contrastive adversarial learning method to remove private information from the unified representation in server before sending it to the platforms keeping fairness-sensitive features. Experiments on three real-world datasets validate that our method can effectively improve model fairness with user privacy well-protected.

DeepFoids: Adaptive Bio-Inspired Fish Simulation with Deep Reinforcement Learning

Yuko Ishiwaka · Xiao Zeng · Shun Ogawa · Donovan Westwater · Tadayuki Tone · Masaki Nakada

Our goal is to synthesize realistic underwater scenes with various fish species in different fish cages, which can be utilized to train computer vision models to automate fish counting and sizing tasks. It is a challenging problem to prepare a sufficiently diverse labeled dataset of images from aquatic environments. We solve this challenge by introducing an adaptive bio-inspired fish simulation. The behavior of caged fish changes based on the species, size and number of fish, and the size and shape of the cage, among other variables. However, a method to autonomously achieve schooling behavior for caged fish did not exist. In this paper, we propose a method for achieving schooling behavior for any given combination of variables, using multi-agent deep reinforcement learning (DRL) in various fish cages in arbitrary environments. Furthermore, to visually reproduce the underwater scene in different locations and seasons, we incorporate a physically-based underwater simulation.

Bayesian Spline Learning for Equation Discovery of Nonlinear Dynamics with Quantified Uncertainty

Luning Sun · Daniel Huang · Hao Sun · Jian-Xun Wang

Nonlinear dynamics are ubiquitous in science and engineering applications, but the physics of most complex systems is far from being fully understood. Discovering interpretable governing equations from measurement data can help us understand and predict the behavior of complex dynamic systems. Although extensive work has recently been done in this field, robustly distilling explicit model forms from very sparse data with considerable noise remains intractable. Moreover, quantifying and propagating the uncertainty of the identified system from noisy data is challenging, and relevant literature is still limited. To bridge this gap, we develop a novel Bayesian spline learning framework to identify parsimonious governing equations of nonlinear (spatio)temporal dynamics from sparse, noisy data with quantified uncertainty. The proposed method utilizes spline basis to handle the data scarcity and measurement noise, upon which a group of derivatives can be accurately computed to form a library of candidate model terms. The equation residuals are used to inform the spline learning in a Bayesian manner, where approximate Bayesian uncertainty calibration techniques are employed to approximate posterior distributions of the trainable parameters. To promote the sparsity, an iterative sequential-threshold Bayesian learning approach is developed, using the alternative direction optimization strategy to systematically approximate L0 sparsity constraints. The proposed algorithm is evaluated on multiple nonlinear dynamical systems governed by canonical ordinary and partial differential equations, and the merit/superiority of the proposed method is demonstrated by comparison with state-of-the-art methods.

Understanding Non-linearity in Graph Neural Networks from the Bayesian-Inference Perspective

Rongzhe Wei · Haoteng YIN · Junteng Jia · Austin Benson · Pan Li

Graph neural networks (GNNs) have shown superiority in many prediction tasks over graphs due to their impressive capability of capturing nonlinear relations in graph-structured data. However, for node classification tasks, often, only marginal improvement of GNNs has been observed in practice over their linear counterparts. Previous works provide very few understandings of this phenomenon. In this work, we resort to Bayesian learning to give an in-depth investigation of the functions of non-linearity in GNNs for node classification tasks. Given a graph generated from the statistical model CSBM, we observe that the max-a-posterior estimation of a node label given its own and neighbors' attributes consists of two types of non-linearity, the transformation of node attributes and a ReLU-activated feature aggregation from neighbors. The latter surprisingly matches the type of non-linearity used in many GNN models. By further imposing Gaussian assumption on node attributes, we prove that the superiority of those ReLU activations is only significant when the node attributes are far more informative than the graph structure, which nicely explains previous empirical observations. A similar argument is derived when there is a distribution shift of node attributes between the training and testing datasets. Finally, we verify our theory on both synthetic and real-world networks. Our code is available at

Graph Reordering for Cache-Efficient Near Neighbor Search

Benjamin Coleman · Santiago Segarra · Alexander Smola · Anshumali Shrivastava

Graph search is one of the most successful algorithmic trends in near neighbor search. Several of the most popular and empirically successful algorithms are, at their core, a greedy walk along a pruned near neighbor graph. However, graph traversal applications often suffer from poor memory access patterns, and near neighbor search is no exception to this rule. Our measurements show that popular search indices such as the hierarchical navigable small-world graph (HNSW) can have poor cache miss performance. To address this issue, we formulate the graph traversal problem as a cache hit maximization task and propose multiple graph reordering as a solution. Graph reordering is a memory layout optimization that groups commonly-accessed nodes together in memory. We mathematically formalize the connection between the graph layout and the cache complexity of search. We present exhaustive experiments applying several reordering algorithms to a leading graph-based near neighbor method based on the HNSW index. We find that reordering improves the query time by up to 40%, we present analysis and improvements for existing graph layout methods, and we demonstrate that the time needed to reorder the graph is negligible compared to the time required to construct the index.

Boosting Barely Robust Learners: A New Perspective on Adversarial Robustness

Avrim Blum · Omar Montasser · Greg Shakhnarovich · Hongyang Zhang

We present an oracle-efficient algorithm for boosting the adversarial robustness of barely robust learners. Barely robust learning algorithms learn predictors that are adversarially robust only on a small fraction $\beta \ll 1$ of the data distribution. Our proposed notion of barely robust learning requires robustness with respect to a ``larger'' perturbation set; which we show is necessary for strongly robust learning, and that weaker relaxations are not sufficient for strongly robust learning. Our results reveal a qualitative and quantitative equivalence between two seemingly unrelated problems: strongly robust learning and barely robust learning.

