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Poster Session 6

Hall J (level 1)


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ELEVATER: A Benchmark and Toolkit for Evaluating Language-Augmented Visual Models

Chunyuan Li · Haotian Liu · Liunian Li · Pengchuan Zhang · Jyoti Aneja · Jianwei Yang · Ping Jin · Houdong Hu · Zicheng Liu · Yong Jae Lee · Jianfeng Gao

Learning visual representations from natural language supervision has recently shown great promise in a number of pioneering works. In general, these language-augmented visual models demonstrate strong transferability to a variety of datasets/tasks. However, it remains challenging to evaluate the transferablity of these foundation models due to the lack of easy-to-use toolkits for fair benchmarking. To tackle this, we build ELEVATER (Evaluation of Language-augmented Visual Task-level Transfer), the first benchmark to compare and evaluate pre-trained language-augmented visual models. Several highlights include: (i) Datasets. As downstream evaluation suites, it consists of 20 image classification datasets and 35 object detection datasets, each of which is augmented with external knowledge. (ii) Toolkit. An automatic hyper-parameter tuning toolkit is developed to ensure the fairness in model adaption. To leverage the full power of language-augmented visual models, novel language-aware initialization methods are proposed to significantly improve the adaption performance. (iii) Metrics. A variety of evaluation metrics are used, including sample-efficiency (zero-shot and few-shot) and parameter-efficiency (linear probing and full model fine-tuning). We will publicly release ELEVATER.

Ambiguous Images With Human Judgments for Robust Visual Event Classification

Kate Sanders · Reno Kriz · Anqi Liu · Benjamin Van Durme

Contemporary vision benchmarks predominantly consider tasks on which humans can achieve near-perfect performance. However, humans are frequently presented with visual data that they cannot classify with 100% certainty, and models trained on standard vision benchmarks achieve low performance when evaluated on this data. To address this issue, we introduce a procedure for creating datasets of ambiguous images and use it to produce SQUID-E ("Squidy"), a collection of noisy images extracted from videos. All images are annotated with ground truth values and a test set is annotated with human uncertainty judgments. We use this dataset to characterize human uncertainty in vision tasks and evaluate existing visual event classification models. Experimental results suggest that existing vision models are not sufficiently equipped to provide meaningful outputs for ambiguous images and that datasets of this nature can be used to assess and improve such models through model training and direct evaluation of model calibration. These findings motivate large-scale ambiguous dataset creation and further research focusing on noisy visual data.

Recovery and Generalization in Over-Realized Dictionary Learning

Jeremias Sulam · Chong You · Zhihui Zhu

In over two decades of research, the field of dictionary learning has gathered a large collection of successful applications, and theoretical guarantees for model recovery are known only whenever optimization is carried out in the same model class as that of the underlying dictionary. This work characterizes the surprising phenomenon that dictionary recovery can be facilitated by searching over the space of larger over-realized models. This observation is general and independent of the specific dictionary learning algorithm used. We thoroughly demonstrate this observation in practice and provide an analysis of this phenomenon by tying recovery measures to generalization bounds. In particular, we show that model recovery can be upper-bounded by the empirical risk, a model-dependent quantity and the generalization gap, reflecting our empirical findings. We further show that an efficient and provably correct distillation approach can be employed to recover the correct atoms from the over-realized model. As a result, our meta-algorithm provides dictionary estimates with consistently better recovery of the ground-truth model.

Self-Supervised Learning with an Information Maximization Criterion

Serdar Ozsoy · Shadi Hamdan · Sercan Arik · Deniz Yuret · Alper Erdogan

Self-supervised learning allows AI systems to learn effective representations from large amounts of data using tasks that do not require costly labeling. Mode collapse, i.e., the model producing identical representations for all inputs, is a central problem to many self-supervised learning approaches, making self-supervised tasks, such as matching distorted variants of the inputs, ineffective. In this article, we argue that a straightforward application of information maximization among alternative latent representations of the same input naturally solves the collapse problem and achieves competitive empirical results. We propose a self-supervised learning method, CorInfoMax, that uses a second-order statistics-based mutual information measure that reflects the level of correlation among its arguments. Maximizing this correlative information measure between alternative representations of the same input serves two purposes: (1) it avoids the collapse problem by generating feature vectors with non-degenerate covariances; (2) it establishes relevance among alternative representations by increasing the linear dependence among them. An approximation of the proposed information maximization objective simplifies to a Euclidean distance-based objective function regularized by the log-determinant of the feature covariance matrix. The regularization term acts as a natural barrier against feature space degeneracy. Consequently, beyond avoiding complete output collapse to a single point, the proposed approach also prevents dimensional collapse by encouraging the spread of information across the whole feature space. Numerical experiments demonstrate that CorInfoMax achieves better or competitive performance results relative to the state-of-the-art SSL approaches.

PAC Prediction Sets for Meta-Learning

Sangdon Park · Edgar Dobriban · Insup Lee · Osbert Bastani

Uncertainty quantification is a key component of machine learning models targeted at safety-critical systems such as in healthcare or autonomous vehicles. We study this problem in the context of meta learning, where the goal is to quickly adapt a predictor to new tasks. In particular, we propose a novel algorithm to construct \emph{PAC prediction sets}, which capture uncertainty via sets of labels, that can be adapted to new tasks with only a few training examples. These prediction sets satisfy an extension of the typical PAC guarantee to the meta learning setting; in particular, the PAC guarantee holds with high probability over future tasks. We demonstrate the efficacy of our approach on four datasets across three application domains: mini-ImageNet and CIFAR10-C in the visual domain, FewRel in the language domain, and the CDC Heart Dataset in the medical domain. In particular, our prediction sets satisfy the PAC guarantee while having smaller size compared to other baselines that also satisfy this guarantee.

BiT: Robustly Binarized Multi-distilled Transformer

Zechun Liu · Barlas Oguz · Aasish Pappu · Lin Xiao · Scott Yih · Meng Li · Raghuraman Krishnamoorthi · Yashar Mehdad

Modern pre-trained transformers have rapidly advanced the state-of-the-art in machine learning, but have also grown in parameters and computational complexity, making them increasingly difficult to deploy in resource-constrained environments. Binarization of the weights and activations of the network can significantly alleviate these issues, however, is technically challenging from an optimization perspective. In this work, we identify a series of improvements that enables binary transformers at a much higher accuracy than what was possible previously. These include a two-set binarization scheme, a novel elastic binary activation function with learned parameters, and a method to quantize a network to its limit by successively distilling higher precision models into lower precision students. These approaches allow for the first time, fully binarized transformer models that are at a practical level of accuracy, approaching a full-precision BERT baseline on the GLUE language understanding benchmark within as little as 5.9%. Code and models are available at:

CEBaB: Estimating the Causal Effects of Real-World Concepts on NLP Model Behavior

Eldar D Abraham · Karel D'Oosterlinck · Amir Feder · Yair Gat · Atticus Geiger · Christopher Potts · Roi Reichart · Zhengxuan Wu

The increasing size and complexity of modern ML systems has improved their predictive capabilities but made their behavior harder to explain. Many techniques for model explanation have been developed in response, but we lack clear criteria for assessing these techniques. In this paper, we cast model explanation as the causal inference problem of estimating causal effects of real-world concepts on the output behavior of ML models given actual input data. We introduce CEBaB, a new benchmark dataset for assessing concept-based explanation methods in Natural Language Processing (NLP). CEBaB consists of short restaurant reviews with human-generated counterfactual reviews in which an aspect (food, noise, ambiance, service) of the dining experience was modified. Original and counterfactual reviews are annotated with multiply-validated sentiment ratings at the aspect-level and review-level. The rich structure of CEBaB allows us to go beyond input features to study the effects of abstract, real-world concepts on model behavior. We use CEBaB to compare the quality of a range of concept-based explanation methods covering different assumptions and conceptions of the problem, and we seek to establish natural metrics for comparative assessments of these methods.

VICRegL: Self-Supervised Learning of Local Visual Features

Adrien Bardes · Jean Ponce · Yann LeCun

Most recent self-supervised methods for learning image representations focus on either producing a global feature with invariance properties, or producing a set of local features. The former works best for classification tasks while the latter is best for detection and segmentation tasks. This paper explores the fundamental trade-off between learning local and global features. A new method called VICRegL is proposed that learns good global and local features simultaneously, yielding excellent performance on detection and segmentation tasks while maintaining good performance on classification tasks. Concretely, two identical branches of a standard convolutional net architecture are fed two differently distorted versions of the same image. The VICReg criterion is applied to pairs of global feature vectors. Simultaneously, the VICReg criterion is applied to pairs of local feature vectors occurring before the last pooling layer. Two local feature vectors are attracted to each other if their l2-distance is below a threshold or if their relative locations are consistent with a known geometric transformation between the two input images. We demonstrate strong performance on linear classification and segmentation transfer tasks. Code and pretrained models are publicly available at:

GenSDF: Two-Stage Learning of Generalizable Signed Distance Functions

Gene Chou · Ilya Chugunov · Felix Heide

We investigate the generalization capabilities of neural signed distance functions (SDFs) for learning 3D object representations for unseen and unlabeled point clouds. Existing methods can fit SDFs to a handful of object classes and boast fine detail or fast inference speeds, but do not generalize well to unseen shapes. We introduce a two-stage semi-supervised meta-learning approach that transfers shape priors from labeled to unlabeled data to reconstruct unseen object categories. The first stage uses an episodic training scheme to simulate training on unlabeled data and meta-learns initial shape priors. The second stage then introduces unlabeled data with disjoint classes in a semi-supervised scheme to diversify these priors and achieve generalization. We assess our method on both synthetic data and real collected point clouds. Experimental results and analysis validate that our approach outperforms existing neural SDF methods and is capable of robust zero-shot inference on 100+ unseen classes. Code can be found at

Disentangling Transfer in Continual Reinforcement Learning

Maciej Wolczyk · Michał Zając · Razvan Pascanu · Łukasz Kuciński · Piotr Miłoś

The ability of continual learning systems to transfer knowledge from previously seen tasks in order to maximize performance on new tasks is a significant challenge for the field, limiting the applicability of continual learning solutions to realistic scenarios. Consequently, this study aims to broaden our understanding of transfer and its driving forces in the specific case of continual reinforcement learning. We adopt SAC as the underlying RL algorithm and Continual World as a suite of continuous control tasks. We systematically study how different components of SAC (the actor and the critic, exploration, and data) affect transfer efficacy, and we provide recommendations regarding various modeling options. The best set of choices, dubbed ClonEx-SAC, is evaluated on the recent Continual World benchmark. ClonEx-SAC achieves 87% final success rate compared to 80% of PackNet, the best method in the benchmark. Moreover, the transfer grows from 0.18 to 0.54 according to the metric provided by Continual World.

Maximum-Likelihood Inverse Reinforcement Learning with Finite-Time Guarantees

Siliang Zeng · Chenliang Li · Alfredo Garcia · Mingyi Hong

Inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) aims to recover the reward function and the associated optimal policy that best fits observed sequences of states and actions implemented by an expert. Many algorithms for IRL have an inherent nested structure: the inner loop finds the optimal policy given parametrized rewards while the outer loop updates the estimates towards optimizing a measure of fit. For high dimensional environments such nested-loop structure entails a significant computational burden. To reduce the computational burden of a nested loop, novel methods such as SQIL \cite{reddy2019sqil} and IQ-Learn \cite{garg2021iq} emphasize policy estimation at the expense of reward estimation accuracy. However, without accurate estimated rewards, it is not possible to do counterfactual analysis such as predicting the optimal policy under different environment dynamics and/or learning new tasks. In this paper we develop a novel {\em single-loop} algorithm for IRL that does not compromise reward estimation accuracy. In the proposed algorithm, each policy improvement step is followed by a stochastic gradient step for likelihood maximization. We show that the proposed algorithm provably converges to a stationary solution with a finite-time guarantee. If the reward is parameterized linearly we show the identified solution corresponds to the solution of the maximum entropy IRL problem. Finally, by using robotics control problems in Mujoco and their transfer settings, we show that the proposed algorithm achieves superior performance compared with other IRL and imitation learning benchmarks.

TUSK: Task-Agnostic Unsupervised Keypoints

Yuhe Jin · Weiwei Sun · Jan Hosang · Eduard Trulls · Kwang Moo Yi

Existing unsupervised methods for keypoint learning rely heavily on the assumption that a specific keypoint type (e.g. elbow, digit, abstract geometric shape) appears only once in an image. This greatly limits their applicability, as each instance must be isolated before applying the method—an issue that is never discussed or evaluated. We thus propose a novel method to learn Task-agnostic, UnSupervised Keypoints (TUSK) which can deal with multiple instances. To achieve this, instead of the commonly-used strategy of detecting multiple heatmaps, each dedicated to a specific keypoint type, we use a single heatmap for detection, and enable unsupervised learning of keypoint types through clustering. Specifically, we encode semantics into the keypoints by teaching them to reconstruct images from a sparse set of keypoints and their descriptors, where the descriptors are forced to form distinct clusters in feature space around learned prototypes. This makes our approach amenable to a wider range of tasks than any previous unsupervised keypoint method: we show experiments on multiple-instance detection and classification, object discovery, and landmark detection—all unsupervised—with performance on par with the state of the art, while also being able to deal with multiple instances.

Generalization Gap in Amortized Inference

Mingtian Zhang · Peter Hayes · David Barber

The ability of likelihood-based probabilistic models to generalize to unseen data is central to many machine learning applications such as lossless compression. In this work, we study the generalization of a popular class of probabilistic model - the Variational Auto-Encoder (VAE). We discuss the two generalization gaps that affect VAEs and show that overfitting is usually dominated by amortized inference. Based on this observation, we propose a new training objective that improves the generalization of amortized inference. We demonstrate how our method can improve performance in the context of image modeling and lossless compression.

Online Deep Equilibrium Learning for Regularization by Denoising

Jiaming Liu · Xiaojian Xu · Weijie Gan · shirin shoushtari · Ulugbek Kamilov

Plug-and-Play Priors (PnP) and Regularization by Denoising (RED) are widely-used frameworks for solving imaging inverse problems by computing fixed-points of operators combining physical measurement models and learned image priors. While traditional PnP/RED formulations have focused on priors specified using image denoisers, there is a growing interest in learning PnP/RED priors that are end-to-end optimal. The recent Deep Equilibrium Models (DEQ) framework has enabled memory-efficient end-to-end learning of PnP/RED priors by implicitly differentiating through the fixed-point equations without storing intermediate activation values. However, the dependence of the computational/memory complexity of the measurement models in PnP/RED on the total number of measurements leaves DEQ impractical for many imaging applications. We propose ODER as a new strategy for improving the efficiency of DEQ through stochastic approximations of the measurement models. We theoretically analyze ODER giving insights into its convergence and ability to approximate the traditional DEQ approach. Our numerical results suggest the potential improvements in training/testing complexity due to ODER on three distinct imaging applications.

Deep invariant networks with differentiable augmentation layers

Cédric ROMMEL · Thomas Moreau · Alexandre Gramfort

Designing learning systems which are invariant to certain data transformations is critical in machine learning. Practitioners can typically enforce a desired invariance on the trained model through the choice of a network architecture, e.g. using convolutions for translations, or using data augmentation. Yet, enforcing true invariance in the network can be difficult, and data invariances are not always known a piori. State-of-the-art methods for learning data augmentation policies require held-out data and are based on bilevel optimization problems, which are complex to solve and often computationally demanding. In this work we investigate new ways of learning invariances only from the training data. Using learnable augmentation layers built directly in the network, we demonstrate that our method is very versatile. It can incorporate any type of differentiable augmentation and be applied to a broad class of learning problems beyond computer vision. We provide empirical evidence showing that our approach is easier and faster to train than modern automatic data augmentation techniques based on bilevel optimization, while achieving comparable results. Experiments show that while the invariances transferred to a model through automatic data augmentation are limited by the model expressivity, the invariance yielded by our approach is insensitive to it by design.

VICE: Variational Interpretable Concept Embeddings

Lukas Muttenthaler · Charles Zheng · Patrick McClure · Robert Vandermeulen · Martin N Hebart · Francisco Pereira

A central goal in the cognitive sciences is the development of numerical models for mental representations of object concepts. This paper introduces Variational Interpretable Concept Embeddings (VICE), an approximate Bayesian method for embedding object concepts in a vector space using data collected from humans in a triplet odd-one-out task. VICE uses variational inference to obtain sparse, non-negative representations of object concepts with uncertainty estimates for the embedding values. These estimates are used to automatically select the dimensions that best explain the data. We derive a PAC learning bound for VICE that can be used to estimate generalization performance or determine a sufficient sample size for experimental design. VICE rivals or outperforms its predecessor, SPoSE, at predicting human behavior in the triplet odd-one-out task. Furthermore, VICE's object representations are more reproducible and consistent across random initializations, highlighting the unique advantage of using VICE for deriving interpretable embeddings from human behavior.

A contrastive rule for meta-learning

Nicolas Zucchet · Simon Schug · Johannes von Oswald · Dominic Zhao · João Sacramento

Humans and other animals are capable of improving their learning performance as they solve related tasks from a given problem domain, to the point of being able to learn from extremely limited data. While synaptic plasticity is generically thought to underlie learning in the brain, the precise neural and synaptic mechanisms by which learning processes improve through experience are not well understood. Here, we present a general-purpose, biologically-plausible meta-learning rule which estimates gradients with respect to the parameters of an underlying learning algorithm by simply running it twice. Our rule may be understood as a generalization of contrastive Hebbian learning to meta-learning and notably, it neither requires computing second derivatives nor going backwards in time, two characteristic features of previous gradient-based methods that are hard to conceive in physical neural circuits. We demonstrate the generality of our rule by applying it to two distinct models: a complex synapse with internal states which consolidate task-shared information, and a dual-system architecture in which a primary network is rapidly modulated by another one to learn the specifics of each task. For both models, our meta-learning rule matches or outperforms reference algorithms on a wide range of benchmark problems, while only using information presumed to be locally available at neurons and synapses. We corroborate these findings with a theoretical analysis of the gradient estimation error incurred by our rule.

Diagnosing failures of fairness transfer across distribution shift in real-world medical settings

Jessica Schrouff · Natalie Harris · Sanmi Koyejo · Ibrahim Alabdulmohsin · Eva Schnider · Krista Opsahl-Ong · Alexander Brown · Subhrajit Roy · Diana Mincu · Christina Chen · Awa Dieng · Yuan Liu · Vivek Natarajan · Alan Karthikesalingam · Katherine Heller · Silvia Chiappa · Alexander D'Amour

Diagnosing and mitigating changes in model fairness under distribution shift is an important component of the safe deployment of machine learning in healthcare settings. Importantly, the success of any mitigation strategy strongly depends on the \textit{structure} of the shift. Despite this, there has been little discussion of how to empirically assess the structure of a distribution shift that one is encountering in practice. In this work, we adopt a causal framing to motivate conditional independence tests as a key tool for characterizing distribution shifts. Using our approach in two medical applications, we show that this knowledge can help diagnose failures of fairness transfer, including cases where real-world shifts are more complex than is often assumed in the literature. Based on these results, we discuss potential remedies at each step of the machine learning pipeline.

A Contrastive Framework for Neural Text Generation

Yixuan Su · Tian Lan · Yan Wang · Dani Yogatama · Lingpeng Kong · Nigel Collier

Text generation is of great importance to many natural language processing applications. However, maximization-based decoding methods (e.g., beam search) of neural language models often lead to degenerate solutions---the generated text is unnatural and contains undesirable repetitions. Existing approaches introduce stochasticity via sampling or modify training objectives to decrease the probabilities of certain tokens (e.g., unlikelihood training). However, they often lead to solutions that lack coherence. In this work, we show that an underlying reason for model degeneration is the anisotropic distribution of token representations. We present a contrastive solution: (i) SimCTG, a contrastive training objective to calibrate the model's representation space, and (ii) a decoding method---contrastive search---to encourage diversity while maintaining coherence in the generated text. Extensive experiments and analyses on three benchmarks from two languages demonstrate that our proposed approach outperforms state-of-the-art text generation methods as evaluated by both human and automatic metrics.

Redeeming intrinsic rewards via constrained optimization

Eric Chen · Zhang-Wei Hong · Joni Pajarinen · Pulkit Agrawal

State-of-the-art reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms typically use random sampling (e.g., $\epsilon$-greedy) for exploration, but this method fails on hard exploration tasks like Montezuma's Revenge. To address the challenge of exploration, prior works incentivize exploration by rewarding the agent when it visits novel states. Such intrinsic rewards (also called exploration bonus or curiosity) often lead to excellent performance on hard exploration tasks. However, on easy exploration tasks, the agent gets distracted by intrinsic rewards and performs unnecessary exploration even when sufficient task (also called extrinsic) reward is available. Consequently, such an overly curious agent performs worse than an agent trained with only task reward. Such inconsistency in performance across tasks prevents the widespread use of intrinsic rewards with RL algorithms. We propose a principled constrained optimization procedure called Extrinsic-Intrinsic Policy Optimization (EIPO) that automatically tunes the importance of the intrinsic reward: it suppresses the intrinsic reward when exploration is unnecessary and increases it when exploration is required. The results is superior exploration that does not require manual tuning in balancing the intrinsic reward against the task reward. Consistent performance gains across sixty-one ATARI games validate our claim. The code is available at

NodeFormer: A Scalable Graph Structure Learning Transformer for Node Classification

Qitian Wu · Wentao Zhao · Zenan Li · David P Wipf · Junchi Yan

Graph neural networks have been extensively studied for learning with inter-connected data. Despite this, recent evidence has revealed GNNs' deficiencies related to over-squashing, heterophily, handling long-range dependencies, edge incompleteness and particularly, the absence of graphs altogether. While a plausible solution is to learn new adaptive topology for message passing, issues concerning quadratic complexity hinder simultaneous guarantees for scalability and precision in large networks. In this paper, we introduce a novel all-pair message passing scheme for efficiently propagating node signals between arbitrary nodes, as an important building block for a new class of Transformer networks for node classification on large graphs, dubbed as NodeFormer. Specifically, the efficient computation is enabled by a kernerlized Gumbel-Softmax operator that reduces the algorithmic complexity to linearity w.r.t. node numbers for learning latent graph structures from large, potentially fully-connected graphs in a differentiable manner. We also provide accompanying theory as justification for our design. Extensive experiments demonstrate the promising efficacy of the method in various tasks including node classification on graphs (with up to 2M nodes) and graph-enhanced applications (e.g., image classification) where input graphs are missing. The codes are available at

Model Preserving Compression for Neural Networks

Jerry Chee · Megan Flynn (née Renz) · Anil Damle · Christopher De Sa

After training complex deep learning models, a common task is to compress the model to reduce compute and storage demands. When compressing, it is desirable to preserve the original model's per-example decisions (e.g., to go beyond top-1 accuracy or preserve robustness), maintain the network's structure, automatically determine per-layer compression levels, and eliminate the need for fine tuning. No existing compression methods simultaneously satisfy these criteria---we introduce a principled approach that does by leveraging interpolative decompositions. Our approach simultaneously selects and eliminates channels (analogously, neurons), then constructs an interpolation matrix that propagates a correction into the next layer, preserving the network's structure. Consequently, our method achieves good performance even without fine tuning and admits theoretical analysis. Our theoretical generalization bound for a one layer network lends itself naturally to a heuristic that allows our method to automatically choose per-layer sizes for deep networks. We demonstrate the efficacy of our approach with strong empirical performance on a variety of tasks, models, and datasets---from simple one-hidden-layer networks to deep networks on ImageNet.

Controlled Sparsity via Constrained Optimization or: How I Learned to Stop Tuning Penalties and Love Constraints

Jose Gallego-Posada · Juan Ramirez · Akram Erraqabi · Yoshua Bengio · Simon Lacoste-Julien

The performance of trained neural networks is robust to harsh levels of pruning. Coupled with the ever-growing size of deep learning models, this observation has motivated extensive research on learning sparse models. In this work, we focus on the task of controlling the level of sparsity when performing sparse learning. Existing methods based on sparsity-inducing penalties involve expensive trial-and-error tuning of the penalty factor, thus lacking direct control of the resulting model sparsity. In response, we adopt a constrained formulation: using the gate mechanism proposed by Louizos et al. (2018), we formulate a constrained optimization problem where sparsification is guided by the training objective and the desired sparsity target in an end-to-end fashion. Experiments on CIFAR-{10, 100}, TinyImageNet, and ImageNet using WideResNet and ResNet{18, 50} models validate the effectiveness of our proposal and demonstrate that we can reliably achieve pre-determined sparsity targets without compromising on predictive performance.

Robust Binary Models by Pruning Randomly-initialized Networks

Chen Liu · Ziqi Zhao · Sabine Süsstrunk · Mathieu Salzmann

Robustness to adversarial attacks was shown to require a larger model capacity, and thus a larger memory footprint. In this paper, we introduce an approach to obtain robust yet compact models by pruning randomly-initialized binary networks. Unlike adversarial training, which learns the model parameters, we initialize the model parameters as either +1 or −1, keep them fixed, and find a subnetwork structure that is robust to attacks. Our method confirms the Strong Lottery Ticket Hypothesis in the presence of adversarial attacks, and extends this to binary networks. Furthermore, it yields more compact networks with competitive performance than existing works by 1) adaptively pruning different network layers; 2) exploiting an effective binary initialization scheme; 3) incorporating a last batch normalization layer to improve training stability. Our experiments demonstrate that our approach not only always outperforms the state-of-the-art robust binary networks, but also can achieve accuracy better than full-precision ones on some datasets. Finally, we show the structured patterns of our pruned binary networks.

Training Spiking Neural Networks with Local Tandem Learning

Qu Yang · Jibin Wu · Malu Zhang · Yansong Chua · Xinchao Wang · Haizhou Li

Spiking neural networks (SNNs) are shown to be more biologically plausible and energy efficient over their predecessors. However, there is a lack of an efficient and generalized training method for deep SNNs, especially for deployment on analog computing substrates. In this paper, we put forward a generalized learning rule, termed Local Tandem Learning (LTL). The LTL rule follows the teacher-student learning approach by mimicking the intermediate feature representations of a pre-trained ANN. By decoupling the learning of network layers and leveraging highly informative supervisor signals, we demonstrate rapid network convergence within five training epochs on the CIFAR-10 dataset while having low computational complexity. Our experimental results have also shown that the SNNs thus trained can achieve comparable accuracies to their teacher ANNs on CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and Tiny ImageNet datasets. Moreover, the proposed LTL rule is hardware friendly. It can be easily implemented on-chip to perform fast parameter calibration and provide robustness against the notorious device non-ideality issues. It, therefore, opens up a myriad of opportunities for training and deployment of SNN on ultra-low-power mixed-signal neuromorphic computing chips.

Constrained GPI for Zero-Shot Transfer in Reinforcement Learning

Jaekyeom Kim · Seohong Park · Gunhee Kim

For zero-shot transfer in reinforcement learning where the reward function varies between different tasks, the successor features framework has been one of the popular approaches. However, in this framework, the transfer to new target tasks with generalized policy improvement (GPI) relies on only the source successor features [5] or additional successor features obtained from the function approximators’ generalization to novel inputs [11]. The goal of this work is to improve the transfer by more tightly bounding the value approximation errors of successor features on the new target tasks. Given a set of source tasks with their successor features, we present lower and upper bounds on the optimal values for novel task vectors that are expressible as linear combinations of source task vectors. Based on the bounds, we propose constrained GPI as a simple test-time approach that can improve transfer by constraining action-value approximation errors on new target tasks. Through experiments in the Scavenger and Reacher environment with state observations as well as the DeepMind Lab environment with visual observations, we show that the proposed constrained GPI significantly outperforms the prior GPI’s transfer performance. Our code and additional information are available at

Improving Task-Specific Generalization in Few-Shot Learning via Adaptive Vicinal Risk Minimization

Long-Kai Huang · Ying Wei

Recent years have witnessed the rapid development of meta-learning in improving the meta generalization over tasks in few-shot learning. However, the task-specific level generalization is overlooked in most algorithms. For a novel few-shot learning task where the empirical distribution likely deviates from the true distribution, the model obtained via minimizing the empirical loss can hardly generalize to unseen data. A viable solution to improving the generalization comes as a more accurate approximation of the true distribution; that is, admitting a Gaussian-like vicinal distribution for each of the limited training samples. Thereupon we derive the resulting vicinal loss function over vicinities of all training samples and minimize it instead of the conventional empirical loss over training samples only, favorably free from the exhaustive sampling of all vicinal samples.It remains challenging to obtain the statistical parameters of the vicinal distribution for each sample. To tackle this challenge, we further propose to estimate the statistical parameters as the weighted mean and variance of a set of unlabeled data it passed by a random walk starting from training samples. To verify the performance of the proposed method, we conduct experiments on four standard few-shot learning benchmarks and consolidate the superiority of the proposed method over state-of-the-art few-shot learning baselines.

DIMES: A Differentiable Meta Solver for Combinatorial Optimization Problems

Ruizhong Qiu · Zhiqing Sun · Yiming Yang

Recently, deep reinforcement learning (DRL) models have shown promising results in solving NP-hard Combinatorial Optimization (CO) problems. However, most DRL solvers can only scale to a few hundreds of nodes for combinatorial optimization problems on graphs, such as the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP). This paper addresses the scalability challenge in large-scale combinatorial optimization by proposing a novel approach, namely, DIMES. Unlike previous DRL methods which suffer from costly autoregressive decoding or iterative refinements of discrete solutions, DIMES introduces a compact continuous space for parameterizing the underlying distribution of candidate solutions. Such a continuous space allows stable REINFORCE-based training and fine-tuning via massively parallel sampling. We further propose a meta-learning framework to enable the effective initialization of model parameters in the fine-tuning stage. Extensive experiments show that DIMES outperforms recent DRL-based methods on large benchmark datasets for Traveling Salesman Problems and Maximal Independent Set problems.

HYPRO: A Hybridly Normalized Probabilistic Model for Long-Horizon Prediction of Event Sequences

Siqiao Xue · Xiaoming Shi · James Zhang · Hongyuan Mei

In this paper, we tackle the important yet under-investigated problem of making long-horizon prediction of event sequences. Existing state-of-the-art models do not perform well at this task due to their autoregressive structure. We propose HYPRO, a hybridly normalized probabilistic model that naturally fits this task: its first part is an autoregressive base model that learns to propose predictions; its second part is an energy function that learns to reweight the proposals such that more realistic predictions end up with higher probabilities. We also propose efficient training and inference algorithms for this model. Experiments on multiple real-world datasets demonstrate that our proposed HYPRO model can significantly outperform previous models at making long-horizon predictions of future events. We also conduct a range of ablation studies to investigate the effectiveness of each component of our proposed methods.

Noise Attention Learning: Enhancing Noise Robustness by Gradient Scaling

Yangdi Lu · Yang Bo · Wenbo He

Machine learning has been highly successful in data-driven applications but is often hampered when the data contains noise, especially label noise. When trained on noisy labels, deep neural networks tend to fit all noisy labels, resulting in poor generalization. To handle this problem, a common idea is to force the model to fit only clean samples rather than mislabeled ones. In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective method that automatically distinguishes the mislabeled samples and prevents the model from memorizing them, named Noise Attention Learning. In our method, we introduce an attention branch to produce attention weights based on representations of samples. This attention branch is learned to divide the samples according to the predictive power in their representations. We design the corresponding loss function that incorporates the attention weights for training the model without affecting the original learning direction. Empirical results show that most of the mislabeled samples yield significantly lower weights than the clean ones. Furthermore, our theoretical analysis shows that the gradients of training samples are dynamically scaled by the attention weights, implicitly preventing memorization of the mislabeled samples. Experimental results on two benchmarks (CIFAR-10 and CIFAR-100) with simulated label noise and three real-world noisy datasets (ANIMAL-10N, Clothing1M and Webvision) demonstrate that our approach outperforms state-of-the-art methods.

Self-Aware Personalized Federated Learning

Huili Chen · Jie Ding · Eric W. Tramel · Shuang Wu · Anit Kumar Sahu · Salman Avestimehr · Tao Zhang

In the context of personalized federated learning (FL), the critical challenge is to balance local model improvement and global model tuning when the personal and global objectives may not be exactly aligned. Inspired by Bayesian hierarchical models, we develop a self-aware personalized FL method where each client can automatically balance the training of its local personal model and the global model that implicitly contributes to other clients' training. Such a balance is derived from the inter-client and intra-client uncertainty quantification. A larger inter-client variation implies more personalization is needed. Correspondingly, our method uses uncertainty-driven local training steps an aggregation rule instead of conventional local fine-tuning and sample size-based aggregation. With experimental studies on synthetic data, Amazon Alexa audio data, and public datasets such as MNIST, FEMNIST, CIFAR10, and Sent140, we show that our proposed method can achieve significantly improved personalization performance compared with the existing counterparts.

Learning to Re-weight Examples with Optimal Transport for Imbalanced Classification

Dandan Guo · Zhuo Li · meixi zheng · He Zhao · Mingyuan Zhou · Hongyuan Zha

Imbalanced data pose challenges for deep learning based classification models. One of the most widely-used approaches for tackling imbalanced data is re-weighting, where training samples are associated with different weights in the loss function. Most of existing re-weighting approaches treat the example weights as the learnable parameter and optimize the weights on the meta set, entailing expensive bilevel optimization. In this paper, we propose a novel re-weighting method based on optimal transport (OT) from a distributional point of view. Specifically, we view the training set as an imbalanced distribution over its samples, which is transported by OT to a balanced distribution obtained from the meta set. The weights of the training samples are the probability mass of the imbalanced distribution andlearned by minimizing the OT distance between the two distributions. Compared with existing methods, our proposed one disengages the dependence of the weight learning on the concerned classifier at each iteration. Experiments on image, text and point cloud datasets demonstrate that our proposed re-weighting method has excellent performance, achieving state-of-the-art results in many cases andproviding a promising tool for addressing the imbalanced classification issue. The code has been made available at

Towards Understanding the Mixture-of-Experts Layer in Deep Learning

Zixiang Chen · Yihe Deng · Yue Wu · Quanquan Gu · Yuanzhi Li

The Mixture-of-Experts (MoE) layer, a sparsely-activated model controlled by a router, has achieved great success in deep learning. However, the understanding of such architecture remains elusive. In this paper, we formally study how the MoE layer improves the performance of neural network learning and why the mixture model will not collapse into a single model. Our empirical results suggest that the cluster structure of the underlying problem and the non-linearity of the expert are pivotal to the success of MoE. This motivates us to consider a challenging classification problem with intrinsic cluster structures. Theoretically, we proved that this problem is hard to solve by a single expert such as a two-layer convolutional neural network (CNN). Yet with the MoE layer with each expert being a two-layer CNN, the problem can be solved successfully. In particular, our theory shows that the router can learn the cluster-center features, which helps divide the input complex problem into simpler classification sub-problems that individual experts can conquer. To our knowledge, this is the first theoretical result toward formally understanding the mechanism of the MoE layer for deep learning.

Improved Feature Distillation via Projector Ensemble

Yudong Chen · Sen Wang · Jiajun Liu · Xuwei Xu · Frank de Hoog · Zi Huang

In knowledge distillation, previous feature distillation methods mainly focus on the design of loss functions and the selection of the distilled layers, while the effect of the feature projector between the student and the teacher remains under-explored. In this paper, we first discuss a plausible mechanism of the projector with empirical evidence and then propose a new feature distillation method based on a projector ensemble for further performance improvement. We observe that the student network benefits from a projector even if the feature dimensions of the student and the teacher are the same. Training a student backbone without a projector can be considered as a multi-task learning process, namely achieving discriminative feature extraction for classification and feature matching between the student and the teacher for distillation at the same time. We hypothesize and empirically verify that without a projector, the student network tends to overfit the teacher's feature distributions despite having different architecture and weights initialization. This leads to degradation on the quality of the student's deep features that are eventually used in classification. Adding a projector, on the other hand, disentangles the two learning tasks and helps the student network to focus better on the main feature extraction task while still being able to utilize teacher features as a guidance through the projector. Motivated by the positive effect of the projector in feature distillation, we propose an ensemble of projectors to further improve the quality of student features. Experimental results on different datasets with a series of teacher-student pairs illustrate the effectiveness of the proposed method. Code is available at

Two-Stream Network for Sign Language Recognition and Translation

Yutong Chen · Ronglai Zuo · Fangyun Wei · Yu Wu · Shujie LIU · Brian Mak

Sign languages are visual languages using manual articulations and non-manual elements to convey information. For sign language recognition and translation, the majority of existing approaches directly encode RGB videos into hidden representations. RGB videos, however, are raw signals with substantial visual redundancy, leading the encoder to overlook the key information for sign language understanding. To mitigate this problem and better incorporate domain knowledge, such as handshape and body movement, we introduce a dual visual encoder containing two separate streams to model both the raw videos and the keypoint sequences generated by an off-the-shelf keypoint estimator. To make the two streams interact with each other, we explore a variety of techniques, including bidirectional lateral connection, sign pyramid network with auxiliary supervision, and frame-level self-distillation. The resulting model is called TwoStream-SLR, which is competent for sign language recognition (SLR). TwoStream-SLR is extended to a sign language translation (SLT) model, TwoStream-SLT, by simply attaching an extra translation network. Experimentally, our TwoStream-SLR and TwoStream-SLT achieve state-of-the-art performance on SLR and SLT tasks across a series of datasets including Phoenix-2014, Phoenix-2014T, and CSL-Daily.

Knowledge Distillation from A Stronger Teacher

Tao Huang · Shan You · Fei Wang · Chen Qian · Chang Xu

Unlike existing knowledge distillation methods focus on the baseline settings, where the teacher models and training strategies are not that strong and competing as state-of-the-art approaches, this paper presents a method dubbed DIST to distill better from a stronger teacher. We empirically find that the discrepancy of predictions between the student and a stronger teacher may tend to be fairly severer. As a result, the exact match of predictions in KL divergence would disturb the training and make existing methods perform poorly. In this paper, we show that simply preserving the relations between the predictions of teacher and student would suffice, and propose a correlation-based loss to capture the intrinsic inter-class relations from the teacher explicitly. Besides, considering that different instances have different semantic similarities to each class, we also extend this relational match to the intra-class level. Our method is simple yet practical, and extensive experiments demonstrate that it adapts well to various architectures, model sizes and training strategies, and can achieve state-of-the-art performance consistently on image classification, object detection, and semantic segmentation tasks. Code is available at:

Boosting the Transferability of Adversarial Attacks with Reverse Adversarial Perturbation

Zeyu Qin · Yanbo Fan · Yi Liu · Li Shen · Yong Zhang · Jue Wang · Baoyuan Wu

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have been shown to be vulnerable to adversarial examples, which can produce erroneous predictions by injecting imperceptible perturbations. In this work, we study the transferability of adversarial examples, which is significant due to its threat to real-world applications where model architecture or parameters are usually unknown. Many existing works reveal that the adversarial examples are likely to overfit the surrogate model that they are generated from, limiting its transfer attack performance against different target models. To mitigate the overfitting of the surrogate model, we propose a novel attack method, dubbed reverse adversarial perturbation (RAP). Specifically, instead of minimizing the loss of a single adversarial point, we advocate seeking adversarial example located at a region with unified low loss value, by injecting the worst-case perturbation (the reverse adversarial perturbation) for each step of the optimization procedure. The adversarial attack with RAP is formulated as a min-max bi-level optimization problem. By integrating RAP into the iterative process for attacks, our method can find more stable adversarial examples which are less sensitive to the changes of decision boundary, mitigating the overfitting of the surrogate model. Comprehensive experimental comparisons demonstrate that RAP can significantly boost adversarial transferability. Furthermore, RAP can be naturally combined with many existing black-box attack techniques, to further boost the transferability. When attacking a real-world image recognition system, Google Cloud Vision API, we obtain 22% performance improvement of targeted attacks over the compared method. Our codes are available at

Efficient Spatially Sparse Inference for Conditional GANs and Diffusion Models

Muyang Li · Ji Lin · Chenlin Meng · Stefano Ermon · Song Han · Jun-Yan Zhu

During image editing, existing deep generative models tend to re-synthesize the entire output from scratch, including the unedited regions. This leads to a significant waste of computation, especially for minor editing operations. In this work, we present Spatially Sparse Inference (SSI), a general-purpose technique that selectively performs computation for edited regions and accelerates various generative models, including both conditional GANs and diffusion models. Our key observation is that users tend to make gradual changes to the input image. This motivates us to cache and reuse the feature maps of the original image. Given an edited image, we sparsely apply the convolutional filters to the edited regions while reusing the cached features for the unedited regions. Based on our algorithm, we further propose Sparse Incremental Generative Engine (SIGE) to convert the computation reduction to latency reduction on off-the-shelf hardware. With 1.2%-area edited regions, our method reduces the computation of DDIM by $7.5\times$ and GauGAN by $18\times$ while preserving the visual fidelity. With SIGE, we accelerate the inference time of DDIM by $3.0\times$ on RTX 3090 and $6.6\times$ on Apple M1 Pro CPU, and GauGAN by $4.2\times$ on RTX 3090 and $14\times$ on Apple M1 Pro CPU.

Feature-Proxy Transformer for Few-Shot Segmentation

Jian-Wei Zhang · Yifan Sun · Yi Yang · Wei Chen

Few-shot segmentation~(FSS) aims at performing semantic segmentation on novel classes given a few annotated support samples. With a rethink of recent advances, we find that the current FSS framework has deviated far from the supervised segmentation framework: Given the deep features, FSS methods typically use an intricate decoder to perform sophisticated pixel-wise matching, while the supervised segmentation methods use a simple linear classification head. Due to the intricacy of the decoder and its matching pipeline, it is not easy to follow such an FSS framework. This paper revives the straightforward framework of ``feature extractor $+$ linear classification head'' and proposes a novel Feature-Proxy Transformer (FPTrans) method, in which the ``proxy'' is the vector representing a semantic class in the linear classification head. FPTrans has two keypoints for learning discriminative features and representative proxies: 1) To better utilize the limited support samples, the feature extractor makes the query interact with the support features from bottom to top layers using a novel prompting strategy. 2) FPTrans uses multiple local background proxies (instead of a single one) because the background is not homogeneous and may contain some novel foreground regions. These two keypoints are easily integrated into the vision transformer backbone with the prompting mechanism in the transformer. Given the learned features and proxies, FPTrans directly compares their cosine similarity for segmentation. Although the framework is straightforward, we show that FPTrans achieves competitive FSS accuracy on par with state-of-the-art decoder-based methods.

