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Poster Session 4

Hall J (level 1)


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Escaping Saddle Points for Effective Generalization on Class-Imbalanced Data

Harsh Rangwani · Sumukh K Aithal · Mayank Mishra · Venkatesh Babu R

Real-world datasets exhibit imbalances of varying types and degrees. Several techniques based on re-weighting and margin adjustment of loss are often used to enhance the performance of neural networks, particularly on minority classes. In this work, we analyze the class-imbalanced learning problem by examining the loss landscape of neural networks trained with re-weighting and margin based techniques. Specifically, we examine the spectral density of Hessian of class-wise loss, through which we observe that the network weights converges to a saddle point in the loss landscapes of minority classes. Following this observation, we also find that optimization methods designed to escape from saddle points can be effectively used to improve generalization on minority classes. We further theoretically and empirically demonstrate that Sharpness-Aware Minimization (SAM), a recent technique that encourages convergence to a flat minima, can be effectively used to escape saddle points for minority classes. Using SAM results in a 6.2\% increase in accuracy on the minority classes over the state-of-the-art Vector Scaling Loss, leading to an overall average increase of 4\% across imbalanced datasets. The code is available at

Active Learning Through a Covering Lens

Ofer Yehuda · Avihu Dekel · Guy Hacohen · Daphna Weinshall

Deep active learning aims to reduce the annotation cost for the training of deep models, which is notoriously data-hungry. Until recently, deep active learning methods were ineffectual in the low-budget regime, where only a small number of examples are annotated. The situation has been alleviated by recent advances in representation and self-supervised learning, which impart the geometry of the data representation with rich information about the points. Taking advantage of this progress, we study the problem of subset selection for annotation through a “covering” lens, proposing ProbCover – a new active learning algorithm for the low budget regime, which seeks to maximize Probability Coverage. We then describe a dual way to view the proposed formulation, from which one can derive strategies suitable for the high budget regime of active learning, related to existing methods like Coreset. We conclude with extensive experiments, evaluating ProbCover in the low-budget regime. We show that our principled active learning strategy improves the state-of-the-art in the low-budget regime in several image recognition benchmarks. This method is especially beneficial in the semi-supervised setting, allowing state-of-the-art semi-supervised methods to match the performance of fully supervised methods, while using much fewer labels nonetheless. Code is available at

Sparse Winning Tickets are Data-Efficient Image Recognizers

Mukund Varma T · Xuxi Chen · Zhenyu Zhang · Tianlong Chen · Subhashini Venugopalan · Zhangyang Wang

Improving the performance of deep networks in data-limited regimes has warranted much attention. In this work, we empirically show that “winning tickets” (small sub-networks) obtained via magnitude pruning based on the lottery ticket hypothesis, apart from being sparse are also effective recognizers in data-limited regimes. Based on extensive experiments, we find that in low data regimes (datasets of 50-100 examples per class), sparse winning tickets substantially outperform the original dense networks. This approach, when combined with augmentations or fine-tuning from a self-supervised backbone network, shows further improvements in performance by as much as 16% (absolute) on low-sample datasets and long-tailed classification. Further, sparse winning tickets are more robust to synthetic noise and distribution shifts compared to their dense counterparts. Our analysis of winning tickets on small datasets indicates that, though sparse, the networks retain density in the initial layers and their representations are more generalizable. Code is available at

Active Learning Helps Pretrained Models Learn the Intended Task

Alex Tamkin · Dat Nguyen · Salil Deshpande · Jesse Mu · Noah Goodman

Models can fail in unpredictable ways during deployment due to task ambiguity, when multiple behaviors are consistent with the provided training data. An example is an object classifier trained on red squares and blue circles: when encountering blue squares, the intended behavior is undefined. We investigate whether pretrained models are better active learners, capable of disambiguating between the possible tasks a user may be trying to specify. Intriguingly, we find that better active learning is an emergent property of the pretraining process: pretrained models require up to 5 times fewer labels when using uncertainty-based active learning, while non-pretrained models see no or even negative benefit. We find these gains come from an ability to select examples with attributes that disambiguate the intended behavior, such as rare product categories or atypical backgrounds. These attributes are far more linearly separable in pretrained model's representation spaces vs non-pretrained models, suggesting a possible mechanism for this behavior.

Star Temporal Classification: Sequence Modeling with Partially Labeled Data

Vineel Pratap · Awni Hannun · Gabriel Synnaeve · Ronan Collobert

We develop an algorithm which can learn from partially labeled and unsegmented sequential data. Most sequential loss functions, such as Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC), break down when many labels are missing. We address this problem with Star Temporal Classification (STC) which uses a special star token to allow alignments which include all possible tokens whenever a token could be missing. We express STC as the composition of weighted finite-state transducers (WFSTs) and use GTN (a framework for automatic differentiation with WFSTs) to compute gradients. We perform extensive experiments on automatic speech recognition. These experiments show that STC can close the performance gap with supervised baseline to about 1% WER when up to 70% of the labels are missing. We also perform experiments in handwriting recognition to show that our method easily applies to other temporal classification tasks.

S-PIFu: Integrating Parametric Human Models with PIFu for Single-view Clothed Human Reconstruction

Kennard Chan · Guosheng Lin · Haiyu Zhao · Weisi Lin

We present three novel strategies to incorporate a parametric body model into a pixel-aligned implicit model for single-view clothed human reconstruction. Firstly, we introduce ray-based sampling, a novel technique that transforms a parametric model into a set of highly informative, pixel-aligned 2D feature maps. Next, we propose a new type of feature based on blendweights. Blendweight-based labels serve as soft human parsing labels and help to improve the structural fidelity of reconstructed meshes. Finally, we show how we can extract and capitalize on body part orientation information from a parametric model to further improve reconstruction quality. Together, these three techniques form our S-PIFu framework, which significantly outperforms state-of-the-arts methods in all metrics. Our code is available at

Interaction-Grounded Learning with Action-Inclusive Feedback

Tengyang Xie · Akanksha Saran · Dylan J Foster · Lekan Molu · Ida Momennejad · Nan Jiang · Paul Mineiro · John Langford

Consider the problem setting of Interaction-Grounded Learning (IGL), in which a learner's goal is to optimally interact with the environment with no explicit reward to ground its policies. The agent observes a context vector, takes an action, and receives a feedback vector, using this information to effectively optimize a policy with respect to a latent reward function. Prior analyzed approaches fail when the feedback vector contains the action, which significantly limits IGL’s success in many potential scenarios such as Brain-computer interface (BCI) or Human-computer interface (HCI) applications. We address this by creating an algorithm and analysis which allows IGL to work even when the feedback vector contains the action, encoded in any fashion. We provide theoretical guarantees and large-scale experiments based on supervised datasets to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new approach.

Model-based Safe Deep Reinforcement Learning via a Constrained Proximal Policy Optimization Algorithm

Ashish K Jayant · Shalabh Bhatnagar

During initial iterations of training in most Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithms, agents perform a significant number of random exploratory steps. In the real world, this can limit the practicality of these algorithms as it can lead to potentially dangerous behavior. Hence safe exploration is a critical issue in applying RL algorithms in the real world. This problem has been recently well studied under the Constrained Markov Decision Process (CMDP) Framework, where in addition to single-stage rewards, an agent receives single-stage costs or penalties as well depending on the state transitions. The prescribed cost functions are responsible for mapping undesirable behavior at any given time-step to a scalar value. The goal then is to find a feasible policy that maximizes reward returns while constraining the cost returns to be below a prescribed threshold during training as well as deployment.We propose an On-policy Model-based Safe Deep RL algorithm in which we learn the transition dynamics of the environment in an online manner as well as find a feasible optimal policy using the Lagrangian Relaxation-based Proximal Policy Optimization. We use an ensemble of neural networks with different initializations to tackle epistemic and aleatoric uncertainty issues faced during environment model learning. We compare our approach with relevant model-free and model-based approaches in Constrained RL using the challenging Safe Reinforcement Learning benchmark - the Open AI Safety Gym. We demonstrate that our algorithm is more sample efficient and results in lower cumulative hazard violations as compared to constrained model-free approaches. Further, our approach shows better reward performance than other constrained model-based approaches in the literature.

NCP: Neural Correspondence Prior for Effective Unsupervised Shape Matching

Souhaib Attaiki · Maks Ovsjanikov

We present Neural Correspondence Prior (NCP), a new paradigm for computing correspondences between 3D shapes. Our approach is fully unsupervised and can lead to high quality correspondences even in challenging cases such as sparse point clouds or non-isometric meshes, where current methods fail. Our first key observation is that, in line with neural priors observed in other domains, recent network architectures on 3D data, even without training, tend to produce pointwise features that induce plausible maps between rigid or non-rigid shapes. Secondly, we show that given a noisy map as input, training a feature extraction network with the input map as supervision, tends to remove artifacts from the input and can act as a powerful correspondence denoising mechanism, both between individual pairs and within a collection. With these observations in hand, we propose a two-stage unsupervised paradigm for shape matching, by (i) performing unsupervised training by adapting an existing approach to obtain an initial set of noisy matches, (ii) using these matches to train a network in a supervised manner. We demonstrate that this approach significantly improves the accuracy of the maps, especially when trained within a collection. We show that NCP is data-efficient, fast, and achieves state-of-the-art results on many tasks. Our code will be released after publication.

Environment Diversification with Multi-head Neural Network for Invariant Learning

Bo-Wei Huang · Keng-Te Liao · Chang-Sheng Kao · Shou-De Lin

Neural networks are often trained with empirical risk minimization; however, it has been shown that a shift between training and testing distributions can cause unpredictable performance degradation. On this issue, a research direction, invariant learning, has been proposed to extract causal features insensitive to the distributional changes. This work proposes EDNIL, an invariant learning framework containing a multi-head neural network to absorb data biases. We show that this framework does not require prior knowledge about environments or strong assumptions about the pre-trained model. We also reveal that the proposed algorithm has theoretical connections to recent studies discussing properties of variant and invariant features. Finally, we demonstrate that models trained with EDNIL are empirically more robust against distributional shifts.

Denoising Diffusion Restoration Models

Bahjat Kawar · Michael Elad · Stefano Ermon · Jiaming Song

Many interesting tasks in image restoration can be cast as linear inverse problems. A recent family of approaches for solving these problems uses stochastic algorithms that sample from the posterior distribution of natural images given the measurements. However, efficient solutions often require problem-specific supervised training to model the posterior, whereas unsupervised methods that are not problem-specific typically rely on inefficient iterative methods. This work addresses these issues by introducing Denoising Diffusion Restoration Models (DDRM), an efficient, unsupervised posterior sampling method. Motivated by variational inference, DDRM takes advantage of a pre-trained denoising diffusion generative model for solving any linear inverse problem. We demonstrate DDRM's versatility on several image datasets for super-resolution, deblurring, inpainting, and colorization under various amounts of measurement noise. DDRM outperforms the current leading unsupervised methods on the diverse ImageNet dataset in reconstruction quality, perceptual quality, and runtime, being $5\times$ faster than the nearest competitor. DDRM also generalizes well for natural images out of the distribution of the observed ImageNet training set.

Predictive Coding beyond Gaussian Distributions

Luca Pinchetti · Tommaso Salvatori · Yordan Yordanov · Beren Millidge · Yuhang Song · Thomas Lukasiewicz

A large amount of recent research has the far-reaching goal of finding training methods for deep neural networks that can serve as alternatives to backpropagation~(BP). A prominent example is predictive coding (PC), which is a neuroscience-inspired method that performs inference on hierarchical Gaussian generative models. These methods, however, fail to keep up with modern neural networks, as they are unable to replicate the dynamics of complex layers and activation functions. In this work, we solve this problem by generalizing PC to arbitrary probability distributions, enabling the training of architectures, such as transformers, that are hard to approximate with only Gaussian assumptions. We perform three experimental analyses. First, we study the gap between our method and the standard formulation of PC on multiple toy examples. Second, we test the reconstruction quality on variational autoencoders, where our method reaches the same reconstruction quality as BP. Third, we show that our method allows us to train transformer networks and achieve performance comparable with BP on conditional language models. More broadly, this method allows neuroscience-inspired learning to be applied to multiple domains, since the internal distributions can be flexibly adapted to the data, tasks, and architectures used.

Trajectory balance: Improved credit assignment in GFlowNets

Nikolay Malkin · Moksh Jain · Emmanuel Bengio · Chen Sun · Yoshua Bengio

Generative flow networks (GFlowNets) are a method for learning a stochastic policy for generating compositional objects, such as graphs or strings, from a given unnormalized density by sequences of actions, where many possible action sequences may lead to the same object. We find previously proposed learning objectives for GFlowNets, flow matching and detailed balance, which are analogous to temporal difference learning, to be prone to inefficient credit propagation across long action sequences. We thus propose a new learning objective for GFlowNets, trajectory balance, as a more efficient alternative to previously used objectives. We prove that any global minimizer of the trajectory balance objective can define a policy that samples exactly from the target distribution. In experiments on four distinct domains, we empirically demonstrate the benefits of the trajectory balance objective for GFlowNet convergence, diversity of generated samples, and robustness to long action sequences and large action spaces.

The least-control principle for local learning at equilibrium

Alexander Meulemans · Nicolas Zucchet · Seijin Kobayashi · Johannes von Oswald · João Sacramento

Equilibrium systems are a powerful way to express neural computations. As special cases, they include models of great current interest in both neuroscience and machine learning, such as deep neural networks, equilibrium recurrent neural networks, deep equilibrium models, or meta-learning. Here, we present a new principle for learning such systems with a temporally- and spatially-local rule. Our principle casts learning as a \emph{least-control} problem, where we first introduce an optimal controller to lead the system towards a solution state, and then define learning as reducing the amount of control needed to reach such a state. We show that incorporating learning signals within a dynamics as an optimal control enables transmitting activity-dependent credit assignment information, avoids storing intermediate states in memory, and does not rely on infinitesimal learning signals. In practice, our principle leads to strong performance matching that of leading gradient-based learning methods when applied to an array of problems involving recurrent neural networks and meta-learning. Our results shed light on how the brain might learn and offer new ways of approaching a broad class of machine learning problems.

Universally Expressive Communication in Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

Matthew Morris · Thomas D Barrett · Arnu Pretorius

Allowing agents to share information through communication is crucial for solving complex tasks in multi-agent reinforcement learning. In this work, we consider the question of whether a given communication protocol can express an arbitrary policy. By observing that many existing protocols can be viewed as instances of graph neural networks (GNNs), we demonstrate the equivalence of joint action selection to node labelling. With standard GNN approaches provably limited in their expressive capacity, we draw from existing GNN literature and consider augmenting agent observations with: (1) unique agent IDs and (2) random noise. We provide a theoretical analysis as to how these approaches yield universally expressive communication, and also prove them capable of targeting arbitrary sets of actions for identical agents. Empirically, these augmentations are found to improve performance on tasks where expressive communication is required, whilst, in general, the optimal communication protocol is found to be task-dependent.

Introspective Learning : A Two-Stage approach for Inference in Neural Networks

Mohit Prabhushankar · Ghassan AlRegib

In this paper, we advocate for two stages in a neural network's decision making process. The first is the existing feed-forward inference framework where patterns in given data are sensed and associated with previously learned patterns. The second stage is a slower reflection stage where we ask the network to reflect on its feed-forward decision by considering and evaluating all available choices. Together, we term the two stages as introspective learning. We use gradients of trained neural networks as a measurement of this reflection. A simple three-layered Multi Layer Perceptron is used as the second stage that predicts based on all extracted gradient features. We perceptually visualize the post-hoc explanations from both stages to provide a visual grounding to introspection. For the application of recognition, we show that an introspective network is 4% more robust and 42% less prone to calibration errors when generalizing to noisy data. We also illustrate the value of introspective networks in downstream tasks that require generalizability and calibration including active learning, out-of-distribution detection, and uncertainty estimation. Finally, we ground the proposed machine introspection to human introspection for the application of image quality assessment.

Exploit Reward Shifting in Value-Based Deep-RL: Optimistic Curiosity-Based Exploration and Conservative Exploitation via Linear Reward Shaping

Hao Sun · Lei Han · Rui Yang · Xiaoteng Ma · Jian Guo · Bolei Zhou

In this work, we study the simple yet universally applicable case of reward shaping in value-based Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL). We show that reward shifting in the form of a linear transformation is equivalent to changing the initialization of the $Q$-function in function approximation. Based on such an equivalence, we bring the key insight that a positive reward shifting leads to conservative exploitation, while a negative reward shifting leads to curiosity-driven exploration. Accordingly, conservative exploitation improves offline RL value estimation, and optimistic value estimation improves exploration for online RL. We validate our insight on a range of RL tasks and show its improvement over baselines: (1) In offline RL, the conservative exploitation leads to improved performance based on off-the-shelf algorithms; (2) In online continuous control, multiple value functions with different shifting constants can be used to tackle the exploration-exploitation dilemma for better sample efficiency; (3) In discrete control tasks, a negative reward shifting yields an improvement over the curiosity-based exploration method.

Deep Architecture Connectivity Matters for Its Convergence: A Fine-Grained Analysis

Wuyang Chen · Wei Huang · Xinyu Gong · Boris Hanin · Zhangyang Wang

Advanced deep neural networks (DNNs), designed by either human or AutoML algorithms, are growing increasingly complex. Diverse operations are connected by complicated connectivity patterns, e.g., various types of skip connections. Those topological compositions are empirically effective and observed to smooth the loss landscape and facilitate the gradient flow in general. However, it remains elusive to derive any principled understanding of their effects on the DNN capacity or trainability, and to understand why or in which aspect one specific connectivity pattern is better than another. In this work, we theoretically characterize the impact of connectivity patterns on the convergence of DNNs under gradient descent training in fine granularity. By analyzing a wide network's Neural Network Gaussian Process (NNGP), we are able to depict how the spectrum of an NNGP kernel propagates through a particular connectivity pattern, and how that affects the bound of convergence rates. As one practical implication of our results, we show that by a simple filtration of "unpromising" connectivity patterns, we can trim down the number of models to evaluate, and significantly accelerate the large-scale neural architecture search without any overhead.

ToDD: Topological Compound Fingerprinting in Computer-Aided Drug Discovery

Andaç Demir · Baris Coskunuzer · Yulia Gel · Ignacio Segovia-Dominguez · Yuzhou Chen · Bulent Kiziltan

In computer-aided drug discovery (CADD), virtual screening (VS) is used for comparing a library of compounds against known active ligands to identify the drug candidates that are most likely to bind to a molecular target. Most VS methods to date have focused on using canonical compound representations (e.g., SMILES strings, Morgan fingerprints) or generating alternative fingerprints of the compounds by training progressively more complex variational autoencoders (VAEs) and graph neural networks (GNNs). Although VAEs and GNNs led to significant improvements in VS performance, these methods suffer from reduced performance when scaling to large virtual compound datasets. The performance of these methods has shown only incremental improvements in the past few years. To address this problem, we developed a novel method using multiparameter persistence (MP) homology that produces topological fingerprints of the compounds as multidimensional vectors. Our primary contribution is framing the VS process as a new topology-based graph ranking problem by partitioning a compound into chemical substructures informed by the periodic properties of its atoms and extracting their persistent homology features at multiple resolution levels. We show that the margin loss fine-tuning of pretrained Triplet networks attains highly competitive results in differentiating between compounds in the embedding space and ranking their likelihood of becoming effective drug candidates. We further establish theoretical guarantees for the stability properties of our proposed MP signatures, and demonstrate that our models, enhanced by the MP signatures, outperform state-of-the-art methods on benchmark datasets by a wide and highly statistically significant margin (e.g., 93\% gain for Cleves-Jain and 54\% gain for DUD-E Diverse dataset).

Spartan: Differentiable Sparsity via Regularized Transportation

Kai Sheng Tai · Taipeng Tian · Ser Nam Lim

We present Spartan, a method for training sparse neural network models with a predetermined level of sparsity. Spartan is based on a combination of two techniques: (1) soft top-k masking of low-magnitude parameters via a regularized optimal transportation problem and (2) dual averaging-based parameter updates with hard sparsification in the forward pass. This scheme realizes an exploration-exploitation tradeoff: early in training, the learner is able to explore various sparsity patterns, and as the soft top-k approximation is gradually sharpened over the course of training, the balance shifts towards parameter optimization with respect to a fixed sparsity mask. Spartan is sufficiently flexible to accommodate a variety of sparsity allocation policies, including both unstructured and block-structured sparsity, global and per-layer sparsity budgets, as well as general cost-sensitive sparsity allocation mediated by linear models of per-parameter costs. On ImageNet-1K classification, we demonstrate that training with Spartan yields 95% sparse ResNet-50 models and 90% block sparse ViT-B/16 models while incurring absolute top-1 accuracy losses of less than 1% compared to fully dense training.

S3GC: Scalable Self-Supervised Graph Clustering

Fnu Devvrit · Aditya Sinha · Inderjit Dhillon · Prateek Jain

We study the problem of clustering graphs with additional side-information of node features. The problem is extensively studied, and several existing methods exploit Graph Neural Networks to learn node representations. However, most of the existing methods focus on generic representations instead of their cluster-ability or do not scale to large scale graph datasets. In this work, we propose S3GC which uses contrastive learning along with Graph Neural Networks and node features to learn clusterable features. We empirically demonstrate that S3GC is able to learn the correct cluster structure even when graph information or node features are individually not informative enough to learn correct clusters. Finally, using extensive evaluation on a variety of benchmarks, we demonstrate that S3GC is able to significantly outperform state-of-the-art methods in terms of clustering accuracy -- with as much as 5% gain in NMI -- while being scalable to graphs of size 100M.

HUMUS-Net: Hybrid Unrolled Multi-scale Network Architecture for Accelerated MRI Reconstruction

Zalan Fabian · Berk Tinaz · Mahdi Soltanolkotabi

In accelerated MRI reconstruction, the anatomy of a patient is recovered from a set of undersampled and noisy measurements. Deep learning approaches have been proven to be successful in solving this ill-posed inverse problem and are capable of producing very high quality reconstructions. However, current architectures heavily rely on convolutions, that are content-independent and have difficulties modeling long-range dependencies in images. Recently, Transformers, the workhorse of contemporary natural language processing, have emerged as powerful building blocks for a multitude of vision tasks. These models split input images into non-overlapping patches, embed the patches into lower-dimensional tokens and utilize a self-attention mechanism that does not suffer from the aforementioned weaknesses of convolutional architectures. However, Transformers incur extremely high compute and memory cost when 1) the input image resolution is high and 2) when the image needs to be split into a large number of patches to preserve fine detail information, both of which are typical in low-level vision problems such as MRI reconstruction, having a compounding effect. To tackle these challenges, we propose HUMUS-Net, a hybrid architecture that combines the beneficial implicit bias and efficiency of convolutions with the power of Transformer blocks in an unrolled and multi-scale network. HUMUS-Net extracts high-resolution features via convolutional blocks and refines low-resolution features via a novel Transformer-based multi-scale feature extractor. Features from both levels are then synthesized into a high-resolution output reconstruction. Our network establishes new state of the art on the largest publicly available MRI dataset, the fastMRI dataset. We further demonstrate the performance of HUMUS-Net on two other popular MRI datasets and perform fine-grained ablation studies to validate our design.

DreamShard: Generalizable Embedding Table Placement for Recommender Systems

Daochen Zha · Louis Feng · Qiaoyu Tan · Zirui Liu · Kwei-Herng Lai · Bhargav Bhushanam · Yuandong Tian · Arun Kejariwal · Xia Hu

We study embedding table placement for distributed recommender systems, which aims to partition and place the tables on multiple hardware devices (e.g., GPUs) to balance the computation and communication costs. Although prior work has explored learning-based approaches for the device placement of computational graphs, embedding table placement remains to be a challenging problem because of 1) the operation fusion of embedding tables, and 2) the generalizability requirement on unseen placement tasks with different numbers of tables and/or devices. To this end, we present DreamShard, a reinforcement learning (RL) approach for embedding table placement. DreamShard achieves the reasoning of operation fusion and generalizability with 1) a cost network to directly predict the costs of the fused operation, and 2) a policy network that is efficiently trained on an estimated Markov decision process (MDP) without real GPU execution, where the states and the rewards are estimated with the cost network. Equipped with sum and max representation reductions, the two networks can directly generalize to any unseen tasks with different numbers of tables and/or devices without fine-tuning. Extensive experiments show that DreamShard substantially outperforms the existing human expert and RNN-based strategies with up to 19% speedup over the strongest baseline on large-scale synthetic tables and our production tables. The code is available.

Navigating Memory Construction by Global Pseudo-Task Simulation for Continual Learning

Yejia Liu · Wang Zhu · Shaolei Ren

Continual learning faces a crucial challenge of catastrophic forgetting. To address this challenge, experience replay (ER) that maintains a tiny subset of samples from previous tasks has been commonly used. Existing ER works usually focus on refining the learning objective for each task with a static memory construction policy. In this paper, we formulate the dynamic memory construction in ER as a combinatorial optimization problem, which aims at directly minimizing the global loss across all experienced tasks. We first apply three tactics to solve the problem in the offline setting as a starting point. To provide an approximate solution to this problem under the online continual learning setting, we further propose the Global Pseudo-task Simulation (GPS), which mimics future catastrophic forgetting of the current task by permutation. Our empirical results and analyses suggest that the GPS consistently improves accuracy across four commonly used vision benchmarks. We have also shown that our GPS can serve as the unified framework for integrating various memory construction policies in existing ER works.

Graph Learning Assisted Multi-Objective Integer Programming

Yaoxin Wu · Wen Song · Zhiguang Cao · Jie Zhang · Abhishek Gupta · Mingyan Lin

Objective-space decomposition algorithms (ODAs) are widely studied for solving multi-objective integer programs. However, they often encounter difficulties in handling scalarized problems, which could cause infeasibility or repetitive nondominated points and thus induce redundant runtime. To mitigate the issue, we present a graph neural network (GNN) based method to learn the reduction rule in the ODA. We formulate the algorithmic procedure of generic ODAs as a Markov decision process, and parameterize the policy (reduction rule) with a novel two-stage GNN to fuse information from variables, constraints and especially objectives for better state representation. We train our model with imitation learning and deploy it on a state-of-the-art ODA. Results show that our method significantly improves the solving efficiency of the ODA. The learned policy generalizes fairly well to larger problems or more objectives, and the proposed GNN outperforms existing ones for integer programming in terms of test and generalization accuracy.

CEIP: Combining Explicit and Implicit Priors for Reinforcement Learning with Demonstrations

Kai Yan · Alex Schwing · Yu-Xiong Wang

Although reinforcement learning has found widespread use in dense reward settings, training autonomous agents with sparse rewards remains challenging. To address this difficulty, prior work has shown promising results when using not only task-specific demonstrations but also task-agnostic albeit somewhat related demonstrations. In most cases, the available demonstrations are distilled into an implicit prior, commonly represented via a single deep net. Explicit priors in the form of a database that can be queried have also been shown to lead to encouraging results. To better benefit from available demonstrations, we develop a method to Combine Explicit and Implicit Priors (CEIP). CEIP exploits multiple implicit priors in the form of normalizing flows in parallel to form a single complex prior. Moreover, CEIP uses an effective explicit retrieval and push-forward mechanism to condition the implicit priors. In three challenging environments, we find the proposed CEIP method to improve upon sophisticated state-of-the-art techniques.

Roadblocks for Temporarily Disabling Shortcuts and Learning New Knowledge

Hongjing Niu · Hanting Li · Feng Zhao · Bin Li

Deep learning models have been found with a tendency of relying on shortcuts, i.e., decision rules that perform well on standard benchmarks but fail when transferred to more challenging testing conditions. Such reliance may hinder deep learning models from learning other task-related features and seriously affect their performance and robustness. Although recent studies have shown some characteristics of shortcuts, there are few investigations on how to help the deep learning models to solve shortcut problems. This paper proposes a framework to address this issue by setting up roadblocks on shortcuts. Specifically, roadblocks are placed when the model is urged to learn to complete a gently modified task to ensure that the learned knowledge, including shortcuts, is insufficient the complete the task. Therefore, the model trained on the modified task will no longer over-rely on shortcuts. Extensive experiments demonstrate that the proposed framework significantly improves the training of networks on both synthetic and real-world datasets in terms of both classification accuracy and feature diversity. Moreover, the visualization results show that the mechanism behind the proposed our method is consistent with our expectations. In summary, our approach can effectively disable the shortcuts and thus learn more robust features.

Contrastive Graph Structure Learning via Information Bottleneck for Recommendation

Chunyu Wei · Jian Liang · Di Liu · Fei Wang

Graph convolution networks (GCNs) for recommendations have emerged as an important research topic due to their ability to exploit higher-order neighbors. Despite their success, most of them suffer from the popularity bias brought by a small number of active users and popular items. Also, a real-world user-item bipartite graph contains many noisy interactions, which may hamper the sensitive GCNs. Graph contrastive learning show promising performance for solving the above challenges in recommender systems. Most existing works typically perform graph augmentation to create multiple views of the original graph by randomly dropping edges/nodes or relying on predefined rules, and these augmented views always serve as an auxiliary task by maximizing their correspondence. However, we argue that the graph structures generated from these vanilla approaches may be suboptimal, and maximizing their correspondence will force the representation to capture information irrelevant for the recommendation task. Here, we propose a Contrastive Graph Structure Learning via Information Bottleneck (CGI) for recommendation, which adaptively learns whether to drop an edge or node to obtain optimized graph structures in an end-to-end manner. Moreover, we innovatively introduce the Information Bottleneck into the contrastive learning process to avoid capturing irrelevant information among different views and help enrich the final representation for recommendation. Extensive experiments on public datasets are provided to show that our model significantly outperforms strong baselines.

Mining Multi-Label Samples from Single Positive Labels

Youngin Cho · Daejin Kim · MOHAMMAD AZAM KHAN · Jaegul Choo

Conditional generative adversarial networks (cGANs) have shown superior results in class-conditional generation tasks. To simultaneously control multiple conditions, cGANs require multi-label training datasets, where multiple labels can be assigned to each data instance. Nevertheless, the tremendous annotation cost limits the accessibility of multi-label datasets in real-world scenarios. Therefore, in this study we explore the practical setting called the single positive setting, where each data instance is annotated by only one positive label with no explicit negative labels. To generate multi-label data in the single positive setting, we propose a novel sampling approach called single-to-multi-label (S2M) sampling, based on the Markov chain Monte Carlo method. As a widely applicable “add-on” method, our proposed S2M sampling method enables existing unconditional and conditional GANs to draw high-quality multi-label data with a minimal annotation cost. Extensive experiments on real image datasets verify the effectiveness and correctness of our method, even when compared to a model trained with fully annotated datasets.

Reinforced Genetic Algorithm for Structure-based Drug Design

Tianfan Fu · Wenhao Gao · Connor Coley · Jimeng Sun

Structure-based drug design (SBDD) aims to discover drug candidates by finding molecules (ligands) that bind tightly to a disease-related protein (targets), which is the primary approach to computer-aided drug discovery. Recently, applying deep generative models for three-dimensional (3D) molecular design conditioned on protein pockets to solve SBDD has attracted much attention, but their formulation as probabilistic modeling often leads to unsatisfactory optimization performance. On the other hand, traditional combinatorial optimization methods such as genetic algorithms (GA) have demonstrated state-of-the-art performance in various molecular optimization tasks. However, they do not utilize protein target structure to inform design steps but rely on a random-walk-like exploration, which leads to unstable performance and no knowledge transfer between different tasks despite the similar binding physics. To achieve a more stable and efficient SBDD, we propose Reinforced Genetic Algorithm (RGA) that uses neural models to prioritize the profitable design steps and suppress random-walk behavior. The neural models take the 3D structure of the targets and ligands as inputs and are pre-trained using native complex structures to utilize the knowledge of the shared binding physics from different targets and then fine-tuned during optimization. We conduct thorough empirical studies on optimizing binding affinity to various disease targets and show that RGA outperforms the baselines in terms of docking scores and is more robust to random initializations. The ablation study also indicates that the training on different targets helps improve the performance by leveraging the shared underlying physics of the binding processes. The code is available at

Adaptive Distribution Calibration for Few-Shot Learning with Hierarchical Optimal Transport

Dandan Guo · Long Tian · He Zhao · Mingyuan Zhou · Hongyuan Zha

Few-shot classification aims to learn a classifier to recognize unseen classes during training, where the learned model can easily become over-fitted based on the biased distribution formed by only a few training examples. A recent solution to this problem is calibrating the distribution of these few sample classes by transferring statistics from the base classes with sufficient examples, where how to decide the transfer weights from base classes to novel classes is the key. However, principled approaches for learning the transfer weights have not been carefully studied. To this end, we propose a novel distribution calibration method by learning the adaptive weight matrix between novel samples and base classes, which is built upon a hierarchical Optimal Transport (H-OT) framework. By minimizing the high-level OT distance between novel samples and base classes, we can view the learned transport plan as the adaptive weight information for transferring the statistics of base classes. The learning of the cost function between a base class and novel class in the high-level OT leads to the introduction of the low-level OT, which considers the weights of all the data samples in the base class. Experimental results on standard benchmarks demonstrate that our proposed plug-and-play model outperforms competing approaches and owns desired cross-domain generalization ability, indicating the effectiveness of the learned adaptive weights.

CLOOB: Modern Hopfield Networks with InfoLOOB Outperform CLIP

Andreas Fürst · Elisabeth Rumetshofer · Johannes Lehner · Viet T. Tran · Fei Tang · Hubert Ramsauer · David Kreil · Michael Kopp · Günter Klambauer · Angela Bitto · Sepp Hochreiter

CLIP yielded impressive results on zero-shot transfer learning tasks and is considered as a foundation model like BERT or GPT3. CLIP vision models that have a rich representation are pre-trained using the InfoNCE objective and natural language supervision before they are fine-tuned on particular tasks. Though CLIP excels at zero-shot transfer learning, it suffers from an explaining away problem, that is, it focuses on one or few features, while neglecting other relevant features. This problem is caused by insufficiently extracting the covariance structure in the original multi-modal data. We suggest to use modern Hopfield networks to tackle the problem of explaining away. Their retrieved embeddings have an enriched covariance structure derived from co-occurrences of features in the stored embeddings. However, modern Hopfield networks increase the saturation effect of the InfoNCE objective which hampers learning. We propose to use the InfoLOOB objective to mitigate this saturation effect. We introduce the novel "Contrastive Leave One Out Boost" (CLOOB), which uses modern Hopfield networks for covariance enrichment together with the InfoLOOB objective. In experiments we compare CLOOB to CLIP after pre-training on the Conceptual Captions and the YFCC dataset with respect to their zero-shot transfer learning performance on other datasets. CLOOB consistently outperforms CLIP at zero-shot transfer learning across all considered architectures and datasets.

Class-Aware Adversarial Transformers for Medical Image Segmentation

Chenyu You · Ruihan Zhao · Fenglin Liu · Siyuan Dong · Sandeep Chinchali · Ufuk Topcu · Lawrence Staib · James Duncan

Transformers have made remarkable progress towards modeling long-range dependencies within the medical image analysis domain. However, current transformer-based models suffer from several disadvantages: (1) existing methods fail to capture the important features of the images due to the naive tokenization scheme; (2) the models suffer from information loss because they only consider single-scale feature representations; and (3) the segmentation label maps generated by the models are not accurate enough without considering rich semantic contexts and anatomical textures. In this work, we present CASTformer, a novel type of adversarial transformers, for 2D medical image segmentation. First, we take advantage of the pyramid structure to construct multi-scale representations and handle multi-scale variations. We then design a novel class-aware transformer module to better learn the discriminative regions of objects with semantic structures. Lastly, we utilize an adversarial training strategy that boosts segmentation accuracy and correspondingly allows a transformer-based discriminator to capture high-level semantically correlated contents and low-level anatomical features. Our experiments demonstrate that CASTformer dramatically outperforms previous state-of-the-art transformer-based approaches on three benchmarks, obtaining 2.54%-5.88% absolute improvements in Dice over previous models. Further qualitative experiments provide a more detailed picture of the model’s inner workings, shed light on the challenges in improved transparency, and demonstrate that transfer learning can greatly improve performance and reduce the size of medical image datasets in training, making CASTformer a strong starting point for downstream medical image analysis tasks.

Debiased Self-Training for Semi-Supervised Learning

Baixu Chen · Junguang Jiang · Ximei Wang · Pengfei Wan · Jianmin Wang · Mingsheng Long

Deep neural networks achieve remarkable performances on a wide range of tasks with the aid of large-scale labeled datasets. Yet these datasets are time-consuming and labor-exhaustive to obtain on realistic tasks. To mitigate the requirement for labeled data, self-training is widely used in semi-supervised learning by iteratively assigning pseudo labels to unlabeled samples. Despite its popularity, self-training is well-believed to be unreliable and often leads to training instability. Our experimental studies further reveal that the bias in semi-supervised learning arises from both the problem itself and the inappropriate training with potentially incorrect pseudo labels, which accumulates the error in the iterative self-training process. To reduce the above bias, we propose Debiased Self-Training (DST). First, the generation and utilization of pseudo labels are decoupled by two parameter-independent classifier heads to avoid direct error accumulation. Second, we estimate the worst case of self-training bias, where the pseudo labeling function is accurate on labeled samples, yet makes as many mistakes as possible on unlabeled samples. We then adversarially optimize the representations to improve the quality of pseudo labels by avoiding the worst case. Extensive experiments justify that DST achieves an average improvement of 6.3% against state-of-the-art methods on standard semi-supervised learning benchmark datasets and 18.9% against FixMatch on 13 diverse tasks. Furthermore, DST can be seamlessly adapted to other self-training methods and help stabilize their training and balance performance across classes in both cases of training from scratch and finetuning from pre-trained models.

Expediting Large-Scale Vision Transformer for Dense Prediction without Fine-tuning

WEICONG LIANG · YUHUI YUAN · Henghui Ding · Xiao Luo · Weihong Lin · Ding Jia · Zheng Zhang · Chao Zhang · Han Hu

Vision transformers have recently achieved competitive results across various vision tasks but still suffer from heavy computation costs when processing a large number of tokens. Many advanced approaches have been developed to reduce the total number of tokens in the large-scale vision transformers, especially for image classification tasks. Typically, they select a small group of essential tokens according to their relevance with the [\texttt{class}] token, then fine-tune the weights of the vision transformer. Such fine-tuning is less practical for dense prediction due to the much heavier computation and GPU memory cost than image classification.In this paper, we focus on a more challenging problem, \ie, accelerating large-scale vision transformers for dense prediction without any additional re-training or fine-tuning. In response to the fact that high-resolution representations are necessary for dense prediction, we present two non-parametric operators, a \emph{token clustering layer} to decrease the number of tokens and a \emph{token reconstruction layer} to increase the number of tokens. The following steps are performed to achieve this: (i) we use the token clustering layer to cluster the neighboring tokens together, resulting in low-resolution representations that maintain the spatial structures; (ii) we apply the following transformer layers only to these low-resolution representations or clustered tokens; and (iii) we use the token reconstruction layer to re-create the high-resolution representations from the refined low-resolution representations. The results obtained by our method are promising on five dense prediction tasks including object detection, semantic segmentation, panoptic segmentation, instance segmentation, and depth estimation. Accordingly, our method accelerates $40\%\uparrow$ FPS and saves $30\%\downarrow$ GFLOPs of ``Segmenter+ViT-L/$16$'' while maintaining $99.5\%$ of the performance on ADE$20$K without fine-tuning the official weights.

Single-Stage Visual Relationship Learning using Conditional Queries

Alakh Desai · Tz-Ying Wu · Subarna Tripathi · Nuno Vasconcelos

Research in scene graph generation (SGG) usually considers two-stage models, that is, detecting a set of entities, followed by combining them and labeling all possible relationships. While showing promising results, the pipeline structure induces large parameter and computation overhead, and typically hinders end-to-end optimizations. To address this, recent research attempts to train single-stage models that are more computationally efficient. With the advent of DETR, a set-based detection model, one-stage models attempt to predict a set of subject-predicate-object triplets directly in a single shot. However, SGG is inherently a multi-task learning problem that requires modeling entity and predicate distributions simultaneously. In this paper, we propose Transformers with conditional queries for SGG, namely, TraCQ with a new formulation for SGG that avoids the multi-task learning problem and the combinatorial entity pair distribution. We employ a DETR-based encoder-decoder design and leverage conditional queries to significantly reduce the entity label space as well, which leads to 20% fewer parameters compared to state-of-the-art one-stage models. Experimental results show that TraCQ not only outperforms existing single-stage scene graph generation methods, it also beats state-of-the-art two-stage methods on the Visual Genome dataset, yet is capable of end-to-end training and faster inference.

Degradation-Aware Unfolding Half-Shuffle Transformer for Spectral Compressive Imaging

Yuanhao Cai · Jing Lin · Haoqian Wang · Xin Yuan · Henghui Ding · Yulun Zhang · Radu Timofte · Luc V Gool

In coded aperture snapshot spectral compressive imaging (CASSI) systems, hyperspectral image (HSI) reconstruction methods are employed to recover the spatial-spectral signal from a compressed measurement. Among these algorithms, deep unfolding methods demonstrate promising performance but suffer from two issues. Firstly, they do not estimate the degradation patterns and ill-posedness degree from CASSI to guide the iterative learning. Secondly, they are mainly CNN-based, showing limitations in capturing long-range dependencies. In this paper, we propose a principled Degradation-Aware Unfolding Framework (DAUF) that estimates parameters from the compressed image and physical mask, and then uses these parameters to control each iteration. Moreover, we customize a novel Half-Shuffle Transformer (HST) that simultaneously captures local contents and non-local dependencies. By plugging HST into DAUF, we establish the first Transformer-based deep unfolding method, Degradation-Aware Unfolding Half-Shuffle Transformer (DAUHST), for HSI reconstruction. Experiments show that DAUHST surpasses state-of-the-art methods while requiring cheaper computational and memory costs. Code and models are publicly available at

DetCLIP: Dictionary-Enriched Visual-Concept Paralleled Pre-training for Open-world Detection

Lewei Yao · Jianhua Han · Youpeng Wen · Xiaodan Liang · Dan Xu · Wei Zhang · Zhenguo Li · Chunjing XU · Hang Xu

Open-world object detection, as a more general and challenging goal, aims to recognize and localize objects described by arbitrary category names. The recent work GLIP formulates this problem as a grounding problem by concatenating all category names of detection datasets into sentences, which leads to inefficient interaction between category names. This paper presents DetCLIP, a paralleled visual-concept pre-training method for open-world detection by resorting to knowledge enrichment from a designed concept dictionary. To achieve better learning efficiency, we propose a novel paralleled concept formulation that extracts concepts separately to better utilize heterogeneous datasets (i.e., detection, grounding, and image-text pairs) for training. We further design a concept dictionary (with descriptions) from various online sources and detection datasets to provide prior knowledge for each concept. By enriching the concepts with their descriptions,we explicitly build the relationships among various concepts to facilitate the open-domain learning. The proposed concept dictionary is further used to provide sufficient negative concepts for the construction of the word-region alignment loss, and to complete labels for objects with missing descriptions in captions of image-text pair data. The proposed framework demonstrates strong zero-shot detection performances, e.g., on the LVIS dataset, our DetCLIP-T outperforms GLIP-T by 9.9% mAP and obtains a 13.5% improvement on rare categories compared to the fully-supervised model with the same backbone as ours.

OGC: Unsupervised 3D Object Segmentation from Rigid Dynamics of Point Clouds

Ziyang Song · Bo Yang

In this paper, we study the problem of 3D object segmentation from raw point clouds. Unlike all existing methods which usually require a large amount of human annotations for full supervision, we propose the first unsupervised method, called OGC, to simultaneously identify multiple 3D objects in a single forward pass, without needing any type of human annotations. The key to our approach is to fully leverage the dynamic motion patterns over sequential point clouds as supervision signals to automatically discover rigid objects. Our method consists of three major components, 1) the object segmentation network to directly estimate multi-object masks from a single point cloud frame, 2) the auxiliary self-supervised scene flow estimator, and 3) our core object geometry consistency component. By carefully designing a series of loss functions, we effectively take into account the multi-object rigid consistency and the object shape invariance in both temporal and spatial scales. This allows our method to truly discover the object geometry even in the absence of annotations. We extensively evaluate our method on five datasets, demonstrating the superior performance for object part instance segmentation and general object segmentation in both indoor and the challenging outdoor scenarios.

Physically-Based Face Rendering for NIR-VIS Face Recognition

Yunqi Miao · Alexandros Lattas · Jiankang Deng · Jungong Han · Stefanos Zafeiriou

Near infrared (NIR) to Visible (VIS) face matching is challenging due to the significant domain gaps as well as a lack of sufficient data for cross-modality model training. To overcome this problem, we propose a novel method for paired NIR-VIS facial image generation. Specifically, we reconstruct 3D face shape and reflectance from a large 2D facial dataset and introduce a novel method of transforming the VIS reflectance to NIR reflectance. We then use a physically-based renderer to generate a vast, high-resolution and photorealistic dataset consisting of various poses and identities in the NIR and VIS spectra. Moreover, to facilitate the identity feature learning, we propose an IDentity-based Maximum Mean Discrepancy (ID-MMD) loss, which not only reduces the modality gap between NIR and VIS images at the domain level but encourages the network to focus on the identity features instead of facial details, such as poses and accessories. Extensive experiments conducted on four challenging NIR-VIS face recognition benchmarks demonstrate that the proposed method can achieve comparable performance with the state-of-the-art (SOTA) methods without requiring any existing NIR-VIS face recognition datasets. With slightly fine-tuning on the target NIR-VIS face recognition datasets, our method can significantly surpass the SOTA performance. Code and pretrained models are released under the insightface GitHub.

HSurf-Net: Normal Estimation for 3D Point Clouds by Learning Hyper Surfaces

Qing Li · Yu-Shen Liu · Jin-San Cheng · Cheng Wang · Yi Fang · Zhizhong Han

We propose a novel normal estimation method called HSurf-Net, which can accurately predict normals from point clouds with noise and density variations. Previous methods focus on learning point weights to fit neighborhoods into a geometric surface approximated by a polynomial function with a predefined order, based on which normals are estimated. However, fitting surfaces explicitly from raw point clouds suffers from overfitting or underfitting issues caused by inappropriate polynomial orders and outliers, which significantly limits the performance of existing methods. To address these issues, we introduce hyper surface fitting to implicitly learn hyper surfaces, which are represented by multi-layer perceptron (MLP) layers that take point features as input and output surface patterns in a high dimensional feature space. We introduce a novel space transformation module, which consists of a sequence of local aggregation layers and global shift layers, to learn an optimal feature space, and a relative position encoding module to effectively convert point clouds into the learned feature space. Our model learns hyper surfaces from the noise-less features and directly predicts normal vectors. We jointly optimize the MLP weights and module parameters in a data-driven manner to make the model adaptively find the most suitable surface pattern for various points. Experimental results show that our HSurf-Net achieves the state-of-the-art performance on the synthetic shape dataset, the real-world indoor and outdoor scene datasets. The code, data and pretrained models are publicly available.

Scaling Multimodal Pre-Training via Cross-Modality Gradient Harmonization

Junru Wu · Yi Liang · feng han · Hassan Akbari · Zhangyang Wang · Cong Yu

Self-supervised pre-training recently demonstrates success on large-scale multimodal data, and state-of-the-art contrastive learning methods often enforce the feature consistency from cross-modality inputs, such as video/audio or video/text pairs. Despite its convenience to formulate and leverage in practice, such cross-modality alignment (CMA) is only a weak and noisy supervision, since two modalities can be semantically misaligned even they are temporally aligned. For example, even in the (often adopted) instructional videos, a speaker can sometimes refer to something that is not visually present in the current frame; and the semantic misalignment would only be more unpredictable for the raw videos collected from unconstrained internet sources. We conjecture that might cause conflicts and biases among modalities, and may hence prohibit CMA from scaling up to training with larger and more heterogeneous data. This paper first verifies our conjecture by observing that, even in the latest VATT pre-training using only narrated videos, there exist strong gradient conflicts between different CMA losses within the same sample triplet (video, audio, text), indicating them as the noisy source of supervision. We then propose to harmonize such gradients during pre-training, via two techniques: (i) cross-modality gradient realignment: modifying different CMA loss gradients for one sample triplet, so that their gradient directions are in more agreement; and (ii) gradient-based curriculum learning: leveraging the gradient conflict information on an indicator of sample noisiness, to develop a curriculum learning strategy to prioritize training with less noisy sample triplets. Applying those gradient harmonization techniques to pre-training VATT on the HowTo100M dataset, we consistently improve its performance on different downstream tasks. Moreover, we are able to scale VATT pre-training to more complicated non-narrative Youtube8M dataset to further improve the state-of-the-arts.

Deep Bidirectional Language-Knowledge Graph Pretraining

Michihiro Yasunaga · Antoine Bosselut · Hongyu Ren · Xikun Zhang · Christopher D Manning · Percy Liang · Jure Leskovec

Pretraining a language model (LM) on text has been shown to help various downstream NLP tasks. Recent works show that a knowledge graph (KG) can complement text data, offering structured background knowledge that provides a useful scaffold for reasoning. However, these works are not pretrained to learn a deep fusion of the two modalities at scale, limiting the potential to acquire fully joint representations of text and KG. Here we propose DRAGON (Deep Bidirectional Language-Knowledge Graph Pretraining), a self-supervised approach to pretraining a deeply joint language-knowledge foundation model from text and KG at scale. Specifically, our model takes pairs of text segments and relevant KG subgraphs as input and bidirectionally fuses information from both modalities. We pretrain this model by unifying two self-supervised reasoning tasks, masked language modeling and KG link prediction. DRAGON outperforms existing LM and LM+KG models on diverse downstream tasks including question answering across general and biomedical domains, with +5% absolute gain on average. In particular, DRAGON achieves notable performance on complex reasoning about language and knowledge (+10% on questions involving long contexts or multi-step reasoning) and low-resource QA (+8% on OBQA and RiddleSense), and new state-of-the-art results on various BioNLP tasks. Our code and trained models are available at

Vision Transformers provably learn spatial structure

Samy Jelassi · Michael Sander · Yuanzhi Li

Vision Transformers (ViTs) have recently achieved comparable or superior performance to Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) in computer vision. This empirical breakthrough is even more remarkable since ViTs discards spatial information by mixing patch embeddings and positional encodings and do not embed any visual inductive bias (e.g.\ spatial locality). Yet, recent work showed that while minimizing their training loss, ViTs specifically learn spatially delocalized patterns. This raises a central question: how do ViTs learn this pattern by solely minimizing their training loss using gradient-based methods from \emph{random initialization}? We propose a structured classification dataset and a simplified ViT model to provide preliminary theoretical justification of this phenomenon. Our model relies on a simplified attention mechanism --the positional attention mechanism-- where the attention matrix solely depends on the positional encodings. While the problem admits multiple solutions that generalize, we show that our model implicitly learns the spatial structure of the dataset while generalizing. We finally prove that learning the structure helps to sample-efficiently transfer to downstream datasets that share the same structure as the pre-training one but with different features. We empirically verify that ViTs using only the positional attention mechanism perform similarly to the original one on CIFAR-10/100, SVHN and ImageNet.

Rethinking and Improving Robustness of Convolutional Neural Networks: a Shapley Value-based Approach in Frequency Domain

Yiting Chen · Qibing Ren · Junchi Yan

The existence of adversarial examples poses concerns for the robustness of convolutional neural networks (CNN), for which a popular hypothesis is about the frequency bias phenomenon: CNNs rely more on high-frequency components (HFC) for classification than humans, which causes the brittleness of CNNs. However, most previous works manually select and roughly divide the image frequency spectrum and conduct qualitative analysis. In this work, we introduce Shapley value, a metric of cooperative game theory, into the frequency domain and propose to quantify the positive (negative) impact of every frequency component of data on CNNs. Based on the Shapley value, we quantify the impact in a fine-grained way and show intriguing instance disparity. Statistically, we investigate adversarial training(AT) and the adversarial attack in the frequency domain. The observations motivate us to perform an in-depth analysis and lead to multiple novel hypotheses about i) the cause of adversarial robustness of the AT model; ii) the fairness problem of AT between different classes in the same dataset; iii) the attack bias on different frequency components. Finally, we propose a Shapley-value guided data augmentation technique for improving the robustness. Experimental results on image classification benchmarks show its effectiveness.

Self-Supervised Fair Representation Learning without Demographics

Junyi Chai · Xiaoqian Wang

Fairness has become an important topic in machine learning. Generally, most literature on fairness assumes that the sensitive information, such as gender or race, is present in the training set, and uses this information to mitigate bias. However, due to practical concerns like privacy and regulation, applications of these methods are restricted. Also, although much of the literature studies supervised learning, in many real-world scenarios, we want to utilize the large unlabelled dataset to improve the model's accuracy. Can we improve fair classification without sensitive information and without labels? To tackle the problem, in this paper, we propose a novel reweighing-based contrastive learning method. The goal of our method is to learn a generally fair representation without observing sensitive attributes.Our method assigns weights to training samples per iteration based on their gradient directions relative to the validation samples such that the average top-k validation loss is minimized. Compared with past fairness methods without demographics, our method is built on fully unsupervised training data and requires only a small labelled validation set. We provide rigorous theoretical proof of the convergence of our model. Experimental results show that our proposed method achieves better or comparable performance than state-of-the-art methods on three datasets in terms of accuracy and several fairness metrics.

Losses Can Be Blessings: Routing Self-Supervised Speech Representations Towards Efficient Multilingual and Multitask Speech Processing

Yonggan Fu · Yang Zhang · Kaizhi Qian · Zhifan Ye · Zhongzhi Yu · Cheng-I Jeff Lai · Celine Lin

Self-supervised learning (SSL) for rich speech representations has achieved empirical success in low-resource Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and other speech processing tasks, which can mitigate the necessity of a large amount of transcribed speech and thus has driven a growing demand for on-device ASR and other speech processing. However, advanced speech SSL models have become increasingly large, which contradicts the limited on-device resources. This gap could be more severe in multilingual/multitask scenarios requiring simultaneously recognizing multiple languages or executing multiple speech processing tasks. Additionally, strongly overparameterized speech SSL models tend to suffer from overfitting when being finetuned on low-resource speech corpus. This work aims to enhance the practical usage of speech SSL models towards a win-win in both enhanced efficiency and alleviated overfitting via our proposed S$^3$-Router framework, which for the first time discovers that simply discarding no more than 10% of model weights via only finetuning model connections of speech SSL models can achieve better accuracy over standard weight finetuning on downstream speech processing tasks. More importantly, S$^3$-Router can serve as an all-in-one technique to enable (1) a new finetuning scheme, (2) an efficient multilingual/multitask solution, (3) a state-of-the-art pruning technique, and (4) a new tool to quantitatively analyze the learned speech representation. We believe S$^3$-Router has provided a new perspective for practical deployment of speech SSL models. Our codes are available at:

Sequence-to-Set Generative Models

Longtao Tang · Ying Zhou · Yu Yang

In this paper, we propose a sequence-to-set method that can transform any sequence generative model based on maximum likelihood to a set generative model where we can evaluate the utility/probability of any set. An efficient importance sampling algorithm is devised to tackle the computational challenge of learning our sequence-to-set model. We present GRU2Set, which is an instance of our sequence-to-set method and employs the famous GRU model as the sequence generative model.To further obtain permutation invariant representation of sets, we devise the SetNN model which is also an instance of the sequence-to-set model. A direct application of our models is to learn an order/set distribution from a collection of e-commerce orders, which is an essential step in many important operational decisions such as inventory arrangement for fast delivery. Based on the intuition that small-sized sets are usually easier to learn than large sets, we propose a size-bias trick that can help learn better set distributions with respect to the $\ell_1$-distance evaluation metric. Two e-commerce order datasets, TMALL and HKTVMALL, are used to conduct extensive experiments to show the effectiveness of our models. The experimental results demonstrate that our models can learn better set/order distributions from order data than the baselines. Moreover, no matter what model we use, applying the size-bias trick can always improve the quality of the set distribution learned from data.

Does GNN Pretraining Help Molecular Representation?

Ruoxi Sun · Hanjun Dai · Adams Wei Yu

Extracting informative representations of molecules using Graph neural networks (GNNs) is crucial in AI-driven drug discovery. Recently, the graph research community has been trying to replicate the success of self-supervised pretraining in natural language processing, with several successes claimed. However, we find the benefit brought by self-supervised pretraining on small molecular data can be negligible in many cases. We conduct thorough ablation studies on the key components of GNN pretraining, including pretraining objectives, data splitting methods, input features, pretraining dataset scales, and GNN architectures, to see how they affect the accuracy of the downstream tasks. Our first important finding is, self-supervised graph pretraining do not always have statistically significant advantages over non-pretraining methods in many settings. Secondly, although noticeable improvement can be observed with additional supervised pretraining, the improvement may diminish with richer features or more balanced data splits. Thirdly, hyper-parameters could have larger impacts on accuracy of downstream tasks than the choice of pretraining tasks, especially when the scales of downstream tasks are small. Finally, we provide our conjectures where the complexity of some pretraining methods on small molecules might be insufficient, followed by empirical evidences on different pretraining datasets.