The Gyro-Structure of Some Matrix Manifolds

Xuan Son Nguyen

In this paper, we study the gyrovector space structure (gyro-structure) of matrix manifolds. Our work is motivated by the success of hyperbolic neural networks (HNNs) that have demonstrated impressive performance in a variety of applications. At the heart of HNNs is the theory of gyrovector spaces that provides a powerful tool for studying hyperbolic geometry. Here we focus on two matrix manifolds, i.e., Symmetric Positive Definite (SPD) and Grassmann manifolds, and consider connecting the Riemannian geometry of these manifolds with the basic operations, i.e., the binary operation and scalar multiplication on gyrovector spaces. Our work reveals some interesting facts about SPD and Grassmann manifolds. First, SPD matrices with an Affine-Invariant (AI) or a Log-Euclidean (LE) geometry have rich structure with strong connection to hyperbolic geometry. Second, linear subspaces, when equipped with our proposed basic operations, form what we call gyrocommutative and gyrononreductive gyrogroups. Furthermore, they share remarkable analogies with gyrovector spaces. We demonstrate the applicability of our approach for human activity understanding and question answering.

Revisit last-iterate convergence of mSGD under milder requirement on step size

ruinan Jin · Xingkang He · Lang Chen · Difei Cheng · Vijay Gupta

Understanding convergence of SGD-based optimization algorithms can help deal with enormous machine learning problems. To ensure last-iterate convergence of SGD and momentum-based SGD (mSGD), the existing studies usually constrain the step size $\epsilon_{n}$ to decay as $\sum_{n=1}^{+\infty}\epsilon_{n}^{2}<+\infty$, which however is rather conservative and may lead to slow convergence in the early stage of the iteration. In this paper, we relax this requirement by studying an alternate step size for the mSGD. First, we relax the requirement of the decay on step size to $\sum_{n=1}^{+\infty}\epsilon_{n}^{2+\eta_{0}}<+\infty\ (0\le\eta_{0}<1/2)$. This implies that a larger step size, such as $\epsilon_{n}=\frac{1}{\sqrt{n}}$ can be utilized for accelerating the mSGD in the early stage. Under this new step size and some common conditions, we prove that the gradient norm of mSGD for non-convex loss functions asymptotically decays to zero. In addition, we show that this step size can indeed help make the convergence into a neighborhood of the stationary points quicker in the early stage. In addition, we establish the convergence of mSGD under a constant step size $\epsilon_n\equiv\epsilon>0$ by removing the common requirement in the literature on the strong convexity of the loss function. Some experiments are given to illustrate the developed results.

Robustness Analysis of Video-Language Models Against Visual and Language Perturbations

Madeline Chantry · Shruti Vyas · Hamid Palangi · Yogesh Rawat · Vibhav Vineet

Joint visual and language modeling on large-scale datasets has recently shown good progress in multi-modal tasks when compared to single modal learning. However, robustness of these approaches against real-world perturbations has not been studied. In this work, we perform the first extensive robustness study of video-language models against various real-world perturbations. We focus on text-to-video retrieval and propose two large-scale benchmark datasets, MSRVTT-P and YouCook2-P, which utilize 90 different visual and 35 different text perturbations. The study reveals some interesting initial findings from the studied models: 1) models are more robust when text is perturbed versus when video is perturbed, 2) models that are pre-trained are more robust than those trained from scratch, 3) models attend more to scene and objects rather than motion and action. We hope this study will serve as a benchmark and guide future research in robust video-language learning. The benchmark introduced in this study along with the code and datasets is available at

Beyond Real-world Benchmark Datasets: An Empirical Study of Node Classification with GNNs

Seiji Maekawa · Koki Noda · Yuya Sasaki · makoto onizuka

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have achieved great success on a node classification task. Despite the broad interest in developing and evaluating GNNs, they have been assessed with limited benchmark datasets. As a result, the existing evaluation of GNNs lacks fine-grained analysis from various characteristics of graphs. Motivated by this, we conduct extensive experiments with a synthetic graph generator that can generate graphs having controlled characteristics for fine-grained analysis. Our empirical studies clarify the strengths and weaknesses of GNNs from four major characteristics of real-world graphs with class labels of nodes, i.e., 1) class size distributions (balanced vs. imbalanced), 2) edge connection proportions between classes (homophilic vs. heterophilic), 3) attribute values (biased vs. random), and 4) graph sizes (small vs. large). In addition, to foster future research on GNNs, we publicly release our codebase that allows users to evaluate various GNNs with various graphs. We hope this work offers interesting insights for future research.

AMOS: A Large-Scale Abdominal Multi-Organ Benchmark for Versatile Medical Image Segmentation

Yuanfeng Ji · Haotian Bai · Chongjian GE · Jie Yang · Ye Zhu · Ruimao Zhang · Zhen Li · Lingyan Zhanng · Wanling Ma · Xiang Wan · Ping Luo

Despite the considerable progress in automatic abdominal multi-organ segmentation from CT/MRI scans in recent years, a comprehensive evaluation of the models' capabilities is hampered by the lack of a large-scale benchmark from diverse clinical scenarios. Constraint by the high cost of collecting and labeling 3D medical data, most of the deep learning models to date are driven by datasets with a limited number of organs of interest or samples, which still limits the power of modern deep models and makes it difficult to provide a fully comprehensive and fair estimate of various methods. To mitigate the limitations, we present AMOS, a large-scale, diverse, clinical dataset for abdominal organ segmentation. AMOS provides 500 CT and 100 MRI scans collected from multi-center, multi-vendor, multi-modality, multi-phase, multi-disease patients, each with voxel-level annotations of 15 abdominal organs, providing challenging examples and test-bed for studying robust segmentation algorithms under diverse targets and scenarios. We further benchmark several state-of-the-art medical segmentation models to evaluate the status of the existing methods on this new challenging dataset. We have made our datasets, benchmark servers, and baselines publicly available, and hope to inspire future research. Information can be found at