Mask Matching Transformer for Few-Shot Segmentation

siyu jiao · Gengwei Zhang · Shant Navasardyan · Ling Chen · Yao Zhao · Yunchao Wei · Honghui Shi

In this paper, we aim to tackle the challenging few-shot segmentation task from a new perspective. Typical methods follow the paradigm to firstly learn prototypical features from support images and then match query features in pixel-level to obtain segmentation results. However, to obtain satisfactory segments, such a paradigm needs to couple the learning of the matching operations with heavy segmentation modules, limiting the flexibility of design and increasing the learning complexity. To alleviate this issue, we propose Mask Matching Transformer (MM-Former), a new paradigm for the few-shot segmentation task. Specifically, MM-Former first uses a class-agnostic segmenter to decompose the query image into multiple segment proposals. Then, a simple matching mechanism is applied to merge the related segment proposals into the final mask guided by the support images. The advantages of our MM-Former are two-fold. First, the MM-Former follows the paradigm of 'decompose first and then blend', allowing our method to benefit from the advanced potential objects segmenter to produce high-quality mask proposals for query images. Second, the mission of prototypical features is relaxed to learn coefficients to fuse correct ones within a proposal pool, making the MM-Former be well generalized to complex scenarios or cases. We conduct extensive experiments on the popular COCO-$20^i$ and Pascal-$5^i$ benchmarks. Competitive results well demonstrate the effectiveness and the generalization ability of our MM-Former. Code is available at

Prototypical VoteNet for Few-Shot 3D Point Cloud Object Detection

Shizhen Zhao · Xiaojuan Qi

Most existing 3D point cloud object detection approaches heavily rely on large amounts of labeled training data. However, the labeling process is costly and time-consuming. This paper considers few-shot 3D point cloud object detection, where only a few annotated samples of novel classes are needed with abundant samples of base classes. To this end, we propose Prototypical VoteNet to recognize and localize novel instances, which incorporates two new modules: Prototypical Vote Module (PVM) and Prototypical Head Module (PHM). Specifically, as the 3D basic geometric structures can be shared among categories, PVM is designed to leverage class-agnostic geometric prototypes, which are learned from base classes, to refine local features of novel categories. Then PHM is proposed to utilize class prototypes to enhance the global feature of each object, facilitating subsequent object localization and classification, which is trained by the episodic training strategy. To evaluate the model in this new setting, we contribute two new benchmark datasets, FS-ScanNet and FS-SUNRGBD. We conduct extensive experiments to demonstrate the effectiveness of Prototypical VoteNet, and our proposed method shows significant and consistent improvements compared to baselines on two benchmark datasets.

DaDA: Distortion-aware Domain Adaptation for Unsupervised Semantic Segmentation

Sujin Jang · Joohan Na · Dokwan Oh

Distributional shifts in photometry and texture have been extensively studied for unsupervised domain adaptation, but their counterparts in optical distortion have been largely neglected. In this work, we tackle the task of unsupervised domain adaptation for semantic image segmentation where unknown optical distortion exists between source and target images. To this end, we propose a distortion-aware domain adaptation (DaDA) framework that boosts the unsupervised segmentation performance. We first present a relative distortion learning (RDL) approach that is capable of modeling domain shifts in fine-grained geometric deformation based on diffeomorphic transformation. Then, we demonstrate that applying additional global affine transformations to the diffeomorphically transformed source images can further improve the segmentation adaptation. Besides, we find that our distortion-aware adaptation method helps to enhance self-supervised learning by providing higher-quality initial models and pseudo labels. To evaluate, we propose new distortion adaptation benchmarks, where rectilinear source images and fisheye target images are used for unsupervised domain adaptation. Extensive experimental results highlight the effectiveness of our approach over state-of-the-art methods under unknown relative distortion across domains. Datasets and more information are available at

AniFaceGAN: Animatable 3D-Aware Face Image Generation for Video Avatars

Yue Wu · Yu Deng · Jiaolong Yang · Fangyun Wei · Qifeng Chen · Xin Tong

Although 2D generative models have made great progress in face image generation and animation, they often suffer from undesirable artifacts such as 3D inconsistency when rendering images from different camera viewpoints. This prevents them from synthesizing video animations indistinguishable from real ones. Recently, 3D-aware GANs extend 2D GANs for explicit disentanglement of camera pose by leveraging 3D scene representations. These methods can well preserve the 3D consistency of the generated images across different views, yet they cannot achieve fine-grained control over other attributes, among which facial expression control is arguably the most useful and desirable for face animation. In this paper, we propose an animatable 3D-aware GAN for multiview consistent face animation generation. The key idea is to decompose the 3D representation of the 3D-aware GAN into a template field and a deformation field, where the former represents different identities with a canonical expression, and the latter characterizes expression variations of each identity. To achieve meaningful control over facial expressions via deformation, we propose a 3D-level imitative learning scheme between the generator and a parametric 3D face model during adversarial training of the 3D-aware GAN. This helps our method achieve high-quality animatable face image generation with strong visual 3D consistency, even though trained with only unstructured 2D images. Extensive experiments demonstrate our superior performance over prior works. Project page: \url{

Selective compression learning of latent representations for variable-rate image compression

Jooyoung Lee · Seyoon Jeong · Munchurl Kim

Recently, many neural network-based image compression methods have shown promising results superior to the existing tool-based conventional codecs. However, most of them are often trained as separate models for different target bit rates, thus increasing the model complexity. Therefore, several studies have been conducted for learned compression that supports variable rates with single models, but they require additional network modules, layers, or inputs that often lead to complexity overhead, or do not provide sufficient coding efficiency. In this paper, we firstly propose a selective compression method that partially encodes the latent representations in a fully generalized manner for deep learning-based variable-rate image compression. The proposed method adaptively determines essential representation elements for compression of different target quality levels. For this, we first generate a 3D importance map as the nature of input content to represent the underlying importance of the representation elements. The 3D importance map is then adjusted for different target quality levels using importance adjustment curves. The adjusted 3D importance map is finally converted into a 3D binary mask to determine the essential representation elements for compression. The proposed method can be easily integrated with the existing compression models with a negligible amount of overhead increase. Our method can also enable continuously variable-rate compression via simple interpolation of the importance adjustment curves among different quality levels. The extensive experimental results show that the proposed method can achieve comparable compression efficiency as those of the separately trained reference compression models and can reduce decoding time owing to the selective compression.

Divide and Contrast: Source-free Domain Adaptation via Adaptive Contrastive Learning

Ziyi Zhang · Weikai Chen · Hui Cheng · Zhen Li · Siyuan Li · Liang Lin · Guanbin Li

We investigate a practical domain adaptation task, called source-free domain adaptation (SFUDA), where the source pretrained model is adapted to the target domain without access to the source data. Existing techniques mainly leverage self-supervised pseudo-labeling to achieve class-wise global alignment [1] or rely on local structure extraction that encourages the feature consistency among neighborhoods [2]. While impressive progress has been made, both lines of methods have their own drawbacks – the “global” approach is sensitive to noisy labels while the “local” counterpart suffers from the source bias. In this paper, we present Divide and Contrast (DaC), a new paradigm for SFUDA that strives to connect the good ends of both worlds while bypassing their limitations. Based on the prediction confidence of the source model, DaC divides the target data into source-like and target-specific samples, where either group of samples is treated with tailored goals under an adaptive contrastive learning framework. Specifically, the source-like samples are utilized for learning global class clustering thanks to their relatively clean labels. The more noisy target-specific data are harnessed at the instance level for learning the intrinsic local structures. We further align the source-like domain with the target-specific samples using a memory bank-based Maximum Mean Discrepancy (MMD) loss to reduce the distribution mismatch. Extensive experiments on VisDA, Office-Home, and the more challenging DomainNet have verified the superior performance of DaC over current state-of-the-art approaches. The code is available at

CascadeXML: Rethinking Transformers for End-to-end Multi-resolution Training in Extreme Multi-label Classification

Siddhant Kharbanda · Atmadeep Banerjee · Erik Schultheis · Rohit Babbar

Extreme Multi-label Text Classification (XMC) involves learning a classifier that can assign an input with a subset of most relevant labels from millions of label choices. Recent approaches, such as XR-Transformer and LightXML, leverage a transformer instance to achieve state-of-the-art performance. However, in this process, these approaches need to make various trade-offs between performance and computational requirements. A major shortcoming, as compared to the Bi-LSTM based AttentionXML, is that they fail to keep separate feature representations for each resolution in a label tree. We thus propose CascadeXML, an end-to-end multi-resolution learning pipeline, which can harness the multi-layered architecture of a transformer model for attending to different label resolutions with separate feature representations. CascadeXML significantly outperforms all existing approaches with non-trivial gains obtained on benchmark datasets consisting of up to three million labels. Code for CascadeXML will be made publicly available at

Few-Shot Non-Parametric Learning with Deep Latent Variable Model

Zhiying Jiang · Yiqin Dai · Ji Xin · Ming Li · Jimmy Lin

Most real-world problems that machine learning algorithms are expected to solve face the situation with (1) unknown data distribution; (2) little domain-specific knowledge; and (3) datasets with limited annotation. We propose Non-Parametric learning by Compression with Latent Variables (NPC-LV), a learning framework for any dataset with abundant unlabeled data but very few labeled ones. By only training a generative model in an unsupervised way, the framework utilizes the data distribution to build a compressor. Using a compressor-based distance metric derived from Kolmogorov complexity, together with few labeled data, NPC-LV classifies without further training. We show that NPC-LV outperforms supervised methods on all three datasets on image classification in the low data regime and even outperforms semi-supervised learning methods on CIFAR-10. We demonstrate how and when negative evidence lowerbound (nELBO) can be used as an approximate compressed length for classification. By revealing the correlation between compression rate and classification accuracy, we illustrate that under NPC-LV how the improvement of generative models can enhance downstream classification accuracy.

Revisiting Heterophily For Graph Neural Networks

Sitao Luan · Chenqing Hua · Qincheng Lu · Jiaqi Zhu · Mingde Zhao · Shuyuan Zhang · Xiao-Wen Chang · Doina Precup

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) extend basic Neural Networks (NNs) by using graph structures based on the relational inductive bias (homophily assumption). While GNNs have been commonly believed to outperform NNs in real-world tasks, recent work has identified a non-trivial set of datasets where their performance compared to NNs is not satisfactory. Heterophily has been considered the main cause of this empirical observation and numerous works have been put forward to address it. In this paper, we first revisit the widely used homophily metrics and point out that their consideration of only graph-label consistency is a shortcoming. Then, we study heterophily from the perspective of post-aggregation node similarity and define new homophily metrics, which are potentially advantageous compared to existing ones. Based on this investigation, we prove that some harmful cases of heterophily can be effectively addressed by local diversification operation. Then, we propose the Adaptive Channel Mixing (ACM), a framework to adaptively exploit aggregation, diversification and identity channels to extract richer localized information in each baseline GNN layer. ACM is more powerful than the commonly used uni-channel framework for node classification tasks on heterophilic graphs. When evaluated on 10 benchmark node classification tasks, ACM-augmented baselines consistently achieve significant performance gain, exceeding state-of-the-art GNNs on most tasks without incurring significant computational burden. (Code:

Distributionally robust weighted k-nearest neighbors

Shixiang Zhu · Liyan Xie · Minghe Zhang · Rui Gao · Yao Xie

Learning a robust classifier from a few samples remains a key challenge in machine learning. A major thrust of research has been focused on developing k-nearest neighbor (k-NN) based algorithms combined with metric learning that captures similarities between samples. When the samples are limited, robustness is especially crucial to ensure the generalization capability of the classifier. In this paper, we study a minimax distributionally robust formulation of weighted k-nearest neighbors, which aims to find the optimal weighted k-NN classifiers that hedge against feature uncertainties. We develop an algorithm, Dr.k-NN, that efficiently solves this functional optimization problem and features in assigning minimax optimal weights to training samples when performing classification. These weights are class-dependent, and are determined by the similarities of sample features under the least favorable scenarios. When the size of the uncertainty set is properly tuned, the robust classifier has a smaller Lipschitz norm than the vanilla k-NN, and thus improves the generalization capability. We also couple our framework with neural-network-based feature embedding. We demonstrate the competitive performance of our algorithm compared to the state-of-the-art in the few-training-sample setting with various real-data experiments.

ZeroQuant: Efficient and Affordable Post-Training Quantization for Large-Scale Transformers

Zhewei Yao · Reza Yazdani Aminabadi · Minjia Zhang · Xiaoxia Wu · Conglong Li · Yuxiong He

How to efficiently serve ever-larger trained natural language models in practice has become exceptionally challenging even for powerful cloud servers due to their prohibitive memory/computation requirements.In this work, we present an efficient and affordable post-training quantization approach to compress large Transformer-based models, termed as \OURS. \OURS is an end-to-end quantization and inference pipeline with three main components: (1) a fine-grained hardware-friendly quantization scheme for both weight and activations; (2) a novel affordable layer-by-layer knowledge distillation algorithm (\lwd) even without the original training data access;(3) a highly-optimized quantization system backend support to remove the quantization/dequantization overhead.As such, we are able to show that:(1) \OURS can reduce the precision for weight and activations to INT8 in a cost-free way for both \bert and \gpt-style models with minimal accuracy impact, which leads to up to 5.19x/4.16x speedup on \bert/\gpt-style models compared to FP16 inference, separately;(2) \OURS plus \lwd can affordably quantize the weights in the fully-connected module to INT4 along with INT8 weights in the attention module and INT8 activations, resulting in 3x memory footprint reduction compared to the FP16 model;(3) \OURS can be directly applied to two of the largest open-sourced language models, including \gptneox, for which our INT8 model achieves similar accuracy as the FP16 model but achieves 5.2x better efficiency.Our code is open-sourced at~\cite{code_compression}.

SeqPATE: Differentially Private Text Generation via Knowledge Distillation

Zhiliang Tian · Yingxiu Zhao · Ziyue Huang · Yu-Xiang Wang · Nevin L. Zhang · He He

Protecting the privacy of user data is crucial for text generation models, which can leak sensitive information during generation. Differentially private (DP) learning methods provide guarantees against identifying the existence of a training sample from model outputs. PATE is a recent DP learning algorithm that achieves high utility with strong privacy protection on training samples. However, text generation models output tokens sequentially in a large output space; the classic PATE algorithm is not customized for this setting. Furthermore, PATE works well to protect sample-level privacy, but is not designed to protect phrases in samples. In this paper, we propose SeqPATE, an extension of PATE to text generation that protects the privacy of individual training samples and sensitive phrases in training data. To adapt PATE to text generation, we generate pseudo-contexts and reduce the sequence generation problem to a next-word prediction problem. To handle the large output space, we propose a candidate filtering strategy to dynamically reduce the output space, and refine the teacher aggregation of PATE to avoid low agreement due to voting for a large number of candidates. To further reduce privacy losses, we use knowledge distillation to reduce the number of teacher queries. The experiments verify the effectiveness of SeqPATE in protecting both training samples and sensitive phrases.

Inductive Logical Query Answering in Knowledge Graphs

Michael Galkin · Zhaocheng Zhu · Hongyu Ren · Jian Tang

Formulating and answering logical queries is a standard communication interface for knowledge graphs (KGs). Alleviating the notorious incompleteness of real-world KGs, neural methods achieved impressive results in link prediction and complex query answering tasks by learning representations of entities, relations, and queries. Still, most existing query answering methods rely on transductive entity embeddings and cannot generalize to KGs containing new entities without retraining entity embeddings. In this work, we study the inductive query answering task where inference is performed on a graph containing new entities with queries over both seen and unseen entities. To this end, we devise two mechanisms leveraging inductive node and relational structure representations powered by graph neural networks (GNNs).Experimentally, we show that inductive models are able to perform logical reasoning at inference time over unseen nodes generalizing to graphs up to 500% larger than training ones. Exploring the efficiency--effectiveness trade-off, we find the inductive relational structure representation method generally achieves higher performance, while the inductive node representation method is able to answer complex queries in the inference-only regime without any training on queries and scale to graphs of millions of nodes. Code is available at

Remember the Past: Distilling Datasets into Addressable Memories for Neural Networks

Zhiwei Deng · Olga Russakovsky

We propose an algorithm that compresses the critical information of a large dataset into compact addressable memories. These memories can then be recalled to quickly re-train a neural network and recover the performance (instead of storing and re-training on the full original dataset). Building upon the dataset distillation framework, we make a key observation that a shared common representation allows for more efficient and effective distillation. Concretely, we learn a set of bases (aka ``memories'') which are shared between classes and combined through learned flexible addressing functions to generate a diverse set of training examples. This leads to several benefits: 1) the size of compressed data does not necessarily grow linearly with the number of classes; 2) an overall higher compression rate with more effective distillation is achieved; and 3) more generalized queries are allowed beyond recalling the original classes. We demonstrate state-of-the-art results on the dataset distillation task across five benchmarks, including up to 16.5% and 9.7% accuracy improvement when distilling CIFAR10 and CIFAR100 respectively. We then leverage our framework to perform continual learning, achieving state-of-the-art results on four benchmarks, with 23.2% accuracy improvement on MANY.

K-LITE: Learning Transferable Visual Models with External Knowledge

Sheng Shen · Chunyuan Li · Xiaowei Hu · Yujia Xie · Jianwei Yang · Pengchuan Zhang · Zhe Gan · Lijuan Wang · Lu Yuan · Ce Liu · Kurt Keutzer · Trevor Darrell · Anna Rohrbach · Jianfeng Gao

The new generation of state-of-the-art computer vision systems are trained from natural language supervision, ranging from simple object category names to descriptive captions. This form of supervision ensures high generality and usability of the learned visual models, based on the broad concept coverage achieved through large-scale data collection process. Alternatively, we argue that learning with external knowledge about images is a promising way which leverages a much more structured source of supervision and offers sample efficiency. In this paper, we propose K-LITE (Knowledge-augmented Language-Image Training and Evaluation), a simple strategy to leverage external knowledge for building transferable visual systems: In training, it enriches entities in natural language with WordNet and Wiktionary knowledge, leading to an efficient and scalable approach to learning image representations that uses knowledge about the visual concepts; In evaluation, the natural language is also augmented with external knowledge and then used to reference learned visual concepts (or describe new ones) to enable zero-shot and few-shot transfer of the pre-trained models. We study the performance of K-LITE on two important computer vision problems, image classification and object detection, benchmarking on 20 and 13 different existing datasets, respectively. The proposed knowledge-augmented models show significant improvement in transfer learning performance over existing methods. Our code is released at

Diffusion Visual Counterfactual Explanations

Maximilian Augustin · Valentyn Boreiko · Francesco Croce · Matthias Hein

Visual Counterfactual Explanations (VCEs) are an important tool to understand the decisions of an image classifier. They are “small” but “realistic” semantic changes of the image changing the classifier decision. Current approaches for the generation of VCEs are restricted to adversarially robust models and often contain non-realistic artefacts, or are limited to image classification problems with few classes. In this paper, we overcome this by generating Diffusion Visual Counterfactual Explanations (DVCEs) for arbitrary ImageNet classifiers via a diffusion process. Two modifications to the diffusion process are key for our DVCEs: first, an adaptive parameterization, whose hyperparameters generalize across images and models, together with distance regularization and late start of the diffusion process, allow us to generate images with minimal semantic changes to the original ones but different classification. Second, our cone regularization via an adversarially robust model ensures that the diffusion process does not converge to trivial non-semantic changes, but instead produces realistic images of the target class which achieve high confidence by the classifier.

Graph Neural Networks are Dynamic Programmers

Andrew J Dudzik · Petar Veličković

Recent advances in neural algorithmic reasoning with graph neural networks (GNNs) are propped up by the notion of algorithmic alignment. Broadly, a neural network will be better at learning to execute a reasoning task (in terms of sample complexity) if its individual components align well with the target algorithm. Specifically, GNNs are claimed to align with dynamic programming (DP), a general problem-solving strategy which expresses many polynomial-time algorithms. However, has this alignment truly been demonstrated and theoretically quantified? Here we show, using methods from category theory and abstract algebra, that there exists an intricate connection between GNNs and DP, going well beyond the initial observations over individual algorithms such as Bellman-Ford. Exposing this connection, we easily verify several prior findings in the literature, produce better-grounded GNN architectures for edge-centric tasks, and demonstrate empirical results on the CLRS algorithmic reasoning benchmark. We hope our exposition will serve as a foundation for building stronger algorithmically aligned GNNs.

Assistive Teaching of Motor Control Tasks to Humans

Megha Srivastava · Erdem Biyik · Suvir Mirchandani · Noah Goodman · Dorsa Sadigh

Recent works on shared autonomy and assistive-AI technologies, such as assistive robotic teleoperation, seek to model and help human users with limited ability in a fixed task. However, these approaches often fail to account for humans' ability to adapt and eventually learn how to execute a control task themselves. Furthermore, in applications where it may be desirable for a human to intervene, these methods may have inhibited their ability to learn how to succeed with full self-control. In this paper, we focus on the problem of assistive teaching of motor control tasks such as parking a car or landing an aircraft. Despite their ubiquitous role in humans' daily activities and occupations, motor tasks are rarely taught in a uniform way due to their high complexity and variance. We propose an AI-assisted teaching algorithm that leverages skill discovery methods from reinforcement learning (RL) literature to (i) break down any motor control task into teachable skills, (ii) construct novel drill sequences, and (iii) individualize curricula to students with different capabilities. Through an extensive mix of synthetic and user studies on two motor control tasks - parking a car with a joystick and writing characters from the Balinese alphabet - we show that assisted teaching with skills improve student performance by around 40% compared to practicing full trajectories without skills, and practicing with individualized drills can result in up to 25% further improvement.

Concept Embedding Models: Beyond the Accuracy-Explainability Trade-Off

Mateo Espinosa Zarlenga · Pietro Barbiero · Gabriele Ciravegna · Giuseppe Marra · Francesco Giannini · Michelangelo Diligenti · Zohreh Shams · Frederic Precioso · Stefano Melacci · Adrian Weller · Pietro Lió · Mateja Jamnik

Deploying AI-powered systems requires trustworthy models supporting effective human interactions, going beyond raw prediction accuracy. Concept bottleneck models promote trustworthiness by conditioning classification tasks on an intermediate level of human-like concepts. This enables human interventions which can correct mispredicted concepts to improve the model's performance. However, existing concept bottleneck models are unable to find optimal compromises between high task accuracy, robust concept-based explanations, and effective interventions on concepts---particularly in real-world conditions where complete and accurate concept supervisions are scarce. To address this, we propose Concept Embedding Models, a novel family of concept bottleneck models which goes beyond the current accuracy-vs-interpretability trade-off by learning interpretable high-dimensional concept representations. Our experiments demonstrate that Concept Embedding Models (1) attain better or competitive task accuracy w.r.t. standard neural models without concepts, (2) provide concept representations capturing meaningful semantics including and beyond their ground truth labels, (3) support test-time concept interventions whose effect in test accuracy surpasses that in standard concept bottleneck models, and (4) scale to real-world conditions where complete concept supervisions are scarce.

Black-box coreset variational inference

Dionysis Manousakas · Hippolyt Ritter · Theofanis Karaletsos

Recent advances in coreset methods have shown that a selection of representative datapoints can replace massive volumes of data for Bayesian inference, preserving the relevant statistical information and significantly accelerating subsequent downstream tasks. Existing variational coreset constructions rely on either selecting subsets of the observed datapoints, or jointly performing approximate inference and optimizing pseudodata in the observed space akin to inducing points methods in Gaussian Processes. So far, both approaches are limited by complexities in evaluating their objectives for general purpose models, and require generating samples from a typically intractable posterior over the coreset throughout inference and testing. In this work, we present a black-box variational inference framework for coresets that overcomes these constraints and enables principled application of variational coresets to intractable models, such as Bayesian neural networks. We apply our techniques to supervised learning problems, and compare them with existing approaches in the literature for data summarization and inference.

Supervising the Multi-Fidelity Race of Hyperparameter Configurations

Martin Wistuba · Arlind Kadra · Josif Grabocka

Multi-fidelity (gray-box) hyperparameter optimization techniques (HPO) have recently emerged as a promising direction for tuning Deep Learning methods. However, existing methods suffer from a sub-optimal allocation of the HPO budget to the hyperparameter configurations. In this work, we introduce DyHPO, a Bayesian Optimization method that learns to decide which hyperparameter configuration to train further in a dynamic race among all feasible configurations. We propose a new deep kernel for Gaussian Processes that embeds the learning curve dynamics, and an acquisition function that incorporates multi-budget information. We demonstrate the significant superiority of DyHPO against state-of-the-art hyperparameter optimization methods through large-scale experiments comprising 50 datasets (Tabular, Image, NLP) and diverse architectures (MLP, CNN/NAS, RNN).

Distributional Reward Estimation for Effective Multi-agent Deep Reinforcement Learning

Jifeng Hu · Yanchao Sun · Hechang Chen · Sili Huang · haiyin piao · Yi Chang · Lichao Sun

Multi-agent reinforcement learning has drawn increasing attention in practice, e.g., robotics and automatic driving, as it can explore optimal policies using samples generated by interacting with the environment. However, high reward uncertainty still remains a problem when we want to train a satisfactory model, because obtaining high-quality reward feedback is usually expensive and even infeasible. To handle this issue, previous methods mainly focus on passive reward correction. At the same time, recent active reward estimation methods have proven to be a recipe for reducing the effect of reward uncertainty. In this paper, we propose a novel Distributional Reward Estimation framework for effective Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning (DRE-MARL). Our main idea is to design the multi-action-branch reward estimation and policy-weighted reward aggregation for stabilized training. Specifically, we design the multi-action-branch reward estimation to model reward distributions on all action branches. Then we utilize reward aggregation to obtain stable updating signals during training. Our intuition is that consideration of all possible consequences of actions could be useful for learning policies. The superiority of the DRE-MARL is demonstrated using benchmark multi-agent scenarios, compared with the SOTA baselines in terms of both effectiveness and robustness.

Amortized Projection Optimization for Sliced Wasserstein Generative Models

Khai Nguyen · Nhat Ho

Seeking informative projecting directions has been an important task in utilizing sliced Wasserstein distance in applications. However, finding these directions usually requires an iterative optimization procedure over the space of projecting directions, which is computationally expensive. Moreover, the computational issue is even more severe in deep learning applications, where computing the distance between two mini-batch probability measures is repeated several times. This nested-loop has been one of the main challenges that prevent the usage of sliced Wasserstein distances based on good projections in practice. To address this challenge, we propose to utilize the \textit{learning-to-optimize} technique or \textit{amortized optimization} to predict the informative direction of any given two mini-batch probability measures. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that bridges amortized optimization and sliced Wasserstein generative models. In particular, we derive linear amortized models, generalized linear amortized models, and non-linear amortized models which are corresponding to three types of novel mini-batch losses, named \emph{amortized sliced Wasserstein}. We demonstrate the favorable performance of the proposed sliced losses in deep generative modeling on standard benchmark datasets.

CoNSoLe: Convex Neural Symbolic Learning

Haoran Li · Yang Weng · Hanghang Tong

Learning the underlying equation from data is a fundamental problem in many disciplines. Recent advances rely on Neural Networks (NNs) but do not provide theoretical guarantees in obtaining the exact equations owing to the non-convexity of NNs. In this paper, we propose Convex Neural Symbolic Learning (CoNSoLe) to seek convexity under mild conditions. The main idea is to decompose the recovering process into two steps and convexify each step. In the first step of searching for right symbols, we convexify the deep Q-learning. The key is to maintain double convexity for both the negative Q-function and the negative reward function in each iteration, leading to provable convexity of the negative optimal Q function to learn the true symbol connections. Conditioned on the exact searching result, we construct a Locally Convex equation Learning (LoCaL) neural network to convexify the estimation of symbol coefficients. With such a design, we quantify a large region with strict convexity in the loss surface of LoCaL for commonly used physical functions. Finally, we demonstrate the superior performance of the CoNSoLe framework over the state-of-the-art on a diverse set of datasets.

Sketch-GNN: Scalable Graph Neural Networks with Sublinear Training Complexity

Mucong Ding · Tahseen Rabbani · Bang An · Evan Wang · Furong Huang

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are widely applied to graph learning problems such as node classification. When scaling up the underlying graphs of GNNs to a larger size, we are forced to either train on the complete graph and keep the full graph adjacency and node embeddings in memory (which is often infeasible) or mini-batch sample the graph (which results in exponentially growing computational complexities with respect to the number of GNN layers). Various sampling-based and historical-embedding-based methods are proposed to avoid this exponential growth of complexities. However, none of these solutions eliminates the linear dependence on graph size. This paper proposes a sketch-based algorithm whose training time and memory grow sublinearly with respect to graph size by training GNNs atop a few compact sketches of graph adjacency and node embeddings. Based on polynomial tensor-sketch (PTS) theory, our framework provides a novel protocol for sketching non-linear activations and graph convolution matrices in GNNs, as opposed to existing methods that sketch linear weights or gradients in neural networks. In addition, we develop a locality-sensitive hashing (LSH) technique that can be trained to improve the quality of sketches. Experiments on large-graph benchmarks demonstrate the scalability and competitive performance of our Sketch-GNNs versus their full-size GNN counterparts.

WaveBound: Dynamic Error Bounds for Stable Time Series Forecasting

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

Time series forecasting has become a critical task due to its high practicality in real-world applications such as traffic, energy consumption, economics and finance, and disease analysis. Recent deep-learning-based approaches have shown remarkable success in time series forecasting. Nonetheless, due to the dynamics of time series data, deep networks still suffer from unstable training and overfitting. Inconsistent patterns appearing in real-world data lead the model to be biased to a particular pattern, thus limiting the generalization. In this work, we introduce the dynamic error bounds on training loss to address the overfitting issue in time series forecasting. Consequently, we propose a regularization method called WaveBound which estimates the adequate error bounds of training loss for each time step and feature at each iteration. By allowing the model to focus less on unpredictable data, WaveBound stabilizes the training process, thus significantly improving generalization. With the extensive experiments, we show that WaveBound consistently improves upon the existing models in large margins, including the state-of-the-art model.

Hierarchical Channel-spatial Encoding for Communication-efficient Collaborative Learning

Qihua ZHOU · Song Guo · YI LIU · Jie ZHANG · Jiewei Zhang · Tao GUO · Zhenda XU · Xun Liu · Zhihao Qu

It witnesses that the collaborative learning (CL) systems often face the performance bottleneck of limited bandwidth, where multiple low-end devices continuously generate data and transmit intermediate features to the cloud for incremental training. To this end, improving the communication efficiency by reducing traffic size is one of the most crucial issues for realistic deployment. Existing systems mostly compress features at pixel level and ignore the characteristics of feature structure, which could be further exploited for more efficient compression. In this paper, we take new insights into implementing scalable CL systems through a hierarchical compression on features, termed Stripe-wise Group Quantization (SGQ). Different from previous unstructured quantization methods, SGQ captures both channel and spatial similarity in pixels, and simultaneously encodes features in these two levels to gain a much higher compression ratio. In particular, we refactor feature structure based on inter-channel similarity and bound the gradient deviation caused by quantization, in forward and backward passes, respectively. Such a double-stage pipeline makes SGQ hold a sublinear convergence order as the vanilla SGD-based optimization. Extensive experiments show that SGQ achieves a higher traffic reduction ratio by up to 15.97 times and provides 9.22 times image processing speedup over the uniform quantized training, while preserving adequate model accuracy as FP32 does, even using 4-bit quantization. This verifies that SGQ can be applied to a wide spectrum of edge intelligence applications.

Spatial Pruned Sparse Convolution for Efficient 3D Object Detection

Jianhui Liu · Yukang Chen · Xiaoqing Ye · Zhuotao Tian · Xiao Tan · Xiaojuan Qi

3D scenes are dominated by a large number of background points, which is redundant for the detection task that mainly needs to focus on foreground objects. In this paper, we analyze major components of existing sparse 3D CNNs and find that 3D CNNs ignores the redundancy of data and further amplifies it in the down-sampling process, which brings a huge amount of extra and unnecessary computational overhead. Inspired by this, we propose a new convolution operator named spatial pruned sparse convolution (SPS-Conv), which includes two variants, spatial pruned submanifold sparse convolution (SPSS-Conv) and spatial pruned regular sparse convolution (SPRS-Conv), both of which are based on the idea of dynamically determine crucial areas for performing computations to reduce redundancy. We empirically find that magnitude of features can serve as an important cues to determine crucial areas which get rid of the heavy computations of learning-based methods. The proposed modules can easily be incorporated into existing sparse 3D CNNs without extra architectural modifications. Extensive experiments on the KITTI and nuScenes datasets demonstrate that our method can achieve more than 50% reduction in GFLOPs without compromising the performance.

LASSIE: Learning Articulated Shapes from Sparse Image Ensemble via 3D Part Discovery

Chun-Han Yao · Wei-Chih Hung · Yuanzhen Li · Michael Rubinstein · Ming-Hsuan Yang · Varun Jampani

Creating high-quality articulated 3D models of animals is challenging either via manual creation or using 3D scanning tools. Therefore, techniques to reconstruct articulated 3D objects from 2D images are crucial and highly useful. In this work, we propose a practical problem setting to estimate 3D pose and shape of animals given only a few (10-30) in-the-wild images of a particular animal species (say, horse). Contrary to existing works that rely on pre-defined template shapes, we do not assume any form of 2D or 3D ground-truth annotations, nor do we leverage any multi-view or temporal information. Moreover, each input image ensemble can contain animal instances with varying poses, backgrounds, illuminations, and textures. Our key insight is that 3D parts have much simpler shape compared to the overall animal and that they are robust w.r.t. animal pose articulations. Following these insights, we propose LASSIE, a novel optimization framework which discovers 3D parts in a self-supervised manner with minimal user intervention. A key driving force behind LASSIE is the enforcing of 2D-3D part consistency using self-supervisory deep features. Experiments on Pascal-Part and self-collected in-the-wild animal datasets demonstrate considerably better 3D reconstructions as well as both 2D and 3D part discovery compared to prior arts. Project page:

Self-Supervised Learning of Brain Dynamics from Broad Neuroimaging Data

Armin Thomas · Christopher Ré · Russell Poldrack

Self-supervised learning techniques are celebrating immense success in natural language processing (NLP) by enabling models to learn from broad language data at unprecedented scales. Here, we aim to leverage the success of these techniques for mental state decoding, where researchers aim to identify specific mental states (e.g., the experience of anger or joy) from brain activity. To this end, we devise a set of novel self-supervised learning frameworks for neuroimaging data inspired by prominent learning frameworks in NLP. At their core, these frameworks learn the dynamics of brain activity by modeling sequences of activity akin to how sequences of text are modeled in NLP. We evaluate the frameworks by pre-training models on a broad neuroimaging dataset spanning functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging data from 11,980 experimental runs of 1,726 individuals across 34 datasets, and subsequently adapting the pre-trained models to benchmark mental state decoding datasets. The pre-trained models transfer well, generally outperforming baseline models trained from scratch, while models trained in a learning framework based on causal language modeling clearly outperform the others.

Motion Transformer with Global Intention Localization and Local Movement Refinement

Shaoshuai Shi · Li Jiang · Dengxin Dai · Bernt Schiele

Predicting multimodal future behavior of traffic participants is essential for robotic vehicles to make safe decisions. Existing works explore to directly predict future trajectories based on latent features or utilize dense goal candidates to identify agent's destinations, where the former strategy converges slowly since all motion modes are derived from the same feature while the latter strategy has efficiency issue since its performance highly relies on the density of goal candidates. In this paper, we propose the Motion TRansformer (MTR) framework that models motion prediction as the joint optimization of global intention localization and local movement refinement. Instead of using goal candidates, MTR incorporates spatial intention priors by adopting a small set of learnable motion query pairs. Each motion query pair takes charge of trajectory prediction and refinement for a specific motion mode, which stabilizes the training process and facilitates better multimodal predictions. Experiments show that MTR achieves state-of-the-art performance on both the marginal and joint motion prediction challenges, ranking 1st on the leaderbaords of Waymo Open Motion Dataset. Code will be available at

Untargeted Backdoor Watermark: Towards Harmless and Stealthy Dataset Copyright Protection

Yiming Li · Yang Bai · Yong Jiang · Yong Yang · Shu-Tao Xia · Bo Li

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have demonstrated their superiority in practice. Arguably, the rapid development of DNNs is largely benefited from high-quality (open-sourced) datasets, based on which researchers and developers can easily evaluate and improve their learning methods. Since the data collection is usually time-consuming or even expensive, how to protect their copyrights is of great significance and worth further exploration. In this paper, we revisit dataset ownership verification. We find that existing verification methods introduced new security risks in DNNs trained on the protected dataset, due to the targeted nature of poison-only backdoor watermarks. To alleviate this problem, in this work, we explore the untargeted backdoor watermarking scheme, where the abnormal model behaviors are not deterministic. Specifically, we introduce two dispersibilities and prove their correlation, based on which we design the untargeted backdoor watermark under both poisoned-label and clean-label settings. We also discuss how to use the proposed untargeted backdoor watermark for dataset ownership verification. Experiments on benchmark datasets verify the effectiveness of our methods and their resistance to existing backdoor defenses.

SemMAE: Semantic-Guided Masking for Learning Masked Autoencoders

Gang Li · Heliang Zheng · Daqing Liu · Chaoyue Wang · Bing Su · Changwen Zheng

Recently, significant progress has been made in masked image modeling to catch up to masked language modeling. However, unlike words in NLP, the lack of semantic decomposition of images still makes masked autoencoding (MAE) different between vision and language. In this paper, we explore a potential visual analogue of words, i.e., semantic parts, and we integrate semantic information into the training process of MAE by proposing a Semantic-Guided Masking strategy. Compared to widely adopted random masking, our masking strategy can gradually guide the network to learn various information, i.e., from intra-part patterns to inter-part relations. In particular, we achieve this in two steps. 1) Semantic part learning: we design a self-supervised part learning method to obtain semantic parts by leveraging and refining the multi-head attention of a ViT-based encoder. 2) Semantic-guided MAE (SemMAE) training: we design a masking strategy that varies from masking a portion of patches in each part to masking a portion of (whole) parts in an image. Extensive experiments on various vision tasks show that SemMAE can learn better image representation by integrating semantic information. In particular, SemMAE achieves 84.5% fine-tuning accuracy on ImageNet-1k, which outperforms the vanilla MAE by 1.4%. In the semantic segmentation and fine-grained recognition tasks, SemMAE also brings significant improvements and yields the state-of-the-art performance.

Improving Multi-Task Generalization via Regularizing Spurious Correlation

Ziniu Hu · Zhe Zhao · Xinyang Yi · Tiansheng Yao · Lichan Hong · Yizhou Sun · Ed Chi

Multi-Task Learning (MTL) is a powerful learning paradigm to improve generalization performance via knowledge sharing. However, existing studies find that MTL could sometimes hurt generalization, especially when two tasks are less correlated. One possible reason that hurts generalization is spurious correlation, i.e., some knowledge is spurious and not causally related to task labels, but the model could mistakenly utilize them and thus fail when such correlation changes. In MTL setup, there exist several unique challenges of spurious correlation. First, the risk of having non-causal knowledge is higher, as the shared MTL model needs to encode all knowledge from different tasks, and causal knowledge for one task could be potentially spurious to the other. Second, the confounder between task labels brings in a different type of spurious correlation to MTL. Given such label-label confounders, we theoretically and empirically show that MTL is prone to taking non-causal knowledge from other tasks. To solve this problem, we propose Multi-Task Causal Representation Learning (MT-CRL) framework. MT-CRL aims to represent multi-task knowledge via disentangled neural modules, and learn which module is causally related to each task via MTL-specific invariant regularization. Experiments show that MT-CRL could enhance MTL model's performance by 5.5% on average over Multi-MNIST, MovieLens, Taskonomy, CityScape, and NYUv2, and show it could indeed alleviate spurious correlation problem.

Label-Aware Global Consistency for Multi-Label Learning with Single Positive Labels

Ming-Kun Xie · Jiahao Xiao · Sheng-Jun Huang

In single positive multi-label learning (SPML), only one of multiple positive labels is observed for each instance. The previous work trains the model by simply treating unobserved labels as negative ones, and designs the regularization to constrain the number of expected positive labels. However, in many real-world scenarios, the true number of positive labels is unavailable, making such methods less applicable. In this paper, we propose to solve SPML problems by designing a Label-Aware global Consistency (LAC) regularization, which leverages the manifold structure information to enhance the recovery of potential positive labels. On one hand, we first perform pseudo-labeling for each unobserved label based on its prediction probability. The consistency regularization is then imposed on model outputs to balance the fitting of identified labels and exploring of potential positive labels. On the other hand, by enforcing label-wise embeddings to maintain global consistency, LAC loss encourages the model to learn more distinctive representations, which is beneficial for recovering the information of potential positive labels. Experiments on multiple benchmark datasets validate that the proposed method can achieve state-of-the-art performance for solving SPML tasks.