Visual correspondence-based explanations improve AI robustness and human-AI team accuracy

Mohammad Reza Taesiri · Giang Nguyen · Anh Nguyen

Explaining artificial intelligence (AI) predictions is increasingly important and even imperative in many high-stake applications where humans are the ultimate decision-makers. In this work, we propose two novel architectures of explainable image classifiers that first explain, and then predict (as opposed to post-hoc explanation methods). Our models first rank the training-set images by their distance with the query in an image-level deep feature space. And then, we re-rank the top-50 shortlisted candidates using patch-wise similarity of 5 highest-similarity pairs of patches between the query and every candidate. On ImageNet, our models improve (by 1-4 points) the out-of-distribution accuracy on several datasets including Adversarial Patch and ImageNet-R while performing marginally worse (by 1-2 points) on ImageNet to the baselines (ResNet-50 pre-trained ImageNet). A consistent trend is observed on CUB. Via a large-scale, human study (~60 users per method per dataset) on ImageNet and CUB, we find our proposed correspondence-based explanations led to human-alone image classification accuracy and human-AI team accuracy that are consistently better than those of k-NN. Our correspondence-based explanations help users better correctly reject AI's wrong decisions than all other tested methods.Interestingly, for the first time, we show that it is possible to achieve complementary human-AI team accuracy (i.e. that is higher than either AI-alone or human-alone), in both image classification tasks.

Bringing Image Scene Structure to Video via Frame-Clip Consistency of Object Tokens

Elad Ben Avraham · Roei Herzig · Karttikeya Mangalam · Amir Bar · Anna Rohrbach · Leonid Karlinsky · Trevor Darrell · Amir Globerson

Recent action recognition models have achieved impressive results by integrating objects, their locations and interactions. However, obtaining dense structured annotations for each frame is tedious and time-consuming, making these methods expensive to train and less scalable. At the same time, if a small set of annotated images is available, either within or outside the domain of interest, how could we leverage these for a video downstream task? We propose a learning framework StructureViT (SViT for short), which demonstrates how utilizing the structure of a small number of images only available during training can improve a video model. SViT relies on two key insights. First, as both images and videos contain structured information, we enrich a transformer model with a set of object tokens that can be used across images and videos. Second, the scene representations of individual frames in video should ``align'' with those of still images. This is achieved via a Frame-Clip Consistency loss, which ensures the flow of structured information between images and videos. We explore a particular instantiation of scene structure, namely a Hand-Object Graph, consisting of hands and objects with their locations as nodes, and physical relations of contact/no-contact as edges. SViT shows strong performance improvements on multiple video understanding tasks and datasets, including the first place in the Ego4D CVPR'22 Point of No Return Temporal Localization Challenge. For code and pretrained models, visit the project page at

Probabilistic Transformer: Modelling Ambiguities and Distributions for RNA Folding and Molecule Design

Jörg Franke · Frederic Runge · Frank Hutter

Our world is ambiguous and this is reflected in the data we use to train our algorithms. This is particularly true when we try to model natural processes where collected data is affected by noisy measurements and differences in measurement techniques. Sometimes, the process itself is ambiguous, such as in the case of RNA folding, where the same nucleotide sequence can fold into different structures. This suggests that a predictive model should have similar probabilistic characteristics to match the data it models. Therefore, we propose a hierarchical latent distribution to enhance one of the most successful deep learning models, the Transformer, to accommodate ambiguities and data distributions. We show the benefits of our approach (1) on a synthetic task that captures the ability to learn a hidden data distribution, (2) with state-of-the-art results in RNA folding that reveal advantages on highly ambiguous data, and (3) demonstrating its generative capabilities on property-based molecule design by implicitly learning the underlying distributions and outperforming existing work.

Transformers from an Optimization Perspective

Yongyi Yang · zengfeng Huang · David P Wipf

Deep learning models such as the Transformer are often constructed by heuristics and experience. To provide a complementary foundation, in this work we study the following problem: Is it possible to find an energy function underlying the Transformer model, such that descent steps along this energy correspond with the Transformer forward pass? By finding such a function, we can reinterpret Transformers as the unfolding of an interpretable optimization process. This unfolding perspective has been frequently adopted in the past to elucidate more straightforward deep models such as MLPs and CNNs; however, it has thus far remained elusive obtaining a similar equivalence for more complex models with self-attention mechanisms like the Transformer. To this end, we first outline several major obstacles before providing companion techniques to at least partially address them, demonstrating for the first time a close association between energy function minimization and deep layers with self-attention. This interpretation contributes to our intuition and understanding of Transformers, while potentially laying the ground-work for new model designs.

Human-Robotic Prosthesis as Collaborating Agents for Symmetrical Walking

Ruofan Wu · Junmin Zhong · Brent Wallace · Xiang Gao · He Huang · Jennie Si

This is the first attempt at considering human influence in the reinforcement learning control of a robotic lower limb prosthesis toward symmetrical walking in real world situations. We propose a collaborative multi-agent reinforcement learning (cMARL) solution framework for this highly complex and challenging human-prosthesis collaboration (HPC) problem. The design of an automatic controller of the robot within the HPC context is based on accessible physical features or measurements that are known to affect walking performance. Comparisons are made with the current state-of-the-art robot control designs, which are single-agent based, as well as existing MARL solution approaches tailored to the problem, including multi-agent deep deterministic policy gradient (MADDPG) and counterfactual multi-agent policy gradient (COMA). Results show that, when compared to these approaches, treating the human and robot as coupled agents and using estimated human adaption in robot control design can achieve lower stage cost, peak error, and symmetry value to ensure better human walking performance. Additionally, our approach accelerates learning of walking tasks and increases learning success rate. The proposed framework can potentially be further developed to examine how human and robotic lower limb prosthesis interact, an area that little is known about. Advancing cMARL toward real world applications such as HPC for normative walking sets a good example of how AI can positively impact on people’s lives.

Locating and Editing Factual Associations in GPT

Kevin Meng · David Bau · Alex Andonian · Yonatan Belinkov

We analyze the storage and recall of factual associations in autoregressive transformer language models, finding evidence that these associations correspond to localized, directly-editable computations. We first develop a causal intervention for identifying neuron activations that are decisive in a model's factual predictions. This reveals a distinct set of steps in middle-layer feed-forward modules that mediate factual predictions while processing subject tokens. To test our hypothesis that these computations correspond to factual association recall, we modify feed-forward weights to update specific factual associations using Rank-One Model Editing (ROME). We find that ROME is effective on a standard zero-shot relation extraction (zsRE) model-editing task, comparable to existing methods. To perform a more sensitive evaluation, we also evaluate ROME on a new dataset of counterfactual assertions, on which it simultaneously maintains both specificity and generalization, whereas other methods sacrifice one or another. Our results confirm an important role for mid-layer feed-forward modules in storing factual associations and suggest that direct manipulation of computational mechanisms may be a feasible approach for model editing. The code, dataset, visualizations, and an interactive demo notebook are available in the supplemental materials.

Embed and Emulate: Learning to estimate parameters of dynamical systems with uncertainty quantification

Ruoxi Jiang · Rebecca Willett

This paper explores learning emulators for parameter estimation with uncertainty estimation of high-dimensional dynamical systems. We assume access to a computationally complex simulator that inputs a candidate parameter and outputs a corresponding multi-channel time series. Our task is to accurately estimate a range of likely values of the underlying parameters. Standard iterative approaches necessitate running the simulator many times, which is computationally prohibitive. This paper describes a novel framework for learning feature embeddings of observed dynamics jointly with an emulator that can replace high-cost simulators. Leveraging a contrastive learning approach, our method exploits intrinsic data properties within and across parameter and trajectory domains. On a coupled 396-dimensional multiscale Lorenz 96 system, our method significantly outperforms a typical parameter estimation method based on predefined metrics and a classical numerical simulator, and with only 1.19% of the baseline's computation time. Ablation studies highlight the potential of explicitly designing learned emulators for parameter estimation by leveraging contrastive learning.

Guaranteed Conservation of Momentum for Learning Particle-based Fluid Dynamics

Lukas Prantl · Benjamin Ummenhofer · Vladlen Koltun · Nils Thuerey

We present a novel method for guaranteeing linear momentum in learned physics simulations. Unlike existing methods, we enforce conservation of momentum with a hard constraint, which we realize via antisymmetrical continuous convolutional layers. We combine these strict constraints with a hierarchical network architecture, a carefully constructed resampling scheme, and a training approach for temporal coherence. In combination, the proposed method allows us to increase the physical accuracy of the learned simulator substantially. In addition, the induced physical bias leads to significantly better generalization performance and makes our method more reliable in unseen test cases. We evaluate our method on a range of different, challenging fluid scenarios. Among others, we demonstrate that our approach generalizes to new scenarios with up to one million particles. Our results show that the proposed algorithm can learn complex dynamics while outperforming existing approaches in generalization and training performance. An implementation of our approach is available at

DOMINO: Decomposed Mutual Information Optimization for Generalized Context in Meta-Reinforcement Learning

Yao Mu · Yuzheng Zhuang · Fei Ni · Bin Wang · Jianyu Chen · Jianye Hao · Ping Luo

Adapting to the changes in transition dynamics is essential in robotic applications. By learning a conditional policy with a compact context, context-aware meta-reinforcement learning provides a flexible way to adjust behavior according to dynamics changes. However, in real-world applications, the agent may encounter complex dynamics changes. Multiple confounders can influence the transition dynamics, making it challenging to infer accurate context for decision-making. This paper addresses such a challenge by decomposed mutual information optimization (DOMINO) for context learning, which explicitly learns a disentangled context to maximize the mutual information between the context and historical trajectories while minimizing the state transition prediction error. Our theoretical analysis shows that DOMINO can overcome the underestimation of the mutual information caused by multi-confounded challenges via learning disentangled context and reduce the demand for the number of samples collected in various environments. Extensive experiments show that the context learned by DOMINO benefits both model-based and model-free reinforcement learning algorithms for dynamics generalization in terms of sample efficiency and performance in unseen environments.

UniGAN: Reducing Mode Collapse in GANs using a Uniform Generator

Ziqi Pan · Li Niu · Liqing Zhang

Despite the significant progress that has been made in the training of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), the mode collapse problem remains a major challenge in training GANs, which refers to a lack of diversity in generative samples. In this paper, we propose a new type of generative diversity named uniform diversity, which relates to a newly proposed type of mode collapse named $u$-mode collapse where the generative samples distribute nonuniformly over the data manifold. From a geometric perspective, we show that the uniform diversity is closely related with the generator uniformity property, and the maximum uniform diversity is achieved if the generator is uniform. To learn a uniform generator, we propose UniGAN, a generative framework with a Normalizing Flow based generator and a simple yet sample efficient generator uniformity regularization, which can be easily adapted to any other generative framework. A new type of diversity metric named udiv is also proposed to estimate the uniform diversity given a set of generative samples in practice. Experimental results verify the effectiveness of our UniGAN in learning a uniform generator and improving uniform diversity.

On the Convergence Theory for Hessian-Free Bilevel Algorithms

Daouda Sow · Kaiyi Ji · Yingbin Liang

Bilevel optimization has arisen as a powerful tool in modern machine learning. However, due to the nested structure of bilevel optimization, even gradient-based methods require second-order derivative approximations via Jacobian- or/and Hessian-vector computations, which can be costly and unscalable in practice. Recently, Hessian-free bilevel schemes have been proposed to resolve this issue, where the general idea is to use zeroth- or first-order methods to approximate the full hypergradient of the bilevel problem. However, we empirically observe that such approximation can lead to large variance and unstable training, but estimating only the response Jacobian matrix as a partial component of the hypergradient turns out to be extremely effective. To this end, we propose a new Hessian-free method, which adopts the zeroth-order-like method to approximate the response Jacobian matrix via taking difference between two optimization paths. Theoretically, we provide the convergence rate analysis for the proposed algorithms, where our key challenge is to characterize the approximation and smoothness properties of the trajectory-dependent estimator, which can be of independent interest. This is the first known convergence rate result for this type of Hessian-free bilevel algorithms. Experimentally, we demonstrate that the proposed algorithms outperform baseline bilevel optimizers on various bilevel problems. Particularly, in our experiment on few-shot meta-learning with ResNet-12 network over the miniImageNet dataset, we show that our algorithm outperforms baseline meta-learning algorithms, while other baseline bilevel optimizers do not solve such meta-learning problems within a comparable time frame.

Meta-Auto-Decoder for Solving Parametric Partial Differential Equations

Xiang Huang · Zhanhong Ye · Hongsheng Liu · Shi Ji · Zidong Wang · Kang Yang · Yang Li · Min Wang · Haotian CHU · Fan Yu · Bei Hua · Lei Chen · Bin Dong

Many important problems in science and engineering require solving the so-called parametric partial differential equations (PDEs), i.e., PDEs with different physical parameters, boundary conditions, shapes of computation domains, etc. Recently, building learning-based numerical solvers for parametric PDEs has become an emerging new field. One category of methods such as the Deep Galerkin Method (DGM) and Physics-Informed Neural Networks (PINNs) aim to approximate the solution of the PDEs. They are typically unsupervised and mesh-free, but require going through the time-consuming network training process from scratch for each set of parameters of the PDE. Another category of methods such as Fourier Neural Operator (FNO) and Deep Operator Network (DeepONet) try to approximate the solution mapping directly. Being fast with only one forward inference for each PDE parameter without retraining, they often require a large corpus of paired input-output observations drawn from numerical simulations, and most of them need a predefined mesh as well. In this paper, we propose Meta-Auto-Decoder (MAD), a mesh-free and unsupervised deep learning method that enables the pre-trained model to be quickly adapted to equation instances by implicitly encoding (possibly heterogenous) PDE parameters as latent vectors. The proposed method MAD can be interpreted by manifold learning in infinite-dimensional spaces, granting it a geometric insight. Extensive numerical experiments show that the MAD method exhibits faster convergence speed without losing accuracy than other deep learning-based methods.

Deep Active Learning by Leveraging Training Dynamics

Haonan Wang · Wei Huang · Ziwei Wu · Hanghang Tong · Andrew J Margenot · Jingrui He

Active learning theories and methods have been extensively studied in classical statistical learning settings. However, deep active learning, i.e., active learning with deep learning models, is usually based on empirical criteria without solid theoretical justification, thus suffering from heavy doubts when some of those fail to provide benefits in applications. In this paper, by exploring the connection between the generalization performance and the training dynamics, we propose a theory-driven deep active learning method (dynamicAL) which selects samples to maximize training dynamics. In particular, we prove that the convergence speed of training and the generalization performance is positively correlated under the ultra-wide condition and show that maximizing the training dynamics leads to a better generalization performance. Furthermore, to scale up to large deep neural networks and data sets, we introduce two relaxations for the subset selection problem and reduce the time complexity from polynomial to constant. Empirical results show that dynamicAL not only outperforms the other baselines consistently but also scales well on large deep learning models. We hope our work inspires more attempts in bridging the theoretical findings of deep networks and practical impacts in deep active learning applications.

Neural Matching Fields: Implicit Representation of Matching Fields for Visual Correspondence

Sunghwan Hong · Jisu Nam · Seokju Cho · Susung Hong · Sangryul Jeon · Dongbo Min · Seungryong Kim

Existing pipelines of semantic correspondence commonly include extracting high-level semantic features for the invariance against intra-class variations and background clutters. This architecture, however, inevitably results in a low-resolution matching field that additionally requires an ad-hoc interpolation process as a post-processing for converting it into a high-resolution one, certainly limiting the overall performance of matching results. To overcome this, inspired by recent success of implicit neural representation, we present a novel method for semantic correspondence, called Neural Matching Field (NeMF). However, complicacy and high-dimensionality of a 4D matching field are the major hindrances, which we propose a cost embedding network to process a coarse cost volume to use as a guidance for establishing high-precision matching field through the following fully-connected network. Nevertheless, learning a high-dimensional matching field remains challenging mainly due to computational complexity, since a na\"ive exhaustive inference would require querying from all pixels in the 4D space to infer pixel-wise correspondences. To overcome this, we propose adequate training and inference procedures, which in the training phase, we randomly sample matching candidates and in the inference phase, we iteratively performs PatchMatch-based inference and coordinate optimization at test time. With these combined, competitive results are attained on several standard benchmarks for semantic correspondence. Code and pre-trained weights are available at~\url{}.

Invertible Monotone Operators for Normalizing Flows

Byeongkeun Ahn · Chiyoon Kim · Youngjoon Hong · Hyunwoo Kim

Normalizing flows model probability distributions by learning invertible transformations that transfer a simple distribution into complex distributions. Since the architecture of ResNet-based normalizing flows is more flexible than that of coupling-based models, ResNet-based normalizing flows have been widely studied in recent years. Despite their architectural flexibility, it is well-known that the current ResNet-based models suffer from constrained Lipschitz constants. In this paper, we propose the monotone formulation to overcome the issue of the Lipschitz constants using monotone operators and provide an in-depth theoretical analysis. Furthermore, we construct an activation function called Concatenated Pila (CPila) to improve gradient flow. The resulting model, Monotone Flows, exhibits an excellent performance on multiple density estimation benchmarks (MNIST, CIFAR-10, ImageNet32, ImageNet64). Code is available at

S$^3$-NeRF: Neural Reflectance Field from Shading and Shadow under a Single Viewpoint

Wenqi Yang · Guanying Chen · Chaofeng Chen · Zhenfang Chen · Kwan-Yee K. Wong

In this paper, we address the "dual problem" of multi-view scene reconstruction in which we utilize single-view images captured under different point lights to learn a neural scene representation. Different from existing single-view methods which can only recover a 2.5D scene representation (i.e., a normal / depth map for the visible surface), our method learns a neural reflectance field to represent the 3D geometry and BRDFs of a scene. Instead of relying on multi-view photo-consistency, our method exploits two information-rich monocular cues, namely shading and shadow, to infer scene geometry. Experiments on multiple challenging datasets show that our method is capable of recovering 3D geometry, including both visible and invisible parts, of a scene from single-view images. Thanks to the neural reflectance field representation, our method is robust to depth discontinuities. It supports applications like novel-view synthesis and relighting. Our code and model can be found at

Cross-Linked Unified Embedding for cross-modality representation learning

Xinming Tu · Zhi-Jie Cao · xia chenrui · Sara Mostafavi · Ge Gao

Multi-modal learning is essential for understanding information in the real world. Jointly learning from multi-modal data enables global integration of both shared and modality-specific information, but current strategies often fail when observa- tions from certain modalities are incomplete or missing for part of the subjects. To learn comprehensive representations based on such modality-incomplete data, we present a semi-supervised neural network model called CLUE (Cross-Linked Unified Embedding). Extending from multi-modal VAEs, CLUE introduces the use of cross-encoders to construct latent representations from modality-incomplete observations. Representation learning for modality-incomplete observations is common in genomics. For example, human cells are tightly regulated across multi- ple related but distinct modalities such as DNA, RNA, and protein, jointly defining a cell’s function. We benchmark CLUE on multi-modal data from single cell measurements, illustrating CLUE’s superior performance in all assessed categories of the NeurIPS 2021 Multimodal Single-cell Data Integration Competition. While we focus on analysis of single cell genomic datasets, we note that the proposed cross-linked embedding strategy could be readily applied to other cross-modality representation learning problems.

u-HuBERT: Unified Mixed-Modal Speech Pretraining And Zero-Shot Transfer to Unlabeled Modality

Wei-Ning Hsu · Bowen Shi

While audio-visual speech models can yield superior performance and robustness compared to audio-only models, their development and adoption are hindered by the lack of labeled and unlabeled audio-visual data and the cost to deploy one model per modality. In this paper, we present u-HuBERT, a self-supervised pre-training framework that can leverage both multimodal and unimodal speech with a unified masked cluster prediction objective. By utilizing modality dropout during pre-training, we demonstrate that a single fine-tuned model can achieve performance on par or better than the state-of-the-art modality-specific models. Moreover, our model fine-tuned only on audio can perform well with audio-visual and visual speech input, achieving zero-shot modality generalization for multiple speech processing tasks. In particular, our single model yields 1.2%/1.4%/27.2% speech recognition word error rate on LRS3 with audio-visual/audio/visual input.

A Closer Look at the Adversarial Robustness of Deep Equilibrium Models

Zonghan Yang · Tianyu Pang · Yang Liu

Deep equilibrium models (DEQs) refrain from the traditional layer-stacking paradigm and turn to find the fixed point of a single layer. DEQs have achieved promising performance on different applications with featured memory efficiency. At the same time, the adversarial vulnerability of DEQs raises concerns. Several works propose to certify robustness for monotone DEQs. However, limited efforts are devoted to studying empirical robustness for general DEQs. To this end, we observe that an adversarially trained DEQ requires more forward steps to arrive at the equilibrium state, or even violates its fixed-point structure. Besides, the forward and backward tracks of DEQs are misaligned due to the black-box solvers. These facts cause gradient obfuscation when applying the ready-made attacks to evaluate or adversarially train DEQs. Given this, we develop approaches to estimate the intermediate gradients of DEQs and integrate them into the attacking pipelines. Our approaches facilitate fully white-box evaluations and lead to effective adversarial defense for DEQs. Extensive experiments on CIFAR-10 validate the adversarial robustness of DEQs competitive with deep networks of similar sizes.

A Transformer-Based Object Detector with Coarse-Fine Crossing Representations

Zhishan Li · Ying Nie · Kai Han · Jianyuan Guo · Lei Xie · Yunhe Wang

Transformer-based object detectors have shown competitive performance recently. Compared with convolutional neural networks limited by the relatively small receptive fields, the advantage of transformer for visual tasks is the capacity to perceive long-range dependencies among all image patches, while the deficiency is that the local fine-grained information is not fully excavated. In this paper, we introduce the Coarse-grained and Fine-grained crossing representations to build an efficient Detection Transformer (CFDT). Specifically, we propose a local-global cross fusion module to establish the connection between local fine-grained features and global coarse-grained features. Besides, we propose a coarse-fine aware neck which enables detection tokens to interact with both coarse-grained and fine-grained features. Furthermore, an efficient feature integration module is presented for fusing multi-scale representations from different stages. Experimental results on the COCO dataset demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method. For instance, our CFDT achieves 48.1 AP with 173G FLOPs, which possesses higher accuracy and less computation compared with the state-of-the-art transformer-based detector ViDT. Code will be available at

Meta-ticket: Finding optimal subnetworks for few-shot learning within randomly initialized neural networks

Daiki Chijiwa · Shin'ya Yamaguchi · Atsutoshi Kumagai · Yasutoshi Ida

Few-shot learning for neural networks (NNs) is an important problem that aims to train NNs with a few data. The main challenge is how to avoid overfitting since over-parameterized NNs can easily overfit to such small dataset. Previous work (e.g. MAML by Finn et al. 2017) tackles this challenge by meta-learning, which learns how to learn from a few data by using various tasks. On the other hand, one conventional approach to avoid overfitting is restricting hypothesis spaces by endowing sparse NN structures like convolution layers in computer vision. However, although such manually-designed sparse structures are sample-efficient for sufficiently large datasets, they are still insufficient for few-shot learning. Then the following questions naturally arise: (1) Can we find sparse structures effective for few-shot learning by meta-learning? (2) What benefits will it bring in terms of meta-generalization? In this work, we propose a novel meta-learning approach, called Meta-ticket, to find optimal sparse subnetworks for few-shot learning within randomly initialized NNs. We empirically validated that Meta-ticket successfully discover sparse subnetworks that can learn specialized features for each given task. Due to this task-wise adaptation ability, Meta-ticket achieves superior meta-generalization compared to MAML-based methods especially with large NNs.

Semi-Supervised Semantic Segmentation via Gentle Teaching Assistant

Ying Jin · Jiaqi Wang · Dahua Lin

Semi-Supervised Semantic Segmentation aims at training the segmentation model with limited labeled data and a large amount of unlabeled data. To effectively leverage the unlabeled data, pseudo labeling, along with the teacher-student framework, is widely adopted in semi-supervised semantic segmentation. Though proved to be effective, this paradigm suffers from incorrect pseudo labels which inevitably exist and are taken as auxiliary training data. To alleviate the negative impact of incorrect pseudo labels, we delve into the current Semi-Supervised Semantic Segmentation frameworks. We argue that the unlabeled data with pseudo labels can facilitate the learning of representative features in the feature extractor, but it is unreliable to supervise the mask predictor. Motivated by this consideration, we propose a novel framework, Gentle Teaching Assistant (GTA-Seg) to disentangle the effects of pseudo labels on feature extractor and mask predictor of the student model. Specifically, in addition to the original teacher-student framework, our method introduces a teaching assistant network which directly learns from pseudo labels generated by the teacher network. The gentle teaching assistant (GTA) is coined gentle since it only transfers the beneficial feature representation knowledge in the feature extractor to the student model in an Exponential Moving Average (EMA) manner, protecting the student model from the negative influences caused by unreliable pseudo labels in the mask predictor. The student model is also supervised by reliable labeled data to train an accurate mask predictor, further facilitating feature representation. Extensive experiment results on benchmark datasets validate that our method shows competitive performance against previous methods. We promise to release our code towards reproducibility.

BinauralGrad: A Two-Stage Conditional Diffusion Probabilistic Model for Binaural Audio Synthesis

Yichong Leng · Zehua Chen · Junliang Guo · Haohe Liu · Jiawei Chen · Xu Tan · Danilo Mandic · Lei He · Xiangyang Li · Tao Qin · sheng zhao · Tie-Yan Liu

Binaural audio plays a significant role in constructing immersive augmented and virtual realities. As it is expensive to record binaural audio from the real world, synthesizing them from mono audio has attracted increasing attention. This synthesis process involves not only the basic physical warping of the mono audio, but also room reverberations and head/ear related filtration, which, however, are difficult to accurately simulate in traditional digital signal processing. In this paper, we formulate the synthesis process from a different perspective by decomposing the binaural audio into a common part that shared by the left and right channels as well as a specific part that differs in each channel. Accordingly, we propose BinauralGrad, a novel two-stage framework equipped with diffusion models to synthesize them respectively. Specifically, in the first stage, the common information of the binaural audio is generated with a single-channel diffusion model conditioned on the mono audio, based on which the binaural audio is generated by a two-channel diffusion model in the second stage. Combining this novel perspective of two-stage synthesis with advanced generative models (i.e., the diffusion models), the proposed BinauralGrad is able to generate accurate and high-fidelity binaural audio samples. Experiment results show that on a benchmark dataset, BinauralGrad outperforms the existing baselines by a large margin in terms of both object and subject evaluation metrics (Wave L2: $0.128$ vs. $0.157$, MOS: $3.80$ vs. $3.61$). The generated audio samples\footnote{\url{}} and code\footnote{\url{}} are available online.

Deep Attentive Belief Propagation: Integrating Reasoning and Learning for Solving Constraint Optimization Problems

Yanchen Deng · Shufeng Kong · Caihua Liu · Bo An

Belief Propagation (BP) is an important message-passing algorithm for various reasoning tasks over graphical models, including solving the Constraint Optimization Problems (COPs). It has been shown that BP can achieve state-of-the-art performance on various benchmarks by mixing old and new messages before sending the new one, i.e., damping. However, existing methods on tuning a static damping factor for BP not only is laborious but also harms their performance. Moreover, existing BP algorithms treat each variable node's neighbors equally when composing a new message, which also limits their exploration ability. To address these issues, we seamlessly integrate BP, Gated Recurrent Units (GRUs), and Graph Attention Networks (GATs) within the massage-passing framework to reason about dynamic weights and damping factors for composing new BP messages. Our model, Deep Attentive Belief Propagation (DABP), takes the factor graph and the BP messages in each iteration as the input and infers the optimal weights and damping factors through GRUs and GATs, followed by a multi-head attention layer. Furthermore, unlike existing neural-based BP variants, we propose a novel self-supervised learning algorithm for DABP with a smoothed solution cost, which does not require expensive training labels and also avoids the common out-of-distribution issue through efficient online learning. Extensive experiments show that our model significantly outperforms state-of-the-art baselines.

Robust Calibration with Multi-domain Temperature Scaling

Yaodong Yu · Stephen Bates · Yi Ma · Michael Jordan

Uncertainty quantification is essential for the reliable deployment of machine learning models to high-stakes application domains. Uncertainty quantification is all the more challenging when training distribution and test distribution are different, even if the distribution shifts are mild. Despite the ubiquity of distribution shifts in real-world applications, existing uncertainty quantification approaches mainly study the in-distribution setting where the train and test distributions are the same. In this paper, we develop a systematic calibration model to handle distribution shifts by leveraging data from multiple domains. Our proposed method---multi-domain temperature scaling---uses the heterogeneity in the domains to improve calibration robustness under distribution shift. Through experiments on three benchmark data sets, we find our proposed method outperforms existing methods as measured on both in-distribution and out-of-distribution test sets.

CATER: Intellectual Property Protection on Text Generation APIs via Conditional Watermarks

Xuanli He · Qiongkai Xu · Yi Zeng · Lingjuan Lyu · Fangzhao Wu · Jiwei Li · Ruoxi Jia

Previous works have validated that text generation APIs can be stolen through imitation attacks, causing IP violations. In order to protect the IP of text generation APIs, recent work has introduced a watermarking algorithm and utilized the null-hypothesis test as a post-hoc ownership verification on the imitation models. However, we find that it is possible to detect those watermarks via sufficient statistics of the frequencies of candidate watermarking words. To address this drawback, in this paper, we propose a novel Conditional wATERmarking framework (CATER) for protecting the IP of text generation APIs. An optimization method is proposed to decide the watermarking rules that can minimize the distortion of overall word distributions while maximizing the change of conditional word selections. Theoretically, we prove that it is infeasible for even the savviest attacker (they know how CATER works) to reveal the used watermarks from a large pool of potential word pairs based on statistical inspection. Empirically, we observe that high-order conditions lead to an exponential growth of suspicious (unused) watermarks, making our crafted watermarks more stealthy. In addition, CATER can effectively identify IP infringement under architectural mismatch and cross-domain imitation attacks, with negligible impairments on the generation quality of victim APIs. We envision our work as a milestone for stealthily protecting the IP of text generation APIs.

Data-Efficient Augmentation for Training Neural Networks

Tian Yu Liu · Baharan Mirzasoleiman

Data augmentation is essential to achieve state-of-the-art performance in many deep learning applications. However, the most effective augmentation techniques become computationally prohibitive for even medium-sized datasets. To address this, we propose a rigorous technique to select subsets of data points that when augmented, closely capture the training dynamics of full data augmentation. We first show that data augmentation, modeled as additive perturbations, improves learning and generalization by relatively enlarging and perturbing the smaller singular values of the network Jacobian, while preserving its prominent directions. This prevents overfitting and enhances learning the harder to learn information. Then, we propose a framework to iteratively extract small subsets of training data that when augmented, closely capture the alignment of the fully augmented Jacobian with labels/residuals. We prove that stochastic gradient descent applied to the augmented subsets found by our approach has similar training dynamics to that of fully augmented data. Our experiments demonstrate that our method achieves 6.3x speedup on CIFAR10 and 2.2x speedup on SVHN, and outperforms the baselines by up to 10\% across various subset sizes. Similarly, on TinyImageNet and ImageNet, our method beats the baselines by up to 8%, while achieving up to 3.3x speedup across various subset sizes. Finally, training on and augmenting 50% subsets using our method on a version of CIFAR10 corrupted with label noise even outperforms using the full dataset.

Learning Distinct and Representative Modes for Image Captioning

Qi Chen · Chaorui Deng · Qi Wu

Over the years, state-of-the-art (SoTA) image captioning methods have achieved promising results on some evaluation metrics (e.g., CIDEr). However, recent findings show that the captions generated by these methods tend to be biased toward the "average" caption that only captures the most general mode (a.k.a, language pattern) in the training corpus, i.e., the so-called mode collapse problem. Affected by it, the generated captions are limited in diversity and usually less informative than natural image descriptions made by humans. In this paper, we seek to avoid this problem by proposing a Discrete Mode Learning (DML) paradigm for image captioning. Our innovative idea is to explore the rich modes in the training caption corpus to learn a set of "mode embeddings", and further use them to control the mode of the generated captions for existing image captioning models. Specifically, the proposed DML optimizes a dual architecture that consists of an image-conditioned discrete variational autoencoder (CdVAE) branch and a mode-conditioned image captioning (MIC) branch. The CdVAE branch maps each image caption to one of the mode embeddings stored in a learned codebook, and is trained with a pure non-autoregressive generation objective to make the modes distinct and representative. The MIC branch can be simply modified from an existing image captioning model, where the mode embedding is added to the original word embeddings as the control signal. In the experiments, we apply the proposed DML to two widely used image captioning models, Transformer and AoANet. The results show that the learned mode embedding successfully facilitates these models to generate high-quality image captions with different modes, further leading to better performance for both diversity and quality on the MS COCO dataset.

GraphDE: A Generative Framework for Debiased Learning and Out-of-Distribution Detection on Graphs

Zenan Li · Qitian Wu · Fan Nie · Junchi Yan

Despite the remarkable success of graph neural networks (GNNs) for graph representation learning, they are generally built on the (unreliable) i.i.d. assumption across training and testing data. However, real-world graph data are universally comprised of outliers in training set and out-of-distribution (OOD) testing samples from unseen domains, which solicits effective models for i) debiased learning and ii) OOD detection, towards general trustworthy purpose. In this paper, we first mathematically formulate the two challenging problems for graph data and take an initiative on tackling them under a unified probabilistic model. Specifically, we model the graph generative process to characterize the distribution shifts of graph data together with an additionally introduced latent environment variable as an indicator. We then define a variational distribution, i.e., a recognition model, to infer the environment during training of GNN. By instantiating the generative models as two-component mixtures, we derive a tractable learning objective and theoretically justify that the model can i) automatically identify and down-weight outliers in the training procedure, and ii) induce an effective OOD detector simultaneously. Experiments on diverse datasets with different types of OOD data prove that our model consistently outperforms strong baselines for both debiasing and OOD detection tasks. The source code has been made publicly available at

Bootstrapped Transformer for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Kerong Wang · Hanye Zhao · Xufang Luo · Kan Ren · Weinan Zhang · Dongsheng Li

Offline reinforcement learning (RL) aims at learning policies from previously collected static trajectory data without interacting with the real environment. Recent works provide a novel perspective by viewing offline RL as a generic sequence generation problem, adopting sequence models such as Transformer architecture to model distributions over trajectories and repurposing beam search as a planning algorithm. However, the training datasets utilized in general offline RL tasks are quite limited and often suffering from insufficient distribution coverage, which could me harmful to training sequence generation models yet has not drawn enough attention in the previous works. In this paper, we propose a novel algorithm named Bootstrapped Transformer, which incorporates the idea of bootstrapping and leverages the learned model to self-generate more offline data to further boost the training of sequence model. We conduct extensive experiments on two offline RL benchmarks and demonstrate that our model can largely remedy the limitations of the existing offline RL training and beat other strong baseline methods. We also analyze the generated pseudo data and the revealed characteristics may shed some light on offline RL training.

INRAS: Implicit Neural Representation for Audio Scenes

Kun Su · Mingfei Chen · Eli Shlizerman

The spatial acoustic information of a scene, i.e., how sounds emitted from a particular location in the scene are perceived in another location, is key for immersive scene modeling. Robust representation of scene's acoustics can be formulated through a continuous field formulation along with impulse responses varied by emitter-listener locations. The impulse responses are then used to render sounds perceived by the listener. While such representation is advantageous, parameterization of impulse responses for generic scenes presents itself as a challenge. Indeed, traditional pre-computation methods have only implemented parameterization at discrete probe points and require large storage, while other existing methods such as geometry-based sound simulations still suffer from inability to simulate all wave-based sound effects. In this work, we introduce a novel neural network for light-weight Implicit Neural Representation for Audio Scenes (INRAS), which can render a high fidelity time-domain impulse responses at any arbitrary emitter-listener positions by learning a continuous implicit function. INRAS disentangles scene’s geometry features with three modules to generate independent features for the emitter, the geometry of the scene, and the listener respectively. These lead to an efficient reuse of scene-dependent features and support effective multi-condition training for multiple scenes. Our experimental results show that INRAS outperforms existing approaches for representation and rendering of sounds for varying emitter-listener locations in all aspects, including the impulse response quality, inference speed, and storage requirements.

AMP: Automatically Finding Model Parallel Strategies with Heterogeneity Awareness

Dacheng Li · Hongyi Wang · Eric Xing · Hao Zhang

Scaling up model sizes can lead to fundamentally new capabilities in many machine learning (ML) tasks. However, training big models requires strong distributed system expertise to carefully design model-parallel execution strategies that suit the model architectures and cluster setups. In this paper, we develop AMP, a framework that automatically derives such strategies. AMP identifies a valid space of model parallelism strategies and efficiently searches the space for high-performed strategies, by leveraging a cost model designed to capture the heterogeneity of the model and cluster specifications. Unlike existing methods, AMP is specifically tailored to support complex models composed of uneven layers and cluster setups with more heterogeneous accelerators and bandwidth. We evaluate AMP on popular modelsand cluster setups from public clouds and show that AMP returns parallel strategies that match the expert-tuned strategies on typical cluster setups. On heterogeneous clusters or models with heterogeneous architectures, AMP finds strategies with 1.54$\times$ and 1.77$\times$ higher throughput than state-of-the-art model-parallel systems, respectively.

On the Symmetries of Deep Learning Models and their Internal Representations

Charles Godfrey · Davis Brown · Tegan Emerson · Henry Kvinge

Symmetry has been a fundamental tool in the exploration of a broad range of complex systems. In machine learning, symmetry has been explored in both models and data. In this paper we seek to connect the symmetries arising from the architecture of a family of models with the symmetries of that family’s internal representation of data. We do this by calculating a set of fundamental symmetry groups, which we call the intertwiner groups of the model. Each of these arises from a particular nonlinear layer of the model and different nonlinearities result in different symmetry groups. These groups change the weights of a model in such a way that the underlying function that the model represents remains constant but the internal representations of data inside the model may change. We connect intertwiner groups to a model’s internal representations of data through a range of experiments that probe similarities between hidden states across models with the same architecture. Our work suggests that the symmetries of a network are propagated into the symmetries in that network’s representation of data, providing us with a better understanding of how architecture affects the learning and prediction process. Finally, we speculate that for ReLU networks, the intertwiner groups may provide a justification for the common practice of concentrating model interpretability exploration on the activation basis in hidden layers rather than arbitrary linear combinations thereof.

Outstanding Paper
Gradient Descent: The Ultimate Optimizer

Kartik Chandra · Audrey Xie · Jonathan Ragan-Kelley · ERIK MEIJER

Working with any gradient-based machine learning algorithm involves the tedious task of tuning the optimizer's hyperparameters, such as its step size. Recent work has shown how the step size can itself be optimized alongside the model parameters by manually deriving expressions for "hypergradients" ahead of time.We show how to automatically compute hypergradients with a simple and elegant modification to backpropagation. This allows us to easily apply the method to other optimizers and hyperparameters (e.g. momentum coefficients). We can even recursively apply the method to its own hyper-hyperparameters, and so on ad infinitum. As these towers of optimizers grow taller, they become less sensitive to the initial choice of hyperparameters. We present experiments validating this for MLPs, CNNs, and RNNs. Finally, we provide a simple PyTorch implementation of this algorithm (see

Maximizing Revenue under Market Shrinkage and Market Uncertainty

Maria-Florina Balcan · Siddharth Prasad · Tuomas Sandholm

A shrinking market is a ubiquitous challenge faced by various industries. In this paper we formulate the first formal model of shrinking markets in multi-item settings, and study how mechanism design and machine learning can help preserve revenue in an uncertain, shrinking market. Via a sample-based learning mechanism, we prove the first guarantees on how much revenue can be preserved by truthful multi-item, multi-bidder auctions (for limited supply) when only a random unknown fraction of the population participates in the market. We first present a general reduction that converts any sufficiently rich auction class into a randomized auction robust to market shrinkage. Our main technique is a novel combinatorial construction called a winner diagram that concisely represents all possible executions of an auction on an uncertain set of bidders. Via a probabilistic analysis of winner diagrams, we derive a general possibility result: a sufficiently rich class of auctions always contains an auction that is robust to market shrinkage and market uncertainty. Our result has applications to important practically-constrained settings such as auctions with a limited number of winners. We then show how to efficiently learn an auction that is robust to market shrinkage by leveraging practically-efficient routines for solving the winner determination problem.

Constraining Gaussian Processes to Systems of Linear Ordinary Differential Equations

Andreas Besginow · Markus Lange-Hegermann

Data in many applications follows systems of Ordinary Differential Equations (ODEs).This paper presents a novel algorithmic and symbolic construction for covariance functions of Gaussian Processes (GPs) with realizations strictly following a system of linear homogeneous ODEs with constant coefficients, which we call LODE-GPs. Introducing this strong inductive bias into a GP improves modelling of such data. Using smith normal form algorithms, a symbolic technique, we overcome two current restrictions in the state of the art: (1) the need for certain uniqueness conditions in the set of solutions, typically assumed in classical ODE solvers and their probabilistic counterparts, and (2) the restriction to controllable systems, typically assumed when encoding differential equations in covariance functions. We show the effectiveness of LODE-GPs in a number of experiments, for example learning physically interpretable parameters by maximizing the likelihood.

Neural Set Function Extensions: Learning with Discrete Functions in High Dimensions

Nikolaos Karalias · Joshua Robinson · Andreas Loukas · Stefanie Jegelka

Integrating functions on discrete domains into neural networks is key to developing their capability to reason about discrete objects. But, discrete domains are (1) not naturally amenable to gradient-based optimization, and (2) incompatible with deep learning architectures that rely on representations in high-dimensional vector spaces. In this work, we address both difficulties for set functions, which capture many important discrete problems. First, we develop a framework for extending set functions onto low-dimensional continuous domains, where many extensions are naturally defined. Our framework subsumes many well-known extensions as special cases. Second, to avoid undesirable low-dimensional neural network bottlenecks, we convert low-dimensional extensions into representations in high-dimensional spaces, taking inspiration from the success of semidefinite programs for combinatorial optimization. Empirically, we observe benefits of our extensions for unsupervised neural combinatorial optimization, in particular with high-dimensional representations.

In Defense of the Unitary Scalarization for Deep Multi-Task Learning

Vitaly Kurin · Alessandro De Palma · Ilya Kostrikov · Shimon Whiteson · Pawan K Mudigonda

Recent multi-task learning research argues against unitary scalarization, where training simply minimizes the sum of the task losses. Several ad-hoc multi-task optimization algorithms have instead been proposed, inspired by various hypotheses about what makes multi-task settings difficult. The majority of these optimizers require per-task gradients, and introduce significant memory, runtime, and implementation overhead. We show that unitary scalarization, coupled with standard regularization and stabilization techniques from single-task learning, matches or improves upon the performance of complex multi-task optimizers in popular supervised and reinforcement learning settings. We then present an analysis suggesting that many specialized multi-task optimizers can be partly interpreted as forms of regularization, potentially explaining our surprising results. We believe our results call for a critical reevaluation of recent research in the area.

A Unified Analysis of Federated Learning with Arbitrary Client Participation

Shiqiang Wang · Mingyue Ji

Federated learning (FL) faces challenges of intermittent client availability and computation/communication efficiency. As a result, only a small subset of clients can participate in FL at a given time. It is important to understand how partial client participation affects convergence, but most existing works have either considered idealized participation patterns or obtained results with non-zero optimality error for generic patterns. In this paper, we provide a unified convergence analysis for FL with arbitrary client participation. We first introduce a generalized version of federated averaging (FedAvg) that amplifies parameter updates at an interval of multiple FL rounds. Then, we present a novel analysis that captures the effect of client participation in a single term. By analyzing this term, we obtain convergence upper bounds for a wide range of participation patterns, including both non-stochastic and stochastic cases, which match either the lower bound of stochastic gradient descent (SGD) or the state-of-the-art results in specific settings. We also discuss various insights, recommendations, and experimental results.

DNA: Proximal Policy Optimization with a Dual Network Architecture

Matthew Aitchison · Penny Sweetser

This paper explores the problem of simultaneously learning a value function and policy in deep actor-critic reinforcement learning models. We find that the common practice of learning these functions jointly is sub-optimal due to an order-of-magnitude difference in noise levels between the two tasks. Instead, we show that learning these tasks independently, but with a constrained distillation phase, significantly improves performance. Furthermore, we find that policy gradient noise levels decrease when using a lower \textit{variance} return estimate. Whereas, value learning noise level decreases with a lower \textit{bias} estimate. Together these insights inform an extension to Proximal Policy Optimization we call \textit{Dual Network Architecture} (DNA), which significantly outperforms its predecessor. DNA also exceeds the performance of the popular Rainbow DQN algorithm on four of the five environments tested, even under more difficult stochastic control settings.

Sampling in Constrained Domains with Orthogonal-Space Variational Gradient Descent

Ruqi Zhang · Qiang Liu · Xin Tong

Sampling methods, as important inference and learning techniques, are typically designed for unconstrained domains. However, constraints are ubiquitous in machine learning problems, such as those on safety, fairness, robustness, and many other properties that must be satisfied to apply sampling results in real-life applications. Enforcing these constraints often leads to implicitly-defined manifolds, making efficient sampling with constraints very challenging. In this paper, we propose a new variational framework with a designed orthogonal-space gradient flow (O-Gradient) for sampling on a manifold $\mathcal{G}_0$ defined by general equality constraints. O-Gradient decomposes the gradient into two parts: one decreases the distance to $\mathcal{G}_0$ and the other decreases the KL divergence in the orthogonal space. While most existing manifold sampling methods require initialization on $\mathcal{G}_0$, O-Gradient does not require such prior knowledge. We prove that O-Gradient converges to the target constrained distribution with rate $\widetilde{O}(1/\text{the number of iterations})$ under mild conditions. Our proof relies on a new Stein characterization of conditional measure which could be of independent interest. We implement O-Gradient through both Langevin dynamics and Stein variational gradient descent and demonstrate its effectiveness in various experiments, including Bayesian deep neural networks.

Sampling without Replacement Leads to Faster Rates in Finite-Sum Minimax Optimization

Aniket Das · Bernhard Schölkopf · Michael Muehlebach

We analyze the convergence rates of stochastic gradient algorithms for smooth finite-sum minimax optimization and show that, for many such algorithms, sampling the data points \emph{without replacement} leads to faster convergence compared to sampling with replacement. For the smooth and strongly convex-strongly concave setting, we consider gradient descent ascent and the proximal point method, and present a unified analysis of two popular without-replacement sampling strategies, namely \emph{Random Reshuffling} (RR), which shuffles the data every epoch, and \emph{Single Shuffling} or \emph{Shuffle Once} (SO), which shuffles only at the beginning. We obtain tight convergence rates for RR and SO and demonstrate that these strategies lead to faster convergence than uniform sampling. Moving beyond convexity, we obtain similar results for smooth nonconvex-nonconcave objectives satisfying a two-sided Polyak-\L{}ojasiewicz inequality. Finally, we demonstrate that our techniques are general enough to analyze the effect of \emph{data-ordering attacks}, where an adversary manipulates the order in which data points are supplied to the optimizer. Our analysis also recovers tight rates for the \emph{incremental gradient} method, where the data points are not shuffled at all.

Near Instance-Optimal PAC Reinforcement Learning for Deterministic MDPs

Andrea Tirinzoni · Aymen Al Marjani · Emilie Kaufmann

In probably approximately correct (PAC) reinforcement learning (RL), an agent is required to identify an $\epsilon$-optimal policy with probability $1-\delta$. While minimax optimal algorithms exist for this problem, its instance-dependent complexity remains elusive in episodic Markov decision processes (MDPs). In this paper, we propose the first nearly matching (up to a horizon squared factor and logarithmic terms) upper and lower bounds on the sample complexity of PAC RL in deterministic episodic MDPs with finite state and action spaces. In particular, our bounds feature a new notion of sub-optimality gap for state-action pairs that we call the deterministic return gap. While our instance-dependent lower bound is written as a linear program, our algorithms are very simple and do not require solving such an optimization problem during learning. Their design and analyses employ novel ideas, including graph-theoretical concepts (minimum flows) and a new maximum-coverage exploration strategy.

Gradient Descent Is Optimal Under Lower Restricted Secant Inequality And Upper Error Bound

Charles Guille-Escuret · Adam Ibrahim · Baptiste Goujaud · Ioannis Mitliagkas

The study of first-order optimization is sensitive to the assumptions made on the objective functions.These assumptions induce complexity classes which play a key role in worst-case analysis, includingthe fundamental concept of algorithm optimality. Recent work argues that strong convexity andsmoothness—popular assumptions in literature—lead to a pathological definition of the conditionnumber. Motivated by this result, we focus on the class of functionssatisfying a lower restricted secant inequality and an upper error bound. On top of being robust tothe aforementioned pathological behavior and including some non-convex functions, this pair ofconditions displays interesting geometrical properties. In particular, the necessary and sufficientconditions to interpolate a set of points and their gradients within the class can be separated intosimple conditions on each sampled gradient. This allows the performance estimation problem (PEP) to be solved analytically, leading to a lower boundon the convergence rate that proves gradient descent to be exactly optimal on this class of functionsamong all first-order algorithms.

Posterior and Computational Uncertainty in Gaussian Processes

Jonathan Wenger · Geoff Pleiss · Marvin Pförtner · Philipp Hennig · John Cunningham

Gaussian processes scale prohibitively with the size of the dataset. In response, many approximation methods have been developed, which inevitably introduce approximation error. This additional source of uncertainty, due to limited computation, is entirely ignored when using the approximate posterior. Therefore in practice, GP models are often as much about the approximation method as they are about the data. Here, we develop a new class of methods that provides consistent estimation of the combined uncertainty arising from both the finite number of data observed and the finite amount of computation expended. The most common GP approximations map to an instance in this class, such as methods based on the Cholesky factorization, conjugate gradients, and inducing points. For any method in this class, we prove (i) convergence of its posterior mean in the associated RKHS, (ii) decomposability of its combined posterior covariance into mathematical and computational covariances, and (iii) that the combined variance is a tight worst-case bound for the squared error between the method's posterior mean and the latent function. Finally, we empirically demonstrate the consequences of ignoring computational uncertainty and show how implicitly modeling it improves generalization performance on benchmark datasets.

Luckiness in Multiscale Online Learning

Wouter Koolen · Muriel F. Pérez-Ortiz

Algorithms for full-information online learning are classically tuned to minimize their worst-case regret. Modern algorithms additionally provide tighter guarantees outside the adversarial regime, most notably in the form of constant pseudoregret bounds under statistical margin assumptions. We investigate the multiscale extension of the problem where the loss ranges of the experts are vastly different. Here, the regret with respect to each expert needs to scale with its range, instead of the maximum overall range. We develop new multiscale algorithms, tuning schemes and analysis techniques to show that worst-case robustness and adaptation to easy data can be combined at a negligible cost. We further develop an extension with optimism and apply it to solve multiscale two-player zero-sum games. We demonstrate experimentally the superior performance of our scale-adaptive algorithm and discuss the subtle relationship of our results to Freund's 2016 open problem.

Learning-Augmented Algorithms for Online Linear and Semidefinite Programming

Elena Grigorescu · Young-San Lin · Sandeep Silwal · Maoyuan Song · Samson Zhou

Semidefinite programming (SDP) is a unifying framework that generalizes both linear programming and quadratically-constrained quadratic programming, while also yielding efficient solvers, both in theory and in practice. However, there exist known impossibility results for approximating the optimal solution when constraints for covering SDPs arrive in an online fashion. In this paper, we study online covering linear and semidefinite programs in which the algorithm is augmented with advice from a possibly erroneous predictor. We show that if the predictor is accurate, we can efficiently bypass these impossibility results and achieve a constant-factor approximation to the optimal solution, i.e., consistency. On the other hand, if the predictor is inaccurate, under some technical conditions, we achieve results that match both the classical optimal upper bounds and the tight lower bounds up to constant factors, i.e., robustness. More broadly, we introduce a framework that extends both (1) the online set cover problem augmented with machine-learning predictors, studied by Bamas, Maggiori, and Svensson (NeurIPS 2020), and (2) the online covering SDP problem, initiated by Elad, Kale, and Naor (ICALP 2016). Specifically, we obtain general online learning-augmented algorithms for covering linear programs with fractional advice and constraints, and initiate the study of learning-augmented algorithms for covering SDP problems. Our techniques are based on the primal-dual framework of Buchbinder and Naor (Mathematics of Operations Research, 34, 2009) and can be further adjusted to handle constraints where the variables lie in a bounded region, i.e., box constraints.

Dynamic Pricing with Monotonicity Constraint under Unknown Parametric Demand Model

Su Jia · Andrew Li · R Ravi

We consider the Continuum Bandit problem where the goal is to find the optimal action under an unknown reward function, with an additional monotonicity constraint (or, "markdown" constraint) that requires that the action sequence be non-increasing. This problem faithfully models a natural single-product dynamic pricing problem, called "markdown pricing", where the objective is to adaptively reduce the price over a finite sales horizon to maximize expected revenues. Jia et al '21 and Chen '21 independently showed a tight $T^{3/4}$ regret bound over $T$ rounds under *minimal* assumptions of unimodality and Lipschitzness in the reward (or, "revenue") function. This bound shows that the demand learning in markdown pricing is harder than unconstrained (i.e., without the monotonicity constraint) pricing under unknown demand which suffers regret only of the order of $T^{2/3}$ under the same assumptions (Kleinberg '04). However, in practice the demand functions are usually assumed to have certain functional forms (e.g. linear or exponential), rendering the demand-learning easier and suggesting lower regret bounds. We investigate two fundamental questions, assuming the underlying demand curve comes from a given parametric family: (1) Can we improve the $T^{3/4}$ regret bound for markdown pricing, under extra assumptions on the functional forms of the demand functions? (2) Is markdown pricing still harder than unconstrained pricing, under these additional assumptions? To answer these, we introduce a concept called markdown dimension that measures the complexity of the parametric family and present tight regret bounds under this framework, thereby completely settling the aforementioned questions.

An Asymptotically Optimal Batched Algorithm for the Dueling Bandit Problem

Arpit Agarwal · Rohan Ghuge · viswanath nagarajan

We study the $K$-armed dueling bandit problem, a variation of the traditional multi-armed bandit problem in which feedback is obtained in the form of pairwise comparisons. Previous learning algorithms have focused on the fully adaptive setting, where the algorithm can make updates after every comparison. The "batched" dueling bandit problem is motivated by large-scale applications like web search ranking and recommendation systems, where performing sequential updates may be infeasible. In this work, we ask: is there a solution using only a few adaptive rounds that matches the asymptotic regret bounds of the best sequential algorithms for $K$-armed dueling bandits? We answer this in the affirmative under the Condorcet condition, a standard setting of the $K$-armed dueling bandit problem. We obtain asymptotic regret of $O(K^2\log^2(K))$ + $O(K\log(T))$ in $O(\log(T))$ rounds, where $T$ is the time horizon. Our regret bounds nearly match the best regret bounds known in the fully sequential setting under the Condorcet condition. Finally, in computational experiments over a variety of real-world datasets, we observe that our algorithm using $O(\log(T))$ rounds achieves almost the same performance as fully sequential algorithms (that use $T$ rounds).

Precise Regret Bounds for Log-loss via a Truncated Bayesian Algorithm

Changlong Wu · Mohsen Heidari · Ananth Grama · Wojciech Szpankowski

We study sequential general online regression, known also as sequential probability assignments, under logarithmic loss when compared against a broad class of experts. We obtain tight, often matching, lower and upper bounds for sequential minimax regret, which is defined as the excess loss incurred by the predictor over the best expert in the class. After proving a general upper bound we consider some specific classes of experts from Lipschitz class to bounded Hessian class and derive matching lower and upper bounds with provably optimal constants. Our bounds work for a wide range of values of the data dimension and the number of rounds. To derive lower bounds, we use tools from information theory (e.g., Shtarkov sum) and for upper bounds, we resort to new "smooth truncated covering" of the class of experts. This allows us to find constructive proofs by applying a simple and novel truncated Bayesian algorithm. Our proofs are substantially simpler than the existing ones and yet provide tighter (and often optimal) bounds.

The Neural Covariance SDE: Shaped Infinite Depth-and-Width Networks at Initialization

Mufan Li · Mihai Nica · Dan Roy

The logit outputs of a feedforward neural network at initialization are conditionally Gaussian, given a random covariance matrix defined by the penultimate layer. In this work, we study the distribution of this random matrix. Recent work has shown that shaping the activation function as network depth grows large is necessary for this covariance matrix to be non-degenerate. However, the current infinite-width-style understanding of this shaping method is unsatisfactory for large depth: infinite-width analyses ignore the microscopic fluctuations from layer to layer, but these fluctuations accumulate over many layers. To overcome this shortcoming, we study the random covariance matrix in the shaped infinite-depth-and-width limit. We identify the precise scaling of the activation function necessary to arrive at a non-trivial limit, and show that the random covariance matrix is governed by a stochastic differential equation (SDE) that we call the Neural Covariance SDE. Using simulations, we show that the SDE closely matches the distribution of the random covariance matrix of finite networks. Additionally, we recover an if-and-only-if condition for exploding and vanishing norms of large shaped networks based on the activation function.