JAHS-Bench-201: A Foundation For Research On Joint Architecture And Hyperparameter Search

Archit Bansal · Danny Stoll · Maciej Janowski · Arber Zela · Frank Hutter

The past few years have seen the development of many benchmarks for Neural Architecture Search (NAS), fueling rapid progress in NAS research. However, recent work, which shows that good hyperparameter settings can be more important than using the best architecture, calls for a shift in focus towards Joint Architecture and Hyperparameter Search (JAHS). Therefore, we present JAHS-Bench-201, the first collection of surrogate benchmarks for JAHS, built to also facilitate research on multi-objective, cost-aware and (multi) multi-fidelity optimization algorithms. To the best of our knowledge, JAHS-Bench-201 is based on the most extensive dataset of neural network performance data in the public domain. It is composed of approximately 161 million data points and 20 performance metrics for three deep learning tasks, while featuring a 14-dimensional search and fidelity space that extends the popular NAS-Bench-201 space. With JAHS-Bench-201, we hope to democratize research on JAHS and lower the barrier to entry of an extremely compute intensive field, e.g., by reducing the compute time to run a JAHS algorithm from 5 days to only a few seconds.

Wild-Time: A Benchmark of in-the-Wild Distribution Shift over Time

Huaxiu Yao · Caroline Choi · Bochuan Cao · Yoonho Lee · Pang Wei Koh · Chelsea Finn

Distribution shifts occur when the test distribution differs from the training distribution, and can considerably degrade performance of machine learning models deployed in the real world. While recent works have studied robustness to distribution shifts, distribution shifts arising from the passage of time have the additional structure of timestamp metadata. Real-world examples of such shifts are underexplored, and it is unclear whether existing models can leverage trends in past distribution shifts to reliably extrapolate into the future. To address this gap, we curate Wild-Time, a benchmark of 5 datasets that reflect temporal distribution shifts arising in a variety of real-world applications, including drug discovery, patient prognosis, and news classification. On these datasets, we systematically benchmark 13 approaches with various inductive biases. We evaluate methods in domain-generalization, continual learning, self-supervised learning, and ensemble learning, which leverage timestamps to extract the common structure of the distribution shifts. We extend several domain-generalization methods to the temporal distribution shift setting by treating windows of time as different domains. Finally, we propose two evaluation strategies to evaluate model performance under temporal distribution shifts---evaluation with a fixed time split (Eval-Fix) and evaluation with a data stream (Eval-Stream). Eval-Fix, our primary evaluation strategy, aims to provide a simple evaluation protocol for the broader machine learning community, while Eval-Stream serves as a complementary benchmark for continual learning approaches. Our experiments demonstrate that existing methods are limited in tackling temporal distribution shift: across all settings, we observe an average performance drop of 20% from in-distribution to out-of-distribution data.

Towards Better Evaluation for Dynamic Link Prediction

Farimah Poursafaei · Shenyang Huang · Kellin Pelrine · Reihaneh Rabbany

Despite the prevalence of recent success in learning from static graphs, learning from time-evolving graphs remains an open challenge. In this work, we design new, more stringent evaluation procedures for link prediction specific to dynamic graphs, which reflect real-world considerations, to better compare the strengths and weaknesses of methods. First, we create two visualization techniques to understand the reoccurring patterns of edges over time and show that many edges reoccur at later time steps. Based on this observation, we propose a pure memorization-based baseline called EdgeBank. EdgeBank achieves surprisingly strong performance across multiple settings which highlights that the negative edges used in the current evaluation are easy. To sample more challenging negative edges, we introduce two novel negative sampling strategies that improve robustness and better match real-world applications. Lastly, we introduce six new dynamic graph datasets from a diverse set of domains missing from current benchmarks, providing new challenges and opportunities for future research. Our code repository is accessible at

Avalon: A Benchmark for RL Generalization Using Procedurally Generated Worlds

Joshua Albrecht · Abraham Fetterman · Bryden Fogelman · Ellie Kitanidis · Bartosz Wróblewski · Nicole Seo · Michael Rosenthal · Maksis Knutins · Zack Polizzi · James Simon · Kanjun Qiu

Despite impressive successes, deep reinforcement learning (RL) systems still fall short of human performance on generalization to new tasks and environments that differ from their training. As a benchmark tailored for studying RL generalization, we introduce Avalon, a set of tasks in which embodied agents in highly diverse procedural 3D worlds must survive by navigating terrain, hunting or gathering food, and avoiding hazards. Avalon is unique among existing RL benchmarks in that the reward function, world dynamics, and action space are the same for every task, with tasks differentiated solely by altering the environment; its 20 tasks, ranging in complexity from eat and throw to hunt and navigate, each create worlds in which the agent must perform specific skills in order to survive. This setup enables investigations of generalization within tasks, between tasks, and to compositional tasks that require combining skills learned from previous tasks. Avalon includes a highly efficient simulator, a library of baselines, and a benchmark with scoring metrics evaluated against hundreds of hours of human performance, all of which are open-source and publicly available. We find that standard RL baselines make progress on most tasks but are still far from human performance, suggesting Avalon is challenging enough to advance the quest for generalizable RL.