One Model to Edit Them All: Free-Form Text-Driven Image Manipulation with Semantic Modulations

Yiming Zhu · Hongyu Liu · Yibing Song · Ziyang Yuan · Xintong Han · Chun Yuan · Qifeng Chen · Jue Wang

Free-form text prompts allow users to describe their intentions during image manipulation conveniently. Based on the visual latent space of StyleGAN[21] and text embedding space of CLIP[34], studies focus on how to map these two latent spaces for text-driven attribute manipulations. Currently, the latent mapping between these two spaces is empirically designed and confines that each manipulation model can only handle one fixed text prompt. In this paper, we propose a method named Free-Form CLIP (FFCLIP), aiming to establish an automatic latent mapping so that one manipulation model handles free-form text prompts. Our FFCLIP has a cross-modality semantic modulation module containing semantic alignment and injection. The semantic alignment performs the automatic latent mapping via linear transformations with a cross attention mechanism. After alignment, we inject semantics from text prompt embeddings to the StyleGAN latent space. For one type of image (e.g., human portrait'), one FFCLIP model can be learned to handle free-form text prompts. Meanwhile, we observe that although each training text prompt only contains a single semantic meaning, FFCLIP can leverage text prompts with multiple semantic meanings for image manipulation. In the experiments, we evaluate FFCLIP on three types of images (i.e.,human portraits', cars', andchurches'). Both visual and numerical results show that FFCLIP effectively produces semantically accurate and visually realistic images. Project page:

Latency-aware Spatial-wise Dynamic Networks

Yizeng Han · Zhihang Yuan · Yifan Pu · Chenhao Xue · Shiji Song · Guangyu Sun · Gao Huang

Spatial-wise dynamic convolution has become a promising approach to improving the inference efficiency of deep networks. By allocating more computation to the most informative pixels, such an adaptive inference paradigm reduces the spatial redundancy in image features and saves a considerable amount of unnecessary computation. However, the theoretical efficiency achieved by previous methods can hardly translate into a realistic speedup, especially on the multi-core processors (e.g. GPUs). The key challenge is that the existing literature has only focused on designing algorithms with minimal computation, ignoring the fact that the practical latency can also be influenced by scheduling strategies and hardware properties. To bridge the gap between theoretical computation and practical efficiency, we propose a latency-aware spatial-wise dynamic network (LASNet), which performs coarse-grained spatially adaptive inference under the guidance of a novel latency prediction model. The latency prediction model can efficiently estimate the inference latency of dynamic networks by simultaneously considering algorithms, scheduling strategies, and hardware properties. We use the latency predictor to guide both the algorithm design and the scheduling optimization on various hardware platforms. Experiments on image classification, object detection and instance segmentation demonstrate that the proposed framework significantly improves the practical inference efficiency of deep networks. For example, the average latency of a ResNet-101 on the ImageNet validation set could be reduced by 36% and 46% on a server GPU (Nvidia Tesla-V100) and an edge device (Nvidia Jetson TX2 GPU) respectively without sacrificing the accuracy. Code is available at

Why Do Artificially Generated Data Help Adversarial Robustness

Yue Xing · Qifan Song · Guang Cheng

In the adversarial training framework of \cite{carmon2019unlabeled,gowal2021improving}, people use generated/real unlabeled data with pseudolabels to improve adversarial robustness. We provide statistical insights to explain why the artificially generated data improve adversarial training. In particular, we study how the attack strength and the quality of the unlabeled data affect adversarial robustness in this framework. Our results show that with a high-quality unlabeled data generator, adversarial training can benefit greatly from this framework under large attack strength, while a poor generator can still help to some extent. To make adaptions concerning the quality of generated data, we propose an algorithm that performs online adjustment to the weight between the labeled real data and the generated data, aiming to optimize the adversarial risk. Numerical studies are conducted to verify our theories and show the effectiveness of the proposed algorithm.

Pre-activation Distributions Expose Backdoor Neurons

Runkai Zheng · Rongjun Tang · Jianze Li · Li Liu

Convolutional neural networks (CNN) can be manipulated to perform specific behaviors when encountering a particular trigger pattern without affecting the performance on normal samples, which is referred to as backdoor attack. The backdoor attack is usually achieved by injecting a small proportion of poisoned samples into the training set, through which the victim trains a model embedded with the designated backdoor. In this work, we demonstrate that backdoor neurons are exposed by their pre-activation distributions, where populations from benign data and poisoned data show significantly different moments. This property is shown to be attack-invariant and allows us to efficiently locate backdoor neurons. On this basis, we make several proper assumptions on the neuron activation distributions, and propose two backdoor neuron detection strategies based on (1) the differential entropy of the neurons, and (2) the Kullback-Leibler divergence between the benign sample distribution and a poisoned statistics based hypothetical distribution. Experimental results show that our proposed defense strategies are both efficient and effective against various backdoor attacks.

Recovering Private Text in Federated Learning of Language Models

Samyak Gupta · Yangsibo Huang · Zexuan Zhong · Tianyu Gao · Kai Li · Danqi Chen

Federated learning allows distributed users to collaboratively train a model while keeping each user’s data private. Recently, a growing body of work has demonstrated that an eavesdropping attacker can effectively recover image data from gradients transmitted during federated learning. However, little progress has been made in recovering text data. In this paper, we present a novel attack method FILM for federated learning of language models (LMs). For the first time, we show the feasibility of recovering text from large batch sizes of up to 128 sentences. Unlike image-recovery methods that are optimized to match gradients, we take a distinct approach that first identifies a set of words from gradients and then directly reconstructs sentences based on beam search and a prior-based reordering strategy. We conduct the FILM attack on several large-scale datasets and show that it can successfully reconstruct single sentences with high fidelity for large batch sizes and even multiple sentences if applied iteratively.We evaluate three defense methods: gradient pruning, DPSGD, and a simple approach to freeze word embeddings that we propose. We show that both gradient pruning and DPSGD lead to a significant drop in utility. However, if we fine-tune a public pre-trained LM on private text without updating word embeddings, it can effectively defend the attack with minimal data utility loss. Together, we hope that our results can encourage the community to rethink the privacy concerns of LM training and its standard practices in the future. Our code is publicly available at .

Zero-shot Transfer Learning within a Heterogeneous Graph via Knowledge Transfer Networks

Minji Yoon · John Palowitch · Dustin Zelle · Ziniu Hu · Ruslan Salakhutdinov · Bryan Perozzi

Data continuously emitted from industrial ecosystems such as social or e-commerce platforms are commonly represented as heterogeneous graphs (HG) composed of multiple node/edge types. State-of-the-art graph learning methods for HGs known as heterogeneous graph neural networks (HGNNs) are applied to learn deep context-informed node representations. However, many HG datasets from industrial applications suffer from label imbalance between node types. As there is no direct way to learn using labels rooted at different node types, HGNNs have been applied to only a few node types with abundant labels. We propose a zero-shot transfer learning module for HGNNs called a Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) that transfers knowledge from label-abundant node types to zero-labeled node types through rich relational information given in the HG. KTN is derived from the theoretical relationship, which we introduce in this work, between distinct feature extractors for each node type given in an HGNN model. KTN improves the performance of 6 different types of HGNN models by up to 960% for inference on zero-labeled node types and outperforms state-of-the-art transfer learning baselines by up to 73% across 18 different transfer learning tasks on HGs.

Towards Robust Blind Face Restoration with Codebook Lookup Transformer

Shangchen Zhou · Kelvin Chan · Chongyi Li · Chen Change Loy

Blind face restoration is a highly ill-posed problem that often requires auxiliary guidance to 1) improve the mapping from degraded inputs to desired outputs, or 2) complement high-quality details lost in the inputs. In this paper, we demonstrate that a learned discrete codebook prior in a small proxy space largely reduces the uncertainty and ambiguity of restoration mapping by casting \textit{blind face restoration} as a \textit{code prediction} task, while providing rich visual atoms for generating high-quality faces. Under this paradigm, we propose a Transformer-based prediction network, named \textit{CodeFormer}, to model the global composition and context of the low-quality faces for code prediction, enabling the discovery of natural faces that closely approximate the target faces even when the inputs are severely degraded. To enhance the adaptiveness for different degradation, we also propose a controllable feature transformation module that allows a flexible trade-off between fidelity and quality. Thanks to the expressive codebook prior and global modeling, \textit{CodeFormer} outperforms the state of the arts in both quality and fidelity, showing superior robustness to degradation. Extensive experimental results on synthetic and real-world datasets verify the effectiveness of our method.

S2P: State-conditioned Image Synthesis for Data Augmentation in Offline Reinforcement Learning

Daesol Cho · Dongseok Shim · H. Jin Kim

Offline reinforcement learning (Offline RL) suffers from the innate distributional shift as it cannot interact with the physical environment during training. To alleviate such limitation, state-based offline RL leverages a learned dynamics model from the logged experience and augments the predicted state transition to extend the data distribution. For exploiting such benefit also on the image-based RL, we firstly propose a generative model, S2P (State2Pixel), which synthesizes the raw pixel of the agent from its corresponding state. It enables bridging the gap between the state and the image domain in RL algorithms, and virtually exploring unseen image distribution via model-based transition in the state space. Through experiments, we confirm that our S2P-based image synthesis not only improves the image-based offline RL performance but also shows powerful generalization capability on unseen tasks.

NeurOLight: A Physics-Agnostic Neural Operator Enabling Parametric Photonic Device Simulation

Jiaqi Gu · Zhengqi Gao · Chenghao Feng · Hanqing Zhu · Ray Chen · Duane Boning · David Pan

Optical computing has become emerging technology in next-generation efficient artificial intelligence (AI) due to its ultra-high speed and efficiency. Electromagnetic field simulation is critical to the design, optimization, and validation of photonic devices and circuits.However, costly numerical simulation significantly hinders the scalability and turn-around time in the photonic circuit design loop. Recently, physics-informed neural networks were proposed to predict the optical field solution of a single instance of a partial differential equation (PDE) with predefined parameters. Their complicated PDE formulation and lack of efficient parametrization mechanism limit their flexibility and generalization in practical simulation scenarios. In this work, for the first time, a physics-agnostic neural operator-based framework, dubbed NeurOLight, is proposed to learn a family of frequency-domain Maxwell PDEs for ultra-fast parametric photonic device simulation. Specifically, we discretize different devices into a unified domain, represent parametric PDEs with a compact wave prior, and encode the incident light via masked source modeling. We design our model to have parameter-efficient cross-shaped NeurOLight blocks and adopt superposition-based augmentation for data-efficient learning. With those synergistic approaches, NeurOLight demonstrates 2-orders-of-magnitude faster simulation speed than numerical solvers and outperforms prior NN-based models by ~54% lower prediction error using ~44% fewer parameters.

UDC: Unified DNAS for Compressible TinyML Models for Neural Processing Units

Igor Fedorov · Ramon Matas · Hokchhay Tann · Chuteng Zhou · Matthew Mattina · Paul Whatmough

Deploying TinyML models on low-cost IoT hardware is very challenging, due to limited device memory capacity. Neural processing unit (NPU) hardware address the memory challenge by using model compression to exploit weight quantization and sparsity to fit more parameters in the same footprint. However, designing compressible neural networks (NNs) is challenging, as it expands the design space across which we must make balanced trade-offs. This paper demonstrates Unified DNAS for Compressible (UDC) NNs, which explores a large search space to generate state-of-the-art compressible NNs for NPU. ImageNet results show UDC networks are up to 3.35x smaller (iso-accuracy) or 6.25% more accurate (iso-model size) than previous work.

Using Embeddings for Causal Estimation of Peer Influence in Social Networks

Irina Cristali · Victor Veitch

We address the problem of using observational data to estimate peer contagion effects, the influence of treatments applied to individuals in a network on the outcomes of their neighbors. A main challenge to such estimation is that homophily - the tendency of connected units to share similar latent traits - acts as an unobserved confounder for contagion effects. Informally, it's hard to tell whether your friends have similar outcomes because they were influenced by your treatment, or whether it's due to some common trait that caused you to be friends in the first place. Because these common causes are not usually directly observed, they cannot be simply adjusted for. We describe an approach to perform the required adjustment using node embeddings learned from the network itself. The main aim is to perform this adjustment nonparametrically, without functional form assumptions on either the process that generated the network or the treatment assignment and outcome processes. The key contributions are to nonparametrically formalize the causal effect in a way that accounts for homophily, and to show how embedding methods can be used to identify and estimate this effect.

Batch size-invariance for policy optimization

Jacob Hilton · Karl Cobbe · John Schulman

We say an algorithm is batch size-invariant if changes to the batch size can largely be compensated for by changes to other hyperparameters. Stochastic gradient descent is well-known to have this property at small batch sizes, via the learning rate. However, some policy optimization algorithms (such as PPO) do not have this property, because of how they control the size of policy updates. In this work we show how to make these algorithms batch size-invariant. Our key insight is to decouple the proximal policy (used for controlling policy updates) from the behavior policy (used for off-policy corrections). Our experiments help explain why these algorithms work, and additionally show how they can make more efficient use of stale data.

Top Two Algorithms Revisited

Marc Jourdan · Rémy Degenne · Dorian Baudry · Rianne de Heide · Emilie Kaufmann

Top two algorithms arose as an adaptation of Thompson sampling to best arm identification in multi-armed bandit models for parametric families of arms. They select the next arm to sample from by randomizing among two candidate arms, a leader and a challenger. Despite their good empirical performance, theoretical guarantees for fixed-confidence best arm identification have only been obtained when the arms are Gaussian with known variances. In this paper, we provide a general analysis of top-two methods, which identifies desirable properties of the leader, the challenger, and the (possibly non-parametric) distributions of the arms. As a result, we obtain theoretically supported top-two algorithms for best arm identification with bounded distributions. Our proof method demonstrates in particular that the sampling step used to select the leader inherited from Thompson sampling can be replaced by other choices, like selecting the empirical best arm.

Neural Sheaf Diffusion: A Topological Perspective on Heterophily and Oversmoothing in GNNs

Cristian Bodnar · Francesco Di Giovanni · Benjamin Chamberlain · Pietro Lió · Michael Bronstein

Cellular sheaves equip graphs with a ``geometrical'' structure by assigning vector spaces and linear maps to nodes and edges. Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) implicitly assume a graph with a trivial underlying sheaf. This choice is reflected in the structure of the graph Laplacian operator, the properties of the associated diffusion equation, and the characteristics of the convolutional models that discretise this equation. In this paper, we use cellular sheaf theory to show that the underlying geometry of the graph is deeply linked with the performance of GNNs in heterophilic settings and their oversmoothing behaviour. By considering a hierarchy of increasingly general sheaves, we study how the ability of the sheaf diffusion process to achieve linear separation of the classes in the infinite time limit expands. At the same time, we prove that when the sheaf is non-trivial, discretised parametric diffusion processes have greater control than GNNs over their asymptotic behaviour. On the practical side, we study how sheaves can be learned from data. The resulting sheaf diffusion models have many desirable properties that address the limitations of classical graph diffusion equations (and corresponding GNN models) and obtain competitive results in heterophilic settings. Overall, our work provides new connections between GNNs and algebraic topology and would be of interest to both fields.

Biologically-Plausible Determinant Maximization Neural Networks for Blind Separation of Correlated Sources

Bariscan Bozkurt · Cengiz Pehlevan · Alper Erdogan

Extraction of latent sources of complex stimuli is critical for making sense of the world. While the brain solves this blind source separation (BSS) problem continuously, its algorithms remain unknown. Previous work on biologically-plausible BSS algorithms assumed that observed signals are linear mixtures of statistically independent or uncorrelated sources, limiting the domain of applicability of these algorithms. To overcome this limitation, we propose novel biologically-plausible neural networks for the blind separation of potentially dependent/correlated sources. Differing from previous work, we assume some general geometric, not statistical, conditions on the source vectors allowing separation of potentially dependent/correlated sources. Concretely, we assume that the source vectors are sufficiently scattered in their domains which can be described by certain polytopes. Then, we consider recovery of these sources by the Det-Max criterion, which maximizes the determinant of the output correlation matrix to enforce a similar spread for the source estimates. Starting from this normative principle, and using a weighted similarity matching approach that enables arbitrary linear transformations adaptable by local learning rules, we derive two-layer biologically-plausible neural network algorithms that can separate mixtures into sources coming from a variety of source domains. We demonstrate that our algorithms outperform other biologically-plausible BSS algorithms on correlated source separation problems.

When does return-conditioned supervised learning work for offline reinforcement learning?

David Brandfonbrener · Alberto Bietti · Jacob Buckman · Romain Laroche · Joan Bruna

Several recent works have proposed a class of algorithms for the offline reinforcement learning (RL) problem that we will refer to as return-conditioned supervised learning (RCSL). RCSL algorithms learn the distribution of actions conditioned on both the state and the return of the trajectory. Then they define a policy by conditioning on achieving high return. In this paper, we provide a rigorous study of the capabilities and limitations of RCSL something which is crucially missing in previous work. We find that RCSL returns the optimal policy under a set of assumptions that are stronger than those needed for the more traditional dynamic programming-based algorithms. We provide specific examples of MDPs and datasets that illustrate the necessity of these assumptions and the limits of RCSL. Finally, we present empirical evidence that these limitations will also cause issues in practice by providing illustrative experiments in simple point-mass environments and on datasets from the D4RL benchmark.

Communication Efficient Distributed Learning for Kernelized Contextual Bandits

Chuanhao Li · Huazheng Wang · Mengdi Wang · Hongning Wang

We tackle the communication efficiency challenge of learning kernelized contextual bandits in a distributed setting. Despite the recent advances in communication-efficient distributed bandit learning, existing solutions are restricted to simple models like multi-armed bandits and linear bandits, which hamper their practical utility. In this paper, instead of assuming the existence of a linear reward mapping from the features to the expected rewards, we consider non-linear reward mappings, by letting agents collaboratively search in a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS). This introduces significant challenges in communication efficiency as distributed kernel learning requires the transfer of raw data, leading to a communication cost that grows linearly w.r.t. time horizon $T$. We addresses this issue by equipping all agents to communicate via a common Nystr\"{o}m embedding that gets updated adaptively as more data points are collected. We rigorously proved that our algorithm can attain sub-linear rate in both regret and communication cost.

TaSIL: Taylor Series Imitation Learning

Daniel Pfrommer · Thomas Zhang · Stephen Tu · Nikolai Matni

We propose Taylor Series Imitation Learning (TaSIL), a simple augmentation to standard behavior cloning losses in the context of continuous control. TaSIL penalizes deviations in the higher-order Tayler series terms between the learned and expert policies. We show that experts satisfying a notion of incremental input-to-state stability are easy to learn, in the sense that that a small TaSIL-augmented imitation loss over expert trajectories guarantees a small imitation loss over trajectories generated by the learned policy. We provide sample-complexity bounds for TaSIL that scale as $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(1/n)$ in the realizable setting, for $n$ the number of expert demonstrations. Finally, we demonstrate experimentally the relationship between the robustness of the expert policy and the order of Taylor expansion required in TaSIL, and compare standard Behavior Cloning, DART, and DAgger with TaSIL-loss-augmented variants. In all cases, we show significant improvement over baselines across a variety of MuJoCo tasks.

DAGMA: Learning DAGs via M-matrices and a Log-Determinant Acyclicity Characterization

Kevin Bello · Bryon Aragam · Pradeep Ravikumar

The combinatorial problem of learning directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) from data was recently framed as a purely continuous optimization problem by leveraging a differentiable acyclicity characterization of DAGs based on the trace of a matrix exponential function. Existing acyclicity characterizations are based on the idea that powers of an adjacency matrix contain information about walks and cycles. In this work, we propose a new acyclicity characterization based on the log-determinant (log-det) function, which leverages the nilpotency property of DAGs. To deal with the inherent asymmetries of a DAG, we relate the domain of our log-det characterization to the set of $\textit{M-matrices}$, which is a key difference to the classical log-det function defined over the cone of positive definite matrices.Similar to acyclicity functions previously proposed, our characterization is also exact and differentiable. However, when compared to existing characterizations, our log-det function: (1) Is better at detecting large cycles; (2) Has better-behaved gradients; and (3) Its runtime is in practice about an order of magnitude faster. From the optimization side, we drop the typically used augmented Lagrangian scheme and propose DAGMA ($\textit{Directed Acyclic Graphs via M-matrices for Acyclicity}$), a method that resembles the central path for barrier methods. Each point in the central path of DAGMA is a solution to an unconstrained problem regularized by our log-det function, then we show that at the limit of the central path the solution is guaranteed to be a DAG. Finally, we provide extensive experiments for $\textit{linear}$ and $\textit{nonlinear}$ SEMs and show that our approach can reach large speed-ups and smaller structural Hamming distances against state-of-the-art methods. Code implementing the proposed method is open-source and publicly available at

Efficient Active Learning with Abstention

Yinglun Zhu · Robert Nowak

The goal of active learning is to achieve the same accuracy achievable by passive learning, while using much fewer labels. Exponential savings in terms of label complexity have been proved in very special cases, but fundamental lower bounds show that such improvements are impossible in general. This suggests a need to explore alternative goals for active learning. Learning with abstention is one such alternative. In this setting, the active learning algorithm may abstain from prediction and incur an error that is marginally smaller than random guessing. We develop the first computationally efficient active learning algorithm with abstention. Our algorithm provably achieves $\mathsf{polylog}(\frac{1}{\varepsilon})$ label complexity, without any low noise conditions. Such performance guarantee reduces the label complexity by an exponential factor, relative to passive learning and active learning that is not allowed to abstain. Furthermore, our algorithm is guaranteed to only abstain on hard examples (where the true label distribution is close to a fair coin), a novel property we term \emph{proper abstention} that also leads to a host of other desirable characteristics (e.g., recovering minimax guarantees in the standard setting, and avoiding the undesirable ``noise-seeking'' behavior often seen in active learning). We also provide novel extensions of our algorithm that achieve \emph{constant} label complexity and deal with model misspecification.

No-regret learning in games with noisy feedback: Faster rates and adaptivity via learning rate separation

Yu-Guan Hsieh · Kimon Antonakopoulos · Volkan Cevher · Panayotis Mertikopoulos

We examine the problem of regret minimization when the learner is involved in a continuous game with other optimizing agents: in this case, if all players follow a no-regret algorithm, it is possible to achieve significantly lower regret relative to fully adversarial environments. We study this problem in the context of variationally stable games (a class of continuous games which includes all convex-concave and monotone games), and when the players only have access to noisy estimates of their individual payoff gradients. If the noise is additive, the game-theoretic and purely adversarial settings enjoy similar regret guarantees; however, if the noise is \emph{multiplicative}, we show that the learners can, in fact, achieve \emph{constant} regret. We achieve this faster rate via an optimistic gradient scheme with \emph{learning rate separation} \textendash\ that is, the method's extrapolation and update steps are tuned to different schedules, depending on the noise profile. Subsequently, to eliminate the need for delicate hyperparameter tuning, we propose a fully adaptive method that smoothly interpolates between worst- and best-case regret guarantees.

Integral Probability Metrics PAC-Bayes Bounds

Ron Amit · Baruch Epstein · Shay Moran · Ron Meir

We present a PAC-Bayes-style generalization bound which enables the replacement of the KL-divergence with a variety of Integral Probability Metrics (IPM). We provide instances of this bound with the IPM being the total variation metric and the Wasserstein distance. A notable feature of the obtained bounds is that they naturally interpolate between classical uniform convergence bounds in the worst case (when the prior and posterior are far away from each other), and improved bounds in favorable cases (when the posterior and prior are close). This illustrates the possibility of reinforcing classical generalization bounds with algorithm- and data-dependent components, thus making them more suitable to analyze algorithms that use a large hypothesis space.

A Fast Scale-Invariant Algorithm for Non-negative Least Squares with Non-negative Data

Jelena Diakonikolas · Chenghui Li · Swati Padmanabhan · Chaobing Song

Nonnegative (linear) least square problems are a fundamental class of problems that is well-studied in statistical learning and for which solvers have been implemented in many of the standard programming languages used within the machine learning community. The existing off-the-shelf solvers view the non-negativity constraint in these problems as an obstacle and, compared to unconstrained least squares, perform additional effort to address it. However, in many of the typical applications, the data itself is nonnegative as well, and we show that the nonnegativity in this case makes the problem easier. In particular, while the worst-case dimension-independent oracle complexity of unconstrained least squares problems necessarily scales with one of the data matrix constants (typically the spectral norm) and these problems are solved to additive error, we show that nonnegative least squares problems with nonnegative data are solvable to multiplicative error and with complexity that is independent of any matrix constants. The algorithm we introduce is accelerated and based on a primal-dual perspective. We further show how to provably obtain linear convergence using adaptive restart coupled with our method and demonstrate its effectiveness on large-scale data via numerical experiments.

Online Minimax Multiobjective Optimization: Multicalibeating and Other Applications

Daniel Lee · Georgy Noarov · Mallesh Pai · Aaron Roth

We introduce a simple but general online learning framework in which a learner plays against an adversary in a vector-valued game that changes every round. Even though the learner's objective is not convex-concave (and so the minimax theorem does not apply), we give a simple algorithm that can compete with the setting in which the adversary must announce their action first, with optimally diminishing regret. We demonstrate the power of our framework by using it to (re)derive optimal bounds and efficient algorithms across a variety of domains, ranging from multicalibration to a large set of no-regret algorithms, to a variant of Blackwell's approachability theorem for polytopes with fast convergence rates. As a new application, we show how to ``(multi)calibeat'' an arbitrary collection of forecasters --- achieving an exponentially improved dependence on the number of models we are competing against, compared to prior work.

Nonstationary Dual Averaging and Online Fair Allocation

Luofeng Liao · Yuan Gao · Christian Kroer

We consider the problem of fairly allocating sequentially arriving items to a set of individuals. For this problem, the recently-introduced PACE algorithm leverages the dual averaging algorithm to approximate competitive equilibria and thus generate online fair allocations. PACE is simple, distributed, and parameter-free, making it appealing for practical use in large-scale systems. However, current performance guarantees for PACE require i.i.d. item arrivals. Since real-world data is rarely i.i.d., or even stationary, we study the performance of PACE on nonstationary data. We start by developing new convergence results for the general dual averaging algorithm under three nonstationary input models: adversarially-corrupted stochastic input, ergodic input, and block-independent (including periodic) input. Our results show convergence of dual averaging up to errors caused by nonstationarity of the data, and recover the classical bounds when the input data is i.i.d. Using these results, we show that the PACE algorithm for online fair allocation simultaneously achieves ``best of many worlds'' guarantees against any of these nonstationary input models as well as against i.i.d. input. Finally, numerical experiments show strong empirical performance of PACE against nonstationary inputs.

The price of unfairness in linear bandits with biased feedback

Solenne Gaucher · Alexandra Carpentier · Christophe Giraud

In this paper, we study the problem of fair sequential decision making with biased linear bandit feedback. At each round, a player selects an action described by a covariate and by a sensitive attribute. The perceived reward is a linear combination of the covariates of the chosen action, but the player only observes a biased evaluation of this reward, depending on the sensitive attribute. To characterize the difficulty of this problem, we design a phased elimination algorithm that corrects the unfair evaluations, and establish upper bounds on its regret. We show that the worst-case regret is smaller than $\mathcal{O}(\kappa_* ^{1/3}\log(T)^{1/3}T^{2/3})$, where $\kappa_*$ is an explicit geometrical constant characterizing the difficulty of bias estimation. We prove lower bounds on the worst-case regret for some sets of actions showing that this rate is tight up to a possible sub-logarithmic factor. We also derive gap-dependent upper bounds on the regret, and matching lower bounds for some problem instance. Interestingly, these results reveal a transition between a regime where the problem is as difficult as its unbiased counterpart, and a regime where it can be much harder.

Augmenting Online Algorithms with $\varepsilon$-Accurate Predictions

Anupam Gupta · Debmalya Panigrahi · Bernardo Subercaseaux · Kevin Sun

The growing body of work in learning-augmented online algorithms studies how online algorithms can be improved when given access to ML predictions about the future. Motivated by ML models that give a confidence parameter for their predictions, we study online algorithms with predictions that are $\epsilon$-accurate: namely, each prediction is correct with probability (at least) $\epsilon$, but can be arbitrarily inaccurate with the remaining probability. We show that even with predictions that are accurate with a small probability and arbitrarily inaccurate otherwise, we can dramatically outperform worst-case bounds for a range of classical online problems including caching, online set cover, and online facility location. Our main results are an $O(\log(1/\varepsilon))$-competitive algorithm for caching, and a simple $O(1/\varepsilon)$-competitive algorithm for a large family of covering problems, including set cover and facility location, with $\epsilon$-accurate predictions.

A Non-Asymptotic Moreau Envelope Theory for High-Dimensional Generalized Linear Models

Lijia Zhou · Frederic Koehler · Pragya Sur · Danica J. Sutherland · Nati Srebro

We prove a new generalization bound that shows for any class of linear predictors in Gaussian space, the Rademacher complexity of the class and the training error under any continuous loss $\ell$ can control the test error under all Moreau envelopes of the loss $\ell$ . We use our finite-sample bound to directly recover the “optimistic rate” of Zhou et al. (2021) for linear regression with the square loss, which is known to be tight for minimal $\ell_2$-norm interpolation, but we also handle more general settings where the label is generated by a potentially misspecified multi-index model. The same argument can analyze noisy interpolation of max-margin classifiers through the squared hinge loss, and establishes consistency results in spiked-covariance settings. More generally, when the loss is only assumed to be Lipschitz, our bound effectively improves Talagrand’s well-known contraction lemma by a factor of two, and we prove uniform convergence of interpolators (Koehler et al. 2021) for all smooth, non-negative losses. Finally, we show that application of our generalization bound using localized Gaussian width will generally be sharp for empirical risk minimizers, establishing a non-asymptotic Moreau envelope theory for generalization that applies outside of proportional scaling regimes, handles model misspecification, and complements existing asymptotic Moreau envelope theories for M-estimation.

Spectral Bias Outside the Training Set for Deep Networks in the Kernel Regime

Benjamin Bowman · Guido Montufar

We provide quantitative bounds measuring the $L^2$ difference in function space between the trajectory of a finite-width network trained on finitely many samples from the idealized kernel dynamics of infinite width and infinite data. An implication of the bounds is that the network is biased to learn the top eigenfunctions of the Neural Tangent Kernel not just on the training set but over the entire input space. This bias depends on the model architecture and input distribution alone and thus does not depend on the target function which does not need to be in the RKHS of the kernel. The result is valid for deep architectures with fully connected, convolutional, and residual layers. Furthermore the width does not need to grow polynomially with the number of samples in order to obtain high probability bounds up to a stopping time. The proof exploits the low-effective-rank property of the Fisher Information Matrix at initialization, which implies a low effective dimension of the model (far smaller than the number of parameters). We conclude that local capacity control from the low effective rank of the Fisher Information Matrix is still underexplored theoretically.

Symplectic Spectrum Gaussian Processes: Learning Hamiltonians from Noisy and Sparse Data

Yusuke Tanaka · Tomoharu Iwata · naonori ueda

Hamiltonian mechanics is a well-established theory for modeling the time evolution of systems with conserved quantities (called Hamiltonian), such as the total energy of the system. Recent works have parameterized the Hamiltonian by machine learning models (e.g., neural networks), allowing Hamiltonian dynamics to be obtained from state trajectories without explicit mathematical modeling. However, the performance of existing models is limited as we can observe only noisy and sparse trajectories in practice. This paper proposes a probabilistic model that can learn the dynamics of conservative or dissipative systems from noisy and sparse data. We introduce a Gaussian process that incorporates the symplectic geometric structure of Hamiltonian systems, which is used as a prior distribution for estimating Hamiltonian systems with additive dissipation. We then present its spectral representation, Symplectic Spectrum Gaussian Processes (SSGPs), for which we newly derive random Fourier features with symplectic structures. This allows us to construct an efficient variational inference algorithm for training the models while simulating the dynamics via ordinary differential equation solvers. Experiments on several physical systems show that SSGP offers excellent performance in predicting dynamics that follow the energy conservation or dissipation law from noisy and sparse data.

Tree Mover's Distance: Bridging Graph Metrics and Stability of Graph Neural Networks

Ching-Yao Chuang · Stefanie Jegelka

Understanding generalization and robustness of machine learning models fundamentally relies on assuming an appropriate metric on the data space. Identifying such a metric is particularly challenging for non-Euclidean data such as graphs. Here, we propose a pseudometric for attributed graphs, the Tree Mover's Distance (TMD), and study its relation to generalization. Via a hierarchical optimal transport problem, TMD reflects the local distribution of node attributes as well as the distribution of local computation trees, which are known to be decisive for the learning behavior of graph neural networks (GNNs). First, we show that TMD captures properties relevant for graph classification: a simple TMD-SVM can perform competitively with standard GNNs. Second, we relate TMD to generalization of GNNs under distribution shifts, and show that it correlates well with performance drop under such shifts.

On the Parameterization and Initialization of Diagonal State Space Models

Albert Gu · Karan Goel · Ankit Gupta · Christopher Ré

State space models (SSM) have recently been shown to be very effective as a deep learning layer as a promising alternative to sequence models such as RNNs, CNNs, or Transformers. The first version to show this potential was the S4 model, which is particularly effective on tasks involving long-range dependencies by using a prescribed state matrix called the HiPPO matrix. While this has an interpretable mathematical mechanism for modeling long dependencies, it also requires a custom representation and algorithm that makes the model difficult to understand and implement. On the other hand, a recent variant of S4 called DSS showed that restricting the state matrix to be fully diagonal can still preserve the performance of the original model when using a specific initialization based on approximating S4's matrix. This work seeks to systematically understand how to parameterize and initialize diagonal state space models. While it follows from classical results that almost all SSMs have an equivalent diagonal form, we show that the initialization is critical for performance. First, we explain why DSS works mathematically, as the diagonal approximation to S4 surprisingly recovers the same dynamics in the limit of infinite state dimension. We then systematically describe various design choices in parameterizing and computing diagonal SSMs, and perform a controlled empirical study ablating the effects of these choices. Our final model S4D is a simple diagonal version of S4 whose kernel computation requires just 3 lines of code and performs comparably to S4 in almost all settings, with state-of-the-art results in image, audio, and medical time-series domains, and 85\% average on the Long Range Arena benchmark.

On the Discrimination Risk of Mean Aggregation Feature Imputation in Graphs

Arjun Subramonian · Kai-Wei Chang · Yizhou Sun

In human networks, nodes belonging to a marginalized group often have a disproportionate rate of unknown or missing features. This, in conjunction with graph structure and known feature biases, can cause graph feature imputation algorithms to predict values for unknown features that make the marginalized group's feature values more distinct from the the dominant group's feature values than they are in reality. We call this distinction the discrimination risk. We prove that a higher discrimination risk can amplify the unfairness of a machine learning model applied to the imputed data. We then formalize a general graph feature imputation framework called mean aggregation imputation and theoretically and empirically characterize graphs in which applying this framework can yield feature values with a high discrimination risk. We propose a simple algorithm to ensure mean aggregation-imputed features provably have a low discrimination risk, while minimally sacrificing reconstruction error (with respect to the imputation objective). We evaluate the fairness and accuracy of our solution on synthetic and real-world credit networks.

Staggered Rollout Designs Enable Causal Inference Under Interference Without Network Knowledge

Mayleen Cortez · Matthew Eichhorn · Christina Yu

Randomized experiments are widely used to estimate causal effects across many domains. However, classical causal inference approaches rely on independence assumptions that are violated by network interference, when the treatment of one individual influences the outcomes of others. All existing approaches require at least approximate knowledge of the network, which may be unavailable or costly to collect. We consider the task of estimating the total treatment effect (TTE), the average difference between the outcomes when the whole population is treated versus when the whole population is untreated. By leveraging a staggered rollout design, in which treatment is incrementally given to random subsets of individuals, we derive unbiased estimators for TTE that do not rely on any prior structural knowledge of the network, as long as the network interference effects are constrained to low-degree interactions among neighbors of an individual. We derive bounds on the variance of the estimators, and we show in experiments that our estimator performs well against baselines on simulated data. Central to our theoretical contribution is a connection between staggered rollout observations and polynomial extrapolation.

Near-Optimal Multi-Agent Learning for Safe Coverage Control

Manish Prajapat · Matteo Turchetta · Melanie Zeilinger · Andreas Krause

In multi-agent coverage control problems, agents navigate their environment to reach locations that maximize the coverage of some density. In practice, the density is rarely known $\textit{a priori}$, further complicating the original NP-hard problem. Moreover, in many applications, agents cannot visit arbitrary locations due to $\textit{a priori}$ unknown safety constraints. In this paper, we aim to efficiently learn the density to approximately solve the coverage problem while preserving the agents' safety. We first propose a conditionally linear submodular coverage function that facilitates theoretical analysis. Utilizing this structure, we develop MacOpt, a novel algorithm that efficiently trades off the exploration-exploitation dilemma due to partial observability, and show that it achieves sublinear regret. Next, we extend results on single-agent safe exploration to our multi-agent setting and propose SafeMac for safe coverage and exploration. We analyze SafeMac and give first of its kind results: near optimal coverage in finite time while provably guaranteeing safety. We extensively evaluate our algorithms on synthetic and real problems, including a bio-diversity monitoring task under safety constraints, where SafeMac outperforms competing methods.

Deep Counterfactual Estimation with Categorical Background Variables

Edward De Brouwer

Referred to as the third rung of the causal inference ladder, counterfactual queries typically ask the "What if ?" question retrospectively. The standard approach to estimate counterfactuals resides in using a structural equation model that accurately reflects the underlying data generating process. However, such models are seldom available in practice and one usually wishes to infer them from observational data alone. Unfortunately, the correct structural equation model is in general not identifiable from the observed factual distribution. Nevertheless, in this work, we show that under the assumption that the main latent contributors to the treatment responses are categorical, the counterfactuals can be still reliably predicted. Building upon this assumption, we introduce CounterFactual Query Prediction (\method), a novel method to infer counterfactuals from continuous observations when the background variables are categorical. We show that our method significantly outperforms previously available deep-learning-based counterfactual methods, both theoretically and empirically on time series and image data. Our code is available at

Using Partial Monotonicity in Submodular Maximization

Loay Mualem · Moran Feldman

Over the last two decades, submodular function maximization has been the workhorse of many discrete optimization problems in machine learning applications. Traditionally, the study of submodular functions was based on binary function properties, but recent works began to consider continuous function properties such as the submodularity ratio and the curvature. The monotonicity property of set functions plays a central role in submodular maximization. Nevertheless, no continuous version of this property has been suggested to date (as far as we know), which is unfortunate since submoduar functions that are almost monotone often arise in machine learning applications. In this work we fill this gap by defining the monotonicity ratio, which is a continuous version of the monotonicity property. We then show that for many standard submodular maximization algorithms one can prove new approximation guarantees that depend on the monotonicity ratio; leading to improved approximation ratios for the common machine learning applications of movie recommendation, quadratic programming, image summarization and ride-share optimization.

A New Family of Generalization Bounds Using Samplewise Evaluated CMI

Fredrik Hellström · Giuseppe Durisi

We present a new family of information-theoretic generalization bounds, in which the training loss and the population loss are compared through a jointly convex function. This function is upper-bounded in terms of the disintegrated, samplewise, evaluated conditional mutual information (CMI), an information measure that depends on the losses incurred by the selected hypothesis, rather than on the hypothesis itself, as is common in probably approximately correct (PAC)-Bayesian results. We demonstrate the generality of this framework by recovering and extending previously known information-theoretic bounds. Furthermore, using the evaluated CMI, we derive a samplewise, average version of Seeger's PAC-Bayesian bound, where the convex function is the binary KL divergence. In some scenarios, this novel bound results in a tighter characterization of the population loss of deep neural networks than previous bounds. Finally, we derive high-probability versions of some of these average bounds. We demonstrate the unifying nature of the evaluated CMI bounds by using them to recover average and high-probability generalization bounds for multiclass classification with finite Natarajan dimension.

Tight Lower Bounds on Worst-Case Guarantees for Zero-Shot Learning with Attributes

Alessio Mazzetto · Cristina Menghini · Andrew Yuan · Eli Upfal · Stephen Bach

We develop a rigorous mathematical analysis of zero-shot learning with attributes. In this setting, the goal is to label novel classes with no training data, only detectors for attributes and a description of how those attributes are correlated with the target classes, called the class-attribute matrix. We develop the first non-trivial lower bound on the worst-case error of the best map from attributes to classes for this setting, even with perfect attribute detectors. The lower bound characterizes the theoretical intrinsic difficulty of the zero-shot problem based on the available information---the class-attribute matrix---and the bound is practically computable from it. Our lower bound is tight, as we show that we can always find a randomized map from attributes to classes whose expected error is upper bounded by the value of the lower bound. We show that our analysis can be predictive of how standard zero-shot methods behave in practice, including which classes will likely be confused with others.

Bellman Residual Orthogonalization for Offline Reinforcement Learning

Andrea Zanette · Martin J Wainwright

We propose and analyze a reinforcement learning principle thatapproximates the Bellman equations by enforcing their validity onlyalong a user-defined space of test functions. Focusing onapplications to model-free offline RL with function approximation, weexploit this principle to derive confidence intervals for off-policyevaluation, as well as to optimize over policies within a prescribedpolicy class. We prove an oracle inequality on our policyoptimization procedure in terms of a trade-off between the value anduncertainty of an arbitrary comparator policy. Different choices oftest function spaces allow us to tackle different problems within acommon framework. We characterize the loss of efficiency in movingfrom on-policy to off-policy data using our procedures, and establishconnections to concentrability coefficients studied in past work. Weexamine in depth the implementation of our methods with linearfunction approximation, and provide theoretical guarantees withpolynomial-time implementations even when Bellman closure does nothold.

Riemannian Diffusion Models

Chin-Wei Huang · Milad Aghajohari · Joey Bose · Prakash Panangaden · Aaron Courville

Diffusion models are recent state-of-the-art methods for image generation and likelihood estimation. In this work, we generalize continuous-time diffusion models to arbitrary Riemannian manifolds and derive a variational framework for likelihood estimation. Computationally, we propose new methods for computing the Riemannian divergence which is needed for likelihood estimation. Moreover, in generalizing the Euclidean case, we prove that maximizing this variational lower-bound is equivalent to Riemannian score matching. Empirically, we demonstrate the expressive power of Riemannian diffusion models on a wide spectrum of smooth manifolds, such as spheres, tori, hyperboloids, and orthogonal groups. Our proposed method achieves new state-of-the-art likelihoods on all benchmarks.