Self-Consistent Dynamical Field Theory of Kernel Evolution in Wide Neural Networks

Blake Bordelon · Cengiz Pehlevan

We analyze feature learning in infinite-width neural networks trained with gradient flow through a self-consistent dynamical field theory. We construct a collection of deterministic dynamical order parameters which are inner-product kernels for hidden unit activations and gradients in each layer at pairs of time points, providing a reduced description of network activity through training. These kernel order parameters collectively define the hidden layer activation distribution, the evolution of the neural tangent kernel, and consequently output predictions. We show that the field theory derivation recovers the recursive stochastic process of infinite-width feature learning networks obtained from Yang & Hu with Tensor Programs. For deep linear networks, these kernels satisfy a set of algebraic matrix equations. For nonlinear networks, we provide an alternating sampling procedure to self-consistently solve for the kernel order parameters. We provide comparisons of the self-consistent solution to various approximation schemes including the static NTK approximation, gradient independence assumption, and leading order perturbation theory, showing that each of these approximations can break down in regimes where general self-consistent solutions still provide an accurate description. Lastly, we provide experiments in more realistic settings which demonstrate that the loss and kernel dynamics of CNNs at fixed feature learning strength is preserved across different widths on a CIFAR classification task.

Training Scale-Invariant Neural Networks on the Sphere Can Happen in Three Regimes

Maxim Kodryan · Ekaterina Lobacheva · Maksim Nakhodnov · Dmitry Vetrov

A fundamental property of deep learning normalization techniques, such as batch normalization, is making the pre-normalization parameters scale invariant. The intrinsic domain of such parameters is the unit sphere, and therefore their gradient optimization dynamics can be represented via spherical optimization with varying effective learning rate (ELR), which was studied previously. However, the varying ELR may obscure certain characteristics of the intrinsic loss landscape structure. In this work, we investigate the properties of training scale-invariant neural networks directly on the sphere using a fixed ELR. We discover three regimes of such training depending on the ELR value: convergence, chaotic equilibrium, and divergence. We study these regimes in detail both on a theoretical examination of a toy example and on a thorough empirical analysis of real scale-invariant deep learning models. Each regime has unique features and reflects specific properties of the intrinsic loss landscape, some of which have strong parallels with previous research on both regular and scale-invariant neural networks training. Finally, we demonstrate how the discovered regimes are reflected in conventional training of normalized networks and how they can be leveraged to achieve better optima.

A Data-Augmentation Is Worth A Thousand Samples: Analytical Moments And Sampling-Free Training

Randall Balestriero · Ishan Misra · Yann LeCun

Data-Augmentation (DA) is known to improve performance across tasks and datasets. We propose a method to theoretically analyze the effect of DA and study questions such as: how many augmented samples are needed to correctly estimate the information encoded by that DA? How does the augmentation policy impact the final parameters of a model? We derive several quantities in close-form, such as the expectation and variance of an image, loss, and model's output under a given DA distribution. Up to our knowledge, we obtain the first explicit regularizer that corresponds to using DA during training for non-trivial transformations such as affine transformations, color jittering, or Gaussian blur. Those derivations open new avenues to quantify the benefits and limitations of DA. For example, given a loss at hand, we find that common DAs require tens of thousands of samples for the loss to be correctly estimated and for the model training to converge. We then show that for a training loss to have reduced variance under DA sampling, the model's saliency map (gradient of the loss with respect to the model's input) must align with the smallest eigenvector of the sample's covariance matrix under the considered DA augmentation; this is exactly the quantity estimated and regularized by TangentProp. Those findings also hint at a possible explanation on why models tend to shift their focus from edges to textures when specific DAs are employed.

Causal Discovery in Heterogeneous Environments Under the Sparse Mechanism Shift Hypothesis

Ronan Perry · Julius von Kügelgen · Bernhard Schölkopf

Machine learning approaches commonly rely on the assumption of independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.) data. In reality, however, this assumption is almost always violated due to distribution shifts between environments. Although valuable learning signals can be provided by heterogeneous data from changing distributions, it is also known that learning under arbitrary (adversarial) changes is impossible. Causality provides a useful framework for modeling distribution shifts, since causal models encode both observational and interventional distributions. In this work, we explore the sparse mechanism shift hypothesis which posits that distribution shifts occur due to a small number of changing causal conditionals. Motivated by this idea, we apply it to learning causal structure from heterogeneous environments, where i.i.d. data only allows for learning an equivalence class of graphs without restrictive assumptions. We propose the Mechanism Shift Score (MSS), a score-based approach amenable to various empirical estimators, which provably identifies the entire causal structure with high probability if the sparse mechanism shifts hypothesis holds. Empirically, we verify behavior predicted by the theory and compare multiple estimators and score functions to identify the best approaches in practice. Compared to other methods, we show how MSS bridges a gap by both being nonparametric as well as explicitly leveraging sparse changes.

Maximizing and Satisficing in Multi-armed Bandits with Graph Information

Parth Thaker · Mohit Malu · Nikhil Rao · Gautam Dasarathy

Pure exploration in multi-armed bandits has emerged as an important framework for modeling decision making and search under uncertainty. In modern applications however, one is often faced with a tremendously large number of options and even obtaining one observation per option may be too costly rendering traditional pure exploration algorithms ineffective. Fortunately, one often has access to similarity relationships amongst the options that can be leveraged. In this paper, we consider the pure exploration problem in stochastic multi-armed bandits where the similarities between the arms is captured by a graph and the rewards may be represented as a smooth signal on this graph. In particular, we consider the problem of finding the arm with the maximum reward (i.e., the maximizing problem) or one that has sufficiently high reward (i.e., the satisficing problem) under this model. We propose novel algorithms GRUB (GRaph based UcB) and zeta-GRUB for these problems and provide theoretical characterization of their performance which specifically elicits the benefit of the graph side information. We also prove a lower bound on the data requirement that shows a large class of problems where these algorithms are near-optimal. We complement our theory with experimental results that show the benefit of capitalizing on such side information.

Thompson Sampling Efficiently Learns to Control Diffusion Processes

Mohamad Kazem Shirani Faradonbeh · Mohamad Sadegh Shirani Faradonbeh · Mohsen Bayati

Diffusion processes that evolve according to linear stochastic differential equations are an important family of continuous-time dynamic decision-making models. Optimal policies are well-studied for them, under full certainty about the drift matrices. However, little is known about data-driven control of diffusion processes with uncertain drift matrices as conventional discrete-time analysis techniques are not applicable. In addition, while the task can be viewed as a reinforcement learning problem involving exploration and exploitation trade-off, ensuring system stability is a fundamental component of designing optimal policies. We establish that the popular Thompson sampling algorithm learns optimal actions fast, incurring only a square-root of time regret, and also stabilizes the system in a short time period. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first such result for Thompson sampling in a diffusion process control problem. We validate our theoretical results through empirical simulations with real matrices. Moreover, we observe that Thompson sampling significantly improves (worst-case) regret, compared to the state-of-the-art algorithms, suggesting Thompson sampling explores in a more guarded fashion. Our theoretical analysis involves characterization of a certain \emph{optimality manifold} that ties the local geometry of the drift parameters to the optimal control of the diffusion process. We expect this technique to be of broader interest.

Counterfactual Fairness with Partially Known Causal Graph

Aoqi Zuo · Susan Wei · Tongliang Liu · Bo Han · Kun Zhang · Mingming Gong

Fair machine learning aims to avoid treating individuals or sub-populations unfavourably based on \textit{sensitive attributes}, such as gender and race. Those methods in fair machine learning that are built on causal inference ascertain discrimination and bias through causal effects. Though causality-based fair learning is attracting increasing attention, current methods assume the true causal graph is fully known. This paper proposes a general method to achieve the notion of counterfactual fairness when the true causal graph is unknown. To select features that lead to counterfactual fairness, we derive the conditions and algorithms to identify ancestral relations between variables on a \textit{Partially Directed Acyclic Graph (PDAG)}, specifically, a class of causal DAGs that can be learned from observational data combined with domain knowledge. Interestingly, we find that counterfactual fairness can be achieved as if the true causal graph were fully known, when specific background knowledge is provided: the sensitive attributes do not have ancestors in the causal graph. Results on both simulated and real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

Non-Convex Bilevel Games with Critical Point Selection Maps

Michael Arbel · Julien Mairal

Bilevel optimization problems involve two nested objectives, where an upper-level objective depends on a solution to a lower-level problem. When the latter is non-convex, multiple critical points may be present, leading to an ambiguous definition of the problem. In this paper, we introduce a key ingredient for resolving this ambiguity through the concept of a selection map which allows one to choose a particular solution to the lower-level problem. Using such maps, we define a class of hierarchical games between two agents that resolve the ambiguity in bilevel problems. This new class of games requires introducing new analytical tools in Morse theory to extend implicit differentiation, a technique used in bilevel optimization resulting from the implicit function theorem. In particular, we establish the validity of such a method even when the latter theorem is inapplicable due to degenerate critical points.Finally, we show that algorithms for solving bilevel problems based on unrolled optimization solve these games up to approximation errors due to finite computational power. A simple correction to these algorithms is then proposed for removing these errors.

Provably tuning the ElasticNet across instances

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

An important unresolved challenge in the theory of regularization is to set the regularization coefficients of popular techniques like the ElasticNet with general provable guarantees. We consider the problem of tuning the regularization parameters of Ridge regression, LASSO, and the ElasticNet across multiple problem instances, a setting that encompasses both cross-validation and multi-task hyperparameter optimization. We obtain a novel structural result for the ElasticNet which characterizes the loss as a function of the tuning parameters as a piecewise-rational function with algebraic boundaries. We use this to bound the structural complexity of the regularized loss functions and show generalization guarantees for tuning the ElasticNet regression coefficients in the statistical setting. We also consider the more challenging online learning setting, where we show vanishing average expected regret relative to the optimal parameter pair. We further extend our results to tuning classification algorithms obtained by thresholding regression fits regularized by Ridge, LASSO, or ElasticNet. Our results are the first general learning-theoretic guarantees for this important class of problems that avoid strong assumptions on the data distribution. Furthermore, our guarantees hold for both validation and popular information criterion objectives.

On Learning and Refutation in Noninteractive Local Differential Privacy

Alexander Edmonds · Aleksandar Nikolov · Toniann Pitassi

We study two basic statistical tasks in non-interactive local differential privacy (LDP): *learning* and *refutation*: learning requires finding a concept that best fits an unknown target function (from labelled samples drawn from a distribution), whereas refutation requires distinguishing between data distributions that are well-correlated with some concept in the class, versus distributions where the labels are random. Our main result is a complete characterization of the sample complexity of agnostic PAC learning for non-interactive LDP protocols. We show that the optimal sample complexity for any concept class is captured by the approximate $\gamma_2$ norm of a natural matrix associated with the class. Combined with previous work, this gives an *equivalence* between agnostic learning and refutation in the agnostic setting.

Learning in Observable POMDPs, without Computationally Intractable Oracles

Noah Golowich · Ankur Moitra · Dhruv Rohatgi

Much of reinforcement learning theory is built on top of oracles that are computationally hard to implement. Specifically for learning near-optimal policies in Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDPs), existing algorithms either need to make strong assumptions about the model dynamics (e.g. deterministic transitions) or assume access to an oracle for solving a hard optimistic planning or estimation problem as a subroutine. In this work we develop the first oracle-free learning algorithm for POMDPs under reasonable assumptions. Specifically, we give a quasipolynomial-time end-to-end algorithm for learning in ``observable'' POMDPs, where observability is the assumption that well-separated distributions over states induce well-separated distributions over observations. Our techniques circumvent the more traditional approach of using the principle of optimism under uncertainty to promote exploration, and instead give a novel application of barycentric spanners to constructing policy covers.

On the Robustness of Graph Neural Diffusion to Topology Perturbations

Yang Song · Qiyu Kang · Sijie Wang · Kai Zhao · Wee Peng Tay

Neural diffusion on graphs is a novel class of graph neural networks that has attracted increasing attention recently. The capability of graph neural partial differential equations (PDEs) in addressing common hurdles of graph neural networks (GNNs), such as the problems of over-smoothing and bottlenecks, has been investigated but not their robustness to adversarial attacks. In this work, we explore the robustness properties of graph neural PDEs. We empirically demonstrate that graph neural PDEs are intrinsically more robust against topology perturbation as compared to other GNNs. We provide insights into this phenomenon by exploiting the stability of the heat semigroup under graph topology perturbations. We discuss various graph diffusion operators and relate them to existing graph neural PDEs. Furthermore, we propose a general graph neural PDE framework based on which a new class of robust GNNs can be defined. We verify that the new model achieves comparable state-of-the-art performance on several benchmark datasets.

Robust Learning against Relational Adversaries

Yizhen Wang · Mohannad Alhanahnah · Xiaozhu Meng · Ke Wang · Mihai Christodorescu · Somesh Jha

Test-time adversarial attacks have posed serious challenges to the robustness of machine-learning models, and in many settings the adversarial perturbation need not be bounded by small $\ell_p$-norms. Motivated by attacks in program analysis and security tasks, we investigate $\textit{relational adversaries}$, a broad class of attackers who create adversarial examples in a reflexive-transitive closure of a logical relation. We analyze the conditions for robustness against relational adversaries and investigate different levels of robustness-accuracy trade-off due to various patterns in a relation. Inspired by the insights, we propose $\textit{normalize-and-predict}$, a learning framework that leverages input normalization to achieve provable robustness. The framework solves the pain points of adversarial training against relational adversaries and can be combined with adversarial training for the benefits of both approaches. Guided by our theoretical findings, we apply our framework to source code authorship attribution and malware detection. Results of both tasks show our learning framework significantly improves the robustness of models against relational adversaries. In the process, it outperforms adversarial training, the most noteworthy defense mechanism, by a wide margin.

Toward Understanding Privileged Features Distillation in Learning-to-Rank

Shuo Yang · Sujay Sanghavi · Holakou Rahmanian · Jan Bakus · Vishwanathan S. V. N.

In learning-to-rank problems, a \textit{privileged feature} is one that is available during model training, but not available at test time. Such features naturally arise in merchandised recommendation systems; for instance, "user clicked this item" as a feature is predictive of "user purchased this item" in the offline data, but is clearly not available during online serving. Another source of privileged features is those that are too expensive to compute online but feasible to be added offline. \textit{Privileged features distillation} (PFD) refers to a natural idea: train a "teacher" model using all features (including privileged ones) and then use it to train a "student" model that does not use the privileged features. In this paper, we first study PFD empirically on three public ranking datasets and an industrial-scale ranking problem derived from Amazon's logs. We show that PFD outperforms several baselines (no-distillation, pretraining-finetuning, self-distillation, and generalized distillation) on all these datasets. Next, we analyze why and when PFD performs well via both empirical ablation studies and theoretical analysis for linear models. Both investigations uncover an interesting non-monotone behavior: as the predictive power of a privileged feature increases, the performance of the resulting student model initially increases but then decreases. We show the reason for the later decreasing performance is that a very predictive privileged teacher produces predictions with high variance, which lead to high variance student estimates and inferior testing performance.

Lifting Weak Supervision To Structured Prediction

Harit Vishwakarma · Frederic Sala

Weak supervision (WS) is a rich set of techniques that produce pseudolabels by aggregating easily obtained but potentially noisy label estimates from various sources. WS is theoretically well-understood for binary classification, where simple approaches enable consistent estimation of pseudolabel noise rates. Using this result, it has been shown that downstream models trained on the pseudolabels have generalization guarantees nearly identical to those trained on clean labels. While this is exciting, users often wish to use WS for \emph{structured prediction}, where the output space consists of more than a binary or multi-class label set: e.g. rankings, graphs, manifolds, and more. Do the favorable theoretical properties of WS for binary classification lift to this setting? We answer this question in the affirmative for a wide range of scenarios. For labels taking values in a finite metric space, we introduce techniques new to weak supervision based on pseudo-Euclidean embeddings and tensor decompositions, providing a nearly-consistent noise rate estimator. For labels in constant-curvature Riemannian manifolds, we introduce new invariants that also yield consistent noise rate estimation. In both cases, when using the resulting pseudolabels in concert with a flexible downstream model, we obtain generalization guarantees nearly identical to those for models trained on clean data. Several of our results, which can be viewed as robustness guarantees in structured prediction with noisy labels, may be of independent interest.

Meta Reinforcement Learning with Finite Training Tasks - a Density Estimation Approach

Zohar Rimon · Aviv Tamar · Gilad Adler

In meta reinforcement learning (meta RL), an agent learns from a set of training tasks how to quickly solve a new task, drawn from the same task distribution. The optimal meta RL policy, a.k.a.~the Bayes-optimal behavior, is well defined, and guarantees optimal reward in expectation, taken with respect to the task distribution. The question we explore in this work is how many training tasks are required to guarantee approximately optimal behavior with high probability. Recent work provided the first such PAC analysis for a model-free setting, where a history-dependent policy was learned from the training tasks. In this work, we propose a different approach: directly learn the task distribution, using density estimation techniques, and then train a policy on the learned task distribution. We show that our approach leads to bounds that depend on the dimension of the task distribution. In particular, in settings where the task distribution lies in a low-dimensional manifold, we extend our analysis to use dimensionality reduction techniques and account for such structure, obtaining significantly better bounds than previous work, which strictly depend on the number of states and actions. The key of our approach is the regularization implied by the kernel density estimation method. We further demonstrate that this regularization is useful in practice, when `plugged in' the state-of-the-art VariBAD meta RL algorithm.

Symbolic Distillation for Learned TCP Congestion Control

S P Sharan · Wenqing Zheng · Kuo-Feng Hsu · Jiarong Xing · Ang Chen · Zhangyang Wang

Recent advances in TCP congestion control (CC) have achieved tremendous success with deep reinforcement learning (RL) approaches, which use feedforward neural networks (NN) to learn complex environment conditions and make better decisions. However, such ``black-box'' policies lack interpretability and reliability, and often, they need to operate outside the traditional TCP datapath due to the use of complex NNs. This paper proposes a novel two-stage solution to achieve the best of both worlds: first to train a deep RL agent, then distill its (over-)parameterized NN policy into white-box, light-weight rules in the form of symbolic expressions that are much easier to understand and to implement in constrained environments. At the core of our proposal is a novel symbolic branching algorithm that enables the rule to be aware of the context in terms of various network conditions, eventually converting the NN policy into a symbolic tree. The distilled symbolic rules preserve and often improve performance over state-of-the-art NN policies while being faster and simpler than a standard neural network. We validate the performance of our distilled symbolic rules on both simulation and emulation environments. Our code is available at

On the Effectiveness of Persistent Homology

Renata Turkes · Guido Montufar · Nina Otter

Persistent homology (PH) is one of the most popular methods in Topological Data Analysis. Even though PH has been used in many different types of applications, the reasons behind its success remain elusive; in particular, it is not known for which classes of problems it is most effective, or to what extent it can detect geometric or topological features. The goal of this work is to identify some types of problems where PH performs well or even better than other methods in data analysis. We consider three fundamental shape analysis tasks: the detection of the number of holes, curvature and convexity from 2D and 3D point clouds sampled from shapes. Experiments demonstrate that PH is successful in these tasks, outperforming several baselines, including PointNet, an architecture inspired precisely by the properties of point clouds. In addition, we observe that PH remains effective for limited computational resources and limited training data, as well as out-of-distribution test data, including various data transformations and noise. For convexity detection, we provide a theoretical guarantee that PH is effective for this task in $\mathbb{R}^d$, and demonstrate the detection of a convexity measure on the FLAVIA dataset of plant leaf images. Due to the crucial role of shape classification in understanding mathematical and physical structures and objects, and in many applications, the findings of this work will provide some knowledge about the types of problems that are appropriate for PH, so that it can --- to borrow the words from Wigner 1960 --- ``remain valid in future research, and extend, to our pleasure", but to our lesser bafflement, to a variety of applications.

Fairness without Demographics through Knowledge Distillation

Junyi Chai · Taeuk Jang · Xiaoqian Wang

Most of existing work on fairness assumes available demographic information in the training set. In practice, due to legal or privacy concerns, when demographic information is not available in the training set, it is crucial to find alternative objectives to ensure fairness. Existing work on fairness without demographics follows Rawlsian Max-Min fairness objectives. However, such constraints could be too strict to improve group fairness, and could lead to a great decrease in accuracy. In light of these limitations, in this paper, we propose to solve the problem from a new perspective, i.e., through knowledge distillation. Our method uses soft label from an overfitted teacher model as an alternative, and we show from preliminary experiments that soft labelling is beneficial for improving fairness. We analyze theoretically the fairness of our method, and we show that our method can be treated as an error-based reweighing. Experimental results on three datasets show that our method outperforms state-of-the-art alternatives, with notable improvements in group fairness and with relatively small decrease in accuracy.

Pre-Trained Model Reusability Evaluation for Small-Data Transfer Learning

Yao-Xiang Ding · Xi-Zhu Wu · Kun Zhou · Zhi-Hua Zhou

We study {\it model reusability evaluation} (MRE) for source pre-trained models: evaluating their transfer learning performance to new target tasks. In special, we focus on the setting under which the target training datasets are small, making it difficult to produce reliable MRE scores using them. Under this situation, we propose {\it synergistic learning} for building the task-model metric, which can be realized by collecting a set of pre-trained models and asking a group of data providers to participate. We provide theoretical guarantees to show that the learned task-model metric distances can serve as trustworthy MRE scores, and propose synergistic learning algorithms and models for general learning tasks. Experiments show that the MRE models learned by synergistic learning can generate significantly more reliable MRE scores than existing approaches for small-data transfer learning.

HSDF: Hybrid Sign and Distance Field for Modeling Surfaces with Arbitrary Topologies

Li Wang · jie Yang · Weikai Chen · Xiaoxu Meng · Bo Yang · Jintao Li · Lin Gao

Neural implicit function based on signed distance field (SDF) has achieved impressive progress in reconstructing 3D models with high fidelity. However, such approaches can only represent closed shapes. Recent works based on unsigned distance function (UDF) are proposed to handle both watertight and open surfaces. Nonetheless, as UDF is signless, its direct output is limited to point cloud, which imposes an additional challenge on extracting high-quality meshes from discrete points.To address this issue, we present a new learnable implicit representation, coded HSDF, that connects the good ends of SDF and UDF. In particular, HSDF is able to represent arbitrary topologies containing both closed and open surfaces while being compatible with existing iso-surface extraction techniques for easy field-to-mesh conversion. In addition to predicting a UDF, we propose to learn an additional sign field via a simple classifier. Unlike traditional SDF, HSDF is able to locate the surface of interest before level surface extraction by generating surface points following NDF~\cite{chibane2020ndf}. We are then able to obtain open surfaces via an adaptive meshing approach that only instantiates regions containing surface into a polygon mesh. We also propose HSDF-Net, a dedicated learning framework that factorizes the learning of HSDF into two easier problems. Experiments on multiple datasets show that HSDF outperforms state-of-the-art techniques both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Where to Pay Attention in Sparse Training for Feature Selection?

Ghada Sokar · Zahra Atashgahi · Mykola Pechenizkiy · Decebal Constantin Mocanu

A new line of research for feature selection based on neural networks has recently emerged. Despite its superiority to classical methods, it requires many training iterations to converge and detect the informative features. For datasets with a large number of samples or a very high dimensional feature space, the computational time becomes prohibitively long. In this paper, we present a new efficient unsupervised method for feature selection based on sparse autoencoders. In particular, we propose a new sparse training algorithm that optimizes a model's sparse topology during training to quickly pay attention to informative features. The attention-based adaptation of the sparse topology enables fast detection of informative features after a few training iterations. We performed extensive experiments on 10 datasets of different types, including image, speech, text, artificial, and biological. They cover a wide range of characteristics, such as low and high-dimensional feature spaces, as well as few and large training samples. Our proposed approach outperforms the state-of-the-art methods in terms of the selection of informative features while reducing training iterations and computational costs substantially. Moreover, the experiments show the robustness of our method in extremely noisy environments.

An Adaptive Kernel Approach to Federated Learning of Heterogeneous Causal Effects

Thanh Vinh Vo · Arnab Bhattacharyya · Young Lee · Tze-Yun Leong

We propose a new causal inference framework to learn causal effects from multiple, decentralized data sources in a federated setting. We introduce an adaptive transfer algorithm that learns the similarities among the data sources by utilizing Random Fourier Features to disentangle the loss function into multiple components, each of which is associated with a data source. The data sources may have different distributions; the causal effects are independently and systematically incorporated. The proposed method estimates the similarities among the sources through transfer coefficients, and hence requiring no prior information about the similarity measures. The heterogeneous causal effects can be estimated with no sharing of the raw training data among the sources, thus minimizing the risk of privacy leak. We also provide minimax lower bounds to assess the quality of the parameters learned from the disparate sources. The proposed method is empirically shown to outperform the baselines on decentralized data sources with dissimilar distributions.

RényiCL: Contrastive Representation Learning with Skew Rényi Divergence

Kyungmin Lee · Jinwoo Shin

Contrastive representation learning seeks to acquire useful representations by estimating the shared information between multiple views of data. Here, the choice of data augmentation is sensitive to the quality of learned representations: as harder the data augmentations are applied, the views share more task-relevant information, but also task-irrelevant one that can hinder the generalization capability of representation. Motivated by this, we present a new robust contrastive learning scheme, coined RényiCL, which can effectively manage harder augmentations by utilizing Rényi divergence. Our method is built upon the variational lower bound of a Rényi divergence, but a naive usage of a variational method exhibits unstable training due to the large variance. To tackle this challenge, we propose a novel contrastive objective that conducts variational estimation of a skew Renyi divergence and provides a theoretical guarantee on how variational estimation of skew divergence leads to stable training. We show that Rényi contrastive learning objectives perform innate hard negative sampling and easy positive sampling simultaneously so that it can selectively learn useful features and ignore nuisance features. Through experiments on ImageNet, we show that Rényi contrastive learning with stronger augmentations outperforms other self-supervised methods without extra regularization or computational overhead. Also, we validate our method on various domains such as graph and tabular datasets, showing empirical gain over original contrastive methods.

Look where you look! Saliency-guided Q-networks for generalization in visual Reinforcement Learning

David Bertoin · Adil Zouitine · Mehdi Zouitine · Emmanuel Rachelson

Deep reinforcement learning policies, despite their outstanding efficiency in simulated visual control tasks, have shown disappointing ability to generalize across disturbances in the input training images. Changes in image statistics or distracting background elements are pitfalls that prevent generalization and real-world applicability of such control policies.We elaborate on the intuition that a good visual policy should be able to identify which pixels are important for its decision, and preserve this identification of important sources of information across images. This implies that training of a policy with small generalization gap should focus on such important pixels and ignore the others. This leads to the introduction of saliency-guided Q-networks (SGQN), a generic method for visual reinforcement learning, that is compatible with any value function learning method. SGQN vastly improves the generalization capability of Soft Actor-Critic agents and outperforms existing state-of-the-art methods on the Deepmind Control Generalization benchmark, setting a new reference in terms of training efficiency, generalization gap, and policy interpretability.

On Embeddings for Numerical Features in Tabular Deep Learning

Yury Gorishniy · Ivan Rubachev · Artem Babenko

Recently, Transformer-like deep architectures have shown strong performance on tabular data problems. Unlike traditional models, e.g., MLP, these architectures map scalar values of numerical features to high-dimensional embeddings before mixing them in the main backbone. In this work, we argue that embeddings for numerical features are an underexplored degree of freedom in tabular DL, which allows constructing more powerful DL models and competing with gradient boosted decision trees (GBDT) on some GBDT-friendly benchmarks (that is, where GBDT outperforms conventional DL models). We start by describing two conceptually different approaches to building embedding modules: the first one is based on a piecewise linear encoding of scalar values, and the second one utilizes periodic activations. Then, we empirically demonstrate that these two approaches can lead to significant performance boosts compared to the embeddings based on conventional blocks such as linear layers and ReLU activations. Importantly, we also show that embedding numerical features is beneficial for many backbones, not only for Transformers. Specifically, after proper embeddings, simple MLP-like models can perform on par with the attention-based architectures. Overall, we highlight embeddings for numerical features as an important design aspect with good potential for further improvements in tabular DL. The source code is available at

SatMAE: Pre-training Transformers for Temporal and Multi-Spectral Satellite Imagery

Yezhen Cong · Samar Khanna · Chenlin Meng · Patrick Liu · Erik Rozi · Yutong He · Marshall Burke · David Lobell · Stefano Ermon

Unsupervised pre-training methods for large vision models have shown to enhance performance on downstream supervised tasks. Developing similar techniques for satellite imagery presents significant opportunities as unlabelled data is plentiful and the inherent temporal and multi-spectral structure provides avenues to further improve existing pre-training strategies. In this paper, we present SatMAE, a pre-training framework for temporal or multi-spectral satellite imagery based on Masked Autoencoder (MAE). To leverage temporal information, we include a temporal embedding along with independently masking image patches across time. In addition, we demonstrate that encoding multi-spectral data as groups of bands with distinct spectral positional encodings is beneficial. Our approach yields strong improvements over previous state-of-the-art techniques, both in terms of supervised learning performance on benchmark datasets (up to $\uparrow$ 7%), and transfer learning performance on downstream remote sensing tasks, including land cover classification (up to $\uparrow$ 14%) and semantic segmentation. Code and data are available on the project website:

(De-)Randomized Smoothing for Decision Stump Ensembles

Miklós Horváth · Mark Müller · Marc Fischer · Martin Vechev

Tree-based models are used in many high-stakes application domains such as finance and medicine, where robustness and interpretability are of utmost importance. Yet, methods for improving and certifying their robustness are severely under-explored, in contrast to those focusing on neural networks. Targeting this important challenge, we propose deterministic smoothing for decision stump ensembles. Whereas most prior work on randomized smoothing focuses on evaluating arbitrary base models approximately under input randomization, the key insight of our work is that decision stump ensembles enable exact yet efficient evaluation via dynamic programming. Importantly, we obtain deterministic robustness certificates, even jointly over numerical and categorical features, a setting ubiquitous in the real world. Further, we derive an MLE-optimal training method for smoothed decision stumps under randomization and propose two boosting approaches to improve their provable robustness. An extensive experimental evaluation on computer vision and tabular data tasks shows that our approach yields significantly higher certified accuracies than the state-of-the-art for tree-based models. We release all code and trained models at

Efficient Adversarial Training without Attacking: Worst-Case-Aware Robust Reinforcement Learning

Yongyuan Liang · Yanchao Sun · Ruijie Zheng · Furong Huang

Recent studies reveal that a well-trained deep reinforcement learning (RL) policy can be particularly vulnerable to adversarial perturbations on input observations. Therefore, it is crucial to train RL agents that are robust against any attacks with a bounded budget. Existing robust training methods in deep RL either treat correlated steps separately, ignoring the robustness of long-term rewards, or train the agents and RL-based attacker together, doubling the computational burden and sample complexity of the training process. In this work, we propose a strong and efficient robust training framework for RL, named Worst-case-aware Robust RL (WocaR-RL) that directly estimates and optimizes the worst-case reward of a policy under bounded l_p attacks without requiring extra samples for learning an attacker. Experiments on multiple environments show that WocaR-RL achieves state-of-the-art performance under various strong attacks, and obtains significantly higher training efficiency than prior state-of-the-art robust training methods. The code of this work is available at

Wasserstein $K$-means for clustering probability distributions

Yubo Zhuang · Xiaohui Chen · Yun Yang

Clustering is an important exploratory data analysis technique to group objects based on their similarity. The widely used $K$-means clustering method relies on some notion of distance to partition data into a fewer number of groups. In the Euclidean space, centroid-based and distance-based formulations of the $K$-means are equivalent. In modern machine learning applications, data often arise as probability distributions and a natural generalization to handle measure-valued data is to use the optimal transport metric. Due to non-negative Alexandrov curvature of the Wasserstein space, barycenters suffer from regularity and non-robustness issues. The peculiar behaviors of Wasserstein barycenters may make the centroid-based formulation fail to represent the within-cluster data points, while the more direct distance-based $K$-means approach and its semidefinite program (SDP) relaxation are capable of recovering the true cluster labels. In the special case of clustering Gaussian distributions, we show that the SDP relaxed Wasserstein $K$-means can achieve exact recovery given the clusters are well-separated under the $2$-Wasserstein metric. Our simulation and real data examples also demonstrate that distance-based $K$-means can achieve better classification performance over the standard centroid-based $K$-means for clustering probability distributions and images.

Coordinate Linear Variance Reduction for Generalized Linear Programming

Chaobing Song · Cheuk Yin Lin · Stephen Wright · Jelena Diakonikolas

We study a class of generalized linear programs (GLP) in a large-scale setting, which includes simple, possibly nonsmooth convex regularizer and simple convex set constraints. By reformulating (GLP) as an equivalent convex-concave min-max problem, we show that the linear structure in the problem can be used to design an efficient, scalable first-order algorithm, to which we give the name Coordinate Linear Variance Reduction (CLVR; pronounced ``clever''). CLVR yields improved complexity results for (GLP) that depend on the max row norm of the linear constraint matrix in (GLP) rather than the spectral norm. When the regularization terms and constraints are separable, CLVR admits an efficient lazy update strategy that makes its complexity bounds scale with the number of nonzero elements of the linear constraint matrix in (GLP) rather than the matrix dimensions. On the other hand, for the special case of linear programs, by exploiting sharpness, we propose a restart scheme for CLVR to obtain empirical linear convergence. Then we show that Distributionally Robust Optimization (DRO) problems with ambiguity sets based on both $f$-divergence and Wasserstein metrics can be reformulated as (GLPs) by introducing sparsely connected auxiliary variables. We complement our theoretical guarantees with numerical experiments that verify our algorithm's practical effectiveness, in terms of wall-clock time and number of data passes.

Proximal Point Imitation Learning

Luca Viano · Angeliki Kamoutsi · Gergely Neu · Igor Krawczuk · Volkan Cevher

This work develops new algorithms with rigorous efficiency guarantees for infinite horizon imitation learning (IL) with linear function approximation without restrictive coherence assumptions. We begin with the minimax formulation of the problem and then outline how to leverage classical tools from optimization, in particular, the proximal-point method (PPM) and dual smoothing, for online and offline IL, respectively. Thanks to PPM, we avoid nested policy evaluation and cost updates for online IL appearing in the prior literature. In particular, we do away with the conventional alternating updates by the optimization of a single convex and smooth objective over both cost and $Q$-functions. When solved inexactly, we relate the optimization errors to the suboptimality of the recovered policy. As an added bonus, by re-interpreting PPM as dual smoothing with the expert policy as a center point, we also obtain an offline IL algorithm enjoying theoretical guarantees in terms of required expert trajectories. Finally, we achieve convincing empirical performance for both linear and neural network function approximation.

Pitfalls of Epistemic Uncertainty Quantification through Loss Minimisation

Viktor Bengs · Eyke Hüllermeier · Willem Waegeman

Uncertainty quantification has received increasing attention in machine learning in the recent past. In particular, a distinction between aleatoric and epistemic uncertainty has been found useful in this regard. The latter refers to the learner's (lack of) knowledge and appears to be especially difficult to measure and quantify. In this paper, we analyse a recent proposal based on the idea of a second-order learner, which yields predictions in the form of distributions over probability distributions. While standard (first-order) learners can be trained to predict accurate probabilities, namely by minimising suitable loss functions on sample data, we show that loss minimisation does not work for second-order predictors: The loss functions proposed for inducing such predictors do not incentivise the learner to represent its epistemic uncertainty in a faithful way.

Why neural networks find simple solutions: The many regularizers of geometric complexity

Benoit Dherin · Michael Munn · Mihaela Rosca · David Barrett

In many contexts, simpler models are preferable to more complex models and the control of this model complexity is the goal for many methods in machine learning such as regularization, hyperparameter tuning and architecture design. In deep learning, it has been difficult to understand the underlying mechanisms of complexity control, since many traditional measures are not naturally suitable for deep neural networks. Here we develop the notion of geometric complexity, which is a measure of the variability of the model function, computed using a discrete Dirichlet energy. Using a combination of theoretical arguments and empirical results, we show that many common training heuristics such as parameter norm regularization, spectral norm regularization, flatness regularization, implicit gradient regularization, noise regularization and the choice of parameter initialization all act to control geometric complexity, providing a unifying framework in which to characterize the behavior of deep learning models.

Learning Articulated Rigid Body Dynamics with Lagrangian Graph Neural Network

Ravinder Bhattoo · Sayan Ranu · N M Anoop Krishnan

Lagrangian and Hamiltonian neural networks LNN and HNNs, respectively) encode strong inductive biases that allow them to outperform other models of physical systems significantly. However, these models have, thus far, mostly been limited to simple systems such as pendulums and springs or a single rigid body such as a gyroscope or a rigid rotor. Here, we present a Lagrangian graph neural network (LGNN) that can learn the dynamics of articulated rigid bodies by exploiting their topology. We demonstrate the performance of LGNN by learning the dynamics of ropes, chains, and trusses with the bars modeled as rigid bodies. LGNN also exhibits generalizability---LGNN trained on chains with a few segments exhibits generalizability to simulate a chain with large number of links and arbitrary link length. We also show that the LGNN can simulate unseen hybrid systems including bars and chains, on which they have not been trained on. Specifically, we show that the LGNN can be used to model the dynamics of complex real-world structures such as the stability of tensegrity structures. Finally, we discuss the non-diagonal nature of the mass matrix and its ability to generalize in complex systems.

Learning interacting dynamical systems with latent Gaussian process ODEs

Çağatay Yıldız · Melih Kandemir · Barbara Rakitsch

We study uncertainty-aware modeling of continuous-time dynamics of interacting objects. We introduce a new model that decomposes independent dynamics of single objects accurately from their interactions. By employing latent Gaussian process ordinary differential equations, our model infers both independent dynamics and their interactions with reliable uncertainty estimates. In our formulation, each object is represented as a graph node and interactions are modeled by accumulating the messages coming from neighboring objects. We show that efficient inference of such a complex network of variables is possible with modern variational sparse Gaussian process inference techniques. We empirically demonstrate that our model improves the reliability of long-term predictions over neural network based alternatives and it successfully handles missing dynamic or static information. Furthermore, we observe that only our model can successfully encapsulate independent dynamics and interaction information in distinct functions and show the benefit from this disentanglement in extrapolation scenarios.

Capturing Graphs with Hypo-Elliptic Diffusions

Csaba Toth · Darrick Lee · Celia Hacker · Harald Oberhauser

Convolutional layers within graph neural networks operate by aggregating information about local neighbourhood structures; one common way to encode such substructures is through random walks. The distribution of these random walks evolves according to a diffusion equation defined using the graph Laplacian. We extend this approach by leveraging classic mathematical results about hypo-elliptic diffusions. This results in a novel tensor-valued graph operator, which we call the hypo-elliptic graph Laplacian. We provide theoretical guarantees and efficient low-rank approximation algorithms. In particular, this gives a structured approach to capture long-range dependencies on graphs that is robust to pooling. Besides the attractive theoretical properties, our experiments show that this method competes with graph transformers on datasets requiring long-range reasoning but scales only linearly in the number of edges as opposed to quadratically in nodes.

MOVE: Unsupervised Movable Object Segmentation and Detection

Adam Bielski · Paolo Favaro

We introduce MOVE, a novel method to segment objects without any form of supervision. MOVE exploits the fact that foreground objects can be shifted locally relative to their initial position and result in realistic (undistorted) new images. This property allows us to train a segmentation model on a dataset of images without annotation and to achieve state of the art (SotA) performance on several evaluation datasets for unsupervised salient object detection and segmentation. In unsupervised single object discovery, MOVE gives an average CorLoc improvement of 7.2% over the SotA, and in unsupervised class-agnostic object detection it gives a relative AP improvement of 53% on average. Our approach is built on top of self-supervised features (e.g. from DINO or MAE), an inpainting network (based on the Masked AutoEncoder) and adversarial training.

3DILG: Irregular Latent Grids for 3D Generative Modeling

Biao Zhang · Matthias Niessner · Peter Wonka

We propose a new representation for encoding 3D shapes as neural fields. The representation is designed to be compatible with the transformer architecture and to benefit both shape reconstruction and shape generation. Existing works on neural fields are grid-based representations with latents being defined on a regular grid. In contrast, we define latents on irregular grids which facilitates our representation to be sparse and adaptive. In the context of shape reconstruction from point clouds, our shape representation built on irregular grids improves upon grid-based methods in terms of reconstruction accuracy. For shape generation, our representation promotes high-quality shape generation using auto-regressive probabilistic models. We show different applications that improve over the current state of the art. First, we show results of probabilistic shape reconstruction from a single higher resolution image. Second, we train a probabilistic model conditioned on very low resolution images. Third, we apply our model to category-conditioned generation. All probabilistic experiments confirm that we are able to generate detailed and high quality shapes to yield the new state of the art in generative 3D shape modeling.

Unsupervised Multi-Object Segmentation by Predicting Probable Motion Patterns

Laurynas Karazija · Subhabrata Choudhury · Iro Laina · Christian Rupprecht · Andrea Vedaldi

We propose a new approach to learn to segment multiple image objects without manual supervision. The method can extract objects form still images, but uses videos for supervision. While prior works have considered motion for segmentation, a key insight is that, while motion can be used to identify objects, not all objects are necessarily in motion: the absence of motion does not imply the absence of objects. Hence, our model learns to predict image regions that are likely to contain motion patterns characteristic of objects moving rigidly. It does not predict specific motion, which cannot be done unambiguously from a still image, but a distribution of possible motions, which includes the possibility that an object does not move at all. We demonstrate the advantage of this approach over its deterministic counterpart and show state-of-the-art unsupervised object segmentation performance on simulated and real-world benchmarks, surpassing methods that use motion even at test time. As our approach is applicable to variety of network architectures that segment the scenes, we also apply it to existing image reconstruction-based models showing drastic improvement. Project page and code:

Learning Concept Credible Models for Mitigating Shortcuts

Jiaxuan Wang · Sarah Jabbour · Maggie Makar · Michael Sjoding · Jenna Wiens

During training, models can exploit spurious correlations as shortcuts, resulting in poor generalization performance when shortcuts do not persist. In this work, assuming access to a representation based on domain knowledge (i.e., known concepts) that is invariant to shortcuts, we aim to learn robust and accurate models from biased training data. In contrast to previous work, we do not rely solely on known concepts, but allow the model to also learn unknown concepts. We propose two approaches for mitigating shortcuts that incorporate domain knowledge, while accounting for potentially important yet unknown concepts. The first approach is two-staged. After fitting a model using known concepts, it accounts for the residual using unknown concepts. While flexible, we show that this approach is vulnerable when shortcuts are correlated with the unknown concepts. This limitation is addressed by our second approach that extends a recently proposed regularization penalty. Applied to two real-world datasets, we demonstrate that both approaches can successfully mitigate shortcut learning.

Efficient Scheduling of Data Augmentation for Deep Reinforcement Learning

Byungchan Ko · Jungseul Ok

In deep reinforcement learning (RL), data augmentation is widely considered as a tool to induce a set of useful priors about semantic consistency and improve sample efficiency and generalization performance. However, even when the prior is useful for generalization, distilling it to RL agent often interferes with RL training and degenerates sample efficiency. Meanwhile, the agent is forgetful of the prior due to the non-stationary nature of RL. These observations suggest two extreme schedules of distillation: (i) over the entire training; or (ii) only at the end. Hence, we devise a stand-alone network distillation method to inject the consistency prior at any time (even after RL), and a simple yet efficient framework to automatically schedule the distillation. Specifically, the proposed framework first focuses on mastering train environments regardless of generalization by adaptively deciding which {\it or no} augmentation to be used for the training. After this, we add the distillation to extract the remaining benefits for generalization from all the augmentations, which requires no additional new samples. In our experiments, we demonstrate the utility of the proposed framework, in particular, that considers postponing the augmentation to the end of RL training.

BayesPCN: A Continually Learnable Predictive Coding Associative Memory

Jinsoo Yoo · Frank Wood

Associative memory plays an important role in human intelligence and its mechanisms have been linked to attention in machine learning. While the machine learning community's interest in associative memories has recently been rekindled, most work has focused on memory recall ($read$) over memory learning ($write$). In this paper, we present BayesPCN, a hierarchical associative memory capable of performing continual one-shot memory writes without meta-learning. Moreover, BayesPCN is able to gradually forget past observations ($forget$) to free its memory. Experiments show that BayesPCN can recall corrupted i.i.d. high-dimensional data observed hundreds to a thousand ``timesteps'' ago without a large drop in recall ability compared to the state-of-the-art offline-learned parametric memory models.

DeVRF: Fast Deformable Voxel Radiance Fields for Dynamic Scenes

Jia-Wei Liu · Yan-Pei Cao · Weijia Mao · Wenqiao Zhang · David Junhao Zhang · Jussi Keppo · Ying Shan · Xiaohu Qie · Mike Zheng Shou

Modeling dynamic scenes is important for many applications such as virtual reality and telepresence. Despite achieving unprecedented fidelity for novel view synthesis in dynamic scenes, existing methods based on Neural Radiance Fields (NeRF) suffer from slow convergence (i.e., model training time measured in days). In this paper, we present DeVRF, a novel representation to accelerate learning dynamic radiance fields. The core of DeVRF is to model both the 3D canonical space and 4D deformation field of a dynamic, non-rigid scene with explicit and discrete voxel-based representations. However, it is quite challenging to train such a representation which has a large number of model parameters, often resulting in overfitting issues. To overcome this challenge, we devise a novel static-to-dynamic learning paradigm together with a new data capture setup that is convenient to deploy in practice. This paradigm unlocks efficient learning of deformable radiance fields via utilizing the 3D volumetric canonical space learnt from multi-view static images to ease the learning of 4D voxel deformation field with only few-view dynamic sequences. To further improve the efficiency of our DeVRF and its synthesized novel view's quality, we conduct thorough explorations and identify a set of strategies. We evaluate DeVRF on both synthetic and real-world dynamic scenes with different types of deformation. Experiments demonstrate that DeVRF achieves two orders of magnitude speedup (100× faster) with on-par high-fidelity results compared to the previous state-of-the-art approaches. The code and dataset are released in

ATD: Augmenting CP Tensor Decomposition by Self Supervision

Chaoqi Yang · Cheng Qian · Navjot Singh · Cao (Danica) Xiao · M Westover · Edgar Solomonik · Jimeng Sun

Tensor decompositions are powerful tools for dimensionality reduction and feature interpretation of multidimensional data such as signals. Existing tensor decomposition objectives (e.g., Frobenius norm) are designed for fitting raw data under statistical assumptions, which may not align with downstream classification tasks. In practice, raw input tensor can contain irrelevant information while data augmentation techniques may be used to smooth out class-irrelevant noise in samples. This paper addresses the above challenges by proposing augmented tensor decomposition (ATD), which effectively incorporates data augmentations and self-supervised learning (SSL) to boost downstream classification. To address the non-convexity of the new augmented objective, we develop an iterative method that enables the optimization to follow an alternating least squares (ALS) fashion. We evaluate our proposed ATD on multiple datasets. It can achieve 0.8%~2.5% accuracy gain over tensor-based baselines. Also, our ATD model shows comparable or better performance (e.g., up to 15% in accuracy) over self-supervised and autoencoder baselines while using less than 5% of learnable parameters of these baseline models.

Robust Models are less Over-Confident

Julia Grabinski · Paul Gavrikov · Janis Keuper · Margret Keuper

Despite the success of convolutional neural networks (CNNs) in many academic benchmarks for computer vision tasks, their application in the real-world is still facing fundamental challenges. One of these open problems is the inherent lack of robustness, unveiled by the striking effectiveness of adversarial attacks. Current attack methods are able to manipulate the network's prediction by adding specific but small amounts of noise to the input. In turn, adversarial training (AT) aims to achieve robustness against such attacks and ideally a better model generalization ability by including adversarial samples in the trainingset. However, an in-depth analysis of the resulting robust models beyond adversarial robustness is still pending. In this paper, we empirically analyze a variety of adversarially trained models that achieve high robust accuracies when facing state-of-the-art attacks and we show that AT has an interesting side-effect: it leads to models that are significantly less overconfident with their decisions, even on clean data than non-robust models. Further, our analysis of robust models shows that not only AT but also the model's building blocks (like activation functions and pooling) have a strong influence on the models' prediction confidences. Data & Project website:

HF-NeuS: Improved Surface Reconstruction Using High-Frequency Details

Yiqun Wang · Ivan Skorokhodov · Peter Wonka

Neural rendering can be used to reconstruct implicit representations of shapes without 3D supervision. However, current neural surface reconstruction methods have difficulty learning high-frequency geometry details, so the reconstructed shapes are often over-smoothed. We develop HF-NeuS, a novel method to improve the quality of surface reconstruction in neural rendering. We follow recent work to model surfaces as signed distance functions (SDFs). First, we offer a derivation to analyze the relationship between the SDF, the volume density, the transparency function, and the weighting function used in the volume rendering equation and propose to model transparency as a transformed SDF. Second, we observe that attempting to jointly encode high-frequency and low-frequency components in a single SDF leads to unstable optimization. We propose to decompose the SDF into base and displacement functions with a coarse-to-fine strategy to increase the high-frequency details gradually. Finally, we design an adaptive optimization strategy that makes the training process focus on improving those regions near the surface where the SDFs have artifacts. Our qualitative and quantitative results show that our method can reconstruct fine-grained surface details and obtain better surface reconstruction quality than the current state of the art. Code available at

ELIAS: End-to-End Learning to Index and Search in Large Output Spaces

Nilesh Gupta · Patrick Chen · Hsiang-Fu Yu · Cho-Jui Hsieh · Inderjit Dhillon

Extreme multi-label classification (XMC) is a popular framework for solving many real-world problems that require accurate prediction from a very large number of potential output choices. A popular approach for dealing with the large label space is to arrange the labels into a shallow tree-based index and then learn an ML model to efficiently search this index via beam search. Existing methods initialize the tree index by clustering the label space into a few mutually exclusive clusters based on pre-defined features and keep it fixed throughout the training procedure. This approach results in a sub-optimal indexing structure over the label space and limits the search performance to the quality of choices made during the initialization of the index. In this paper, we propose a novel method ELIAS which relaxes the tree-based index to a specialized weighted graph-based index which is learned end-to-end with the final task objective. More specifically, ELIAS models the discrete cluster-to-label assignments in the existing tree-based index as soft learnable parameters that are learned jointly with the rest of the ML model. ELIAS achieves state-of-the-art performance on several large-scale extreme classification benchmarks with millions of labels. In particular, ELIAS can be up to 2.5% better at precision@$1$ and up to 4% better at recall@$100$ than existing XMC methods. A PyTorch implementation of ELIAS along with other resources is available at

Neural Collapse with Normalized Features: A Geometric Analysis over the Riemannian Manifold

Can Yaras · Peng Wang · Zhihui Zhu · Laura Balzano · Qing Qu

When training overparameterized deep networks for classification tasks, it has been widely observed that the learned features exhibit a so-called "neural collapse'" phenomenon. More specifically, for the output features of the penultimate layer, for each class the within-class features converge to their means, and the means of different classes exhibit a certain tight frame structure, which is also aligned with the last layer's classifier. As feature normalization in the last layer becomes a common practice in modern representation learning, in this work we theoretically justify the neural collapse phenomenon under normalized features. Based on an unconstrained feature model, we simplify the empirical loss function in a multi-class classification task into a nonconvex optimization problem over the Riemannian manifold by constraining all features and classifiers over the sphere. In this context, we analyze the nonconvex landscape of the Riemannian optimization problem over the product of spheres, showing a benign global landscape in the sense that the only global minimizers are the neural collapse solutions while all other critical points are strict saddle points with negative curvature. Experimental results on practical deep networks corroborate our theory and demonstrate that better representations can be learned faster via feature normalization. Code for our experiments can be found at

DISCO: Adversarial Defense with Local Implicit Functions

Chih-Hui Ho · Nuno Vasconcelos

The problem of adversarial defenses for image classification, where the goal is to robustify a classifier against adversarial examples, is considered. Inspired by the hypothesis that these examples lie beyond the natural image manifold, a novel aDversarIal defenSe with local impliCit functiOns (DISCO) is proposed to remove adversarial perturbations by localized manifold projections. DISCO consumes an adversarial image and a query pixel location and outputs a clean RGB value at the location. It is implemented with an encoder and a local implicit module, where the former produces per-pixel deep features and the latter uses the features in the neighborhood of query pixel for predicting the clean RGB value. Extensive experiments demonstrate that both DISCO and its cascade version outperform prior defenses, regardless of whether the defense is known to the attacker. DISCO is also shown to be data and parameter efficient and to mount defenses that transfers across datasets, classifiers and attacks.

Invariance-Aware Randomized Smoothing Certificates

Jan Schuchardt · Stephan Günnemann

Building models that comply with the invariances inherent to different domains, such as invariance under translation or rotation, is a key aspect of applying machine learning to real world problems like molecular property prediction, medical imaging, protein folding or LiDAR classification. For the first time, we study how the invariances of a model can be leveraged to provably guarantee the robustness of its predictions. We propose a gray-box approach, enhancing the powerful black-box randomized smoothing technique with white-box knowledge about invariances. First, we develop gray-box certificates based on group orbits, which can be applied to arbitrary models with invariance under permutation and Euclidean isometries. Then, we derive provably tight gray-box certificates. We experimentally demonstrate that the provably tight certificates can offer much stronger guarantees, but that in practical scenarios the orbit-based method is a good approximation.

Bayesian inference via sparse Hamiltonian flows

Naitong Chen · Zuheng Xu · Trevor Campbell

A Bayesian coreset is a small, weighted subset of data that replaces the full dataset during Bayesian inference, with the goal of reducing computational cost. Although past work has shown empirically that there often exists a coreset with low inferential error, efficiently constructing such a coreset remains a challenge. Current methods tend to be slow, require a secondary inference step after coreset construction, and do not provide bounds on the data marginal evidence. In this work, we introduce a new method---sparse Hamiltonian flows---that addresses all three of these challenges. The method involves first subsampling the data uniformly, and then optimizing a Hamiltonian flow parametrized by coreset weights and including periodic momentum quasi-refreshment steps. Theoretical results show that the method enables an exponential compression of the dataset in a representative model, and that the quasi-refreshment steps reduce the KL divergence to the target. Real and synthetic experiments demonstrate that sparse Hamiltonian flows provide accurate posterior approximations with significantly reduced runtime compared with competing dynamical-system-based inference methods.

Score-based Generative Modeling Secretly Minimizes the Wasserstein Distance

Dohyun Kwon · Ying Fan · Kangwook Lee

Score-based generative models are shown to achieve remarkable empirical performances in various applications such as image generation and audio synthesis. However, a theoretical understanding of score-based diffusion models is still incomplete. Recently, Song et al. showed that the training objective of score-based generative models is equivalent to minimizing the Kullback-Leibler divergence of the generated distribution from the data distribution. In this work, we show that score-based models also minimize the Wasserstein distance between them. Specifically, we prove that the Wasserstein distance is upper bounded by the square root of the objective function up to multiplicative constants and a fixed constant offset. Our proof is based on a novel application of the theory of optimal transport, which can be of independent interest to the society. Our numerical experiments support our findings. By analyzing our upper bounds, we provide a few techniques to obtain tighter upper bounds.

Relational Reasoning via Set Transformers: Provable Efficiency and Applications to MARL

Fengzhuo Zhang · Boyi Liu · Kaixin Wang · Vincent Tan · Zhuoran Yang · Zhaoran Wang

The cooperative Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning (MARL) with permutation invariant agents framework has achieved tremendous empirical successes in real-world applications. Unfortunately, the theoretical understanding of this MARL problem is lacking due to the curse of many agents and the limited exploration of the relational reasoning in existing works. In this paper, we verify that the transformer implements complex relational reasoning, and we propose and analyze model-free and model-based offline MARL algorithms with the transformer approximators. We prove that the suboptimality gaps of the model-free and model-based algorithms are independent of and logarithmic in the number of agents respectively, which mitigates the curse of many agents. These results are consequences of a novel generalization error bound of the transformer and a novel analysis of the Maximum Likelihood Estimate (MLE) of the system dynamics with the transformer. Our model-based algorithm is the first provably efficient MARL algorithm that explicitly exploits the permutation invariance of the agents. Our improved generalization bound may be of independent interest and is applicable to other regression problems related to the transformer beyond MARL.

Robustness to Unbounded Smoothness of Generalized SignSGD

Michael Crawshaw · Mingrui Liu · Francesco Orabona · Wei Zhang · Zhenxun Zhuang

Traditional analyses in non-convex optimization typically rely on the smoothness assumption, namely requiring the gradients to be Lipschitz. However, recent evidence shows that this smoothness condition does not capture the properties of some deep learning objective functions, including the ones involving Recurrent Neural Networks and LSTMs. Instead, they satisfy a much more relaxed condition, with potentially unbounded smoothness. Under this relaxed assumption, it has been theoretically and empirically shown that the gradient-clipped SGD has an advantage over the vanilla one. In this paper, we show that clipping is not indispensable for Adam-type algorithms in tackling such scenarios: we theoretically prove that a generalized SignSGD algorithm can obtain similar convergence rates as SGD with clipping but does not need explicit clipping at all. This family of algorithms on one end recovers SignSGD and on the other end closely resembles the popular Adam algorithm. Our analysis underlines the critical role that momentum plays in analyzing SignSGD-type and Adam-type algorithms: it not only reduces the effects of noise, thus removing the need for large mini-batch in previous analyses of SignSGD-type algorithms, but it also substantially reduces the effects of unbounded smoothness and gradient norms. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first one showing the benefit of Adam-type algorithms compared with non-adaptive gradient algorithms such as gradient descent in the unbounded smoothness setting. We also compare these algorithms with popular optimizers on a set of deep learning tasks, observing that we can match the performance of Adam while beating others.