GriddlyJS: A Web IDE for Reinforcement Learning

Christopher Bamford · Minqi Jiang · Mikayel Samvelyan · Tim Rocktäschel

Progress in reinforcement learning (RL) research is often driven by the design of new, challenging environments---a costly undertaking requiring skills orthogonal to that of a typical machine learning researcher. The complexity of environment development has only increased with the rise of procedural-content generation (PCG) as the prevailing paradigm for producing varied environments capable of testing the robustness and generalization of RL agents. Moreover, existing environments often require complex build processes, making reproducing results difficult. To address these issues, we introduce GriddlyJS, a web-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE) based on the Griddly engine. GriddlyJS allows researchers to easily design and debug arbitrary, complex PCG grid-world environments, as well as visualize, evaluate, and record the performance of trained agent models. By connecting the RL workflow to the advanced functionality enabled by modern web standards, GriddlyJS allows publishing interactive agent-environment demos that reproduce experimental results directly to the web. To demonstrate the versatility of GriddlyJS, we use it to quickly develop a complex compositional puzzle-solving environment alongside arbitrary human-designed environment configurations and their solutions for use in a automatic curriculum learning and offline RL context. The GriddlyJS IDE is open source and freely available at

AnimeRun: 2D Animation Visual Correspondence from Open Source 3D Movies

Li Siyao · Yuhang Li · Bo Li · Chao Dong · Ziwei Liu · Chen Change Loy

Visual correspondence of 2D animation is the core of many applications and deserves careful study. Existing correspondence datasets for 2D cartoon suffer from simple frame composition and monotonic movements, making them insufficient to simulate real animations. In this work, we present a new 2D animation visual correspondence dataset, AnimeRun, by converting open source 3D movies to full scenes in 2D style, including simultaneous moving background and interactions of multiple subjects. Statistics show that our proposed dataset not only resembles real anime more in image composition, but also possesses richer and more complex motion patterns compared to existing datasets. With this dataset, we establish a comprehensive benchmark by evaluating several existing optical flow and segment matching methods, and analyze shortcomings of these methods on animation data. Data are available at

VLMbench: A Compositional Benchmark for Vision-and-Language Manipulation

Kaizhi Zheng · Xiaotong Chen · Odest Chadwicke Jenkins · Xin Wang

Benefiting from language flexibility and compositionality, humans naturally intend to use language to command an embodied agent for complex tasks such as navigation and object manipulation. In this work, we aim to fill the blank of the last mile of embodied agents---object manipulation by following human guidance, e.g., “move the red mug next to the box while keeping it upright.” To this end, we introduce an Automatic Manipulation Solver (AMSolver) system and build a Vision-and-Language Manipulation benchmark (VLMbench) based on it, containing various language instructions on categorized robotic manipulation tasks. Specifically, modular rule-based task templates are created to automatically generate robot demonstrations with language instructions, consisting of diverse object shapes and appearances, action types, and motion constraints. We also develop a keypoint-based model 6D-CLIPort to deal with multi-view observations and language input and output a sequence of 6 degrees of freedom (DoF) actions. We hope the new simulator and benchmark will facilitate future research on language-guided robotic manipulation.

OpenFilter: A Framework to Democratize Research Access to Social Media AR Filters

Piera Riccio · Bill Psomas · Francesco Galati · Francisco Escolano · Thomas Hofmann · Nuria Oliver

Augmented Reality or AR filters on selfies have become very popular on social media platforms for a variety of applications, including marketing, entertainment and aesthetics. Given the wide adoption of AR face filters and the importance of faces in our social structures and relations, there is increased interest by the scientific community to analyze the impact of such filters from a psychological, artistic and sociological perspective. However, there are few quantitative analyses in this area mainly due to a lack of publicly available datasets of facial images with applied AR filters. The proprietary, close nature of most social media platforms does not allow users, scientists and practitioners to access the code and the details of the available AR face filters. Scraping faces from these platforms to collect data is ethically unacceptable and should, therefore, be avoided in research. In this paper, we present OpenFilter, a flexible framework to apply AR filters available in social media platforms on existing large collections of human faces. Moreover, we share FairBeauty and B-LFW, two beautified versions of the publicly available FairFace and LFW datasets and we outline insights derived from the analysis of these beautified datasets.

Forecasting Future World Events With Neural Networks

Andy Zou · Tristan Xiao · Ryan Jia · Joe Kwon · Mantas Mazeika · Richard Li · Dawn Song · Jacob Steinhardt · Owain Evans · Dan Hendrycks

Forecasting future world events is a challenging but valuable task. Forecasts of climate, geopolitical conflict, pandemics and economic indicators help shape policy and decision making. In these domains, the judgment of expert humans contributes to the best forecasts. Given advances in language modeling, can these forecasts be automated? To this end, we introduce Autocast, a dataset containing thousands of forecasting questions and an accompanying news corpus. Questions are taken from forecasting tournaments, ensuring high quality, real-world importance, and diversity. The news corpus is organized by date, allowing us to precisely simulate the conditions under which humans made past forecasts (avoiding leakage from the future). Motivated by the difficulty of forecasting numbers across orders of magnitude (e.g. global cases of COVID-19 in 2022), we also curate IntervalQA, a dataset of numerical questions and metrics for calibration. We test language models on our forecasting task and find that performance is far below a human expert baseline. However, performance improves with increased model size and incorporation of relevant information from the news corpus. In sum, Autocast poses a novel challenge for large language models and improved performance could bring large practical benefits.