Formulating Robustness Against Unforeseen Attacks

Sihui Dai · Saeed Mahloujifar · Prateek Mittal

Existing defenses against adversarial examples such as adversarial training typically assume that the adversary will conform to a specific or known threat model, such as $\ell_p$ perturbations within a fixed budget. In this paper, we focus on the scenario where there is a mismatch in the threat model assumed by the defense during training, and the actual capabilities of the adversary at test time. We ask the question: if the learner trains against a specific ``source" threat model, when can we expect robustness to generalize to a stronger unknown ``target" threat model during test-time? Our key contribution is to formally define the problem of learning and generalization with an unforeseen adversary, which helps us reason about the increase in adversarial risk from the conventional perspective of a known adversary. Applying our framework, we derive a generalization bound which relates the generalization gap between source and target threat models to variation of the feature extractor, which measures the expected maximum difference between extracted features across a given threat model. Based on our generalization bound, we propose variation regularization (VR) which reduces variation of the feature extractor across the source threat model during training. We empirically demonstrate that using VR can lead to improved generalization to unforeseen attacks during test-time, and combining VR with perceptual adversarial training (Laidlaw et al., 2021) achieves state-of-the-art robustness on unforeseen attacks. Our code is publicly available at

Characterizing Datapoints via Second-Split Forgetting

Pratyush Maini · Saurabh Garg · Zachary Lipton · J. Zico Kolter

Researchers investigating example hardness have increasingly focused on the dynamics by which neural networks learn and forget examples throughout training. Popular metrics derived from these dynamics include (i) the epoch at which examples are first correctly classified; (ii) the number of times their predictions flip during training; and (iii) whether their prediction flips if they are held out. However, these metrics do not distinguish among examples that are hard for distinct reasons, such as membership in a rare subpopulation, being mislabeled, or belonging to a complex subpopulation. In this paper, we propose second-split forgetting time (SSFT), a complementary metric that tracks the epoch (if any) after which an original training example is forgotten as the network is fine-tuned on a randomly held out partition of the data. Across multiple benchmark datasets and modalities, we demonstrate that mislabeled examples are forgotten quickly, and seemingly rare examples are forgotten comparatively slowly. By contrast, metrics only considering the first split learning dynamics struggle to differentiate the two. At large learning rates, SSFT tends to be robust across architectures, optimizers, and random seeds. From a practical standpoint, the SSFT can (i) help to identify mislabeled samples, the removal of which improves generalization; and (ii) provide insights about failure modes. Through theoretical analysis addressing overparameterized linear models, we provide insights into how the observed phenomena may arise.

Fairness Transferability Subject to Bounded Distribution Shift

Yatong Chen · Reilly Raab · Jialu Wang · Yang Liu

Given an algorithmic predictor that is "fair"' on some source distribution, will it still be fair on an unknown target distribution that differs from the source within some bound? In this paper, we study the transferability of statistical group fairness for machine learning predictors (i.e., classifiers or regressors subject to bounded distribution shift. Such shifts may be introduced by initial training data uncertainties, user adaptation to a deployed predictor, dynamic environments, or the use of pre-trained models in new settings. Herein, we develop a bound that characterizes such transferability, flagging potentially inappropriate deployments of machine learning for socially consequential tasks. We first develop a framework for bounding violations of statistical fairness subject to distribution shift, formulating a generic upper bound for transferred fairness violations as our primary result. We then develop bounds for specific worked examples, focusing on two commonly used fairness definitions (i.e., demographic parity and equalized odds) and two classes of distribution shift (i.e., covariate shift and label shift). Finally, we compare our theoretical bounds to deterministic models of distribution shift and against real-world data, finding that we are able to estimate fairness violation bounds in practice, even when simplifying assumptions are only approximately satisfied.

Oracle Inequalities for Model Selection in Offline Reinforcement Learning

Jonathan N Lee · George Tucker · Ofir Nachum · Bo Dai · Emma Brunskill

In offline reinforcement learning (RL), a learner leverages prior logged data to learn a good policy without interacting with the environment. A major challenge in applying such methods in practice is the lack of both theoretically principled and practical tools for model selection and evaluation. To address this, we study the problem of model selection in offline RL with value function approximation. The learner is given a nested sequence of model classes to minimize squared Bellman error and must select among these to achieve a balance between approximation and estimation error of the classes. We propose the first model selection algorithm for offline RL that achieves minimax rate-optimal oracle inequalities up to logarithmic factors. The algorithm, ModBE, takes as input a collection of candidate model classes and a generic base offline RL algorithm. By successively eliminating model classes using a novel one-sided generalization test, ModBE returns a policy with regret scaling with the complexity of the minimally complete model class. In addition to its theoretical guarantees, it is conceptually simple and computationally efficient, amounting to solving a series of square loss regression problems and then comparing relative square loss between classes. We conclude with several numerical simulations showing it is capable of reliably selecting a good model class.

Simulation-guided Beam Search for Neural Combinatorial Optimization

Jinho Choo · Yeong-Dae Kwon · Jihoon Kim · Jeongwoo Jae · André Hottung · Kevin Tierney · Youngjune Gwon

Neural approaches for combinatorial optimization (CO) equip a learning mechanism to discover powerful heuristics for solving complex real-world problems. While neural approaches capable of high-quality solutions in a single shot are emerging, state-of-the-art approaches are often unable to take full advantage of the solving time available to them. In contrast, hand-crafted heuristics perform highly effective search well and exploit the computation time given to them, but contain heuristics that are difficult to adapt to a dataset being solved. With the goal of providing a powerful search procedure to neural CO approaches, we propose simulation-guided beam search (SGBS), which examines candidate solutions within a fixed-width tree search that both a neural net-learned policy and a simulation (rollout) identify as promising. We further hybridize SGBS with efficient active search (EAS), where SGBS enhances the quality of solutions backpropagated in EAS, and EAS improves the quality of the policy used in SGBS. We evaluate our methods on well-known CO benchmarks and show that SGBS significantly improves the quality of the solutions found under reasonable runtime assumptions.

Stars: Tera-Scale Graph Building for Clustering and Learning

CJ Carey · Jonathan Halcrow · Rajesh Jayaram · Vahab Mirrokni · Warren Schudy · Peilin Zhong

A fundamental procedure in the analysis of massive datasets is the construction of similarity graphs. Such graphs play a key role for many downstream tasks, including clustering, classification, graph learning, and nearest neighbor search. For these tasks, it is critical to build graphs which are sparse yet still representative of the underlying data. The benefits of sparsity are twofold: firstly, constructing dense graphs is infeasible in practice for large datasets, and secondly, the runtime of downstream tasks is directly influenced by the sparsity of the similarity graph. In this work, we present Stars: a highly scalable method for building extremely sparse graphs via two-hop spanners, which are graphs where similar points are connected by a path of length at most two. Stars can construct two-hop spanners with significantly fewer similarity comparisons, which are a major bottleneck for learning based models where comparisons are expensive to evaluate. Theoretically, we demonstrate that Stars builds a graph in nearly-linear time, where approximate nearest neighbors are contained within two-hop neighborhoods. In practice, we have deployed Stars for multiple data sets allowing for graph building at the Tera-Scale, i.e., for graphs with hundreds of billions of nodes and tens of trillions of edges. We evaluate the performance of Stars for clustering and graph learning, and demonstrate 10~1000-fold improvements in pairwise similarity comparisons and significant running time speedups with negligible quality loss.

Estimating and Explaining Model Performance When Both Covariates and Labels Shift

Lingjiao Chen · Matei Zaharia · James Zou

Deployed machine learning (ML) models often encounter new user data that differs from their training data. Therefore, estimating how well a given model might perform on the new data is an important step toward reliable ML applications. This is very challenging, however, as the data distribution can change in flexible ways, and we may not have any labels on the new data, which is often the case in monitoring settings. In this paper, we propose a new distribution shift model, Sparse Joint Shift (SJS), which considers the joint shift of both labels and a few features. This unifies and generalizes several existing shift models including label shift and sparse covariate shift, where only marginal feature or label distribution shifts are considered. We describe mathematical conditions under which SJS is identifiable. We further propose SEES, an algorithmic framework to characterize the distribution shift under SJS and to estimate a model’s performance on new data without any labels. We conduct extensive experiments on several real-world datasets with various ML models. Across different datasets and distribution shifts, SEES achieves significant (up to an order of magnitude) shift estimation error improvements over existing approaches.

Simultaneous Missing Value Imputation and Structure Learning with Groups

Pablo Morales-Alvarez · Wenbo Gong · Angus Lamb · Simon Woodhead · Simon Peyton Jones · Nick Pawlowski · Miltiadis Allamanis · Cheng Zhang

Learning structures between groups of variables from data with missing values is an important task in the real world, yet difficult to solve. One typical scenario is discovering the structure among topics in the education domain to identify learning pathways. Here, the observations are student performances for questions under each topic which contain missing values. However, most existing methods focus on learning structures between a few individual variables from the complete data. In this work, we propose VISL, a novel scalable structure learning approach that can simultaneously infer structures between groups of variables under missing data and perform missing value imputations with deep learning. Particularly, we propose a generative model with a structured latent space and a graph neural network-based architecture, scaling to a large number of variables. Empirically, we conduct extensive experiments on synthetic, semi-synthetic, and real-world education data sets. We show improved performances on both imputation and structure learning accuracy compared to popular and recent approaches.

Signal Processing for Implicit Neural Representations

Dejia Xu · Peihao Wang · Yifan Jiang · Zhiwen Fan · Zhangyang Wang

Implicit Neural Representations (INRs) encoding continuous multi-media data via multi-layer perceptrons has shown undebatable promise in various computer vision tasks. Despite many successful applications, editing and processing an INR remains intractable as signals are represented by latent parameters of a neural network. Existing works manipulate such continuous representations via processing on their discretized instance, which breaks down the compactness and continuous nature of INR. In this work, we present a pilot study on the question: how to directly modify an INR without explicit decoding? We answer this question by proposing an implicit neural signal processing network, dubbed INSP-Net, via differential operators on INR. Our key insight is that spatial gradients of neural networks can be computed analytically and are invariant to translation, while mathematically we show that any continuous convolution filter can be uniformly approximated by a linear combination of high-order differential operators. With these two knobs, INSP-Net instantiates the signal processing operator as a weighted composition of computational graphs corresponding to the high-order derivatives of INRs, where the weighting parameters can be data-driven learned. Based on our proposed INSP-Net, we further build the first Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) that implicitly runs on INRs, named INSP-ConvNet. Our experiments validate the expressiveness of INSP-Net and INSP-ConvNet in fitting low-level image and geometry processing kernels (e.g. blurring, deblurring, denoising, inpainting, and smoothening) as well as for high-level tasks on implicit fields such as image classification.

Regularized Molecular Conformation Fields

Lihao Wang · Yi Zhou · Yiqun Wang · Xiaoqing Zheng · Xuanjing Huang · Hao Zhou

Predicting energetically favorable 3-dimensional conformations of organic molecules frommolecular graph plays a fundamental role in computer-aided drug discovery research.However, effectively exploring the high-dimensional conformation space to identify (meta) stable conformers is anything but trivial.In this work, we introduce RMCF, a novel framework to generate a diverse set of low-energy molecular conformations through samplingfrom a regularized molecular conformation field.We develop a data-driven molecular segmentation algorithm to automatically partition each molecule into several structural building blocks to reduce the modeling degrees of freedom.Then, we employ a Markov Random Field to learn the joint probability distribution of fragment configurations and inter-fragment dihedral angles, which enables us to sample from different low-energy regions of a conformation space.Our model constantly outperforms state-of-the-art models for the conformation generation task on the GEOM-Drugs dataset.We attribute the success of RMCF to modeling in a regularized feature space and learning a global fragment configuration distribution for effective sampling.The proposed method could be generalized to deal with larger biomolecular systems.

GAL: Gradient Assisted Learning for Decentralized Multi-Organization Collaborations

Enmao Diao · Jie Ding · Vahid Tarokh

Collaborations among multiple organizations, such as financial institutions, medical centers, and retail markets in decentralized settings are crucial to providing improved service and performance. However, the underlying organizations may have little interest in sharing their local data, models, and objective functions. These requirements have created new challenges for multi-organization collaboration. In this work, we propose Gradient Assisted Learning (GAL), a new method for multiple organizations to assist each other in supervised learning tasks without sharing local data, models, and objective functions. In this framework, all participants collaboratively optimize the aggregate of local loss functions, and each participant autonomously builds its own model by iteratively fitting the gradients of the overarching objective function. We also provide asymptotic convergence analysis and practical case studies of GAL. Experimental studies demonstrate that GAL can achieve performance close to centralized learning when all data, models, and objective functions are fully disclosed.

When Does Group Invariant Learning Survive Spurious Correlations?

Yimeng Chen · Ruibin Xiong · Zhi-Ming Ma · Yanyan Lan

By inferring latent groups in the training data, recent works introduce invariant learning to the case where environment annotations are unavailable. Typically, learning group invariance under a majority/minority split is empirically shown to be effective in improving out-of-distribution generalization on many datasets. However, theoretical guarantee for these methods on learning invariant mechanisms is lacking. In this paper, we reveal the insufficiency of existing group invariant learning methods in preventing classifiers from depending on spurious correlations in the training set. Specifically, we propose two criteria on judging such sufficiency. Theoretically and empirically, we show that existing methods can violate both criteria and thus fail in generalizing to spurious correlation shifts. Motivated by this, we design a new group invariant learning method, which constructs groups with statistical independence tests, and reweights samples by group label proportion to meet the criteria. Experiments on both synthetic and real data demonstrate that the new method significantly outperforms existing group invariant learning methods in generalizing to spurious correlation shifts.

Diverse Weight Averaging for Out-of-Distribution Generalization

Alexandre Rame · Matthieu Kirchmeyer · Thibaud Rahier · Alain Rakotomamonjy · Patrick Gallinari · Matthieu Cord

Standard neural networks struggle to generalize under distribution shifts in computer vision. Fortunately, combining multiple networks can consistently improve out-of-distribution generalization. In particular, weight averaging (WA) strategies were shown to perform best on the competitive DomainBed benchmark; they directly average the weights of multiple networks despite their nonlinearities. In this paper, we propose Diverse Weight Averaging (DiWA), a new WA strategy whose main motivation is to increase the functional diversity across averaged models. To this end, DiWA averages weights obtained from several independent training runs: indeed, models obtained from different runs are more diverse than those collected along a single run thanks to differences in hyperparameters and training procedures. We motivate the need for diversity by a new bias-variance-covariance-locality decomposition of the expected error, exploiting similarities between WA and standard functional ensembling. Moreover, this decomposition highlights that WA succeeds when the variance term dominates, which we show occurs when the marginal distribution changes at test time. Experimentally, DiWA consistently improves the state of the art on DomainBed without inference overhead.

KERPLE: Kernelized Relative Positional Embedding for Length Extrapolation

Ta-Chung Chi · Ting-Han Fan · Peter J Ramadge · Alexander Rudnicky

Relative positional embeddings (RPE) have received considerable attention since RPEs effectively model the relative distance among tokens and enable length extrapolation. We propose KERPLE, a framework that generalizes relative position embedding for extrapolation by kernelizing positional differences. We achieve this goal using conditionally positive definite (CPD) kernels, a class of functions known for generalizing distance metrics. To maintain the inner product interpretation of self-attention, we show that a CPD kernel can be transformed into a PD kernel by adding a constant offset. This offset is implicitly absorbed in the Softmax normalization during self-attention. The diversity of CPD kernels allows us to derive various RPEs that enable length extrapolation in a principled way. Experiments demonstrate that the logarithmic variant achieves excellent extrapolation performance on three large language modeling datasets. Our implementation and pretrained checkpoints are released at~\url{}.

Data Augmentation for Compositional Data: Advancing Predictive Models of the Microbiome

Elliott Gordon-Rodriguez · Thomas Quinn · John Cunningham

Data augmentation plays a key role in modern machine learning pipelines. While numerous augmentation strategies have been studied in the context of computer vision and natural language processing, less is known for other data modalities. Our work extends the success of data augmentation to compositional data, i.e., simplex-valued data, which is of particular interest in microbiology, geochemistry, and other applications. Drawing on key principles from compositional data analysis, such as the \emph{Aitchison geometry of the simplex} and subcompositions, we define novel augmentation strategies for this data modality. Incorporating our data augmentations into standard supervised learning pipelines results in consistent performance gains across a wide range of standard benchmark datasets. In particular, we set a new state-of-the-art for key disease prediction tasks including colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Crohn's disease. In addition, our data augmentations enable us to define a novel contrastive learning model, which improves on previous representation learning approaches for microbiome compositional data.

Improving Certified Robustness via Statistical Learning with Logical Reasoning

Zhuolin Yang · Zhikuan Zhao · Boxin Wang · Jiawei Zhang · Linyi Li · Hengzhi Pei · Bojan Karlaš · Ji Liu · Heng Guo · Ce Zhang · Bo Li

Intensive algorithmic efforts have been made to enable the rapid improvements of certificated robustness for complex ML models recently. However, current robustness certification methods are only able to certify under a limited perturbation radius. Given that existing pure data-driven statistical approaches have reached a bottleneck, in this paper, we propose to integrate statistical ML models with knowledge (expressed as logical rules) as a reasoning component using Markov logic networks (MLN), so as to further improve the overall certified robustness. This opens new research questions about certifying the robustness of such a paradigm, especially the reasoning component (e.g., MLN). As the first step towards understanding these questions, we first prove that the computational complexity of certifying the robustness of MLN is #P-hard. Guided by this hardness result, we then derive the first certified robustness bound for MLN by carefully analyzing different model regimes. Finally, we conduct extensive experiments on five datasets including both high-dimensional images and natural language texts, and we show that the certified robustness with knowledge-based logical reasoning indeed significantly outperforms that of the state-of-the-arts.

Cooperative Distribution Alignment via JSD Upper Bound

Wonwoong Cho · ZIYU GONG · David Inouye

Unsupervised distribution alignment estimates a transformation that maps two or more source distributions to a shared aligned distribution given only samples from each distribution. This task has many applications including generative modeling, unsupervised domain adaptation, and socially aware learning. Most prior works use adversarial learning (i.e., min-max optimization), which can be challenging to optimize and evaluate. A few recent works explore non-adversarial flow-based (i.e., invertible) approaches, but they lack a unified perspective and are limited in efficiently aligning multiple distributions. Therefore, we propose to unify and generalize previous flow-based approaches under a single non-adversarial framework, which we prove is equivalent to minimizing an upper bound on the Jensen-Shannon Divergence (JSD). Importantly, our problem reduces to a min-min, i.e., cooperative, problem and can provide a natural evaluation metric for unsupervised distribution alignment. We show empirical results on both simulated and real-world datasets to demonstrate the benefits of our approach. Code is available at

Generalization Bounds with Minimal Dependency on Hypothesis Class via Distributionally Robust Optimization

Yibo Zeng · Henry Lam

Established approaches to obtain generalization bounds in data-driven optimization and machine learning mostly build on solutions from empirical risk minimization (ERM), which depend crucially on the functional complexity of the hypothesis class. In this paper, we present an alternate route to obtain these bounds on the solution from distributionally robust optimization (DRO), a recent data-driven optimization framework based on worst-case analysis and the notion of ambiguity set to capture statistical uncertainty. In contrast to the hypothesis class complexity in ERM, our DRO bounds depend on the ambiguity set geometry and its compatibility with the true loss function. Notably, when using statistical distances such as maximum mean discrepancy, Wasserstein distance, or $\phi$-divergence in the DRO, our analysis implies generalization bounds whose dependence on the hypothesis class appears the minimal possible: The bound depends solely on the true loss function, independent of any other candidates in the hypothesis class. To our best knowledge, it is the first generalization bound of this type in the literature, and we hope our findings can open the door for a better understanding of DRO, especially its benefits on loss minimization and other machine learning applications.

Minimax Optimal Fixed-Budget Best Arm Identification in Linear Bandits

Junwen Yang · Vincent Tan

We study the problem of best arm identification in linear bandits in the fixed-budget setting. By leveraging properties of the G-optimal design and incorporating it into the arm allocation rule, we design a parameter-free algorithm, Optimal Design-based Linear Best Arm Identification (OD-LinBAI). We provide a theoretical analysis of the failure probability of OD-LinBAI. Instead of all the optimality gaps, the performance of OD-LinBAI depends only on the gaps of the top $d$ arms, where $d$ is the effective dimension of the linear bandit instance. Complementarily, we present a minimax lower bound for this problem. The upper and lower bounds show that OD-LinBAI is minimax optimal up to constant multiplicative factors in the exponent, which is a significant theoretical improvement over existing methods (e.g., BayesGap, Peace, LinearExploration and GSE), and settles the question of ascertaining the difficulty of learning the best arm in the fixed-budget setting. Finally, numerical experiments demonstrate considerable empirical improvements over existing algorithms on a variety of real and synthetic datasets.

Markov Chain Score Ascent: A Unifying Framework of Variational Inference with Markovian Gradients

Kyurae Kim · Jisu Oh · Jacob Gardner · Adji Bousso Dieng · Hongseok Kim

Minimizing the inclusive Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence with stochastic gradient descent (SGD) is challenging since its gradient is defined as an integral over the posterior. Recently, multiple methods have been proposed to run SGD with biased gradient estimates obtained from a Markov chain. This paper provides the first non-asymptotic convergence analysis of these methods by establishing their mixing rate and gradient variance. To do this, we demonstrate that these methods—which we collectively refer to as Markov chain score ascent (MCSA) methods—can be cast as special cases of the Markov chain gradient descent framework. Furthermore, by leveraging this new understanding, we develop a novel MCSA scheme, parallel MCSA (pMCSA), that achieves a tighter bound on the gradient variance. We demonstrate that this improved theoretical result translates to superior empirical performance.

A Kernelised Stein Statistic for Assessing Implicit Generative Models

Wenkai Xu · Gesine D Reinert

Synthetic data generation has become a key ingredient for training machine learning procedures, addressing tasks such as data augmentation, analysing privacy-sensitive data, or visualising representative samples. Assessing the quality of such synthetic data generators hence has to be addressed. As (deep) generative models for synthetic data often do not admit explicit probability distributions, classical statistical procedures for assessing model goodness-of-fit may not be applicable. In this paper, we propose a principled procedure to assess the quality of a synthetic data generator. The procedure is a Kernelised Stein Discrepancy-type test which is based on a non-parametric Stein operator for the synthetic data generator of interest. This operator is estimated from samples which are obtained from the synthetic data generator and hence can be applied even when the model is only implicit. In contrast to classical testing, the sample size from the synthetic data generator can be as large as desired, while the size of the observed data that the generator aims to emulate is fixed. Experimental results on synthetic distributions and trained generative models on synthetic and real datasets illustrate that the method shows improved power performance compared to existing approaches.

Effects of Data Geometry in Early Deep Learning

Saket Tiwari · George Konidaris

Deep neural networks can approximate functions on different types of data, from images to graphs, with varied underlying structure. This underlying structure can be viewed as the geometry of the data manifold. By extending recent advances in the theoretical understanding of neural networks, we study how a randomly initialized neural network with piecewise linear activation splits the data manifold into regions where the neural network behaves as a linear function. We derive bounds on the density of boundary of linear regions and the distance to these boundaries on the data manifold. This leads to insights into the expressivity of randomly initialized deep neural networks on non-Euclidean data sets. We empirically corroborate our theoretical results using a toy supervised learning problem. Our experiments demonstrate that number of linear regions varies across manifolds and the results hold with changing neural network architectures. We further demonstrate how the complexity of linear regions is different on the low dimensional manifold of images as compared to the Euclidean space, using the MetFaces dataset.

Deep Differentiable Logic Gate Networks

Felix Petersen · Christian Borgelt · Hilde Kuehne · Oliver Deussen

Recently, research has increasingly focused on developing efficient neural network architectures. In this work, we explore logic gate networks for machine learning tasks by learning combinations of logic gates. These networks comprise logic gates such as "AND" and "XOR", which allow for very fast execution. The difficulty in learning logic gate networks is that they are conventionally non-differentiable and therefore do not allow training with gradient descent. Thus, to allow for effective training, we propose differentiable logic gate networks, an architecture that combines real-valued logics and a continuously parameterized relaxation of the network. The resulting discretized logic gate networks achieve fast inference speeds, e.g., beyond a million images of MNIST per second on a single CPU core.

Exploring the Latent Space of Autoencoders with Interventional Assays

Felix Leeb · Stefan Bauer · Michel Besserve · Bernhard Schölkopf

Autoencoders exhibit impressive abilities to embed the data manifold into a low-dimensional latent space, making them a staple of representation learning methods. However, without explicit supervision, which is often unavailable, the representation is usually uninterpretable, making analysis and principled progress challenging. We propose a framework, called latent responses, which exploits the locally contractive behavior exhibited by variational autoencoders to explore the learned manifold. More specifically, we develop tools to probe the representation using interventions in the latent space to quantify the relationships between latent variables. We extend the notion of disentanglement to take the learned generative process into account and consequently avoid the limitations of existing metrics that may rely on spurious correlations. Our analyses underscore the importance of studying the causal structure of the representation to improve performance on downstream tasks such as generation, interpolation, and inference of the factors of variation.

Semi-Discrete Normalizing Flows through Differentiable Tessellation

Ricky T. Q. Chen · Brandon Amos · Maximilian Nickel

Mapping between discrete and continuous distributions is a difficult task and many have had to resort to heuristical approaches. We propose a tessellation-based approach that directly learns quantization boundaries in a continuous space, complete with exact likelihood evaluations. This is done through constructing normalizing flows on convex polytopes parameterized using a simple homeomorphism with an efficient log determinant Jacobian. We explore this approach in two application settings, mapping from discrete to continuous and vice versa. Firstly, a Voronoi dequantization allows automatically learning quantization boundaries in a multidimensional space. The location of boundaries and distances between regions can encode useful structural relations between the quantized discrete values. Secondly, a Voronoi mixture model has near-constant computation cost for likelihood evaluation regardless of the number of mixture components. Empirically, we show improvements over existing methods across a range of structured data modalities.

Video Diffusion Models

Jonathan Ho · Tim Salimans · Alexey Gritsenko · William Chan · Mohammad Norouzi · David Fleet

Generating temporally coherent high fidelity video is an important milestone in generative modeling research. We make progress towards this milestone by proposing a diffusion model for video generation that shows very promising initial results. Our model is a natural extension of the standard image diffusion architecture, and it enables jointly training from image and video data, which we find to reduce the variance of minibatch gradients and speed up optimization. To generate long and higher resolution videos we introduce a new conditional sampling technique for spatial and temporal video extension that performs better than previously proposed methods. We present the first results on a large text-conditioned video generation task, as well as state-of-the-art results on established benchmarks for video prediction and unconditional video generation. Supplementary material is available at

What is Where by Looking: Weakly-Supervised Open-World Phrase-Grounding without Text Inputs

Tal Shaharabany · Yoad Tewel · Lior Wolf

Given an input image, and nothing else, our method returns the bounding boxes of objects in the image and phrases that describe the objects. This is achieved within an open world paradigm, in which the objects in the input image may not have been encountered during the training of the localization mechanism. Moreover, training takes place in a weakly supervised setting, where no bounding boxes are provided. To achieve this, our method combines two pre-trained networks: the CLIP image-to-text matching score and the BLIP image captioning tool. Training takes place on COCO images and their captions and is based on CLIP. Then, during inference, BLIP is used to generate a hypothesis regarding various regions of the current image. Our work generalizes weakly supervised segmentation and phrase grounding and is shown empirically to outperform the state of the art in both domains. It also shows very convincing results in the novel task of weakly-supervised open-world purely visual phrase-grounding presented in our work.For example, on the datasets used for benchmarking phrase-grounding, our method results in a very modest degradation in comparison to methods that employ human captions as an additional input.

Generative multitask learning mitigates target-causing confounding

Taro Makino · Krzysztof Geras · Kyunghyun Cho

We propose generative multitask learning (GMTL), a simple and scalable approach to causal machine learning in the multitask setting. Our approach makes a minor change to the conventional multitask inference objective, and improves robustness to target shift. Since GMTL only modifies the inference objective, it can be used with existing multitask learning methods without requiring additional training. The improvement in robustness comes from mitigating unobserved confounders that cause the targets, but not the input. We refer to them as \emph{target-causing confounders}. These confounders induce spurious dependencies between the input and targets. This poses a problem for conventional multitask learning, due to its assumption that the targets are conditionally independent given the input. GMTL mitigates target-causing confounding at inference time, by removing the influence of the joint target distribution, and predicting all targets jointly. This removes the spurious dependencies between the input and targets, where the degree of removal is adjustable via a single hyperparameter. This flexibility is useful for managing the trade-off between in- and out-of-distribution generalization. Our results on the Attributes of People and Taskonomy datasets reflect an improved robustness to target shift across four multitask learning methods.

Adversarial Task Up-sampling for Meta-learning

Yichen WU · Long-Kai Huang · Ying Wei

The success of meta-learning on existing benchmarks is predicated on the assumption that the distribution of meta-training tasks covers meta-testing tasks. Frequent violation of the assumption in applications with either insufficient tasks or a very narrow meta-training task distribution leads to memorization or learner overfitting. Recent solutions have pursued augmentation of meta-training tasks, while it is still an open question to generate both correct and sufficiently imaginary tasks. In this paper, we seek an approach that up-samples meta-training tasks from the task representation via a task up-sampling network. Besides, the resulting approach named Adversarial Task Up-sampling (ATU) suffices to generate tasks that can maximally contribute to the latest meta-learner by maximizing an adversarial loss. On few-shot sine regression and image classification datasets, we empirically validate the marked improvement of ATU over state-of-the-art task augmentation strategies in the meta-testing performance and also the quality of up-sampled tasks.

DHRL: A Graph-Based Approach for Long-Horizon and Sparse Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning

Seungjae Lee · Jigang Kim · Inkyu Jang · H. Jin Kim

Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning (HRL) has made notable progress in complex control tasks by leveraging temporal abstraction. However, previous HRL algorithms often suffer from serious data inefficiency as environments get large. The extended components, $i.e.$, goal space and length of episodes, impose a burden on either one or both high-level and low-level policies since both levels share the total horizon of the episode. In this paper, we present a method of Decoupling Horizons Using a Graph in Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning (DHRL) which can alleviate this problem by decoupling the horizons of high-level and low-level policies and bridging the gap between the length of both horizons using a graph. DHRL provides a freely stretchable high-level action interval, which facilitates longer temporal abstraction and faster training in complex tasks. Our method outperforms state-of-the-art HRL algorithms in typical HRL environments. Moreover, DHRL achieves long and complex locomotion and manipulation tasks.

Entropy-Driven Mixed-Precision Quantization for Deep Network Design

Zhenhong Sun · Ce Ge · Junyan Wang · Ming Lin · Hesen Chen · Hao Li · Xiuyu Sun

Deploying deep convolutional neural networks on Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices is challenging due to the limited computational resources, such as limited SRAM memory and Flash storage. Previous works re-design a small network for IoT devices, and then compress the network size by mixed-precision quantization. This two-stage procedure cannot optimize the architecture and the corresponding quantization jointly, leading to sub-optimal tiny deep models. In this work, we propose a one-stage solution that optimizes both jointly and automatically. The key idea of our approach is to cast the joint architecture design and quantization as an Entropy Maximization process. Particularly, our algorithm automatically designs a tiny deep model such that: 1) Its representation capacity measured by entropy is maximized under the given computational budget; 2) Each layer is assigned with a proper quantization precision; 3) The overall design loop can be done on CPU, and no GPU is required. More impressively, our method can directly search high-expressiveness architecture for IoT devices within less than half a CPU hour. Extensive experiments on three widely adopted benchmarks, ImageNet, VWW and WIDER FACE, demonstrate that our method can achieve the state-of-the-art performance in the tiny deep model regime. Code and pre-trained models are available at

Efficient and Effective Augmentation Strategy for Adversarial Training

Sravanti Addepalli · Samyak Jain · Venkatesh Babu R

Adversarial training of Deep Neural Networks is known to be significantly more data-hungry when compared to standard training. Furthermore, complex data augmentations such as AutoAugment, which have led to substantial gains in standard training of image classifiers, have not been successful with Adversarial Training. We first explain this contrasting behavior by viewing augmentation during training as a problem of domain generalization, and further propose Diverse Augmentation-based Joint Adversarial Training (DAJAT) to use data augmentations effectively in adversarial training. We aim to handle the conflicting goals of enhancing the diversity of the training dataset and training with data that is close to the test distribution by using a combination of simple and complex augmentations with separate batch normalization layers during training. We further utilize the popular Jensen-Shannon divergence loss to encourage the \emph{joint} learning of the \emph{diverse augmentations}, thereby allowing simple augmentations to guide the learning of complex ones. Lastly, to improve the computational efficiency of the proposed method, we propose and utilize a two-step defense, Ascending Constraint Adversarial Training (ACAT), that uses an increasing epsilon schedule and weight-space smoothing to prevent gradient masking. The proposed method DAJAT achieves substantially better robustness-accuracy trade-off when compared to existing methods on the RobustBench Leaderboard on ResNet-18 and WideResNet-34-10. The code for implementing DAJAT is available here:

Dataset Inference for Self-Supervised Models

Adam Dziedzic · Haonan Duan · Muhammad Ahmad Kaleem · Nikita Dhawan · Jonas Guan · Yannis Cattan · Franziska Boenisch · Nicolas Papernot

Self-supervised models are increasingly prevalent in machine learning (ML) since they reduce the need for expensively labeled data. Because of their versatility in downstream applications, they are increasingly used as a service exposed via public APIs. At the same time, these encoder models are particularly vulnerable to model stealing attacks due to the high dimensionality of vector representations they output. Yet, encoders remain undefended: existing mitigation strategies for stealing attacks focus on supervised learning. We introduce a new dataset inference defense, which uses the private training set of the victim encoder model to attribute its ownership in the event of stealing. The intuition is that the log-likelihood of an encoder's output representations is higher on the victim's training data than on test data if it is stolen from the victim, but not if it is independently trained. We compute this log-likelihood using density estimation models. As part of our evaluation, we also propose measuring the fidelity of stolen encoders and quantifying the effectiveness of the theft detection without involving downstream tasks; instead, we leverage mutual information and distance measurements. Our extensive empirical results in the vision domain demonstrate that dataset inference is a promising direction for defending self-supervised models against model stealing.

Exposing and Exploiting Fine-Grained Block Structures for Fast and Accurate Sparse Training

Peng Jiang · Lihan Hu · Shihui Song

Sparse training is a popular technique to reduce the overhead of training large models. Although previous work has shown promising results for nonstructured sparse models, it is still unclear whether a sparse model with structural constraints can be trained from scratch to high accuracy. In this work, we study the dynamic sparse training for a class of sparse models with shuffled block structures. Compared to nonstructured models, such fine-grained structured models are more hardware-friendly and can effectively accelerate the training process. We propose an algorithm that keeps adapting the sparse model while maintaining the active parameters in shuffled blocks. We conduct experiments on a variety of networks and datasets and obtain positive results. In particular, on ImageNet, we achieve dense accuracy for ResNet50 and ResNet18 at 0.5 sparsity. On CIFAR10/100, we show that dense accuracy can be recovered at 0.6 sparsity for various models. At higher sparsity, our algorithm can still match the accuracy of nonstructured sparse training in most cases, while reducing the training time by up to 5x due to the fine-grained block structures in the models.

Inducing Neural Collapse in Imbalanced Learning: Do We Really Need a Learnable Classifier at the End of Deep Neural Network?

Yibo Yang · Shixiang Chen · Xiangtai Li · Liang Xie · Zhouchen Lin · Dacheng Tao

Modern deep neural networks for classification usually jointly learn a backbone for representation and a linear classifier to output the logit of each class. A recent study has shown a phenomenon called neural collapse that the within-class means of features and the classifier vectors converge to the vertices of a simplex equiangular tight frame (ETF) at the terminal phase of training on a balanced dataset. Since the ETF geometric structure maximally separates the pair-wise angles of all classes in the classifier, it is natural to raise the question, why do we spend an effort to learn a classifier when we know its optimal geometric structure? In this paper, we study the potential of learning a neural network for classification with the classifier randomly initialized as an ETF and fixed during training. Our analytical work based on the layer-peeled model indicates that the feature learning with a fixed ETF classifier naturally leads to the neural collapse state even when the dataset is imbalanced among classes. We further show that in this case the cross entropy (CE) loss is not necessary and can be replaced by a simple squared loss that shares the same global optimality but enjoys a better convergence property. Our experimental results show that our method is able to bring significant improvements with faster convergence on multiple imbalanced datasets.

Alleviating Adversarial Attacks on Variational Autoencoders with MCMC

Anna Kuzina · Max Welling · Jakub Tomczak

Variational autoencoders (VAEs) are latent variable models that can generate complex objects and provide meaningful latent representations. Moreover, they could be further used in downstream tasks such as classification. As previous work has shown, one can easily fool VAEs to produce unexpected latent representations and reconstructions for a visually slightly modified input. Here, we examine several objective functions for adversarial attacks construction proposed previously and present a solution to alleviate the effect of these attacks. Our method utilizes the Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) technique in the inference step that we motivate with a theoretical analysis. Thus, we do not incorporate any extra costs during training and the performance on non-attacked inputs is not decreased. We validate our approach on a variety of datasets (MNIST, Fashion MNIST, Color MNIST, CelebA) and VAE configurations ($\beta$-VAE, NVAE, $\beta$-TCVAE), and show that our approach consistently improves the model robustness to adversarial attacks.

Smoothed Embeddings for Certified Few-Shot Learning

Mikhail Pautov · Olesya Kuznetsova · Nurislam Tursynbek · Aleksandr Petiushko · Ivan Oseledets

Randomized smoothing is considered to be the state-of-the-art provable defense against adversarial perturbations. However, it heavily exploits the fact that classifiers map input objects to class probabilities and do not focus on the ones that learn a metric space in which classification is performed by computing distances to embeddings of class prototypes. In this work, we extend randomized smoothing to few-shot learning models that map inputs to normalized embeddings. We provide analysis of the Lipschitz continuity of such models and derive a robustness certificate against $\ell_2$-bounded perturbations that may be useful in few-shot learning scenarios. Our theoretical results are confirmed by experiments on different datasets.

Instability and Local Minima in GAN Training with Kernel Discriminators

Evan Becker · Parthe Pandit · Sundeep Rangan · Alyson Fletcher

Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) are a widely-used tool for generative modeling of complex data. Despite their empirical success, the training of GANs is not fully understood due to the joint training of the generator and discriminator. This paper analyzes these joint dynamics when the true samples, as well as the generated samples, are discrete, finite sets, and the discriminator is kernel-based. A simple yet expressive framework for analyzing training called the $\textit{Isolated Points Model}$ is introduced. In the proposed model, the distance between true samples greatly exceeds the kernel width so that each generated point is influenced by at most one true point. The model enables precise characterization of the conditions for convergence both to good and bad minima. In particular, the analysis explains two common failure modes: (i) an approximate mode collapse and (ii) divergence. Numerical simulations are provided that predictably replicate these behaviors.

Beyond the Return: Off-policy Function Estimation under User-specified Error-measuring Distributions

Audrey Huang · Nan Jiang

Off-policy evaluation often refers to two related tasks: estimating the expected return of a policy and estimating its value function (or other functions of interest, such as density ratios). While recent works on marginalized importance sampling (MIS) show that the former can enjoy provable guarantees under realizable function approximation, the latter is only known to be feasible under much stronger assumptions such as prohibitively expressive discriminators. In this work, we provide guarantees for off-policy function estimation under only realizability, by imposing proper regularization on the MIS objectives. Compared to commonly used regularization in MIS, our regularizer is much more flexible and can account for an arbitrary user-specified distribution, under which the learned function will be close to the groundtruth. We provide exact characterization of the optimal dual solution that needs to be realized by the discriminator class, which determines the data-coverage assumption in the case of value-function learning. As another surprising observation, the regularizer can be altered to relax the data-coverage requirement, and completely eliminate it in the ideal case with strong side information.

On Kernelized Multi-Armed Bandits with Constraints

Xingyu Zhou · Bo Ji

We study a stochastic bandit problem with a general unknown reward function and a general unknown constraint function. Both functions can be non-linear (even non-convex) and are assumed to lie in a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS) with a bounded norm. This kernelized bandit setup strictly generalizes standard multi-armed bandits and linear bandits. In contrast to safety-type hard constraints studied in prior works, we consider soft constraints that may be violated in any round as long as the cumulative violations are small, which is motivated by various practical applications. Our ultimate goal is to study how to utilize the nature of soft constraints to attain a finer complexity-regret-constraint trade-off in the kernelized bandit setting. To this end, leveraging primal-dual optimization, we propose a general framework for both algorithm design and performance analysis. This framework builds upon a novel sufficient condition, which not only is satisfied under general exploration strategies, including \emph{upper confidence bound} (UCB), \emph{Thompson sampling} (TS), and new ones based on \emph{random exploration}, but also enables a unified analysis for showing both sublinear regret and sublinear or even zero constraint violation. We demonstrate the superior performance of our proposed algorithms via numerical experiments based on both synthetic and real-world datasets. Along the way, we also make the first detailed comparison between two popular methods for analyzing constrained bandits and Markov decision processes (MDPs) by discussing the key difference and some subtleties in the analysis, which could be of independent interest to the communities.

Target alignment in truncated kernel ridge regression

Arash Amini · Richard Baumgartner · Dai Feng

Kernel ridge regression (KRR) has recently attracted renewed interest due to its potential for explaining the transient effects, such as double descent, that emerge during neural network training. In this work, we study how the alignment between the target function and the kernel affects the performance of the KRR. We focus on the truncated KRR (TKRR) which utilizes an additional parameter that controls the spectral truncation of the kernel matrix. We show that for polynomial alignment, there is an over-aligned regime, in which TKRR can achieve a faster rate than what is achievable by full KRR. The rate of TKRR can improve all the way to the parametric rate, while that of full KRR is capped at a sub-optimal value. This shows that target alignemnt can be better leveraged by utilizing spectral truncation in kernel methods. We also consider the bandlimited alignment setting and show that the regularization surface of TKRR can exhibit transient effects including multiple descent and non-monotonic behavior. Our results show that there is a strong and quantifable relation between the shape of the alignment spectrum and the generalization performance of kernel methods, both in terms of rates and in finite samples.