Doubly-Asynchronous Value Iteration: Making Value Iteration Asynchronous in Actions

Tian Tian · Kenny Young · Richard Sutton

Value iteration (VI) is a foundational dynamic programming method, important for learning and planning in optimal control and reinforcement learning. VI proceeds in batches, where the update to the value of each state must be completed before the next batch of updates can begin. Completing a single batch is prohibitively expensive if the state space is large, rendering VI impractical for many applications. Asynchronous VI helps to address the large state space problem by updating one state at a time, in-place and in an arbitrary order. However, Asynchronous VI still requires a maximization over the entire action space, making it impractical for domains with large action space. To address this issue, we propose doubly-asynchronous value iteration (DAVI), a new algorithm that generalizes the idea of asynchrony from states to states and actions. More concretely, DAVI maximizes over a sampled subset of actions that can be of any user-defined size. This simple approach of using sampling to reduce computation maintains similarly appealing theoretical properties to VI without the need to wait for a full sweep through the entire action space in each update. In this paper, we show DAVI converges to the optimal value function with probability one, converges at a near-geometric rate with probability $1-\delta$, and returns a near-optimal policy in computation time that nearly matches a previously established bound for VI. We also empirically demonstrate DAVI's effectiveness in several experiments.

Associating Objects and Their Effects in Video through Coordination Games

Erika Lu · Forrester Cole · Weidi Xie · Tali Dekel · Bill Freeman · Andrew Zisserman · Michael Rubinstein

We explore a feed-forward approach for decomposing a video into layers, where each layer contains an object of interest along with its associated shadows, reflections, and other visual effects. This problem is challenging since associated effects vary widely with the 3D geometry and lighting conditions in the scene, and ground-truth labels for visual effects are difficult (and in some cases impractical) to collect. We take a self-supervised approach and train a neural network to produce a foreground image and alpha matte from a rough object segmentation mask under a reconstruction and sparsity loss. Under reconstruction loss, the layer decomposition problem is underdetermined: many combinations of layers may reconstruct the input video.Inspired by the game theory concept of focal points---or \emph{Schelling points}---we pose the problem as a coordination game, where each player (network) predicts the effects for a single object without knowledge of the other players' choices. The players learn to converge on the ``natural'' layer decomposition in order to maximize the likelihood of their choices aligning with the other players'. We train the network to play this game with itself, and show how to design the rules of this game so that the focal point lies at the correct layer decomposition. We demonstrate feed-forward results on a challenging synthetic dataset, then show that pretraining on this dataset significantly reduces optimization time for real videos.

Masked Autoencoding for Scalable and Generalizable Decision Making

Fangchen Liu · Hao Liu · Aditya Grover · Pieter Abbeel

We are interested in learning scalable agents for reinforcement learning that can learn from large-scale, diverse sequential data similar to current large vision and language models. To this end, this paper presents masked decision prediction (MaskDP), a simple and scalable self-supervised pretraining method for reinforcement learning (RL) and behavioral cloning (BC). In our MaskDP approach, we employ a masked autoencoder (MAE) to state-action trajectories, wherein we randomly mask state and action tokens and reconstruct the missing data. By doing so, the model is required to infer masked out states and actions and extract information about dynamics. We find that masking different proportions of the input sequence significantly helps with learning a better model that generalizes well to multiple downstream tasks. In our empirical study we find that a MaskDP model gains the capability of zero-shot transfer to new BC tasks, such as single and multiple goal reaching, and it can zero-shot infer skills from a few example transitions. In addition, MaskDP transfers well to offline RL and shows promising scaling behavior w.r.t. to model size. It is amenable to data efficient finetuning, achieving competitive results with prior methods based on autoregressive pretraining.

In the Eye of the Beholder: Robust Prediction with Causal User Modeling

Amir Feder · Guy Horowitz · Yoav Wald · Roi Reichart · Nir Rosenfeld

Accurately predicting the relevance of items to users is crucial to the success of many social platforms. Conventional approaches train models on logged historical data; but recommendation systems, media services, and online marketplaces all exhibit a constant influx of new content---making relevancy a moving target, to which standard predictive models are not robust. In this paper, we propose a learning framework for relevance prediction that is robust to changes in the data distribution. Our key observation is that robustness can be obtained by accounting for \emph{how users causally perceive the environment}. We model users as boundedly-rational decision makers whose causal beliefs are encoded by a causal graph, and show how minimal information regarding the graph can be used to contend with distributional changes. Experiments in multiple settings demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach.

Autoregressive Perturbations for Data Poisoning

Pedro Sandoval-Segura · Vasu Singla · Jonas Geiping · Micah Goldblum · Tom Goldstein · David Jacobs

The prevalence of data scraping from social media as a means to obtain datasets has led to growing concerns regarding unauthorized use of data. Data poisoning attacks have been proposed as a bulwark against scraping, as they make data ``unlearnable'' by adding small, imperceptible perturbations. Unfortunately, existing methods require knowledge of both the target architecture and the complete dataset so that a surrogate network can be trained, the parameters of which are used to generate the attack. In this work, we introduce autoregressive (AR) poisoning, a method that can generate poisoned data without access to the broader dataset. The proposed AR perturbations are generic, can be applied across different datasets, and can poison different architectures. Compared to existing unlearnable methods, our AR poisons are more resistant against common defenses such as adversarial training and strong data augmentations. Our analysis further provides insight into what makes an effective data poison.

Generalization Analysis of Message Passing Neural Networks on Large Random Graphs

Sohir Maskey · Ron Levie · Yunseok Lee · Gitta Kutyniok

Message passing neural networks (MPNN) have seen a steep rise in popularity since their introduction as generalizations of convolutional neural networks to graph-structured data, and are now considered state-of-the-art tools for solving a large variety of graph-focused problems. We study the generalization error of MPNNs in graph classification and regression. We assume that graphs of different classes are sampled from different random graph models. We show that, when training a MPNN on a dataset sampled from such a distribution, the generalization gap increases in the complexity of the MPNN, and decreases, not only with respect to the number of training samples, but also with the average number of nodes in the graphs. This shows how a MPNN with high complexity can generalize from a small dataset of graphs, as long as the graphs are large. The generalization bound is derived from a uniform convergence result, that shows that any MPNN, applied on a graph, approximates the MPNN applied on the geometric model that the graph discretizes.

Local Metric Learning for Off-Policy Evaluation in Contextual Bandits with Continuous Actions

Haanvid Lee · Jongmin Lee · Yunseon Choi · Wonseok Jeon · Byung-Jun Lee · Yung-Kyun Noh · Kee-Eung Kim

We consider local kernel metric learning for off-policy evaluation (OPE) of deterministic policies in contextual bandits with continuous action spaces. Our work is motivated by practical scenarios where the target policy needs to be deterministic due to domain requirements, such as prescription of treatment dosage and duration in medicine. Although importance sampling (IS) provides a basic principle for OPE, it is ill-posed for the deterministic target policy with continuous actions. Our main idea is to relax the target policy and pose the problem as kernel-based estimation, where we learn the kernel metric in order to minimize the overall mean squared error (MSE). We present an analytic solution for the optimal metric, based on the analysis of bias and variance. Whereas prior work has been limited to scalar action spaces or kernel bandwidth selection, our work takes a step further being capable of vector action spaces and metric optimization. We show that our estimator is consistent, and significantly reduces the MSE compared to baseline OPE methods through experiments on various domains.

Graph Neural Network Bandits

Parnian Kassraie · Andreas Krause · Ilija Bogunovic

We consider the bandit optimization problem with the reward function defined over graph-structured data. This problem has important applications in molecule design and drug discovery, where the reward is naturally invariant to graph permutations. The key challenges in this setting are scaling to large domains, and to graphs with many nodes. We resolve these challenges by embedding the permutation invariance into our model. In particular, we show that graph neural networks (GNNs) can be used to estimate the reward function, assuming it resides in the Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space of a permutation-invariant additive kernel. By establishing a novel connection between such kernels and the graph neural tangent kernel (GNTK), we introduce the first GNN confidence bound and use it to design a phased-elimination algorithm with sublinear regret. Our regret bound depends on the GNTK's maximum information gain, which we also provide a bound for. Perhaps surprisingly, even though the reward function depends on all $N$ node features, our guarantees are independent of the number of graph nodes $N$. Empirically, our approach exhibits competitive performance and scales well on graph-structured domains.

Learning Two-Player Markov Games: Neural Function Approximation and Correlated Equilibrium

Chris Junchi Li · Dongruo Zhou · Quanquan Gu · Michael Jordan

We consider learning Nash equilibria in two-player zero-sum Markov Games with nonlinear function approximation, where the action-value function is approximated by a function in a Reproducing Kernel Hilbert Space (RKHS). The key challenge is how to do exploration in the high-dimensional function space. We propose a novel online learning algorithm to find a Nash equilibrium by minimizing the duality gap. At the core of our algorithms are upper and lower confidence bounds that are derived based on the principle of optimism in the face of uncertainty. We prove that our algorithm is able to attain an $O(\sqrt{T})$ regret with polynomial computational complexity, under very mild assumptions on the reward function and the underlying dynamic of the Markov Games. We also propose several extensions of our algorithm, including an algorithm with Bernstein-type bonus that can achieve a tighter regret bound, and another algorithm for model misspecification that can be applied to neural network function approximation.

Bayesian Optimization over Discrete and Mixed Spaces via Probabilistic Reparameterization

Samuel Daulton · Xingchen Wan · David Eriksson · Maximilian Balandat · Michael A Osborne · Eytan Bakshy

Optimizing expensive-to-evaluate black-box functions of discrete (and potentially continuous) design parameters is a ubiquitous problem in scientific and engineering applications. Bayesian optimization (BO) is a popular, sample-efficient method that leverages a probabilistic surrogate model and an acquisition function (AF) to select promising designs to evaluate. However, maximizing the AF over mixed or high-cardinality discrete search spaces is challenging standard gradient-based methods cannot be used directly or evaluating the AF at every point in the search space would be computationally prohibitive. To address this issue, we propose using probabilistic reparameterization (PR). Instead of directly optimizing the AF over the search space containing discrete parameters, we instead maximize the expectation of the AF over a probability distribution defined by continuous parameters. We prove that under suitable reparameterizations, the BO policy that maximizes the probabilistic objective is the same as that which maximizes the AF, and therefore, PR enjoys the same regret bounds as the original BO policy using the underlying AF. Moreover, our approach provably converges to a stationary point of the probabilistic objective under gradient ascent using scalable, unbiased estimators of both the probabilistic objective and its gradient. Therefore, as the number of starting points and gradient steps increase, our approach will recover of a maximizer of the AF (an often-neglected requisite for commonly used BO regret bounds). We validate our approach empirically and demonstrate state-of-the-art optimization performance on a wide range of real-world applications. PR is complementary to (and benefits) recent work and naturally generalizes to settings with multiple objectives and black-box constraints.

Grounding Aleatoric Uncertainty for Unsupervised Environment Design

Minqi Jiang · Michael Dennis · Jack Parker-Holder · Andrei Lupu · Heinrich Küttler · Edward Grefenstette · Tim Rocktäschel · Jakob Foerster

Adaptive curricula in reinforcement learning (RL) have proven effective for producing policies robust to discrepancies between the train and test environment. Recently, the Unsupervised Environment Design (UED) framework generalized RL curricula to generating sequences of entire environments, leading to new methods with robust minimax regret properties. Problematically, in partially-observable or stochastic settings, optimal policies may depend on the ground-truth distribution over aleatoric parameters of the environment in the intended deployment setting, while curriculum learning necessarily shifts the training distribution. We formalize this phenomenon as curriculum-induced covariate shift (CICS), and describe how its occurrence in aleatoric parameters can lead to suboptimal policies. Directly sampling these parameters from the ground-truth distribution avoids the issue, but thwarts curriculum learning. We propose SAMPLR, a minimax regret UED method that optimizes the ground-truth utility function, even when the underlying training data is biased due to CICS. We prove, and validate on challenging domains, that our approach preserves optimality under the ground-truth distribution, while promoting robustness across the full range of environment settings.

BOME! Bilevel Optimization Made Easy: A Simple First-Order Approach

Bo Liu · Mao Ye · Stephen Wright · Peter Stone · Qiang Liu

Bilevel optimization (BO) is useful for solving a variety of important machine learning problems including but not limited to hyperparameter optimization, meta-learning, continual learning, and reinforcement learning.Conventional BO methods need to differentiate through the low-level optimization process with implicit differentiation, which requires expensive calculations related to the Hessian matrix. There has been a recent quest for first-order methods for BO, but the methods proposed to date tend to be complicated and impractical for large-scale deep learning applications. In this work, we propose a simple first-order BO algorithm that depends only on first-order gradient information, requires no implicit differentiation, and is practical and efficient for large-scale non-convex functions in deep learning. We provide non-asymptotic convergence analysis of the proposed method to stationary points for non-convex objectives and present empirical results that show its superior practical performance.

A Theoretical Framework for Inference Learning

Nick Alonso · Beren Millidge · Jeffrey Krichmar · Emre O Neftci

Backpropagation (BP) is the most successful and widely used algorithm in deep learning. However, the computations required by BP are challenging to reconcile with known neurobiology. This difficulty has stimulated interest in more biologically plausible alternatives to BP. One such algorithm is the inference learning algorithm (IL). IL trains predictive coding models of neural circuits and has achieved equal performance to BP on supervised and auto-associative tasks. In contrast to BP, however, the mathematical foundations of IL are not well-understood. Here, we develop a novel theoretical framework for IL. Our main result is that IL closely approximates an optimization method known as implicit stochastic gradient descent (implicit SGD), which is distinct from the explicit SGD implemented by BP. Our results further show how the standard implementation of IL can be altered to better approximate implicit SGD. Our novel implementation considerably improves the stability of IL across learning rates, which is consistent with our theory, as a key property of implicit SGD is its stability. We provide extensive simulation results that further support our theoretical interpretations and find IL achieves quicker convergence when trained with mini-batch size one while performing competitively with BP for larger mini-batches when combined with Adam.

High-dimensional Additive Gaussian Processes under Monotonicity Constraints

Andrés López-Lopera · Francois Bachoc · Olivier Roustant

We introduce an additive Gaussian process (GP) framework accounting for monotonicity constraints and scalable to high dimensions. Our contributions are threefold. First, we show that our framework enables to satisfy the constraints everywhere in the input space. We also show that more general componentwise linear inequality constraints can be handled similarly, such as componentwise convexity. Second, we propose the additive MaxMod algorithm for sequential dimension reduction. By sequentially maximizing a squared-norm criterion, MaxMod identifies the active input dimensions and refines the most important ones. This criterion can be computed explicitly at a linear cost. Finally, we provide open-source codes for our full framework. We demonstrate the performance and scalability of the methodology in several synthetic examples with hundreds of dimensions under monotonicity constraints as well as on a real-world flood application.

On the generalization of learning algorithms that do not converge

Nisha Chandramoorthy · Andreas Loukas · Khashayar Gatmiry · Stefanie Jegelka

Generalization analyses of deep learning typically assume that the training converges to a fixed point. But, recent results indicate that in practice, the weights of deep neural networks optimized with stochastic gradient descent often oscillate indefinitely. To reduce this discrepancy between theory and practice, this paper focuses on the generalization of neural networks whose training dynamics do not necessarily converge to fixed points. Our main contribution is to propose a notion of statistical algorithmic stability (SAS) that extends classical algorithmic stability to non-convergent algorithms and to study its connection to generalization. This ergodic-theoretic approach leads to new insights when compared to the traditional optimization and learning theory perspectives. We prove that the stability of the time-asymptotic behavior of a learning algorithm relates to its generalization and empirically demonstrate how loss dynamics can provide clues to generalization performance. Our findings provide evidence that networks that ``train stably generalize better'' even when the training continues indefinitely and the weights do not converge.

Proppo: a Message Passing Framework for Customizable and Composable Learning Algorithms

Paavo Parmas · Takuma Seno

While existing automatic differentiation (AD) frameworks allow flexibly composing model architectures, they do not provide the same flexibility for composing learning algorithms---everything has to be implemented in terms of back propagation. To address this gap, we invent Automatic Propagation (AP) software, which generalizes AD, and allows custom and composable construction of complex learning algorithms. The framework allows packaging custom learning algorithms into propagators that automatically implement the necessary computations, and can be reused across different computation graphs. We implement Proppo, a prototype AP software package built on top of the Pytorch AD framework. To demonstrate the utility of Proppo, we use it to implement Monte Carlo gradient estimation techniques, such as reparameterization and likelihood ratio gradients, as well as the total propagation algorithm and Gaussian shaping gradients, which were previously used in model-based reinforcement learning, but do not have any publicly available implementation. Finally, in minimalistic experiments, we show that these methods allow increasing the gradient accuracy by orders of magnitude, particularly when the machine learning system is at the edge of chaos.

FiLM-Ensemble: Probabilistic Deep Learning via Feature-wise Linear Modulation

Mehmet Ozgur Turkoglu · Alexander Becker · Hüseyin Anil Gündüz · Mina Rezaei · Bernd Bischl · Rodrigo Caye Daudt · Stefano D'Aronco · Jan Wegner · Konrad Schindler

The ability to estimate epistemic uncertainty is often crucial when deploying machine learning in the real world, but modern methods often produce overconfident, uncalibrated uncertainty predictions. A common approach to quantify epistemic uncertainty, usable across a wide class of prediction models, is to train a model ensemble. In a naive implementation, the ensemble approach has high computational cost and high memory demand. This challenges in particular modern deep learning, where even a single deep network is already demanding in terms of compute and memory, and has given rise to a number of attempts to emulate the model ensemble without actually instantiating separate ensemble members. We introduce FiLM-Ensemble, a deep, implicit ensemble method based on the concept of Feature-wise Linear Modulation (FiLM). That technique was originally developed for multi-task learning, with the aim of decoupling different tasks. We show that the idea can be extended to uncertainty quantification: by modulating the network activations of a single deep network with FiLM, one obtains a model ensemble with high diversity, and consequently well-calibrated estimates of epistemic uncertainty, with low computational overhead in comparison. Empirically, FiLM-Ensemble outperforms other implicit ensemble methods, and it comes very close to the upper bound of an explicit ensemble of networks (sometimes even beating it), at a fraction of the memory cost.

Reinforcement Learning with Non-Exponential Discounting

Matthias Schultheis · Constantin Rothkopf · Heinz Koeppl

Commonly in reinforcement learning (RL), rewards are discounted over time using an exponential function to model time preference, thereby bounding the expected long-term reward. In contrast, in economics and psychology, it has been shown that humans often adopt a hyperbolic discounting scheme, which is optimal when a specific task termination time distribution is assumed. In this work, we propose a theory for continuous-time model-based reinforcement learning generalized to arbitrary discount functions. This formulation covers the case in which there is a non-exponential random termination time. We derive a Hamilton–Jacobi–Bellman (HJB) equation characterizing the optimal policy and describe how it can be solved using a collocation method, which uses deep learning for function approximation. Further, we show how the inverse RL problem can be approached, in which one tries to recover properties of the discount function given decision data. We validate the applicability of our proposed approach on two simulated problems. Our approach opens the way for the analysis of human discounting in sequential decision-making tasks.

A Multi-Resolution Framework for U-Nets with Applications to Hierarchical VAEs

Fabian Falck · Christopher Williams · Dominic Danks · George Deligiannidis · Christopher Yau · Chris C Holmes · Arnaud Doucet · Matthew Willetts

U-Net architectures are ubiquitous in state-of-the-art deep learning, however their regularisation properties and relationship to wavelets are understudied. In this paper, we formulate a multi-resolution framework which identifies U-Nets as finite-dimensional truncations of models on an infinite-dimensional function space. We provide theoretical results which prove that average pooling corresponds to projection within the space of square-integrable functions and show that U-Nets with average pooling implicitly learn a Haar wavelet basis representation of the data. We then leverage our framework to identify state-of-the-art hierarchical VAEs (HVAEs), which have a U-Net architecture, as a type of two-step forward Euler discretisation of multi-resolution diffusion processes which flow from a point mass, introducing sampling instabilities. We also demonstrate that HVAEs learn a representation of time which allows for improved parameter efficiency through weight-sharing. We use this observation to achieve state-of-the-art HVAE performance with half the number of parameters of existing models, exploiting the properties of our continuous-time formulation.

A Lagrangian Duality Approach to Active Learning

Juan Elenter · Navid Naderializadeh · Alejandro Ribeiro

We consider the pool-based active learning problem, where only a subset of the training data is labeled, and the goal is to query a batch of unlabeled samples to be labeled so as to maximally improve model performance. We formulate the problem using constrained learning, where a set of constraints bounds the performance of the model on labeled samples. Considering a primal-dual approach, we optimize the primal variables, corresponding to the model parameters, as well as the dual variables, corresponding to the constraints. As each dual variable indicates how significantly the perturbation of the respective constraint affects the optimal value of the objective function, we use it as a proxy of the informativeness of the corresponding training sample. Our approach, which we refer to as Active Learning via Lagrangian dualitY, or ALLY, leverages this fact to select a diverse set of unlabeled samples with the highest estimated dual variables as our query set. We demonstrate the benefits of our approach in a variety of classification and regression tasks and discuss its limitations depending on the capacity of the model used and the degree of redundancy in the dataset. We also examine the impact of the distribution shift induced by active sampling and show that ALLY can be used in a generative mode to create novel, maximally-informative samples.

Non-identifiability and the Blessings of Misspecification in Models of Molecular Fitness

Eli Weinstein · Alan Amin · Jonathan Frazer · Debora Marks

Understanding the consequences of mutation for molecular fitness and function is a fundamental problem in biology. Recently, generative probabilistic models have emerged as a powerful tool for estimating fitness from evolutionary sequence data, with accuracy sufficient to predict both laboratory measurements of function and disease risk in humans, and to design novel functional proteins. Existing techniques rest on an assumed relationship between density estimation and fitness estimation, a relationship that we interrogate in this article. We prove that fitness is not identifiable from observational sequence data alone, placing fundamental limits on our ability to disentangle fitness landscapes from phylogenetic history. We show on real datasets that perfect density estimation in the limit of infinite data would, with high confidence, result in poor fitness estimation; current models perform accurate fitness estimation because of, not despite, misspecification. Our results challenge the conventional wisdom that bigger models trained on bigger datasets will inevitably lead to better fitness estimation, and suggest novel estimation strategies going forward.

Uncalibrated Models Can Improve Human-AI Collaboration

Kailas Vodrahalli · Tobias Gerstenberg · James Zou

In many practical applications of AI, an AI model is used as a decision aid for human users. The AI provides advice that a human (sometimes) incorporates into their decision-making process. The AI advice is often presented with some measure of "confidence" that the human can use to calibrate how much they depend on or trust the advice. In this paper, we present an initial exploration that suggests showing AI models as more confident than they actually are, even when the original AI is well-calibrated, can improve human-AI performance (measured as the accuracy and confidence of the human's final prediction after seeing the AI advice). We first train a model to predict human incorporation of AI advice using data from thousands of human-AI interactions. This enables us to explicitly estimate how to transform the AI's prediction confidence, making the AI uncalibrated, in order to improve the final human prediction. We empirically validate our results across four different tasks---dealing with images, text and tabular data---involving hundreds of human participants. We further support our findings with simulation analysis. Our findings suggest the importance of jointly optimizing the human-AI system as opposed to the standard paradigm of optimizing the AI model alone.

Increasing Confidence in Adversarial Robustness Evaluations

Roland S. Zimmermann · Wieland Brendel · Florian Tramer · Nicholas Carlini

Hundreds of defenses have been proposed to make deep neural networks robust against minimal (adversarial) input perturbations. However, only a handful of these defenses held up their claims because correctly evaluating robustness is extremely challenging: Weak attacks often fail to find adversarial examples even if they unknowingly exist, thereby making a vulnerable network look robust. In this paper, we propose a test to identify weak attacks and, thus, weak defense evaluations. Our test slightly modifies a neural network to guarantee the existence of an adversarial example for every sample. Consequentially, any correct attack must succeed in breaking this modified network. For eleven out of thirteen previously-published defenses, the original evaluation of the defense fails our test, while stronger attacks that break these defenses pass it. We hope that attack unit tests - such as ours - will be a major component in future robustness evaluations and increase confidence in an empirical field that is currently riddled with skepticism.

Procedural Image Programs for Representation Learning

Manel Baradad · Richard Chen · Jonas Wulff · Tongzhou Wang · Rogerio Feris · Antonio Torralba · Phillip Isola

Learning image representations using synthetic data allows training neural networks without some of the concerns associated with real images, such as privacy and bias. Existing work focuses on a handful of curated generative processes which require expert knowledge to design, making it hard to scale up. To overcome this, we propose training with a large dataset of twenty-one thousand programs, each one generating a diverse set of synthetic images. These programs are short code snippets, which are easy to modify and fast to execute using OpenGL. The proposed dataset can be used for both supervised and unsupervised representation learning, and reduces the gap between pre-training with real and procedurally generated images by 38%.

Structuring Representations Using Group Invariants

Mehran Shakerinava · Arnab Kumar Mondal · Siamak Ravanbakhsh

A finite set of invariants can identify many interesting transformation groups. For example, distances, inner products and angles are preserved by Euclidean, Orthogonal and Conformal transformations, respectively. In an equivariant representation, the group invariants should remain constant on the embedding as we transform the input. This gives a procedure for learning equivariant representations without knowing the possibly nonlinear action of the group in the input space. Rather than enforcing such hard invariance constraints on the latent space, we show how to use invariants for "symmetry regularization" of the latent, while guaranteeing equivariance through other means. We also show the feasibility of learning disentangled representations using this approach and provide favorable qualitative and quantitative results on downstream tasks, including world modeling and reinforcement learning.

Most Activation Functions Can Win the Lottery Without Excessive Depth

Rebekka Burkholz

The strong lottery ticket hypothesis has highlighted the potential for training deep neural networks by pruning, which has inspired interesting practical and theoretical insights into how neural networks can represent functions. For networks with ReLU activation functions, it has been proven that a target network with depth L can be approximated by the subnetwork of a randomly initialized neural network that has double the target's depth 2L and is wider by a logarithmic factor. We show that a depth L+1 is sufficient. This result indicates that we can expect to find lottery tickets at realistic, commonly used depths while only requiring logarithmic overparametrization. Our novel construction approach applies to a large class of activation functions and is not limited to ReLUs. Code is available on Github (RelationalML/LT-existence).

Structural Kernel Search via Bayesian Optimization and Symbolical Optimal Transport

Matthias Bitzer · Mona Meister · Christoph Zimmer

Despite recent advances in automated machine learning, model selection is still a complex and computationally intensive process. For Gaussian processes (GPs), selecting the kernel is a crucial task, often done manually by the expert. Additionally, evaluating the model selection criteria for Gaussian processes typically scales cubically in the sample size, rendering kernel search particularly computationally expensive. We propose a novel, efficient search method through a general, structured kernel space. Previous methods solved this task via Bayesian optimization and relied on measuring the distance between GP's directly in function space to construct a kernel-kernel. We present an alternative approach by defining a kernel-kernel over the symbolic representation of the statistical hypothesis that is associated with a kernel. We empirically show that this leads to a computationally more efficient way of searching through a discrete kernel space.

Faster Deep Reinforcement Learning with Slower Online Network

Kavosh Asadi · Rasool Fakoor · Omer Gottesman · Taesup Kim · Michael Littman · Alexander Smola

Deep reinforcement learning algorithms often use two networks for value function optimization: an online network, and a target network that tracks the online network with some delay. Using two separate networks enables the agent to hedge against issues that arise when performing bootstrapping. In this paper we endow two popular deep reinforcement learning algorithms, namely DQN and Rainbow, with updates that incentivize the online network to remain in the proximity of the target network. This improves the robustness of deep reinforcement learning in presence of noisy updates. The resultant agents, called DQN Pro and Rainbow Pro, exhibit significant performance improvements over their original counterparts on the Atari benchmark demonstrating the effectiveness of this simple idea in deep reinforcement learning. The code for our paper is available here:

Online Reinforcement Learning for Mixed Policy Scopes

Junzhe Zhang · Elias Bareinboim

Combination therapy refers to the use of multiple treatments -- such as surgery, medication, and behavioral therapy - to cure a single disease, and has become a cornerstone for treating various conditions including cancer, HIV, and depression. All possible combinations of treatments lead to a collection of treatment regimens (i.e., policies) with mixed scopes, or what physicians could observe and which actions they should take depending on the context. In this paper, we investigate the online reinforcement learning setting for optimizing the policy space with mixed scopes. In particular, we develop novel online algorithms that achieve sublinear regret compared to an optimal agent deployed in the environment. The regret bound has a dependency on the maximal cardinality of the induced state-action space associated with mixed scopes. We further introduce a canonical representation for an arbitrary subset of interventional distributions given a causal diagram, which leads to a non-trivial, minimal representation of the model parameters.

What are the best Systems? New Perspectives on NLP Benchmarking

Pierre Colombo · Nathan Noiry · Ekhine Irurozki · Stephan Clémençon

In Machine Learning, a benchmark refers to an ensemble of datasets associated with one or multiple metrics together with a way to aggregate different systems performances. They are instrumental in {\it (i)} assessing the progress of new methods along different axes and {\it (ii)} selecting the best systems for practical use. This is particularly the case for NLP with the development of large pre-trained models (\textit{e.g.} GPT, BERT) that are expected to generalize well on a variety of tasks. While the community mainly focused on developing new datasets and metrics, there has been little interest in the aggregation procedure, which is often reduced to a simple average over various performance measures. However, this procedure can be problematic when the metrics are on a different scale, which may lead to spurious conclusions. This paper proposes a new procedure to rank systems based on their performance across different tasks. Motivated by the social choice theory, the final system ordering is obtained through aggregating the rankings induced by each task and is theoretically grounded. We conduct extensive numerical experiments (on over 270k scores) to assess the soundness of our approach both on synthetic and real scores (\textit{e.g.} GLUE, EXTREM, SEVAL, TAC, FLICKR). In particular, we show that our method yields different conclusions on state-of-the-art systems than the mean-aggregation procedure while being both more reliable and robust.

ALMA: Hierarchical Learning for Composite Multi-Agent Tasks

Shariq Iqbal · Robby Costales · Fei Sha

Despite significant progress on multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) in recent years, coordination in complex domains remains a challenge. Work in MARL often focuses on solving tasks where agents interact with all other agents and entities in the environment; however, we observe that real-world tasks are often composed of several isolated instances of local agent interactions (subtasks), and each agent can meaningfully focus on one subtask to the exclusion of all else in the environment. In these composite tasks, successful policies can often be decomposed into two levels of decision-making: agents are allocated to specific subtasks and each agent acts productively towards their assigned subtask alone. This decomposed decision making provides a strong structural inductive bias, significantly reduces agent observation spaces, and encourages subtask-specific policies to be reused and composed during training, as opposed to treating each new composition of subtasks as unique. We introduce ALMA, a general learning method for taking advantage of these structured tasks. ALMA simultaneously learns a high-level subtask allocation policy and low-level agent policies. We demonstrate that ALMA learns sophisticated coordination behavior in a number of challenging environments, outperforming strong baselines. ALMA's modularity also enables it to better generalize to new environment configurations. Finally, we find that while ALMA can integrate separately trained allocation and action policies, the best performance is obtained only by training all components jointly. Our code is available at

Intra-agent speech permits zero-shot task acquisition

Chen Yan · Federico Carnevale · Petko I Georgiev · Adam Santoro · Aurelia Guy · Alistair Muldal · Chia-Chun Hung · Joshua Abramson · Timothy Lillicrap · Gregory Wayne

Human language learners are exposed to a trickle of informative, context-sensitive language, but a flood of raw sensory data. Through both social language use and internal processes of rehearsal and practice, language learners are able to build high-level, semantic representations that explain their perceptions. Here, we take inspiration from such processes of "inner speech" in humans (Vygotsky, 1934) to better understand the role of intra-agent speech in embodied behavior. First, we formally pose intra-agent speech as a semi-supervised problem and develop two algorithms that enable visually grounded captioning with little labeled language data. We then experimentally compute scaling curves over different amounts of labeled data and compare the data efficiency against a supervised learning baseline. Finally, we incorporate intra-agent speech into an embodied, mobile manipulator agent operating in a 3D virtual world, and show that with as few as 150 additional image captions, intra-agent speech endows the agent with the ability to manipulate and answer questions about a new object without any related task-directed experience (zero-shot). Taken together, our experiments suggest that modelling intra-agent speech is effective in enabling embodied agents to learn new tasks efficiently and without direct interaction experience.

Deep Multi-Modal Structural Equations For Causal Effect Estimation With Unstructured Proxies

Shachi Deshpande · Kaiwen Wang · Dhruv Sreenivas · Zheng Li · Volodymyr Kuleshov

Estimating the effect of intervention from observational data while accounting for confounding variables is a key task in causal inference. Oftentimes, the confounders are unobserved, but we have access to large amounts of additional unstructured data (images, text) that contain valuable proxy signal about the missing confounders. This paper argues that leveraging this unstructured data can greatly improve the accuracy of causal effect estimation. Specifically, we introduce deep multi-modal structural equations, a generative model for causal effect estimation in which confounders are latent variables and unstructured data are proxy variables. This model supports multiple multimodal proxies (images, text) as well as missing data. We empirically demonstrate that our approach outperforms existing methods based on propensity scores and corrects for confounding using unstructured inputs on tasks in genomics and healthcare. Our methods can potentially support the use of large amounts of data that were previously not used in causal inference

Hybrid Neural Autoencoders for Stimulus Encoding in Visual and Other Sensory Neuroprostheses

Jacob Granley · Lucas Relic · Michael Beyeler

Sensory neuroprostheses are emerging as a promising technology to restore lost sensory function or augment human capabilities. However, sensations elicited by current devices often appear artificial and distorted. Although current models can predict the neural or perceptual response to an electrical stimulus, an optimal stimulation strategy solves the inverse problem: what is the required stimulus to produce a desired response? Here, we frame this as an end-to-end optimization problem, where a deep neural network stimulus encoder is trained to invert a known and fixed forward model that approximates the underlying biological system. As a proof of concept, we demonstrate the effectiveness of this Hybrid Neural Autoencoder (HNA) in visual neuroprostheses. We find that HNA produces high-fidelity patient-specific stimuli representing handwritten digits and segmented images of everyday objects, and significantly outperforms conventional encoding strategies across all simulated patients. Overall this is an important step towards the long-standing challenge of restoring high-quality vision to people living with incurable blindness and may prove a promising solution for a variety of neuroprosthetic technologies.

Data Distributional Properties Drive Emergent In-Context Learning in Transformers

Stephanie Chan · Adam Santoro · Andrew Lampinen · Jane Wang · Aaditya Singh · Pierre Richemond · James McClelland · Felix Hill

Large transformer-based models are able to perform in-context few-shot learning, without being explicitly trained for it. This observation raises the question: what aspects of the training regime lead to this emergent behavior? Here, we show that this behavior is driven by the distributions of the training data itself. In-context learning emerges when the training data exhibits particular distributional properties such as burstiness (items appear in clusters rather than being uniformly distributed over time) and having a large number of rarely occurring classes. In-context learning also emerges more strongly when item meanings or interpretations are dynamic rather than fixed. These properties are exemplified by natural language, but are also inherent to naturalistic data in a wide range of other domains. They also depart significantly from the uniform, i.i.d. training distributions typically used for standard supervised learning. In our initial experiments, we found that in-context learning traded off against more conventional weight-based learning, and models were unable to achieve both simultaneously. However, our later experiments uncovered that the two modes of learning could co-exist in a single model when it was trained on data following a skewed Zipfian distribution -- another common property of naturalistic data, including language. In further experiments, we found that naturalistic data distributions were only able to elicit in-context learning in transformers, and not in recurrent models. Our findings indicate how the transformer architecture works together with particular properties of the training data to drive the intriguing emergent in-context learning behaviour of large language models, and indicate how future work might encourage both in-context and in-weights learning in domains beyond language.

Drawing out of Distribution with Neuro-Symbolic Generative Models

Yichao Liang · Josh Tenenbaum · Tuan Anh Le · Siddharth N

Learning general-purpose representations from perceptual inputs is a hallmark of human intelligence. For example, people can write out numbers or characters, or even draw doodles, by characterizing these tasks as different instantiations of the same generic underlying process---compositional arrangements of different forms of pen strokes. Crucially, learning to do one task, say writing, implies reasonable competence at another, say drawing, on account of this shared process. We present Drawing out of Distribution (DooD), a neuro-symbolic generative model of stroke-based drawing that can learn such general-purpose representations. In contrast to prior work, DooD operates directly on images, requires no supervision or expensive test-time inference, and performs unsupervised amortized inference with a symbolic stroke model that better enables both interpretability and generalization. We evaluate DooD on its ability to generalize across both data and tasks. We first perform zero-shot transfer from one dataset (e.g. MNIST) to another (e.g. Quickdraw), across five different datasets, and show that DooD clearly outperforms different baselines. An analysis of the learnt representations further highlights the benefits of adopting a symbolic stroke model. We then adopt a subset of the Omniglot challenge tasks, and evaluate its ability to generate new exemplars (both unconditionally and conditionally), and perform one-shot classification, showing that DooD matches the state of the art. Taken together, we demonstrate that DooD does indeed capture general-purpose representations across both data and task, and takes a further step towards building general and robust concept-learning systems.

FIRE: Semantic Field of Words Represented as Non-Linear Functions

Xin Du · Kumiko Tanaka-Ishii

State-of-the-art word embeddings presume a linear vector space, but this approach does not easily incorporate the nonlinearity that is necessary to represent polysemy. We thus propose a novel semantic FIeld REepresentation, called FIRE, which is a $D$-dimensional field in which every word is represented as a set of its locations and a nonlinear function covering the field. The strength of a word's relation to another word at a certain location is measured as the function value at that location. With FIRE, compositionality is represented via functional additivity, whereas polysemy is represented via the set of points and the function's multimodality. By implementing FIRE for English and comparing it with previous representation methods via word and sentence similarity tasks, we show that FIRE produces comparable or even better results. In an evaluation of polysemy to predict the number of word senses, FIRE greatly outperformed BERT and Word2vec, providing evidence of how FIRE represents polysemy. The code is available at

Do Current Multi-Task Optimization Methods in Deep Learning Even Help?

Derrick Xin · Behrooz Ghorbani · Justin Gilmer · Ankush Garg · Orhan Firat

Recent research has proposed a series of specialized optimization algorithms for deep multi-task models. It is often claimed that these multi-task optimization (MTO) methods yield solutions that are superior to the ones found by simply optimizing a weighted average of the task losses. In this paper, we perform large-scale experiments on a variety of language and vision tasks to examine the empirical validity of these claims. We show that, despite the added design and computational complexity of these algorithms, MTO methods do not yield any performance improvements beyond what is achievable via traditional optimization approaches. We highlight alternative strategies that consistently yield improvements to the performance profile and point out common training pitfalls that might cause suboptimal results. Finally, we outline challenges in reliably evaluating the performance of MTO algorithms and discuss potential solutions.

Diffusion Models as Plug-and-Play Priors

Alexandros Graikos · Nikolay Malkin · Nebojsa Jojic · Dimitris Samaras

We consider the problem of inferring high-dimensional data $x$ in a model that consists of a prior $p(x)$ and an auxiliary differentiable constraint $c(x,y)$ on $x$ given some additional information $y$. In this paper, the prior is an independently trained denoising diffusion generative model. The auxiliary constraint is expected to have a differentiable form, but can come from diverse sources. The possibility of such inference turns diffusion models into plug-and-play modules, thereby allowing a range of potential applications in adapting models to new domains and tasks, such as conditional generation or image segmentation. The structure of diffusion models allows us to perform approximate inference by iterating differentiation through the fixed denoising network enriched with different amounts of noise at each step. Considering many noised versions of $x$ in evaluation of its fitness is a novel search mechanism that may lead to new algorithms for solving combinatorial optimization problems. The code is available at

ESCADA: Efficient Safety and Context Aware Dose Allocation for Precision Medicine

Ilker Demirel · Ahmet Alparslan Celik · Cem Tekin

Finding an optimal individualized treatment regimen is considered one of the most challenging precision medicine problems. Various patient characteristics influence the response to the treatment, and hence, there is no one-size-fits-all regimen. Moreover, the administration of an unsafe dose during the treatment can have adverse effects on health. Therefore, a treatment model must ensure patient \emph{safety} while \emph{efficiently} optimizing the course of therapy. We study a prevalent medical problem where the treatment aims to keep a physiological variable in a safe range and preferably close to a target level, which we refer to as \emph{leveling}. Such a task may be relevant in numerous other domains as well. We propose ESCADA, a novel and generic multi-armed bandit (MAB) algorithm tailored for the leveling task, to make safe, personalized, and context-aware dose recommendations. We derive high probability upper bounds on its cumulative regret and safety guarantees. Following ESCADA's design, we also describe its Thompson sampling-based counterpart. We discuss why the straightforward adaptations of the classical MAB algorithms such as GP-UCB may not be a good fit for the leveling task. Finally, we make \emph{in silico} experiments on the bolus-insulin dose allocation problem in type-1 diabetes mellitus disease and compare our algorithms against the famous GP-UCB algorithm, the rule-based dose calculators, and a clinician.

Robust Bayesian Regression via Hard Thresholding

Fan zheyi · Zhaohui Li · Qingpei Hu

By combining robust regression and prior information, we develop an effective robust regression method that can resist adaptive adversarial attacks. Due to the widespread existence of noise and data corruption, it is necessary to recover the true regression parameters when a certain proportion of the response variables have been corrupted. Methods to overcome this problem often involve robust least-squares regression. However, few methods achieve good performance when dealing with severe adaptive adversarial attacks. Based on the combination of prior information and robust regression via hard thresholding, this paper proposes an algorithm that improves the breakdown point when facing adaptive adversarial attacks. Furthermore, to improve the robustness and reduce the estimation error caused by the inclusion of a prior, the idea of Bayesian reweighting is used to construct a more robust algorithm. We prove the theoretical convergence of proposed algorithms under mild conditions. Extensive experiments show that, under different dataset attacks, our algorithms achieve state-of-the-art results compared with other benchmark algorithms, demonstrating the robustness of the proposed approach.

Optimal-er Auctions through Attention

Dmitry Ivanov · Iskander Safiulin · Igor Filippov · Ksenia Balabaeva

RegretNet is a recent breakthrough in the automated design of revenue-maximizing auctions. It combines the flexibility of deep learning with the regret-based approach to relax the Incentive Compatibility (IC) constraint (that participants prefer to bid truthfully) in order to approximate optimal auctions. We propose two independent improvements of RegretNet. The first is a neural architecture denoted as RegretFormer that is based on attention layers. The second is a loss function that requires explicit specification of an acceptable IC violation denoted as regret budget. We investigate both modifications in an extensive experimental study that includes settings with constant and inconstant numbers of items and participants, as well as novel validation procedures tailored to regret-based approaches. We find that RegretFormer consistently outperforms RegretNet in revenue (i.e. is optimal-er) and that our loss function both simplifies hyperparameter tuning and allows to unambiguously control the revenue-regret trade-off by selecting the regret budget.

Multi-Fidelity Best-Arm Identification

Riccardo Poiani · Alberto Maria Metelli · Marcello Restelli

In several real-world applications, a learner has access to multiple environment simulators, each with a different precision (e.g., simulation accuracy) and cost (e.g., computational time). In such a scenario, the learner faces the trade-off between selecting expensive accurate simulators or preferring cheap imprecise ones. We formalize this setting as a multi-fidelity variant of the stochastic best-arm identification problem, where querying the original arm is expensive, but multiple and biased approximations (i.e., fidelities) are available at lower costs. The learner's goal, in this setting, is to sequentially choose which simulator to query in order to minimize the total cost, while guaranteeing to identify the optimal arm with high probability. We first derive a lower bound on the identification cost, assuming that the maximum bias of each fidelity is known to the learner. Then, we propose a novel algorithm, Iterative Imprecise Successive Elimination (IISE), which provably reduces the total cost w.r.t. algorithms that ignore the multi-fidelity structure and whose cost complexity upper bound mimics the structure of the lower bound. Furthermore, we show that the cost complexity of IISE can be further reduced when the agent has access to a more fine-grained knowledge of the error introduced by the approximators.Finally, we numerically validate IISE, showing the benefits of our method in simulated domains.

Adaptive Oracle-Efficient Online Learning

Guanghui Wang · Zihao Hu · Vidya Muthukumar · Jacob Abernethy

The classical algorithms for online learning and decision-making have the benefit of achieving the optimal performance guarantees, but suffer from computational complexity limitations when implemented at scale. More recent sophisticated techniques, which we refer to as $\textit{oracle-efficient}$ methods, address this problem by dispatching to an $\textit{offline optimization oracle}$ that can search through an exponentially-large (or even infinite) space of decisions and select that which performed the best on any dataset. But despite the benefits of computational feasibility, most oracle-efficient algorithms exhibit one major limitation: while performing well in worst-case settings, they do not adapt well to friendly environments. In this paper we consider two such friendly scenarios, (a) "small-loss" problems and (b) IID data. We provide a new framework for designing follow-the-perturbed-leader algorithms that are oracle-efficient and adapt well to the small-loss environment, under a particular condition which we call $\textit{approximability}$ (which is spiritually related to sufficient conditions provided in (Dudík et al., 2020)). We identify a series of real-world settings, including online auctions and transductive online classification, for which approximability holds. We also extend the algorithm to an IID data setting and establish a "best-of-both-worlds" bound in the oracle-efficient setting.

Towards Consistency in Adversarial Classification

Laurent Meunier · Raphael Ettedgui · Rafael Pinot · Yann Chevaleyre · Jamal Atif

In this paper, we study the problem of consistency in the context of adversarial examples. Specifically, we tackle the following question: can surrogate losses still be used as a proxy for minimizing the $0/1$ loss in the presence of an adversary that alters the inputs at test-time? Different from the standard classification task, this question cannot be reduced to a point-wise minimization problem, and calibration needs not to be sufficient to ensure consistency. In this paper, we expose some pathological behaviors specific to the adversarial problem, and show that no convex surrogate loss can be consistent or calibrated in this context. It is therefore necessary to design another class of surrogate functions that can be used to solve the adversarial consistency issue. As a first step towards designing such a class, we identify sufficient and necessary conditions for a surrogate loss to be calibrated in both the adversarial and standard settings. Finally, we give some directions for building a class of losses that could be consistent in the adversarial framework.

Phase diagram of Stochastic Gradient Descent in high-dimensional two-layer neural networks

Rodrigo Veiga · Ludovic Stephan · Bruno Loureiro · Florent Krzakala · Lenka Zdeborová

Despite the non-convex optimization landscape, over-parametrized shallow networks are able to achieve global convergence under gradient descent. The picture can be radically different for narrow networks, which tend to get stuck in badly-generalizing local minima. Here we investigate the cross-over between these two regimes in the high-dimensional setting, and in particular investigate the connection between the so-called mean-field/hydrodynamic regime and the seminal approach of Saad \& Solla. Focusing on the case of Gaussian data, we study the interplay between the learning rate, the time scale, and the number of hidden units in the high-dimensional dynamics of stochastic gradient descent (SGD). Our work builds on a deterministic description of SGD in high-dimensions from statistical physics, which we extend and for which we provide rigorous convergence rates.

Beyond Adult and COMPAS: Fair Multi-Class Prediction via Information Projection

Wael Alghamdi · Hsiang Hsu · Haewon Jeong · Hao Wang · Peter Michalak · Shahab Asoodeh · Flavio Calmon

We consider the problem of producing fair probabilistic classifiers for multi-class classification tasks. We formulate this problem in terms of ``projecting'' a pre-trained (and potentially unfair) classifier onto the set of models that satisfy target group-fairness requirements. The new, projected model is given by post-processing the outputs of the pre-trained classifier by a multiplicative factor. We provide a parallelizable, iterative algorithm for computing the projected classifier and derive both sample complexity and convergence guarantees. Comprehensive numerical comparisons with state-of-the-art benchmarks demonstrate that our approach maintains competitive performance in terms of accuracy-fairness trade-off curves, while achieving favorable runtime on large datasets. We also evaluate our method at scale on an open dataset with multiple classes, multiple intersectional groups, and over 1M samples.

Multi-block Min-max Bilevel Optimization with Applications in Multi-task Deep AUC Maximization

Quanqi Hu · YONGJIAN ZHONG · Tianbao Yang

In this paper, we study multi-block min-max bilevel optimization problems, where the upper level is non-convex strongly-concave minimax objective and the lower level is a strongly convex objective, and there are multiple blocks of dual variables and lower level problems. Due to the intertwined multi-block min-max bilevel structure, the computational cost at each iteration could be prohibitively high, especially with a large number of blocks. To tackle this challenge, we present two single-loop randomized stochastic algorithms, which require updates for only a constant number of blocks at each iteration. Under some mild assumptions on the problem, we establish their sample complexity of $\mathcal{O}(1/\epsilon^4)$ for finding an $\epsilon$-stationary point. This matches the optimal complexity order for solving stochastic nonconvex optimization under a general unbiased stochastic oracle model. Moreover, we provide two applications of the proposed method in multi-task deep AUC (area under ROC curve) maximization. Experimental results validate our theory and demonstrate the effectiveness of our method.

A Single-timescale Analysis for Stochastic Approximation with Multiple Coupled Sequences

Han Shen · Tianyi Chen

Stochastic approximation (SA) with multiple coupled sequences has found broad applications in machine learning such as bilevel learning and reinforcement learning (RL). In this paper, we study the finite-time convergence of nonlinear SA with multiple coupled sequences. Different from existing multi-timescale analysis, we seek scenarios where a fine-grained analysis can provide a tight performance guarantee for single-timescale multi-sequence SA (STSA). At the heart of our analysis is the smoothness property of the fixed points in multi-sequence SA that holds in many applications. When all sequences have strongly monotone increments, we establish the iteration complexity of $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-1})$ to achieve $\epsilon$-accuracy, which improves the existing $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-1.5})$ complexity for two coupled sequences. When the main sequence does not have a strongly monotone increment, we establish the iteration complexity of $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-2})$. We showcase the power of our result by applying it to stochastic bilevel and compositional optimization problems, as well as RL problems, all of which recover the best known or lead to improvements over their existing guarantees.

A Simple and Provably Efficient Algorithm for Asynchronous Federated Contextual Linear Bandits

Jiafan He · Tianhao Wang · Yifei Min · Quanquan Gu

We study federated contextual linear bandits, where $M$ agents cooperate with each other to solve a global contextual linear bandit problem with the help of a central server. We consider the asynchronous setting, where all agents work independently and the communication between one agent and the server will not trigger other agents' communication. We propose a simple algorithm named FedLinUCB based on the principle of optimism. We prove that the regret of FedLinUCB is bounded by $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(d\sqrt{\sum_{m=1}^M T_m})$ and the communication complexity is $\widetilde{O}(dM^2)$, where $d$ is the dimension of the contextual vector and $T_m$ is the total number of interactions with the environment by agent $m$. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first provably efficient algorithm that allows fully asynchronous communication for federated linear bandits, while achieving the same regret guarantee as in the single-agent setting.

Evaluated CMI Bounds for Meta Learning: Tightness and Expressiveness

Fredrik Hellström · Giuseppe Durisi

Recent work has established that the conditional mutual information (CMI) framework of Steinke and Zakynthinou (2020) is expressive enough to capture generalization guarantees in terms of algorithmic stability, VC dimension, and related complexity measures for conventional learning (Harutyunyan et al., 2021, Haghifam et al., 2021). Hence, it provides a unified method for establishing generalization bounds. In meta learning, there has so far been a divide between information-theoretic results and results from classical learning theory. In this work, we take a first step toward bridging this divide. Specifically, we present novel generalization bounds for meta learning in terms of the evaluated CMI (e-CMI). To demonstrate the expressiveness of the e-CMI framework, we apply our bounds to a representation learning setting, with $n$ samples from $\hat n$ tasks parameterized by functions of the form $f_i \circ h$. Here, each $f_i \in \mathcal F$ is a task-specific function, and $h \in \mathcal H$ is the shared representation. For this setup, we show that the e-CMI framework yields a bound that scales as $\sqrt{ \mathcal C(\mathcal H)/(n\hat n) + \mathcal C(\mathcal F)/n} $, where $\mathcal C(\cdot)$ denotes a complexity measure of the hypothesis class. This scaling behavior coincides with the one reported in Tripuraneni et al. (2020) using Gaussian complexity.

Discrete-Convex-Analysis-Based Framework for Warm-Starting Algorithms with Predictions

Shinsaku Sakaue · Taihei Oki

Augmenting algorithms with learned predictions is a promising approach for going beyond worst-case bounds. Dinitz, Im, Lavastida, Moseley, and Vassilvitskii~(2021) have demonstrated that warm-starts with learned dual solutions can improve the time complexity of the Hungarian method for weighted perfect bipartite matching. We extend and improve their framework in a principled manner via \textit{discrete convex analysis} (DCA), a discrete analog of convex analysis. We show the usefulness of our DCA-based framework by applying it to weighted perfect bipartite matching, weighted matroid intersection, and discrete energy minimization for computer vision. Our DCA-based framework yields time complexity bounds that depend on the $\ell_\infty$-distance from a predicted solution to an optimal solution, which has two advantages relative to the previous $\ell_1$-distance-dependent bounds: time complexity bounds are smaller, and learning of predictions is more sample efficient. We also discuss whether to learn primal or dual solutions from the DCA perspective.

projUNN: efficient method for training deep networks with unitary matrices

Bobak Kiani · Randall Balestriero · Yann LeCun · Seth Lloyd

In learning with recurrent or very deep feed-forward networks, employing unitary matrices in each layer can be very effective at maintaining long-range stability. However, restricting network parameters to be unitary typically comes at the cost of expensive parameterizations or increased training runtime. We propose instead an efficient method based on rank-$k$ updates -- or their rank-$k$ approximation -- that maintains performance at a nearly optimal training runtime. We introduce two variants of this method, named Direct (projUNN-D) and Tangent (projUNN-T) projected Unitary Neural Networks, that can parameterize full $N$-dimensional unitary or orthogonal matrices with a training runtime scaling as $O(kN^2)$. Our method either projects low-rank gradients onto the closest unitary matrix (projUNN-T) or transports unitary matrices in the direction of the low-rank gradient (projUNN-D). Even in the fastest setting ($k=1$), projUNN is able to train a model's unitary parameters to reach comparable performances against baseline implementations. In recurrent neural network settings, projUNN closely matches or exceeds benchmarked results from prior unitary neural networks. Finally, we preliminarily explore projUNN in training orthogonal convolutional neural networks, which are currently unable to outperform state of the art models but can potentially enhance stability and robustness at large depth.

$\alpha$-ReQ : Assessing Representation Quality in Self-Supervised Learning by measuring eigenspectrum decay

Kumar K Agrawal · Arnab Kumar Mondal · Arna Ghosh · Blake Richards

Self-Supervised Learning (SSL) with large-scale unlabelled datasets enables learning useful representations for multiple downstream tasks. However, assessing the quality of such representations efficiently poses nontrivial challenges. Existing approaches train linear probes (with frozen features) to evaluate performance on a given task. This is expensive both computationally, since it requires retraining a new prediction head for each downstream task, and statistically, requires task-specific labels for multiple tasks. This poses a natural question, how do we efficiently determine the "goodness" of representations learned with SSL across a wide range of potential downstream tasks? In particular, a task-agnostic statistical measure of representation quality, that predicts generalization without explicit downstream task evaluation, would be highly desirable. In this work, we analyze characteristics of learned representations $\mathbf{f_\theta}$, in well-trained neural networks with canonical architectures \& across SSL objectives. We observe that the eigenspectrum of the empirical feature covariance $\mathrm{Cov}(\mathbf{f_\theta}$) can be well approximated with the family of power-law distribution. We analytically and empirically (using multiple datasets, e.g. CIFAR, STL10, MIT67, ImageNet) demonstrate that the decay coefficient $\alpha$ serves as a measure of representation quality for tasks that are solvable with a linear readout, i.e. there exist well-defined intervals for $\alpha$ where models exhibit excellent downstream generalization. Furthermore, our experiments suggest that key design parameters in SSL algorithms, such as BarlowTwins, implicitly modulate the decay coefficient of the eigenspectrum ($\alpha$). As $\alpha$ depends only on the features themselves, this measure for model selection with hyperparameter tuning for BarlowTwins enables search with less compute.

Structural Knowledge Distillation for Object Detection

Philip de Rijk · Lukas Schneider · Marius Cordts · Dariu Gavrila

Knowledge Distillation (KD) is a well-known training paradigm in deep neural networks where knowledge acquired by a large teacher model is transferred to a small student.KD has proven to be an effective technique to significantly improve the student's performance for various tasks including object detection. As such, KD techniques mostly rely on guidance at the intermediate feature level, which is typically implemented by minimizing an $\ell_{p}$-norm distance between teacher and student activations during training. In this paper, we propose a replacement for the pixel-wise independent $\ell_{p}$-norm based on the structural similarity (SSIM).By taking into account additional contrast and structural cues, more information within intermediate feature maps can be preserved. Extensive experiments on MSCOCO demonstrate the effectiveness of our method across different training schemes and architectures. Our method adds only little computational overhead, is straightforward to implement and at the same time it significantly outperforms the standard $\ell_p$-norms.Moreover, more complex state-of-the-art KD methods using attention-based sampling mechanisms are outperformed, including a +3.5 AP gain using a Faster R-CNN R-50 compared to a vanilla model.