Active-Passive SimStereo - Benchmarking the Cross-Generalization Capabilities of Deep Learning-based Stereo Methods

Laurent Jospin · Allen Antony · Lian Xu · Hamid Laga · Farid Boussaid · Mohammed Bennamoun

In stereo vision, self-similar or bland regions can make it difficult to match patches between two images. Active stereo-based methods mitigate this problem by projecting a pseudo-random pattern on the scene so that each patch of an image pair can be identified without ambiguity. However, the projected pattern significantly alters the appearance of the image. If this pattern acts as a form of adversarial noise, it could negatively impact the performance of deep learning-based methods, which are now the de-facto standard for dense stereo vision. In this paper, we propose the Active-Passive SimStereo dataset and a corresponding benchmark to evaluate the performance gap between passive and active stereo images for stereo matching algorithms. Using the proposed benchmark and an additional ablation study, we show that the feature extraction and matching modules of a selection of twenty selected deep learning-based stereo matching methods generalize to active stereo without a problem. However, the disparity refinement modules of three of the twenty architectures (ACVNet, CascadeStereo, and StereoNet) are negatively affected by the active stereo patterns due to their reliance on the appearance of the input images.

TAP-Vid: A Benchmark for Tracking Any Point in a Video

Carl Doersch · Ankush Gupta · Larisa Markeeva · Adria Recasens · Lucas Smaira · Yusuf Aytar · Joao Carreira · Andrew Zisserman · Yi Yang

Generic motion understanding from video involves not only tracking objects, but also perceiving how their surfaces deform and move. This information is useful to make inferences about 3D shape, physical properties and object interactions. While the problem of tracking arbitrary physical points on surfaces over longer video clips has received some attention, no dataset or benchmark for evaluation existed, until now. In this paper, we first formalize the problem, naming it tracking any point (TAP). We introduce a companion benchmark,TAP-Vid, which is composed of both real-world videos with accurate human annotations of point tracks, and synthetic videos with perfect ground-truth point tracks. Central to the construction of our benchmark is a novel semi-automatic crowdsourced pipeline which uses optical flow estimates to compensate for easier, short-term motion like camera shake, allowing annotators to focus on harder sections of the video. We validate our pipeline on synthetic data and propose a simple end-to-end point tracking model, TAP-Net, showing that it outperforms all prior methods on our benchmark when trained on synthetic data.

EHRSQL: A Practical Text-to-SQL Benchmark for Electronic Health Records

Gyubok Lee · Hyeonji Hwang · Seongsu Bae · Yeonsu Kwon · Woncheol Shin · Seongjun Yang · Minjoon Seo · Jong-Yeup Kim · Edward Choi

We present a new text-to-SQL dataset for electronic health records (EHRs). The utterances were collected from 222 hospital staff, including physicians, nurses, insurance review and health records teams, and more. To construct the QA dataset on structured EHR data, we conducted a poll at a university hospital and templatized the responses to create seed questions. Then, we manually linked them to two open-source EHR databases—MIMIC-III and eICU—and included them with various time expressions and held-out unanswerable questions in the dataset, which were all collected from the poll. Our dataset poses a unique set of challenges: the model needs to 1) generate SQL queries that reflect a wide range of needs in the hospital, including simple retrieval and complex operations such as calculating survival rate, 2) understand various time expressions to answer time-sensitive questions in healthcare, and 3) distinguish whether a given question is answerable or unanswerable based on the prediction confidence. We believe our dataset, EHRSQL, could serve as a practical benchmark to develop and assess QA models on structured EHR data and take one step further towards bridging the gap between text-to-SQL research and its real-life deployment in healthcare. EHRSQL is available at

IKEA-Manual: Seeing Shape Assembly Step by Step

Ruocheng Wang · Yunzhi Zhang · Jiayuan Mao · Ran Zhang · Chin-Yi Cheng · Jiajun Wu

Human-designed visual manuals are crucial components in shape assembly activities. They provide step-by-step guidance on how we should move and connect different parts in a convenient and physically-realizable way. While there has been an ongoing effort in building agents that perform assembly tasks, the information in human-design manuals has been largely overlooked. We identify that this is due to 1) a lack of realistic 3D assembly objects that have paired manuals and 2) the difficulty of extracting structured information from purely image-based manuals. Motivated by this observation, we present IKEA-Manual, a dataset consisting of 102 IKEA objects paired with assembly manuals. We provide fine-grained annotations on the IKEA objects and assembly manuals, including decomposed assembly parts, assembly plans, manual segmentation, and 2D-3D correspondence between 3D parts and visual manuals. We illustrate the broad application of our dataset on four tasks related to shape assembly: assembly plan generation, part segmentation, pose estimationand 3D part assembly.

Model Zoos: A Dataset of Diverse Populations of Neural Network Models

Konstantin Schürholt · Diyar Taskiran · Boris Knyazev · Xavier Giró-i-Nieto · Damian Borth

In the last years, neural networks (NN) have evolved from laboratory environments to the state-of-the-art for many real-world problems. It was shown that NN models (i.e., their weights and biases) evolve on unique trajectories in weight space during training. Following, a population of such neural network models (referred to as model zoo) would form structures in weight space. We think that the geometry, curvature and smoothness of these structures contain information about the state of training and can reveal latent properties of individual models. With such model zoos, one could investigate novel approaches for (i) model analysis, (ii) discover unknown learning dynamics, (iii) learn rich representations of such populations, or (iv) exploit the model zoos for generative modelling of NN weights and biases. Unfortunately, the lack of standardized model zoos and available benchmarks significantly increases the friction for further research about populations of NNs. With this work, we publish a novel dataset of model zoos containing systematically generated and diverse populations of NN models for further research. In total the proposed model zoo dataset is based on eight image datasets, consists of 27 model zoos trained with varying hyperparameter combinations and includes 50’360 unique NN models as well as their sparsified twins, resulting in over 3’844’360 collected model states. Additionally, to the model zoo data we provide an in-depth analysis of the zoos and provide benchmarks for multiple downstream tasks. The dataset can be found at

mRI: Multi-modal 3D Human Pose Estimation Dataset using mmWave, RGB-D, and Inertial Sensors