Local Bayesian optimization via maximizing probability of descent

Quan Nguyen · Kaiwen Wu · Jacob Gardner · Roman Garnett

Local optimization presents a promising approach to expensive, high-dimensional black-box optimization by sidestepping the need to globally explore the search space. For objective functions whose gradient cannot be evaluated directly, Bayesian optimization offers one solution -- we construct a probabilistic model of the objective, design a policy to learn about the gradient at the current location, and use the resulting information to navigate the objective landscape. Previous work has realized this scheme by minimizing the variance in the estimate of the gradient, then moving in the direction of the expected gradient. In this paper, we re-examine and refine this approach. We demonstrate that, surprisingly, the expected value of the gradient is not always the direction maximizing the probability of descent, and in fact, these directions may be nearly orthogonal. This observation then inspires an elegant optimization scheme seeking to maximize the probability of descent while moving in the direction of most-probable descent. Experiments on both synthetic and real-world objectives show that our method outperforms previous realizations of this optimization scheme and is competitive against other, significantly more complicated baselines.

MEMO: Test Time Robustness via Adaptation and Augmentation

Marvin Zhang · Sergey Levine · Chelsea Finn

While deep neural networks can attain good accuracy on in-distribution test points, many applications require robustness even in the face of unexpected perturbations in the input, changes in the domain, or other sources of distribution shift. We study the problem of test time robustification, i.e., using the test input to improve model robustness. Recent prior works have proposed methods for test time adaptation, however, they each introduce additional assumptions, such as access to multiple test points, that prevent widespread adoption. In this work, we aim to study and devise methods that make no assumptions about the model training process and are broadly applicable at test time. We propose a simple approach that can be used in any test setting where the model is probabilistic and adaptable: when presented with a test example, perform different data augmentations on the data point, and then adapt (all of) the model parameters by minimizing the entropy of the model's average, or marginal, output distribution across the augmentations. Intuitively, this objective encourages the model to make the same prediction across different augmentations, thus enforcing the invariances encoded in these augmentations, while also maintaining confidence in its predictions. In our experiments, we evaluate two baseline ResNet models, two robust ResNet-50 models, and a robust vision transformer model, and we demonstrate that this approach achieves accuracy gains of 1-8% over standard model evaluation and also generally outperforms prior augmentation and adaptation strategies. For the setting in which only one test point is available, we achieve state-of-the-art results on the ImageNet-C, ImageNet-R, and, among ResNet-50 models, ImageNet-A distribution shift benchmarks.

Latent Planning via Expansive Tree Search

Robert Gieselmann · Florian T. Pokorny

Planning enables autonomous agents to solve complex decision-making problems by evaluating predictions of the future. However, classical planning algorithms often become infeasible in real-world settings where state spaces are high-dimensional and transition dynamics unknown. The idea behind latent planning is to simplify the decision-making task by mapping it to a lower-dimensional embedding space. Common latent planning strategies are based on trajectory optimization techniques such as shooting or collocation, which are prone to failure in long-horizon and highly non-convex settings. In this work, we study long-horizon goal-reaching scenarios from visual inputs and formulate latent planning as an explorative tree search. Inspired by classical sampling-based motion planning algorithms, we design a method which iteratively grows and optimizes a tree representation of visited areas of the latent space. To encourage fast exploration, the sampling of new states is biased towards sparsely represented regions within the estimated data support. Our method, called Expansive Latent Space Trees (ELAST), relies on self-supervised training via contrastive learning to obtain (a) a latent state representation and (b) a latent transition density model. We embed ELAST into a model-predictive control scheme and demonstrate significant performance improvements compared to existing baselines given challenging visual control tasks in simulation, including the navigation for a deformable object.

Efficient and Effective Optimal Transport-Based Biclustering

Chakib Fettal · lazhar labiod · Mohamed NADIF

Bipartite graphs can be used to model a wide variety of dyadic information such as user-rating, document-term, and gene-disorder pairs. Biclustering is an extension of clustering to the underlying bipartite graph induced from this kind of data. In this paper, we leverage optimal transport (OT) which has gained momentum in the machine learning community to propose a novel and scalable biclustering model that generalizes several classical biclustering approaches. We perform extensive experimentation to show the validity of our approach compared to other OT biclustering algorithms along both dimensions of the dyadic datasets.

Are Two Heads the Same as One? Identifying Disparate Treatment in Fair Neural Networks

Michael Lohaus · Matthäus Kleindessner · Krishnaram Kenthapadi · Francesco Locatello · Chris Russell

We show that deep networks trained to satisfy demographic parity often do so through a form of race or gender awareness, and that the more we force a network to be fair, the more accurately we can recover race or gender from the internal state of the network. Based on this observation, we investigate an alternative fairness approach: we add a second classification head to the network to explicitly predict the protected attribute (such as race or gender) alongside the original task. After training the two-headed network, we enforce demographic parity by merging the two heads, creating a network with the same architecture as the original network. We establish a close relationship between existing approaches and our approach by showing (1) that the decisions of a fair classifier are well-approximated by our approach, and (2) that an unfair and optimally accurate classifier can be recovered from a fair classifier and our second head predicting the protected attribute. We use our explicit formulation to argue that the existing fairness approaches, just as ours, demonstrate disparate treatment and that they are likely to be unlawful in a wide range of scenarios under US law.

On the Adversarial Robustness of Mixture of Experts

Joan Puigcerver · Rodolphe Jenatton · Carlos Riquelme · Pranjal Awasthi · Srinadh Bhojanapalli

Adversarial robustness is a key desirable property of neural networks. It has been empirically shown to be affected by their sizes, with larger networks being typically more robust. Recently, \citet{bubeck2021universal} proved a lower bound on the Lipschitz constant of functions that fit the training data in terms of their number of parameters. This raises an interesting open question, do---and can---functions with more parameters, but not necessarily more computational cost, have better robustness? We study this question for sparse Mixture of Expert models (MoEs), that make it possible to scale up the model size for a roughly constant computational cost. We theoretically show that under certain conditions on the routing and the structure of the data, MoEs can have significantly smaller Lipschitz constants than their dense counterparts. The robustness of MoEs can suffer when the highest weighted experts for an input implement sufficiently different functions. We next empirically evaluate the robustness of MoEs on ImageNet using adversarial attacks and show they are indeed more robust than dense models with the same computational cost. We make key observations showing the robustness of MoEs to the choice of experts, highlighting the redundancy of experts in models trained in practice.

Scalable Distributional Robustness in a Class of Non-Convex Optimization with Guarantees

Avinandan Bose · Arunesh Sinha · Tien Mai

Distributionally robust optimization (DRO) has shown a lot of promise in providing robustness in learning as well as sample-based optimization problems. We endeavor to provide DRO solutions for a class of sum of fractionals, non-convex optimization which is used for decision making in prominent areas such as facility location and security games. In contrast to previous work, we find it more tractable to optimize the equivalent variance regularized form of DRO rather than the minimax form. We transform the variance regularized form to a mixed-integer second-order cone program (MISOCP), which, while guaranteeing global optimality, does not scale enough to solve problems with real-world datasets. We further propose two abstraction approaches based on clustering and stratified sampling to increase scalability, which we then use for real-world datasets. Importantly, we provide global optimality guarantees for our approach and show experimentally that our solution quality is better than the locally optimal ones achieved by state-of-the-art gradient-based methods. We experimentally compare our different approaches and baselines and reveal nuanced properties of a DRO solution.

A framework for bilevel optimization that enables stochastic and global variance reduction algorithms

Mathieu Dagréou · Pierre Ablin · Samuel Vaiter · Thomas Moreau

Bilevel optimization, the problem of minimizing a value function which involves the arg-minimum of another function, appears in many areas of machine learning. In a large scale empirical risk minimization setting where the number of samples is huge, it is crucial to develop stochastic methods, which only use a few samples at a time to progress. However, computing the gradient of the value function involves solving a linear system, which makes it difficult to derive unbiased stochastic estimates.To overcome this problem we introduce a novel framework, in which the solution of the inner problem, the solution of the linear system, and the main variable evolve at the same time. These directions are written as a sum, making it straightforward to derive unbiased estimates.The simplicity of our approach allows us to develop global variance reduction algorithms, where the dynamics of all variables is subject to variance reduction.We demonstrate that SABA, an adaptation of the celebrated SAGA algorithm in our framework, has $O(\frac1T)$ convergence rate, and that it achieves linear convergence under Polyak-Lojasciewicz assumption.This is the first stochastic algorithm for bilevel optimization that verifies either of these properties.Numerical experiments validate the usefulness of our method.

Trust Region Policy Optimization with Optimal Transport Discrepancies: Duality and Algorithm for Continuous Actions

Antonio Terpin · Nicolas Lanzetti · Batuhan Yardim · Florian Dorfler · Giorgia Ramponi

Policy Optimization (PO) algorithms have been proven particularly suited to handle the high-dimensionality of real-world continuous control tasks. In this context, Trust Region Policy Optimization methods represent a popular approach to stabilize the policy updates. These usually rely on the Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence to limit the change in the policy. The Wasserstein distance represents a natural alternative, in place of the KL divergence, to define trust regions or to regularize the objective function. However, state-of-the-art works either resort to its approximations or do not provide an algorithm for continuous state-action spaces, reducing the applicability of the method.In this paper, we explore optimal transport discrepancies (which include the Wasserstein distance) to define trust regions, and we propose a novel algorithm - Optimal Transport Trust Region Policy Optimization (OT-TRPO) - for continuous state-action spaces. We circumvent the infinite-dimensional optimization problem for PO by providing a one-dimensional dual reformulation for which strong duality holds.We then analytically derive the optimal policy update given the solution of the dual problem. This way, we bypass the computation of optimal transport costs and of optimal transport maps, which we implicitly characterize by solving the dual formulation.Finally, we provide an experimental evaluation of our approach across various control tasks. Our results show that optimal transport discrepancies can offer an advantage over state-of-the-art approaches.

LobsDICE: Offline Learning from Observation via Stationary Distribution Correction Estimation

Geon-Hyeong Kim · Jongmin Lee · Youngsoo Jang · Hongseok Yang · Kee-Eung Kim

We consider the problem of learning from observation (LfO), in which the agent aims to mimic the expert's behavior from the state-only demonstrations by experts. We additionally assume that the agent cannot interact with the environment but has access to the action-labeled transition data collected by some agents with unknown qualities. This offline setting for LfO is appealing in many real-world scenarios where the ground-truth expert actions are inaccessible and the arbitrary environment interactions are costly or risky. In this paper, we present LobsDICE, an offline LfO algorithm that learns to imitate the expert policy via optimization in the space of stationary distributions. Our algorithm solves a single convex minimization problem, which minimizes the divergence between the two state-transition distributions induced by the expert and the agent policy. Through an extensive set of offline LfO tasks, we show that LobsDICE outperforms strong baseline methods.

A Stochastic Linearized Augmented Lagrangian Method for Decentralized Bilevel Optimization

Songtao Lu · Siliang Zeng · Xiaodong Cui · Mark Squillante · Lior Horesh · Brian Kingsbury · Jia Liu · Mingyi Hong

Bilevel optimization has been shown to be a powerful framework for formulating multi-task machine learning problems, e.g., reinforcement learning (RL) and meta-learning, where the decision variables are coupled in both levels of the minimization problems. In practice, the learning tasks would be located at different computing resource environments, and thus there is a need for deploying a decentralized training framework to implement multi-agent and multi-task learning. We develop a stochastic linearized augmented Lagrangian method (SLAM) for solving general nonconvex bilevel optimization problems over a graph, where both upper and lower optimization variables are able to achieve a consensus. We also establish that the theoretical convergence rate of the proposed SLAM to the Karush-Kuhn-Tucker (KKT) points of this class of problems is on the same order as the one achieved by the classical distributed stochastic gradient descent for only single-level nonconvex minimization problems. Numerical results tested on multi-agent RL problems showcase the superiority of SLAM compared with the benchmarks.

Amortized Proximal Optimization

Juhan Bae · Paul Vicol · Jeff Z. HaoChen · Roger Grosse

We propose a framework for online meta-optimization of parameters that govern optimization, called Amortized Proximal Optimization (APO). We first interpret various existing neural network optimizers as approximate stochastic proximal point methods which trade off the current-batch loss with proximity terms in both function space and weight space. The idea behind APO is to amortize the minimization of the proximal point objective by meta-learning the parameters of an update rule. We show how APO can be used to adapt a learning rate or a structured preconditioning matrix. Under appropriate assumptions, APO can recover existing optimizers such as natural gradient descent and KFAC. It enjoys low computational overhead and avoids expensive and numerically sensitive operations required by some second-order optimizers, such as matrix inverses. We empirically test APO for online adaptation of learning rates and structured preconditioning matrices for regression, image reconstruction, image classification, and natural language translation tasks. Empirically, the learning rate schedules found by APO generally outperform optimal fixed learning rates and are competitive with manually tuned decay schedules. Using APO to adapt a structured preconditioning matrix generally results in optimization performance competitive with second-order methods. Moreover, the absence of matrix inversion provides numerical stability, making it effective for low-precision training.

Batch Bayesian Optimization on Permutations using the Acquisition Weighted Kernel

Changyong Oh · Roberto Bondesan · Efstratios Gavves · Max Welling

In this work we propose a batch Bayesian optimization method for combinatorial problems on permutations, which is well suited for expensive-to-evaluate objectives. We first introduce LAW, an efficient batch acquisition method based on determinantal point processes using the acquisition weighted kernel. Relying on multiple parallel evaluations, LAW enables accelerated search on combinatorial spaces. We then apply the framework to permutation problems, which have so far received little attention in the Bayesian Optimization literature, despite their practical importance. We call this method LAW2ORDER. On the theoretical front, we prove that LAW2ORDER has vanishing simple regret by showing that the batch cumulative regret is sublinear. Empirically, we assess the method on several standard combinatorial problems involving permutations such as quadratic assignment, flowshop scheduling and the traveling salesman, as well as on a structure learning task.

On the difficulty of learning chaotic dynamics with RNNs

Jonas Mikhaeil · Zahra Monfared · Daniel Durstewitz

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are wide-spread machine learning tools for modeling sequential and time series data. They are notoriously hard to train because their loss gradients backpropagated in time tend to saturate or diverge during training. This is known as the exploding and vanishing gradient problem. Previous solutions to this issue either built on rather complicated, purpose-engineered architectures with gated memory buffers, or - more recently - imposed constraints that ensure convergence to a fixed point or restrict (the eigenspectrum of) the recurrence matrix. Such constraints, however, convey severe limitations on the expressivity of the RNN. Essential intrinsic dynamics such as multistability or chaos are disabled. This is inherently at disaccord with the chaotic nature of many, if not most, time series encountered in nature and society. It is particularly problematic in scientific applications where one aims to reconstruct the underlying dynamical system. Here we offer a comprehensive theoretical treatment of this problem by relating the loss gradients during RNN training to the Lyapunov spectrum of RNN-generated orbits. We mathematically prove that RNNs producing stable equilibrium or cyclic behavior have bounded gradients, whereas the gradients of RNNs with chaotic dynamics always diverge. Based on these analyses and insights we suggest ways of how to optimize the training process on chaotic data according to the system's Lyapunov spectrum, regardless of the employed RNN architecture.

Learning to Configure Computer Networks with Neural Algorithmic Reasoning

Luca Beurer-Kellner · Martin Vechev · Laurent Vanbever · Petar Veličković

We present a new method for scaling automatic configuration of computer networks. The key idea is to relax the computationally hard search problem of finding a configuration that satisfies a given specification into an approximate objective amenable to learning-based techniques. Based on this idea, we train a neural algorithmic model which learns to generate configurations likely to (fully or partially) satisfy a given specification under existing routing protocols. By relaxing the rigid satisfaction guarantees, our approach (i) enables greater flexibility: it is protocol-agnostic, enables cross-protocol reasoning, and does not depend on hardcoded rules; and (ii) finds configurations for much larger computer networks than previously possible. Our learned synthesizer is up to 490x faster than state-of-the-art SMT-based methods, while producing configurations which on average satisfy more than 93% of the provided requirements.

Autoregressive Search Engines: Generating Substrings as Document Identifiers

Michele Bevilacqua · Giuseppe Ottaviano · Patrick Lewis · Scott Yih · Sebastian Riedel · Fabio Petroni

Knowledge-intensive language tasks require NLP systems to both provide the correct answer and retrieve supporting evidence for it in a given corpus. Autoregressive language models are emerging as the de-facto standard for generating answers, with newer and more powerful systems emerging at an astonishing pace. In this paper we argue that all this (and future) progress can be directly applied to the retrieval problem with minimal intervention to the models' architecture. Previous work has explored ways to partition the search space into hierarchical structures and retrieve documents by autoregressively generating their unique identifier. In this work we propose an alternative that doesn't force any structure in the search space: using all ngrams in a passage as its possible identifiers. This setup allows us to use an autoregressive model to generate and score distinctive ngrams, that are then mapped to full passages through an efficient data structure. Empirically, we show this not only outperforms prior autoregressive approaches but also leads to an average improvement of at least 10 points over more established retrieval solutions for passage-level retrieval on the KILT benchmark, establishing new state-of-the-art downstream performance on some datasets, while using a considerably lighter memory footprint than competing systems. Code available in the supplementary materials. Pre-trained models will be made available.

Efficient learning of nonlinear prediction models with time-series privileged information

Bastian Jung · Fredrik Johansson

In domains where sample sizes are limited, efficient learning algorithms are critical. Learning using privileged information (LuPI) offers increased sample efficiency by allowing prediction models access to auxiliary information at training time which is unavailable when the models are used. In recent work, it was shown that for prediction in linear-Gaussian dynamical systems, a LuPI learner with access to intermediate time series data is never worse and often better in expectation than any unbiased classical learner. We provide new insights into this analysis and generalize it to nonlinear prediction tasks in latent dynamical systems, extending theoretical guarantees to the case where the map connecting latent variables and observations is known up to a linear transform. In addition, we propose algorithms based on random features and representation learning for the case when this map is unknown. A suite of empirical results confirm theoretical findings and show the potential of using privileged time-series information in nonlinear prediction.

Revisiting Active Sets for Gaussian Process Decoders

Pablo Moreno-Muñoz · Cilie Feldager · Søren Hauberg

Decoders built on Gaussian processes (GPs) are enticing due to the marginalisation over the non-linear function space. Such models (also known as GP-LVMs) are often expensive and notoriously difficult to train in practice, but can be scaled using variational inference and inducing points. In this paper, we revisit active set approximations. We develop a new stochastic estimate of the log-marginal likelihood based on recently discovered links to cross-validation, and we propose a computationally efficient approximation thereof. We demonstrate that the resulting stochastic active sets (SAS) approximation significantly improves the robustness of GP decoder training, while reducing computational cost. The SAS-GP obtains more structure in the latent space, scales to many datapoints, and learns better representations than variational autoencoders, which is rarely the case for GP decoders.

Tractable Function-Space Variational Inference in Bayesian Neural Networks

Tim G. J. Rudner · Zonghao Chen · Yee Whye Teh · Yarin Gal

Reliable predictive uncertainty estimation plays an important role in enabling the deployment of neural networks to safety-critical settings. A popular approach for estimating the predictive uncertainty of neural networks is to define a prior distribution over the network parameters, infer an approximate posterior distribution, and use it to make stochastic predictions. However, explicit inference over neural network parameters makes it difficult to incorporate meaningful prior information about the data-generating process into the model. In this paper, we pursue an alternative approach. Recognizing that the primary object of interest in most settings is the distribution over functions induced by the posterior distribution over neural network parameters, we frame Bayesian inference in neural networks explicitly as inferring a posterior distribution over functions and propose a scalable function-space variational inference method that allows incorporating prior information and results in reliable predictive uncertainty estimates. We show that the proposed method leads to state-of-the-art uncertainty estimation and predictive performance on a range of prediction tasks and demonstrate that it performs well on a challenging safety-critical medical diagnosis task in which reliable uncertainty estimation is essential.

RNNs of RNNs: Recursive Construction of Stable Assemblies of Recurrent Neural Networks

Leo Kozachkov · Michaela Ennis · Jean-Jacques Slotine

Recurrent neural networks (RNNs) are widely used throughout neuroscience as models of local neural activity. Many properties of single RNNs are well characterized theoretically, but experimental neuroscience has moved in the direction of studying multiple interacting areas, and RNN theory needs to be likewise extended. We take a constructive approach towards this problem, leveraging tools from nonlinear control theory and machine learning to characterize when combinations of stable RNNs will themselves be stable. Importantly, we derive conditions which allow for massive feedback connections between interacting RNNs. We parameterize these conditions for easy optimization using gradient-based techniques, and show that stability-constrained "networks of networks" can perform well on challenging sequential-processing benchmark tasks. Altogether, our results provide a principled approach towards understanding distributed, modular function in the brain.

Use-Case-Grounded Simulations for Explanation Evaluation

Valerie Chen · Nari Johnson · Nicholay Topin · Gregory Plumb · Ameet Talwalkar

A growing body of research runs human subject evaluations to study whether providing users with explanations of machine learning models can help them with practical real-world use cases. However, running user studies is challenging and costly, and consequently each study typically only evaluates a limited number of different settings, e.g., studies often only evaluate a few arbitrarily selected model explanation methods. To address these challenges and aid user study design, we introduce Simulated Evaluations (SimEvals). SimEvals involve training algorithmic agents that take as input the information content (such as model explanations) that would be presented to the user, to predict answers to the use case of interest. The algorithmic agent's test set accuracy provides a measure of the predictiveness of the information content for the downstream use case. We run a comprehensive evaluation on three real-world use cases (forward simulation, model debugging, and counterfactual reasoning) to demonstrate that SimEvals can effectively identify which explanation methods will help humans for each use case. These results provide evidence that \simevals{} can be used to efficiently screen an important set of user study design decisions, e.g., selecting which explanations should be presented to the user, before running a potentially costly user study.

Autoformalization with Large Language Models

Yuhuai Wu · Albert Qiaochu Jiang · Wenda Li · Markus Rabe · Charles Staats · Mateja Jamnik · Christian Szegedy

Autoformalization is the process of automatically translating from natural language mathematics to formal specifications and proofs. A successful autoformalization system could advance the fields of formal verification, program synthesis, and artificial intelligence.While the long-term goal of autoformalization seemed elusive for a long time, we show large language models provide new prospects towards this goal. We make the surprising observation that LLMs can correctly translate a significant portion ($25.3\%$) of mathematical competition problems perfectly to formal specifications in Isabelle/HOL. We demonstrate the usefulness of this process by improving a previously introduced neural theorem prover via training on these autoformalized theorems. Our methodology results in a new state-of-the-art result on the MiniF2F theorem proving benchmark, improving the proof rate from~$29.6\%$ to~$35.2\%$.

VCT: A Video Compression Transformer

Fabian Mentzer · George D Toderici · David Minnen · Sergi Caelles · Sung Jin Hwang · Mario Lucic · Eirikur Agustsson

We show how transformers can be used to vastly simplify neural video compression. Previous methods have been relying on an increasing number of architectural biases and priors, including motion prediction and warping operations, resulting in complex models. Instead, we independently map input frames to representations and use a transformer to model their dependencies, letting it predict the distribution of future representations given the past. The resulting video compression transformer outperforms previous methods on standard video compression data sets. Experiments on synthetic data show that our model learns to handle complex motion patterns such as panning, blurring and fading purely from data. Our approach is easy to implement, and we release code to facilitate future research.

Diffusion Curvature for Estimating Local Curvature in High Dimensional Data

Dhananjay Bhaskar · Kincaid MacDonald · Oluwadamilola Fasina · Dawson Thomas · Bastian Rieck · Ian Adelstein · Smita Krishnaswamy

We introduce a new intrinsic measure of local curvature on point-cloud data called diffusion curvature. Our measure uses the framework of diffusion maps, including the data diffusion operator, to structure point cloud data and define local curvature based on the laziness of a random walk starting at a point or region of the data. We show that this laziness directly relates to volume comparison results from Riemannian geometry. We then extend this scalar curvature notion to an entire quadratic form using neural network estimations based on the diffusion map of point-cloud data. We show applications of both estimations on toy data, single-cell data, and on estimating local Hessian matrices of neural network loss landscapes.

Linear tree shap

peng yu · Albert Bifet · Jesse Read · Chao Xu

Decision trees are well-known due to their ease of interpretability.To improve accuracy, we need to grow deep trees or ensembles of trees.These are hard to interpret, offsetting their original benefits. Shapley values have recently become a popular way to explain the predictions of tree-based machine learning models. It provides a linear weighting to features independent of the tree structure. The rise in popularity is mainly due to TreeShap, which solves a general exponential complexity problem in polynomial time. Following extensive adoption in the industry, more efficient algorithms are required. This paper presents a more efficient and straightforward algorithm: Linear TreeShap.Like TreeShap, Linear TreeShap is exact and requires the same amount of memory.

Kernel Interpolation with Sparse Grids

Mohit Yadav · Daniel Sheldon · Cameron Musco

Structured kernel interpolation (SKI) accelerates Gaussian processes (GP) inference by interpolating the kernel covariance function using a dense grid of inducing points, whose corresponding kernel matrix is highly structured and thus amenable to fast linear algebra. Unfortunately, SKI scales poorly in the dimension of the input points, since the dense grid size grows exponentially with the dimension. To mitigate this issue, we propose the use of sparse grids within the SKI framework. These grids enable accurate interpolation, but with a number of points growing more slowly with dimension. We contribute a novel nearly linear time matrix-vector multiplication algorithm for the sparse grid kernel matrix. We also describe how sparse grids can be combined with an efficient interpolation scheme based on simplicial complexes. With these modifications, we demonstrate that SKI can be scaled to higher dimensions while maintaining accuracy, for both synthetic and real datasets.

Adaptive Interest for Emphatic Reinforcement Learning

Martin Klissarov · Rasool Fakoor · Jonas Mueller · Kavosh Asadi · Taesup Kim · Alexander Smola

Emphatic algorithms have shown great promise in stabilizing and improving reinforcement learning by selectively emphasizing the update rule. Although the emphasis fundamentally depends on an interest function which defines the intrinsic importance of each state, most approaches simply adopt a uniform interest over all states (except where a hand-designed interest is possible based on domain knowledge). In this paper, we investigate adaptive methods that allow the interest function to dynamically vary over states and iterations. In particular, we leverage meta-gradients to automatically discover online an interest function that would accelerate the agent’s learning process. Empirical evaluations on a wide range of environments show that adapting the interest is key to provide significant gains. Qualitative analysis indicates that the learned interest function emphasizes states of particular importance, such as bottlenecks, which can be especially useful in a transfer learning setting.

Provably Efficient Reinforcement Learning in Partially Observable Dynamical Systems

Masatoshi Uehara · Ayush Sekhari · Jason Lee · Nathan Kallus · Wen Sun

We study Reinforcement Learning for partially observable systems using function approximation. We propose a new PO-bilinear framework, that is general enough to include models such as undercomplete tabular Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDPs), Linear Quadratic Gaussian (LQG), Predictive State Representations (PSRs), as well as a newly introduced model Hilbert Space Embeddings of POMDPs. Under this framework, we propose an actor-critic style algorithm that is capable to performing agnostic policy learning. Given a policy class that consists of memory based policies (i.e., policy that looks at a fixed-length window of recent observations), and a value function class that consists of functions taking both memory and future observations as inputs, our algorithm learns to compete against the best memory-based policy among the policy class. For certain examples such as undercomplete POMDPs and LQGs, by leveraging their special properties, our algorithm is even capable of competing against the globally optimal policy without paying an exponential dependence on the horizon.

Towards Improving Calibration in Object Detection Under Domain Shift

Muhammad Akhtar Munir · Muhammad Haris Khan · M. Sarfraz · Mohsen Ali

With deep neural network based solution more readily being incorporated in real-world applications, it has been pressing requirement that predictions by such models, especially in safety-critical environments, be highly accurate and well-calibrated. Although some techniques addressing DNN calibration have been proposed, they are only limited to visual classification applications and in-domain predictions. Unfortunately, very little to no attention is paid towards addressing calibration of DNN-based visual object detectors, that occupy similar space and importance in many decision making systems as their visual classification counterparts. In this work, we study the calibration of DNN-based object detection models, particularly under domain shift. To this end, we first propose a new, plug-and-play, train-time calibration loss for object detection (coined as TCD). It can be used with various application-specific loss functions as an auxiliary loss function to improve detection calibration. Second, we devise a new implicit technique for improving calibration in self-training based domain adaptive detectors, featuring a new uncertainty quantification mechanism for object detection. We demonstrate TCD is capable of enhancing calibration with notable margins (1) across different DNN-based object detection paradigms both in in-domain and out-of-domain predictions, and (2) in different domain-adaptive detectors across challenging adaptation scenarios. Finally, we empirically show that our implicit calibration technique can be used in tandem with TCD during adaptation to further boost calibration in diverse domain shift scenarios.

ELIGN: Expectation Alignment as a Multi-Agent Intrinsic Reward

Zixian Ma · Rose Wang · Fei-Fei Li · Michael Bernstein · Ranjay Krishna

Modern multi-agent reinforcement learning frameworks rely on centralized training and reward shaping to perform well. However, centralized training and dense rewards are not readily available in the real world. Current multi-agent algorithms struggle to learn in the alternative setup of decentralized training or sparse rewards. To address these issues, we propose a self-supervised intrinsic reward \textit{ELIGN - expectation alignment - } inspired by the self-organization principle in Zoology. Similar to how animals collaborate in a decentralized manner with those in their vicinity, agents trained with expectation alignment learn behaviors that match their neighbors' expectations. This allows the agents to learn collaborative behaviors without any external reward or centralized training. We demonstrate the efficacy of our approach across 6 tasks in the multi-agent particle and the complex Google Research football environments, comparing ELIGN to sparse and curiosity-based intrinsic rewards. When the number of agents increases, ELIGN scales well in all multi-agent tasks except for one where agents have different capabilities. We show that agent coordination improves through expectation alignment because agents learn to divide tasks amongst themselves, break coordination symmetries, and confuse adversaries. These results identify tasks where expectation alignment is a more useful strategy than curiosity-driven exploration for multi-agent coordination, enabling agents to do zero-shot coordination.

Model-Based Imitation Learning for Urban Driving

Anthony Hu · Gianluca Corrado · Nicolas Griffiths · Zachary Murez · Corina Gurau · Hudson Yeo · Alex Kendall · Roberto Cipolla · Jamie Shotton

An accurate model of the environment and the dynamic agents acting in it offers great potential for improving motion planning. We present MILE: a Model-based Imitation LEarning approach to jointly learn a model of the world and a policy for autonomous driving. Our method leverages 3D geometry as an inductive bias and learns a highly compact latent space directly from high-resolution videos of expert demonstrations. Our model is trained on an offline corpus of urban driving data, without any online interaction with the environment. MILE improves upon prior state-of-the-art by 31% in driving score on the CARLA simulator when deployed in a completely new town and new weather conditions. Our model can predict diverse and plausible states and actions, that can be interpretably decoded to bird's-eye view semantic segmentation. Further, we demonstrate that it can execute complex driving manoeuvres from plans entirely predicted in imagination. Our approach is the first camera-only method that models static scene, dynamic scene, and ego-behaviour in an urban driving environment. The code and model weights are available at

Repairing Neural Networks by Leaving the Right Past Behind

Ryutaro Tanno · Melanie F. Pradier · Aditya Nori · Yingzhen Li

Prediction failures of machine learning models often arise from deficiencies in training data, such as incorrect labels, outliers, and selection biases. However, such data points that are responsible for a given failure mode are generally not known a priori, let alone a mechanism for repairing the failure. This work draws on the Bayesian view of continual learning, and develops a generic framework for both, identifying training examples which have given rise to the target failure, and fixing the model through erasing information about them. This framework naturally allows leveraging recent advances in continual learning to this new problem of model repairment, while subsuming the existing works on influence functions and data deletion as specific instances. Experimentally, the proposed approach outperforms the baselines for both identification of detrimental training data and fixing model failures in a generalisable manner.

Meta-Reinforcement Learning with Self-Modifying Networks

Mathieu Chalvidal · Thomas Serre · Rufin VanRullen

Deep Reinforcement Learning has demonstrated the potential of neural networks tuned with gradient descent for solving complex tasks in well-delimited environments. However, these neural systems are slow learners producing specialized agents with no mechanism to continue learning beyond their training curriculum. On the contrary, biological synaptic plasticity is persistent and manifold, and has been hypothesized to play a key role in executive functions such as working memory and cognitive flexibility, potentially supporting more efficient and generic learning abilities. Inspired by this, we propose to build networks with dynamic weights, able to continually perform self-reflexive modification as a function of their current synaptic state and action-reward feedback, rather than a fixed network configuration. The resulting model, MetODS (for Meta-Optimized Dynamical Synapses) is a broadly applicable meta-reinforcement learning system able to learn efficient and powerful control rules in the agent policy space. A single layer with dynamic synapses can perform one-shot learning, generalize navigation principles to unseen environments and demonstrates a strong ability to learn adaptive motor policies, comparing favorably with previous meta-reinforcement learning approaches.

The Unreliability of Explanations in Few-shot Prompting for Textual Reasoning

Xi Ye · Greg Durrett

Does prompting a large language model (LLM) like GPT-3 with explanations improve in-context learning? We study this question on two NLP tasks that involve reasoning over text, namely question answering and natural language inference. We test the performance of four LLMs on three textual reasoning datasets using prompts that include explanations in multiple different styles. For these tasks, we find that including explanations in the prompts for OPT, GPT-3 (davinci), and InstructGPT (text-davinci-001) only yields small to moderate accuracy improvements over standard few-show learning. However, text-davinci-002 is able to benefit more substantially.We further show that explanations generated by the LLMs may not entail the models’ predictions nor be factually grounded in the input, even on simple tasks with extractive explanations. However, these flawed explanations can still be useful as a way to verify LLMs’ predictions post-hoc. Through analysis in our three settings, we show that explanations judged by humans to be good—logically consistent with the input and the prediction—more likely cooccur with accurate predictions. Following these observations, we train calibrators using automatically extracted scores that assess the reliability of explanations, allowing us to improve performance post-hoc across all of our datasets.

NeuForm: Adaptive Overfitting for Neural Shape Editing

Connor Lin · Niloy Mitra · Gordon Wetzstein · Leonidas Guibas · Paul Guerrero

Neural representations are popular for representing shapes as they can be used for data cleanup, model completion, shape editing, and shape synthesis. Current neural representations can be categorized as either overfitting to a single object instance, or representing a collection of objects. However, neither allows accurate editing of neural scene representations: on the one hand, methods that overfit objects achieve highly accurate reconstructions but do not support editing, as they do not generalize to unseen object configurations; on the other hand, methods that represent a family of objects with variations do generalize but produce approximate reconstructions. We propose NeuForm to combine the advantages of both overfitted and generalizable representations by adaptively overfitting a generalizable representation to regions where reliable data is available, while using the generalizable representation everywhere else. We achieve this with a carefully designed architecture and an approach that blends the network weights of the two representations. We demonstrate edits that successfully reconfigure parts of human-made shapes, such as chairs, tables, and lamps, while preserving the accuracy of an overfitted shape representation. We compare with two state-of-the-art competitors and demonstrate clear improvements in terms of plausibility and fidelity of the resultant edits.

Semantic uncertainty intervals for disentangled latent spaces

Swami Sankaranarayanan · Anastasios Angelopoulos · Stephen Bates · Yaniv Romano · Phillip Isola

Meaningful uncertainty quantification in computer vision requires reasoning about semantic information---say, the hair color of the person in a photo or the location of a car on the street. To this end, recent breakthroughs in generative modeling allow us to represent semantic information in disentangled latent spaces, but providing uncertainties on the semantic latent variables has remained challenging. In this work, we provide principled uncertainty intervals that are guaranteed to contain the true semantic factors for any underlying generative model. The method does the following: (1) it uses quantile regression to output a heuristic uncertainty interval for each element in the latent space (2) calibrates these uncertainties such that they contain the true value of the latent for a new, unseen input. The endpoints of these calibrated intervals can then be propagated through the generator to produce interpretable uncertainty visualizations for each semantic factor. This technique reliably communicates semantically meaningful, principled, and instance-adaptive uncertainty in inverse problems like image super-resolution and image completion. Project page:

Increasing the Scope as You Learn: Adaptive Bayesian Optimization in Nested Subspaces

Leonard Papenmeier · Luigi Nardi · Matthias Poloczek

Recent advances have extended the scope of Bayesian optimization (BO) to expensive-to-evaluate black-box functions with dozens of dimensions, aspiring to unlock impactful applications, for example, in the life sciences, neural architecture search, and robotics. However, a closer examination reveals that the state-of-the-art methods for high-dimensional Bayesian optimization (HDBO) suffer from degrading performance as the number of dimensions increases, or even risk failure if certain unverifiable assumptions are not met. This paper proposes BAxUS that leverages a novel family of nested random subspaces to adapt the space it optimizes over to the problem. This ensures high performance while removing the risk of failure, which we assert via theoretical guarantees. A comprehensive evaluation demonstrates that BAxUS achieves better results than the state-of-the-art methods for a broad set of applications.

First Hitting Diffusion Models for Generating Manifold, Graph and Categorical Data

Mao Ye · Lemeng Wu · Qiang Liu

We propose a family of First Hitting Diffusion Models (FHDM), deep generative models that generate data with a diffusion process that terminates at a random first hitting time. This yields an extension of the standard fixed-time diffusion models that terminate at a pre-specified deterministic time. Although standard diffusion models are designed for continuous unconstrained data, FHDM is naturally designed to learn distributions on continuous as well as a range of discrete and structure domains. Moreover, FHDM enables instance-dependent terminate time and accelerates the diffusion process to sample higher quality data with fewer diffusion steps. Technically, we train FHDM by maximum likelihood estimation on diffusion trajectories augmented from observed data with conditional first hitting processes (i.e., bridge) derived based on Doob's $h$-transform, deviating from the commonly used time-reversal mechanism. We apply FHDM to generate data in various domains such as point cloud (general continuous distribution), climate and geographical events on earth (continuous distribution on the sphere), unweighted graphs (distribution of binary matrices), and segmentation maps of 2D images (high-dimensional categorical distribution). We observe considerable improvement compared with the state-of-the-art approaches in both quality and speed.

On Convergence of FedProx: Local Dissimilarity Invariant Bounds, Non-smoothness and Beyond

Xiaotong Yuan · Ping Li

The \FedProx~algorithm is a simple yet powerful distributed proximal point optimization method widely used for federated learning (FL) over heterogeneous data. Despite its popularity and remarkable success witnessed in practice, the theoretical understanding of FedProx is largely underinvestigated: the appealing convergence behavior of \FedProx~is so far characterized under certain non-standard and unrealistic dissimilarity assumptions of local functions, and the results are limited to smooth optimization problems. In order to remedy these deficiencies, we develop a novel local dissimilarity invariant convergence theory for \FedProx~and its minibatch stochastic extension through the lens of algorithmic stability. As a result, we contribute to derive several new and deeper insights into \FedProx~for non-convex federated optimization including: 1) convergence guarantees invariant to certain stringent local dissimilarity conditions; 2) convergence guarantees for non-smooth FL problems; and 3) linear speedup with respect to size of minibatch and number of sampled devices. Our theory for the first time reveals that local dissimilarity and smoothness are not must-have for \FedProx~to get favorable complexity bounds.

Multi-Objective Deep Learning with Adaptive Reference Vectors

Weiyu Chen · James Kwok

Many deep learning models involve optimizing multiple objectives. Since objectives are often conflicting, we aim to get diverse and representative trade-off solutions among these objectives. Gradient-based multi-objective optimization (MOO) algorithms using reference vectors have shown promising performance. However, they may still produce undesirable solutions due to mismatch between the pre-specified reference vectors and the problem's underlying Pareto front. In this paper, we propose a novel gradient-based MOO algorithm with adaptive reference vectors. We formulate reference vector adaption as a bilevel optimization problem, and solve it with an efficient solver. Theoretical convergence analysis is also provided. Experiments on an extensive set of learning scenarios demonstrate the superiority of the proposed algorithm over the state-of-the-art.

The Nature of Temporal Difference Errors in Multi-step Distributional Reinforcement Learning

Yunhao Tang · Remi Munos · Mark Rowland · Bernardo Avila Pires · Will Dabney · Marc Bellemare

We study the multi-step off-policy learning approach to distributional RL. Despite the apparent similarity between value-based RL and distributional RL, our study reveals intriguing and fundamental differences between the two cases in the multi-step setting. We identify a novel notion of path-dependent distributional TD error, which is indispensable for principled multi-step distributional RL. The distinction from the value-based case bears important implications on concepts such as backward-view algorithms. Our work provides the first theoretical guarantees on multi-step off-policy distributional RL algorithms, including results that apply to the small number of existing approaches to multi-step distributional RL. In addition, we derive a novel algorithm, Quantile Regression-Retrace, which leads to a deep RL agent QR-DQN-Retrace that shows empirical improvements over QR-DQN on the Atari-57 benchmark. Collectively, we shed light on how unique challenges in multi-step distributional RL can be addressed both in theory and practice.

Envy-free Policy Teaching to Multiple Agents

Jiarui Gan · R Majumdar · Adish Singla · Goran Radanovic

We study envy-free policy teaching. A number of agents independently explore a common Markov decision process (MDP), but each with their own reward function and discounting rate. A teacher wants to teach a target policy to this diverse group of agents, by means of modifying the agents' reward functions: providing additional bonuses to certain actions, or penalizing them. When personalized reward modification programs are used, an important question is how to design the programs so that the agents think they are treated fairly. We adopt the notion of envy-freeness (EF) from the literature on fair division to formalize this problem and investigate several fundamental questions about the existence of EF solutions in our setting, the computation of cost-minimizing solutions, as well as the price of fairness (PoF), which measures the increase of cost due to the consideration of fairness. We show that 1) an EF solution may not exist if penalties are not allowed in the modifications, but otherwise always exists. 2) Computing a cost-minimizing EF solution can be formulated as convex optimization and hence solved efficiently. 3) The PoF increases but at most quadratically with the geometric sum of the discount factor, and at most linearly with the size of the MDP and the number of agents involved; we present tight asymptotic bounds on the PoF. These results indicate that fairness can be incorporated in multi-agent teaching without significant computational or PoF burdens.