Scalable Interpretability via Polynomials

Abhimanyu Dubey · Filip Radenovic · Dhruv Mahajan

Generalized Additive Models (GAMs) have quickly become the leading choice for interpretable machine learning. However, unlike uninterpretable methods such as DNNs, they lack expressive power and easy scalability, and are hence not a feasible alternative for real-world tasks. We present a new class of GAMs that use tensor rank decompositions of polynomials to learn powerful, {\em inherently-interpretable} models. Our approach, titled Scalable Polynomial Additive Models (SPAM) is effortlessly scalable and models {\em all} higher-order feature interactions without a combinatorial parameter explosion. SPAM outperforms all current interpretable approaches, and matches DNN/XGBoost performance on a series of real-world benchmarks with up to hundreds of thousands of features. We demonstrate by human subject evaluations that SPAMs are demonstrably more interpretable in practice, and are hence an effortless replacement for DNNs for creating interpretable and high-performance systems suitable for large-scale machine learning.Source code is available at \href{}{\ttfamily}.

Outstanding Paper
An empirical analysis of compute-optimal large language model training

Jordan Hoffmann · Sebastian Borgeaud · Arthur Mensch · Elena Buchatskaya · Trevor Cai · Eliza Rutherford · Diego de Las Casas · Lisa Anne Hendricks · Johannes Welbl · Aidan Clark · Thomas Hennigan · Eric Noland · Katherine Millican · George van den Driessche · Bogdan Damoc · Aurelia Guy · Simon Osindero · Karén Simonyan · Erich Elsen · Oriol Vinyals · Jack Rae · Laurent Sifre

We investigate the optimal model size and number of tokens for training a transformer language model under a given compute budget. We find that current large language models are significantly undertrained, a consequence of the recent focus on scaling language models whilst keeping the amount of training data constant. By training over 400 language models ranging from 70 million to over 16 billion parameters on 5 to 500 billion tokens, we find that for compute-optimal training, the model size and the number of training tokens should be scaled equally: for every doubling of model size the number of training tokens should also be doubled. We test this hypothesis by training a predicted compute-optimal model, Chinchilla, that uses the same compute budget as Gopher but with 70B parameters and 4$\times$ more data. Chinchilla uniformly and significantly outperformsGopher (280B), GPT-3 (175B), Jurassic-1 (178B), and Megatron-Turing NLG (530B) on a large range of downstream evaluation tasks. This also means that Chinchilla uses substantially less compute for fine-tuning and inference, greatly facilitating downstream usage. As a highlight, Chinchilla reaches a state-of-the-art average accuracy of 67.5% on the MMLU benchmark, a 7% improvement over Gopher.

Object Scene Representation Transformer

Mehdi S. M. Sajjadi · Daniel Duckworth · Aravindh Mahendran · Sjoerd van Steenkiste · Filip Pavetic · Mario Lucic · Leonidas Guibas · Klaus Greff · Thomas Kipf

A compositional understanding of the world in terms of objects and their geometry in 3D space is considered a cornerstone of human cognition. Facilitating the learning of such a representation in neural networks holds promise for substantially improving labeled data efficiency. As a key step in this direction, we make progress on the problem of learning 3D-consistent decompositions of complex scenes into individual objects in an unsupervised fashion. We introduce Object Scene Representation Transformer (OSRT), a 3D-centric model in which individual object representations naturally emerge through novel view synthesis. OSRT scales to significantly more complex scenes with larger diversity of objects and backgrounds than existing methods. At the same time, it is multiple orders of magnitude faster at compositional rendering thanks to its light field parametrization and the novel Slot Mixer decoder. We believe this work will not only accelerate future architecture exploration and scaling efforts, but it will also serve as a useful tool for both object-centric as well as neural scene representation learning communities.

Generative Neural Articulated Radiance Fields

Alexander Bergman · Petr Kellnhofer · Wang Yifan · Eric Chan · David Lindell · Gordon Wetzstein

Unsupervised learning of 3D-aware generative adversarial networks (GANs) using only collections of single-view 2D photographs has very recently made much progress. These 3D GANs, however, have not been demonstrated for human bodies and the generated radiance fields of existing frameworks are not directly editable, limiting their applicability in downstream tasks. We propose a solution to these challenges by developing a 3D GAN framework that learns to generate radiance fields of human bodies or faces in a canonical pose and warp them using an explicit deformation field into a desired body pose or facial expression. Using our framework, we demonstrate the first high-quality radiance field generation results for human bodies. Moreover, we show that our deformation-aware training procedure significantly improves the quality of generated bodies or faces when editing their poses or facial expressions compared to a 3D GAN that is not trained with explicit deformations.

Hand-Object Interaction Image Generation

Hezhen Hu · Weilun Wang · Wengang Zhou · Houqiang Li

In this work, we are dedicated to a new task, i.e., hand-object interaction image generation, which aims to conditionally generate the hand-object image under the given hand, object and their interaction status. This task is challenging and research-worthy in many potential application scenarios, such as AR/VR games and online shopping, etc. To address this problem, we propose a novel HOGAN framework, which utilizes the expressive model-aware hand-object representation and leverages its inherent topology to build the unified surface space. In this space, we explicitly consider the complex self- and mutual occlusion during interaction. During final image synthesis, we consider different characteristics of hand and object and generate the target image in a split-and-combine manner. For evaluation, we build a comprehensive protocol to access both the fidelity and structure preservation of the generated image. Extensive experiments on two large-scale datasets, i.e., HO3Dv3 and DexYCB, demonstrate the effectiveness and superiority of our framework both quantitatively and qualitatively. The code will be available at

Paraphrasing Is All You Need for Novel Object Captioning

Cheng-Fu Yang · Yao-Hung Hubert Tsai · Wan-Cyuan Fan · Russ Salakhutdinov · Louis-Philippe Morency · Frank Wang

Novel object captioning (NOC) aims to describe images containing objects without observing their ground truth captions during training. Due to the absence of caption annotation, captioning models cannot be directly optimized via sequence-to-sequence training or CIDEr optimization. As a result, we present Paraphrasing-to-Captioning (P2C), a two-stage learning framework for NOC, which would heuristically optimize the output captions via paraphrasing. With P2C, the captioning model first learns paraphrasing from a language model pre-trained on text-only corpus, allowing expansion of the word bank for improving linguistic fluency. To further enforce the output caption sufficiently describing the visual content of the input image, we perform self-paraphrasing for the captioning model with fidelity and adequacy objectives introduced. Since no ground truth captions are available for novel object images during training, our P2C leverages cross-modality (image-text) association modules to ensure the above caption characteristics can be properly preserved. In the experiments, we not only show that our P2C achieves state-of-the-art performances on nocaps and COCO Caption datasets, we also verify the effectiveness and flexibility of our learning framework by replacing language and cross-modality association models for NOC. Implementation details and code are available in the supplementary materials.

A Theoretical Study on Solving Continual Learning

Gyuhak Kim · Changnan Xiao · Tatsuya Konishi · Zixuan Ke · Bing Liu

Continual learning (CL) learns a sequence of tasks incrementally. There are two popular CL settings, class incremental learning (CIL) and task incremental learning (TIL). A major challenge of CL is catastrophic forgetting (CF). While a number of techniques are already available to effectively overcome CF for TIL, CIL remains to be highly challenging. So far, little theoretical study has been done to provide a principled guidance on how to solve the CIL problem. This paper performs such a study. It first shows that probabilistically, the CIL problem can be decomposed into two sub-problems: Within-task Prediction (WP) and Task-id Prediction (TP). It further proves that TP is correlated with out-of-distribution (OOD) detection, which connects CIL and OOD detection. The key conclusion of this study is that regardless of whether WP and TP or OOD detection are defined explicitly or implicitly by a CIL algorithm, good WP and good TP or OOD detection are necessary and sufficient for good CIL performances. Additionally, TIL is simply WP. Based on the theoretical result, new CIL methods are also designed, which outperform strong baselines in both CIL and TIL settings by a large margin.

RecursiveMix: Mixed Learning with History

Lingfeng Yang · Xiang Li · Borui Zhao · Renjie Song · Jian Yang

Mix-based augmentation has been proven fundamental to the generalization of deep vision models. However, current augmentations only mix samples from the current data batch during training, which ignores the possible knowledge accumulated in the learning history. In this paper, we propose a recursive mixed-sample learning paradigm, termed ``RecursiveMix'' (RM), by exploring a novel training strategy that leverages the historical input-prediction-label triplets. More specifically, we iteratively resize the input image batch from the previous iteration and paste it into the current batch while their labels are fused proportionally to the area of the operated patches. Furthermore, a consistency loss is introduced to align the identical image semantics across the iterations, which helps the learning of scale-invariant feature representations. Based on ResNet-50, RM largely improves classification accuracy by $\sim$3.2% on CIFAR-100 and $\sim$2.8% on ImageNet with negligible extra computation/storage costs. In the downstream object detection task, the RM-pretrained model outperforms the baseline by 2.1 AP points and surpasses CutMix by 1.4 AP points under the ATSS detector on COCO. In semantic segmentation, RM also surpasses the baseline and CutMix by 1.9 and 1.1 mIoU points under UperNet on ADE20K, respectively. Codes and pretrained models are available at

Uni-Perceiver-MoE: Learning Sparse Generalist Models with Conditional MoEs

Jinguo Zhu · Xizhou Zhu · Wenhai Wang · Xiaohua Wang · Hongsheng Li · Xiaogang Wang · Jifeng Dai

To build an artificial neural network like the biological intelligence system, recent works have unified numerous tasks into a generalist model, which can process various tasks with shared parameters and do not have any task-specific modules. While generalist models achieve promising results on various benchmarks, they have performance degradation on some tasks compared with task-specialized models. In this work, we find that interference among different tasks and modalities is the main factor to this phenomenon. To mitigate such interference, we introduce the Conditional Mixture-of-Experts (Conditional MoEs) to generalist models. Routing strategies under different levels of conditions are proposed to take both the training/inference cost and generalization ability into account. By incorporating the proposed Conditional MoEs, the recently proposed generalist model Uni-Perceiver can effectively mitigate the interference across tasks and modalities, and achieves state-of-the-art results on a series of downstream tasks via prompt tuning on 1% of downstream data. Moreover, the introduction of Conditional MoEs still holds the generalization ability of generalist models to conduct zero-shot inference on new tasks, e.g., videotext retrieval and video caption. Code and pre-trained generalist models are publicly released at

GMMSeg: Gaussian Mixture based Generative Semantic Segmentation Models

Chen Liang · Wenguan Wang · Jiaxu Miao · Yi Yang

Prevalent semantic segmentation solutions are, in essence, a dense discriminative classifier of p(class|pixel feature). Though straightforward, this de facto paradigm neglects the underlying data distribution p(pixel feature|class), and struggles to identify out-of-distribution data. Going beyond this, we propose GMMSeg, a new family of segmentation models that rely on a dense generative classifier for the joint distribution p(pixel feature,class). For each class, GMMSeg builds Gaussian Mixture Models (GMMs) via Expectation-Maximization (EM), so as to capture class-conditional densities. Meanwhile, the deep dense representation is end-to-end trained in a discriminative manner, i.e., maximizing p(class|pixel feature). This endows GMMSeg with the strengths of both generative and discriminative models. With a variety of segmentation architectures and backbones, GMMSeg outperforms the discriminative counterparts on three closed-set datasets. More impressively, without any modification, GMMSeg even performs well on open-world datasets. We believe this work brings fundamental insights into the related fields.

Multiview Human Body Reconstruction from Uncalibrated Cameras

Zhixuan Yu · Linguang Zhang · Yuanlu Xu · Chengcheng Tang · LUAN TRAN · Cem Keskin · Hyun Soo Park

We present a new method to reconstruct 3D human body pose and shape by fusing visual features from multiview images captured by uncalibrated cameras. Existing multiview approaches often use spatial camera calibration (intrinsic and extrinsic parameters) to geometrically align and fuse visual features. Despite remarkable performances, the requirement of camera calibration restricted their applicability to real-world scenarios, e.g., reconstruction from social videos with wide-baseline cameras. We address this challenge by leveraging the commonly observed human body as a semantic calibration target, which eliminates the requirement of camera calibration. Specifically, we map per-pixel image features to a canonical body surface coordinate system agnostic to views and poses using dense keypoints (correspondences). This feature mapping allows us to semantically, instead of geometrically, align and fuse visual features from multiview images. We learn a self-attention mechanism to reason about the confidence of visual features across and within views. With fused visual features, a regressor is learned to predict the parameters of a body model. We demonstrate that our calibration-free multiview fusion method reliably reconstructs 3D body pose and shape, outperforming state-of-the-art single view methods with post-hoc multiview fusion, particularly in the presence of non-trivial occlusion, and showing comparable accuracy to multiview methods that require calibration.

Multivariate Time-Series Forecasting with Temporal Polynomial Graph Neural Networks

Yijing Liu · Qinxian Liu · Jian-Wei Zhang · Haozhe Feng · Zhongwei Wang · Zihan Zhou · Wei Chen

Modeling multivariate time series (MTS) is critical in modern intelligent systems. The accurate forecast of MTS data is still challenging due to the complicated latent variable correlation. Recent works apply the Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) to the task, with the basic idea of representing the correlation as a static graph. However, predicting with a static graph causes significant bias because the correlation is time-varying in the real-world MTS data. Besides, there is no gap analysis between the actual correlation and the learned one in their works to validate the effectiveness. This paper proposes a temporal polynomial graph neural network (TPGNN) for accurate MTS forecasting, which represents the dynamic variable correlation as a temporal matrix polynomial in two steps. First, we capture the overall correlation with a static matrix basis. Then, we use a set of time-varying coefficients and the matrix basis to construct a matrix polynomial for each time step. The constructed result empirically captures the precise dynamic correlation of six synthetic MTS datasets generated by a non-repeating random walk model. Moreover, the theoretical analysis shows that TPGNN can achieve perfect approximation under a commutative condition. We conduct extensive experiments on two traffic datasets with prior structure and four benchmark datasets. The results indicate that TPGNN achieves the state-of-the-art on both short-term and long-term MTS forecastings.

RainNet: A Large-Scale Imagery Dataset and Benchmark for Spatial Precipitation Downscaling

Xuanhong Chen · Kairui Feng · Naiyuan Liu · Bingbing Ni · Yifan Lu · Zhengyan Tong · Ziang Liu

AI-for-science approaches have been applied to solve scientific problems (e.g., nuclear fusion, ecology, genomics, meteorology) and have achieved highly promising results. Spatial precipitation downscaling is one of the most important meteorological problem and urgently requires the participation of AI. However, the lack of a well-organized and annotated large-scale dataset hinders the training and verification of more effective and advancing deep-learning models for precipitation downscaling. To alleviate these obstacles, we present the first large-scale spatial precipitation downscaling dataset named RainNet, which contains more than 62,400 pairs of high-quality low/high-resolution precipitation maps for over 17 years, ready to help the evolution of deep learning models in precipitation downscaling. Specifically, the precipitation maps carefully collected in RainNet cover various meteorological phenomena (e.g., hurricane, squall), which is of great help to improve the model generalization ability. In addition, the map pairs in RainNet are organized in the form of image sequences (720 maps per month or 1 map/hour), showing complex physical properties, e.g., temporal misalignment, temporal sparse, and fluid properties. Furthermore, two deep-learning-oriented metrics are specifically introduced to evaluate or verify the comprehensive performance of the trained model (e.g., prediction maps reconstruction accuracy). To illustrate the applications of RainNet, 14 state-of-the-art models, including deep models and traditional approaches, are evaluated. To fully explore potential downscaling solutions, we propose an implicit physical estimation benchmark framework to learn the above characteristics. Extensive experiments demonstrate the value of RainNet in training and evaluating downscaling models. Our dataset is available at

Alleviating "Posterior Collapse'' in Deep Topic Models via Policy Gradient

Yewen Li · Chaojie Wang · Zhibin Duan · Dongsheng Wang · Bo Chen · Bo An · Mingyuan Zhou

Deep topic models have been proven as a promising way to extract hierarchical latent representations from documents represented as high-dimensional bag-of-words vectors.However, the representation capability of existing deep topic models is still limited by the phenomenon of "posterior collapse", which has been widely criticized in deep generative models, resulting in the higher-level latent representations exhibiting similar or meaningless patterns.To this end, in this paper, we first develop a novel deep-coupling generative process for existing deep topic models, which incorporates skip connections into the generation of documents, enforcing strong links between the document and its multi-layer latent representations.After that, utilizing data augmentation techniques, we reformulate the deep-coupling generative process as a Markov decision process and develop a corresponding Policy Gradient (PG) based training algorithm, which can further alleviate the information reduction at higher layers.Extensive experiments demonstrate that our developed methods can effectively alleviate "posterior collapse" in deep topic models, contributing to providing higher-quality latent document representations.

Refining Low-Resource Unsupervised Translation by Language Disentanglement of Multilingual Translation Model

Xuan-Phi Nguyen · Shafiq Joty · Kui Wu · Ai Ti Aw

Numerous recent work on unsupervised machine translation (UMT) implies that competent unsupervised translations of low-resource and unrelated languages, such as Nepali or Sinhala, are only possible if the model is trained in a massive multilingual environment, where these low-resource languages are mixed with high-resource counterparts. Nonetheless, while the high-resource languages greatly help kick-start the target low-resource translation tasks, the language discrepancy between them may hinder their further improvement. In this work, we propose a simple refinement procedure to separate languages from a pre-trained multilingual UMT model for it to focus on only the target low-resource task. Our method achieves the state of the art in the fully unsupervised translation tasks of English to Nepali, Sinhala, Gujarati, Latvian, Estonian and Kazakh, with BLEU score gains of 3.5, 3.5, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, and 3.3, respectively. Our codebase is available at

ZeroC: A Neuro-Symbolic Model for Zero-shot Concept Recognition and Acquisition at Inference Time

Tailin Wu · Megan Tjandrasuwita · Zhengxuan Wu · Xuelin Yang · Kevin Liu · Rok Sosic · Jure Leskovec

Humans have the remarkable ability to recognize and acquire novel visual concepts in a zero-shot manner. Given a high-level, symbolic description of a novel concept in terms of previously learned visual concepts and their relations, humans can recognize novel concepts without seeing any examples. Moreover, they can acquire new concepts by parsing and communicating symbolic structures using learned visual concepts and relations. Endowing these capabilities in machines is pivotal in improving their generalization capability at inference time. In this work, we introduce Zero-shot Concept Recognition and Acquisition (ZeroC), a neuro-symbolic architecture that can recognize and acquire novel concepts in a zero-shot way. ZeroC represents concepts as graphs of constituent concept models (as nodes) and their relations (as edges). To allow inference time composition, we employ energy-based models (EBMs) to model concepts and relations. We design ZeroC architecture so that it allows a one-to-one mapping between a symbolic graph structure of a concept and its corresponding EBM, which for the first time, allows acquiring new concepts, communicating its graph structure, and applying it to classification and detection tasks (even across domains) at inference time. We introduce algorithms for learning and inference with ZeroC. We evaluate ZeroC on a challenging grid-world dataset which is designed to probe zero-shot concept recognition and acquisition, and demonstrate its capability.

Beyond accuracy: generalization properties of bio-plausible temporal credit assignment rules

Yuhan Helena Liu · Arna Ghosh · Blake Richards · Eric Shea-Brown · Guillaume Lajoie

To unveil how the brain learns, ongoing work seeks biologically-plausible approximations of gradient descent algorithms for training recurrent neural networks (RNNs). Yet, beyond task accuracy, it is unclear if such learning rules converge to solutions that exhibit different levels of generalization than their non-biologically-plausible counterparts. Leveraging results from deep learning theory based on loss landscape curvature, we ask: how do biologically-plausible gradient approximations affect generalization? We first demonstrate that state-of-the-art biologically-plausible learning rules for training RNNs exhibit worse and more variable generalization performance compared to their machine learning counterparts that follow the true gradient more closely. Next, we verify that such generalization performance is correlated significantly with loss landscape curvature, and we show that biologically-plausible learning rules tend to approach high-curvature regions in synaptic weight space. Using tools from dynamical systems, we derive theoretical arguments and present a theorem explaining this phenomenon. This predicts our numerical results, and explains why biologically-plausible rules lead to worse and more variable generalization properties. Finally, we suggest potential remedies that could be used by the brain to mitigate this effect. To our knowledge, our analysis is the first to identify the reason for this generalization gap between artificial and biologically-plausible learning rules, which can help guide future investigations into how the brain learns solutions that generalize.

What Can the Neural Tangent Kernel Tell Us About Adversarial Robustness?

Nikolaos Tsilivis · Julia Kempe

The adversarial vulnerability of neural nets, and subsequent techniques to create robust models have attracted significant attention; yet we still lack a full understanding of this phenomenon. Here, we study adversarial examples of trained neural networks through analytical tools afforded by recent theory advances connecting neural networks and kernel methods, namely the Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK), following a growing body of work that leverages the NTK approximation to successfully analyze important deep learning phenomena and design algorithms for new applications. We show how NTKs allow to generate adversarial examples in a training-free'' fashion, and demonstrate that they transfer to fool their finite-width neural net counterparts in thelazy'' regime. We leverage this connection to provide an alternative view on robust and non-robust features, which have been suggested to underlie the adversarial brittleness of neural nets. Specifically, we define and study features induced by the eigendecomposition of the kernel to better understand the role of robust and non-robust features, the reliance on both for standard classification and the robustness-accuracy trade-off. We find that such features are surprisingly consistent across architectures, and that robust features tend to correspond to the largest eigenvalues of the model, and thus are learned early during training. Our framework allows us to identify and visualize non-robust yet useful features. Finally, we shed light on the robustness mechanism underlying adversarial training of neural nets used in practice: quantifying the evolution of the associated empirical NTK, we demonstrate that its dynamics falls much earlier into the ``lazy'' regime and manifests a much stronger form of the well known bias to prioritize learning features within the top eigenspaces of the kernel, compared to standard training.

Understanding Hyperdimensional Computing for Parallel Single-Pass Learning

Tao Yu · Yichi Zhang · Zhiru Zhang · Christopher De Sa

Hyperdimensional computing (HDC) is an emerging learning paradigm that computes with high dimensional binary vectors. There is an active line of research on HDC in the community of emerging hardware because of its energy efficiency and ultra-low latency---but HDC suffers from low model accuracy, with little theoretical understanding of what limits its performance. We propose a new theoretical analysis of the limits of HDC via a consideration of what similarity matrices can be expressed'' by binary vectors, and we show how the limits of HDC can be approached using random Fourier features (RFF). We extend our analysis to the more general class of vector symbolic architectures (VSA), which compute with high-dimensional vectors (hypervectors) that are not necessarily binary. We propose a new class of VSAs, finite group VSAs, which surpass the limits of HDC. Using representation theory, we characterize which similarity matrices can beexpressed'' by finite group VSA hypervectors, and we show how these VSAs can be constructed. Experimental results show that our RFF method and group VSA can both outperform the state-of-the-art HDC model by up to 7.6\% while maintaining hardware efficiency. This work aims to inspire a future interest on HDC in the ML community and connect to the hardware community.

Injecting Domain Knowledge from Empirical Interatomic Potentials to Neural Networks for Predicting Material Properties

Zeren Shui · Daniel Karls · Mingjian Wen · ilia Nikiforov · Ellad Tadmor · George Karypis

For decades, atomistic modeling has played a crucial role in predicting the behavior of materials in numerous fields ranging from nanotechnology to drug discovery. The most accurate methods in this domain are rooted in first-principles quantum mechanical calculations such as density functional theory (DFT). Because these methods have remained computationally prohibitive, practitioners have traditionally focused on defining physically motivated closed-form expressions known as empirical interatomic potentials (EIPs) that approximately model the interactions between atoms in materials. In recent years, neural network (NN)-based potentials trained on quantum mechanical (DFT-labeled) data have emerged as a more accurate alternative to conventional EIPs. However, the generalizability of these models relies heavily on the amount of labeled training data, which is often still insufficient to generate models suitable for general-purpose applications. In this paper, we propose two generic strategies that take advantage of unlabeled training instances to inject domain knowledge from conventional EIPs to NNs in order to increase their generalizability. The first strategy, based on weakly supervised learning, trains an auxiliary classifier on EIPs and selects the best-performing EIP to generate energies to supplement the ground-truth DFT energies in training the NN. The second strategy, based on transfer learning, first pretrains the NN on a large set of easily obtainable EIP energies, and then fine-tunes it on ground-truth DFT energies. Experimental results on three benchmark datasets demonstrate that the first strategy improves baseline NN performance by 5% to 51% while the second improves baseline performance by up to 55%. Combining them further boosts performance.

Accelerating Sparse Convolution with Column Vector-Wise Sparsity

Yijun Tan · Kai Han · Kang Zhao · Xianzhi Yu · Zidong Du · Yunji Chen · Yunhe Wang · Jun Yao

Weight sparsity is a promising approach to reducing the model size and computation cost of convolutional neural networks (CNNs). Nevertheless, non-zero weights often distribute randomly in sparse CNN models, introducing enormous difficulty in obtaining actual speedup on common hardware (e.g., GPU) over their dense counterparts. Existing acceleration solutions either require hardware modifications for irregular memory access support or rely on a partially structured sparsity pattern. Neither of these methods is capable of achieving fruitful speedup on convolution layers.In this work, we propose an algorithm-software co-designed sparse convolution based on a novel out-vector-wise (OVW) sparse pattern. Building on the insight that vertical vector integrity can preserve continuous memory access in IM2COL, the OVW pattern treats a $V\times1$ vector as an entirety. To reduce the error caused by sparsity, we propose an equivalent transformation process, i.e., clustering-based channel permutation, to gather similar rows together. Experimental evaluations demonstrate that our method achieves a $1.7\times$ and $3.2\times$ speedup over the SOTA solution and the dense convolution of ResNet50 on NVIDIA V100 at 75\% sparsity, respectively, with only negligible accuracy loss. Moreover, compared to the SOTA solution that achieves speedups only on data with 60\% sparsity or more, our method begins to obtain speedups on data with only 10\% sparsity.

Exact Shape Correspondence via 2D graph convolution

Barakeel Fanseu Kamhoua · Lin Zhang · Yongqiang Chen · Han Yang · MA Kaili · Bo Han · Bo Li · James Cheng

For exact 3D shape correspondence (matching or alignment), i.e., the task of matching each point on a shape to its exact corresponding point on the other shape (or to be more specific, matching at geodesic error 0), most existing methods do not perform well due to two main problems. First, on nearly-isometric shapes (i.e., low noise levels), most existing methods use the eigen-vectors (eigen-functions) of the Laplace Beltrami Operator (LBO) or other shape descriptors to update an initialized correspondence which is not exact, leading to an accumulation of update errors. Thus, though the final correspondence may generally be smooth, it is generally inexact. Second, on non-isometric shapes (noisy shapes), existing methods are generally not robust to noise as they usually assume near-isometry. In addition, existing methods that attempt to address the non-isometric shape problem (e.g., GRAMPA) are generally computationally expensive and do not generalise to nearly-isometric shapes. To address these two problems, we propose a 2D graph convolution-based framework called 2D-GEM. 2D-GEM is robust to noise on non-isometric shapes and with a few additional constraints, it also addresses the errors in the update on nearly-isometric shapes. We demonstrate the effectiveness of 2D-GEM by achieving a high accuracy of 90.5$\%$ at geodesic error 0 on the non-isometric benchmark SHREC16, i.e., TOPKIDS (while being much faster than GRAMPA), and on nearly-isometric benchmarks by achieving a high accuracy of 92.5$\%$ on TOSCA and 84.9$\%$ on SCAPE at geodesic error 0.

Global Optimal K-Medoids Clustering of One Million Samples

Jiayang Ren · Kaixun Hua · Yankai Cao

We study the deterministic global optimization of the K-Medoids clustering problem. This work proposes a branch and bound (BB) scheme, in which a tailored Lagrangian relaxation method proposed in the 1970s is used to provide a lower bound at each BB node. The lower bounding method already guarantees the maximum gap at the root node. A closed-form solution to the lower bound can be derived analytically without explicitly solving any optimization problems, and its computation can be easily parallelized. Moreover, with this lower bounding method, finite convergence to the global optimal solution can be guaranteed by branching only on the regions of medoids. We also present several tailored bound tightening techniques to reduce the search space and computational cost. Extensive computational studies on 28 machine learning datasets demonstrate that our algorithm can provide a provable global optimal solution with an optimality gap of 0.1\% within 4 hours on datasets with up to one million samples. Besides, our algorithm can obtain better or equal objective values than the heuristic method. A theoretical proof of global convergence for our algorithm is also presented.

Clipped Stochastic Methods for Variational Inequalities with Heavy-Tailed Noise

Eduard Gorbunov · Marina Danilova · David Dobre · Pavel Dvurechenskii · Alexander Gasnikov · Gauthier Gidel

Stochastic first-order methods such as Stochastic Extragradient (SEG) or Stochastic Gradient Descent-Ascent (SGDA) for solving smooth minimax problems and, more generally, variational inequality problems (VIP) have been gaining a lot of attention in recent years due to the growing popularity of adversarial formulations in machine learning. While high-probability convergence bounds are known to more accurately reflect the actual behavior of stochastic methods, most convergence results are provided in expectation. Moreover, the only known high-probability complexity results have been derived under restrictive sub-Gaussian (light-tailed) noise and bounded domain assumptions [Juditsky et al., 2011]. In this work, we prove the first high-probability complexity results with logarithmic dependence on the confidence level for stochastic methods for solving monotone and structured non-monotone VIPs with non-sub-Gaussian (heavy-tailed) noise and unbounded domains. In the monotone case, our results match the best known ones in the light-tails case [Juditsky et al., 2011], and are novel for structured non-monotone problems such as negative comonotone, quasi-strongly monotone, and/or star-cocoercive ones. We achieve these results by studying SEG and SGDA with clipping. In addition, we numerically validate that the gradient noise of many practical GAN formulations is heavy-tailed and show that clipping improves the performance of SEG/SGDA.

Sample-Efficient Reinforcement Learning of Partially Observable Markov Games

Qinghua Liu · Csaba Szepesvari · Chi Jin

This paper considers the challenging tasks of Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning (MARL) under partial observability, where each agent only sees her own individual observations and actions that reveal incomplete information about the underlying state of system. This paper studies these tasks under the general model of multiplayer general-sum Partially Observable Markov Games (POMGs), which is significantly larger than the standard model of Imperfect Information Extensive-Form Games (IIEFGs). We identify a rich subclass of POMGs---weakly revealing POMGs---in which sample-efficient learning is tractable. In the self-play setting, we prove that a simple algorithm combining optimism and Maximum Likelihood Estimation (MLE) is sufficient to find approximate Nash equilibria, correlated equilibria, as well as coarse correlated equilibria of weakly revealing POMGs, in a polynomial number of samples when the number of agents is small. In the setting of playing against adversarial opponents, we show that a variant of our optimistic MLE algorithm is capable of achieving sublinear regret when being compared against the optimal maximin policies. To our best knowledge, this work provides the first line of sample-efficient results for learning POMGs.

FasterRisk: Fast and Accurate Interpretable Risk Scores

Jiachang Liu · Chudi Zhong · Boxuan Li · Margo Seltzer · Cynthia Rudin

Over the last century, risk scores have been the most popular form of predictive model used in healthcare and criminal justice. Risk scores are sparse linear models with integer coefficients; often these models can be memorized or placed on an index card. Typically, risk scores have been created either without data or by rounding logistic regression coefficients, but these methods do not reliably produce high-quality risk scores. Recent work used mathematical programming, which is computationally slow. We introduce an approach for efficiently producing a collection of high-quality risk scores learned from data. Specifically, our approach produces a pool of almost-optimal sparse continuous solutions, each with a different support set, using a beam-search algorithm. Each of these continuous solutions is transformed into a separate risk score through a "star ray" search, where a range of multipliers are considered before rounding the coefficients sequentially to maintain low logistic loss. Our algorithm returns all of these high-quality risk scores for the user to consider. This method completes within minutes and can be valuable in a broad variety of applications.

LieGG: Studying Learned Lie Group Generators

Artem Moskalev · Anna Sepliarskaia · Ivan Sosnovik · Arnold Smeulders

Symmetries built into a neural network have appeared to be very beneficial for a wide range of tasks as it saves the data to learn them. We depart from the position that when symmetries are not built into a model a priori, it is advantageous for robust networks to learn symmetries directly from the data to fit a task function. In this paper, we present a method to extract symmetries learned by a neural network and to evaluate the degree to which a network is invariant to them. With our method, we are able to explicitly retrieve learned invariances in a form of the generators of corresponding Lie-groups without prior knowledge of symmetries in the data. We use the proposed method to study how symmetrical properties depend on a neural network's parameterization and configuration. We found that the ability of a network to learn symmetries generalizes over a range of architectures. However, the quality of learned symmetries depends on the depth and the number of parameters.

Shield Decentralization for Safe Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

Daniel Melcer · Christopher Amato · Stavros Tripakis

Learning safe solutions is an important but challenging problem in multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL). Shielded reinforcement learning is one approach for preventing agents from choosing unsafe actions. Current shielded reinforcement learning methods for MARL make strong assumptions about communication and full observability. In this work, we extend the formalization of the shielded reinforcement learning problem to a decentralized multi-agent setting. We then present an algorithm for decomposition of a centralized shield, allowing shields to be used in such decentralized, communication-free environments. Our results show that agents equipped with decentralized shields perform comparably to agents with centralized shields in several tasks, allowing shielding to be used in environments with decentralized training and execution for the first time.

ProtoX: Explaining a Reinforcement Learning Agent via Prototyping

Ronilo Ragodos · Tong Wang · Qihang Lin · Xun Zhou

While deep reinforcement learning has proven to be successful in solving control tasks, the ``black-box'' nature of an agent has received increasing concerns. We propose a prototype-based post-hoc \emph{policy explainer}, ProtoX, that explains a black-box agent by prototyping the agent's behaviors into scenarios, each represented by a prototypical state. When learning prototypes, ProtoX considers both visual similarity and scenario similarity. The latter is unique to the reinforcement learning context since it explains why the same action is taken in visually different states. To teach ProtoX about visual similarity, we pre-train an encoder using contrastive learning via self-supervised learning to recognize states as similar if they occur close together in time and receive the same action from the black-box agent. We then add an isometry layer to allow ProtoX to adapt scenario similarity to the downstream task. ProtoX is trained via imitation learning using behavior cloning, and thus requires no access to the environment or agent. In addition to explanation fidelity, we design different prototype shaping terms in the objective function to encourage better interpretability. We conduct various experiments to test ProtoX. Results show that ProtoX achieved high fidelity to the original black-box agent while providing meaningful and understandable explanations.

On the Generalizability and Predictability of Recommender Systems

Duncan McElfresh · Sujay Khandagale · Jonathan Valverde · John Dickerson · Colin White

While other areas of machine learning have seen more and more automation, designing a high-performing recommender system still requires a high level of human effort. Furthermore, recent work has shown that modern recommender system algorithms do not always improve over well-tuned baselines. A natural follow-up question is, "how do we choose the right algorithm for a new dataset and performance metric?" In this work, we start by giving the first large-scale study of recommender system approaches by comparing 24 algorithms and 100 sets of hyperparameters across 85 datasets and 315 metrics. We find that the best algorithms and hyperparameters are highly dependent on the dataset and performance metric. However, there is also a strong correlation between the performance of each algorithm and various meta-features of the datasets. Motivated by these findings, we create RecZilla, a meta-learning approach to recommender systems that uses a model to predict the best algorithm and hyperparameters for new, unseen datasets. By using far more meta-training data than prior work, RecZilla is able to substantially reduce the level of human involvement when faced with a new recommender system application. We not only release our code and pretrained RecZilla models, but also all of our raw experimental results, so that practitioners can train a RecZilla model for their desired performance metric:

Adversarial Unlearning: Reducing Confidence Along Adversarial Directions

Amrith Setlur · Benjamin Eysenbach · Virginia Smith · Sergey Levine

Supervised learning methods trained with maximum likelihood objectives often overfit on training data. Most regularizers that prevent overfitting look to increase confidence on additional examples (e.g., data augmentation, adversarial training), or reduce it on training data (e.g., label smoothing). In this work we propose a complementary regularization strategy that reduces confidence on self-generated examples. The method, which we call RCAD (Reducing Confidence along Adversarial Directions), aims to reduce confidence on out-of-distribution examples lying along directions adversarially chosen to increase training loss. In contrast to adversarial training, RCAD does not try to robustify the model to output the original label, but rather regularizes it to have reduced confidence on points generated using much larger perturbations than in conventional adversarial training. RCAD can be easily integrated into training pipelines with a few lines of code. Despite its simplicity, we find on many classification benchmarks that RCAD can be added to existing techniques (e.g., label smoothing, MixUp training) to increase test accuracy by 1-3% in absolute value, with more significant gains in the low data regime. We also provide a theoretical analysis that helps to explain these benefits in simplified settings, showing that RCAD can provably help the model unlearn spurious features in the training data.

Neurosymbolic Deep Generative Models for Sequence Data with Relational Constraints

Halley Young · Maxwell Du · Osbert Bastani

There has been significant recent progress designing deep generative models that generate realistic sequence data such as text or music. Nevertheless, it remains difficult to incorporate high-level structure to guide the generative process, and many such models perform well on local coherence, but less so on global coherence. We propose a novel approach for incorporating global structure in the form of relational constraints between different subcomponents of an example (e.g., lines of a poem or measures of music). Our generative model has two parts: (i) one model to generate a realistic set of relational constraints, and (ii) a second model to generate realistic data satisfying these constraints. For model (i), we propose a constrained optimization algorithm that infers the relational constraints present in the training data, and then learn a generative model based on the resulting constraint data. In our experiments, we show that our approach significantly improves over state-of-the-art in terms of capturing high-level structure in the data, while performing comparably or better in terms of low-level structure. We also show that using constrained optimization for part (ii) as well leads to increased controllability with little decrease in quality compared to pure learning-based models.

Memory Efficient Continual Learning with Transformers

Beyza Ermis · Giovanni Zappella · Martin Wistuba · Aditya Rawal · Cedric Archambeau

In many real-world scenarios, data to train machine learning models becomes available over time. Unfortunately, these models struggle to continually learn new concepts without forgetting what has been learnt in the past. This phenomenon is known as catastrophic forgetting and it is difficult to prevent due to practical constraints. For instance, the amount of data that can be stored or the computational resources that can be used might be limited. Moreover, applications increasingly rely on large pre-trained neural networks, such as pre-trained Transformers, since compute or data might not be available in sufficiently large quantities to practitioners to train from scratch. In this paper, we devise a method to incrementally train a model on a sequence of tasks using pre-trained Transformers and extending them with Adapters. Different than the existing approaches, our method is able to scale to a large number of tasks without significant overhead and allows sharing information across tasks. On both image and text classification tasks, we empirically demonstrate that our method maintains a good predictive performance without retraining the model or increasing the number of model parameters over time. The resulting model is also significantly faster at inference time compared to Adapter-based state-of-the-art methods.

Inverse Design for Fluid-Structure Interactions using Graph Network Simulators

Kelsey Allen · Tatiana Lopez-Guevara · Kimberly Stachenfeld · Alvaro Sanchez Gonzalez · Peter Battaglia · Jessica Hamrick · Tobias Pfaff

Designing physical artifacts that serve a purpose---such as tools and other functional structures---is central to engineering as well as everyday human behavior. Though automating design using machine learning has tremendous promise, existing methods are often limited by the task-dependent distributions they were exposed to during training. Here we showcase a task-agnostic approach to inverse design, by combining general-purpose graph network simulators with gradient-based design optimization. This constitutes a simple, fast, and reusable approach that solves high-dimensional problems with complex physical dynamics, including designing surfaces and tools to manipulate fluid flows and optimizing the shape of an airfoil to minimize drag. This framework produces high-quality designs by propagating gradients through trajectories of hundreds of steps, even when using models that were pre-trained for single-step predictions on data substantially different from the design tasks. In our fluid manipulation tasks, the resulting designs outperformed those found by sampling-based optimization techniques. In airfoil design, they matched the quality of those obtained with a specialized solver. Our results suggest that despite some remaining challenges, machine learning-based simulators are maturing to the point where they can support general-purpose design optimization across a variety of fluid-structure interaction domains.

Cross-modal Learning for Image-Guided Point Cloud Shape Completion

Emanuele Aiello · Diego Valsesia · Enrico Magli

In this paper we explore the recent topic of point cloud completion, guided by an auxiliary image. We show how it is possible to effectively combine the information from the two modalities in a localized latent space, thus avoiding the need for complex point cloud reconstruction methods from single views used by the state-of-the-art. We also investigate a novel self-supervised setting where the auxiliary image provides a supervisory signal to the training process by using a differentiable renderer on the completed point cloud to measure fidelity in the image space. Experiments show significant improvements over state-of-the-art supervised methods for both unimodal and multimodal completion. We also show the effectiveness of the self-supervised approach which outperforms a number of supervised methods and is competitive with the latest supervised models only exploiting point cloud information.

Beyond Mahalanobis Distance for Textual OOD Detection

Pierre Colombo · Eduardo Dadalto · Guillaume Staerman · Nathan Noiry · Pablo Piantanida

As the number of AI systems keeps growing, it is fundamental to implement and develop efficient control mechanisms to ensure the safe and proper functioning of machine learning (ML) systems. Reliable out-of-distribution (OOD) detection aims to detect test samples that are statistically far from the training distribution, as they might cause failures of in-production systems. In this paper, we propose a new detector called TRUSTED. Different from previous works, TRUSTED key components (i) include a novel OOD score relying on the concept of statistical data depth, (ii) rely on the idea’s full potential that all hidden layers of the network carry information regarding OOD. Our extensive experiments, comparing over 51k model configurations including different checkpoints, seed and various datasets, demonstrate that TRUSTED achieve state-of-the-art performances by producing an improvement of over 3 AUROC points.

Panchromatic and Multispectral Image Fusion via Alternating Reverse Filtering Network

Keyu Yan · Man Zhou · Jie Huang · Feng Zhao · Chengjun Xie · Chongyi Li · Danfeng Hong

Panchromatic (PAN) and multi-spectral (MS) image fusion, named Pan-sharpening, refers to super-resolve the low-resolution (LR) multi-spectral (MS) images in the spatial domain to generate the expected high-resolution (HR) MS images, conditioning on the corresponding high-resolution PAN images. In this paper, we present a simple yet effective alternating reverse filtering network for pan-sharpening. Inspired by the classical reverse filtering that reverses images to the status before filtering, we formulate pan-sharpening as an alternately iterative reverse filtering process, which fuses LR MS and HR MS in an interpretable manner. Different from existing model-driven methods that require well-designed priors and degradation assumptions, the reverse filtering process avoids the dependency on pre-defined exact priors. To guarantee the stability and convergence of the iterative process via contraction mapping on a metric space, we develop the learnable multi-scale Gaussian kernel module, instead of using specific filters. We demonstrate the theoretical feasibility of such formulations. Extensive experiments on diverse scenes to thoroughly verify the performance of our method, significantly outperforming the state of the arts.

Extrapolation and Spectral Bias of Neural Nets with Hadamard Product: a Polynomial Net Study

Yongtao Wu · Zhenyu Zhu · Fanghui Liu · Grigorios Chrysos · Volkan Cevher

Neural tangent kernel (NTK) is a powerful tool to analyze training dynamics of neural networks and their generalization bounds. The study on NTK has been devoted to typical neural network architectures, but it is incomplete for neural networks with Hadamard products (NNs-Hp), e.g., StyleGAN and polynomial neural networks (PNNs). In this work, we derive the finite-width NTK formulation for a special class of NNs-Hp, i.e., polynomial neural networks. We prove their equivalence to the kernel regression predictor with the associated NTK, which expands the application scope of NTK. Based on our results, we elucidate the separation of PNNs over standard neural networks with respect to extrapolation and spectral bias. Our two key insights are that when compared to standard neural networks, PNNs can fit more complicated functions in the extrapolation regime and admit a slower eigenvalue decay of the respective NTK, leading to a faster learning towards high-frequency functions. Besides, our theoretical results can be extended to other types of NNs-Hp, which expand the scope of our work. Our empirical results validate the separations in broader classes of NNs-Hp, which provide a good justification for a deeper understanding of neural architectures.

Tight Analysis of Extra-gradient and Optimistic Gradient Methods For Nonconvex Minimax Problems

Pouria Mahdavinia · Yuyang Deng · Haochuan Li · Mehrdad Mahdavi

Despite the established convergence theory of Optimistic Gradient Descent Ascent (OGDA) and Extragradient (EG) methods for the convex-concave minimax problems, little is known about the theoretical guarantees of these methods in nonconvex settings. To bridge this gap, for the first time, this paper establishes the convergence of OGDA and EG methods under the nonconvex-strongly-concave (NC-SC) and nonconvex-concave (NC-C) settings by providing a unified analysis through the lens of single-call extra-gradient methods. We further establish lower bounds on the convergence of GDA/OGDA/EG, shedding light on the tightness of our analysis. We also conduct experiments supporting our theoretical results. We believe our results will advance the theoretical understanding of OGDA and EG methods for solving complicated nonconvex minimax real-world problems, e.g., Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) or robust neural networks training.

Look More but Care Less in Video Recognition

Yitian Zhang · Yue Bai · Huan Wang · Yi Xu · Yun Fu

Existing action recognition methods typically sample a few frames to represent each video to avoid the enormous computation, which often limits the recognition performance. To tackle this problem, we propose Ample and Focal Network (AFNet), which is composed of two branches to utilize more frames but with less computation. Specifically, the Ample Branch takes all input frames to obtain abundant information with condensed computation and provides the guidance for Focal Branch by the proposed Navigation Module; the Focal Branch squeezes the temporal size to only focus on the salient frames at each convolution block; in the end, the results of two branches are adaptively fused to prevent the loss of information. With this design, we can introduce more frames to the network but cost less computation. Besides, we demonstrate AFNet can utilize less frames while achieving higher accuracy as the dynamic selection in intermediate features enforces implicit temporal modeling. Further, we show that our method can be extended to reduce spatial redundancy with even less cost. Extensive experiments on five datasets demonstrate the effectiveness and efficiency of our method.

Weakly-Supervised Multi-Granularity Map Learning for Vision-and-Language Navigation

Peihao Chen · Dongyu Ji · Kunyang Lin · Runhao Zeng · Thomas Li · Mingkui Tan · Chuang Gan

We address a practical yet challenging problem of training robot agents to navigate in an environment following a path described by some language instructions. The instructions often contain descriptions of objects in the environment. To achieve accurate and efficient navigation, it is critical to build a map that accurately represents both spatial location and the semantic information of the environment objects. However, enabling a robot to build a map that well represents the environment is extremely challenging as the environment often involves diverse objects with various attributes. In this paper, we propose a multi-granularity map, which contains both object fine-grained details (\eg, color, texture) and semantic classes, to represent objects more comprehensively. Moreover, we propose a weakly-supervised auxiliary task, which requires the agent to localize instruction-relevant objects on the map. Through this task, the agent not only learns to localize the instruction-relevant objects for navigation but also is encouraged to learn a better map representation that reveals object information. We then feed the learned map and instruction to a waypoint predictor to determine the next navigation goal. Experimental results show our method outperforms the state-of-the-art by 4.0% and 4.6% w.r.t. success rate both in seen and unseen environments, respectively on VLN-CE dataset. The code is available at

APG: Adaptive Parameter Generation Network for Click-Through Rate Prediction

Bencheng Yan · Pengjie Wang · Kai Zhang · Feng Li · Hongbo Deng · Jian Xu · Bo Zheng

In many web applications, deep learning-based CTR prediction models (deep CTR models for short) are widely adopted. Traditional deep CTR models learn patterns in a static manner, i.e., the network parameters are the same across all the instances. However, such a manner can hardly characterize each of the instances which may have different underlying distributions. It actually limits the representation power of deep CTR models, leading to sub-optimal results. In this paper, we propose an efficient, effective, and universal module, named as Adaptive Parameter Generation network (APG), which can dynamically generate parameters for deep CTR models on-the-fly based on different instances. Extensive experimental evaluation results show that APG can be applied to a variety of deep CTR models and significantly improve their performance. Meanwhile, APG can reduce the time cost by 38.7\% and memory usage by 96.6\% compared to a regular deep CTR model.We have deployed APG in the industrial sponsored search system and achieved 3\% CTR gain and 1\% RPM gain respectively.

Rethinking the Reverse-engineering of Trojan Triggers

Zhenting Wang · Kai Mei · Hailun Ding · Juan Zhai · Shiqing Ma

Deep Neural Networks are vulnerable to Trojan (or backdoor) attacks. Reverse-engineering methods can reconstruct the trigger and thus identify affected models. Existing reverse-engineering methods only consider input space constraints, e.g., trigger size in the input space.Expressly, they assume the triggers are static patterns in the input space and fail to detect models with feature space triggers such as image style transformations. We observe that both input-space and feature-space Trojans are associated with feature space hyperplanes.Based on this observation, we design a novel reverse-engineering method that exploits the feature space constraint to reverse-engineer Trojan triggers. Results on four datasets and seven different attacks demonstrate that our solution effectively defends both input-space and feature-space Trojans. It outperforms state-of-the-art reverse-engineering methods and other types of defenses in both Trojaned model detection and mitigation tasks. On average, the detection accuracy of our method is 93%. For Trojan mitigation, our method can reduce the ASR (attack success rate) to only 0.26% with the BA (benign accuracy) remaining nearly unchanged. Our code can be found at

The Mechanism of Prediction Head in Non-contrastive Self-supervised Learning

Zixin Wen · Yuanzhi Li

The surprising discovery of the BYOL method shows the negative samples can be replaced by adding the prediction head to the network. It is mysterious why even when there exist trivial collapsed global optimal solutions, neural networks trained by (stochastic) gradient descent can still learn competitive representations. In this work, we present our empirical and theoretical discoveries on non-contrastive self-supervised learning. Empirically, we find that when the prediction head is initialized as an identity matrix with only its off-diagonal entries being trainable, the network can learn competitive representations even though the trivial optima still exist in the training objective. Theoretically, we characterized the substitution effect and acceleration effect of the trainable, but identity-initialized prediction head. The substitution effect happens when learning the stronger features in some neurons can substitute for learning these features in other neurons through updating the prediction head. And the acceleration effect happens when the substituted features can accelerate the learning of other weaker features to prevent them from being ignored. These two effects enable the neural networks to learn diversified features rather than focus only on learning the strongest features, which is likely the cause of the dimensional collapse phenomenon. To the best of our knowledge, this is also the first end-to-end optimization guarantee for non-contrastive methods using nonlinear neural networks with a trainable prediction head and normalization.

Exploring evolution-aware & -free protein language models as protein function predictors

Mingyang Hu · Fajie Yuan · Kevin Yang · Fusong Ju · Jin Su · Hui Wang · Fei Yang · Qiuyang Ding

Large-scale Protein Language Models (PLMs) have improved performance in protein prediction tasks, ranging from 3D structure prediction to various function predictions. In particular, AlphaFold, a ground-breaking AI system, could potentially reshape structural biology. However, the utility of the PLM module in AlphaFold, Evoformer, has not been explored beyond structure prediction. In this paper, we investigate the representation ability of three popular PLMs: ESM-1b (single sequence), MSA-Transformer (multiple sequence alignment), and Evoformer (structural), with a special focus on Evoformer. Specifically, we aim to answer the following key questions: (1) Does the Evoformer trained as part of AlphaFold produce representations amenable to predicting protein function? (2) If yes, can Evoformer replace ESM-1b and MSA-Transformer? (3) How much do these PLMs rely on evolution-related protein data? In this regard, are they complementary to each other? We compare these models by empirical study along with new insights and conclusions. All code and datasets for reproducibility are available at .

M$^4$I: Multi-modal Models Membership Inference

Pingyi Hu · Zihan Wang · Ruoxi Sun · Hu Wang · Minhui Xue

With the development of machine learning techniques, the attention of research has been moved from single-modal learning to multi-modal learning, as real-world data exist in the form of different modalities. However, multi-modal models often carry more information than single-modal models and they are usually applied in sensitive scenarios, such as medical report generation or disease identification. Compared with the existing membership inference against machine learning classifiers, we focus on the problem that the input and output of the multi-modal models are in different modalities, such as image captioning. This work studies the privacy leakage of multi-modal models through the lens of membership inference attack, a process of determining whether a data record involves in the model training process or not. To achieve this, we propose Multi-modal Models Membership Inference (M$^4$I) with two attack methods to infer the membership status, named metric-based (MB) M$^4$I and feature-based (FB) M$^4$I, respectively. More specifically, MB M$^4$I adopts similarity metrics while attacking to infer target data membership. FB M$^4$I uses a pre-trained shadow multi-modal feature extractor to achieve the purpose of data inference attack by comparing the similarities from extracted input and output features. Extensive experimental results show that both attack methods can achieve strong performances. Respectively, 72.5% and 94.83% of attack success rates on average can be obtained under unrestricted scenarios. Moreover, we evaluate multiple defense mechanisms against our attacks. The source code of M$^4$I attacks is publicly available at

Deep Model Reassembly

Xingyi Yang · Daquan Zhou · Songhua Liu · Jingwen Ye · Xinchao Wang

In this paper, we explore a novel knowledge-transfer task, termed as Deep Model Reassembly (DeRy), for general-purpose model reuse.Given a collection of heterogeneous models pre-trained from distinct sources and with diverse architectures, the goal of DeRy, as its name implies, is to first dissect each model into distinctive building blocks, and then selectively reassemble the derived blocks to produce customized networks under both the hardware resource and performance constraints. Such ambitious nature of DeRy inevitably imposes significant challenges, including, in the first place, the feasibility of its solution. We strive to showcase that, through a dedicated paradigm proposed in this paper, DeRy can be made not only possibly but practically efficiently. Specifically, we conduct the partitions of all pre-trained networks jointly via a cover set optimization, and derive a number of equivalence set, within each of which the network blocks are treated as functionally equivalent and hence interchangeable. The equivalence sets learned in this way, in turn, enable picking and assembling blocks to customize networks subject to certain constraints, which is achieved via solving an integer program backed up with a training-free proxy to estimate the task performance. The reassembled models give rise to gratifying performances with the user-specified constraints satisfied. We demonstrate that on ImageNet, the best reassemble model achieves 78.6% top-1 accuracy without fine-tuning, which could be further elevated to 83.2% with end-to-end fine-tuning. Our code is available at

Incorporating Bias-aware Margins into Contrastive Loss for Collaborative Filtering

An Zhang · Wenchang Ma · Xiang Wang · Tat-Seng Chua

Collaborative filtering (CF) models easily suffer from popularity bias, which makes recommendation deviate from users’ actual preferences. However, most current debiasing strategies are prone to playing a trade-off game between head and tail performance, thus inevitably degrading the overall recommendation accuracy. To reduce the negative impact of popularity bias on CF models, we incorporate Bias-aware margins into Contrastive loss and propose a simple yet effective BC Loss, where the margin tailors quantitatively to the bias degree of each user-item interaction. We investigate the geometric interpretation of BC loss, then further visualize and theoretically prove that it simultaneously learns better head and tail representations by encouraging the compactness of similar users/items and enlarging the dispersion of dissimilar users/items. Over six benchmark datasets, we use BC loss to optimize two high-performing CF models. In various evaluation settings (i.e., imbalanced/balanced, temporal split, fully-observed unbiased, tail/head test evaluations), BC loss outperforms the state-of-the-art debiasing and non-debiasing methods with remarkable improvements. Considering the theoretical guarantee and empirical success of BC loss, we advocate using it not just as a debiasing strategy, but also as a standard loss in recommender models. Codes are available at

Stochastic Multiple Target Sampling Gradient Descent

Hoang Phan · Ngoc Tran · Trung Le · Toan Tran · Nhat Ho · Dinh Phung

Sampling from an unnormalized target distribution is an essential problem with many applications in probabilistic inference. Stein Variational Gradient Descent (SVGD) has been shown to be a powerful method that iteratively updates a set of particles to approximate the distribution of interest. Furthermore, when analysing its asymptotic properties, SVGD reduces exactly to a single-objective optimization problem and can be viewed as a probabilistic version of this single-objective optimization problem. A natural question then arises: ``Can we derive a probabilistic version of the multi-objective optimization?''. To answer this question, we propose Stochastic Multiple Target Sampling Gradient Descent (MT-SGD), enabling us to sample from multiple unnormalized target distributions. Specifically, our MT-SGD conducts a flow of intermediate distributions gradually orienting to multiple target distributions, which allows the sampled particles to move to the joint high-likelihood region of the target distributions. Interestingly, the asymptotic analysis shows that our approach reduces exactly to the multiple-gradient descent algorithm for multi-objective optimization, as expected. Finally, we conduct comprehensive experiments to demonstrate the merit of our approach to multi-task learning.