Sizhe An · Yin Li · Umit Ogras

The ability to estimate 3D human body pose and movement, also known as human pose estimation (HPE), enables many applications for home-based health monitoring, such as remote rehabilitation training. Several possible solutions have emerged using sensors ranging from RGB cameras, depth sensors, millimeter-Wave (mmWave) radars, and wearable inertial sensors. Despite previous efforts on datasets and benchmarks for HPE, few dataset exploits multiple modalities and focuses on home-based health monitoring. To bridge the gap, we present mRI, a multi-modal 3D human pose estimation dataset with mmWave, RGB-D, and Inertial Sensors. Our dataset consists of over 160k synchronized frames from 20 subjects performing rehabilitation exercises and supports the benchmarks of HPE and action detection. We perform extensive experiments using our dataset and delineate the strength of each modality. We hope that the release of mRI can catalyze the research in pose estimation, multi-modal learning, and action understanding, and more importantly facilitate the applications of home-based health monitoring.

A Multi-Task Benchmark for Korean Legal Language Understanding and Judgement Prediction

Wonseok Hwang · Dongjun Lee · Kyoungyeon Cho · Hanuhl Lee · Minjoon Seo

The recent advances of deep learning have dramatically changed how machine learning, especially in the domain of natural language processing, can be applied to legal domain. However, this shift to the data-driven approaches calls for larger and more diverse datasets, which are nevertheless still small in number, especially in non-English languages. Here we present the first large-scale benchmark of Korean legal AI datasets, LBOX OPEN, that consists of one legal corpus, two classification tasks, two legal judgement prediction (LJP) tasks, and one summarization task. The legal corpus consists of 147k Korean precedents (259M tokens), of which 63k are sentenced in last 4 years and 96k are from the first and the second level courts in which factual issues are reviewed. The two classification tasks are case names (11.3k) and statutes (2.8k) prediction from the factual description of individual cases. The LJP tasks consist of (1) 10.5k criminal examples where the model is asked to predict fine amount, imprisonment with labor, and imprisonment without labor ranges for the given facts, and (2) 4.7k civil examples where the inputs are facts and claim for relief and outputs are the degrees of claim acceptance. The summarization task consists of the Supreme Court precedents and the corresponding summaries (20k). We also release realistic variants of the datasets by extending the domain (1) to infrequent case categories in case name (31k examples) and statute (17.7k) classification tasks, and (2) to long input sequences in the summarization task (51k). Finally, we release LCUBE, the first Korean legal language model trained on the legal corpus from this study. Given the uniqueness of the Law of South Korea and the diversity of the legal tasks covered in this work, we believe that LBOX OPEN contributes to the multilinguality of global legal research. LBOX OPEN and LCUBE will be publicly available.

Characteristics of Harmful Text: Towards Rigorous Benchmarking of Language Models

Maribeth Rauh · John Mellor · Jonathan Uesato · Po-Sen Huang · Johannes Welbl · Laura Weidinger · Sumanth Dathathri · Amelia Glaese · Geoffrey Irving · Iason Gabriel · William Isaac · Lisa Anne Hendricks

Large language models produce human-like text that drive a growing number of applications. However, recent literature and, increasingly, real world observations, have demonstrated that these models can generate language that is toxic, biased, untruthful or otherwise harmful. Though work to evaluate language model harms is under way, translating foresight about which harms may arise into rigorous benchmarks is not straightforward. To facilitate this translation, we outline six ways of characterizing harmful text which merit explicit consideration when designing new benchmarks. We then use these characteristics as a lens to identify trends and gaps in existing benchmarks. Finally, we apply them in a case study of the Perspective API, a toxicity classifier that is widely used in harm benchmarks. Our characteristics provide one piece of the bridge that translates between foresight and effective evaluation.

A Large Scale Search Dataset for Unbiased Learning to Rank

Lixin Zou · Haitao Mao · Xiaokai Chu · Jiliang Tang · Wenwen Ye · Shuaiqiang Wang · Dawei Yin

The unbiased learning to rank (ULTR) problem has been greatly advanced by recent deep learning techniques and well-designed debias algorithms. However, promising results on the existing benchmark datasets may not be extended to the practical scenario due to some limitations of existing datasets. First, their semantic feature extractions are outdated while state-of-the-art large-scale pre-trained language models like BERT cannot be utilized due to the lack of original text. Second, display features are incomplete; thus in-depth study on ULTR is impossible such as the displayed abstract for analyzing the click necessary bias. Third, synthetic user feedback has been adopted by most existing datasets and real-world user feedback is greatly missing. To overcome these disadvantages, we introduce the Baidu-ULTR dataset. It involves randomly sampled 1.2 billion searching sessions and 7,008 expert annotated queries(397,572 query document pairs). Baidu-ULTR is the first billion-level dataset for ULTR. Particularly, it offers: (1)the original semantic features and pre-trained language models of different sizes; (2)sufficient display information such as position, displayed height, and displayed abstract, enabling the comprehensive study of multiple displayed biases; and (3)rich user feedback on search result pages (SERPs) like dwelling time, allowing for user engagement optimization and promoting the exploration of multi-task learning in ULTR. Furthermore, we present the design principle of Baidu-ULTR and the performance of representative ULTR algorithms on Baidu-ULTR. The Baidu-ULTR dataset and corresponding baseline implementations are available at The dataset homepage is available at

Open High-Resolution Satellite Imagery: The WorldStrat Dataset – With Application to Super-Resolution