When are Local Queries Useful for Robust Learning?

Pascale Gourdeau · Varun Kanade · Marta Kwiatkowska · James Worrell

Distributional assumptions have been shown to be necessary for the robust learnability of concept classes when considering the exact-in-the-ball robust risk and access to random examples by Gourdeau et al. (2019). In this paper, we study learning models where the learner is given more power through the use of local queries, and give the first distribution-free algorithms that perform robust empirical risk minimization (ERM) for this notion of robustness. The first learning model we consider uses local membership queries (LMQ), where the learner can query the label of points near the training sample. We show that, under the uniform distribution, LMQs do not increase the robustness threshold of conjunctions and any superclass, e.g., decision lists and halfspaces. Faced with this negative result, we introduce the local equivalence query (LEQ) oracle, which returns whether the hypothesis and target concept agree in the perturbation region around a point in the training sample, as well as a counterexample if it exists. We show a separation result: on one hand, if the query radius $\lambda$ is strictly smaller than the adversary's perturbation budget $\rho$, then distribution-free robust learning is impossible for a wide variety of concept classes; on the other hand, the setting $\lambda=\rho$ allows us to develop robust ERM algorithms. We then bound the query complexity of these algorithms based on online learning guarantees and further improve these bounds for the special case of conjunctions. We finish by giving robust learning algorithms for halfspaces with margins on both $\{0,1\}^n$ and $\mathbb{R}^n$.

Generalization for multiclass classification with overparameterized linear models

Vignesh Subramanian · Rahul Arya · Anant Sahai

Via an overparameterized linear model with Gaussian features, we provide conditions for good generalization for multiclass classification of minimum-norm interpolating solutions in an asymptotic setting where both the number of underlying features and the number of classes scale with the number of training points. The survival/contamination analysis framework for understanding the behavior of overparameterized learning problems is adapted to this setting, revealing that multiclass classification qualitatively behaves like binary classification in that, as long as there are not too many classes (made precise in the paper), it is possible to generalize well even in settings where regression tasks would not generalize. Besides various technical challenges, it turns out that the key difference from the binary classification setting is that there are relatively fewer training examples of each class in the multiclass setting as the number of classes increases, making the multiclass problem ``harder'' than the binary one.

Statistical Learning and Inverse Problems: A Stochastic Gradient Approach

Yuri Fonseca · Yuri Saporito

Inverse problems are paramount in Science and Engineering. In this paper, we consider the setup of Statistical Inverse Problem (SIP) and demonstrate how Stochastic Gradient Descent (SGD) algorithms can be used to solve linear SIP. We provide consistency and finite sample bounds for the excess risk. We also propose a modification for the SGD algorithm where we leverage machine learning methods to smooth the stochastic gradients and improve empirical performance. We exemplify the algorithm in a setting of great interest nowadays: the Functional Linear Regression model. In this case we consider a synthetic data example and a classification problem for predicting the main activity of bitcoin addresses based on their balances.

Algorithms that Approximate Data Removal: New Results and Limitations

Vinith Suriyakumar · Ashia Wilson

We study the problem of deleting user data from machine learning models trained using empirical risk minimization (ERM). Our focus is on learning algorithms which return the empirical risk minimizer and approximate unlearning algorithms that comply with deletion requests that come in an online manner. Leveraging the infintesimal jacknife, we develop an online unlearning algorithm that is both computationally and memory efficient. Unlike prior memory efficient unlearning algorithms, we target ERM trained models that minimize objectives with non-smooth regularizers, such as the commonly used $\ell_1$, elastic net, or nuclear norm penalties. We also provide generalization, deletion capacity, and unlearning guarantees that are consistent with state of the art methods. Across a variety of benchmark datasets, our algorithm empirically improves upon the runtime of prior methods while maintaining the same memory requirements and test accuracy. Finally, we open a new direction of inquiry by proving that all approximate unlearning algorithms introduced so far fail to unlearn in problem settings where common hyperparameter tuning methods, such as cross-validation, have been used to select models.

Batch-Size Independent Regret Bounds for Combinatorial Semi-Bandits with Probabilistically Triggered Arms or Independent Arms

Xutong Liu · Jinhang Zuo · Siwei Wang · Carlee Joe-Wong · John C.S. Lui · Wei Chen

In this paper, we study the combinatorial semi-bandits (CMAB) and focus on reducing the dependency of the batch-size $K$ in the regret bound, where $K$ is the total number of arms that can be pulled or triggered in each round. First, for the setting of CMAB with probabilistically triggered arms (CMAB-T), we discover a novel (directional) triggering probability and variance modulated (TPVM) condition that can replace the previously-used smoothness condition for various applications, such as cascading bandits, online network exploration and online influence maximization. Under this new condition, we propose a BCUCB-T algorithm with variance-aware confidence intervals and conduct regret analysis which reduces the $O(K)$ factor to $O(\log K)$ or $O(\log^2 K)$ in the regret bound, significantly improving the regret bounds for the above applications. Second, for the setting of non-triggering CMAB with independent arms, we propose a SESCB algorithm which leverages on the non-triggering version of the TPVM condition and completely removes the dependency on $K$ in the leading regret. As a valuable by-product, the regret analysis used in this paper can improve several existing results by a factor of $O(\log K)$. Finally, experimental evaluations show our superior performance compared with benchmark algorithms in different applications.

Efficient Phi-Regret Minimization in Extensive-Form Games via Online Mirror Descent

Yu Bai · Chi Jin · Song Mei · Ziang Song · Tiancheng Yu

A conceptually appealing approach for learning Extensive-Form Games (EFGs) is to convert them to Normal-Form Games (NFGs). This approach enables us to directly translate state-of-the-art techniques and analyses in NFGs to learning EFGs, but typically suffers from computational intractability due to the exponential blow-up of the game size introduced by the conversion. In this paper, we address this problem in natural and important setups for the \emph{$\Phi$-Hedge} algorithm---A generic algorithm capable of learning a large class of equilibria for NFGs. We show that $\Phi$-Hedge can be directly used to learn Nash Equilibria (zero-sum settings), Normal-Form Coarse Correlated Equilibria (NFCCE), and Extensive-Form Correlated Equilibria (EFCE) in EFGs. We prove that, in those settings, the \emph{$\Phi$-Hedge} algorithms are equivalent to standard Online Mirror Descent (OMD) algorithms for EFGs with suitable dilated regularizers, and run in polynomial time. This new connection further allows us to design and analyze a new class of OMD algorithms based on modifying its log-partition function. In particular, we design an improved algorithm with balancing techniques that achieves a sharp $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{XAT})$ EFCE-regret under bandit-feedback in an EFG with $X$ information sets, $A$ actions, and $T$ episodes. To our best knowledge, this is the first such rate and matches the information-theoretic lower bound.

Reinforcement Learning in a Birth and Death Process: Breaking the Dependence on the State Space

Jonatha Anselmi · Bruno Gaujal · Louis-Sébastien Rebuffi

In this paper, we revisit the regret of undiscounted reinforcement learning in MDPs with a birth and death structure. Specifically, we consider a controlled queue with impatient jobs and the main objective is to optimize a trade-off between energy consumption and user-perceived performance. Within this setting, the diameter $D$ of the MDP is $\Omega(S^S)$, where $S$ is the number of states. Therefore, the existing lower and upper bounds on the regret at time $T$, of order $O (\sqrt{DSAT})$ for MDPs with $S$ states and $A$ actions, may suggest that reinforcement learning is inefficient here. In our main result however, we exploit the structure of our MDPs to show that the regret of a slightly-tweaked version of the classical learning algorithm UCRL2 is in fact upper bounded by $\tilde{\mathcal{O}} (\sqrt{E_2AT})$ where $E_2$ is a weighted second moment of the stationary measure of a reference policy. Importantly, $E_2$ is bounded independently of $S$. Thus, our bound is asymptotically independent of the number of states and of the diameter. This result is based on a careful study of the number of visits performed by the learning algorithm to the states of the MDP, which is highly non-uniform.

Provably Efficient Model-Free Constrained RL with Linear Function Approximation

Arnob Ghosh · Xingyu Zhou · Ness Shroff

We study the constrained reinforcement learning problem, in which an agent aims to maximize the expected cumulative reward subject to a constraint on the expected total value of a utility function. In contrast to existing model-based approaches or model-free methods accompanied with a `simulator’, we aim to develop the first \emph{model-free}, \emph{simulator-free} algorithm that achieves a sublinear regret and a sublinear constraint violation even in \emph{large-scale} systems. To this end, we consider the episodic constrained Markov decision processes with linear function approximation, where the transition dynamics and the reward function can be represented as a linear function of some known feature mapping. We show that $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{d^3H^3T})$ regret and $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{d^3H^3T})$ constraint violation bounds can be achieved, where $d$ is the dimension of the feature mapping, $H$ is the length of the episode, and $T$ is the total number of steps. Our bounds are attained without explicitly estimating the unknown transition model or requiring a simulator, and they depend on the state space only through the dimension of the feature mapping. Hence our bounds hold even when the number of states goes to infinity. Our main results are achieved via novel adaptations of the standard LSVI-UCB algorithms. In particular, we first introduce primal-dual optimization into the LSVI-UCB algorithm to balance between regret and constraint violation. More importantly, we replace the standard greedy selection with respect to the state-action function with a soft-max policy. This turns out to be key in establishing uniform concentration (a critical step for provably efficient model-free exploration) for the constrained case via its approximation-smoothness trade-off. Finally, we also show that one can achieve an even zero constraint violation for large enough $T$ by trading the regret a little bit but still maintaining the same order with respect to $T$.

Convergence for score-based generative modeling with polynomial complexity

Holden Lee · Jianfeng Lu · Yixin Tan

Score-based generative modeling (SGM) is a highly successful approach for learning a probability distribution from data and generating further samples. We prove the first polynomial convergence guarantees for the core mechanic behind SGM: drawing samples from a probability density $p$ given a score estimate (an estimate of $\nabla \ln p$) that is accurate in $L^2(p)$. Compared to previous works, we do not incur error that grows exponentially in time or that suffers from a curse of dimensionality. Our guarantee works for any smooth distribution and depends polynomially on its log-Sobolev constant. Using our guarantee, we give a theoretical analysis of score-based generative modeling, which transforms white-noise input into samples from a learned data distribution given score estimates at different noise scales. Our analysis gives theoretical grounding to the observation that an annealed procedure is required in practice to generate good samples, as our proof depends essentially on using annealing to obtain a warm start at each step. Moreover, we show that a predictor-corrector algorithm gives better convergence than using either portion alone.

Efficient Dataset Distillation using Random Feature Approximation

Noel Loo · Ramin Hasani · Alexander Amini · Daniela Rus

Dataset distillation compresses large datasets into smaller synthetic coresets which retain performance with the aim of reducing the storage and computational burden of processing the entire dataset. Today's best performing algorithm, \textit{Kernel Inducing Points} (KIP), which makes use of the correspondence between infinite-width neural networks and kernel-ridge regression, is prohibitively slow due to the exact computation of the neural tangent kernel matrix, scaling $O(|S|^2)$, with $|S|$ being the coreset size. To improve this, we propose a novel algorithm that uses a random feature approximation (RFA) of the Neural Network Gaussian Process (NNGP) kernel which reduces the kernel matrix computation to $O(|S|)$. Our algorithm provides at least a 100-fold speedup over KIP and can run on a single GPU. Our new method, termed an RFA Distillation (RFAD), performs competitively with KIP and other dataset condensation algorithms in accuracy over a range of large-scale datasets, both in kernel regression and finite-width network training. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on tasks involving model interpretability and privacy preservation.

The Effects of Regularization and Data Augmentation are Class Dependent

Randall Balestriero · Leon Bottou · Yann LeCun

Regularization is a fundamental technique to prevent over-fitting and to improve generalization performances by constraining a model's complexity. Current Deep Networks heavily rely on regularizers such as Data-Augmentation (DA) or weight-decay, and employ structural risk minimization, i.e. cross-validation, to select the optimal regularization hyper-parameters. In this study, we demonstrate that techniques such as DA or weight decay produce a model with a reduced complexity that is unfair across classes. The optimal amount of DA or weight decay found from cross-validation over all classes leads to disastrous model performances on some classes e.g. on Imagenet with a resnet50, the ``barn spider'' classification test accuracy falls from $68\%$ to $46\%$ only by introducing random crop DA during training. Even more surprising, such performance drop also appears when introducing uninformative regularization techniques such as weight decay. Those results demonstrate that our search for ever increasing generalization performance ---averaged over all classes and samples--- has left us with models and regularizers that silently sacrifice performances on some classes. This scenario can become dangerous when deploying a model on downstream tasks e.g. an Imagenet pre-trained resnet50 deployed on INaturalist sees its performances fall from $70\%$ to $30\%$ on class \#8889 when introducing random crop DA during the Imagenet pre-training phase. Those results demonstrate that finding a correct measure of a model's complexity without class-dependent preference remains an open research question.

EpiGRAF: Rethinking training of 3D GANs

Ivan Skorokhodov · Sergey Tulyakov · Yiqun Wang · Peter Wonka

A recent trend in generative modeling is building 3D-aware generators from 2D image collections. To induce the 3D bias, such models typically rely on volumetric rendering, which is expensive to employ at high resolutions. Over the past months, more than ten works have addressed this scaling issue by training a separate 2D decoder to upsample a low-resolution image (or a feature tensor) produced from a pure 3D generator. But this solution comes at a cost: not only does it break multi-view consistency (i.e., shape and texture change when the camera moves), but it also learns geometry in low fidelity. In this work, we show that obtaining a high-resolution 3D generator with SotA image quality is possible by following a completely different route of simply training the model patch-wise. We revisit and improve this optimization scheme in two ways. First, we design a location- and scale-aware discriminator to work on patches of different proportions and spatial positions. Second, we modify the patch sampling strategy based on an annealed beta distribution to stabilize training and accelerate the convergence. The resulting model, named EpiGRAF, is an efficient, high-resolution, pure 3D generator, and we test it on four datasets (two introduced in this work) at (256^2) and (512^2) resolutions. It obtains state-of-the-art image quality, high-fidelity geometry and trains ({\approx})2.5 faster than the upsampler-based counterparts. Code/data/visualizations:

Insights into Pre-training via Simpler Synthetic Tasks

Yuhuai Wu · Felix Li · Percy Liang

Pre-training produces representations that are effective for a wide range of downstream tasks, but it is still unclear what properties of pre-training are necessary for effective gains. Notably, recent work shows that even pre-training on synthetic tasks can achieve significant gains in downstream tasks. In this work, we perform three experiments that iteratively simplify pre-training and show that the simplifications still retain much of its gains. First, building on prior work, we perform a systematic evaluation of three existing synthetic pre-training methods on six downstream tasks. We find the best synthetic pre-training method, LIME, attains an average of $67\%$ of the benefits of natural pre-training. Second, to our surprise, we find that pre-training on a simple and generic synthetic task defined by the set function achieves $65\%$ of the benefits, almost matching LIME. Third, we find that $39\%$ of the benefits can be attained by using merely the parameter statistics of synthetic pre-training. We release the source code at \url{}.

GPT3.int8(): 8-bit Matrix Multiplication for Transformers at Scale

Tim Dettmers · Mike Lewis · Younes Belkada · Luke Zettlemoyer

Large language models have been widely adopted but require significant GPU memory for inference. We develop a procedure for Int8 matrix multiplication for feed-forward and attention projection layers in transformers, which cut the memory needed for inference by half while retaining full precision performance. With our method, a 175B parameter 16/32-bit checkpoint can be loaded, converted to Int8, and used immediately without performance degradation. This is made possible by understanding and working around properties of highly systematic emergent features in transformer language models that dominate attention and transformer predictive performance. To cope with these features, we develop a two-part quantization procedure, {\bf LLM.int8()}. We first use vector-wise quantization with separate normalization constants for each inner product in the matrix multiplication, to quantize most of the features. However, for the emergent outliers, we also include a new mixed-precision decomposition scheme, which isolates the outlier feature dimensions into a 16-bit matrix multiplication while still more than 99.9\% of values are multiplied in 8-bit. Using LLM.int8(), we show empirically it is possible to perform inference in LLMs with up to 175B parameters without any performance degradation. This result makes such models much more accessible, for example making it possible to use OPT-175B/BLOOM on a single server with consumer GPUs. We open source our software.

STNDT: Modeling Neural Population Activity with Spatiotemporal Transformers

Trung Le · Eli Shlizerman

Modeling neural population dynamics underlying noisy single-trial spiking activities is essential for relating neural observation and behavior. A recent non-recurrent method - Neural Data Transformers (NDT) - has shown great success in capturing neural dynamics with low inference latency without an explicit dynamical model. However, NDT focuses on modeling the temporal evolution of the population activity while neglecting the rich covariation between individual neurons. In this paper we introduce SpatioTemporal Neural Data Transformer (STNDT), an NDT-based architecture that explicitly models responses of individual neurons in the population across time and space to uncover their underlying firing rates. In addition, we propose a contrastive learning loss that works in accordance with mask modeling objective to further improve the predictive performance. We show that our model achieves state-of-the-art performance on ensemble level in estimating neural activities across four neural datasets, demonstrating its capability to capture autonomous and non-autonomous dynamics spanning different cortical regions while being completely agnostic to the specific behaviors at hand. Furthermore, STNDT spatial attention mechanism reveals consistently important subsets of neurons that play a vital role in driving the response of the entire population, providing interpretability and key insights into how the population of neurons performs computation.

Neural Shape Deformation Priors

Jiapeng Tang · Lev Markhasin · Bi Wang · Justus Thies · Matthias Niessner

We present Neural Shape Deformation Priors, a novel method for shape manipulation that predicts mesh deformations of non-rigid objects from user-provided handle movements. State-of-the-art methods cast this problem as an optimization task, where the input source mesh is iteratively deformed to minimize an objective function according to hand-crafted regularizers such as ARAP. In this work, we learn the deformation behavior based on the underlying geometric properties of a shape, while leveraging a large-scale dataset containing a diverse set of non-rigid deformations. Specifically, given a source mesh and desired target locations of handles that describe the partial surface deformation, we predict a continuous deformation field that is defined in 3D space to describe the space deformation. To this end, we introduce transformer-based deformation networks that represent a shape deformation as a composition of local surface deformations. It learns a set of local latent codes anchored in 3D space, from which we can learn a set of continuous deformation functions for local surfaces. Our method can be applied to challenging deformations and generalizes well to unseen deformations. We validate our approach in experiments using the DeformingThing4D dataset, and compare to both classic optimization-based and recent neural network-based methods.

SPoVT: Semantic-Prototype Variational Transformer for Dense Point Cloud Semantic Completion

Sheng Yu Huang · Hao-Yu Hsu · Frank Wang

Point cloud completion is an active research topic for 3D vision and has been widelystudied in recent years. Instead of directly predicting missing point cloud fromthe partial input, we introduce a Semantic-Prototype Variational Transformer(SPoVT) in this work, which takes both partial point cloud and their semanticlabels as the inputs for semantic point cloud object completion. By observingand attending at geometry and semantic information as input features, our SPoVTwould derive point cloud features and their semantic prototypes for completionpurposes. As a result, our SPoVT not only performs point cloud completion withvarying resolution, it also allows manipulation of different semantic parts of anobject. Experiments on benchmark datasets would quantitatively and qualitativelyverify the effectiveness and practicality of our proposed model.

Coarse-to-Fine Vision-Language Pre-training with Fusion in the Backbone

Zi-Yi Dou · Aishwarya Kamath · Zhe Gan · Pengchuan Zhang · Jianfeng Wang · Linjie Li · Zicheng Liu · Ce Liu · Yann LeCun · Nanyun Peng · Jianfeng Gao · Lijuan Wang

Vision-language (VL) pre-training has recently received considerable attention. However, most existing end-to-end pre-training approaches either only aim to tackle VL tasks such as image-text retrieval, visual question answering (VQA) and image captioning that test high-level understanding of images, or only target region-level understanding for tasks such as phrase grounding and object detection. We present FIBER (Fusion-In-the-Backbone-based transformER), a new VL model architecture that can seamlessly handle both these types of tasks. Instead of having dedicated transformer layers for fusion after the uni-modal backbones, FIBER pushes multimodal fusion deep into the model by inserting cross-attention into the image and text backbones to better capture multimodal interactions. In addition, unlike previous work that is either only pre-trained on image-text data or on fine-grained data with box-level annotations, we present a two-stage pre-training strategy that uses both these kinds of data efficiently: (i) coarse-grained pre-training based on image-text data; followed by (ii) fine-grained pre-training based on image-text-box data. We conduct comprehensive experiments on a wide range of VL tasks, ranging from VQA, image captioning, and retrieval, to phrase grounding, referring expression comprehension, and object detection. Using deep multimodal fusion coupled with the two-stage pre-training, FIBER provides consistent performance improvements over strong baselines across all tasks, often outperforming methods using magnitudes more data. Code is released at

Beyond Not-Forgetting: Continual Learning with Backward Knowledge Transfer

Sen Lin · Li Yang · Deliang Fan · Junshan Zhang

By learning a sequence of tasks continually, an agent in continual learning (CL) can improve the learning performance of both a new task and `old' tasks by leveraging the forward knowledge transfer and the backward knowledge transfer, respectively. However, most existing CL methods focus on addressing catastrophic forgetting in neural networks by minimizing the modification of the learnt model for old tasks. This inevitably limits the backward knowledge transfer from the new task to the old tasks, because judicious model updates could possibly improve the learning performance of the old tasks as well. To tackle this problem, we first theoretically analyze the conditions under which updating the learnt model of old tasks could be beneficial for CL and also lead to backward knowledge transfer, based on the gradient projection onto the input subspaces of old tasks. Building on the theoretical analysis, we next develop a ContinUal learning method with Backward knowlEdge tRansfer (CUBER), for a fixed capacity neural network without data replay. In particular, CUBER first characterizes the task correlation to identify the positively correlated old tasks in a layer-wise manner, and then selectively modifies the learnt model of the old tasks when learning the new task. Experimental studies show that CUBER can even achieve positive backward knowledge transfer on several existing CL benchmarks for the first time without data replay, where the related baselines still suffer from catastrophic forgetting (negative backward knowledge transfer). The superior performance of CUBER on the backward knowledge transfer also leads to higher accuracy accordingly.

SKFlow: Learning Optical Flow with Super Kernels

SHANGKUN SUN · Yuanqi Chen · Yu Zhu · Guodong Guo · Ge Li

Optical flow estimation is a classical yet challenging task in computer vision. One of the essential factors in accurately predicting optical flow is to alleviate occlusions between frames. However, it is still a thorny problem for current top-performing optical flow estimation methods due to insufficient local evidence to model occluded areas. In this paper, we propose the Super Kernel Flow Network (SKFlow), a CNN architecture to ameliorate the impacts of occlusions on optical flow estimation. SKFlow benefits from the super kernels which bring enlarged receptive fields to complement the absent matching information and recover the occluded motions. We present efficient super kernel designs by utilizing conical connections and hybrid depth-wise convolutions. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of SKFlow on multiple benchmarks, especially in the occluded areas. Without pre-trained backbones on ImageNet and with a modest increase in computation, SKFlow achieves compelling performance and ranks $\textbf{1st}$ among currently published methods on the Sintel benchmark. On the challenging Sintel clean and final passes (test), SKFlow surpasses the best-published result in the unmatched areas ($7.96$ and $12.50$) by $9.09\%$ and $7.92\%$. The code is available at

Polyhistor: Parameter-Efficient Multi-Task Adaptation for Dense Vision Tasks

Yen-Cheng Liu · CHIH-YAO MA · Junjiao Tian · Zijian He · Zsolt Kira

Adapting large-scale pretrained models to various downstream tasks via fine-tuning is a standard method in machine learning. Recently, parameter-efficient fine-tuning methods have shown promise in adapting a pretrained model to different tasks while training only a few parameters. Despite their success, most existing methods are proposed in Natural Language Processing tasks with language Transformers, and adaptation to Computer Vision tasks with Vision Transformers remains under-explored, especially for dense vision tasks. Further, in multi-task settings, individually fine-tuning and storing separate models for different tasks is inefficient. In this work, we provide an extensive single- and multi-task parameter-efficient benchmark and examine existing parameter-efficient fine-tuning NLP methods for vision tasks. Our results on four different dense vision tasks showed that existing methods cannot be efficiently integrated due to the hierarchical nature of the Hierarchical Vision Transformers. To overcome this issue, we propose Polyhistor and Polyhistor-Lite, consisting of Decomposed HyperNetworks and Layer-wise Scaling Kernels, to share information across different tasks with a few trainable parameters. This leads to favorable performance improvements against existing parameter-efficient methods while using fewer trainable parameters. Specifically, Polyhistor achieves competitive accuracy compared to the state-of-the-art while only using less than 10% of their trainable parameters. Furthermore, our methods show larger performance gains when large networks and more pretraining data are used.

Augmentations in Hypergraph Contrastive Learning: Fabricated and Generative

Tianxin Wei · Yuning You · Tianlong Chen · Yang Shen · Jingrui He · Zhangyang Wang

This paper targets at improving the generalizability of hypergraph neural networks in the low-label regime, through applying the contrastive learning approach from images/graphs (we refer to it as HyperGCL). We focus on the following question: How to construct contrastive views for hypergraphs via augmentations? We provide the solutions in two folds. First, guided by domain knowledge, we fabricate two schemes to augment hyperedges with higher-order relations encoded, and adopt three vertex augmentation strategies from graph-structured data. Second, in search of more effective views in a data-driven manner, we for the first time propose a hypergraph generative model to generate augmented views, and then an end-to-end differentiable pipeline to jointly learn hypergraph augmentations and model parameters. Our technical innovations are reflected in designing both fabricated and generative augmentations of hypergraphs. The experimental findings include: (i) Among fabricated augmentations in HyperGCL, augmenting hyperedges provides the most numerical gains, implying that higher-order information in structures is usually more downstream-relevant; (ii) Generative augmentations do better in preserving higher-order information to further benefit generalizability; (iii) HyperGCL also boosts robustness and fairness in hypergraph representation learning. Codes are released at

3D Concept Grounding on Neural Fields

Yining Hong · Yilun Du · Chunru Lin · Josh Tenenbaum · Chuang Gan

In this paper, we address the challenging problem of 3D concept grounding (i.e., segmenting and learning visual concepts) by looking at RGBD images and reasoning about paired questions and answers. Existing visual reasoning approaches typically utilize supervised methods to extract 2D segmentation masks on which concepts are grounded. In contrast, humans are capable of grounding concepts on the underlying 3D representation of images. However, traditionally inferred 3D representations (e.g., point clouds, voxelgrids and meshes) cannot capture continuous 3D features flexibly, thus making it challenging to ground concepts to 3D regions based on the language description of the object being referred to. To address both issues, we propose to leverage the continuous, differentiable nature of neural fields to segment and learn concepts. Specifically, each 3D coordinate in a scene is represented as a high dimensional descriptor. Concept grounding can then be performed by computing the similarity between the descriptor vector of a 3D coordinate and the vector embedding of a language concept, which enables segmentations and concept learning to be jointly learned on neural fields in a differentiable fashion. As a result, both 3D semantic and instance segmentations can emerge directly from question answering supervision using a set of defined neural operators on top of neural fields (e.g., filtering and counting). Experimental results show that our proposed framework outperforms unsupervised / language-mediated segmentation models on semantic and instance segmentation tasks, as well as outperforms existing models on the challenging 3D aware visual reasoning tasks. Furthermore, our framework can generalize well to unseen shape categories and real scans.

Bridge the Gap Between Architecture Spaces via A Cross-Domain Predictor

Yuqiao Liu · Yehui Tang · Zeqiong Lv · Yunhe Wang · Yanan Sun

Neural Architecture Search (NAS) can automatically design promising neural architectures without artificial experience. Though it achieves great success, prohibitively high search cost is required to find a high-performance architecture, which blocks its practical implementation. Neural predictor can directly evaluate the performance of neural networks based on their architectures and thereby save much budget. However, existing neural predictors require substantial annotated architectures trained from scratch, which still consume many computational resources. To solve this issue, we propose a Cross-Domain Predictor (CDP), which is trained based on the existing NAS benchmark datasets (e.g., NAS-Bench-101), but can be used to find high-performance architectures in large-scale search spaces. Particularly, we propose a progressive subspace adaptation strategy to address the domain discrepancy between the source architecture space and the target space. Considering the large difference between two architecture spaces, an assistant space is developed to smooth the transfer process. Compared with existing NAS methods, the proposed CDP is much more efficient. For example, CDP only requires the search cost of 0.1 GPU Days to find architectures with 76.9% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet and 97.51% on CIFAR-10.

Intermediate Prototype Mining Transformer for Few-Shot Semantic Segmentation

YUANWEI LIU · Nian Liu · Xiwen Yao · Junwei Han

Few-shot semantic segmentation aims to segment the target objects in query under the condition of a few annotated support images. Most previous works strive to mine more effective category information from the support to match with the corresponding objects in query. However, they all ignored the category information gap between query and support images. If the objects in them show large intra-class diversity, forcibly migrating the category information from the support to the query is ineffective. To solve this problem, we are the first to introduce an intermediate prototype for mining both deterministic category information from the support and adaptive category knowledge from the query. Specifically, we design an Intermediate Prototype Mining Transformer (IPMT) to learn the prototype in an iterative way. In each IPMT layer, we propagate the object information in both support and query features to the prototype and then use it to activate the query feature map. By conducting this process iteratively, both the intermediate prototype and the query feature can be progressively improved. At last, the final query feature is used to yield precise segmentation prediction. Extensive experiments on both PASCAL-5i and COCO-20i datasets clearly verify the effectiveness of our IPMT and show that it outperforms previous state-of-the-art methods by a large margin. Code is available at

Uncertainty-Aware Hierarchical Refinement for Incremental Implicitly-Refined Classification

Jian Yang · Kai Zhu · Kecheng Zheng · Yang Cao

Incremental implicitly-refined classification task aims at assigning hierarchical labels to each sample encountered at different phases. Existing methods tend to fail in generating hierarchy-invariant descriptors when the novel classes are inherited from the old ones. To address the issue, this paper, which explores the inheritance relations in the process of multi-level semantic increment, proposes an Uncertainty-Aware Hierarchical Refinement (UAHR) scheme. Specifically, our proposed scheme consists of a global representation extension strategy that enhances the discrimination of incremental representation by widening the corresponding margin distance, and a hierarchical distribution alignment strategy that refines the distillation process by explicitly determining the inheritance relationship of the incremental class. Particularly, the shifting subclasses are corrected under the guidance of hierarchical uncertainty, ensuring the consistency of the homogeneous features. Extensive experiments on widely used benchmarks (i.e., IIRC-CIFAR, IIRC-ImageNet-lite, IIRC-ImageNet-Subset, and IIRC-ImageNet-full) demonstrate the superiority of our proposed method over the state-of-the-art approaches.

PolarMix: A General Data Augmentation Technique for LiDAR Point Clouds

Aoran Xiao · Jiaxing Huang · Dayan Guan · Kaiwen Cui · Shijian Lu · Ling Shao

LiDAR point clouds, which are usually scanned by rotating LiDAR sensors continuously, capture precise geometry of the surrounding environment and are crucial to many autonomous detection and navigation tasks. Though many 3D deep architectures have been developed, efficient collection and annotation of large amounts of point clouds remain one major challenge in the analytics and understanding of point cloud data. This paper presents PolarMix, a point cloud augmentation technique that is simple and generic but can mitigate the data constraint effectively across various perception tasks and scenarios. PolarMix enriches point cloud distributions and preserves point cloud fidelity via two cross-scan augmentation strategies that cut, edit, and mix point clouds along the scanning direction. The first is scene-level swapping which exchanges point cloud sectors of two LiDAR scans that are cut along the LiDAR scanning direction. The second is instance-level rotation and paste which crops point instances from one LiDAR scan, rotates them by multiple angles (to create multiple copies), and paste the rotated point instances into other scans. Extensive experiments show that PolarMix achieves superior performance consistently across different perception tasks and scenarios. In addition, it can work as a plug-and-play for various 3D deep architectures and also performs well for unsupervised domain adaptation.

ShapeCrafter: A Recursive Text-Conditioned 3D Shape Generation Model

Rao Fu · Xiao Zhan · YIWEN CHEN · Daniel Ritchie · Srinath Sridhar

We present ShapeCrafter, a neural network for recursive text-conditioned 3D shape generation. Existing methods to generate text-conditioned 3D shapes consume an entire text prompt to generate a 3D shape in a single step. However, humans tend to describe shapes recursively---we may start with an initial description and progressively add details based on intermediate results. To capture this recursive process, we introduce a method to generate a 3D shape distribution, conditioned on an initial phrase, that gradually evolves as more phrases are added. Since existing datasets are insufficient for training this approach, we present Text2Shape++, a large dataset of 369K shape--text pairs that supports recursive shape generation. To capture local details that are often used to refine shape descriptions, we build on top of vector-quantized deep implicit functions that generate a distribution of high-quality shapes. Results show that our method can generate shapes consistent with text descriptions, and shapes evolve gradually as more phrases are added. Our method supports shape editing, extrapolation, and can enable new applications in human--machine collaboration for creative design.

On the Learning Mechanisms in Physical Reasoning

Shiqian Li · Kewen Wu · Chi Zhang · Yixin Zhu

Is dynamics prediction indispensable for physical reasoning? If so, what kind of roles do the dynamics prediction modules play during the physical reasoning process? Most studies focus on designing dynamics prediction networks and treating physical reasoning as a downstream task without investigating the questions above, taking for granted that the designed dynamics prediction would undoubtedly help the reasoning process. In this work, we take a closer look at this assumption, exploring this fundamental hypothesis by comparing two learning mechanisms: Learning from Dynamics (LfD) and Learning from Intuition (LfI). In the first experiment, we directly examine and compare these two mechanisms. Results show a surprising finding: Simple LfI is better than or on par with state-of-the-art LfD. This observation leads to the second experiment with Ground-truth Dynamics (GD), the ideal case of LfD wherein dynamics are obtained directly from a simulator. Results show that dynamics, if directly given instead of approximated, would achieve much higher performance than LfI alone on physical reasoning; this essentially serves as the performance upper bound. Yet practically, LfD mechanism can only predict Approximate Dynamics (AD) using dynamics learning modules that mimic the physical laws, making the following downstream physical reasoning modules degenerate into the LfI paradigm; see the third experiment. We note that this issue is hard to mitigate, as dynamics prediction errors inevitably accumulate in the long horizon. Finally, in the fourth experiment, we note that LfI, the extremely simpler strategy when done right, is more effective in learning to solve physical reasoning problems. Taken together, the results on the challenging benchmark of PHYRE show that LfI is, if not better, as good as LfD with bells and whistles for dynamics prediction. However, the potential improvement from LfD, though challenging, remains lucrative.

Benign, Tempered, or Catastrophic: Toward a Refined Taxonomy of Overfitting

Neil Mallinar · James Simon · Amirhesam Abedsoltan · Parthe Pandit · Misha Belkin · Preetum Nakkiran

The practical success of overparameterized neural networks has motivated the recent scientific study of \emph{interpolating methods}-- learning methods which are able fit their training data perfectly. Empirically, certain interpolating methods can fit noisy training data without catastrophically bad test performance, which defies standard intuitions from statistical learning theory. Aiming to explain this, a large body of recent work has studied \emph{benign overfitting}, a behavior seen in certain asymptotic settings under which interpolating methods approach Bayes-optimality, even in the presence of noise. In this work, we argue that, while benign overfitting has been instructive to study, real interpolating methods like deep networks do not fit benignly. That is, noise in the train set leads to suboptimal generalization, suggesting that these methods fall in an intermediate regime between benign and catastrophic overfitting, in which asymptotic risk is neither is neither Bayes-optimal nor unbounded, with the confounding effect of the noise being ``tempered" but non-negligible. We call this behavior \textit{tempered overfitting}. We first provide broad empirical evidence for our three-part taxonomy, demonstrating that deep neural networks and kernel machines fit to noisy data can be reasonably well classified as benign, tempered, or catastrophic. We then specialize to kernel (ridge) regression (KR), obtaining conditions on the ridge parameter and kernel eigenspectrum under which KR exhibits each of the three behaviors, demonstrating the consequences for KR with common kernels and trained neural networks of infinite width using experiments on natural and synthetic datasets.

The trade-offs of model size in large recommendation models : 100GB to 10MB Criteo-tb DLRM model

Aditya Desai · Anshumali Shrivastava

Embedding tables dominate industrial-scale recommendation model sizes, using up to terabytes of memory. A popular and the largest publicly available machine learning MLPerf benchmark on recommendation data is a Deep Learning Recommendation Model (DLRM) trained on a terabyte of click-through data. It contains 100GB of embedding memory (25+Billion parameters). DLRMs, due to their sheer size and the associated volume of data, face difficulty in training, deploying for inference, and memory bottlenecks due to large embedding tables. This paper analyzes and extensively evaluates a generic parameter-sharing setup (PSS) for compressing DLRM models. We show theoretical upper bounds on the learnable memory requirements for achieving approximations to the embedding table. Our bounds indicate exponentially fewer parameters suffice for a good approximation. To this end, we demonstrate a PSS DLRM reaching 10000$\times$ compression on criteo-tb without losing quality. Such a compression, however, comes with a caveat. It requires 4.5 $\times$ more iterations to achieve the same saturation quality. The paper argues that this tradeoff needs more investigation as it might be significantly favorable. Leveraging the small size of the compressed model, we show a 4.3$\times$ improvement in training latency leading to similar overall training times. Thus, in the tradeoff between the system advantage of a small DLRM model vs. slower convergence, we show that scales are tipped towards having a smaller DLRM model, leading to the same quality, faster inference, easier deployment, and similar training times.

Geodesic Graph Neural Network for Efficient Graph Representation Learning

Lecheng Kong · Yixin Chen · Muhan Zhang

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have recently been applied to graph learning tasks and achieved state-of-the-art (SOTA) results. However, many competitive methods run GNNs multiple times with subgraph extraction and customized labeling to capture information that is hard for normal GNNs to learn. Such operations are time-consuming and do not scale to large graphs. In this paper, we propose an efficient GNN framework called Geodesic GNN (GDGNN) that requires only one GNN run and injects conditional relationships between nodes into the model without labeling. This strategy effectively reduces the runtime of subgraph methods. Specifically, we view the shortest paths between two nodes as the spatial graph context of the neighborhood around them. The GNN embeddings of nodes on the shortest paths are used to generate geodesic representations. Conditioned on the geodesic representations, GDGNN can generate node, link, and graph representations that carry much richer structural information than plain GNNs. We theoretically prove that GDGNN is more powerful than plain GNNs. We present experimental results to show that GDGNN achieves highly competitive performance with SOTA GNN models on various graph learning tasks while taking significantly less time.

Convolutional Neural Networks on Graphs with Chebyshev Approximation, Revisited

Mingguo He · Zhewei Wei · Ji-Rong Wen

Designing spectral convolutional networks is a challenging problem in graph learning. ChebNet, one of the early attempts, approximates the spectral graph convolutions using Chebyshev polynomials. GCN simplifies ChebNet by utilizing only the first two Chebyshev polynomials while still outperforming it on real-world datasets. GPR-GNN and BernNet demonstrate that the Monomial and Bernstein bases also outperform the Chebyshev basis in terms of learning the spectral graph convolutions. Such conclusions are counter-intuitive in the field of approximation theory, where it is established that the Chebyshev polynomial achieves the optimum convergent rate for approximating a function. In this paper, we revisit the problem of approximating the spectral graph convolutions with Chebyshev polynomials. We show that ChebNet's inferior performance is primarily due to illegal coefficients learnt by ChebNet approximating analytic filter functions, which leads to over-fitting. We then propose ChebNetII, a new GNN model based on Chebyshev interpolation, which enhances the original Chebyshev polynomial approximation while reducing the Runge phenomenon. We conducted an extensive experimental study to demonstrate that ChebNetII can learn arbitrary graph convolutions and achieve superior performance in both full- and semi-supervised node classification tasks. Most notably, we scale ChebNetII to a billion graph ogbn-papers100M, showing that spectral-based GNNs have superior performance. Our code is available at

SignRFF: Sign Random Fourier Features

Xiaoyun Li · Ping Li

The industry practice has been moving to embedding based retrieval (EBR). For example, in many applications, the embedding vectors are trained by some form of two-tower models. During serving phase, candidates (embedding vectors) are retrieved according to the rankings of cosine similarities either exhaustively or by approximate near neighbor (ANN) search algorithms. For those applications, it is natural to apply ``sign random projections'' (SignRP) or variants, on the trained embedding vectors to facilitate efficient data storage and cosine distance computations. SignRP is also one of the standard indexing schemes for conducting approximate near neighbor search. In the literature, SignRP has been popular and, to an extent, becomes the default method for ``locality sensitive hashing'' (LSH). In this paper, we propose ``sign random Fourier features'' (SignRFF) as an alternative to SignRP. The original method of random Fourier features (RFF) is a standard technique for approximating the Gaussian kernel (as opposed to the linear cosine kernel), in the literature of large-scale machine learning. Basically, RFF applies a simple nonlinear transformation on the samples generated by random projections (RP). Thus, in the pipeline of EBR, it is straightforward to replace SignRP by SignRFF. This paper explains, in a principled manner, why it makes sense to do so. In this paper, a new analytical measure called \textbf{Ranking Efficiency (RE)} is developed, which in retrospect is closely related to the ``two-sample mean'' $t$-test statistic for binomial variables. RE provides a systematic and unified framework for comparing different LSH methods. We compare our proposed SignRP with SignRP, KLSH (kernel LSH), as well SQ-RFF (which is another 1-bit coding scheme for RFF). According to the RE expression, SignRFF consistently outperforms KLSH (for Gaussian kernel) and SQ-RFF. SignRFF also outperforms SignRP in the relatively high similarity region. The theoretical comparison results are consistent with our empirical findings. In addition, experiments are conducted to compare SignRFF with a wide range of data-dependent and deep learning based hashing methods and show the advantage of SignRFF with a sufficient number of hash bits.