Probable Domain Generalization via Quantile Risk Minimization

Cian Eastwood · Alexander Robey · Shashank Singh · Julius von Kügelgen · Hamed Hassani · George J. Pappas · Bernhard Schölkopf

Domain generalization (DG) seeks predictors which perform well on unseen test distributions by leveraging data drawn from multiple related training distributions or domains. To achieve this, DG is commonly formulated as an average- or worst-case problem over the set of possible domains. However, predictors that perform well on average lack robustness while predictors that perform well in the worst case tend to be overly-conservative. To address this, we propose a new probabilistic framework for DG where the goal is to learn predictors that perform well with high probability. Our key idea is that distribution shifts seen during training should inform us of probable shifts at test time, which we realize by explicitly relating training and test domains as draws from the same underlying meta-distribution. To achieve probable DG, we propose a new optimization problem called Quantile Risk Minimization (QRM). By minimizing the $\alpha$-quantile of predictor's risk distribution over domains, QRM seeks predictors that perform well with probability $\alpha$. To solve QRM in practice, we propose the Empirical QRM (EQRM) algorithm and provide: (i) a generalization bound for EQRM; and (ii) the conditions under which EQRM recovers the causal predictor as $\alpha \to 1$. In our experiments, we introduce a more holistic quantile-focused evaluation protocol for DG, and demonstrate that EQRM outperforms state-of-the-art baselines on datasets from WILDS and DomainBed.

Fair and Optimal Decision Trees: A Dynamic Programming Approach

Jacobus van der Linden · Mathijs de Weerdt · Emir Demirović

Interpretable and fair machine learning models are required for many applications, such as credit assessment and in criminal justice. Decision trees offer this interpretability, especially when they are small. Optimal decision trees are of particular interest because they offer the best performance possible for a given size. However, state-of-the-art algorithms for fair and optimal decision trees have scalability issues, often requiring several hours to find such trees even for small datasets. Previous research has shown that dynamic programming (DP) performs well for optimizing decision trees because it can exploit the tree structure. However, adding a global fairness constraint to a DP approach is not straightforward, because the global constraint violates the condition that subproblems should be independent. We show how such a constraint can be incorporated by introducing upper and lower bounds on final fairness values for partial solutions of subproblems, which enables early comparison and pruning. Our results show that our model can find fair and optimal trees several orders of magnitude faster than previous methods, and now also for larger datasets that were previously beyond reach. Moreover, we show that with this substantial improvement our method can find the full Pareto front in the trade-off between accuracy and fairness.

An Information-Theoretic Framework for Deep Learning

Hong Jun Jeon · Benjamin Van Roy

Each year, deep learning demonstrate new and improved empirical results with deeper and wider neural networks. Meanwhile, with existing theoretical frameworks, it is difficult to analyze networks deeper than two layers without resorting to counting parameters or encountering sample complexity bounds that are exponential in depth. Perhaps it may be fruitful to try to analyze modern machine learning under a different lens. In this paper, we propose a novel information-theoretic framework with its own notions of regret and sample complexity for analyzing the data requirements of machine learning. We use this framework to study the sample complexity of learning from data generated by deep ReLU neural networks and deep networks that are infinitely wide but have a bounded sum of weights. We establish that the sample complexity of learning under these data generating processes is at most linear and quadratic, respectively, in network depth.

Learning Tractable Probabilistic Models from Inconsistent Local Estimates

Shasha Jin · Vasundhara Komaragiri · Tahrima Rahman · Vibhav Gogate

Tractable probabilistic models such as cutset networks which admit exact linear time posterior marginal inference are often preferred in practice over intractable models such as Bayesian and Markov networks. This is because although tractable models, when learned from data, are slightly inferior to the intractable ones in terms of goodness-of-fit measures such as log-likelihood, they do not use approximate inference at prediction time and as a result exhibit superior predictive performance. In this paper, we consider the problem of improving a tractable model using a large number of local probability estimates, each defined over a small subset of variables that are either available from experts or via an external process. Given a model learned from fully-observed, but small amount of possibly noisy data, the key idea in our approach is to update the parameters of the model via a gradient descent procedure that seeks to minimize a convex combination of two quantities: one that enforces closeness via KL divergence to the local estimates and another that enforces closeness to the given model. We show that although the gradients are NP-hard to compute on arbitrary graphical models, they can be efficiently computed over tractable models. We show via experiments that our approach yields tractable models that are significantly superior to the ones learned from small amount of possibly noisy data, even when the local estimates are inconsistent.

Domain Adaptation meets Individual Fairness. And they get along.

Debarghya Mukherjee · Felix Petersen · Mikhail Yurochkin · Yuekai Sun

Many instances of algorithmic bias are caused by distributional shifts. For example, machine learning (ML) models often perform worse on demographic groups that are underrepresented in the training data. In this paper, we leverage this connection between algorithmic fairness and distribution shifts to show that algorithmic fairness interventions can help ML models overcome distribution shifts, and that domain adaptation methods (for overcoming distribution shifts) can mitigate algorithmic biases. In particular, we show that (i) enforcing suitable notions of individual fairness (IF) can improve the out-of-distribution accuracy of ML models under the covariate shift assumption and that (ii) it is possible to adapt representation alignment methods for domain adaptation to enforce individual fairness. The former is unexpected because IF interventions were not developed with distribution shifts in mind. The latter is also unexpected because representation alignment is not a common approach in the individual fairness literature.

Recurrent Convolutional Neural Networks Learn Succinct Learning Algorithms

Surbhi Goel · Sham Kakade · Adam Kalai · Cyril Zhang

Neural networks (NNs) struggle to efficiently solve certain problems, such as learning parities, even when there are simple learning algorithms for those problems. Can NNs discover learning algorithms on their own? We exhibit a NN architecture that, in polynomial time, learns as well as any efficient learning algorithm describable by a constant-sized program. For example, on parity problems, the NN learns as well as Gaussian elimination, an efficient algorithm that can be succinctly described. Our architecture combines both recurrent weight sharing between layers and convolutional weight sharing to reduce the number of parameters down to a constant, even though the network itself may have trillions of nodes. While in practice the constants in our analysis are too large to be directly meaningful, our work suggests that the synergy of Recurrent and Convolutional NNs (RCNNs) may be more natural and powerful than either alone, particularly for concisely parameterizing discrete algorithms.

Interventions, Where and How? Experimental Design for Causal Models at Scale

Panagiotis Tigas · Yashas Annadani · Andrew Jesson · Bernhard Schölkopf · Yarin Gal · Stefan Bauer

Causal discovery from observational and interventional data is challenging due to limited data and non-identifiability which introduces uncertainties in estimating the underlying structural causal model (SCM). Incorporating these uncertainties and selecting optimal experiments (interventions) to perform can help to identify the true SCM faster. Existing methods in experimental design for causal discovery from limited data either rely on linear assumptions for the SCM or select only the intervention target. In this paper, we incorporate recent advances in Bayesian causal discovery into the Bayesian optimal experimental design framework, which allows for active causal discovery of nonlinear, large SCMs, while selecting both the target and the value to intervene with. We demonstrate the performance of the proposed method on synthetic graphs (Erdos-Rènyi, Scale Free) for both linear and nonlinear SCMs as well as on the \emph{in-silico} single-cell gene regulatory network dataset, DREAM.

On A Mallows-type Model For (Ranked) Choices

Yifan Feng · Yuxuan Tang

We consider a preference learning setting where every participant chooses an ordered list of $k$ most preferred items among a displayed set of candidates. (The set can be different for every participant.) We identify a distance-based ranking model for the population's preferences and their (ranked) choice behavior. The ranking model resembles the Mallows model but uses a new distance function called Reverse Major Index (RMJ). We find that despite the need to sum over all permutations, the RMJ-based ranking distribution aggregates into (ranked) choice probabilities with simple closed-form expression. We develop effective methods to estimate the model parameters and showcase their generalization power using real data, especially when there is a limited variety of display sets.

Forward-Backward Latent State Inference for Hidden Continuous-Time semi-Markov Chains

Nicolai Engelmann · Heinz Koeppl

Hidden semi-Markov Models (HSMM's) - while broadly in use - are restricted to a discrete and uniform time grid. They are thus not well suited to explain often irregularly spaced discrete event data from continuous-time phenomena. We show that non-sampling-based latent state inference used in HSMM's can be generalized to latent Continuous-Time semi-Markov Chains (CTSMC's). We formulate integro-differential forward and backward equations adjusted to the observation likelihood and introduce an exact integral equation for the Bayesian posterior marginals and a scalable Viterbi-type algorithm for posterior path estimates. The presented equations can be efficiently solved using well-known numerical methods. As a practical tool, variable-step HSMM's are introduced. We evaluate our approaches in latent state inference scenarios in comparison to classical HSMM's.

Regret Bounds for Risk-Sensitive Reinforcement Learning

Osbert Bastani · Jason Yecheng Ma · Estelle Shen · Wanqiao Xu

In safety-critical applications of reinforcement learning such as healthcare and robotics, it is often desirable to optimize risk-sensitive objectives that account for tail outcomes rather than expected reward. We prove the first regret bounds for reinforcement learning under a general class of risk-sensitive objectives including the popular CVaR objective. Our theory is based on a novel characterization of the CVaR objective as well as a novel optimistic MDP construction.

Rate-Optimal Online Convex Optimization in Adaptive Linear Control

Asaf Benjamin Cassel · Alon Peled-Cohen · Tomer Koren

We consider the problem of controlling an unknown linear dynamical system under adversarially-changing convex costs and full feedback of both the state and cost function. We present the first computationally-efficient algorithm that attains an optimal $\sqrt{T}$-regret rate compared to the best stabilizing linear controller in hindsight, while avoiding stringent assumptions on the costs such as strong convexity. Our approach is based on a careful design of non-convex lower confidence bounds for the online costs, and uses a novel technique for computationally-efficient regret minimization of these bounds that leverages their particular non-convex structure.

Zonotope Domains for Lagrangian Neural Network Verification

Matt Jordan · Jonathan Hayase · Alex Dimakis · Sewoong Oh

Neural network verification aims to provide provable bounds for the output of a neural network for a given input range. Notable prior works in this domain have either generated bounds using abstract domains, which preserve some dependency between intermediate neurons in the network; or framed verification as an optimization problem and solved a relaxation using Lagrangian methods. A key drawback of the latter technique is that each neuron is treated independently, thereby ignoring important neuron interactions. We provide an approach that merges these two threads and uses zonotopes within a Lagrangian decomposition. Crucially, we can decompose the problem of verifying a deep neural network into the verification of many 2-layer neural networks. While each of these problems is provably hard, we provide efficient relaxation methods that are amenable to efficient dual ascent procedures. Our technique yields bounds that improve upon both linear programming and Lagrangian-based verification techniques in both time and bound tightness.

Generalizing Bayesian Optimization with Decision-theoretic Entropies

Willie Neiswanger · Lantao Yu · Shengjia Zhao · Chenlin Meng · Stefano Ermon

Bayesian optimization (BO) is a popular method for efficiently inferring optima of an expensive black-box function via a sequence of queries. Existing information-theoretic BO procedures aim to make queries that most reduce the uncertainty about optima, where the uncertainty is captured by Shannon entropy. However, an optimal measure of uncertainty would, ideally, factor in how we intend to use the inferred quantity in some downstream procedure. In this paper, we instead consider a generalization of Shannon entropy from work in statistical decision theory (DeGroot 1962, Rao 1984), which contains a broad class of uncertainty measures parameterized by a problem-specific loss function corresponding to a downstream task. We first show that special cases of this entropy lead to popular acquisition functions used in BO procedures such as knowledge gradient, expected improvement, and entropy search. We then show how alternative choices for the loss yield a flexible family of acquisition functions that can be customized for use in novel optimization settings. Additionally, we develop gradient-based methods to efficiently optimize our proposed family of acquisition functions, and demonstrate strong empirical performance on a diverse set of sequential decision making tasks, including variants of top-$k$ optimization, multi-level set estimation, and sequence search.

Regularized Gradient Descent Ascent for Two-Player Zero-Sum Markov Games

Sihan Zeng · Thinh Doan · Justin Romberg

We study the problem of finding the Nash equilibrium in a two-player zero-sum Markov game. Due to its formulation as a minimax optimization program, a natural approach to solve the problem is to perform gradient descent/ascent with respect to each player in an alternating fashion. However, due to the non-convexity/non-concavity of the underlying objective function, theoretical understandings of this method are limited. In our paper, we consider solving an entropy-regularized variant of the Markov game. The regularization introduces structures into the optimization landscape that make the solutions more identifiable and allow the problem to be solved more efficiently. Our main contribution is to show that under proper choices of the regularization parameter, the gradient descent ascent algorithm converges to the Nash equilibrium of the original unregularized problem. We explicitly characterize the finite-time performance of the last iterate of our algorithm, which vastly improves over the existing convergence bound of the gradient descent ascent algorithm without regularization. Finally, we complement the analysis with numerical simulations that illustrate the accelerated convergence of the algorithm.

Wasserstein Logistic Regression with Mixed Features

Aras Selvi · Mohammad Reza Belbasi · Martin Haugh · Wolfram Wiesemann

Recent work has leveraged the popular distributionally robust optimization paradigm to combat overfitting in classical logistic regression. While the resulting classification scheme displays a promising performance in numerical experiments, it is inherently limited to numerical features. In this paper, we show that distributionally robust logistic regression with mixed (\emph{i.e.}, numerical and categorical) features, despite amounting to an optimization problem of exponential size, admits a polynomial-time solution scheme. We subsequently develop a practically efficient cutting plane approach that solves the problem as a sequence of polynomial-time solvable exponential conic programs. Our method retains many of the desirable theoretical features of previous works, but---in contrast to the literature---it does not admit an equivalent representation as a regularized logistic regression, that is, it represents a genuinely novel variant of the logistic regression problem. We show that our method outperforms both the unregularized and the regularized logistic regression on categorical as well as mixed-feature benchmark instances.

The Role of Baselines in Policy Gradient Optimization

Jincheng Mei · Wesley Chung · Valentin Thomas · Bo Dai · Csaba Szepesvari · Dale Schuurmans

We study the effect of baselines in on-policy stochastic policy gradient optimization, and close the gap between the theory and practice of policy optimization methods. Our first contribution is to show that the \emph{state value} baseline allows on-policy stochastic \emph{natural} policy gradient (NPG) to converge to a globally optimal policy at an $O(1/t)$ rate, which was not previously known. The analysis relies on two novel findings: the expected progress of the NPG update satisfies a stochastic version of the non-uniform \L{}ojasiewicz (N\L{}) inequality, and with probability 1 the state value baseline prevents the optimal action's probability from vanishing, thus ensuring sufficient exploration. Importantly, these results provide a new understanding of the role of baselines in stochastic policy gradient: by showing that the variance of natural policy gradient estimates remains unbounded with or without a baseline, we find that variance reduction \emph{cannot} explain their utility in this setting. Instead, the analysis reveals that the primary effect of the value baseline is to \textbf{reduce the aggressiveness of the updates} rather than their variance. That is, we demonstrate that a finite variance is \emph{not necessary} for almost sure convergence of stochastic NPG, while controlling update aggressiveness is both necessary and sufficient. Additional experimental results verify these theoretical findings.

Active Learning Polynomial Threshold Functions

Omri Ben-Eliezer · Max Hopkins · Chutong Yang · Hantao Yu

We initiate the study of active learning polynomial threshold functions (PTFs). While traditional lower bounds imply that even univariate quadratics cannot be non-trivially actively learned, we show that allowing the learner basic access to the derivatives of the underlying classifier circumvents this issue and leads to a computationally efficient algorithm for active learning degree-$d$ univariate PTFs in $\tilde{O}(d^3\log(1/\varepsilon\delta))$ queries. We extend this result to the batch active setting, providing a smooth transition between query complexity and rounds of adaptivity, and also provide near-optimal algorithms for active learning PTFs in several average case settings. Finally, we prove that access to derivatives is insufficient for active learning multivariate PTFs, even those of just two variables.

Quantile Constrained Reinforcement Learning: A Reinforcement Learning Framework Constraining Outage Probability

Whiyoung Jung · Myungsik Cho · Jongeui Park · Youngchul Sung

Constrained reinforcement learning (RL) is an area of RL whose objective is to find an optimal policy that maximizes expected cumulative return while satisfying a given constraint. Most of the previous constrained RL works consider expected cumulative sum cost as the constraint. However, optimization with this constraint cannot guarantee a target probability of outage event that the cumulative sum cost exceeds a given threshold. This paper proposes a framework, named Quantile Constrained RL (QCRL), to constrain the quantile of the distribution of the cumulative sum cost that is a necessary and sufficient condition to satisfy the outage constraint. This is the first work that tackles the issue of applying the policy gradient theorem to the quantile and provides theoretical results for approximating the gradient of the quantile. Based on the derived theoretical results and the technique of the Lagrange multiplier, we construct a constrained RL algorithm named Quantile Constrained Policy Optimization (QCPO). We use distributional RL with the Large Deviation Principle (LDP) to estimate quantiles and tail probability of the cumulative sum cost for the implementation of QCPO. The implemented algorithm satisfies the outage probability constraint after the training period.

Generalised Implicit Neural Representations

Daniele Grattarola · Pierre Vandergheynst

We consider the problem of learning implicit neural representations (INRs) for signals on non-Euclidean domains. In the Euclidean case, INRs are trained on a discrete sampling of a signal over a regular lattice. Here, we assume that the continuous signal exists on some unknown topological space from which we sample a discrete graph.In the absence of a coordinate system to identify the sampled nodes, we propose approximating their location with a spectral embedding of the graph. This allows us to train INRs without knowing the underlying continuous domain, which is the case for most graph signals in nature, while also making the INRs independent of any choice of coordinate system. We show experiments with our method on various real-world signals on non-Euclidean domains.

Score-Based Generative Models Detect Manifolds

Jakiw Pidstrigach

Score-based generative models (SGMs) need to approximate the scores $\nabla \log p_t$ of the intermediate distributions as well as the final distribution $p_T$ of the forward process. The theoretical underpinnings of the effects of these approximations are still lacking. We find precise conditions under which SGMs are able to produce samples from an underlying (low-dimensional) data manifold $\mathcal{M}$. This assures us that SGMs are able to generate the "right kind of samples". For example, taking $\mathcal{M}$ to be the subset of images of faces, we provide conditions under which the SGM robustly produces an image of a face, even though the relative frequencies of these images might not accurately represent the true data generating distribution. Moreover, this analysis is a first step towards understanding the generalization properties of SGMs: Taking $\mathcal{M}$ to be the set of all training samples, our results provide a precise description of when the SGM memorizes its training data.

Mixture-of-Experts with Expert Choice Routing

Yanqi Zhou · Tao Lei · Hanxiao Liu · Nan Du · Yanping Huang · Vincent Zhao · Andrew Dai · zhifeng Chen · Quoc V Le · James Laudon

Sparsely-activated Mixture-of-experts (MoE) models allow the number of parameters to greatly increase while keeping the amount of computation for a given token or a given sample unchanged. However, a poor expert routing strategy (e.g. one resulting in load imbalance) can cause certain experts to be under-trained, leading to an expert being under or over-specialized. Prior work allocates a fixed number of experts to each token using a top-k function regardless of the relative importance of different tokens. To address this, we propose a heterogeneous mixture-of-experts employing an expert choice method. Instead of letting tokens select the top-k experts, we have experts selecting the top-k tokens. As a result, each token can be routed to a variable number of experts and each expert can have a fixed bucket size. We systematically study pre-training speedups using the same computational resources of the Switch Transformer top-1 and GShard top-2 gating of prior work and find that our method improves training convergence time by more than 2×. For the same computational cost, our method demonstrates higher performance in fine-tuning 11 selected tasks in the GLUE and SuperGLUE benchmarks. For a smaller activation cost, our method outperforms the T5 dense model in 7 out of the 11 tasks.

Coresets for Relational Data and The Applications

Jiaxiang Chen · Qingyuan Yang · Ruomin Huang · Hu Ding

A coreset is a small set that can approximately preserve the structure of the original input data set. Therefore we can run our algorithm on a coreset so as to reduce the total computational complexity. Conventional coreset techniques assume that the input data set is available to process explicitly. However, this assumption may not hold in real-world scenarios. In this paper, we consider the problem of coresets construction over relational data. Namely, the data is decoupled into several relational tables, and it could be very expensive to directly materialize the data matrix by joining the tables. We propose a novel approach called ``aggregation tree with pseudo-cube'' that can build a coreset from bottom to up. Moreover, our approach can neatly circumvent several troublesome issues of relational learning problems [Khamis et al., PODS 2019]. Under some mild assumptions, we show that our coreset approach can be applied for the machine learning tasks, such as clustering, logistic regression and SVM.

Factored Adaptation for Non-Stationary Reinforcement Learning

Fan Feng · Biwei Huang · Kun Zhang · Sara Magliacane

Dealing with non-stationarity in environments (e.g., in the transition dynamics) and objectives (e.g., in the reward functions) is a challenging problem that is crucial in real-world applications of reinforcement learning (RL). While most current approaches model the changes as a single shared embedding vector, we leverage insights from the recent causality literature to model non-stationarity in terms of individual latent change factors, and causal graphs across different environments. In particular, we propose Factored Adaptation for Non-Stationary RL (FANS-RL), a factored adaption approach that learns jointly both the causal structure in terms of a factored MDP, and a factored representation of the individual time-varying change factors. We prove that under standard assumptions, we can completely recover the causal graph representing the factored transition and reward function, as well as a partial structure between the individual change factors and the state components. Through our general framework, we can consider general non-stationary scenarios with different function types and changing frequency, including changes across episodes and within episodes. Experimental results demonstrate that FANS-RL outperforms existing approaches in terms of return, compactness of the latent state representation, and robustness to varying degrees of non-stationarity.

Counterfactual harm

Jonathan Richens · Rory Beard · Daniel H. Thompson

To act safely and ethically in the real world, agents must be able to reason about harm and avoid harmful actions. However, to date there is no statistical method for measuring harm and factoring it into algorithmic decisions. In this paper we propose the first formal definition of harm and benefit using causal models. We show that any factual definition of harm is incapable of identifying harmful actions in certain scenarios, and show that standard machine learning algorithms that cannot perform counterfactual reasoning are guaranteed to pursue harmful policies following distributional shifts. We use our definition of harm to devise a framework for harm-averse decision making using counterfactual objective functions. We demonstrate this framework on the problem of identifying optimal drug doses using a dose-response model learned from randomised control trial data. We find that the standard method of selecting doses using treatment effects results in unnecessarily harmful doses, while our counterfactual approach identifies doses that are significantly less harmful without sacrificing efficacy.

Addressing Leakage in Concept Bottleneck Models

Marton Havasi · Sonali Parbhoo · Finale Doshi-Velez

Concept bottleneck models (CBMs) enhance the interpretability of their predictions by first predicting high-level concepts given features, and subsequently predicting outcomes on the basis of these concepts. Recently, it was demonstrated that training the label predictor directly on the probabilities produced by the concept predictor as opposed to the ground-truth concepts, improves label predictions. However, this results in corruptions in the concept predictions that impact the concept accuracy as well as our ability to intervene on the concepts -- a key proposed benefit of CBMs. In this work, we investigate and address two issues with CBMs that cause this disparity in performance: having an insufficient concept set and using inexpressive concept predictor. With our modifications, CBMs become competitive in terms of predictive performance, with models that otherwise leak additional information in the concept probabilities, while having dramatically increased concept accuracy and intervention accuracy.

Compositional generalization through abstract representations in human and artificial neural networks

Takuya Ito · Tim Klinger · Doug Schultz · John Murray · Michael Cole · Mattia Rigotti

Humans have a remarkable ability to rapidly generalize to new tasks that is difficult to reproduce in artificial learning systems.Compositionality has been proposed as a key mechanism supporting generalization in humans, but evidence of its neural implementation and impact on behavior is still scarce. Here we study the computational properties associated with compositional generalization in both humans and artificial neural networks (ANNs) on a highly compositional task. First, we identified behavioral signatures of compositional generalization in humans, along with their neural correlates using whole-cortex functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data. Next, we designed pretraining paradigms aided by a procedure we term primitives pretraining to endow compositional task elements into ANNs. We found that ANNs with this prior knowledge had greater correspondence with human behavior and neural compositional signatures. Importantly, primitives pretraining induced abstract internal representations, excellent zero-shot generalization, and sample-efficient learning. Moreover, it gave rise to a hierarchy of abstract representations that matched human fMRI data, where sensory rule abstractions emerged in early sensory areas, and motor rule abstractions emerged in later motor areas. Our findings give empirical support to the role of compositional generalization in humans behavior, implicate abstract representations as its neural implementation, and illustrate that these representations can be embedded into ANNs by designing simple and efficient pretraining procedures.

Efficient coding, channel capacity, and the emergence of retinal mosaics

Na Young Jun · Greg Field · John Pearson

Among the most striking features of retinal organization is the grouping of its output neurons, the retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), into a diversity of functional types. Each of these types exhibits a mosaic-like organization of receptive fields (RFs) that tiles the retina and visual space. Previous work has shown that many features of RGC organization, including the existence of ON and OFF cell types, the structure of spatial RFs, and their relative arrangement, can be predicted on the basis of efficient coding theory. This theory posits that the nervous system is organized to maximize information in its encoding of stimuli while minimizing metabolic costs. Here, we use efficient coding theory to present a comprehensive account of mosaic organization in the case of natural videos as the retinal channel capacity---the number of simulated RGCs available for encoding---is varied. We show that mosaic density increases with channel capacity up to a series of critical points at which, surprisingly, new cell types emerge. Each successive cell type focuses on increasingly high temporal frequencies and integrates signals over larger spatial areas. In addition, we show theoretically and in simulation that a transition from mosaic alignment to anti-alignment across pairs of cell types is observed with increasing output noise and decreasing input noise. Together, these results offer a unified perspective on the relationship between retinal mosaics, efficient coding, and channel capacity that can help to explain the stunning functional diversity of retinal cell types.

Learning in Congestion Games with Bandit Feedback

Qiwen Cui · Zhihan Xiong · Maryam Fazel · Simon Du

In this paper, we investigate Nash-regret minimization in congestion games, a class of games with benign theoretical structure and broad real-world applications. We first propose a centralized algorithm based on the optimism in the face of uncertainty principle for congestion games with (semi-)bandit feedback, and obtain finite-sample guarantees. Then we propose a decentralized algorithm via a novel combination of the Frank-Wolfe method and G-optimal design. By exploiting the structure of the congestion game, we show the sample complexity of both algorithms depends only polynomially on the number of players and the number of facilities, but not the size of the action set, which can be exponentially large in terms of the number of facilities. We further define a new problem class, Markov congestion games, which allows us to model the non-stationarity in congestion games. We propose a centralized algorithm for Markov congestion games, whose sample complexity again has only polynomial dependence on all relevant problem parameters, but not the size of the action set.

Optimal Weak to Strong Learning

Kasper Green Larsen · Martin Ritzert

The classic algorithm AdaBoost allows to convert a weak learner, that is an algorithm that produces a hypothesis which is slightly better than chance, into a strong learner, achieving arbitrarily high accuracy when given enough training data. We present a new algorithm that constructs a strong learner from a weak learner, but uses less training data than AdaBoost and all other weak to strong learners to achieve the same generalization bounds. A sample complexity lower bound shows that our new algorithm uses the minimum possible amount of training data and is thus optimal. Hence, this work settles the sample complexity of the classic problem of constructing a strong learner from a weak learner.

Log-Linear-Time Gaussian Processes Using Binary Tree Kernels

Michael K. Cohen · Samuel Daulton · Michael A Osborne

Gaussian processes (GPs) produce good probabilistic models of functions, but most GP kernels require $O((n+m)n^2)$ time, where $n$ is the number of data points and $m$ the number of predictive locations. We present a new kernel that allows for Gaussian process regression in $O((n+m)\log(n+m))$ time. Our "binary tree" kernel places all data points on the leaves of a binary tree, with the kernel depending only on the depth of the deepest common ancestor. We can store the resulting kernel matrix in $O(n)$ space in $O(n \log n)$ time, as a sum of sparse rank-one matrices, and approximately invert the kernel matrix in $O(n)$ time. Sparse GP methods also offer linear run time, but they predict less well than higher dimensional kernels. On a classic suite of regression tasks, we compare our kernel against Mat\'ern, sparse, and sparse variational kernels. The binary tree GP assigns the highest likelihood to the test data on a plurality of datasets, usually achieves lower mean squared error than the sparse methods, and often ties or beats the Mat\'ern GP. On large datasets, the binary tree GP is fastest, and much faster than a Mat\'ern GP.

Sharp Analysis of Stochastic Optimization under Global Kurdyka-Lojasiewicz Inequality

Ilyas Fatkhullin · Jalal Etesami · Niao He · Negar Kiyavash

We study the complexity of finding the global solution to stochastic nonconvex optimization when the objective function satisfies global Kurdyka-{\L}ojasiewicz (KL) inequality and the queries from stochastic gradient oracles satisfy mild expected smoothness assumption. We first introduce a general framework to analyze Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) and its associated nonlinear dynamics under the setting. As a byproduct of our analysis, we obtain a sample complexity of $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-(4-\alpha)/\alpha})$ for SGD when the objective satisfies the so called $\alpha$-P{\L} condition, where $\alpha$ is the degree of gradient domination. Furthermore, we show that a modified SGD with variance reduction and restarting (PAGER) achieves an improved sample complexity of $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-2/\alpha})$ when the objective satisfies the average smoothness assumption. This leads to the first optimal algorithm for the important case of $\alpha=1$ which appears in applications such as policy optimization in reinforcement learning.

Learning Distributions Generated by Single-Layer ReLU Networks in the Presence of Arbitrary Outliers

Saikiran Bulusu · Geethu Joseph · M. Cenk Gursoy · Pramod Varshney

We consider a set of data samples such that a fraction of the samples are arbitrary outliers, and the rest are the output samples of a single-layer neural network with rectified linear unit (ReLU) activation. Our goal is to estimate the parameters (weight matrix and bias vector) of the neural network, assuming the bias vector to be non-negative. We estimate the network parameters using the gradient descent algorithm combined with either the median- or trimmed mean-based filters to mitigate the effect of the arbitrary outliers. We then prove that $\tilde{O}\left( \frac{1}{p^2}+\frac{1}{\epsilon^2p}\right)$ samples and $\tilde{O}\left( \frac{d^2}{p^2}+ \frac{d^2}{\epsilon^2p}\right)$ time are sufficient for our algorithm to estimate the neural network parameters within an error of $\epsilon$ when the outlier probability is $1-p$, where $2/3

Instance-optimal PAC Algorithms for Contextual Bandits

Zhaoqi Li · Lillian Ratliff · houssam nassif · Kevin Jamieson · Lalit Jain

In the stochastic contextual bandit setting, regret-minimizing algorithms have been extensively researched, but their instance-minimizing best-arm identification counterparts remain seldom studied. In this work, we focus on the stochastic bandit problem in the $(\epsilon,\delta)$-PAC setting: given a policy class $\Pi$ the goal of the learner is to return a policy $\pi\in \Pi$ whose expected reward is within $\epsilon$ of the optimal policy with probability greater than $1-\delta$. We characterize the first instance-dependent PAC sample complexity of contextual bandits through a quantity $\rho_{\Pi}$, and provide matching upper and lower bounds in terms of $\rho_{\Pi}$ for the agnostic and linear contextual best-arm identification settings. We show that no algorithm can be simultaneously minimax-optimal for regret minimization and instance-dependent PAC for best-arm identification. Our main result is a new instance-optimal and computationally efficient algorithm that relies on a polynomial number of calls to a cost-sensitive classification oracle.

Learning the Structure of Large Networked Systems Obeying Conservation Laws

Anirudh Rayas · Rajasekhar Anguluri · Gautam Dasarathy

Many networked systems such as electric networks, the brain, and social networks of opinion dynamics are known to obey conservation laws. Examples of this phenomenon include the Kirchoff laws in electric networks and opinion consensus in social networks. Conservation laws in networked systems are modeled as balance equations of the form $X = B^\ast Y$, where the sparsity pattern of $B^\ast \in \mathbb{R}^{p\times p}$ captures the connectivity of the network on $p$ nodes, and $Y, X \in \mathbb{R}^p$ are vectors of ''potentials'' and ''injected flows'' at the nodes respectively. The node potentials $Y$ cause flows across edges which aim to balance out the potential difference, and the flows $X$ injected at the nodes are extraneous to the network dynamics. In several practical systems, the network structure is often unknown and needs to be estimated from data to facilitate modeling, management, and control. To this end, one has access to samples of the node potentials $Y$, but only the statistics of the node injections $X$. Motivated by this important problem, we study the estimation of the sparsity structure of the matrix $B^\ast$ from $n$ samples of $Y$ under the assumption that the node injections $X$ follow a Gaussian distribution with a known covariance $\Sigma_X$. We propose a new $\ell_{1}$-regularized maximum likelihood estimator for tackling this problem in the high-dimensional regime where the size of the network may be vastly larger than the number of samples $n$. We show that this optimization problem is convex in the objective and admits a unique solution. Under a new mutual incoherence condition, we establish sufficient conditions on the triple $(n,p,d)$ for which exact sparsity recovery of $B^\ast$ is possible with high probability; $d$ is the degree of the underlying graph. We also establish guarantees for the recovery of $B^\ast$ in the element-wise maximum, Frobenius, and operator norms. Finally, we complement these theoretical results with experimental validation of the performance of the proposed estimator on synthetic and real-world data.

Local Linear Convergence of Gradient Methods for Subspace Optimization via Strict Complementarity

Ron Fisher · Dan Garber

We consider optimization problems in which the goal is to find a $k$-dimensional subspace of $\mathbb{R}^n$, $k<

A Near-Optimal Primal-Dual Method for Off-Policy Learning in CMDP

Fan Chen · Junyu Zhang · Zaiwen Wen

As an important framework for safe Reinforcement Learning, the Constrained Markov Decision Process (CMDP) has been extensively studied in the recent literature. However, despite the rich results under various on-policy learning settings, there still lacks some essential understanding of the offline CMDP problems, in terms of both the algorithm design and the information theoretic sample complexity lower bound. In this paper, we focus on solving the CMDP problems where only offline data are available. By adopting the concept of the single-policy concentrability coefficient $C^*$, we establish an $\Omega\left(\frac{\min\left\{|\mathcal{S}||\mathcal{A}|,|\mathcal{S}|+I\right\} C^*}{(1-\gamma)^3\epsilon^2}\right)$ sample complexity lower bound for the offline CMDP problem, where $I$ stands for the number of constraints. By introducing a simple but novel deviation control mechanism, we propose a near-optimal primal-dual learning algorithm called DPDL. This algorithm provably guarantees zero constraint violation and its sample complexity matches the above lower bound except for an $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}((1-\gamma)^{-1})$ factor. Comprehensive discussion on how to deal with the unknown constant $C^*$ and the potential asynchronous structure on the offline dataset are also included.

The alignment property of SGD noise and how it helps select flat minima: A stability analysis

Lei Wu · Mingze Wang · Weijie Su

The phenomenon that stochastic gradient descent (SGD) favors flat minima has played a critical role in understanding the implicit regularization of SGD. In this paper, we provide an explanation of this striking phenomenon by relating the particular noise structure of SGD to its \emph{linear stability} (Wu et al., 2018). Specifically, we consider training over-parameterized models with square loss. We prove that if a global minimum $\theta^*$ is linearly stable for SGD, then it must satisfy $\|H(\theta^*)\|_F\leq O(\sqrt{B}/\eta)$, where $\|H(\theta^*)\|_F, B,\eta$ denote the Frobenius norm of Hessian at $\theta^*$, batch size, and learning rate, respectively. Otherwise, SGD will escape from that minimum \emph{exponentially} fast. Hence, for minima accessible to SGD, the sharpness---as measured by the Frobenius norm of the Hessian---is bounded \emph{independently} of the model size and sample size. The key to obtaining these results is exploiting the particular structure of SGD noise: The noise concentrates in sharp directions of local landscape and the magnitude is proportional to loss value. This alignment property of SGD noise provably holds for linear networks and random feature models (RFMs), and is empirically verified for nonlinear networks. Moreover, the validity and practical relevance of our theoretical findings are also justified by extensive experiments on CIFAR-10 dataset.

Weisfeiler and Leman Go Walking: Random Walk Kernels Revisited

Nils M. Kriege

Random walk kernels have been introduced in seminal work on graph learning and were later largely superseded by kernels based on the Weisfeiler-Leman test for graph isomorphism. We give a unified view on both classes of graph kernels. We study walk-based node refinement methods and formally relate them to several widely-used techniques, including Morgan's algorithm for molecule canonization and the Weisfeiler-Leman test. We define corresponding walk-based kernels on nodes that allow fine-grained parameterized neighborhood comparison, reach Weisfeiler-Leman expressiveness, and are computed using the kernel trick. From this we show that classical random walk kernels with only minor modifications regarding definition and computation are as expressive as the widely-used Weisfeiler-Leman subtree kernel but support non-strict neighborhood comparison. We verify experimentally that walk-based kernels reach or even surpass the accuracy of Weisfeiler-Leman kernels in real-world classification tasks.

Polynomial-Time Optimal Equilibria with a Mediator in Extensive-Form Games

Brian Zhang · Tuomas Sandholm

For common notions of correlated equilibrium in extensive-form games, computing an optimal (e.g., welfare-maximizing) equilibrium is NP-hard. Other equilibrium notions---communication and certification equilibria---augment the game with a mediator that has the power to both send and receive messages to and from the players---and, in particular, to remember the messages. In this paper, we investigate both notions in extensive-form games from a computational lens. We show that optimal equilibria in both notions can be computed in polynomial time, the latter under a natural additional assumption known in the literature. Our proof works by constructing a {\em mediator-augmented game} of polynomial size that explicitly represents the mediator's decisions and actions. Our framework allows us to define an entire family of equilibria by varying the mediator's information partition, the players' ability to lie, and the players' ability to deviate. From this perspective, we show that other notions of equilibrium, such as extensive-form correlated equilibrium, correspond to the mediator having imperfect recall. This shows that, at least among all these equilibrium notions, the hardness of computation is driven by the mediator's imperfect recall. As special cases of our general construction, we recover the polynomial-time algorithm of Conitzer & Sandholm [2004] for automated mechanism design in Bayes-Nash equilibria, and the correlation DAG algorithm of Zhang et al [2022] for optimal correlation. Our algorithm is especially scalable when the equilibrium notion is what we define as the full-certification equilibrium, where players cannot lie about their information but they can be silent. We back up our theoretical claims with experiments on a suite of standard benchmark games.

An $\alpha$-regret analysis of Adversarial Bilateral Trade

Yossi Azar · Amos Fiat · Federico Fusco

We study sequential bilateral trade where sellers and buyers valuations are completely arbitrary ({\sl i.e.}, determined by an adversary). Sellers and buyers are strategic agents with private valuations for the good and the goal is to design a mechanism that maximizes efficiency (or gain from trade) while being incentive compatible, individually rational and budget balanced. In this paper we consider gain from trade which is harder to approximate than social welfare.We consider a variety of feedback scenarios and distinguish the cases where the mechanism posts one price and when it can post different prices for buyer and seller. We show several surprising results about the separation between the different scenarios. In particular we show that (a) it is impossible to achieve sublinear $\alpha$-regret for any $\alpha<2$, (b) but with full feedback sublinear $2$-regret is achievable (c) with a single price and partial feedback one cannot get sublinear $\alpha$ regret for any constant $\alpha$ (d) nevertheless, posting two prices even with one-bit feedback achieves sublinear $2$-regret, and (e) there is a provable separation in the $2$-regret bounds between full and partial feedback.

Algorithms and Hardness for Learning Linear Thresholds from Label Proportions

Rishi Saket

We study the learnability of linear threshold functions (LTFs) in the learning from label proportions (LLP) framework. In this, the feature-vector classifier is learnt from bags of feature-vectors and their corresponding observed label proportions which are satisfied by (i.e., consistent with) some unknown LTF. This problem has been investigated in recent work (Saket21) which gave an algorithm to produce an LTF that satisfies at least $(2/5)$-fraction of a satisfiable collection of bags, each of size $\leq 2$, by solving and rounding a natural SDP relaxation. However, this SDP relaxation is specific to at most $2$-sized bags and does not apply to bags of larger size. In this work we provide a fairly non-trivial SDP relaxation of a non-quadratic formulation for bags of size $3$. We analyze its rounding procedure using novel matrix decomposition techniques to obtain an algorithm which outputs an LTF satisfying at least $(1/12)$-fraction of the bags of size $\leq 3$. We also apply our techniques to bags of size $q \geq 4$ to provide a $\Omega\left(1/q\right)$-approximation guarantee for a weaker notion of satisfiability. We include comparative experiments on simulated data demonstrating the applicability of our algorithmic techniques. From the complexity side we provide a hardness reduction to produce instances with bags of any constant size $q$. Our reduction proves the NP-hardness of satisfying more than $({1}/{q}) + o(1)$ fraction of a satisfiable collection of such bags using as hypothesis any function of constantly many LTFs, showing thereby that the problem is harder to approximate as the bag size $q$ increases. Using a strengthened analysis, for $q=2$ we obtain a $({4}/{9}) +o(1)$ hardness factor for this problem, improving upon the $({1}/{2}) + o(1)$ factor shown by Saket21.

Decomposable Non-Smooth Convex Optimization with Nearly-Linear Gradient Oracle Complexity

Sally Dong · Haotian Jiang · Yin Tat Lee · Swati Padmanabhan · Guanghao Ye

Many fundamental problems in machine learning can be formulated by the convex program \[ \min_{\theta\in \mathbb{R}^d}\ \sum_{i=1}^{n}f_{i}(\theta), \]where each $f_i$ is a convex, Lipschitz function supported on a subset of $d_i$ coordinates of $\theta$. One common approach to this problem, exemplified by stochastic gradient descent, involves sampling one $f_i$ term at every iteration to make progress. This approach crucially relies on a notion of uniformity across the $f_i$'s, formally captured by their condition number. In this work, we give an algorithm that minimizes the above convex formulation to $\epsilon$-accuracy in $\widetilde{O}(\sum_{i=1}^n d_i \log (1 /\epsilon))$ gradient computations, with no assumptions on the condition number. The previous best algorithm independent of the condition number is the standard cutting plane method, which requires $O(nd \log (1/\epsilon))$ gradient computations. As a corollary, we improve upon the evaluation oracle complexity for decomposable submodular minimization by [Axiotis, Karczmarz, Mukherjee, Sankowski and Vladu, ICML 2021]. Our main technical contribution is an adaptive procedure to select an $f_i$ term at every iteration via a novel combination of cutting-plane and interior-point methods.

Optimal Query Complexities for Dynamic Trace Estimation

David Woodruff · Fred Zhang · Richard Zhang

We consider the problem of minimizing the number of matrix-vector queries needed for accurate trace estimation in the dynamic setting where our underlying matrix is changing slowly, such as during an optimization process. Specifically, for any $m$ matrices $\mathbf{A}_1,...,\mathbf{A}_m$ with consecutive differences bounded in Schatten-$1$ norm by $\alpha$, we provide a novel binary tree summation procedure that simultaneously estimates all $m$ traces up to $\epsilon$ error with $\delta$ failure probability with an optimal query complexity of $\widetilde{O}(m \alpha\sqrt{\log(1/\delta)}/\epsilon + m\log(1/\delta))$, improving the dependence on both $\alpha$ and $\delta$ from Dharangutte and Musco (NeurIPS, 2021). Our procedure works without additional norm bounds on $\mathbf{A}_i$ and can be generalized to a bound for the $p$-th Schatten norm for $p \in [1,2]$, giving a complexity of $\widetilde{O}(m \alpha(\sqrt{\log(1/\delta)}/\epsilon)^p +m \log(1/\delta))$. By using novel reductions to communication complexity and information-theoretic analyses of Gaussian matrices, we provide matching lower bounds for static and dynamic trace estimation in all relevant parameters, including the failure probability. Our lower bounds (1) give the first tight bounds for Hutchinson's estimator in the matrix-vector product model with Frobenius norm error {\it even in the static setting}, and (2) are the first unconditional lower bounds for dynamic trace estimation, resolving open questions of prior work.

On Scalable Testing of Samplers

Yash Pote · Kuldeep S Meel

In this paper we study the problem of testing of constrained samplers over high-dimensional distributions with $(\varepsilon,\eta,\delta)$ guarantees. Samplers are increasingly used in a wide range of safety-critical ML applications, and hence the testing problem has gained importance. For $n$-dimensional distributions, the existing state-of-the-art algorithm, $\mathsf{Barbarik2}$, has a worst case query complexity of exponential in $n$ and hence is not ideal for use in practice. Our primary contribution is an exponentially faster algorithm, $\mathsf{Barbarik3}$, that has a query complexity linear in $n$ and hence can easily scale to larger instances. We demonstrate our claim by implementing our algorithm and then comparing it against $\mathsf{Barbarik2}$. Our experiments on the samplers $\mathsf{wUnigen3}$ and $\mathsf{wSTS}$, find that $\mathsf{Barbarik3}$ requires $10\times$ fewer samples for $\mathsf{wUnigen3}$ and $450\times$ fewer samples for $\mathsf{wSTS}$ as compared to $\mathsf{Barbarik2}$.

Private Isotonic Regression

Badih Ghazi · Pritish Kamath · Ravi Kumar · Pasin Manurangsi

In this paper, we consider the problem of differentially private (DP) algorithms for isotonic regression. For the most general problem of isotonic regression over a partially ordered set (poset) $\mathcal{X}$ and for any Lipschitz loss function, we obtain a pure-DP algorithm that, given $n$ input points, has an expected excess empirical risk of roughly $\mathrm{width}(\mathcal{X}) \cdot \log|\mathcal{X}| / n$, where $\mathrm{width}(\mathcal{X})$ is the width of the poset. In contrast, we also obtain a near-matching lower bound of roughly $(\mathrm{width}(\mathcal{X}) + \log |\mathcal{X}|) / n$, that holds even for approximate-DP algorithms. Moreover, we show that the above bounds are essentially the best that can be obtained without utilizing any further structure of the poset.In the special case of a totally ordered set and for $\ell_1$ and $\ell_2^2$ losses, our algorithm can be implemented in near-linear running time; we also provide extensions of this algorithm to the problem of private isotonic regression with additional structural constraints on the output function.

Neural Network Architecture Beyond Width and Depth

Shijun Zhang · Zuowei Shen · Haizhao Yang

This paper proposes a new neural network architecture by introducing an additional dimension called height beyond width and depth. Neural network architectures with height, width, and depth as hyper-parameters are called three-dimensional architectures. It is shown that neural networks with three-dimensional architectures are significantly more expressive than the ones with two-dimensional architectures (those with only width and depth as hyper-parameters), e.g., standard fully connected networks. The new network architecture is constructed recursively via a nested structure, and hence we call a network with the new architecture nested network (NestNet). A NestNet of height $s$ is built with each hidden neuron activated by a NestNet of height $\le s-1$. When $s=1$, a NestNet degenerates to a standard network with a two-dimensional architecture. It is proved by construction that height-$s$ ReLU NestNets with $\mathcal{O}(n)$ parameters can approximate $1$-Lipschitz continuous functions on $[0,1]^d$ with an error $\mathcal{O}(n^{-(s+1)/d})$, while the optimal approximation error of standard ReLU networks with $\mathcal{O}(n)$ parameters is $\mathcal{O}(n^{-2/d})$. Furthermore, such a result is extended to generic continuous functions on $[0,1]^d$ with the approximation error characterized by the modulus of continuity. Finally, we use numerical experimentation to show the advantages of the super-approximation power of ReLU NestNets.

Faster and Scalable Algorithms for Densest Subgraph and Decomposition

Elfarouk Harb · Kent Quanrud · Chandra Chekuri

We study the densest subgraph problem (DSG) and the densest subgraph local decomposition problem (DSG-LD) in undirected graphs. We also consider supermodular generalizations of these problems. For large scale graphs simple iterative algorithms perform much better in practice than theoretically fast algorithms based on network-flow or LP solvers. Boob et al [1] recently gave a fast iterative algorithm called Greedy++ for DSG. It was shown in [2] that it converges to a $(1-\epsilon)$ relative approximation to the optimum density in $O(\frac{1}{\epsilon^2} \frac{\Delta(G)}{\lambda^*})$ iterations where $\Delta(G)$ is the maximum degree and $\lambda^*$ is the optimum density. Danisch et al. [3] gave an iterative algorithm based on the Frank-Wolfe algorithm for DSG-LD that takes $O(\frac{m\Delta(G) }{\epsilon^2})$ iterations to converge to an $\epsilon$-additive approximate local decomposition vector $\hat{b}$, where $m$ is number of edges in the graph.In this paper we give a new iterative algorithm for both problems that takes at most $O(\frac{\sqrt{m\Delta(G)}}{\epsilon})$ iterations to converge to an $\epsilon$-additive approximate local decomposition vector; each iteration can be implemented in $O(m)$ time. We describe a fractional peeling technique which has strong empirical performance as well as theoretical guarantees. The algorithm is scalable and simple, and can be applied to graphs with hundreds of millions of edges. We test our algorithm on real and synthetic data sets and show that it provides a significant benefit over previous algorithms. The algorithm and analysis extends to hypergraphs.

Differentially Private Covariance Revisited

Wei Dong · Yuting Liang · Ke Yi

In this paper, we present two new algorithms for covariance estimation under concentrated differential privacy (zCDP). The first algorithm achieves a Frobenius error of $\tilde{O}(d^{1/4}\sqrt{\mathrm{tr}}/\sqrt{n} + \sqrt{d}/n)$, where $\mathrm{tr}$ is the trace of the covariance matrix. By taking $\mathrm{tr}=1$, this also implies a worst-case error bound of $\tilde{O}(d^{1/4}/\sqrt{n})$, which improves the standard Gaussian mechanism's $\tilde{O}(d/n)$ for the regime $d>\widetilde{\Omega}(n^{2/3})$. Our second algorithm offers a tail-sensitive bound that could be much better on skewed data. The corresponding algorithms are also simple and efficient. Experimental results show that they offer significant improvements over prior work.

A Fourier Approach to Mixture Learning

Mingda Qiao · Guru Guruganesh · Ankit Rawat · Kumar Avinava Dubey · Manzil Zaheer

We revisit the problem of learning mixtures of spherical Gaussians. Given samples from a mixture $\frac{1}{k}\sum_{j=1}^{k}\mathcal{N}(\mu_j, I_d)$, the goal is to estimate the means $\mu_1, \mu_2, \ldots, \mu_k \in \mathbb{R}^d$ up to a small error. The hardness of this learning problem can be measured by the \emph{separation} $\Delta$ defined as the minimum distance between all pairs of means. Regev and Vijayaraghavan (2017) showed that with $\Delta = \Omega(\sqrt{\log k})$ separation, the means can be learned using $\mathrm{poly}(k, d)$ samples, whereas super-polynomially many samples are required if $\Delta = o(\sqrt{\log k})$ and $d = \Omega(\log k)$. This leaves open the low-dimensional regime where $d = o(\log k)$. In this work, we give an algorithm that efficiently learns the means in $d = O(\log k/\log\log k)$ dimensions under separation $d/\sqrt{\log k}$ (modulo doubly logarithmic factors). This separation is strictly smaller than $\sqrt{\log k}$, and is also shown to be necessary. Along with the results of Regev and Vijayaraghavan (2017), our work almost pins down the critical separation threshold at which efficient parameter learning becomes possible for spherical Gaussian mixtures. More generally, our algorithm runs in time $\mathrm{poly}(k)\cdot f(d, \Delta, \epsilon)$, and is thus fixed-parameter tractable in parameters $d$, $\Delta$ and $\epsilon$. Our approach is based on estimating the Fourier transform of the mixture at carefully chosen frequencies, and both the algorithm and its analysis are simple and elementary. Our positive results can be easily extended to learning mixtures of non-Gaussian distributions, under a mild condition on the Fourier spectrum of the distribution.

On Non-Linear operators for Geometric Deep Learning

Grégoire Sergeant-Perthuis · Jakob Maier · Joan Bruna · Edouard Oyallon

This work studies operators mapping vector and scalar fields defined over a manifold $\mathcal{M}$, and which commute with its group of diffeomorphisms $\text{Diff}(\mathcal{M})$. We prove that in the case of scalar fields $L^p_\omega(\mathcal{M,\mathbb{R}})$, those operators correspond to point-wise non-linearities, recovering and extending known results on $\mathbb{R}^d$. In the context of Neural Networks defined over $\mathcal{M}$, it indicates that point-wise non-linear operators are the only universal family that commutes with any group of symmetries, and justifies their systematic use in combination with dedicated linear operators commuting with specific symmetries. In the case of vector fields $L^p_\omega(\mathcal{M},T\mathcal{M})$, we show that those operators are solely the scalar multiplication. It indicates that $\text{Diff}(\mathcal{M})$ is too rich and that there is no universal class of non-linear operators to motivate the design of Neural Networks over the symmetries of $\mathcal{M}$.

Linear Label Ranking with Bounded Noise

Dimitris Fotakis · Alkis Kalavasis · Vasilis Kontonis · Christos Tzamos

Label Ranking (LR) is the supervised task of learning a sorting function that maps feature vectors $x \in \mathbb{R}^d$ to rankings $\sigma(x) \in \mathbb S_k$ over a finite set of $k$ labels. We focus on the fundamental case of learning linear sorting functions (LSFs) under Gaussian marginals: $x$ is sampled from the $d$-dimensional standard normal and the ground truth ranking $\sigma^\star(x)$ is the ordering induced by sorting the coordinates of the vector $W^\star x$, where $W^\star \in \mathbb{R}^{k \times d}$ is unknown. We consider learning LSFs in the presence of bounded noise: assuming that a noiseless example is of the form $(x, \sigma^\star(x))$, we observe $(x, \pi)$, where for any pair of elements $i \neq j$, the probability that the order of $i, j$ is different in $\pi$ than in $\sigma^\star(x)$ is at most $\eta < 1/2$. We design efficient non-proper and proper learning algorithms that learn hypotheses within normalized Kendall's Tau distance $\epsilon$ from the ground truth with $N= \widetilde{O}(d\log(k)/\epsilon)$ labeled examples and runtime $\mathrm{poly}(N, k)$. For the more challenging top-$r$ disagreement loss, we give an efficient proper learning algorithm that achieves $\epsilon$ top-$r$ disagreement with the ground truth with $N = \widetilde{O}(d k r /\epsilon)$ samples and $\mathrm{poly}(N)$ runtime.

Estimation of Entropy in Constant Space with Improved Sample Complexity

Maryam Aliakbarpour · Andrew McGregor · Jelani Nelson · Erik Waingarten

Recent work of Acharya et al.~(NeurIPS 2019) showed how to estimate the entropy of a distribution $\mathcal D$ over an alphabet of size $k$ up to $\pm\epsilon$ additive error by streaming over $(k/\epsilon^3) \cdot \text{polylog}(1/\epsilon)$ i.i.d.\ samples and using only $O(1)$ words of memory. In this work, we give a new constant memory scheme that reduces the sample complexity to $(k/\epsilon^2)\cdot \text{polylog}(1/\epsilon)$. We conjecture that this is optimal up to $\text{polylog}(1/\epsilon)$ factors.

Efficient Sampling on Riemannian Manifolds via Langevin MCMC

Xiang Cheng · Jingzhao Zhang · Suvrit Sra

We study the task of efficiently sampling from a Gibbs distribution $d \pi^* = e^{-h} d {\text{vol}}_g$ over a Riemannian manifold $M$ via (geometric) Langevin MCMC; this algorithm involves computing exponential maps in random Gaussian directions and is efficiently implementable in practice. The key to our analysis of Langevin MCMC is a bound on the discretization error of the geometric Euler-Murayama scheme, assuming $\nabla h$ is Lipschitz and $M$ has bounded sectional curvature. Our error bound matches the error of Euclidean Euler-Murayama in terms of its stepsize dependence. Combined with a contraction guarantee for the geometric Langevin Diffusion under Kendall-Cranston coupling, we prove that the Langevin MCMC iterates lie within $\epsilon$-Wasserstein distance of $\pi^*$ after $\tilde{O}(\epsilon^{-2})$ steps, which matches the iteration complexity for Euclidean Langevin MCMC. Our results apply in general settings where $h$ can be nonconvex and $M$ can have negative Ricci curvature. Under additional assumptions that the Riemannian curvature tensor has bounded derivatives, and that $\pi^*$ satisfies a $CD(\cdot,\infty)$ condition, we analyze the stochastic gradient version of Langevin MCMC, and bound its iteration complexity by $\tilde{O}(\epsilon^{-2})$ as well.

Near-Optimal Regret for Adversarial MDP with Delayed Bandit Feedback

Tiancheng Jin · Tal Lancewicki · Haipeng Luo · Yishay Mansour · Aviv Rosenberg

The standard assumption in reinforcement learning (RL) is that agents observe feedback for their actions immediately. However, in practice feedback is often observed in delay. This paper studies online learning in episodic Markov decision process (MDP) with unknown transitions, adversarially changing costs, and unrestricted delayed bandit feedback. More precisely, the feedback for the agent in episode $k$ is revealed only in the end of episode $k + d^k$, where the delay $d^k$ can be changing over episodes and chosen by an oblivious adversary. We present the first algorithms that achieve near-optimal $\sqrt{K + D}$ regret, where $K$ is the number of episodes and $D = \sum_{k=1}^K d^k$ is the total delay, significantly improving upon the best known regret bound of $(K + D)^{2/3}$.