Julien Cornebise · Ivan Oršolić · Freddie Kalaitzis

Analyzing the planet at scale with satellite imagery and machine learning is a dream that has been constantly hindered by the cost of difficult-to-access highly-representative high-resolution imagery. To remediate this, we introduce here the WorldStratified dataset. The largest and most varied such publicly available dataset, at Airbus SPOT 6/7 satellites' high resolution of up to 1.5 m/pixel, empowered by European Space Agency's Phi-Lab as part of the ESA-funded QueryPlanet project, we curate 10,000 sq km of unique locations to ensure stratified representation of all types of land-use across the world: from agriculture to ice caps, from forests to multiple urbanization densities. We also enrich those with locations typically under-represented in ML datasets: sites of humanitarian interest, illegal mining sites, and settlements of persons at risk. We temporally-match each high-resolution image with multiple low-resolution images from the freely accessible lower-resolution Sentinel-2 satellites at 10 m/pixel. We accompany this dataset with an open-source Python package to: rebuild or extend the WorldStrat dataset, train and infer baseline algorithms, and learn with abundant tutorials, all compatible with the popular EO-learn toolbox. We hereby hope to foster broad-spectrum applications of ML to satellite imagery, and possibly develop from free public low-resolution Sentinel2 imagery the same power of analysis allowed by costly private high-resolution imagery. We illustrate this specific point by training and releasing several highly compute-efficient baselines on the task of Multi-Frame Super-Resolution. License-wise, the high-resolution Airbus imagery is CC-BY-NC, while the labels, Sentinel2 imagery, and trained weights are under CC-BY, and the source code under BSD, to allow for the widest use and dissemination. The dataset is available at \url{} and the software package at \url{}.

Sample Efficiency Matters: A Benchmark for Practical Molecular Optimization

Wenhao Gao · Tianfan Fu · Jimeng Sun · Connor Coley

Molecular optimization is a fundamental goal in the chemical sciences and is of central interest to drug and material design. In recent years, significant progress has been made in solving challenging problems across various aspects of computational molecular optimizations, emphasizing high validity, diversity, and, most recently, synthesizability. Despite this progress, many papers report results on trivial or self-designed tasks, bringing additional challenges to directly assessing the performance of new methods. Moreover, the sample efficiency of the optimization---the number of molecules evaluated by the oracle---is rarely discussed, despite being an essential consideration for realistic discovery applications.To fill this gap, we have created an open-source benchmark for practical molecular optimization, PMO, to facilitate the transparent and reproducible evaluation of algorithmic advances in molecular optimization. This paper thoroughly investigates the performance of 25 molecular design algorithms on 23 single-objective (scalar) optimization tasks with a particular focus on sample efficiency. Our results show that most ``state-of-the-art'' methods fail to outperform their predecessors under a limited oracle budget allowing 10K queries and that no existing algorithm can efficiently solve certain molecular optimization problems in this setting. We analyze the influence of the optimization algorithm choices, molecular assembly strategies, and oracle landscapes on the optimization performance to inform future algorithm development and benchmarking. PMO provides a standardized experimental setup to comprehensively evaluate and compare new molecule optimization methods with existing ones. All code can be found at

MSDS: A Large-Scale Chinese Signature and Token Digit String Dataset for Handwriting Verification

Peirong Zhang · Jiajia Jiang · Yuliang Liu · Lianwen Jin

Although online handwriting verification has made great progress recently, the verification performances are still far behind the real usage owing to the small scale of the datasets as well as the limited biometric mediums. Therefore, this paper proposes a new handwriting verification benchmark dataset named Multimodal Signature and Digit String (MSDS), which consists of two subsets: MSDS-ChS (Chinese Signatures) and MSDS-TDS (Token Digit Strings), contributed by 402 users, with 20 genuine samples and 20 skilled forgeries per user per subset. MSDS-ChS consists of handwritten Chinese signatures, which, to the best of our knowledge, is the largest publicly available Chinese signature dataset for handwriting verification, at least eight times larger than existing online datasets. Meanwhile, MSDS-TDS consists of handwritten Token Digit Strings, i.e, the actual phone numbers of users, which have not been explored yet. Extensive experiments with different baselines are respectively conducted for MSDS-ChS and MSDS-TDS. Surprisingly, verification performances of state-of-the-art methods on MSDS-TDS are generally better than those on MSDS-ChS, which indicates that the handwritten Token Digit String could be a more effective biometric than handwritten Chinese signature. This is a promising discovery that could inspire us to explore new biometric traits. The MSDS dataset is available at

Truncated Emphatic Temporal Difference Methods for Prediction and Control

Shangtong Zhang · Shimon Whiteson

Emphatic Temporal Difference (TD) methods are a class of off-policy Reinforcement Learning (RL) methods involving the use of followon traces. Despite the theoretical success of emphatic TD methods in addressing the notorious deadly triad of off-policy RL, there are still two open problems. First, followon traces typically suffer from large variance, making them hard to use in practice. Second, though Yu (2015) confirms the asymptotic convergence of some emphatic TD methods for prediction problems, there is still no finite sample analysis for any emphatic TD method for prediction, much less control. In this paper, we address those two open problems simultaneously via using truncated followon traces in emphatic TD methods. Unlike the original followon traces, which depend on all previous history, truncated followon traces depend on only finite history, reducing variance and enabling the finite sample analysis of our proposed emphatic TD methods for both prediction and control.