Rapidly Mixing Multiple-try Metropolis Algorithms for Model Selection Problems

Hyunwoong Chang · Changwoo Lee · Zhao Tang Luo · Huiyan Sang · Quan Zhou

The multiple-try Metropolis (MTM) algorithm is an extension of the Metropolis-Hastings (MH) algorithm by selecting the proposed state among multiple trials according to some weight function. Although MTM has gained great popularity owing to its faster empirical convergence and mixing than the standard MH algorithm, its theoretical mixing property is rarely studied in the literature due to its complex proposal scheme. We prove that MTM can achieve a mixing time bound smaller than that of MH by a factor of the number of trials under a general setting applicable to high-dimensional model selection problems with discrete state spaces. Our theoretical results motivate a new class of weight functions called locally balanced weight functions and guide the choice of the number of trials, which leads to improved performance over standard MTM algorithms. We support our theoretical results by extensive simulation studies and real data applications with several Bayesian model selection problems.

What is a Good Metric to Study Generalization of Minimax Learners?

Asuman Ozdaglar · Sarath Pattathil · Jiawei Zhang · Kaiqing Zhang

Minimax optimization has served as the backbone of many machine learning problems. Although the convergence behavior of optimization algorithms has been extensively studied in minimax settings, their generalization guarantees, i.e., how the model trained on empirical data performs on the unseen testing data, have been relatively under-explored. A fundamental question remains elusive: What is a good metric to study generalization of minimax learners? In this paper, we aim to answer this question by first showing that primal risk, a universal metric to study generalization in minimization problems, fails in simple examples of minimax problems. Furthermore, another popular metric, the primal-dual risk, also fails to characterize the generalization behavior for minimax problems with nonconvexity, due to non-existence of saddle points. We thus propose a new metric to study generalization of minimax learners: the primal gap, to circumvent these issues. Next, we derive generalization bounds for the primal gap in nonconvex-concave settings. As byproducts of our analysis, we also solve two open questions: establishing generalization bounds for primal risk and primal-dual risk in this setting, and in the strong sense, i.e., without assuming that the maximization and expectation can be interchanged. Finally, we leverage this new metric to compare the generalization behavior of two popular algorithms - gradient descent-ascent (GDA) and gradient descent-max (GDMax) in minimax optimization.

Non-stationary Bandits with Knapsacks

Shang Liu · Jiashuo Jiang · Xiaocheng Li

In this paper, we study the problem of bandits with knapsacks (BwK) in a non-stationary environment. The BwK problem generalizes the multi-arm bandit (MAB) problem to model the resource consumption associated with playing each arm. At each time, the decision maker/player chooses to play an arm, and s/he will receive a reward and consume certain amount of resource from each of the multiple resource types. The objective is to maximize the cumulative reward over a finite horizon subject to some knapsack constraints on the resources. Existing works study the BwK problem under either a stochastic or adversarial environment. Our paper considers a non-stationary environment which continuously interpolates between these two extremes. We first show that the traditional notion of variation budget is insufficient to characterize the non-stationarity of the BwK problem for a sublinear regret due to the presence of the constraints, and then we propose a new notion of global non-stationarity measure. We employ both non-stationarity measures to derive upper and lower bounds for the problem. Our results are based on a primal-dual analysis of the underlying linear programs and highlight the interplay between the constraints and the non-stationarity. Finally, we also extend the non-stationarity measure to the problem of online convex optimization with constraints and obtain new regret bounds accordingly.

Semi-Supervised Learning with Decision Trees: Graph Laplacian Tree Alternating Optimization

Arman Zharmagambetov · Miguel A. Carreira-Perpinan

Semi-supervised learning seeks to learn a machine learning model when only a small amount of the available data is labeled. The most widespread approach uses a graph prior, which encourages similar instances to have similar predictions. This has been very successful with models ranging from kernel machines to neural networks, but has remained inapplicable to decision trees, for which the optimization problem is much harder. We solve this based on a reformulation of the problem which requires iteratively solving two simpler problems: a supervised tree learning problem, which can be solved by the Tree Alternating Optimization algorithm; and a label smoothing problem, which can be solved through a sparse linear system. The algorithm is scalable and highly effective even with very few labeled instances, and makes it possible to learn accurate, interpretable models based on decision trees in such situations.

Learning on Arbitrary Graph Topologies via Predictive Coding

Tommaso Salvatori · Luca Pinchetti · Beren Millidge · Yuhang Song · Tianyi Bao · Rafal Bogacz · Thomas Lukasiewicz

Training with backpropagation (BP) in standard deep learning consists of two main steps: a forward pass that maps a data point to its prediction, and a backward pass that propagates the error of this prediction back through the network. This process is highly effective when the goal is to minimize a specific objective function. However, it does not allow training on networks with cyclic or backward connections. This is an obstacle to reaching brain-like capabilities, as the highly complex heterarchical structure of the neural connections in the neocortex are potentially fundamental for its effectiveness. In this paper, we show how predictive coding (PC), a theory of information processing in the cortex, can be used to perform inference and learning on arbitrary graph topologies. We experimentally show how this formulation, called PC graphs, can be used to flexibly perform different tasks with the same network by simply stimulating specific neurons. This enables the model to be queried on stimuli with different structures, such as partial images, images with labels, or images without labels. We conclude by investigating how the topology of the graph influences the final performance, and comparing against simple baselines trained with BP.

Asynchronous Actor-Critic for Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

Yuchen Xiao · Weihao Tan · Christopher Amato

Synchronizing decisions across multiple agents in realistic settings is problematic since it requires agents to wait for other agents to terminate and communicate about termination reliably. Ideally, agents should learn and execute asynchronously instead. Such asynchronous methods also allow temporally extended actions that can take different amounts of time based on the situation and action executed. Unfortunately, current policy gradient methods are not applicable in asynchronous settings, as they assume that agents synchronously reason about action selection at every time step. To allow asynchronous learning and decision-making, we formulate a set of asynchronous multi-agent actor-critic methods that allow agents to directly optimize asynchronous policies in three standard training paradigms: decentralized learning, centralized learning, and centralized training for decentralized execution. Empirical results (in simulation and hardware) in a variety of realistic domains demonstrate the superiority of our approaches in large multi-agent problems and validate the effectiveness of our algorithms for learning high-quality and asynchronous solutions.

Video PreTraining (VPT): Learning to Act by Watching Unlabeled Online Videos

Bowen Baker · Ilge Akkaya · Peter Zhokov · Joost Huizinga · Jie Tang · Adrien Ecoffet · Brandon Houghton · Raul Sampedro · Jeff Clune

Pretraining on noisy, internet-scale datasets has been heavily studied as a technique for training models with broad, general capabilities for text, images, and other modalities. However, for many sequential decision domains such as robotics, video games, and computer use, publicly available data does not contain the labels required to train behavioral priors in the same way. We extend the internet-scale pretraining paradigm to sequential decision domains through semi-supervised imitation learning wherein agents learn to act by watching online unlabeled videos. Specifically, we show that with a small amount of labeled data we can train an inverse dynamics model accurate enough to label a huge unlabeled source of online data -- here, online videos of people playing Minecraft -- from which we can then train a general behavioral prior. Despite using the native human interface (mouse and keyboard at 20Hz), we show that this behavioral prior has nontrivial zero-shot capabilities and that it can be fine-tuned, with both imitation learning and reinforcement learning, to hard-exploration tasks that are impossible to learn from scratch via reinforcement learning. For many tasks our models exhibit human-level performance, and we are the first to report computer agents that can craft diamond tools, which can take proficient humans upwards of 20 minutes (24,000 environment actions) of gameplay to accomplish.

Patching open-vocabulary models by interpolating weights

Gabriel Ilharco · Mitchell Wortsman · Samir Yitzhak Gadre · Shuran Song · Hannaneh Hajishirzi · Simon Kornblith · Ali Farhadi · Ludwig Schmidt

Open-vocabulary models like CLIP achieve high accuracy across many image classification tasks. However, there are still settings where their zero-shot performance is far from optimal. We study model patching, where the goal is to improve accuracy on specific tasks without degrading accuracy on tasks where performance is already adequate. Towards this goal, we introduce PAINT, a patching method that uses interpolations between the weights of a model before fine-tuning and the weights after fine-tuning on a task to be patched. On nine tasks where zero-shot CLIP performs poorly, PAINT increases accuracy by 15 to 60 percentage points while preserving accuracy on ImageNet within one percentage point of the zero-shot model. PAINT also allows a single model to be patched on multiple tasks and improves with model scale. Furthermore, we identify cases of broad transfer, where patching on one task increases accuracy on other tasks even when the tasks have disjoint classes. Finally, we investigate applications beyond common benchmarks such as counting or reducing the impact of typographic attacks on CLIP. Our findings demonstrate that it is possible to expand the set of tasks on which open-vocabulary models achieve high accuracy without re-training them from scratch.

Generative Visual Prompt: Unifying Distributional Control of Pre-Trained Generative Models

Chen Henry Wu · Saman Motamed · Shaunak Srivastava · Fernando D De la Torre

Generative models (e.g., GANs, diffusion models) learn the underlying data distribution in an unsupervised manner. However, many applications of interest require sampling from a particular region of the output space or sampling evenly over a range of characteristics. For efficient sampling in these scenarios, we propose Generative Visual Prompt (PromptGen), a framework for distributional control over pre-trained generative models by incorporating knowledge of other off-the-shelf models. PromptGen defines control as energy-based models (EBMs) and samples images in a feed-forward manner by approximating the EBM with invertible neural networks, avoiding optimization at inference. Our experiments demonstrate how PromptGen can efficiently sample from several unconditional generative models (e.g., StyleGAN2, StyleNeRF, diffusion autoencoder, NVAE) in a controlled or/and de-biased manner using various off-the-shelf models: (1) with the CLIP model as control, PromptGen can sample images guided by text, (2) with image classifiers as control, PromptGen can de-bias generative models across a set of attributes or attribute combinations, and (3) with inverse graphics models as control, PromptGen can sample images of the same identity in different poses. (4) Finally, PromptGen reveals that the CLIP model shows a "reporting bias" when used as control, and PromptGen can further de-bias this controlled distribution in an iterative manner. The code is available at

Learning Options via Compression

Yiding Jiang · Evan Liu · Benjamin Eysenbach · J. Zico Kolter · Chelsea Finn

Identifying statistical regularities in solutions to some tasks in multi-task reinforcement learning can accelerate the learning of new tasks.Skill learning offers one way of identifying these regularities by decomposing pre-collected experiences into a sequence of skills.A popular approach to skill learning is maximizing the likelihood of the pre-collected experience with latent variable models,where the latent variables represent the skills. However, there are often many solutions that maximize the likelihood equally well, including degenerate solutions. To address this underspecification, we propose a new objective that combines the maximum likelihood objective with a penalty on the description length of the skills. This penalty incentivizes the skills to maximally extract common structures from the experiences. Empirically, our objective learns skills that solve downstream tasks in fewer samples compared to skills learned from only maximizing likelihood. Further, while most prior works in the offline multi-task setting focus on tasks with low-dimensional observations, our objective can scale to challenging tasks with high-dimensional image observations.

On the Effectiveness of Fine-tuning Versus Meta-reinforcement Learning

Mandi Zhao · Pieter Abbeel · Stephen James

Intelligent agents should have the ability to leverage knowledge from previously learned tasks in order to learn new ones quickly and efficiently. Meta-learning approaches have emerged as a popular solution to achieve this. However, meta-reinforcement learning (meta-RL) algorithms have thus far been restricted to simple environments with narrow task distributions and have seen limited success. Moreover, the paradigm of pretraining followed by fine-tuning to adapt to new tasks has emerged as a simple yet effective solution in supervised learning. This calls into question the benefits of meta learning approaches also in reinforcement learning, which typically come at the cost of high complexity. We therefore investigate meta-RL approaches in a variety of vision-based benchmarks, including Procgen, RLBench, and Atari, where evaluations are made on completely novel tasks. Our findings show that when meta-learning approaches are evaluated on different tasks (rather than different variations of the same task), multi-task pretraining with fine-tuning on new tasks performs equally as well, or better, than meta-pretraining with meta test-time adaptation. This is encouraging for future research, as multi-task pretraining tends to be simpler and computationally cheaper than meta-RL. From these findings, we advocate for evaluating future meta-RL methods on more challenging tasks and including multi-task pretraining with fine-tuning as a simple, yet strong baseline.

Reincarnating Reinforcement Learning: Reusing Prior Computation to Accelerate Progress

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

Learning tabula rasa, that is without any prior knowledge, is the prevalent workflow in reinforcement learning (RL) research. However, RL systems, when applied to large-scale settings, rarely operate tabula rasa. Such large-scale systems undergo multiple design or algorithmic changes during their development cycle and use ad hoc approaches for incorporating these changes without re-training from scratch, which would have been prohibitively expensive. Additionally, the inefficiency of deep RL typically excludes researchers without access to industrial-scale resources from tackling computationally-demanding problems. To address these issues, we present reincarnating RL as an alternative workflow or class of problem settings, where prior computational work (e.g., learned policies) is reused or transferred between design iterations of an RL agent, or from one RL agent to another. As a step towards enabling reincarnating RL from any agent to any other agent, we focus on the specific setting of efficiently transferring an existing sub-optimal policy to a standalone value-based RL agent. We find that existing approaches fail in this setting and propose a simple algorithm to address their limitations. Equipped with this algorithm, we demonstrate reincarnating RL's gains over tabula rasa RL on Atari 2600 games, a challenging locomotion task, and the real-world problem of navigating stratospheric balloons. Overall, this work argues for an alternative approach to RL research, which we believe could significantly improve real-world RL adoption and help democratize it further. Open-sourced code and trained agents at

Rethinking Generalization in Few-Shot Classification

Markus Hiller · Rongkai Ma · Mehrtash Harandi · Tom Drummond

Single image-level annotations only correctly describe an often small subset of an image’s content, particularly when complex real-world scenes are depicted. While this might be acceptable in many classification scenarios, it poses a significant challenge for applications where the set of classes differs significantly between training and test time. In this paper, we take a closer look at the implications in the context of few-shot learning. Splitting the input samples into patches and encoding these via the help of Vision Transformers allows us to establish semantic correspondences between local regions across images and independent of their respective class. The most informative patch embeddings for the task at hand are then determined as a function of the support set via online optimization at inference time, additionally providing visual interpretability of ‘what matters most’ in the image. We build on recent advances in unsupervised training of networks via masked image modelling to overcome the lack of fine-grained labels and learn the more general statistical structure of the data while avoiding negative image-level annotation influence, aka supervision collapse. Experimental results show the competitiveness of our approach, achieving new state-of-the-art results on four popular few-shot classification benchmarks for 5-shot and 1-shot scenarios.

ProtoVAE: A Trustworthy Self-Explainable Prototypical Variational Model

Srishti Gautam · Ahcène Boubekki · Stine Hansen · Suaiba Salahuddin · Robert Jenssen · Marina Höhne · Michael Kampffmeyer

The need for interpretable models has fostered the development of self-explainable classifiers. Prior approaches are either based on multi-stage optimization schemes, impacting the predictive performance of the model, or produce explanations that are not transparent, trustworthy or do not capture the diversity of the data. To address these shortcomings, we propose ProtoVAE, a variational autoencoder-based framework that learns class-specific prototypes in an end-to-end manner and enforces trustworthiness and diversity by regularizing the representation space and introducing an orthonormality constraint. Finally, the model is designed to be transparent by directly incorporating the prototypes into the decision process. Extensive comparisons with previous self-explainable approaches demonstrate the superiority of ProtoVAE, highlighting its ability to generate trustworthy and diverse explanations, while not degrading predictive performance.

Deep Fourier Up-Sampling

man zhou · Hu Yu · Jie Huang · Feng Zhao · Jinwei Gu · Chen Change Loy · Deyu Meng · Chongyi Li

Existing convolutional neural networks widely adopt spatial down-/up-sampling for multi-scale modeling. However, spatial up-sampling operators (e.g., interpolation, transposed convolution, and un-pooling) heavily depend on local pixel attention, incapably exploring the global dependency. In contrast, the Fourier domain is in accordance with the nature of global modeling according to the spectral convolution theorem. Unlike the spatial domain that easily performs up-sampling with the property of local similarity, up-sampling in the Fourier domain is more challenging as it does not follow such a local property. In this study, we propose a theoretically feasible Deep Fourier Up-Sampling (FourierUp) to solve these issues. We revisit the relationships between spatial and Fourier domains and reveal the transform rules on the features of different resolutions in the Fourier domain, which provide key insights for FourierUp's designs. FourierUp as a generic operator consists of three key components: 2D discrete Fourier transform, Fourier dimension increase rules, and 2D inverse Fourier transform, which can be directly integrated with existing networks. Extensive experiments across multiple computer vision tasks, including object detection, image segmentation, image de-raining, image dehazing, and guided image super-resolution, demonstrate the consistent performance gains obtained by introducing our FourierUp. Code will be publicly available.

Provable Subspace Identification Under Post-Nonlinear Mixtures

Qi Lyu · Xiao Fu

Unsupervised mixture learning (UML) aims at identifying linearly or nonlinearly mixed latent components in a blind manner. UML is known to be challenging: Even learning linear mixtures requires highly nontrivial analytical tools, e.g., independent component analysis or nonnegative matrix factorization. In this work, the post-nonlinear (PNL) mixture model---where {\it unknown} element-wise nonlinear functions are imposed onto a linear mixture---is revisited. The PNL model is widely employed in different fields ranging from brain signal classification, speech separation, remote sensing, to causal discovery. To identify and remove the unknown nonlinear functions, existing works often assume different properties on the latent components (e.g., statistical independence or probability-simplex structures). This work shows that under a carefully designed UML criterion, the existence of a nontrivial {\it null space} associated with the underlying mixing system suffices to guarantee identification/removal of the unknown nonlinearity. Compared to prior works, our finding largely relaxes the conditions of attaining PNL identifiability, and thus may benefit applications where no strong structural information on the latent components is known. A finite-sample analysis is offered to characterize the performance of the proposed approach under realistic settings. To implement the proposed learning criterion, a block coordinate descent algorithm is proposed. A series of numerical experiments corroborate our theoretical claims.

Distributed Distributionally Robust Optimization with Non-Convex Objectives

Yang Jiao · Kai Yang · Dongjin Song

Distributionally Robust Optimization (DRO), which aims to find an optimal decision that minimizes the worst case cost over the ambiguity set of probability distribution, has been applied in diverse applications, e.g., network behavior analysis, risk management, etc. However, existing DRO techniques face three key challenges: 1) how to deal with the asynchronous updating in a distributed environment; 2) how to leverage the prior distribution effectively; 3) how to properly adjust the degree of robustness according to difference scenarios. To this end, we propose an asynchronous distributed algorithm, named Asynchronous Single-looP alternatIve gRadient projEction (ASPIRE) algorithm with the itErative Active SEt method (EASE) to tackle the distributed distributionally robust optimization (DDRO) problem. Furthermore, a new uncertainty set, i.e., constrained $D$-norm uncertainty set, is developed to effectively leverage the prior distribution and flexibly control the degree of robustness. Finally, our theoretical analysis elucidates that the proposed algorithm is guaranteed to converge and the iteration complexity is also analyzed. Extensive empirical studies on real-world datasets demonstrate that the proposed method can not only achieve fast convergence, remain robust against data heterogeneity and malicious attacks, but also tradeoff robustness with performance.

GhostNetV2: Enhance Cheap Operation with Long-Range Attention

Yehui Tang · Kai Han · Jianyuan Guo · Chang Xu · Chao Xu · Yunhe Wang

Light-weight convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are specially designed for applications on mobile devices with faster inference speed. The convolutional operation can only capture local information in a window region, which prevents performance from being further improved. Introducing self-attention into convolution can capture global information well, but it will largely encumber the actual speed. In this paper, we propose a hardware-friendly attention mechanism (dubbed DFC attention) and then present a new GhostNetV2 architecture for mobile applications. The proposed DFC attention is constructed based on fully-connected layers, which can not only execute fast on common hardware but also capture the dependence between long-range pixels. We further revisit the expressiveness bottleneck in previous GhostNet and propose to enhance expanded features produced by cheap operations with DFC attention, so that a GhostNetV2 block can aggregate local and long-range information simultaneously. Extensive experiments demonstrate the superiority of GhostNetV2 over existing architectures. For example, it achieves 75.3% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet with 167M FLOPs, significantly suppressing GhostNetV1 (74.5%) with a similar computational cost. The source code will be available at and

Exploiting Semantic Relations for Glass Surface Detection

Jiaying Lin · Yuen-Hei Yeung · Rynson Lau

Glass surfaces are omnipresent in our daily lives and often go unnoticed by the majority of us. While humans are generally able to infer their locations and thus avoid collisions, it can be difficult for current object detection systems to handle them due to the transparent nature of glass surfaces. Previous methods approached the problem by extracting global context information to obtain priors such as object boundaries and reflections. However, their performances cannot be guaranteed when these deterministic features are not available. We observe that humans often reason through the semantic context of the environment, which offers insights into the categories of and proximity between entities that are expected to appear in the surrounding. For example, the odds of co-occurrence of glass windows with walls and curtains are generally higher than that with other objects such as cars and trees, which have relatively less semantic relevance. Based on this observation, we propose a model ('GlassSemNet') that integrates the contextual relationship of the scenes for glass surface detection with two novel modules: (1) Scene Aware Activation (SAA) Module to adaptively filter critical channels with respect to spatial and semantic features, and (2) Context Correlation Attention (CCA) Module to progressively learn the contextual correlations among objects both spatially and semantically. In addition, we propose a large-scale glass surface detection dataset named {\it Glass Surface Detection - Semantics} ('GSD-S'), which contains 4,519 real-world RGB glass surface images from diverse real-world scenes with detailed annotations for both glass surface detection and semantic segmentation. Experimental results show that our model outperforms contemporary works, especially with 42.6\% MAE improvement on our proposed GSD-S dataset. Code, dataset, and models are available at

A Simple Approach to Automated Spectral Clustering

Jicong Fan · Yiheng Tu · Zhao Zhang · Mingbo Zhao · Haijun Zhang

The performance of spectral clustering heavily relies on the quality of affinity matrix. A variety of affinity-matrix-construction (AMC) methods have been proposed but they have hyperparameters to determine beforehand, which requires strong experience and leads to difficulty in real applications, especially when the inter-cluster similarity is high and/or the dataset is large. In addition, we often need to choose different AMC methods for different datasets, which still depends on experience. To solve these two challenging problems, in this paper, we present a simple yet effective method for automated spectral clustering. First, we propose to find the most reliable affinity matrix via grid search or Bayesian optimization among a set of candidates given by different AMC methods with different hyperparameters, where the reliability is quantified by the \textit{relative-eigen-gap} of graph Laplacian introduced in this paper. Second, we propose a fast and accurate AMC method based on least squares representation and thresholding and prove its effectiveness theoretically. Finally, we provide a large-scale extension for the automated spectral clustering method, of which the time complexity is linear with the number of data points. Extensive experiments of natural image clustering show that our method is more versatile, accurate, and efficient than baseline methods.

Hiding Images in Deep Probabilistic Models

Haoyu Chen · Linqi Song · Zhenxing Qian · Xinpeng Zhang · Kede Ma

Data hiding with deep neural networks (DNNs) has experienced impressive successes in recent years. A prevailing scheme is to train an autoencoder, consisting of an encoding network to embed (or transform) secret messages in (or into) a carrier, and a decoding network to extract the hidden messages. This scheme may suffer from several limitations regarding practicability, security, and embedding capacity. In this work, we describe a different computational framework to hide images in deep probabilistic models. Specifically, we use a DNN to model the probability density of cover images, and hide a secret image in one particular location of the learned distribution. As an instantiation, we adopt a SinGAN, a pyramid of generative adversarial networks (GANs), to learn the patch distribution of one cover image. We hide the secret image by fitting a deterministic mapping from a fixed set of noise maps (generated by an embedding key) to the secret image during patch distribution learning. The stego SinGAN, behaving as the original SinGAN, is publicly communicated; only the receiver with the embedding key is able to extract the secret image. We demonstrate the feasibility of our SinGAN approach in terms of extraction accuracy and model security. Moreover, we show the flexibility of the proposed method in terms of hiding multiple images for different receivers and obfuscating the secret image.

Analyzing Lottery Ticket Hypothesis from PAC-Bayesian Theory Perspective

Keitaro Sakamoto · Issei Sato

The lottery ticket hypothesis (LTH) has attracted attention because it can explain why over-parameterized models often show high generalization ability. It is known that when we use iterative magnitude pruning (IMP), which is an algorithm to find sparse networks with high generalization ability that can be trained from the initial weights independently, called winning tickets, the initial large learning rate does not work well in deep neural networks such as ResNet. However, since the initial large learning rate generally helps the optimizer to converge to flatter minima, we hypothesize that the winning tickets have relatively sharp minima, which is considered a disadvantage in terms of generalization ability. In this paper, we confirm this hypothesis and show that the PAC-Bayesian theory can provide an explicit understanding of the relationship between LTH and generalization behavior. On the basis of our experimental findings that IMP with a small learning rate finds relatively sharp minima and that the distance from the initial weights is deeply involved in winning tickets, we offer the PAC-Bayes bound using a spike-and-slab distribution to analyze winning tickets. Finally, we revisit existing algorithms for finding winning tickets from a PAC-Bayesian perspective and provide new insights into these methods.

Large Language Models are Zero-Shot Reasoners

Takeshi Kojima · Shixiang (Shane) Gu · Machel Reid · Yutaka Matsuo · Yusuke Iwasawa

Pretrained large language models (LLMs) are widely used in many sub-fields of natural language processing (NLP) and generally known as excellent few-shot learners with task-specific exemplars. Notably, chain of thought (CoT) prompting, a recent technique for eliciting complex multi-step reasoning through step-by-step answer examples, achieved the state-of-the-art performances in arithmetics and symbolic reasoning, difficult system-2 tasks that do not follow the standard scaling laws for LLMs. While these successes are often attributed to LLMs' ability for few-shot learning, we show that LLMs are decent zero-shot reasoners by simply adding ``Let's think step by step'' before each answer. Experimental results demonstrate that our Zero-shot-CoT, using the same single prompt template, significantly outperforms zero-shot LLM performances on diverse benchmark reasoning tasks including arithmetics (MultiArith, GSM8K, AQUA-RAT, SVAMP), symbolic reasoning (Last Letter, Coin Flip), and other logical reasoning tasks (Date Understanding, Tracking Shuffled Objects), without any hand-crafted few-shot examples, e.g. increasing the accuracy on MultiArith from 17.7% to 78.7% and GSM8K from 10.4% to 40.7% with large-scale InstructGPT model (text-davinci-002), as well as similar magnitudes of improvements with another off-the-shelf large model, 540B parameter PaLM. The versatility of this single prompt across very diverse reasoning tasks hints at untapped and understudied fundamental zero-shot capabilities of LLMs, suggesting high-level, multi-task broad cognitive capabilities may be extracted by simple prompting. We hope our work not only serves as the minimal strongest zero-shot baseline for the challenging reasoning benchmarks, but also highlights the importance of carefully exploring and analyzing the enormous zero-shot knowledge hidden inside LLMs before crafting finetuning datasets or few-shot exemplars.

Sym-NCO: Leveraging Symmetricity for Neural Combinatorial Optimization

Minsu Kim · Junyoung Park · Jinkyoo Park

Deep reinforcement learning (DRL)-based combinatorial optimization (CO) methods (i.e., DRL-NCO) have shown significant merit over the conventional CO solvers as DRL-NCO is capable of learning CO solvers less relying on problem-specific expert domain knowledge (heuristic method) and supervised labeled data (supervised learning method). This paper presents a novel training scheme, Sym-NCO, which is a regularizer-based training scheme that leverages universal symmetricities in various CO problems and solutions. Leveraging symmetricities such as rotational and reflectional invariance can greatly improve the generalization capability of DRL-NCO because it allows the learned solver to exploit the commonly shared symmetricities in the same CO problem class. Our experimental results verify that our Sym-NCO greatly improves the performance of DRL-NCO methods in four CO tasks, including the traveling salesman problem (TSP), capacitated vehicle routing problem (CVRP), prize collecting TSP (PCTSP), and orienteering problem (OP), without utilizing problem-specific expert domain knowledge. Remarkably, Sym-NCO outperformed not only the existing DRL-NCO methods but also a competitive conventional solver, the iterative local search (ILS), in PCTSP at 240$\times$ faster speed. Our source code is available at

Randomized Channel Shuffling: Minimal-Overhead Backdoor Attack Detection without Clean Datasets

Ruisi Cai · Zhenyu Zhang · Tianlong Chen · Xiaohan Chen · Zhangyang Wang

Deep neural networks (DNNs) typically require massive data to train on, which is a hurdle for numerous practical domains. Facing the data shortfall, one viable option is to acquire domain-specific training data from external uncensored sources, such as open webs or third-party data collectors. However, the quality of such acquired data is often not rigorously scrutinized, and one cannot easily rule out the risk of `"poisoned" examples being included in such unreliable datasets, resulting in unreliable trained models which pose potential risks to many high-stake applications. While existing options usually suffer from high computational costs or assumptions on clean data access, this paper attempts to detect backdoors for potential victim models with minimal prior knowledge. In particular, provided with a trained model, users are assumed to (1) have no prior knowledge of whether it is already poisoned, or what the target class/percentage of samples is poisoned, and (2) have no access to a clean sample set from the same training distribution, nor any trusted model trained on such clean data. To tackle this challenging scenario, we first observe the contrasting channel-level statistics between the backdoor trigger and clean image features, and consequently, how they can be differentiated by progressive channel shuffling. We then propose the randomized channel shuffling method for backdoor-targeted class detection, which requires only a few feed-forward passes. It thus incurs minimal overheads and demands no clean sample nor prior knowledge. We further explore a “full” clean data-free setting, where neither the target class detection nor the trigger recovery can access the clean data. Extensive experiments are conducted with three datasets (CIFAR-10, GTSRB, Tiny ImageNet), three architectures (AlexNet, ResNet-20, SENet-18), and three attacks (BadNets, clean label attack, and WaNet). Results consistently endorse the effectiveness of our proposed technique in backdoor model detection, with margins of 0.291 ~ 0.640 AUROC over the current state-of-the-arts. Codes are available at

Meta-Query-Net: Resolving Purity-Informativeness Dilemma in Open-set Active Learning

Dongmin Park · Yooju Shin · Jihwan Bang · Youngjun Lee · Hwanjun Song · Jae-Gil Lee

Unlabeled data examples awaiting annotations contain open-set noise inevitably. A few active learning studies have attempted to deal with this open-set noise for sample selection by filtering out the noisy examples. However, because focusing on the purity of examples in a query set leads to overlooking the informativeness of the examples, the best balancing of purity and informativeness remains an important question. In this paper, to solve this purity-informativeness dilemma in open-set active learning, we propose a novel Meta-Query-Net (MQ-Net) that adaptively finds the best balancing between the two factors. Specifically, by leveraging the multi-round property of active learning, we train MQ-Net using a query set without an additional validation set. Furthermore, a clear dominance relationship between unlabeled examples is effectively captured by MQ-Net through a novel skyline regularization. Extensive experiments on multiple open-set active learning scenarios demonstrate that the proposed MQ-Net achieves 20.14% improvement in terms of accuracy, compared with the state-of-the-art methods.

A Simple Decentralized Cross-Entropy Method

Zichen Zhang · Jun Jin · Martin Jagersand · Jun Luo · Dale Schuurmans

Cross-Entropy Method (CEM) is commonly used for planning in model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL) where a centralized approach is typically utilized to update the sampling distribution based on only the top-$k$ operation's results on samples. In this paper, we show that such a centralized approach makes CEM vulnerable to local optima, thus impairing its sample efficiency. To tackle this issue, we propose Decentralized CEM (DecentCEM), a simple but effective improvement over classical CEM, by using an ensemble of CEM instances running independently from one another, and each performing a local improvement of its own sampling distribution. We provide both theoretical and empirical analysis to demonstrate the effectiveness of this simple decentralized approach. We empirically show that, compared to the classical centralized approach using either a single or even a mixture of Gaussian distributions, our DecentCEM finds the global optimum much more consistently thus improves the sample efficiency. Furthermore, we plug in our DecentCEM in the planning problem of MBRL, and evaluate our approach in several continuous control environments, with comparison to the state-of-art CEM based MBRL approaches (PETS and POPLIN). Results show sample efficiency improvement by simply replacing the classical CEM module with our DecentCEM module, while only sacrificing a reasonable amount of computational cost. Lastly, we conduct ablation studies for more in-depth analysis. Code is available at

The Missing Invariance Principle found -- the Reciprocal Twin of Invariant Risk Minimization

Dongsung Huh · Avinash Baidya

Machine learning models often generalize poorly to out-of-distribution (OOD) data as a result of relying on features that are spuriously correlated with the label during training. Recently, the technique of Invariant Risk Minimization (IRM) was proposed to learn predictors that only use invariant features by conserving the feature-conditioned label expectation $\mathbb{E}_e[y|f(x)]$ across environments. However, more recent studies have demonstrated that IRM-v1, a practical version of IRM, can fail in various settings. Here, we identify a fundamental flaw of IRM formulation that causes the failure. We then introduce a complementary notion of invariance, MRI, based on conserving the label-conditioned feature expectation $\mathbb{E}_e[f(x)|y]$, which is free of this flaw. Further, we introduce a simplified, practical version of the MRI formulation called MRI-v1. We prove that for general linear problems, MRI-v1 guarantees invariant predictors given sufficient number of environments. We also empirically demonstrate that MRI-v1 strongly out-performs IRM-v1 and consistently achieves near-optimal OOD generalization in image-based nonlinear problems.

Active Learning with Safety Constraints

Romain Camilleri · Andrew Wagenmaker · Jamie Morgenstern · Lalit Jain · Kevin Jamieson

Active learning methods have shown great promise in reducing the number of samples necessary for learning. As automated learning systems are adopted into real-time, real-world decision-making pipelines, it is increasingly important that such algorithms are designed with safety in mind. In this work we investigate the complexity of learning the best safe decision in interactive environments. We reduce this problem to a safe linear bandits problem, where our goal is to find the best arm satisfying certain (unknown) safety constraints. We propose an adaptive experimental design-based algorithm, which we show efficiently trades off between the difficulty of showing an arm is unsafe vs suboptimal. To our knowledge, our results are the first on best-arm identification in linear bandits with safety constraints. In practice, we demonstrate that this approach performs well on synthetic and real world datasets.

A PAC-Bayesian Generalization Bound for Equivariant Networks

Arash Behboodi · Gabriele Cesa · Taco Cohen

Equivariant networks capture the inductive bias about the symmetry of the learning task by building those symmetries into the model. In this paper, we study how equivariance relates to generalization error utilizing PAC Bayesian analysis for equivariant networks, where the transformation laws of feature spaces are deter- mined by group representations. By using perturbation analysis of equivariant networks in Fourier domain for each layer, we derive norm-based PAC-Bayesian generalization bounds. The bound characterizes the impact of group size, and multiplicity and degree of irreducible representations on the generalization error and thereby provide a guideline for selecting them. In general, the bound indicates that using larger group size in the model improves the generalization error substantiated by extensive numerical experiments.

When to Intervene: Learning Optimal Intervention Policies for Critical Events

Niranjan Damera Venkata · Chiranjib Bhattacharyya

Providing a timely intervention before the onset of a critical event, such as a system failure, is of importance in many industrial settings. Before the onset of the critical event, systems typically exhibit behavioral changes which often manifest as stochastic co-variate observations which may be leveraged to trigger intervention. In this paper, for the first time, we formulate the problem of finding an optimally timed intervention (OTI) policy as minimizing the expected residual time to event, subject to a constraint on the probability of missing the event. Existing machine learning approaches to intervention on critical events focus on predicting event occurrence within a pre-defined window (a classification problem) or predicting time-to-event (a regression problem). Interventions are then triggered by setting model thresholds. These are heuristic-driven, lacking guarantees regarding optimality. To model the evolution of system behavior, we introduce the concept of a hazard rate process. We show that the OTI problem is equivalent to an optimal stopping problem on the associated hazard rate process. This key link has not been explored in literature. Under Markovian assumptions on the hazard rate process, we show that an OTI policy at any time can be analytically determined from the conditional hazard rate function at that time. Further, we show that our theory includes, as a special case, the important class of neural hazard rate processes generated by recurrent neural networks (RNNs). To model such processes, we propose a dynamic deep recurrent survival analysis (DDRSA) architecture, introducing an RNN encoder into the static DRSA setting. Finally, we demonstrate RNN-based OTI policies with experiments and show that they outperform popular intervention methods

Recall Distortion in Neural Network Pruning and the Undecayed Pruning Algorithm

Aidan Good · Jiaqi Lin · Xin Yu · Hannah Sieg · Mikey Fergurson · Shandian Zhe · Jerzy Wieczorek · Thiago Serra

Pruning techniques have been successfully used in neural networks to trade accuracy for sparsity. However, the impact of network pruning is not uniform: prior work has shown that the recall for underrepresented classes in a dataset may be more negatively affected. In this work, we study such relative distortions in recall by hypothesizing an intensification effect that is inherent to the model. Namely, that pruning makes recall relatively worse for a class with recall below accuracy and, conversely, that it makes recall relatively better for a class with recall above accuracy. In addition, we propose a new pruning algorithm aimed at attenuating such effect. Through statistical analysis, we have observed that intensification is less severe with our algorithm but nevertheless more pronounced with relatively more difficult tasks, less complex models, and higher pruning ratios. More surprisingly, we conversely observe a de-intensification effect with lower pruning ratios.

Efficient and Modular Implicit Differentiation

Mathieu Blondel · Quentin Berthet · Marco Cuturi · Roy Frostig · Stephan Hoyer · Felipe Llinares-Lopez · Fabian Pedregosa · Jean-Philippe Vert

Automatic differentiation (autodiff) has revolutionized machine learning. Itallows to express complex computations by composing elementary ones in creativeways and removes the burden of computing their derivatives by hand. Morerecently, differentiation of optimization problem solutions has attractedwidespread attention with applications such as optimization layers, and inbi-level problems such as hyper-parameter optimization and meta-learning.However, so far, implicit differentiation remained difficult to use forpractitioners, as it often required case-by-case tedious mathematicalderivations and implementations. In this paper, we proposeautomatic implicit differentiation, an efficientand modular approach for implicit differentiation of optimization problems. Inour approach, the user defines directly in Python a function $F$ capturing theoptimality conditions of the problem to be differentiated. Once this is done, weleverage autodiff of $F$ and the implicit function theorem to automaticallydifferentiate the optimization problem. Our approach thus combines the benefitsof implicit differentiation and autodiff. It is efficient as it can be added ontop of any state-of-the-art solver and modular as the optimality conditionspecification is decoupled from the implicit differentiation mechanism. We showthat seemingly simple principles allow to recover many existing implicitdifferentiation methods and create new ones easily. We demonstrate the ease offormulating and solving bi-level optimization problems using our framework. Wealso showcase an application to the sensitivity analysis of molecular dynamics.

Detection and Localization of Changes in Conditional Distributions

Lizhen Nie · Dan Nicolae

We study the change point problem that considers alterations in the conditional distribution of an inferential target on a set of covariates. This paired data scenario is in contrast to the standard setting where a sequentially observed variable is analyzed for potential changes in the marginal distribution. We propose new methodology for solving this problem, by starting from a simpler task that analyzes changes in conditional expectation, and generalizing the tools developed for that task to conditional distributions. Large sample properties of the proposed statistics are derived. In empirical studies, we illustrate the performance of the proposed method against baselines adapted from existing tools. Two real data applications are presented to demonstrate its potential.

Turbocharging Solution Concepts: Solving NEs, CEs and CCEs with Neural Equilibrium Solvers

Luke Marris · Ian Gemp · Thomas Anthony · Andrea Tacchetti · Siqi Liu · Karl Tuyls

Solution concepts such as Nash Equilibria, Correlated Equilibria, and Coarse Correlated Equilibria are useful components for many multiagent machine learning algorithms. Unfortunately, solving a normal-form game could take prohibitive or non-deterministic time to converge, and could fail. We introduce the Neural Equilibrium Solver which utilizes a special equivariant neural network architecture to approximately solve the space of all games of fixed shape, buying speed and determinism. We define a flexible equilibrium selection framework, that is capable of uniquely selecting an equilibrium that minimizes relative entropy, or maximizes welfare. The network is trained without needing to generate any supervised training data. We show remarkable zero-shot generalization to larger games. We argue that such a network is a powerful component for many possible multiagent algorithms.

DGD^2: A Linearly Convergent Distributed Algorithm For High-dimensional Statistical Recovery

Marie Maros · Gesualdo Scutari

We study linear regression from data distributed over a network of agents (with no master node) under high-dimensional scaling, which allows the ambient dimension to grow faster than the sample size. We propose a novel decentralization of the projected gradient algorithm whereby agents iteratively update their local estimates by a “double-mixing” mechanism, which suitably combines averages of iterates and gradients of neighbouring nodes. Under standard assumptions on the statistical model and network connectivity, the proposed method enjoys global linear convergence up to the statistical precision of the model. This improves on guarantees of (plain) DGD algorithms, whose iteration complexity grows undesirably with the ambient dimension. Our technical contribution is a novel convergence analysis that resembles (albeit different) algorithmic stability arguments extended to high-dimensions and distributed setting, which is of independent interest.