Understanding Deep Neural Function Approximation in Reinforcement Learning via $\epsilon$-Greedy Exploration

Fanghui Liu · Luca Viano · Volkan Cevher

This paper provides a theoretical study of deep neural function approximation in reinforcement learning (RL) with the $\epsilon$-greedy exploration under the online setting. This problem setting is motivated by the successful deep Q-networks (DQN) framework that falls in this regime. In this work, we provide an initial attempt on theoretical understanding deep RL from the perspective of function class and neural networks architectures (e.g., width and depth) beyond the ``linear'' regime. To be specific, we focus on the value based algorithm with the $\epsilon$-greedy exploration via deep (and two-layer) neural networks endowed by Besov (and Barron) function spaces, respectively, which aims at approximating an $\alpha$-smooth Q-function in a $d$-dimensional feature space. We prove that, with $T$ episodes, scaling the width $m = \widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(T^{\frac{d}{2\alpha + d}})$ and the depth $L=\mathcal{O}(\log T)$ of the neural network for deep RL is sufficient for learning with sublinear regret in Besov spaces. Moreover, for a two layer neural network endowed by the Barron space, scaling the width $\Omega(\sqrt{T})$ is sufficient. To achieve this, the key issue in our analysis is how to estimate the temporal difference error under deep neural function approximation as the $\epsilon$-greedy exploration is not enough to ensure "optimism". Our analysis reformulates the temporal difference error in an $L^2(\mathrm{d}\mu)$-integrable space over a certain averaged measure $\mu$, and transforms it to a generalization problem under the non-iid setting. This might have its own interest in RL theory for better understanding $\epsilon$-greedy exploration in deep RL.

Communication-efficient distributed eigenspace estimation with arbitrary node failures

Vasileios Charisopoulos · Anil Damle

We develop an eigenspace estimation algorithm for distributed environments with arbitrary node failures, where a subset of computing nodes can return structurally valid but otherwise arbitrarily chosen responses. Notably, this setting encompasses several important scenarios that arise in distributed computing and data-collection environments such as silent/soft errors, outliers or corrupted data at certain nodes, and adversarial responses. Our estimator builds upon and matches the performance of a recently proposed non-robust estimator up to an additive $\tilde{O}(\sigma \sqrt{\alpha})$ error, where $\sigma^2$ is the variance of the existing estimator and $\alpha$ is the fraction of corrupted nodes.

Implicit Bias of Gradient Descent on Reparametrized Models: On Equivalence to Mirror Descent

Zhiyuan Li · Tianhao Wang · Jason Lee · Sanjeev Arora

As part of the effort to understand implicit bias of gradient descent in overparametrized models, several results have shown how the training trajectory on the overparametrized model can be understood as mirror descent on a different objective. The main result here is a complete characterization of this phenomenon under a notion termed commuting parametrization, which encompasses all the previous results in this setting. It is shown that gradient flow with any commuting parametrization is equivalent to continuous mirror descent with a related mirror map. Conversely, continuous mirror descent with any mirror map can be viewed as gradient flow with a related commuting parametrization. The latter result relies upon Nash's embedding theorem.

Causal Discovery in Linear Latent Variable Models Subject to Measurement Error

Yuqin Yang · AmirEmad Ghassami · Mohamed Nafea · Negar Kiyavash · Kun Zhang · Ilya Shpitser

We focus on causal discovery in the presence of measurement error in linear systems where the mixing matrix, i.e., the matrix indicating the independent exogenous noise terms pertaining to the observed variables, is identified up to permutation and scaling of the columns. We demonstrate a somewhat surprising connection between this problem and causal discovery in the presence of unobserved parentless causes, in the sense that there is a mapping, given by the mixing matrix, between the underlying models to be inferred in these problems. Consequently, any identifiability result based on the mixing matrix for one model translates to an identifiability result for the other model. We characterize to what extent the causal models can be identified under a two-part faithfulness assumption. Under only the first part of the assumption (corresponding to the conventional definition of faithfulness), the structure can be learned up to the causal ordering among an ordered grouping of the variables but not all the edges across the groups can be identified. We further show that if both parts of the faithfulness assumption are imposed, the structure can be learned up to a more refined ordered grouping. As a result of this refinement, for the latent variable model with unobserved parentless causes, the structure can be identified. Based on our theoretical results, we propose causal structure learning methods for both models, and evaluate their performance on synthetic data.

Log-Concave and Multivariate Canonical Noise Distributions for Differential Privacy

Jordan Awan · Jinshuo Dong

A canonical noise distribution (CND) is an additive mechanism designed to satisfy $f$-differential privacy ($f$-DP), without any wasted privacy budget. $f$-DP is a hypothesis testing-based formulation of privacy phrased in terms of tradeoff functions, which captures the difficulty of a hypothesis test. In this paper, we consider the existence and construction of both log-concave CNDs and multivariate CNDs. Log-concave distributions are important to ensure that higher outputs of the mechanism correspond to higher input values, whereas multivariate noise distributions are important to ensure that a joint release of multiple outputs has a tight privacy characterization. We show that the existence and construction of CNDs for both types of problems is related to whether the tradeoff function can be decomposed by functional composition (related to group privacy) or mechanism composition. In particular, we show that pure $\epsilon$-DP cannot be decomposed in either way and that there is neither a log-concave CND nor any multivariate CND for $\epsilon$-DP. On the other hand, we show that Gaussian-DP, $(0,\delta)$-DP, and Laplace-DP each have both log-concave and multivariate CNDs.

A Quadrature Rule combining Control Variates and Adaptive Importance Sampling

Rémi Leluc · François Portier · Johan Segers · Aigerim Zhuman

Driven by several successful applications such as in stochastic gradient descent or in Bayesian computation, control variates have become a major tool for Monte Carlo integration. However, standard methods do not allow the distribution of the particles to evolve during the algorithm, as is the case in sequential simulation methods. Within the standard adaptive importance sampling framework, a simple weighted least squares approach is proposed to improve the procedure with control variates. The procedure takes the form of a quadrature rule with adapted quadrature weights to reflect the information brought in by the control variates. The quadrature points and weights do not depend on the integrand, a computational advantage in case of multiple integrands. Moreover, the target density needs to be known only up to a multiplicative constant. Our main result is a non-asymptotic bound on the probabilistic error of the procedure. The bound proves that for improving the estimate's accuracy, the benefits from adaptive importance sampling and control variates can be combined. The good behavior of the method is illustrated empirically on synthetic examples and real-world data for Bayesian linear regression.

Decision Trees with Short Explainable Rules

Victor Feitosa Souza · Ferdinando Cicalese · Eduardo Laber · Marco Molinaro

Decision trees are widely used in many settings where interpretable models are preferred or required. As confirmed by recent empirical studies, the interpretability/explanability of a decision tree critically depends on some of its structural parameters, like size and the average/maximum depth of its leaves. There is indeed a vast literature on the design and analysis of decision tree algorithms that aim at optimizing these parameters.This paper contributes to this important line of research: we propose as a novel criterion of measuring the interpretability of a decision tree, the sparsity of the set of attributes that are (on average) required to explain the classification of the examples. We give a tight characterization of the best possible guarantees achievable by a decision tree built to optimize both our newmeasure (which we call the {\em explanation size}) and the more classical measures of worst-case and average depth. In particular, we give an algorithm that guarantees $O(\ln n )$-approximation (hence optimal if $P \neq NP$) for the minimization of both the average/worst-case explanation size and the average/worst-case depth. In addition to our theoretical contributions, experiments with 20 real datasets show that our algorithm has accuracy competitive with CART while producing trees that allow for much simpler explanations.

Task-level Differentially Private Meta Learning

Xinyu Zhou · Raef Bassily

We study the problem of meta-learning with task-level differential privacy. Meta-learning has received increasing attention recently because of its ability to enable fast generalization to new task with small number of data points. However, the training process of meta learning likely involves exchange of task specific information, which may pose privacy risk especially in some privacy-sensitive applications. Therefore, it is important to provide strong privacy guarantees such that the learning process will not reveal any task sensitive information. To this end, existing works have proposed meta learning algorithms with record-level differential privacy, which is not sufficient in many scenarios since it does not protect the aggregated statistics based on the task dataset as a whole. Moreover, the utility guarantees in the prior work are based on assuming that the loss function satisfies both smoothness and quadratic growth conditions, which do not necessarily hold in practice. To address these issues, we propose meta learning algorithms with task-level differential privacy; that is, our algorithms protect the privacy of the entire dataset for each task. In the case when a single meta model is trained, we give both privacy and utility guarantees assuming only that the loss is convex and Lipschitz. Moreover, we propose a new private clustering-based meta-learning algorithm that enables private meta learning of multiple meta models. This can provide significant accuracy gains over the single meta model paradigm, especially when the tasks distribution cannot be well represented by a single meta model. Finally, we conduct several experiments demonstrating the effectiveness of our proposed algorithms.

Zeroth-Order Hard-Thresholding: Gradient Error vs. Expansivity

William de Vazelhes · Hualin Zhang · Huimin Wu · Xiaotong Yuan · Bin Gu

$\ell_0$ constrained optimization is prevalent in machine learning, particularly for high-dimensional problems, because it is a fundamental approach to achieve sparse learning. Hard-thresholding gradient descent is a dominant technique to solve this problem. However, first-order gradients of the objective function may be either unavailable or expensive to calculate in a lot of real-world problems, where zeroth-order (ZO) gradients could be a good surrogate. Unfortunately, whether ZO gradients can work with the hard-thresholding operator is still an unsolved problem.To solve this puzzle, in this paper, we focus on the $\ell_0$ constrained black-box stochastic optimization problems, and propose a new stochastic zeroth-order gradient hard-thresholding (SZOHT) algorithm with a general ZO gradient estimator powered by a novel random support sampling. We provide the convergence analysis of SZOHT under standard assumptions. Importantly, we reveal a conflict between the deviation of ZO estimators and the expansivity of the hard-thresholding operator, and provide a theoretical minimal value of the number of random directions in ZO gradients. In addition, we find that the query complexity of SZOHT is independent or weakly dependent on the dimensionality under different settings. Finally, we illustrate the utility of our method on a portfolio optimization problem as well as black-box adversarial attacks.

Robust Imitation via Mirror Descent Inverse Reinforcement Learning

Dong-Sig Han · Hyunseo Kim · Hyundo Lee · JeHwan Ryu · Byoung-Tak Zhang

Recently, adversarial imitation learning has shown a scalable reward acquisition method for inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) problems. However, estimated reward signals often become uncertain and fail to train a reliable statistical model since the existing methods tend to solve hard optimization problems directly. Inspired by a first-order optimization method called mirror descent, this paper proposes to predict a sequence of reward functions, which are iterative solutions for a constrained convex problem. IRL solutions derived by mirror descent are tolerant to the uncertainty incurred by target density estimation since the amount of reward learning is regulated with respect to local geometric constraints. We prove that the proposed mirror descent update rule ensures robust minimization of a Bregman divergence in terms of a rigorous regret bound of $\mathcal{O}(1/T)$ for step sizes $\{\eta_t\}_{t=1}^{T}$. Our IRL method was applied on top of an adversarial framework, and it outperformed existing adversarial methods in an extensive suite of benchmarks.

Learning Partial Equivariances From Data

David W. Romero · Suhas Lohit

Group Convolutional Neural Networks (G-CNNs) constrain learned features to respect the symmetries in the selected group, and lead to better generalization when these symmetries appear in the data. If this is not the case, however, equivariance leads to overly constrained models and worse performance. Frequently, transformations occurring in data can be better represented by a subset of a group than by a group as a whole, e.g., rotations in $[-90^{\circ}, 90^{\circ}]$. In such cases, a model that respects equivariance partially is better suited to represent the data. In addition, relevant transformations may differ for low and high-level features. For instance, full rotation equivariance is useful to describe edge orientations in a face, but partial rotation equivariance is better suited to describe face poses relative to the camera. In other words, the optimal level of equivariance may differ per layer. In this work, we introduce Partial G-CNNs: G-CNNs able to learn layer-wise levels of partial and full equivariance to discrete, continuous groups and combinations thereof as part of training. Partial G-CNNs retain full equivariance when beneficial, e.g., for rotated MNIST, but adjust it whenever it becomes harmful, e.g., for classification of 6/9 digits or natural images. We empirically show that partial G-CNNs pair G-CNNs when full equivariance is advantageous, and outperform them otherwise. Our code is publicly available at .

Exploitability Minimization in Games and Beyond

Denizalp Goktas · Amy Greenwald

Pseudo-games are a natural and well-known generalization of normal-form games, in which the actions taken by each player affect not only the other players' payoffs, as in games, but also the other players' strategy sets. The solution concept par excellence for pseudo-games is the generalized Nash equilibrium (GNE), i.e., a strategy profile at which each player's strategy is feasible and no player can improve their payoffs by unilaterally deviating to another strategy in the strategy set determined by the other players' strategies. The computation of GNE in pseudo-games has long been a problem of interest, due to applications in a wide variety of fields, from environmental protection to logistics to telecommunications. Although computing GNE is PPAD-hard in general, it is still of interest to try to compute them in restricted classes of pseudo-games. One approach is to search for a strategy profile that minimizes exploitability, i.e., the sum of the regrets across all players. As exploitability is nondifferentiable in general, developing efficient first-order methods that minimize it might not seem possible at first glance. We observe, however, that the exploitability-minimization problem can be recast as a min-max optimization problem, and thereby obtain polynomial-time first-order methods to compute a refinement of GNE, namely the variational equilibria (VE), in convex-concave cumulative regret pseudo-games with jointly convex constraints. More generally, we also show that our methods find the stationary points of the exploitability in polynomial time in Lipschitz-smooth pseudo-games with jointly convex constraints. Finally, we demonstrate in experiments that our methods not only outperform known algorithms, but that even in pseudo-games where they are not guaranteed to converge to a GNE, they may do so nonetheless, with proper initialization.

Communication-Efficient Topologies for Decentralized Learning with $O(1)$ Consensus Rate

Zhuoqing Song · Weijian Li · Kexin Jin · Lei Shi · Ming Yan · Wotao Yin · Kun Yuan

Decentralized optimization is an emerging paradigm in distributed learning in which agents achieve network-wide solutions by peer-to-peer communication without the central server. Since communication tends to be slower than computation, when each agent communicates with only a few neighboring agents per iteration, they can complete iterations faster than with more agents or a central server. However, the total number of iterations to reach a network-wide solution is affected by the speed at which the information of the agents is ``mixed'' by communication. We found that popular communication topologies either have large degrees (such as stars and complete graphs) or are ineffective at mixing information (such as rings and grids). To address this problem, we propose a new family of topologies, EquiTopo, which has an (almost) constant degree and network-size-independent consensus rate which is used to measure the mixing efficiency.In the proposed family, EquiStatic has a degree of $\Theta(\ln(n))$, where $n$ is the network size, and a series of time-varying one-peer topologies, EquiDyn, has a constant degree of 1. We generate EquiDyn through a certain random sampling procedure. Both of them achieve $n$-independent consensus rate. We apply them to decentralized SGD and decentralized gradient tracking and obtain faster communication and better convergence, both theoretically and empirically. Our code is implemented through BlueFog and available at

Hardness in Markov Decision Processes: Theory and Practice

Michelangelo Conserva · Paulo Rauber

Meticulously analysing the empirical strengths and weaknesses of reinforcement learning methods in hard (challenging) environments is essential to inspire innovations and assess progress in the field. In tabular reinforcement learning, there is no well-established standard selection of environments to conduct such analysis, which is partially due to the lack of a widespread understanding of the rich theory of hardness of environments. The goal of this paper is to unlock the practical usefulness of this theory through four main contributions. First, we present a systematic survey of the theory of hardness, which also identifies promising research directions. Second, we introduce $\texttt{Colosseum}$, a pioneering package that enables empirical hardness analysis and implements a principled benchmark composed of environments that are diverse with respect to different measures of hardness. Third, we present an empirical analysis that provides new insights into computable measures. Finally, we benchmark five tabular agents in our newly proposed benchmark. While advancing the theoretical understanding of hardness in non-tabular reinforcement learning remains essential, our contributions in the tabular setting are intended as solid steps towards a principled non-tabular benchmark. Accordingly, we benchmark four agents in non-tabular versions of $\texttt{Colosseum}$ environments, obtaining results that demonstrate the generality of tabular hardness measures.

Finding Optimal Arms in Non-stochastic Combinatorial Bandits with Semi-bandit Feedback and Finite Budget

Jasmin Brandt · Viktor Bengs · Björn Haddenhorst · Eyke Hüllermeier

We consider the combinatorial bandits problem with semi-bandit feedback under finite sampling budget constraints, in which the learner can carry out its action only for a limited number of times specified by an overall budget. The action is to choose a set of arms, whereupon feedback for each arm in the chosen set is received. Unlike existing works, we study this problem in a non-stochastic setting with subset-dependent feedback, i.e., the semi-bandit feedback received could be generated by an oblivious adversary and also might depend on the chosen set of arms. In addition, we consider a general feedback scenario covering both the numerical-based as well as preference-based case and introduce a sound theoretical framework for this setting guaranteeing sensible notions of optimal arms, which a learner seeks to find. We suggest a generic algorithm suitable to cover the full spectrum of conceivable arm elimination strategies from aggressive to conservative. Theoretical questions about the sufficient and necessary budget of the algorithm to find the best arm are answered and complemented by deriving lower bounds for any learning algorithm for this problem scenario.

Decoupled Context Processing for Context Augmented Language Modeling

Zonglin Li · Ruiqi Guo · Sanjiv Kumar

Language models can be augmented with context retriever to incorporate knowledge from large external databases. By leveraging retrieved context, the neural network does not have to memorize the massive amount of world knowledge within its internal parameters, leading to better parameter efficiency, interpretability and modularity. In this paper we examined a simple yet effective architecture for incorporating external context into language models based on decoupled $\texttt{Encoder-Decoder}$ architecture. We showed that such a simple architecture achieves competitive results on auto-regressive language modeling and open domain question answering tasks. We also analyzed the behavior of the proposed model which performs grounded context transfer. Finally we discussed the computational implications of such retrieval augmented models.

PerfectDou: Dominating DouDizhu with Perfect Information Distillation

Guan Yang · Minghuan Liu · Weijun Hong · Weinan Zhang · Fei Fang · Guangjun Zeng · Yue Lin

As a challenging multi-player card game, DouDizhu has recently drawn much attention for analyzing competition and collaboration in imperfect-information games. In this paper, we propose PerfectDou, a state-of-the-art Doudizhu AI system that summits the game, in an actor-critic framework with a proposed technique named perfect information distillation.In detail, we adopt a perfect-training-imperfection-execution framework that allows the agents to utilize the global information to guide the training of the policies as if it is a perfect information game and the trained policies can be used to play the imperfect information game during the actual gameplay. Correspondingly, we characterize card and game features for DouDizhu to represent the perfect and imperfect information. To train our system, we adopt proximal policy optimization with generalized advantage estimation in a parallel training paradigm. In experiments we show how and why PerfectDou beats all existing programs, and achieves state-of-the-art performance.

Neural Transmitted Radiance Fields

Chengxuan Zhu · Renjie Wan · Boxin Shi

Neural radiance fields (NeRF) have brought tremendous progress to novel view synthesis. Though NeRF enables the rendering of subtle details in a scene by learning from a dense set of images, it also reconstructs the undesired reflections when we capture images through glass. As a commonly observed interference, the reflection would undermine the visibility of the desired transmitted scene behind glass by occluding the transmitted light rays. In this paper, we aim at addressing the problem of rendering novel transmitted views given a set of reflection-corrupted images. By introducing the transmission encoder and recurring edge constraints as guidance, our neural transmitted radiance fields can resist such reflection interference during rendering and reconstruct high-fidelity results even under sparse views. The proposed method achieves superior performance from the experiments on a newly collected dataset compared with state-of-the-art methods.

Self-Supervised Pretraining for Large-Scale Point Clouds

Zaiwei Zhang · Min Bai · Erran Li Li

Pretraining on large unlabeled datasets has been proven to improve the down-stream task performance on many computer vision tasks, such as 2D object detection and video classification. However, for large-scale 3D scenes, such as outdoor LiDAR point clouds, pretraining is not widely used. Due to the special data characteristics of large 3D point clouds, 2D pretraining frameworks tend to not generalize well. In this paper, we propose a new self-supervised pretraining method that targets large-scale 3D scenes. We pretrain commonly used point-based and voxel-based model architectures and show the transfer learning performance on 3D object detection and also semantic segmentation. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on both dense 3D indoor point clouds and also sparse outdoor lidar point clouds.

GALOIS: Boosting Deep Reinforcement Learning via Generalizable Logic Synthesis

Yushi Cao · Zhiming Li · Tianpei Yang · Hao Zhang · YAN ZHENG · Yi Li · Jianye Hao · Yang Liu

Despite achieving superior performance in human-level control problems, unlike humans, deep reinforcement learning (DRL) lacks high-order intelligence (e.g., logic deduction and reuse), thus it behaves ineffectively than humans regarding learning and generalization in complex problems. Previous works attempt to directly synthesize a white-box logic program as the DRL policy, manifesting logic-driven behaviors. However, most synthesis methods are built on imperative or declarative programming, and each has a distinct limitation, respectively. The former ignores the cause-effect logic during synthesis, resulting in low generalizability across tasks. The latter is strictly proof-based, thus failing to synthesize programs with complex hierarchical logic. In this paper, we combine the above two paradigms together and propose a novel Generalizable Logic Synthesis (GALOIS) framework to synthesize hierarchical and strict cause-effect logic programs. GALOIS leverages the program sketch and defines a new sketch-based hybrid program language for guiding the synthesis. Based on that, GALOIS proposes a sketch-based program synthesis method to automatically generate white-box programs with generalizable and interpretable cause-effect logic. Extensive evaluations on various decision-making tasks with complex logic demonstrate the superiority of GALOIS over mainstream baselines regarding the asymptotic performance, generalizability, and great knowledge reusability across different environments.

Streaming Radiance Fields for 3D Video Synthesis

Lingzhi LI · Zhen Shen · Zhongshu Wang · Li Shen · Ping Tan

We present an explicit-grid based method for efficiently reconstructing streaming radiance fields for novel view synthesis of real world dynamic scenes. Instead of training a single model that combines all the frames, we formulate the dynamic modeling problem with an incremental learning paradigm in which per-frame model difference is trained to complement the adaption of a base model on the current frame. By exploiting the simple yet effective tuning strategy with narrow bands, the proposed method realizes a feasible framework for handling video sequences on-the-fly with high training efficiency. The storage overhead induced by using explicit grid representations can be significantly reduced through the use of model difference based compression. We also introduce an efficient strategy to further accelerate model optimization for each frame. Experiments on challenging video sequences demonstrate that our approach is capable of achieving a training speed of 15 seconds per-frame with competitive rendering quality, which attains $1000 \times$ speedup over the state-of-the-art implicit methods.

MACE: Higher Order Equivariant Message Passing Neural Networks for Fast and Accurate Force Fields

Ilyes Batatia · David P Kovacs · Gregor Simm · Christoph Ortner · Gabor Csanyi

Creating fast and accurate force fields is a long-standing challenge in computational chemistry and materials science. Recently, Equivariant Message Passing Neural Networks (MPNNs) have emerged as a powerful tool for building machine learning interatomic potentials, outperforming other approaches in terms of accuracy. However, they suffer from high computational cost and poor scalability. Moreover, most MPNNs only pass two-body messages leading to an intricate relationship between the number of layers and the expressivity of the features. This work introduces MACE, a new equivariant MPNN model that uses higher order messages, and demonstrates that this leads to an improved learning law. We show that by using four-body messages, the required number of message passing iterations reduces to just one, resulting in a fast and highly parallelizable model, reaching or exceeding state of the art accuracy on the rMD17 and 3BPA benchmark tasks. Our implementation is available at

Analyzing Data-Centric Properties for Graph Contrastive Learning

Puja Trivedi · Ekdeep S Lubana · Mark Heimann · Danai Koutra · Jayaraman Thiagarajan

Recent analyses of self-supervised learning (SSL) find the following data-centric properties to be critical for learning good representations: invariance to task-irrelevant semantics, separability of classes in some latent space, and recoverability of labels from augmented samples. However, given their discrete, non-Euclidean nature, graph datasets and graph SSL methods are unlikely to satisfy these properties. This raises the question: how do graph SSL methods, such as contrastive learning (CL), work well? To systematically probe this question, we perform a generalization analysis for CL when using generic graph augmentations (GGAs), with a focus on data-centric properties. Our analysis yields formal insights into the limitations of GGAs and the necessity of task-relevant augmentations. As we empirically show, GGAs do not induce task-relevant invariances on common benchmark datasets, leading to only marginal gains over naive, untrained baselines. Our theory motivates a synthetic data generation process that enables control over task-relevant information and boasts pre-defined optimal augmentations. This flexible benchmark helps us identify yet unrecognized limitations in advanced augmentation techniques (e.g., automated methods). Overall, our work rigorously contextualizes, both empirically and theoretically, the effects of data-centric properties on augmentation strategies and learning paradigms for graph SSL.

On the Limitations of Stochastic Pre-processing Defenses

Yue Gao · I Shumailov · Kassem Fawaz · Nicolas Papernot

Defending against adversarial examples remains an open problem. A common belief is that randomness at inference increases the cost of finding adversarial inputs. An example of such a defense is to apply a random transformation to inputs prior to feeding them to the model. In this paper, we empirically and theoretically investigate such stochastic pre-processing defenses and demonstrate that they are flawed. First, we show that most stochastic defenses are weaker than previously thought; they lack sufficient randomness to withstand even standard attacks like projected gradient descent. This casts doubt on a long-held assumption that stochastic defenses invalidate attacks designed to evade deterministic defenses and force attackers to integrate the Expectation over Transformation (EOT) concept. Second, we show that stochastic defenses confront a trade-off between adversarial robustness and model invariance; they become less effective as the defended model acquires more invariance to their randomization. Future work will need to decouple these two effects. We also discuss implications and guidance for future research.

Hedging as Reward Augmentation in Probabilistic Graphical Models

Debarun Bhattacharjya · Radu Marinescu

Most people associate the term `hedging' exclusively with financial applications, particularly the use of financial derivatives. We argue that hedging is an activity that human and machine agents should engage in more broadly, even when the agent's value is not necessarily in monetary units. In this paper, we propose a decision-theoretic view of hedging based on augmenting a probabilistic graphical model -- specifically a Bayesian network or an influence diagram -- with a reward. Hedging is therefore posed as a particular kind of graph manipulation, and can be viewed as analogous to control/intervention and information gathering related analysis. Effective hedging occurs when a risk-averse agent finds opportunity to balance uncertain rewards in their current situation. We illustrate the concepts with examples and counter-examples, and conduct experiments to demonstrate the properties and applicability of the proposed computational tools that enable agents to proactively identify potential hedging opportunities in real-world situations.

Outstanding Paper
Riemannian Score-Based Generative Modelling

Valentin De Bortoli · Emile Mathieu · Michael Hutchinson · James Thornton · Yee Whye Teh · Arnaud Doucet

Score-based generative models (SGMs) are a powerful class of generative models that exhibit remarkable empirical performance.Score-based generative modelling (SGM) consists of a noising'' stage, whereby a diffusion is used to gradually add Gaussian noise to data, and a generative model, which entails adenoising'' process defined by approximating the time-reversal of the diffusion. Existing SGMs assume that data is supported on a Euclidean space, i.e. a manifold with flat geometry. In many domains such as robotics, geoscience or protein modelling, data is often naturally described by distributions living on Riemannian manifolds and current SGM techniques are not appropriate. We introduce here \emph{Riemannian Score-based Generative Models} (RSGMs), a class of generative models extending SGMs to Riemannian manifolds. We demonstrate our approach on a variety of compact manifolds, and in particular with earth and climate science spherical data.

On the Spectral Bias of Convolutional Neural Tangent and Gaussian Process Kernels

Amnon Geifman · Meirav Galun · David Jacobs · Basri Ronen

We study the properties of various over-parameterized convolutional neural architectures through their respective Gaussian Process and Neural Tangent kernels. We prove that, with normalized multi-channel input and ReLU activation, the eigenfunctions of these kernels with the uniform measure are formed by products of spherical harmonics, defined over the channels of the different pixels. We next use hierarchical factorizable kernels to bound their respective eigenvalues. We show that the eigenvalues decay polynomially, quantify the rate of decay, and derive measures that reflect the composition of hierarchical features in these networks. Our theory provides a concrete quantitative characterization of the role of locality and hierarchy in the inductive bias of over-parameterized convolutional network architectures.

Causality Preserving Chaotic Transformation and Classification using Neurochaos Learning

Harikrishnan N B · Aditi Kathpalia · Nithin Nagaraj

Discovering cause and effect variables from observational data is an important but challenging problem in science and engineering. In this work, a recently proposed brain inspired learning algorithm namely-\emph{Neurochaos Learning} (NL) is used for the classification of cause and effect time series generated using coupled autoregressive processes, coupled 1D chaotic skew tent maps, coupled 1D chaotic logistic maps and a real-world prey-predator system. In the case of coupled skew tent maps, the proposed method consistently outperforms a five layer Deep Neural Network (DNN) and Long Short Term Memory (LSTM) architecture for unidirectional coupling coefficient values ranging from $0.1$ to $0.7$. Further, we investigate the preservation of causality in the feature extracted space of NL using Granger Causality for coupled autoregressive processes and Compression-Complexity Causality for coupled chaotic systems and real-world prey-predator dataset. Unlike DNN, LSTM and 1D Convolutional Neural Network, it is found that NL preserves the inherent causal structures present in the input timeseries data. These findings are promising for the theory and applications of causal machine learning and open up the possibility to explore the potential of NL for more sophisticated causal learning tasks.

Exploring through Random Curiosity with General Value Functions

Aditya Ramesh · Louis Kirsch · Sjoerd van Steenkiste · Jürgen Schmidhuber

Efficient exploration in reinforcement learning is a challenging problem commonly addressed through intrinsic rewards. Recent prominent approaches are based on state novelty or variants of artificial curiosity. However, directly applying them to partially observable environments can be ineffective and lead to premature dissipation of intrinsic rewards. Here we propose random curiosity with general value functions (RC-GVF), a novel intrinsic reward function that draws upon connections between these distinct approaches. Instead of using only the current observation’s novelty or a curiosity bonus for failing to predict precise environment dynamics, RC-GVF derives intrinsic rewards through predicting temporally extended general value functions. We demonstrate that this improves exploration in a hard-exploration diabolical lock problem. Furthermore, RC-GVF significantly outperforms previous methods in the absence of ground-truth episodic counts in the partially observable MiniGrid environments. Panoramic observations on MiniGrid further boost RC-GVF's performance such that it is competitive to baselines exploiting privileged information in form of episodic counts.

Masked Autoencoders that Listen

Po-Yao Huang · Hu Xu · Juncheng Li · Alexei Baevski · Michael Auli · Wojciech Galuba · Florian Metze · Christoph Feichtenhofer

This paper studies a simple extension of image-based Masked Autoencoders (MAE) to self-supervised representation learning from audio spectrograms. Following the Transformer encoder-decoder design in MAE, our Audio-MAE first encodes audio spectrogram patches with a high masking ratio, feeding only the non-masked tokens through encoder layers. The decoder then re-orders and decodes the encoded context padded with mask tokens, in order to reconstruct the input spectrogram. We find it beneficial to incorporate local window attention in the decoder, as audio spectrograms are highly correlated in local time and frequency bands. We then fine-tune the encoder with a lower masking ratio on target datasets. Empirically, Audio-MAE sets new state-of-the-art performance on six audio and speech classification tasks, outperforming other recent models that use external supervised pre-training. Our code and models is available at

Sharing Knowledge for Meta-learning with Feature Descriptions

Tomoharu Iwata · Atsutoshi Kumagai

Language is an important tool for humans to share knowledge. We propose a meta-learning method that shares knowledge across supervised learning tasks using feature descriptions written in natural language, which have not been used in the existing meta-learning methods. The proposed method improves the predictive performance on unseen tasks with a limited number of labeled data by meta-learning from various tasks. With the feature descriptions, we can find relationships across tasks even when their feature spaces are different. The feature descriptions are encoded using a language model pretrained with a large corpus, which enables us to incorporate human knowledge stored in the corpus into meta-learning. In our experiments, we demonstrate that the proposed method achieves better predictive performance than the existing meta-learning methods using a wide variety of real-world datasets provided by the statistical office of the EU and Japan.

ReFactor GNNs: Revisiting Factorisation-based Models from a Message-Passing Perspective

Yihong Chen · Pushkar Mishra · Luca Franceschi · Pasquale Minervini · Pontus Lars Erik Saito Stenetorp · Sebastian Riedel

Factorisation-based Models (FMs), such as DistMult, have enjoyed enduring success for Knowledge Graph Completion (KGC) tasks, often outperforming Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). However, unlike GNNs, FMs struggle to incorporate node features and generalise to unseen nodes in inductive settings. Our work bridges the gap between FMs and GNNs by proposing ReFactor GNNs. This new architecture draws upon $\textit{both}$ modelling paradigms, which previously were largely thought of as disjoint. Concretely, using a message-passing formalism, we show how FMs can be cast as GNNs by reformulating the gradient descent procedure as message-passing operations, which forms the basis of our ReFactor GNNs. Across a multitude of well-established KGC benchmarks, our ReFactor GNNs achieve comparable transductive performance to FMs, and state-of-the-art inductive performance while using an order of magnitude fewer parameters.

New Definitions and Evaluations for Saliency Methods: Staying Intrinsic, Complete and Sound

Arushi Gupta · Nikunj Saunshi · Dingli Yu · Kaifeng Lyu · Sanjeev Arora

Saliency methods compute heat maps that highlight portions of an input that were most important for the label assigned to it by a deep net. Evaluations of saliency methods convert this heat map into a new masked input by retaining the $k$ highest-ranked pixels of the original input and replacing the rest with "uninformative" pixels, and checking if the net's output is mostly unchanged. This is usually seen as an explanation of the output, but the current paper highlights reasons why this inference of causality may be suspect. Inspired by logic concepts of completeness & soundness, it observes that the above type of evaluation focuses on completeness of the explanation, but ignores soundness. New evaluation metrics are introduced to capture both notions, while staying in an intrinsic framework---i.e., using the dataset and the net, but no separately trained nets, human evaluations, etc. A simple saliency method is described that matches or outperforms prior methods in the evaluations. Experiments also suggest new intrinsic justifications, based on soundness, for popular heuristic tricks such as TV regularization and upsampling.

Non-Markovian Reward Modelling from Trajectory Labels via Interpretable Multiple Instance Learning

Joseph Early · Tom Bewley · Christine Evers · Sarvapali Ramchurn

We generalise the problem of reward modelling (RM) for reinforcement learning (RL) to handle non-Markovian rewards. Existing work assumes that human evaluators observe each step in a trajectory independently when providing feedback on agent behaviour. In this work, we remove this assumption, extending RM to capture temporal dependencies in human assessment of trajectories. We show how RM can be approached as a multiple instance learning (MIL) problem, where trajectories are treated as bags with return labels, and steps within the trajectories are instances with unseen reward labels. We go on to develop new MIL models that are able to capture the time dependencies in labelled trajectories. We demonstrate on a range of RL tasks that our novel MIL models can reconstruct reward functions to a high level of accuracy, and can be used to train high-performing agent policies.

FlashAttention: Fast and Memory-Efficient Exact Attention with IO-Awareness

Tri Dao · Dan Fu · Stefano Ermon · Atri Rudra · Christopher Ré

Transformers are slow and memory-hungry on long sequences, since the time and memory complexity of self-attention are quadratic in sequence length. Approximate attention methods have attempted to address this problem by trading off model quality to reduce the compute complexity, but often do not achieve wall-clock speedup. We argue that a missing principle is making attention algorithms IO-aware---accounting for reads and writes between levels of GPU memory. We propose FlashAttention, an IO-aware exact attention algorithm that uses tiling to reduce the number of memory reads/writes between GPU high bandwidth memory (HBM) and GPU on-chip SRAM. We analyze the IO complexity of FlashAttention, showing that it requires fewer HBM accesses than standard attention, and is optimal for a range of SRAM sizes. We also extend FlashAttention, yielding an approximate attention algorithm that is faster than any existing approximate attention method. FlashAttention, 3x speedup on GPT-2 (seq. length 1K), and 2.4x speedup on long-range arena (seq. length 1K-4K). FlashAttention, yielding higher quality models (0.7 better perplexity on GPT-2 and 6.4 points of lift on long-document classification) and entirely new capabilities: the first Transformers to achieve better-than-chance performance on the Path-X challenge (seq. length 16K, 61.4% accuracy) and Path-256 (seq. length 64K, 63.1% accuracy).

Conditional Diffusion Process for Inverse Halftoning

Hao Jiang · Yadong Mu

Inverse halftoning is a technique used to recover realistic images from ancient prints (\textit{e.g.}, photographs, newspapers, books). The rise of deep learning has led to the gradual incorporation of neural network designs into inverse halftoning methods. Most of existing inverse halftoning approaches adopt the U-net architecture, which uses an encoder to encode halftone prints, followed by a decoder for image reconstruction. However, the mainstream supervised learning paradigm with element-wise regression commonly adopted in U-net based methods has poor generalization ability in practical applications. Specifically, when there is a large gap between the dithering patterns of the training and test halftones, the reconstructed continuous-tone images have obvious artifacts. This is an important issue in practical applications, since the algorithms for generating halftones are ever-evolving. Even for the same algorithm, different parameter choices will result in different halftone dithering patterns. In this paper, we propose the first generative halftoning method in the literature, which regards the black pixels in halftones as physically moving particles, and makes the randomly distributed particles move under some certain guidance through reverse diffusion process, so as to obtain desired halftone patterns. In particular, we propose a Conditional Diffusion model for image Halftoning (CDH), which consists of a halftone dithering process and an inverse halftoning process. By changing the initial state of the diffusion model, our method can generate visually plausible halftones with different dithering patterns under the condition of image gray level and Laplacian prior. To avoid introducing redundant patterns and undesired artifacts, we propose a meta-halftone guided network to incorporate blue noise guidance in the diffusion process. In this way, halftone images subject to more diverse distributions are fed into the inverse halftoning model, which helps the model to learn a more robust mapping from halftone distributions to continuous-tone distributions, thereby improving the generalization ability to unseen samples. Quantitative and qualitative experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method achieves state-of-the-art results.

Prompt Certified Machine Unlearning with Randomized Gradient Smoothing and Quantization

Zijie Zhang · Yang Zhou · Xin Zhao · Tianshi Che · Lingjuan Lyu

The right to be forgotten calls for efficient machine unlearning techniques that make trained machine learning models forget a cohort of data. The combination of training and unlearning operations in traditional machine unlearning methods often leads to the expensive computational cost on large-scale data. This paper presents a prompt certified machine unlearning algorithm, PCMU, which executes one-time operation of simultaneous training and unlearning in advance for a series of machine unlearning requests, without the knowledge of the removed/forgotten data. First, we establish a connection between randomized smoothing for certified robustness on classification and randomized smoothing for certified machine unlearning on gradient quantization. Second, we propose a prompt certified machine unlearning model based on randomized data smoothing and gradient quantization. We theoretically derive the certified radius R regarding the data change before and after data removals and the certified budget of data removals about R. Last but not least, we present another practical framework of randomized gradient smoothing and quantization, due to the dilemma of producing high confidence certificates in the first framework. We theoretically demonstrate the certified radius R' regarding the gradient change, the correlation between two types of certified radii, and the certified budget of data removals about R'.

Training language models to follow instructions with human feedback

Long Ouyang · Jeffrey Wu · Xu Jiang · Diogo Almeida · Carroll Wainwright · Pamela Mishkin · Chong Zhang · Sandhini Agarwal · Katarina Slama · Alex Ray · John Schulman · Jacob Hilton · Fraser Kelton · Luke Miller · Maddie Simens · Amanda Askell · Peter Welinder · Paul Christiano · Jan Leike · Ryan Lowe

Making language models bigger does not inherently make them better at following a user's intent. For example, large language models can generate outputs that are untruthful, toxic, or simply not helpful to the user. In other words, these models are not aligned with their users. In this paper, we show an avenue for aligning language models with user intent on a wide range of tasks by fine-tuning with human feedback. Starting with a set of labeler-written prompts and prompts submitted through a language model API, we collect a dataset of labeler demonstrations of the desired model behavior, which we use to fine-tune GPT-3 using supervised learning. We then collect a dataset of rankings of model outputs, which we use to further fine-tune this supervised model using reinforcement learning from human feedback. We call the resulting models InstructGPT. In human evaluations on our prompt distribution, outputs from the 1.3B parameter InstructGPT model are preferred to outputs from the 175B GPT-3, despite having 100x fewer parameters. Moreover, InstructGPT models show improvements in truthfulness and reductions in toxic output generation while having minimal performance regressions on public NLP datasets. Even though InstructGPT still makes simple mistakes, our results show that fine-tuning with human feedback is a promising direction for aligning language models with human intent.

Learning to Accelerate Partial Differential Equations via Latent Global Evolution

Tailin Wu · Takashi Maruyama · Jure Leskovec

Simulating the time evolution of Partial Differential Equations (PDEs) of large-scale systems is crucial in many scientific and engineering domains such as fluid dynamics, weather forecasting and their inverse optimization problems. However, both classical solvers and recent deep learning-based surrogate models are typically extremely computationally intensive, because of their local evolution: they need to update the state of each discretized cell at each time step during inference. Here we develop Latent Evolution of PDEs (LE-PDE), a simple, fast and scalable method to accelerate the simulation and inverse optimization of PDEs. LE-PDE learns a compact, global representation of the system and efficiently evolves it fully in the latent space with learned latent evolution models. LE-PDE achieves speedup by having a much smaller latent dimension to update during long rollout as compared to updating in the input space. We introduce new learning objectives to effectively learn such latent dynamics to ensure long-term stability. We further introduce techniques for speeding-up inverse optimization of boundary conditions for PDEs via backpropagation through time in latent space, and an annealing technique to address the non-differentiability and sparse interaction of boundary conditions. We test our method in a 1D benchmark of nonlinear PDEs, 2D Navier-Stokes flows into turbulent phase and an inverse optimization of boundary conditions in 2D Navier-Stokes flow. Compared to state-of-the-art deep learning-based surrogate models and other strong baselines, we demonstrate up to 128x reduction in the dimensions to update, and up to 15x improvement in speed, while achieving competitive accuracy.

Robust $\phi$-Divergence MDPs

Chin Pang Ho · Marek Petrik · Wolfram Wiesemann

In recent years, robust Markov decision processes (MDPs) have emerged as a prominent modeling framework for dynamic decision problems affected by uncertainty. In contrast to classical MDPs, which only account for stochasticity by modeling the dynamics through a stochastic process with a known transition kernel, robust MDPs additionally account for ambiguity by optimizing in view of the most adverse transition kernel from a prescribed ambiguity set. In this paper, we develop a novel solution framework for robust MDPs with $s$-rectangular ambiguity sets that decomposes the problem into a sequence of robust Bellman updates and simplex projections. Exploiting the rich structure present in the simplex projections corresponding to $\phi$-divergence ambiguity sets, we show that the associated $s$-rectangular robust MDPs can be solved substantially faster than with state-of-the-art commercial solvers as well as a recent first-order solution scheme, thus rendering them attractive alternatives to classical MDPs in practical applications.

Offline Goal-Conditioned Reinforcement Learning via $f$-Advantage Regression

Jason Yecheng Ma · Jason Yan · Dinesh Jayaraman · Osbert Bastani

Offline goal-conditioned reinforcement learning (GCRL) promises general-purpose skill learning in the form of reaching diverse goals from purely offline datasets. We propose $\textbf{Go}$al-conditioned $f$-$\textbf{A}$dvantage $\textbf{R}$egression (GoFAR), a novel regression-based offline GCRL algorithm derived from a state-occupancy matching perspective; the key intuition is that the goal-reaching task can be formulated as a state-occupancy matching problem between a dynamics-abiding imitator agent and an expert agent that directly teleports to the goal. In contrast to prior approaches, GoFAR does not require any hindsight relabeling and enjoys uninterleaved optimization for its value and policy networks. These distinct features confer GoFAR with much better offline performance and stability as well as statistical performance guarantee that is unattainable for prior methods. Furthermore, we demonstrate that GoFAR's training objectives can be re-purposed to learn an agent-independent goal-conditioned planner from purely offline source-domain data, which enables zero-shot transfer to new target domains. Through extensive experiments, we validate GoFAR's effectiveness in various problem settings and tasks, significantly outperforming prior state-of-art. Notably, on a real robotic dexterous manipulation task, while no other method makes meaningful progress, GoFAR acquires complex manipulation behavior that successfully accomplishes diverse goals.

Translation-equivariant Representation in Recurrent Networks with a Continuous Manifold of Attractors

Wenhao Zhang · Ying Nian Wu · Si Wu

Equivariant representation is necessary for the brain and artificial perceptual systems to faithfully represent the stimulus under some (Lie) group transformations. However, it remains unknown how recurrent neural circuits in the brain represent the stimulus equivariantly, nor the neural representation of abstract group operators. The present study uses a one-dimensional (1D) translation group as an example to explore the general recurrent neural circuit mechanism of the equivariant stimulus representation. We found that a continuous attractor network (CAN), a canonical neural circuit model, self-consistently generates a continuous family of stationary population responses (attractors) that represents the stimulus equivariantly. Inspired by the Drosophila's compass circuit, we found that the 1D translation operators can be represented by extra speed neurons besides the CAN, where speed neurons' responses represent the moving speed (1D translation group parameter), and their feedback connections to the CAN represent the translation generator (Lie algebra). We demonstrated that the network responses are consistent with experimental data. Our model for the first time demonstrates how recurrent neural circuitry in the brain achieves equivariant stimulus representation.

Visual Clues: Bridging Vision and Language Foundations for Image Paragraph Captioning

Yujia Xie · Luowei Zhou · Xiyang Dai · Lu Yuan · Nguyen Bach · Ce Liu · Michael Zeng

People say, "A picture is worth a thousand words". Then how can we get the rich information out of the image? We argue that by using visual clues to bridge large pretrained vision foundation models and language models, we can do so without any extra cross-modal training. Thanks to the strong zero-shot capability of foundation models, we start by constructing a rich semantic representation of the image (e.g., image tags, object attributes / locations, captions) as a structured textual prompt, called visual clues, using a vision foundation model. Based on visual clues, we use large language model to produce a series of comprehensive descriptions for the visual content, which is then verified by the vision model again to select the candidate that aligns best with the image. We evaluate the quality of generated descriptions by quantitative and qualitative measurement. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of such a structured semantic representation.

Learning Audio-Visual Dynamics Using Scene Graphs for Audio Source Separation

Moitreya Chatterjee · Narendra Ahuja · Anoop Cherian

There exists an unequivocal distinction between the sound produced by a static source and that produced by a moving one, especially when the source moves towards or away from the microphone. In this paper, we propose to use this connection between audio and visual dynamics for solving two challenging tasks simultaneously, namely: (i) separating audio sources from a mixture using visual cues, and (ii) predicting the 3D visual motion of a sounding source using its separated audio. Towards this end, we present Audio Separator and Motion Predictor (ASMP) -- a deep learning framework that leverages the 3D structure of the scene and the motion of sound sources for better audio source separation. At the heart of ASMP is a 2.5D scene graph capturing various objects in the video and their pseudo-3D spatial proximities. This graph is constructed by registering together 2.5D monocular depth predictions from the 2D video frames and associating the 2.5D scene regions with the outputs of an object detector applied on those frames. The ASMP task is then mathematically modeled as the joint problem of: (i) recursively segmenting the 2.5D scene graph into several sub-graphs, each associated with a constituent sound in the input audio mixture (which is then separated) and (ii) predicting the 3D motions of the corresponding sound sources from the separated audio. To empirically evaluate ASMP, we present experiments on two challenging audio-visual datasets, viz. Audio Separation in the Wild (ASIW) and Audio Visual Event (AVE). Our results demonstrate that ASMP achieves a clear improvement in source separation quality, outperforming prior works on both datasets, while also estimating the direction of motion of the sound sources better than other methods.

Towards a Standardised Performance Evaluation Protocol for Cooperative MARL

Rihab Gorsane · Omayma Mahjoub · Ruan John de Kock · Roland Dubb · Siddarth Singh · Arnu Pretorius

Multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) has emerged as a useful approach to solving decentralised decision-making problems at scale. Research in the field has been growing steadily with many breakthrough algorithms proposed in recent years. In this work, we take a closer look at this rapid development with a focus on evaluation methodologies employed across a large body of research in cooperative MARL. By conducting a detailed meta-analysis of prior work, spanning 75 papers accepted for publication from 2016 to 2022, we bring to light worrying trends that put into question the true rate of progress. We further consider these trends in a wider context and take inspiration from single-agent RL literature on similar issues with recommendations that remain applicable to MARL. Combining these recommendations, with novel insights from our analysis, we propose a standardised performance evaluation protocol for cooperative MARL. We argue that such a standard protocol, if widely adopted, would greatly improve the validity and credibility of future research, make replication and reproducibility easier, as well as improve the ability of the field to accurately gauge the rate of progress over time by being able to make sound comparisons across different works. Finally, we release our meta-analysis data publicly on our project website for future research on evaluation accompanied by our open-source evaluation tools repository.

Mismatched No More: Joint Model-Policy Optimization for Model-Based RL

Benjamin Eysenbach · Alexander Khazatsky · Sergey Levine · Russ Salakhutdinov

Many model-based reinforcement learning (RL) methods follow a similar template: fit a model to previously observed data, and then use data from that model for RL or planning. However, models that achieve better training performance (e.g., lower MSE) are not necessarily better for control: an RL agent may seek out the small fraction of states where an accurate model makes mistakes, or it might act in ways that do not expose the errors of an inaccurate model. As noted in prior work, there is an objective mismatch: models are useful if they yield good policies, but they are trained to maximize their accuracy, rather than the performance of the policies that result from them. In this work, we propose a single objective for jointly training the model and the policy, such that updates to either component increase a lower bound on expected return. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first lower bound for model-based RL that holds globally and can be efficiently estimated in continuous settings; it is the only lower bound that mends the objective mismatch problem. A version of this bound becomes tight under certain assumptions. Optimizing this bound resembles a GAN: a classifier distinguishes between real and fake transitions, the model is updated to produce transitions that look realistic, and the policy is updated to avoid states where the model predictions are unrealistic. Numerical simulations demonstrate that optimizing this bound yields reward maximizing policies and yields dynamics that (perhaps surprisingly) can aid in exploration. We also show that a deep RL algorithm loosely based on our lower bound can achieve performance competitive with prior model-based methods, and better performance on certain hard exploration tasks.

Continual Learning with Evolving Class Ontologies

Zhiqiu Lin · Deepak Pathak · Yu-Xiong Wang · Deva Ramanan · Shu Kong

Lifelong learners must recognize concept vocabularies that evolve over time. A common yet underexplored scenario is learning with class labels that continually refine/expand old classes. For example, humans learn to recognize ${\tt dog}$ before dog breeds. In practical settings, dataset ${\it versioning}$ often introduces refinement to ontologies, such as autonomous vehicle benchmarks that refine a previous ${\tt vehicle}$ class into ${\tt school-bus}$ as autonomous operations expand to new cities. This paper formalizes a protocol for studying the problem of ${\it Learning with Evolving Class Ontology}$ (LECO). LECO requires learning classifiers in distinct time periods (TPs); each TP introduces a new ontology of "fine" labels that refines old ontologies of "coarse" labels (e.g., dog breeds that refine the previous ${\tt dog}$). LECO explores such questions as whether to annotate new data or relabel the old, how to exploit coarse labels, and whether to finetune the previous TP's model or train from scratch. To answer these questions, we leverage insights from related problems such as class-incremental learning. We validate them under the LECO protocol through the lens of image classification (on CIFAR and iNaturalist) and semantic segmentation (on Mapillary). Extensive experiments lead to some surprising conclusions; while the current status quo in the field is to relabel existing datasets with new class ontologies (such as COCO-to-LVIS or Mapillary1.2-to-2.0), LECO demonstrates that a far better strategy is to annotate ${\it new}$ data with the new ontology. However, this produces an aggregate dataset with inconsistent old-vs-new labels, complicating learning. To address this challenge, we adopt methods from semi-supervised and partial-label learning. We demonstrate that such strategies can surprisingly be made near-optimal, in the sense of approaching an "oracle" that learns on the aggregate dataset exhaustively labeled with the newest ontology.

The Franz-Parisi Criterion and Computational Trade-offs in High Dimensional Statistics

Afonso S Bandeira · Ahmed El Alaoui · Samuel Hopkins · Tselil Schramm · Alexander S Wein · Ilias Zadik

Many high-dimensional statistical inference problems are believed to possess inherent computational hardness. Various frameworks have been proposed to give rigorous evidence for such hardness, including lower bounds against restricted models of computation (such as low-degree functions), as well as methods rooted in statistical physics that are based on free energy landscapes. This paper aims to make a rigorous connection between the seemingly different low-degree and free-energy based approaches. We define a free-energy based criterion for hardness and formally connect it to the well-established notion of low-degree hardness for a broad class of statistical problems, namely all Gaussian additive models and certain models with a sparse planted signal. By leveraging these rigorous connections we are able to: establish that for Gaussian additive models the "algebraic" notion of low-degree hardness implies failure of "geometric" local MCMC algorithms, and provide new low-degree lower bounds for sparse linear regression which seem difficult to prove directly. These results provide both conceptual insights into the connections between different notions of hardness, as well as concrete technical tools such as new methods for proving low-degree lower bounds.

Conformalized Fairness via Quantile Regression

Meichen Liu · Lei Ding · Dengdeng Yu · Wulong Liu · Linglong Kong · Bei Jiang

Algorithmic fairness has received increased attention in socially sensitive domains. While rich literature on mean fairness has been established, research on quantile fairness remains sparse but vital. To fulfill great needs and advocate the significance of quantile fairness, we propose a novel framework to learn a real-valued quantile function under the fairness requirement of Demographic Parity with respect to sensitive attributes, such as race or gender, and thereby derive a reliable fair prediction interval. Using optimal transport and functional synchronization techniques, we establish theoretical guarantees of distribution-free coverage and exact fairness for the induced prediction interval constructed by fair quantiles. A hands-on pipeline is provided to incorporate flexible quantile regressions with an efficient fairness adjustment post-processing algorithm. We demonstrate the superior empirical performance of this approach on several benchmark datasets. Our results show the model’s ability to uncover the mechanism underlying the fairness-accuracy trade-off in a wide range of societal and medical applications.

Neural Differential Equations for Learning to Program Neural Nets Through Continuous Learning Rules

Kazuki Irie · Francesco Faccio · Jürgen Schmidhuber

Neural ordinary differential equations (ODEs) have attracted much attention as continuous-time counterparts of deep residual neural networks (NNs), and numerous extensions for recurrent NNs have been proposed. Since the 1980s, ODEs have also been used to derive theoretical results for NN learning rules, e.g., the famous connection between Oja's rule and principal component analysis. Such rules are typically expressed as additive iterative update processes which have straightforward ODE counterparts. Here we introduce a novel combination of learning rules and Neural ODEs to build continuous-time sequence processing nets that learn to manipulate short-term memory in rapidly changing synaptic connections of other nets. This yields continuous-time counterparts of Fast Weight Programmers and linear Transformers. Our novel models outperform the best existing Neural Controlled Differential Equation based models on various time series classification tasks, while also addressing their fundamental scalability limitations. Our code is public.

An Analysis of Ensemble Sampling

Chao Qin · Zheng Wen · Xiuyuan Lu · Benjamin Van Roy

Ensemble sampling serves as a practical approximation to Thompson sampling when maintaining an exact posterior distribution over model parameters is computationally intractable. In this paper, we establish a regret bound that ensures desirable behavior when ensemble sampling is applied to the linear bandit problem. This represents the first rigorous regret analysis of ensemble sampling and is made possible by leveraging information-theoretic concepts and novel analytic techniques that may prove useful beyond the scope of this paper.

Resolving the data ambiguity for periodic crystals

Daniel Widdowson · Vitaliy Kurlin

The fundamental model of all solid crystalline materials is a periodic set of atomic centers considered up to rigid motion in Euclidean space. The major obstacle to materials discovery was highly ambiguous representations of periodic crystals that didn't allow fast and reliable comparisons and led to numerous (near-) duplicates in many databases of experimental and simulated crystals. This paper exemplarily resolves the ambiguity by invariants, which are descriptors without false negatives.The new Pointwise Distance Distributions (PDD) is a numerical matrix with a near-linear time complexity and an exactly computable metric. The strongest theoretical result is generic completeness (absence of false positives) for all finite and periodic sets of points in any dimension. The strength of PDD is shown by 200B+ pairwise comparisons of all periodic structures in the world's largest collection (Cambridge Structural Database) of existing materials over two days on a modest desktop.

Split-kl and PAC-Bayes-split-kl Inequalities for Ternary Random Variables

Yi-Shan Wu · Yevgeny Seldin

We present a new concentration of measure inequality for sums of independent bounded random variables, which we name a split-kl inequality. The inequality combines the combinatorial power of the kl inequality with ability to exploit low variance. While for Bernoulli random variables the kl inequality is tighter than the Empirical Bernstein, for random variables taking values inside a bounded interval and having low variance the Empirical Bernstein inequality is tighter than the kl. The proposed split-kl inequality yields the best of both worlds. We discuss an application of the split-kl inequality to bounding excess losses. We also derive a PAC-Bayes-split-kl inequality and use a synthetic example and several UCI datasets to compare it with the PAC-Bayes-kl, PAC-Bayes Empirical Bernstein, PAC-Bayes Unexpected Bernstein, and PAC-Bayes Empirical Bennett inequalities.