IALE: Imitating Active Learner Ensembles

Christoffer Löffler · Christopher Mutschler

Active learning prioritizes the labeling of the most informative data samples. However, the performance of active learning heuristics depends on both the structure of the underlying model architecture and the data. We propose IALE, an imitation learning scheme that imitates the selection of the best-performing expert heuristic at each stage of the learning cycle in a batch-mode pool-based setting. We use Dagger to train a transferable policy on a dataset and later apply it to different datasets and deep classifier architectures. The policy reflects on the best choices from multiple expert heuristics given the current state of the active learning process, and learns to select samples in a complementary way that unifies the expert strategies. Our experiments on well-known image datasets show that we outperform state of the art imitation learners and heuristics.

Fast and Robust Rank Aggregation against Model Misspecification

YUANGANG PAN · Ivor W. Tsang · Weijie Chen · Gang Niu · Masashi Sugiyama

In rank aggregation (RA), a collection of preferences from different users are summarized into a total order under the assumption of homogeneity of users. Model misspecification in RA arises since the homogeneity assumption fails to be satisfied in the complex real-world situation. Existing robust RAs usually resort to an augmentation of the ranking model to account for additional noises, where the collected preferences can be treated as a noisy perturbation of idealized preferences. Since the majority of robust RAs rely on certain perturbation assumptions, they cannot generalize well to agnostic noise-corrupted preferences in the real world. In this paper, we propose CoarsenRank, which possesses robustness against model misspecification. Specifically, the properties of our CoarsenRank are summarized as follows: (1) CoarsenRank is designed for mild model misspecification, which assumes there exist the ideal preferences (consistent with model assumption) that locate in a neighborhood of the actual preferences. (2) CoarsenRank then performs regular RAs over a neighborhood of the preferences instead of the original data set directly. Therefore, CoarsenRank enjoys robustness against model misspecification within a neighborhood. (3) The neighborhood of the data set is defined via their empirical data distributions. Further, we put an exponential prior on the unknown size of the neighborhood and derive a much-simplified posterior formula for CoarsenRank under particular divergence measures. (4) CoarsenRank is further instantiated to Coarsened Thurstone, Coarsened Bradly-Terry, and Coarsened Plackett-Luce with three popular probability ranking models. Meanwhile, tractable optimization strategies are introduced with regards to each instantiation respectively. In the end, we apply CoarsenRank on four real-world data sets. Experiments show that CoarsenRank is fast and robust, achieving consistent improvements over baseline methods.

All You Need is a Good Functional Prior for Bayesian Deep Learning

Ba-Hien Tran · Simone Rossi · Dimitrios Milios · Maurizio Filippone

The Bayesian treatment of neural networks dictates that a prior distribution is specified over their weight and bias parameters. This poses a challenge because modern neural networks are characterized by a large number of parameters, and the choice of these priors has an uncontrolled effect on the induced functional prior, which is the distribution of the functions obtained by sampling the parameters from their prior distribution. We argue that this is a hugely limiting aspect of Bayesian deep learning, and this work tackles this limitation in a practical and effective way. Our proposal is to reason in terms of functional priors, which are easier to elicit, and to “tune” the priors of neural network parameters in a way that they reflect such functional priors. Gaussian processes offer a rigorous framework to define prior distributions over functions, and we propose a novel and robust framework to match their prior with the functional prior of neural networks based on the minimization of their Wasserstein distance. We provide vast experimental evidence that coupling these priors with scalable Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling offers systematically large performance improvements over alternative choices of priors and state-of-the-art approximate Bayesian deep learning approaches. We consider this work a considerable step in the direction of making the long-standing challenge of carrying out a fully Bayesian treatment of neural networks, including convolutional neural networks, a concrete possibility.

[Re] Solving Phase Retrieval With a Learned Reference

Nick Rucks · Tobias Uelwer · Stefan Harmeling

Fourier phase retrieval is a classical problem that deals with the recovery of an image from the amplitude measurements of its Fourier coefficients. Conventional methods solve this problem via iterative (alternating) minimization by leveraging some prior knowledge about the structure of the unknown image. The inherent ambiguities about shift and flip in the Fourier measurements make this problem especially difficult; and most of the existing methods use several random restarts with different permutations. In this paper, we assume that a known (learned) reference is added to the signal before capturing the Fourier amplitude measurements. Our method is inspired by the principle of adding a reference signal in holography. To recover the signal, we implement an iterative phase retrieval method as an unrolled network. Then we use back propagation to learn the reference that provides us the best reconstruction for a fixed number of phase retrieval iterations. We performed a number of simulations on a variety of datasets under different conditions and found that our proposed method for phase retrieval via unrolled network and learned reference provides near-perfect recovery at fixed (small) computational cost. We compared our method with standard Fourier phase retrieval methods and observed significant performance enhancement using the learned reference.

[Re] Strategic classification made practical: reproduction

Guilly Kolkman · Jan Athmer · Alex Labro · Maksymilian Kulicki

In this work, the paper Strategic Classification Made Practical is evaluated through a reproduction study. We successfully reproduced the original results using the same dataset and hyperparameters. In addition, we conducted an additional experiment that tests the framework's performance a dataset containing both strategic and non-strategic users. The results show significant decrease in accuracy of linear models proportional to the number of non-strategic users. The non-linear RNN model achieves good performance regardless of the proportion of strategic users. The results provide insight into the limitations of the claims that the original approach is flexible and practical.

[Re] Graph Edit Networks

Vid Stropnik · Maruša Oražem

The studied paper proposes a novel output layer for graph neural networks (the graph edit network - GEN). The objective of this reproduction is to assess the possibility of its re-implementation in the Python programming language and the adherence of the provided code to the methodology, described in the source material. Additionally, we rigorously evaluate the functions used to create the synthetic data sets, on which the models are evaluated. Finally, we also pay attention to the claim that the proposed architecture scales well to larger graphs.