On the Sample Complexity of Stabilizing LTI Systems on a Single Trajectory

Yang Hu · Adam Wierman · Guannan Qu

Stabilizing an unknown dynamical system is one of the central problems in control theory. In this paper, we study the sample complexity of the learn-to-stabilize problem in Linear Time-Invariant (LTI) systems on a single trajectory. Current state-of-the-art approaches require a sample complexity linear in $n$, the state dimension, which incurs a state norm that blows up exponentially in $n$. We propose a novel algorithm based on spectral decomposition that only needs to learn ``a small part'' of the dynamical matrix acting on its unstable subspace. We show that, under proper assumptions, our algorithm stabilizes an LTI system on a single trajectory with $O(k \log n)$ samples, where $k$ is the instability index of the system. This represents the first sub-linear sample complexity result for the stabilization of LTI systems under the regime when $k = o(n)$.

On the convergence of policy gradient methods to Nash equilibria in general stochastic games

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

Learning in stochastic games is a notoriously difficult problem because, in addition to each other's strategic decisions, the players must also contend with the fact that the game itself evolves over time, possibly in a very complicated manner. Because of this, the convergence properties of popular learning algorithms — like policy gradient and its variants — are poorly understood, except in specific classes of games (such as potential or two-player, zero-sum games). In view of this, we examine the long-run behavior of policy gradient methods with respect to Nash equilibrium policies that are second-order stationary (SOS) in a sense similar to the type of sufficiency conditions used in optimization. Our first result is that SOS policies are locally attracting with high probability, and we show that policy gradient trajectories with gradient estimates provided by the REINFORCE algorithm achieve an $\mathcal{O}(1/\sqrt{n})$ distance-squared convergence rate if the method's step-size is chosen appropriately. Subsequently, specializing to the class of deterministic Nash policies, we show that this rate can be improved dramatically and, in fact, policy gradient methods converge within a finite number of iterations in that case.

Certifying Some Distributional Fairness with Subpopulation Decomposition

Mintong Kang · Linyi Li · Maurice Weber · Yang Liu · Ce Zhang · Bo Li

Extensive efforts have been made to understand and improve the fairness of machine learning models based on observational metrics, especially in high-stakes domains such as medical insurance, education, and hiring decisions. However, there is a lack of certified fairness considering the end-to-end performance of an ML model. In this paper, we first formulate the certified fairness of an ML model trained on a given data distribution as an optimization problem based on the model performance loss bound on a fairness constrained distribution, which is within bounded distributional distance with the training distribution. We then propose a general fairness certification framework and instantiate it for both sensitive shifting and general shifting scenarios. In particular, we propose to solve the optimization problem by decomposing the original data distribution into analytical subpopulations and proving the convexity of the subproblems to solve them. We evaluate our certified fairness on six real-world datasets and show that our certification is tight in the sensitive shifting scenario and provides non-trivial certification under general shifting. Our framework is flexible to integrate additional non-skewness constraints and we show that it provides even tighter certification under different real-world scenarios. We also compare our certified fairness bound with adapted existing distributional robustness bounds on Gaussian data and demonstrate that our method is significantly tighter.

Biologically Inspired Dynamic Thresholds for Spiking Neural Networks

Jianchuan Ding · Bo Dong · Felix Heide · Yufei Ding · Yunduo Zhou · Baocai Yin · Xin Yang

The dynamic membrane potential threshold, as one of the essential properties of a biological neuron, is a spontaneous regulation mechanism that maintains neuronal homeostasis, i.e., the constant overall spiking firing rate of a neuron. As such, the neuron firing rate is regulated by a dynamic spiking threshold, which has been extensively studied in biology. Existing work in the machine learning community does not employ bioinspired spiking threshold schemes. This work aims at bridging this gap by introducing a novel bioinspired dynamic energy-temporal threshold (BDETT) scheme for spiking neural networks (SNNs). The proposed BDETT scheme mirrors two bioplausible observations: a dynamic threshold has 1) a positive correlation with the average membrane potential and 2) a negative correlation with the preceding rate of depolarization. We validate the effectiveness of the proposed BDETT on robot obstacle avoidance and continuous control tasks under both normal conditions and various degraded conditions, including noisy observations, weights, and dynamic environments. We find that the BDETT outperforms existing static and heuristic threshold approaches by significant margins in all tested conditions, and we confirm that the proposed bioinspired dynamic threshold scheme offers homeostasis to SNNs in complex real-world tasks.

Precise Learning Curves and Higher-Order Scalings for Dot-product Kernel Regression

Lechao Xiao · Hong Hu · Theodor Misiakiewicz · Yue Lu · Jeffrey Pennington

As modern machine learning models continue to advance the computational frontier, it has become increasingly important to develop precise estimates for expected performance improvements under different model and data scaling regimes. Currently, theoretical understanding of the learning curves that characterize how the prediction error depends on the number of samples is restricted to either large-sample asymptotics ($m\to\infty$) or, for certain simple data distributions, to the high-dimensional asymptotics in which the number of samples scales linearly with the dimension ($m\propto d$). There is a wide gulf between these two regimes, including all higher-order scaling relations $m\propto d^r$, which are the subject of the present paper. We focus on the problem of kernel ridge regression for dot-product kernels and present precise formulas for the mean of the test error, bias, and variance, for data drawn uniformly from the sphere with isotropic random labels in the $r$th-order asymptotic scaling regime $m\to\infty$ with $m/d^r$ held constant. We observe a peak in the learning curve whenever $m \approx d^r/r!$ for any integer $r$, leading to multiple sample-wise descent and nontrivial behavior at multiple scales. We include a colab notebook that reproduces the essential results of the paper.

Towards a Unified Framework for Uncertainty-aware Nonlinear Variable Selection with Theoretical Guarantees

Wenying Deng · Beau Coker · Rajarshi Mukherjee · Jeremiah Liu · Brent Coull

We develop a simple and unified framework for nonlinear variable importance estimation that incorporates uncertainty in the prediction function and is compatible with a wide range of machine learning models (e.g., tree ensembles, kernel methods, neural networks, etc). In particular, for a learned nonlinear model $f(\mathbf{x})$, we consider quantifying the importance of an input variable $\mathbf{x}^j$ using the integrated partial derivative $\Psi_j = \Vert \frac{\partial}{\partial \mathbf{x}^j} f(\mathbf{x})\Vert^2_{P_\mathcal{X}}$. We then (1) provide a principled approach for quantifying uncertainty in variable importance by deriving its posterior distribution, and (2) show that the approach is generalizable even to non-differentiable models such as tree ensembles. Rigorous Bayesian nonparametric theorems are derived to guarantee the posterior consistency and asymptotic uncertainty of the proposed approach. Extensive simulations and experiments on healthcare benchmark datasets confirm that the proposed algorithm outperforms existing classical and recent variable selection methods.

Sketching based Representations for Robust Image Classification with Provable Guarantees

Nishanth Dikkala · Sankeerth Rao Karingula · Raghu Meka · Jelani Nelson · Rina Panigrahy · Xin Wang

How do we provably represent images succinctly so that their essential latent attributes are correctly captured by the representation to as high level of detail as possible? While today's deep networks (such as CNNs) produce image embeddings they do not have any provable properties and seem to work in mysterious non-interpretable ways. In this work we theoretically study synthetic images that are composed of a union or intersection of several mathematically specified shapes using thresholded polynomial functions (for e.g. ellipses, rectangles). We show how to produce a succinct sketch of such an image so that the sketch “smoothly” maps to the latent-coefficients producing the different shapes in the image. We prove several important properties such as: easy reconstruction of the image from the sketch, similarity preservation (similar shapes produce similar sketches), being able to index sketches so that other similar images and parts of other images can be retrieved, being able to store the sketches into a dictionary of concepts and shapes so parts of the same or different images that refer to the same shape can point to the same entry in this dictionary of common shape attributes.

Causality-driven Hierarchical Structure Discovery for Reinforcement Learning

shaohui peng · Xing Hu · Rui Zhang · Ke Tang · Jiaming Guo · Qi Yi · Ruizhi Chen · xishan zhang · Zidong Du · Ling Li · Qi Guo · Yunji Chen

Hierarchical reinforcement learning (HRL) has been proven to be effective for tasks with sparse rewards, for it can improve the agent's exploration efficiency by discovering high-quality hierarchical structures (e.g., subgoals or options). However, automatically discovering high-quality hierarchical structures is still a great challenge. Previous HRL methods can only find the hierarchical structures in simple environments, as they are mainly achieved through the randomness of agent's policies during exploration. In complicated environments, such a randomness-driven exploration paradigm can hardly discover high-quality hierarchical structures because of the low exploration efficiency. In this paper, we propose CDHRL, a causality-driven hierarchical reinforcement learning framework, to build high-quality hierarchical structures efficiently in complicated environments. The key insight is that the causalities among environment variables are naturally fit for modeling reachable subgoals and their dependencies; thus, the causality is suitable to be the guidance in building high-quality hierarchical structures. Roughly, we build the hierarchy of subgoals based on causality autonomously, and utilize the subgoal-based policies to unfold further causality efficiently. Therefore, CDHRL leverages a causality-driven discovery instead of a randomness-driven exploration for high-quality hierarchical structure construction. The results in two complex environments, 2D-Minecraft and Eden, show that CDHRL can discover high-quality hierarchical structures and significantly enhance exploration efficiency.

Language Models with Image Descriptors are Strong Few-Shot Video-Language Learners

Zhenhailong Wang · Manling Li · Ruochen Xu · Luowei Zhou · Jie Lei · Xudong Lin · Shuohang Wang · Ziyi Yang · Chenguang Zhu · Derek Hoiem · Shih-Fu Chang · Mohit Bansal · Heng Ji

The goal of this work is to build flexible video-language models that can generalize to various video-to-text tasks from few examples. Existing few-shot video-language learners focus exclusively on the encoder, resulting in the absence of a video-to-text decoder to handle generative tasks. Video captioners have been pretrained on large-scale video-language datasets, but they rely heavily on finetuning and lack the ability to generate text for unseen tasks in a few-shot setting. We propose VidIL, a few-shot Video-language Learner via Image and Language models, which demonstrates strong performance on few-shot video-to-text tasks without the necessity of pretraining or finetuning on any video datasets. We use image-language models to translate the video content into frame captions, object, attribute, and event phrases, and compose them into a temporal-aware template. We then instruct a language model, with a prompt containing a few in-context examples, to generate a target output from the composed content. The flexibility of prompting allows the model to capture any form of text input, such as automatic speech recognition (ASR) transcripts. Our experiments demonstrate the power of language models in understanding videos on a wide variety of video-language tasks, including video captioning, video question answering, video caption retrieval, and video future event prediction. Especially, on video future event prediction, our few-shot model significantly outperforms state-of-the-art supervised models trained on large-scale video datasets.Code and processed data are publicly available for research purposes at

Foundation Posteriors for Approximate Probabilistic Inference

Mike Wu · Noah Goodman

Probabilistic programs provide an expressive representation language for generative models. Given a probabilistic program, we are interested in the task of posterior inference: estimating a latent variable given a set of observed variables. Existing techniques for inference in probabilistic programs often require choosing many hyper-parameters, are computationally expensive, and/or only work for restricted classes of programs. Here we formulate inference as masked language modeling: given a program, we generate a supervised dataset of variables and assignments, and randomly mask a subset of the assignments. We then train a neural network to unmask the random values, defining an approximate posterior distribution. By optimizing a single neural network across a range of programs we amortize the cost of training, yielding a "foundation" posterior able to do zero-shot inference for new programs. The foundation posterior can also be fine-tuned for a particular program and dataset by optimizing a variational inference objective. We show the efficacy of the approach, zero-shot and fine-tuned, on a benchmark of STAN programs.

Unsupervised Image-to-Image Translation with Density Changing Regularization

Shaoan Xie · Qirong Ho · Kun Zhang

Unpaired image-to-image translation aims to translate an input image to another domain such that the output image looks like an image from another domain while important semantic information are preserved. Inferring the optimal mapping with unpaired data is impossible without making any assumptions. In this paper, we make a density changing assumption where image patches of high probability density should be mapped to patches of high probability density in another domain. Then we propose an efficient way to enforce this assumption: we train the flows as density estimators and penalize the variance of density changes. Despite its simplicity, our method achieves the best performance on benchmark datasets and needs only $56-86\%$ of training time of the existing state-of-the-art method. The training and evaluation code are avaliable at $$\url{}.$$

Pruning Neural Networks via Coresets and Convex Geometry: Towards No Assumptions

Murad Tukan · Loay Mualem · Alaa Maalouf

Pruning is one of the predominant approaches for compressing deep neural networks (DNNs). Lately, coresets (provable data summarizations) were leveraged for pruning DNNs, adding the advantage of theoretical guarantees on the trade-off between the compression rate and the approximation error. However, coresets in this domain were either data dependant or generated under restrictive assumptions on both the model's weights and inputs. In real-world scenarios, such assumptions are rarely satisfied, limiting the applicability of coresets. To this end, we suggest a novel and robust framework for computing such coresets under mild assumptions on the model's weights and without any assumption on the training data. The idea is to compute the importance of each neuron in each layer with respect to the output of the following layer. This is achieved by an elegant combination of L\"{o}wner ellipsoid and Caratheodory theorem.Our method is simultaneously data-independent, applicable to various networks and datasets (due to the simplified assumptions), and theoretically supported. Experimental results show that our method outperforms existing coreset based neural pruning approaches across a wide range of networks and datasets. For example, our method achieved a $62\%$ compression rate on ResNet50 on ImageNet with $1.09\%$ drop in accuracy.

Overparameterization from Computational Constraints

Sanjam Garg · Somesh Jha · Saeed Mahloujifar · Mohammad Mahmoody · Mingyuan Wang

Overparameterized models with millions of parameters have been hugely successful. In this work, we ask: can the need for large models be, at least in part, due to the \emph{computational} limitations of the learner? Additionally, we ask, is this situation exacerbated for \emph{robust} learning? We show that this indeed could be the case. We show learning tasks for which computationally bounded learners need \emph{significantly more} model parameters than what information-theoretic learners need. Furthermore, we show that even more model parameters could be necessary for robust learning. In particular, for computationally bounded learners, we extend the recent result of Bubeck and Sellke [NeurIPS'2021] which shows that robust models might need more parameters, to the computational regime and show that bounded learners could provably need an even larger number of parameters. Then, we address the following related question: can we hope to remedy the situation for robust computationally bounded learning by restricting \emph{adversaries} to also be computationally bounded for sake of obtaining models with fewer parameters? Here again, we show that this could be possible. Specifically, building on the work of Garg, Jha, Mahloujifar, and Mahmoody [ALT'2020], we demonstrate a learning task that can be learned efficiently and robustly against a computationally bounded attacker, while to be robust against an information-theoretic attacker requires the learner to utilize significantly more parameters.

Learn to Match with No Regret: Reinforcement Learning in Markov Matching Markets

Yifei Min · Tianhao Wang · Ruitu Xu · Zhaoran Wang · Michael Jordan · Zhuoran Yang

We study a Markov matching market involving a planner and a set of strategic agents on the two sides of the market.At each step, the agents are presented with a dynamical context, where the contexts determine the utilities. The planner controls the transition of the contexts to maximize the cumulative social welfare, while the agents aim to find a myopic stable matching at each step. Such a setting captures a range of applications including ridesharing platforms. We formalize the problem by proposing a reinforcement learning framework that integrates optimistic value iteration with maximum weight matching. The proposed algorithm addresses the coupled challenges of sequential exploration, matching stability, and function approximation. We prove that the algorithm achieves sublinear regret.

Unknown-Aware Domain Adversarial Learning for Open-Set Domain Adaptation

JoonHo Jang · Byeonghu Na · Dong Hyeok Shin · Mingi Ji · Kyungwoo Song · Il-chul Moon

Open-Set Domain Adaptation (OSDA) assumes that a target domain contains unknown classes, which are not discovered in a source domain. Existing domain adversarial learning methods are not suitable for OSDA because distribution matching with $\textit{unknown}$ classes leads to negative transfer. Previous OSDA methods have focused on matching the source and the target distribution by only utilizing $\textit{known}$ classes. However, this $\textit{known}$-only matching may fail to learn the target-$\textit{unknown}$ feature space. Therefore, we propose Unknown-Aware Domain Adversarial Learning (UADAL), which $\textit{aligns}$ the source and the target-$\textit{known}$ distribution while simultaneously $\textit{segregating}$ the target-$\textit{unknown}$ distribution in the feature alignment procedure. We provide theoretical analyses on the optimized state of the proposed $\textit{unknown-aware}$ feature alignment, so we can guarantee both $\textit{alignment}$ and $\textit{segregation}$ theoretically. Empirically, we evaluate UADAL on the benchmark datasets, which shows that UADAL outperforms other methods with better feature alignments by reporting state-of-the-art performances.

Giga-scale Kernel Matrix-Vector Multiplication on GPU

Robert Hu · Siu Lun Chau · Dino Sejdinovic · Joan Glaunès

Kernel matrix-vector multiplication (KMVM) is a foundational operation in machine learning and scientific computing. However, as KMVM tends to scale quadratically in both memory and time, applications are often limited by these computational constraints. In this paper, we propose a novel approximation procedure coined \textit{Faster-Fast and Free Memory Method} ($\text{F}^3$M) to address these scaling issues of KMVM for tall~($10^8\sim 10^9$) and skinny~($D\leq7$) data. Extensive experiments demonstrate that $\text{F}^3$M has empirical \emph{linear time and memory} complexity with a relative error of order $10^{-3}$ and can compute a full KMVM for a billion points \emph{in under a minute} on a high-end GPU, leading to a significant speed-up in comparison to existing CPU methods. We demonstrate the utility of our procedure by applying it as a drop-in for the state-of-the-art GPU-based linear solver FALKON, \emph{improving speed 1.5-5.5 times} at the cost of $<1\%$ drop in accuracy. We further demonstrate competitive results on \emph{Gaussian Process regression} coupled with significant speedups on a variety of real-world datasets.

USB: A Unified Semi-supervised Learning Benchmark for Classification

Yidong Wang · Hao Chen · Yue Fan · Wang SUN · Ran Tao · Wenxin Hou · Renjie Wang · Linyi Yang · Zhi Zhou · Lan-Zhe Guo · Heli Qi · Zhen Wu · Yu-Feng Li · Satoshi Nakamura · Wei Ye · Marios Savvides · Bhiksha Raj · Takahiro Shinozaki · Bernt Schiele · Jindong Wang · Xing Xie · Yue Zhang

Semi-supervised learning (SSL) improves model generalization by leveraging massive unlabeled data to augment limited labeled samples. However, currently, popular SSL evaluation protocols are often constrained to computer vision (CV) tasks. In addition, previous work typically trains deep neural networks from scratch, which is time-consuming and environmentally unfriendly. To address the above issues, we construct a Unified SSL Benchmark (USB) for classification by selecting 15 diverse, challenging, and comprehensive tasks from CV, natural language processing (NLP), and audio processing (Audio), on which we systematically evaluate the dominant SSL methods, and also open-source a modular and extensible codebase for fair evaluation of these SSL methods. We further provide the pre-trained versions of the state-of-the-art neural models for CV tasks to make the cost affordable for further tuning. USB enables the evaluation of a single SSL algorithm on more tasks from multiple domains but with less cost. Specifically, on a single NVIDIA V100, only 39 GPU days are required to evaluate FixMatch on 15 tasks in USB while 335 GPU days (279 GPU days on 4 CV datasets except for ImageNet) are needed on 5 CV tasks with TorchSSL.

DC-BENCH: Dataset Condensation Benchmark

Justin CUI · Ruochen Wang · Si Si · Cho-Jui Hsieh

Dataset Condensation is a newly emerging technique aiming at learning a tiny dataset that captures the rich information encoded in the original dataset. As the size of datasets contemporary machine learning models rely on becomes increasingly large, condensation methods become a prominent direction for accelerating network training and reducing data storage. Despite numerous methods have been proposed in this rapidly growing field, evaluating and comparing different condensation methods is non-trivial and still remains an open issue. The quality of condensed dataset are often shadowed by many critical contributing factors to the end performance, such as data augmentation and model architectures. The lack of a systematic way to evaluate and compare condensation methods not only hinders our understanding of existing techniques, but also discourages practical usage of the synthesized datasets. This work provides the first large-scale standardized benchmark on Dataset Condensation. It consists of a suite of evaluations to comprehensively reflect the generability and effectiveness of condensation methods through the lens of their generated dataset. Leveraging this benchmark, we conduct a large-scale study of current condensation methods, and report many insightful findings that open up new possibilities for future development. The benchmark library, including evaluators, baseline methods, and generated datasets, is open-sourced to facilitate future research and application.

FLamby: Datasets and Benchmarks for Cross-Silo Federated Learning in Realistic Healthcare Settings

Jean Ogier du Terrail · Samy-Safwan Ayed · Edwige Cyffers · Felix Grimberg · Chaoyang He · Regis Loeb · Paul Mangold · Tanguy Marchand · Othmane Marfoq · Erum Mushtaq · Boris Muzellec · Constantin Philippenko · Santiago Silva · Maria Teleńczuk · Shadi Albarqouni · Salman Avestimehr · Aurélien Bellet · Aymeric Dieuleveut · Martin Jaggi · Sai Praneeth Karimireddy · Marco Lorenzi · Giovanni Neglia · Marc Tommasi · Mathieu Andreux

Federated Learning (FL) is a novel approach enabling several clients holding sensitive data to collaboratively train machine learning models, without centralizing data. The cross-silo FL setting corresponds to the case of few ($2$--$50$) reliable clients, each holding medium to large datasets, and is typically found in applications such as healthcare, finance, or industry. While previous works have proposed representative datasets for cross-device FL, few realistic healthcare cross-silo FL datasets exist, thereby slowing algorithmic research in this critical application. In this work, we propose a novel cross-silo dataset suite focused on healthcare, FLamby (Federated Learning AMple Benchmark of Your cross-silo strategies), to bridge the gap between theory and practice of cross-silo FL.FLamby encompasses 7 healthcare datasets with natural splits, covering multiple tasks, modalities, and data volumes, each accompanied with baseline training code. As an illustration, we additionally benchmark standard FL algorithms on all datasets.Our flexible and modular suite allows researchers to easily download datasets, reproduce results and re-use the different components for their research. FLamby is available at~\url{}.

NAS-Bench-Suite-Zero: Accelerating Research on Zero Cost Proxies

Arjun Krishnakumar · Colin White · Arber Zela · Renbo Tu · Mahmoud Safari · Frank Hutter

Zero-cost proxies (ZC proxies) are a recent architecture performance prediction technique aiming to significantly speed up algorithms for neural architecture search (NAS). Recent work has shown that these techniques show great promise, but certain aspects, such as evaluating and exploiting their complementary strengths, are under-studied. In this work, we create NAS-Bench-Suite: we evaluate 13 ZC proxies across 28 tasks, creating by far the largest dataset (and unified codebase) for ZC proxies, enabling orders-of-magnitude faster experiments on ZC proxies, while avoiding confounding factors stemming from different implementations. To demonstrate the usefulness of NAS-Bench-Suite, we run a large-scale analysis of ZC proxies, including a bias analysis, and the first information-theoretic analysis which concludes that ZC proxies capture substantial complementary information. Motivated by these findings, we present a procedure to improve the performance of ZC proxies by reducing biases such as cell size, and we also show that incorporating all 13 ZC proxies into the surrogate models used by NAS algorithms can improve their predictive performance by up to 42%. Our code and datasets are available at

PROSPECT: Labeled Tandem Mass Spectrometry Dataset for Machine Learning in Proteomics

Omar Shouman · Wassim Gabriel · Victor-George Giurcoiu · Vitor Sternlicht · Mathias Wilhelm

Proteomics is the interdisciplinary field focusing on the large-scale study of proteins. Proteins essentially organize and execute all functions within organisms. Today, the bottom-up analysis approach is the most commonly used workflow, where proteins are digested into peptides and subsequently analyzed using Tandem Mass Spectrometry (MS/MS). MS-based proteomics has transformed various fields in life sciences, such as drug discovery and biomarker identification. Today, proteomics is entering a phase where it is helpful for clinical decision-making. Computational methods are vital in turning large amounts of acquired raw MS data into information and, ultimately, knowledge. Deep learning has proved its success in multiple domains as a robust framework for supervised and unsupervised machine learning problems. In proteomics, scientists are increasingly leveraging the potential of deep learning to predict the properties of peptides based on their sequence to improve their confident identification. However, a reference dataset is missing, covering several proteomics tasks, enabling performance comparison, and evaluating reproducibility and generalization. Here, we present a large labeled proteomics dataset spanning several tasks in the domain to address this challenge. We focus on two common applications: peptide retention time and MS/MS spectrum prediction. We review existing methods and task formulations from a machine learning perspective and recommend suitable evaluation metrics and visualizations. With an accessible dataset, we aim to lower the entry barrier and enable faster development in machine learning for proteomics.

FLAIR: Federated Learning Annotated Image Repository

Congzheng Song · Filip Granqvist · Kunal Talwar

Cross-device federated learning is an emerging machine learning (ML) paradigm where a large population of devices collectively train an ML model while the data remains on the devices.This research field has a unique set of practical challenges, and to systematically make advances, new datasets curated to be compatible with this paradigm are needed.Existing federated learning benchmarks in the image domain do not accurately capture the scale and heterogeneity of many real-world use cases. We introduce FLAIR, a challenging large-scale annotated image dataset for multi-label classification suitable for federated learning.FLAIR has 429,078 images from 51,414 Flickr users and captures many of the intricacies typically encountered in federated learning, such as heterogeneous user data and a long-tailed label distribution.We implement multiple baselines in different learning setups for different tasks on this dataset. We believe FLAIR can serve as a challenging benchmark for advancing the state-of-the art in federated learning.Dataset access and the code for the benchmark are available at

The Surprising Effectiveness of PPO in Cooperative Multi-Agent Games

Chao Yu · Akash Velu · Eugene Vinitsky · Jiaxuan Gao · Yu Wang · Alexandre Bayen · YI WU

Proximal Policy Optimization (PPO) is a ubiquitous on-policy reinforcement learning algorithm but is significantly less utilized than off-policy learning algorithms in multi-agent settings. This is often due to the belief that PPO is significantly less sample efficient than off-policy methods in multi-agent systems. In this work, we carefully study the performance of PPO in cooperative multi-agent settings. We show that PPO-based multi-agent algorithms achieve surprisingly strong performance in four popular multi-agent testbeds: the particle-world environments, the StarCraft multi-agent challenge, the Hanabi challenge, and Google Research Football, with minimal hyperparameter tuning and without any domain-specific algorithmic modifications or architectures. Importantly, compared to competitive off-policy methods, PPO often achieves competitive or superior results in both final returns and sample efficiency. Finally, through ablation studies, we analyze implementation and hyperparameter factors that are critical to PPO's empirical performance, and give concrete practical suggestions regarding these factors. Our results show that when using these practices, simple PPO-based methods are a strong baseline in cooperative multi-agent reinforcement learning. Source code is released at

ConfLab: A Data Collection Concept, Dataset, and Benchmark for Machine Analysis of Free-Standing Social Interactions in the Wild

Chirag Raman · Jose Vargas Quiros · Stephanie Tan · Ashraful Islam · Ekin Gedik · Hayley Hung

Recording the dynamics of unscripted human interactions in the wild is challenging due to the delicate trade-offs between several factors: participant privacy, ecological validity, data fidelity, and logistical overheads. To address these, following a 'datasets for the community by the community' ethos, we propose the Conference Living Lab (ConfLab): a new concept for multimodal multisensor data collection of in-the-wild free-standing social conversations. For the first instantiation of ConfLab described here, we organized a real-life professional networking event at a major international conference. Involving 48 conference attendees, the dataset captures a diverse mix of status, acquaintance, and networking motivations. Our capture setup improves upon the data fidelity of prior in-the-wild datasets while retaining privacy sensitivity: 8 videos (1920x1080, 60 fps) from a non-invasive overhead view, and custom wearable sensors with onboard recording of body motion (full 9-axis IMU), privacy-preserving low-frequency audio (1250 Hz), and Bluetooth-based proximity. Additionally, we developed custom solutions for distributed hardware synchronization at acquisition, and time-efficient continuous annotation of body keypoints and actions at high sampling rates. Our benchmarks showcase some of the open research tasks related to in-the-wild privacy-preserving social data analysis: keypoints detection from overhead camera views, skeleton-based no-audio speaker detection, and F-formation detection.

MOMA-LRG: Language-Refined Graphs for Multi-Object Multi-Actor Activity Parsing

Zelun Luo · Zane Durante · Linden Li · Wanze Xie · Ruochen Liu · Emily Jin · Zhuoyi Huang · Lun Yu Li · Jiajun Wu · Juan Carlos Niebles · Ehsan Adeli · Fei-Fei Li

Video-language models (VLMs), large models pre-trained on numerous but noisy video-text pairs from the internet, have revolutionized activity recognition through their remarkable generalization and open-vocabulary capabilities. While complex human activities are often hierarchical and compositional, most existing tasks for evaluating VLMs focus only on high-level video understanding, making it difficult to accurately assess and interpret the ability of VLMs to understand complex and fine-grained human activities. Inspired by the recently proposed MOMA framework, we define activity graphs as a single universal representation of human activities that encompasses video understanding at the activity, sub-activity, and atomic action level. We redefine activity parsing as the overarching task of activity graph generation, requiring understanding human activities across all three levels. To facilitate the evaluation of models on activity parsing, we introduce MOMA-LRG (Multi-Object Multi-Actor Language-Refined Graphs), a large dataset of complex human activities with activity graph annotations that can be readily transformed into natural language sentences. Lastly, we present a model-agnostic and lightweight approach to adapting and evaluating VLMs by incorporating structured knowledge from activity graphs into VLMs, addressing the individual limitations of language and graphical models. We demonstrate strong performance on few-shot activity parsing, and our framework is intended to foster future research in the joint modeling of videos, graphs, and language.

Touch and Go: Learning from Human-Collected Vision and Touch

Fengyu Yang · Chenyang Ma · Jiacheng Zhang · Jing Zhu · Wenzhen Yuan · Andrew Owens

The ability to associate touch with sight is essential for tasks that require physically interacting with objects in the world. We propose a dataset with paired visual and tactile data called Touch and Go, in which human data collectors probe objects in natural environments using tactile sensors, while simultaneously recording egocentric video. In contrast to previous efforts, which have largely been confined to lab settings or simulated environments, our dataset spans a large number of “in the wild” objects and scenes. We successfully apply our dataset to a variety of multimodal learning tasks: 1) self-supervised visuo-tactile feature learning, 2) tactile-driven image stylization, i.e., making the visual appearance of an object more consistent with a given tactile signal, and 3) predicting future frames of a tactile signal from visuo-tactile inputs.

A Survey and Datasheet Repository of Publicly Available US Criminal Justice Datasets

Miri Zilka · Bradley Butcher · Adrian Weller

Criminal justice is an increasingly important application domain for machine learning and algorithmic fairness, as predictive tools are becoming widely used in police, courts, and prison systems worldwide. A few relevant benchmarks have received significant attention, e.g., the COMPAS dataset, often without proper consideration of the domain context. To raise awareness of publicly available criminal justice datasets and encourage their responsible use, we conduct a survey, consider contexts, highlight potential uses, and identify gaps and limitations. We provide datasheets for 15 datasets and upload them to a public repository. We compare the datasets across several dimensions, including size, coverage of the population, and potential use, highlighting concerns. We hope that this work can provide a useful starting point for researchers looking for appropriate datasets related to criminal justice, and that the repository will continue to grow as a community effort.

MATE: Benchmarking Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning in Distributed Target Coverage Control

Xuehai Pan · Mickel Liu · Fangwei Zhong · Yaodong Yang · Song-Chun Zhu · Yizhou Wang

We introduce the Multi-Agent Tracking Environment (MATE), a novel multi-agent environment simulates the target coverage control problems in the real world. MATE hosts an asymmetric cooperative-competitive game consisting of two groups of learning agents--"cameras" and "targets"--with opposing interests. Specifically, "cameras", a group of directional sensors, are mandated to actively control the directional perception area to maximize the coverage rate of targets. On the other side, "targets" are mobile agents that aim to transport cargo between multiple randomly assigned warehouses while minimizing the exposure to the camera sensor networks. To showcase the practicality of MATE, we benchmark the multi-agent reinforcement learning (MARL) algorithms from different aspects, including cooperation, communication, scalability, robustness, and asymmetric self-play. We start by reporting results for cooperative tasks using MARL algorithms (MAPPO, IPPO, QMIX, MADDPG) and the results after augmenting with multi-agent communication protocols (TarMAC, I2C). We then evaluate the effectiveness of the popular self-play techniques (PSRO, fictitious self-play) in an asymmetric zero-sum competitive game. This process of co-evolution between cameras and targets helps to realize a less exploitable camera network. We also observe the emergence of different roles of the target agents while incorporating I2C into target-target communication. MATE is written purely in Python and integrated with OpenAI Gym API to enhance user-friendliness. Our project is released at

How Would The Viewer Feel? Estimating Wellbeing From Video Scenarios

Mantas Mazeika · Eric Tang · Andy Zou · Steven Basart · Jun Shern Chan · Dawn Song · David Forsyth · Jacob Steinhardt · Dan Hendrycks

In recent years, deep neural networks have demonstrated increasingly strong abilities to recognize objects and activities in videos. However, as video understanding becomes widely used in real-world applications, a key consideration is developing human-centric systems that understand not only the content of the video but also how it would affect the wellbeing and emotional state of viewers. To facilitate research in this setting, we introduce two large-scale datasets with over 60,000 videos manually annotated for emotional response and subjective wellbeing. The Video Cognitive Empathy (VCE) dataset contains annotations for distributions of fine-grained emotional responses, allowing models to gain a detailed understanding of affective states. The Video to Valence (V2V) dataset contains annotations of relative pleasantness between videos, which enables predicting a continuous spectrum of wellbeing. In experiments, we show how video models that are primarily trained to recognize actions and find contours of objects can be repurposed to understand human preferences and the emotional content of videos. Although there is room for improvement, predicting wellbeing and emotional response is on the horizon for state-of-the-art models. We hope our datasets can help foster further advances at the intersection of commonsense video understanding and human preference learning.

MoCapAct: A Multi-Task Dataset for Simulated Humanoid Control

Nolan Wagener · Andrey Kolobov · Felipe Vieira Frujeri · Ricky Loynd · Ching-An Cheng · Matthew Hausknecht

Simulated humanoids are an appealing research domain due to their physical capabilities. Nonetheless, they are also challenging to control, as a policy must drive an unstable, discontinuous, and high-dimensional physical system. One widely studied approach is to utilize motion capture (MoCap) data to teach the humanoid agent low-level skills (e.g., standing, walking, and running) that can then be re-used to synthesize high-level behaviors. However, even with MoCap data, controlling simulated humanoids remains very hard, as MoCap data offers only kinematic information. Finding physical control inputs to realize the demonstrated motions requires computationally intensive methods like reinforcement learning. Thus, despite the publicly available MoCap data, its utility has been limited to institutions with large-scale compute. In this work, we dramatically lower the barrier for productive research on this topic by training and releasing high-quality agents that can track over three hours of MoCap data for a simulated humanoid in the dmcontrol physics-based environment. We release MoCapAct (Motion Capture with Actions), a dataset of these expert agents and their rollouts, which contain proprioceptive observations and actions. We demonstrate the utility of MoCapAct by using it to train a single hierarchical policy capable of tracking the entire MoCap dataset within dmcontrol and show the learned low-level component can be re-used to efficiently learn downstream high-level tasks. Finally, we use MoCapAct to train an autoregressive GPT model and show that it can control a simulated humanoid to perform natural motion completion given a motion prompt.Videos of the results and links to the code and dataset are available at

OpenSRH: optimizing brain tumor surgery using intraoperative stimulated Raman histology

Cheng Jiang · Asadur Chowdury · Xinhai Hou · Akhil Kondepudi · Christian Freudiger · Kyle Conway · Sandra Camelo-Piragua · Daniel Orringer · Honglak Lee · Todd Hollon

Accurate intraoperative diagnosis is essential for providing safe and effective care during brain tumor surgery. Our standard-of-care diagnostic methods are time, resource, and labor intensive, which restricts access to optimal surgical treatments. To address these limitations, we propose an alternative workflow that combines stimulated Raman histology (SRH), a rapid optical imaging method, with deep learning-based automated interpretation of SRH images for intraoperative brain tumor diagnosis and real-time surgical decision support. Here, we present OpenSRH, the first public dataset of clinical SRH images from 300+ brain tumors patients and 1300+ unique whole slide optical images. OpenSRH contains data from the most common brain tumors diagnoses, full pathologic annotations, whole slide tumor segmentations, raw and processed optical imaging data for end-to-end model development and validation. We provide a framework for patch-based whole slide SRH classification and inference using weak (i.e. patient-level) diagnostic labels. Finally, we benchmark two computer vision tasks: multi-class histologic brain tumor classification and patch-based contrastive representation learning. We hope OpenSRH will facilitate the clinical translation of rapid optical imaging and real-time ML-based surgical decision support in order to improve the access, safety, and efficacy of cancer surgery in the era of precision medicine.

DDXPlus: A New Dataset For Automatic Medical Diagnosis

Arsene Fansi Tchango · Rishab Goel · Zhi Wen · Julien Martel · Joumana Ghosn

There has been a rapidly growing interest in Automatic Symptom Detection (ASD) and Automatic Diagnosis (AD) systems in the machine learning research literature, aiming to assist doctors in telemedicine services. These systems are designed to interact with patients, collect evidence about their symptoms and relevant antecedents, and possibly make predictions about the underlying diseases. Doctors would review the interactions, including the evidence and the predictions, collect if necessary additional information from patients, before deciding on next steps. Despite recent progress in this area, an important piece of doctors' interactions with patients is missing in the design of these systems, namely the differential diagnosis. Its absence is largely due to the lack of datasets that include such information for models to train on. In this work, we present a large-scale synthetic dataset of roughly 1.3 million patients that includes a differential diagnosis, along with the ground truth pathology, symptoms and antecedents for each patient. Unlike existing datasets which only contain binary symptoms and antecedents, this dataset also contains categorical and multi-choice symptoms and antecedents useful for efficient data collection. Moreover, some symptoms are organized in a hierarchy, making it possible to design systems able to interact with patients in a logical way. As a proof-of-concept, we extend two existing AD and ASD systems to incorporate the differential diagnosis, and provide empirical evidence that using differentials as training signals is essential for the efficiency of such systems or for helping doctors better understand the reasoning of those systems.

ViSioNS: Visual Search in Natural Scenes Benchmark

Fermín Travi · Gonzalo Ruarte · Gaston Bujia · Juan Esteban Kamienkowski

Visual search is an essential part of almost any everyday human interaction with the visual environment. Nowadays, several algorithms are able to predict gaze positions during simple observation, but few models attempt to simulate human behavior during visual search in natural scenes. Furthermore, these models vary widely in their design and exhibit differences in the datasets and metrics with which they were evaluated. Thus, there is a need for a reference point, on which each model can be tested and from where potential improvements can be derived. In this study, we select publicly available state-of-the-art visual search models and datasets in natural scenes, and provide a common framework for their evaluation. To this end, we apply a unified format and criteria, bridging the gaps between them, and we estimate the models’ efficiency and similarity with humans using a specific set of metrics. This integration has allowed us to enhance the Ideal Bayesian Searcher by combining it with a neural network-based visual search model, which enables it to generalize to other datasets. The present work sheds light on the limitations of current models and how integrating different approaches with a unified criteria can lead to better algorithms. Moreover, it moves forward on bringing forth a solution for the urgent need for benchmarking data and metrics to support the development of more general human visual search computational models. All of the code used here, including metrics, plots, and visual search models, alongside the preprocessed datasets, are available at $\url{}$.

NeoRL: A Near Real-World Benchmark for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Rong-Jun Qin · Xingyuan Zhang · Songyi Gao · Xiong-Hui Chen · Zewen Li · Weinan Zhang · Yang Yu

Offline reinforcement learning (RL) aims at learning effective policies from historical data without extra environment interactions. During our experience of applying offline RL, we noticed that previous offline RL benchmarks commonly involve significant reality gaps, which we have identified include rich and overly exploratory datasets, degraded baseline, and missing policy validation. In many real-world situations, to ensure system safety, running an overly exploratory policy to collect various data is prohibited, thus only a narrow data distribution is available. The resulting policy is regarded as effective if it is better than the working behavior policy; the policy model can be deployed only if it has been well validated, rather than accomplished the training. In this paper, we present a Near real-world offline RL benchmark, named NeoRL, to reflect these properties. NeoRL datasets are collected with a more conservative strategy. Moreover, NeoRL contains the offline training and offline validation pipeline before the online test, corresponding to real-world situations. We then evaluate recent state-of-the-art offline RL algorithms in NeoRL. The empirical results demonstrate that some offline RL algorithms are less competitive to the behavior cloning and the deterministic behavior policy, implying that they could be less effective in real-world tasks than in the previous benchmarks. We also disclose that current offline policy evaluation methods could hardly select the best policy. We hope this work will shed some light on future research and deploying RL in real-world systems.

Finding Naturally Occurring Physical Backdoors in Image Datasets

Emily Wenger · Roma Bhattacharjee · Arjun Nitin Bhagoji · Josephine Passananti · Emilio Andere · Heather Zheng · Ben Zhao

Extensive literature on backdoor poison attacks has studied attacks and defenses for backdoors using “digital trigger patterns.” In contrast, “physical backdoors” use physical objects as triggers, have only recently been identified, and are qualitatively different enough to resist most defenses targeting digital trigger backdoors. Research on physical backdoors is limited by access to large datasets containing real images of physical objects co-located with misclassification targets. Building these datasets is time- and labor-intensive.This work seeks to address the challenge of accessibility for research on physical backdoor attacks. We hypothesize that there may be naturally occurring physically co-located objects already present in popular datasets such as ImageNet. Once identified, a careful relabeling of these data can transform them into training samples for physical backdoor attacks. We propose a method to scalably identify these subsets of potential triggers in existing datasets, along with the specific classes they can poison. We call these naturally occurring trigger-class subsets natural backdoor datasets. Our techniques successfully identify natural backdoors in widely-available datasets, and produce models behaviorally equivalent to those trained on manually curated datasets. We release our code to allow the research community to create their own datasets for research on physical backdoor attacks.

AirfRANS: High Fidelity Computational Fluid Dynamics Dataset for Approximating Reynolds-Averaged Navier–Stokes Solutions

Florent Bonnet · Jocelyn Mazari · Paola Cinnella · Patrick Gallinari

Surrogate models are necessary to optimize meaningful quantities in physical dynamics as their recursive numerical resolutions are often prohibitively expensive. It is mainly the case for fluid dynamics and the resolution of Navier–Stokes equations. However, despite the fast-growing field of data-driven models for physical systems, reference datasets representing real-world phenomena are lacking. In this work, we develop \textsc{AirfRANS}, a dataset for studying the two-dimensional incompressible steady-state Reynolds-Averaged Navier–Stokes equations over airfoils at a subsonic regime and for different angles of attacks. We also introduce metrics on the stress forces at the surface of geometries and visualization of boundary layers to assess the capabilities of models to accurately predict the meaningful information of the problem. Finally, we propose deep learning baselines on four machine learning tasks to study \textsc{AirfRANS} under different constraints for generalization considerations: big and scarce data regime, Reynolds number, and angle of attack extrapolation.

OpenXAI: Towards a Transparent Evaluation of Model Explanations

Chirag Agarwal · Satyapriya Krishna · Eshika Saxena · Martin Pawelczyk · Nari Johnson · Isha Puri · Marinka Zitnik · Himabindu Lakkaraju

While several types of post hoc explanation methods have been proposed in recent literature, there is very little work on systematically benchmarking these methods. Here, we introduce OpenXAI, a comprehensive and extensible open-source framework for evaluating and benchmarking post hoc explanation methods. OpenXAI comprises of the following key components: (i) a flexible synthetic data generator and a collection of diverse real-world datasets, pre-trained models, and state-of-the-art feature attribution methods, (ii) open-source implementations of twenty-two quantitative metrics for evaluating faithfulness, stability (robustness), and fairness of explanation methods, and (iii) the first ever public XAI leaderboards to readily compare several explanation methods across a wide variety of metrics, models, and datasets. OpenXAI is easily extensible, as users can readily evaluate custom explanation methods and incorporate them into our leaderboards. Overall, OpenXAI provides an automated end-to-end pipeline that not only simplifies and standardizes the evaluation of post hoc explanation methods, but also promotes transparency and reproducibility in benchmarking these methods. While the first release of OpenXAI supports only tabular datasets, the explanation methods and metrics that we consider are general enough to be applicable to other data modalities. OpenXAI datasets and data loaders, implementations of state-of-the-art explanation methods and evaluation metrics, as well as leaderboards are publicly available at OpenXAI will be regularly updated to incorporate text and image datasets, other new metrics and explanation methods, and welcomes inputs from the community.

Outstanding Paper
LAION-5B: An open large-scale dataset for training next generation image-text models

Christoph Schuhmann · Romain Beaumont · Richard Vencu · Cade Gordon · Ross Wightman · Mehdi Cherti · Theo Coombes · Aarush Katta · Clayton Mullis · Mitchell Wortsman · Patrick Schramowski · Srivatsa Kundurthy · Katherine Crowson · Ludwig Schmidt · Robert Kaczmarczyk · Jenia Jitsev

Groundbreaking language-vision architectures like CLIP and DALL-E proved the utility of training on large amounts of noisy image-text data, without relying on expensive accurate labels used in standard vision unimodal supervised learning. The resulting models showed capabilities of strong text-guided image generation and transfer to downstream tasks, while performing remarkably at zero-shot classification with noteworthy out-of-distribution robustness. Since then, large-scale language-vision models like ALIGN, BASIC, GLIDE, Flamingo and Imagen made further improvements. Studying the training and capabilities of such models requires datasets containing billions of image-text pairs. Until now, no datasets of this size have been made openly available for the broader research community. To address this problem and democratize research on large-scale multi-modal models, we present LAION-5B - a dataset consisting of 5.85 billion CLIP-filtered image-text pairs, of which 2.32B contain English language. We show successful replication and fine-tuning of foundational models like CLIP, GLIDE and Stable Diffusion using the dataset, and discuss further experiments enabled with an openly available dataset of this scale. Additionally we provide several nearest neighbor indices, an improved web-interface for dataset exploration and subset generation, and detection scores for watermark, NSFW, and toxic content detection.

OccGen: Selection of Real-world Multilingual Parallel Data Balanced in Gender within Occupations

Marta Costa-jussà · Christine Basta · Oriol Domingo · André Rubungo

This paper describes the OCCGEN toolkit, which allows extracting multilingual parallel data balanced in gender within occupations. OCCGEN can extract datasets that reflect gender diversity (beyond binary) more fairly in society to be further used to explicitly mitigate occupational gender stereotypes. We propose two use cases that extract evaluation datasets for machine translation in four high-resourcelanguages from different linguistic families and in a low-resource African language. Our analysis of these use cases shows that translation outputs in high-resource languages tend to worsen in feminine subsets (compared to masculine). This can be explained because less attention is paid to the source sentence. Then, more attention is given to the target prefix overgeneralizing to the most frequent masculine forms.

Fairness-Aware PAC Learning from Corrupted Data

Nikola Konstantinov · Christoph Lampert

Addressing fairness concerns about machine learning models is a crucial step towards their long-term adoption in real-world automated systems. While many approaches have been developed for training fair models from data, little is known about the robustness of these methods to data corruption. In this work we consider fairness-aware learning under worst-case data manipulations. We show that an adversary can in some situations force any learner to return an overly biased classifier, regardless of the sample size and with or without degrading accuracy, and that the strength of the excess bias increases for learning problems with underrepresented protected groups in the data. We also prove that our hardness results are tight up to constant factors. To this end, we study two natural learning algorithms that optimize for both accuracy and fairness and show that these algorithms enjoy guarantees that are order-optimal in terms of the corruption ratio and the protected groups frequencies in the large data limit.

LSAR: Efficient Leverage Score Sampling Algorithm for the Analysis of Big Time Series Data

Ali Eshragh · Fred Roosta · Asef Nazari · Michael Mahoney

We apply methods from randomized numerical linear algebra (RandNLA) to develop improved algorithms for the analysis of large-scale time series data. We first develop a new fast algorithm to estimate the leverage scores of an autoregressive (AR) model in big data regimes. We show that the accuracy of approximations lies within $(1+\mathcal{O}({\varepsilon}))$ of the true leverage scores with high probability. These theoretical results are subsequently exploited to develop an efficient algorithm, called LSAR, for fitting an appropriate AR model to big time series data. Our proposed algorithm is guaranteed, with high probability, to find the maximum likelihood estimates of the parameters of the underlying true AR model and has a worst case running time that significantly improves those of the state-of-the-art alternatives in big data regimes. Empirical results on large-scale synthetic as well as real data highly support the theoretical results and reveal the efficacy of this new approach.

Multi-Agent Multi-Armed Bandits with Limited Communication

Mridul Agarwal · Vaneet Aggarwal · Kamyar Azizzadenesheli

We consider the problem where $N$ agents collaboratively interact with an instance of a stochastic $K$ arm bandit problem for $K \gg N$. The agents aim to simultaneously minimize the cumulative regret over all the agents for a total of $T$ time steps, the number of communication rounds, and the number of bits in each communication round. We present Limited Communication Collaboration - Upper Confidence Bound (LCC-UCB), a doubling-epoch based algorithm where each agent communicates only after the end of the epoch and shares the index of the best arm it knows. With our algorithm, LCC-UCB, each agent enjoys a regret of $\tilde{O}\left(\sqrt{({K/N}+ N)T}\right)$, communicates for $O(\log T)$ steps and broadcasts $O(\log K)$ bits in each communication step. We extend the work to sparse graphs with maximum degree $K_G$ and diameter $D$ to propose LCC-UCB-GRAPH which enjoys a regret bound of $\tilde{O}\left(D\sqrt{(K/N+ K_G)DT}\right)$. Finally, we empirically show that the LCC-UCB and the LCC-UCB-GRAPH algorithms perform well and outperform strategies that communicate through a central node.

When is the Convergence Time of Langevin Algorithms Dimension Independent? A Composite Optimization Viewpoint

Yoav S Freund · Yi-An Ma · Tong Zhang

There has been a surge of works bridging MCMC sampling and optimization, with a specific focus on translating non-asymptotic convergence guarantees for optimization problems into the analysis of Langevin algorithms in MCMC sampling. A conspicuous distinction between the convergence analysis of Langevin sampling and that of optimization is that all known convergence rates for Langevin algorithms depend on the dimensionality of the problem, whereas the convergence rates for optimization are dimension-free for convex problems. Whether a dimension independent convergence rate can be achieved by the Langevin algorithm is thus a long-standing open problem. This paper provides an affirmative answer to this problem for the case of either Lipschitz or smooth convex functions with normal priors. By viewing Langevin algorithm as composite optimization, we develop a new analysis technique that leads to dimension independent convergence rates for such problems.

[Re] Nondeterminism and Instability in Neural Network Optimization

Waqas Ahmed · Sheeba Samuel

The claims of the paper are threefold: (1) Cecilia made the surprising yet intriguing discovery that all sources of nondeterminism exhibit a similar degree of variability in the model performance of a neural network throughout the training process. (2) To explain this fact, they have identified model instability during training as the key factor contributing to this phenomenon. (3) They have also proposed two approaches (Accelerated Ensembling and Test-Time Data Augmentation) to mitigate the impact on run-to-run variability without incurring additional training costs. In the paper, the experiments were performed on two types of datasets (image classification and language modelling). However, due to intensive training and time required for each experiment, we will only consider image classification for testing all three claims.

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

Roxana-Maria Petcu · Pim Praat · Jeroen Wijnen · Manolis Rerres

Scope of Reproducibility This report aims to reproduce the results in the paper 'Fairness and Bias in Online Selection'. The paper presents optimal and fair alternatives for existing Secretary and Prophet algorithms. Reproducing the paper involves validating three claims made by the authors: (1) The presented baselines are either unfair or have low performance, (2) The proposed algorithms are perfectly fair, and (3) The proposed algorithms perform comparably to or even better than the presented baselines. Methodology We recreate the algorithms and perform experiments to validate the authors' initial claims for both problems under various settings, with the use of both real and synthetic data. The authors conducted the experiments in the C++ programming language. We largely used the paper as a resource to reimplement all algorithms and experiments from scratch in Python, only consulting the authors' code base when needed. Results For the Multi-Color Secretary problem, we were able to recreate the outcomes, as well as the performance of the proposed algorithm (with a margin of 3-4%). However, one baseline within the second experiment returned different results, due to inconsistencies in the original implementation. In the context of the Multi-Color Prophet problem, we were not able to exactly reproduce the original results, as the authors ran their experiments with twice as many runs as reported. After correcting this, the original outcomes are reproduced. A drawback of the proposed prophet algorithms is that they only select a candidate in 50-70% of cases. None-result are often undesirable, so we extend the paper by proposing adjusted algorithms that pick a candidate (almost) every time. Furthermore, we show empirically that these algorithms maintain similar levels of fairness. What was easy The paper provides pseudocode for the proposed algorithms, making the implementation straightforward. More than that, recreating their synthetic data experiments was easy due to providing clear instructions. What was difficult However, we did run into several difficulties: 1) There were a number of inconsistencies between the paper and the code, 2) Several parts of the implementation were missing in the code base, and 3) The secretary experiments required running the algorithm over one billion iterations which makes verifying its results within timely manner difficult. Communication with original authors The authors of the original paper were swift in their response with regard to our findings. Our main allegations regarding inconsistencies in both the Secretary and Prophet problems were confirmed by the authors.

[Re] Reproduction and Extension of "Queens are Powerful too: Mitigating Gender Bias in Dialogue Generation"

Erica Eaton · Pirouz Naghavi

Scope of Reproducibility: The main claims we are trying to reproduce are that bias controlled training or combining counterfactual data augmentation, the positively biased data collected by Dinan et al. [5], and bias controlled training for the LIGHT dataset yields generated dialogue in which the percent of gendered words and male bias closely match the ground truth. Methodology: We fine-tuned a transformer model, pre-trained on Reddit data [1], using the ParlAI API [8] with counterfactual data augmentation, positively biased data collection, bias controlled training, and all three bias mitigation techniques combined, as discussed in the original paper [5]. We implemented counterfactual data augmentation and bias controlled training ourselves. All models were trained and evaluated using a single NVIDIA Tesla P100 PCIe GPU, which took between 1.3 and 4.6 GPU hours approximately. Results: Overall, our results support the main claims of the original paper [5]. Although the percent gendered words and male bias in our results are not exactly the same as those in the original paper [5], the main trends are the same. The main difference is lower male bias for the baseline model in our results. However, our findings and the trend similarities between our results and those obtained by Dinan et al. [5] demonstrate that bias controlled training or combining all three bias mitigation techniques can effectively control the amount of gender bias present in the model generated responses, supporting Dinan et al.'s claims [5]. What was easy: When reproducing the original paper [5], implementing counterfactual data augmentation and bias controlled training was easy since these techniques were well-described in the original paper [5]. Also, combining all three bias mitigation techniques was simple, as we applied the same techniques used to implement each bias mitigation method individually. What was difficult: The only difficulty we encountered, albeit minor, was learning how to use ParlAI, which was necessary to use the same model as in the original paper [5]. However, after reading through the ParlAI documentation and experimenting with the ParlAI Google Colaboratory tutorial [10], we understood how to use ParlAI to fine-tune the model, pre-trained on Reddit conversations [1], for the datasets we create. Communication with original authors: We communicated with Emily Dinan, an author of the original paper [5], who clarified what model was used in the original paper [5] and provided us with the command to download the model as well as the hyperparameter settings used when fine-tuning.

[Re] Learning to count everything

Maša Kljun · Matija Teršek · Domen Vreš

Scope of Reproducibility The core finding of the paper is a novel architecture FamNet for handling the few-shot counting task. We examine its implementation in the provided code on GitHub and compare it to the theory in the original paper. The authors also introduce a data set with 147 visual categories FSC-147, which we analyze. We try to reproduce the authors’ results on it and on CARPK data set. Additionally, we test FamNet on a category specific data set JHU-CROWD++. Furthermore, we try to reproduce the ground truth density maps, the code for which is not provided by the authors. Methodology We use the combination of the authors’ and our own code, for parts where the code is not provided (e.g., generating ground truth density maps, CARPK data set preprocessing). We also modify some parts of the authors’ code so that we can evaluate the model on various data sets. For running the code we used the Quadro RTX 5000 GPU and had a total computation time of approximately 50 GPU hours. Results We could not reproduce the density maps, but we produced similar density maps by modifying some of the parameters. We exactly reproduced the results on the paper’s data set. We did not get the same results on the CARPK data set and in experiments where implementation details were not provided. However, the differences are within standard error and our results support the claim that the model outperforms the baselines. What was easy Running the pretrained models and the demo app was quite easy, as the authors provided instructions. It was also easy to reproduce the results on a given data set with a pretrained model. What was difficult It was difficult to verify the ground truth density map generation as the code was not provided and the process was incorrectly described. Obtaining a performant GPU was also quite a challenge and it took quite many emails to finally get one. This also meant that we were unable to reproduce the training of the model. Communication with original authors We contacted the authors three times through issues on GitHub. They were helpful and responsive, but we have not resolved all of the issues.