Robust Streaming PCA

Daniel Bienstock · Minchan Jeong · Apurv Shukla · Se-Young Yun

We consider streaming principal component analysis when the stochastic data-generating model is subject to perturbations. While existing models assume a fixed covariance, we adopt a robust perspective where the covariance matrix belongs to a temporal uncertainty set. Under this setting, we provide fundamental limits on any algorithm recovering principal components. We analyze the convergence of the noisy power method and Oja’s algorithm, both studied for the stationary data generating model, and argue that the noisy power method is rate-optimal in our setting. Finally, we demonstrate the validity of our analysis through numerical experiments.

Trimmed Maximum Likelihood Estimation for Robust Generalized Linear Model

Pranjal Awasthi · Abhimanyu Das · Weihao Kong · Rajat Sen

We study the problem of learning generalized linear models under adversarial corruptions.We analyze a classical heuristic called the \textit{iterative trimmed maximum likelihood estimator} which is known to be effective against \textit{label corruptions} in practice. Under label corruptions, we prove that this simple estimator achieves minimax near-optimal risk on a wide range of generalized linear models, including Gaussian regression, Poisson regression and Binomial regression. Finally, we extend the estimator to the much more challenging setting of \textit{label and covariate corruptions} and demonstrate its robustness and optimality in that setting as well.

Sampling with Riemannian Hamiltonian Monte Carlo in a Constrained Space

Yunbum Kook · Yin-Tat Lee · Ruoqi Shen · Santosh Vempala

We demonstrate for the first time that ill-conditioned, non-smooth, constrained distributions in very high dimension, upwards of 100,000, can be sampled efficiently \emph{in practice}. Our algorithm incorporates constraints into the Riemannian version of Hamiltonian Monte Carlo and maintains sparsity. This allows us to achieve a mixing rate independent of smoothness and condition numbers. On benchmark data sets in systems biology and linear programming, our algorithm outperforms existing packages by orders of magnitude. In particular, we achieve a 1,000-fold speed-up for sampling from the largest published human metabolic network (RECON3D). Our package has been incorporated into a popular Bioinformatics library.

Off-Policy Evaluation with Policy-Dependent Optimization Response

Wenshuo Guo · Michael Jordan · Angela Zhou

The intersection of causal inference and machine learning for decision-making is rapidly expanding, but the default decision criterion remains an average of individual causal outcomes across a population. In practice, various operational restrictions ensure that a decision-maker's utility is not realized as an average but rather as an output of a downstream decision-making problem (such as matching, assignment, network flow, minimizing predictive risk). In this work, we develop a new framework for off-policy evaluation with policy-dependent linear optimization responses: causal outcomes introduce stochasticity in objective function coefficients. Under this framework, a decision-maker's utility depends on the policy-dependent optimization, which introduces a fundamental challenge of optimization bias even for the case of policy evaluation. We construct unbiased estimators for the policy-dependent estimand by a perturbation method, and discuss asymptotic variance properties for a set of adjusted plug-in estimators. Lastly, attaining unbiased policy evaluation allows for policy optimization: we provide a general algorithm for optimizing causal interventions. We corroborate our theoretical results with numerical simulations.

Bayesian Risk Markov Decision Processes

Yifan Lin · Yuxuan Ren · Enlu Zhou

We consider finite-horizon Markov Decision Processes where parameters, such as transition probabilities, are unknown and estimated from data. The popular distributionally robust approach to addressing the parameter uncertainty can sometimes be overly conservative. In this paper, we propose a new formulation, Bayesian risk Markov decision process (BR-MDP), to address parameter uncertainty in MDPs, where a risk functional is applied in nested form to the expected total cost with respect to the Bayesian posterior distributions of the unknown parameters. The proposed formulation provides more flexible risk attitudes towards parameter uncertainty and takes into account the availability of data in future time stages. To solve the proposed formulation with the conditional value-at-risk (CVaR) risk functional, we propose an efficient approximation algorithm by deriving an analytical approximation of the value function and utilizing the convexity of CVaR. We demonstrate the empirical performance of the BR-MDP formulation and proposed algorithms on a gambler’s betting problem and an inventory control problem.

Variational inference via Wasserstein gradient flows

Marc Lambert · Sinho Chewi · Francis Bach · Silvère Bonnabel · Philippe Rigollet

Along with Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods, variational inference (VI) has emerged as a central computational approach to large-scale Bayesian inference. Rather than sampling from the true posterior $\pi$, VI aims at producing a simple but effective approximation $\hat \pi$ to $\pi$ for which summary statistics are easy to compute. However, unlike the well-studied MCMC methodology, algorithmic guarantees for VI are still relatively less well-understood. In this work, we propose principled methods for VI, in which $\hat \pi$ is taken to be a Gaussian or a mixture of Gaussians, which rest upon the theory of gradient flows on the Bures--Wasserstein space of Gaussian measures. Akin to MCMC, it comes with strong theoretical guarantees when $\pi$ is log-concave.

Alternating Mirror Descent for Constrained Min-Max Games

Andre Wibisono · Molei Tao · Georgios Piliouras

In this paper we study two-player bilinear zero-sum games with constrained strategy spaces. An instance of natural occurrences of such constraints is when mixed strategies are used, which correspond to a probability simplex constraint. We propose and analyze the alternating mirror descent algorithm, in which each player takes turns to take action following the mirror descent algorithm for constrained optimization. We interpret alternating mirror descent as an alternating discretization of a skew-gradient flow in the dual space, and use tools from convex optimization and modified energy function to establish an $O(K^{-2/3})$ bound on its average regret after $K$ iterations. This quantitatively verifies the algorithm's better behavior than the simultaneous version of mirror descent algorithm, which is known to diverge and yields an $O(K^{-1/2})$ average regret bound. In the special case of an unconstrained setting, our results recover the behavior of alternating gradient descent algorithm for zero-sum games which was studied in (Bailey et al., COLT 2020).

Efficient and Near-Optimal Smoothed Online Learning for Generalized Linear Functions

Adam Block · Max Simchowitz

Due to the drastic gap in complexity between sequential and batch statistical learning, recent work has studied a smoothed sequential learning setting, where Nature is constrained to select contexts with density bounded by $1/\sigma$ with respect to a known measure $\mu$. Unfortunately, for some function classes, there is an exponential gap between the statistically optimal regret and that which can be achieved efficiently. In this paper, we give a computationally efficient algorithm that is the first to enjoy the statistically optimal $\log(T/\sigma)$ regret for realizable $K$-wise linear classification. We extend our results to settings where the true classifier is linear in an over-parameterized polynomial featurization of the contexts, as well as to a realizable piecewise-regression setting assuming access to an appropriate ERM oracle. Somewhat surprisingly, standard disagreement-based analyses are insufficient to achieve regret logarithmic in $1/\sigma$. Instead, we develop a novel characterization of the geometry of the disagreement region induced by generalized linear classifiers. Along the way, we develop numerous technical tools of independent interest, including a general anti-concentration bound for the determinant of certain matrix averages.

Inducing Equilibria via Incentives: Simultaneous Design-and-Play Ensures Global Convergence

Boyi Liu · Jiayang Li · Zhuoran Yang · Hoi-To Wai · Mingyi Hong · Yu Nie · Zhaoran Wang

To regulate a social system comprised of self-interested agents, economic incentives are often required to induce a desirable outcome. This incentive design problem naturally possesses a bilevel structure, in which a designer modifies the payoffs of the agents with incentives while anticipating the response of the agents, who play a non-cooperative game that converges to an equilibrium. The existing bilevel optimization algorithms raise a dilemma when applied to this problem: anticipating how incentives affect the agents at equilibrium requires solving the equilibrium problem repeatedly, which is computationally inefficient; bypassing the time-consuming step of equilibrium-finding can reduce the computational cost, but may lead the designer to a sub-optimal solution. To address such a dilemma, we propose a method that tackles the designer’s and agents’ problems simultaneously in a single loop. Specifically, at each iteration, both the designer and the agents only move one step. Nevertheless, we allow the designer to gradually learn the overall influence of the incentives on the agents, which guarantees optimality after convergence. The convergence rate of the proposed scheme is also established for a broad class of games.

Mean Estimation with User-level Privacy under Data Heterogeneity

Rachel Cummings · Vitaly Feldman · Audra McMillan · Kunal Talwar

A key challenge in many modern data analysis tasks is that user data is heterogeneous. Different users may possess vastly different numbers of data points. More importantly, it cannot be assumed that all users sample from the same underlying distribution. This is true, for example in language data, where different speech styles result in data heterogeneity. In this work we propose a simple model of heterogeneous user data that differs in both distribution and quantity of data, and we provide a method for estimating the population-level mean while preserving user-level differential privacy. We demonstrate asymptotic optimality of our estimator and also prove general lower bounds on the error achievable in our problem.

Intrinsic dimensionality estimation using Normalizing Flows

Christian Horvat · Jean-Pascal Pfister

How many degrees of freedom are there in a dataset consisting of $M$ samples embedded in $\mathbb{R}^D$? This number, formally known as \textsl{intrinsic dimensionality}, can be estimated using nearest neighbor statistics. However, nearest neighbor statistics do not scale to large datasets as their complexity scales quadratically in $M$, $\mathcal{O}(M^2)$. Additionally, methods based on nearest neighbor statistics perform poorly on datasets embedded in high dimensions where $D\gg 1$. In this paper, we propose a novel method to estimate the intrinsic dimensionality using Normalizing Flows that scale to large datasets and high dimensions. The method is based on some simple back-of-the-envelope calculations predicting how the singular values of the flow's Jacobian change when inflating the dataset with different noise magnitudes. Singular values associated with directions normal to the manifold evolve differently than singular values associated with directions tangent to the manifold. We test our method on various datasets, including 64x64 RGB images, where we achieve state-of-the-art results.

Washing The Unwashable : On The (Im)possibility of Fairwashing Detection

Ali Shahin Shamsabadi · Mohammad Yaghini · Natalie Dullerud · Sierra Wyllie · Ulrich Aïvodji · Aisha Alaagib · Sébastien Gambs · Nicolas Papernot

The use of black-box models (e.g., deep neural networks) in high-stakes decision-making systems, whose internal logic is complex, raises the need for providing explanations about their decisions. Model explanation techniques mitigate this problem by generating an interpretable and high-fidelity surrogate model (e.g., a logistic regressor or decision tree) to explain the logic of black-box models. In this work, we investigate the issue of fairwashing, in which model explanation techniques are manipulated to rationalize decisions taken by an unfair black-box model using deceptive surrogate models. More precisely, we theoretically characterize and analyze fairwashing, proving that this phenomenon is difficult to avoid due to an irreducible factor---the unfairness of the black-box model. Based on the theory developed, we propose a novel technique, called FRAUD-Detect (FaiRness AUDit Detection), to detect fairwashed models by measuring a divergence over subpopulation-wise fidelity measures of the interpretable model. We empirically demonstrate that this divergence is significantly larger in purposefully fairwashed interpretable models than in honest ones. Furthermore, we show that our detector is robust to an informed adversary trying to bypass our detector. The code implementing FRAUD-Detect is available at

Differentially Private Graph Learning via Sensitivity-Bounded Personalized PageRank

Alessandro Epasto · Vahab Mirrokni · Bryan Perozzi · Anton Tsitsulin · Peilin Zhong

Personalized PageRank (PPR) is a fundamental tool in unsupervised learning of graph representations such as node ranking, labeling, and graph embedding. However, while data privacy is one of the most important recent concerns, existing PPR algorithms are not designed to protect user privacy. PPR is highly sensitive to the input graph edges: the difference of only one edge may cause a big change in the PPR vector, potentially leaking private user data.In this work, we propose an algorithm which outputs an approximate PPR and has provably bounded sensitivity to input edges. In addition, we prove that our algorithm achieves similar accuracy to non-private algorithms when the input graph has large degrees. Our sensitivity-bounded PPR directly implies private algorithms for several tools of graph learning, such as, differentially private (DP) PPR ranking, DP node classification, and DP node embedding. To complement our theoretical analysis, we also empirically verify the practical performances of our algorithms.

Independence Testing-Based Approach to Causal Discovery under Measurement Error and Linear Non-Gaussian Models

Haoyue Dai · Peter Spirtes · Kun Zhang

Causal discovery aims to recover causal structures generating the observational data. Despite its success in certain problems, in many real-world scenarios the observed variables are not the target variables of interest, but the imperfect measures of the target variables. Causal discovery under measurement error aims to recover the causal graph among unobserved target variables from observations made with measurement error. We consider a specific formulation of the problem, where the unobserved target variables follow a linear non-Gaussian acyclic model, and the measurement process follows the random measurement error model. Existing methods on this formulation rely on non-scalable over-complete independent component analysis (OICA). In this work, we propose the Transformed Independent Noise (TIN) condition, which checks for independence between a specific linear transformation of some measured variables and certain other measured variables. By leveraging the non-Gaussianity and higher-order statistics of data, TIN is informative about the graph structure among the unobserved target variables. By utilizing TIN, the ordered group decomposition of the causal model is identifiable. In other words, we could achieve what once required OICA to achieve by only conducting independence tests. Experimental results on both synthetic and real-world data demonstrate the effectiveness and reliability of our method.

Explainable Reinforcement Learning via Model Transforms

Mira Finkelstein · Nitsan levy · Lucy Liu · Yoav Kolumbus · David Parkes · Jeffrey S Rosenschein · Sarah Keren

Understanding emerging behaviors of reinforcement learning (RL) agents may be difficult since such agents are often trained in complex environments using highly complex decision making procedures. This has given rise to a variety of approaches to explainability in RL that aim to reconcile discrepancies that may arise between the behavior of an agent and the behavior that is anticipated by an observer. Most recent approaches have relied either on domain knowledge, that may not always be available, on an analysis of the agent’s policy, or on an analysis of specific elements of the underlying environment, typically modeled as a Markov Decision Process (MDP). Our key claim is that even if the underlying model is not fully known (e.g., the transition probabilities have not been accurately learned) or is not maintained by the agent (i.e., when using model-free methods), the model can nevertheless be exploited to automatically generate explanations. For this purpose, we suggest using formal MDP abstractions and transforms, previously used in the literature for expediting the search for optimal policies, to automatically produce explanations. Since such transforms are typically based on a symbolic representation of the environment, they can provide meaningful explanations for gaps between the anticipated and actual agent behavior. We formally define the explainability problem, suggest a class of transforms that can be used for explaining emergent behaviors, and suggest methods that enable efficient search for an explanation. We demonstrate the approach on a set of standard benchmarks.

Where do Models go Wrong? Parameter-Space Saliency Maps for Explainability

Roman Levin · Manli Shu · Eitan Borgnia · Furong Huang · Micah Goldblum · Tom Goldstein

Conventional saliency maps highlight input features to which neural network predictions are highly sensitive. We take a different approach to saliency, in which we identify and analyze the network parameters, rather than inputs, which are responsible for erroneous decisions. We first verify that identified salient parameters are indeed responsible for misclassification by showing that turning these parameters off improves predictions on the associated samples more than turning off the same number of random or least salient parameters. We further validate the link between salient parameters and network misclassification errors by observing that fine-tuning a small number of the most salient parameters on a single sample results in error correction on other samples which were misclassified for similar reasons -- nearest neighbors in the saliency space. After validating our parameter-space saliency maps, we demonstrate that samples which cause similar parameters to malfunction are semantically similar. Further, we introduce an input-space saliency counterpart which reveals how image features cause specific network components to malfunction.

Neural Circuit Architectural Priors for Embodied Control

Nikhil Bhattasali · Anthony M Zador · Tatiana Engel

Artificial neural networks for motor control usually adopt generic architectures like fully connected MLPs. While general, these tabula rasa architectures rely on large amounts of experience to learn, are not easily transferable to new bodies, and have internal dynamics that are difficult to interpret. In nature, animals are born with highly structured connectivity in their nervous systems shaped by evolution; this innate circuitry acts synergistically with learning mechanisms to provide inductive biases that enable most animals to function well soon after birth and learn efficiently. Convolutional networks inspired by visual circuitry have encoded useful biases for vision. However, it is unknown the extent to which ANN architectures inspired by neural circuitry can yield useful biases for other AI domains. In this work, we ask what advantages biologically inspired ANN architecture can provide in the domain of motor control. Specifically, we translate C. elegans locomotion circuits into an ANN model controlling a simulated Swimmer agent. On a locomotion task, our architecture achieves good initial performance and asymptotic performance comparable with MLPs, while dramatically improving data efficiency and requiring orders of magnitude fewer parameters. Our architecture is interpretable and transfers to new body designs. An ablation analysis shows that constrained excitation/inhibition is crucial for learning, while weight initialization contributes to good initial performance. Our work demonstrates several advantages of biologically inspired ANN architecture and encourages future work in more complex embodied control.

Action-modulated midbrain dopamine activity arises from distributed control policies

Jack Lindsey · Ashok Litwin-Kumar

Animal behavior is driven by multiple brain regions working in parallel with distinct control policies. We present a biologically plausible model of off-policy reinforcement learning in the basal ganglia, which enables learning in such an architecture. The model accounts for action-related modulation of dopamine activity that is not captured by previous models that implement on-policy algorithms. In particular, the model predicts that dopamine activity signals a combination of reward prediction error (as in classic models) and "action surprise," a measure of how unexpected an action is relative to the basal ganglia's current policy. In the presence of the action surprise term, the model implements an approximate form of $Q$-learning. On benchmark navigation and reaching tasks, we show empirically that this model is capable of learning from data driven completely or in part by other policies (e.g. from other brain regions). By contrast, models without the action surprise term suffer in the presence of additional policies, and are incapable of learning at all from behavior that is completely externally driven. The model provides a computational account for numerous experimental findings about dopamine activity that cannot be explained by classic models of reinforcement learning in the basal ganglia. These include differing levels of action surprise signals in dorsal and ventral striatum, decreasing amounts movement-modulated dopamine activity with practice, and representations of action initiation and kinematics in dopamine activity. It also provides further predictions that can be tested with recordings of striatal dopamine activity.

When are Offline Two-Player Zero-Sum Markov Games Solvable?

Qiwen Cui · Simon Du

We study what dataset assumption permits solving offline two-player zero-sum Markov games. In stark contrast to the offline single-agent Markov decision process, we show that the single strategy concentration assumption is insufficient for learning the Nash equilibrium (NE) strategy in offline two-player zero-sum Markov games. On the other hand, we propose a new assumption named unilateral concentration and design a pessimism-type algorithm that is provably efficient under this assumption. In addition, we show that the unilateral concentration assumption is necessary for learning an NE strategy. Furthermore, our algorithm can achieve minimax sample complexity without any modification for two widely studied settings: dataset with uniform concentration assumption and turn-based Markov games. Our work serves as an important initial step towards understanding offline multi-agent reinforcement learning.

Private and Communication-Efficient Algorithms for Entropy Estimation

Gecia Bravo-Hermsdorff · Róbert Busa-Fekete · Mohammad Ghavamzadeh · Andres Munoz Medina · Umar Syed

Modern statistical estimation is often performed in a distributed setting where each sample belongs to single user who shares their data with a central server. Users are typically concerned with preserving the privacy of their sample, and also with minimizing the amount of data they must transmit to the server. We give improved private and communication-efficient algorithms for estimating several popular measures of the entropy of a distribution. All of our algorithms have constant communication cost and satisfy local differential privacy. For a joint distribution on many variables whose conditional independence graph is a tree, we describe algorithms for estimating Shannon entropy that require a number of samples that is linear in the number of variables, compared to the quadratic sample complexity of prior work. We also describe an algorithm for estimating Gini entropy whose sample complexity has no dependence on the support size of the distribution and can be implemented using a single round of concurrent communication between the users and the server, while the previously best-known algorithm has high communication cost and requires the server to facilitate interaction between the users. Finally, we describe an algorithm for estimating collision entropy that matches the space and sample complexity of the best known algorithm but generalizes it to the private and communication-efficient setting.

Approximate Value Equivalence

Christopher Grimm · Andre Barreto · Satinder Singh

Model-based reinforcement learning agents must make compromises about which aspects of the environment their models should capture. The value equivalence (VE) principle posits that these compromises should be made considering the model's eventual use in value-based planning. Given sets of functions and policies, a model is said to be order-$k$ VE to the environment if $k$ applications of the Bellman operators induced by the policies produce the correct result when applied to the functions. Prior work investigated the classes of models induced by VE when we vary $k$ and the sets of policies and functions. This gives rise to a rich collection of topological relationships and conditions under which VE models are optimal for planning. Despite this effort, relatively little is known about the planning performance of models that fail to satisfy these conditions. This is due to the rigidity of the VE formalism, as classes of VE models are defined with respect to \textit{exact} constraints on their Bellman operators. This limitation gets amplified by the fact that such constraints themselves may depend on functions that can only be approximated in practice. To address these problems we propose approximate value equivalence (AVE), which extends the VE formalism by replacing equalities with error tolerances. This extension allows us to show that AVE models with respect to one set of functions are also AVE with respect to any other set of functions if we tolerate a high enough error. We can then derive bounds on the performance of VE models with respect to \textit{arbitrary sets of functions}. Moreover, AVE models more accurately reflect what can be learned by our agents in practice, allowing us to investigate previously unexplored tensions between model capacity and the choice of VE model class. In contrast to previous works, we show empirically that there are situations where agents with limited capacity should prefer to learn more accurate models with respect to smaller sets of functions over less accurate models with respect to larger sets of functions.

Size and depth of monotone neural networks: interpolation and approximation

Dan Mikulincer · Daniel Reichman

Monotone functions and data sets arise in a variety of applications. We study the interpolation problem for monotone data sets: The input is a monotone data set with $n$ points, and the goal is to find a size and depth efficient monotone neural network with \emph{non negative parameters} and threshold units that interpolates the data set. We show that there are monotone data sets that cannot be interpolated by a monotone network of depth $2$. On the other hand, we prove that for every monotone data set with $n$ points in $\mathbb{R}^d$, there exists an interpolating monotone network of depth $4$ and size $O(nd)$. Our interpolation result implies that every monotone function over $[0,1]^d$ can be approximated arbitrarily well by a depth-4 monotone network, improving the previous best-known construction of depth $d+1$. Finally, building on results from Boolean circuit complexity, we show that the inductive bias of having positive parameters can lead to a super-polynomial blow-up in the number of neurons when approximating monotone functions.

Characterization of Excess Risk for Locally Strongly Convex Population Risk

Mingyang Yi · Ruoyu Wang · Zhi-Ming Ma

We establish upper bounds for the expected excess risk of models trained by proper iterative algorithms which approximate the local minima. Unlike the results built upon the strong globally strongly convexity or global growth conditions e.g., PL-inequality, we only require the population risk to be \emph{locally} strongly convex around its local minima. Concretely, our bound under convex problems is of order $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(1/n)$. For non-convex problems with $d$ model parameters such that $d/n$ is smaller than a threshold independent of $n$, the order of $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(1/n)$ can be maintained if the empirical risk has no spurious local minima with high probability. Moreover, the bound for non-convex problem becomes $\tilde{\mathcal{O}}(1/\sqrt{n})$ without such assumption. Our results are derived via algorithmic stability and characterization of the empirical risk's landscape. Compared with the existing algorithmic stability based results, our bounds are dimensional insensitive and without restrictions on the algorithm's implementation, learning rate, and the number of iterations. Our bounds underscore that with locally strongly convex population risk, the models trained by any proper iterative algorithm can generalize well, even for non-convex problems, and $d$ is large.

Computationally Efficient Horizon-Free Reinforcement Learning for Linear Mixture MDPs

Dongruo Zhou · Quanquan Gu

Recent studies have shown that episodic reinforcement learning (RL) is not more difficult than bandits, even with a long planning horizon and unknown state transitions. However, these results are limited to either tabular Markov decision processes (MDPs) or computationally inefficient algorithms for linear mixture MDPs. In this paper, we propose the first computationally efficient horizon-free algorithm for linear mixture MDPs, which achieves the optimal $\tilde O(d\sqrt{K} +d^2)$ regret up to logarithmic factors. Our algorithm adapts a weighted least square estimator for the unknown transitional dynamic, where the weight is both \emph{variance-aware} and \emph{uncertainty-aware}. When applying our weighted least square estimator to heterogeneous linear bandits, we can obtain an $\tilde O(d\sqrt{\sum_{k=1}^K \sigma_k^2} +d)$ regret in the first $K$ rounds, where $d$ is the dimension of the context and $\sigma_k^2$ is the variance of the reward in the $k$-th round. This also improves upon the best known algorithms in this setting when $\sigma_k^2$'s are known.

A Near-Optimal Best-of-Both-Worlds Algorithm for Online Learning with Feedback Graphs

Chloé Rouyer · Dirk van der Hoeven · Nicolò Cesa-Bianchi · Yevgeny Seldin

We consider online learning with feedback graphs, a sequential decision-making framework where the learner's feedback is determined by a directed graph over the action set. We present a computationally-efficient algorithm for learning in this framework that simultaneously achieves near-optimal regret bounds in both stochastic and adversarial environments. The bound against oblivious adversaries is $\tilde{O} (\sqrt{\alpha T})$, where $T$ is the time horizon and $\alpha$ is the independence number of the feedback graph. The bound against stochastic environments is $O\big((\ln T)^2 \max_{S\in \mathcal I(G)} \sum_{i \in S} \Delta_i^{-1}\big)$ where $\mathcal I(G)$ is the family of all independent sets in a suitably defined undirected version of the graph and $\Delta_i$ are the suboptimality gaps.The algorithm combines ideas from the EXP3++ algorithm for stochastic and adversarial bandits and the EXP3.G algorithm for feedback graphs with a novel exploration scheme. The scheme, which exploits the structure of the graph to reduce exploration, is key to obtain best-of-both-worlds guarantees with feedback graphs. We also extend our algorithm and results to a setting where the feedback graphs are allowed to change over time.

Optimal Rates for Regularized Conditional Mean Embedding Learning

Zhu Li · Dimitri Meunier · Mattes Mollenhauer · Arthur Gretton

We address the consistency of a kernel ridge regression estimate of the conditional mean embedding (CME), which is an embedding of the conditional distribution of $Y$ given $X$ into a target reproducing kernel Hilbert space $\mathcal{H}_Y$. The CME allows us to take conditional expectations of target RKHS functions, and has been employed in nonparametric causal and Bayesian inference.We address the misspecified setting, where the target CME isin the space of Hilbert-Schmidt operators acting from an input interpolation space between $\mathcal{H}_X$ and $L_2$, to $\mathcal{H}_Y$. This space of operators is shown to be isomorphic to a newly defined vector-valued interpolation space. Using this isomorphism, we derive a novel and adaptive statistical learning rate for the empirical CME estimator under the misspecified setting. Our analysis reveals that our rates match the optimal $O(\log n / n)$ rates without assuming $\mathcal{H}_Y$ to be finite dimensional. We further establish a lower bound on the learning rate, which shows that the obtained upper bound is optimal.

The Burer-Monteiro SDP method can fail even above the Barvinok-Pataki bound

Liam O'Carroll · Vaidehi Srinivas · Aravindan Vijayaraghavan

The most widely used technique for solving large-scale semidefinite programs (SDPs) in practice is the non-convex Burer-Monteiro method, which explicitly maintains a low-rank SDP solution for memory efficiency. There has been much recent interest in obtaining a better theoretical understanding of the Burer-Monteiro method. When the maximum allowed rank $p$ of the SDP solution is above the Barvinok-Pataki bound (where a globally optimal solution of rank at most \(p\) is guaranteed to exist), a recent line of work established convergence to a global optimum for generic or smoothed instances of the problem. However, it was open whether there even exists an instance in this regime where the Burer-Monteiro method fails. We prove that the Burer-Monteiro method can fail for the Max-Cut SDP on $n$ vertices when the rank is above the Barvinok-Pataki bound ($p \ge \sqrt{2n}$). We provide a family of instances that have spurious local minima even when the rank $p = n/2$. Combined with existing guarantees, this settles the question of the existence of spurious local minima for the Max-Cut formulation in all ranges of the rank and justifies the use of beyond worst-case paradigms like smoothed analysis to obtain guarantees for the Burer-Monteiro method.

Contextual Dynamic Pricing with Unknown Noise: Explore-then-UCB Strategy and Improved Regrets

Yiyun Luo · Will Wei Sun · Yufeng Liu

Dynamic pricing is a fast-moving research area in machine learning and operations management. A lot of work has been done for this problem with known noise. In this paper, we consider a contextual dynamic pricing problem under a linear customer valuation model with an unknown market noise distribution $F$. This problem is very challenging due to the difficulty in balancing three tangled tasks of revenue-maximization, estimating the linear valuation parameter $\theta_{0}$, and learning the nonparametric $F$. To address this issue, we develop a novel {\it Explore-then-UCB} (ExUCB) strategy that includes an exploration for $\theta_{0}$-learning and a followed UCB procedure of joint revenue-maximization and $F$-learning. Under Lipschitz and 2nd-order smoothness assumptions on $F$, ExUCB is the first approach to achieve the $\tilde{O}(T^{2/3})$ regret rate. Under the Lipschitz assumption only, ExUCB matches the best existing regret of $\tilde{O}(T^{3/4})$ and is computationally more efficient. Furthermore, for regret lower bounds under the nonparametric $F$, not much work has been done beyond only assuming Lipschitz. To fill this gap, we provide the first $\tilde{\Omega}(T^{3/5})$ lower bound under Lipschitz and 2nd-order smoothness assumptions.

Efficient Frameworks for Generalized Low-Rank Matrix Bandit Problems

Yue Kang · Cho-Jui Hsieh · Thomas Chun Man Lee

In the stochastic contextual low-rank matrix bandit problem, the expected reward of an action is given by the inner product between the action's feature matrix and some fixed, but initially unknown $d_1$ by $d_2$ matrix $\Theta^*$ with rank $r \ll \{d_1, d_2\}$, and an agent sequentially takes actions based on past experience to maximize the cumulative reward. In this paper, we study the generalized low-rank matrix bandit problem, which has been recently proposed in \cite{lu2021low} under the Generalized Linear Model (GLM) framework. To overcome the computational infeasibility and theoretical restrain of existing algorithms on this problem, we first propose the G-ESTT framework that modifies the idea from \cite{jun2019bilinear} by using Stein's method on the subspace estimation and then leverage the estimated subspaces via a regularization idea. Furthermore, we remarkably improve the efficiency of G-ESTT by using a novel exclusion idea on the estimated subspace instead, and propose the G-ESTS framework. We also show that both of our methods are the first algorithm to achieve the optimal $\tilde{O}((d_1+d_2)r\sqrt{T})$ bound of regret presented in \cite{lu2021low} up to logarithm terms under some mild conditions, which improves upon the current regret of $\tilde{O}((d_1+d_2)^{3/2} \sqrt{rT})$~\citep{lu2021low}. For completeness, we conduct experiments to illustrate that our proposed algorithms, especially G-ESTS, are also computationally tractable and consistently outperform other state-of-the-art (generalized) linear matrix bandit methods based on a suite of simulations.

Generic bounds on the approximation error for physics-informed (and) operator learning

Tim De Ryck · Siddhartha Mishra

We propose a very general framework for deriving rigorous bounds on the approximation error for physics-informed neural networks (PINNs) and operator learning architectures such as DeepONets and FNOs as well as for physics-informed operator learning. These bounds guarantee that PINNs and (physics-informed) DeepONets or FNOs will efficiently approximate the underlying solution or solution-operator of generic partial differential equations (PDEs). Our framework utilizes existing neural network approximation results to obtain bounds on more-involved learning architectures for PDEs. We illustrate the general framework by deriving the first rigorous bounds on the approximation error of physics-informed operator learning and by showing that PINNs (and physics-informed DeepONets and FNOs) mitigate the curse of dimensionality in approximating nonlinear parabolic PDEs.

Zero-Sum Stochastic Stackelberg Games

Denizalp Goktas · Sadie Zhao · Amy Greenwald

Zero-sum stochastic games have found important applications in a variety of fields, from machine learning to economics. Work on this model has primarily focused on the computation of Nash equilibrium due to its effectiveness in solving adversarial board and video games. Unfortunately, a Nash equilibrium is not guaranteed to exist in zero-sum stochastic games when the payoffs at each state are not convex-concave in the players' actions. A Stackelberg equilibrium, however, is guaranteed to exist. Consequently, in this paper, we study zero-sum stochastic Stackelberg games. Going beyond known existence results for (non-stationary) Stackelberg equilibria, we prove the existence of recursive (i.e., Markov perfect) Stackelberg equilibria (recSE) in these games, provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a policy profile to be a recSE, and show that recSE can be computed in (weakly) polynomial time via value iteration. Finally, we show that zero-sum stochastic Stackelberg games can model the problem of pricing and allocating goods across agents and time. More specifically, we propose a zero-sum stochastic Stackelberg game whose recSE correspond to the recursive competitive equilibria of a large class of stochastic Fisher markets. We close with a series of experiments that showcase how our methodology can be used to solve the consumption-savings problem in stochastic Fisher markets.

Fair and Efficient Allocations Without Obvious Manipulations

Alexandros Psomas · Paritosh Verma

We consider the fundamental problem of allocating a set of indivisible goods among strategic agents with additive valuation functions. It is well known that, in the absence of monetary transfers, Pareto efficient and truthful rules are dictatorial, while there is no deterministic truthful mechanism that allocates all items and achieves envy-freeness up to one item (EF1), even for the case of two agents. In this paper, we investigate the interplay of fairness and efficiency under a relaxation of truthfulness called non-obvious manipulability (NOM), recently proposed by~\citep{troyan2020obvious}. We show that this relaxation allows us to bypass the aforementioned negative results in a very strong sense. Specifically, we prove that there are deterministic and EF1 algorithms that are not obviously manipulable, and the algorithm that maximizes utilitarian social welfare (the sum of agents' utilities), which is Pareto efficient but not dictatorial, is not obviously manipulable for $n \geq 3$ agents (but obviously manipulable for $n=2$ agents). At the same time, maximizing the egalitarian social welfare (the minimum of agents' utilities) or the Nash social welfare (the product of agents' utilities) is obviously manipulable for any number of agents and items. Our main result is an approximation preserving black-box reduction from the problem of designing EF1 and NOM mechanisms to the problem of designing EF1 algorithms. En route, we prove an interesting structural result about EF1 allocations, as well as new ``best-of-both-worlds'' results (for the problem without incentives), that might be of independent interest.

Faster Linear Algebra for Distance Matrices

Piotr Indyk · Sandeep Silwal

The distance matrix of a dataset $X$ of $n$ points with respect to a distance function $f$ represents all pairwise distances between points in $X$ induced by $f$. Due to their wide applicability, distance matrices and related families of matrices have been the focus of many recent algorithmic works. We continue this line of research and take a broad view of algorithm design for distance matrices with the goal of designing fast algorithms, which are specifically tailored for distance matrices, for fundamental linear algebraic primitives. Our results include efficient algorithms for computing matrix-vector products for a wide class of distance matrices, such as the $\ell_1$ metric for which we get a linear runtime, as well as an $\Omega(n^2)$ lower bound for any algorithm which computes a matrix-vector product for the $\ell_{\infty}$ case, showing a separation between the $\ell_1$ and the $\ell_{\infty}$ metrics. Our upper bound results in conjunction with recent works on the matrix-vector query model have many further downstream applications, including the fastest algorithm for computing a relative error low-rank approximation for the distance matrix induced by $\ell_1$ and $\ell_2^2$ functions and the fastest algorithm for computing an additive error low-rank approximation for the $\ell_2$ metric, in addition to applications for fast matrix multiplication among others. We also give algorithms for constructing distance matrices and show that one can construct an approximate $\ell_2$ distance matrix in time faster than the bound implied by the Johnson-Lindenstrauss lemma.

SQ Lower Bounds for Learning Single Neurons with Massart Noise

Ilias Diakonikolas · Daniel Kane · Lisheng Ren · Yuxin Sun

We study the problem of PAC learning a single neuron in the presence of Massart noise. Specifically, for a known activation function $f: \mathbb{R}\to \mathbb{R}$, the learner is given access to labeled examples $(\mathbf{x}, y) \in \mathbb{R}^d \times \mathbb{R}$, where the marginal distribution of $\mathbf{x}$ is arbitrary and the corresponding label $y$ is a Massart corruption of $f(\langle \mathbf{w}, \mathbf{x} \rangle)$. The goal of the learner is to output a hypothesis $h: \mathbb{R}^d \to \mathbb{R}$ with small squared loss. For a range of activation functions, including ReLUs, we establish super-polynomial Statistical Query (SQ) lower bounds for this learning problem. In more detail, we prove that no efficient SQ algorithm can approximate the optimal error within any constant factor. Our main technical contribution is a novel SQ-hard construction for learning $\{ \pm 1\}$-weight Massart halfspaces on the Boolean hypercube that is interesting on its own right.

A Differentially Private Linear-Time fPTAS for the Minimum Enclosing Ball Problem

Bar Mahpud · Or Sheffet

The Minimum Enclosing Ball (MEB) problem is one of the most fundamental problems in clustering, with applications in operations research, statistic and computational geometry. In this works, we give the first differentially private (DP) fPTAS for the Minimum Enclosing Ball problem, improving both on the runtime and the utility bound of the best known DP-PTAS for the problem, of Ghazi et al (2020). Given $n$ points in $\mathbb{R}^d$ that are covered by the ball $B(\theta_{opt},r_{opt})$, our simple iterative DP-algorithm returns a ball $B(\theta,r)$ where $r\leq (1+\gamma)r_{opt}$ and which leaves at most $\tilde O(\frac{\sqrt d}{\gamma\epsilon})$ points uncovered in $\tilde O(n/\gamma^2)$-time. We also give a local-model version of our algorithm, that leaves at most $\tilde O(\frac{\sqrt {nd}}{\gamma\epsilon})$ points uncovered, improving on the $n^{0.67}$-bound of Nissim and Stemmer (2018) (at the expense of other parameters). In addition, we test our algorithm empirically and discuss future open problems.

Subquadratic Kronecker Regression with Applications to Tensor Decomposition

Matthew Fahrbach · Gang Fu · Mehrdad Ghadiri

Kronecker regression is a highly-structured least squares problem $\min_{\mathbf{x}} \lVert \mathbf{K}\mathbf{x} - \mathbf{b} \rVert_{2}^2$, where the design matrix $\mathbf{K} = \mathbf{A}^{(1)} \otimes \cdots \otimes \mathbf{A}^{(N)}$ is a Kronecker product of factor matrices. This regression problem arises in each step of the widely-used alternating least squares (ALS) algorithm for computing the Tucker decomposition of a tensor. We present the first subquadratic-time algorithm for solving Kronecker regression to a $(1+\varepsilon)$-approximation that avoids the exponential term $O(\varepsilon^{-N})$ in the running time. Our techniques combine leverage score sampling and iterative methods. By extending our approach to block-design matrices where one block is a Kronecker product, we also achieve subquadratic-time algorithms for (1) Kronecker ridge regression and (2) updating the factor matrix of a Tucker decomposition in ALS, which is not a pure Kronecker regression problem, thereby improving the running time of all steps of Tucker ALS. We demonstrate the speed and accuracy of this Kronecker regression algorithm on synthetic data and real-world image tensors.

Optimal Gradient Sliding and its Application to Optimal Distributed Optimization Under Similarity

Dmitry Kovalev · Aleksandr Beznosikov · Ekaterina Borodich · Alexander Gasnikov · Gesualdo Scutari

We study structured convex optimization problems, with additive objective $r:=p + q$, where $r$ is ($\mu$-strongly) convex, $q$ is $L_q$-smooth and convex, and $p$ is $L_p$-smooth, possibly nonconvex. For such a class of problems, we proposed an inexact accelerated gradient sliding method that can skip the gradient computation for one of these components while still achieving optimal complexity of gradient calls of $p$ and $q$, that is, $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{L_p/\mu})$ and $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{L_q/\mu})$, respectively. This result is much sharper than the classic black-box complexity $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{(L_p+L_q)/\mu})$, especially when the difference between $L_p$ and $L_q$ is large. We then apply the proposed method to solve distributed optimization problems over master-worker architectures, under agents' function similarity, due to statistical data similarity or otherwise. The distributed algorithm achieves for the first time lower complexity bounds on both communication and local gradient calls, with the former having being a long-standing open problem. Finally the method is extended to distributed saddle-problems (under function similarity) by means of solving a class of variational inequalities, achieving lower communication and computation complexity bounds.

Adam Can Converge Without Any Modification On Update Rules

Yushun Zhang · Congliang Chen · Naichen Shi · Ruoyu Sun · Zhi-Quan Luo

Ever since \citet{reddi2019convergence} pointed out the divergence issue of Adam, many new variants have been designed to obtain convergence. However, vanilla Adam remains exceptionally popular and it works well in practice. Why is there a gap between theory and practice? We point out there is a mismatch between the settings of theory and practice: \citet{reddi2019convergence} pick the problem after picking the hyperparameters of Adam, i.e., $(\beta_1,\beta_2)$; while practical applications often fix the problem first and then tune $(\beta_1,\beta_2)$. Due to this observation, we conjecture that the empirical convergence can be theoretically justified, only if we change the order of picking the problem and hyperparameter. In this work, we confirm this conjecture. We prove that, when the 2nd-order momentum parameter $\beta_2$ is large and 1st-order momentum parameter $\beta_1 < \sqrt{\beta_2}<1$, Adam converges to the neighborhood of critical points. The size of the neighborhood is propositional to the variance of stochastic gradients. Under an extra condition (strong growth condition), Adam converges to critical points. It is worth mentioning that our results cover a wide range of hyperparameters: as $\beta_2$ increases, our convergence result can cover any $\beta_1 \in [0,1)$ including $\beta_1=0.9$, which is the default setting in deep learning libraries. To our knowledge, this is the first result showing that Adam can converge {\it without any modification} on its update rules. Further, our analysis does not require assumptions of bounded gradients or bounded 2nd-order momentum. When $\beta_2$ is small, we further point out a large region of $(\beta_1,\beta_2)$ combinations where Adam can diverge to infinity. Our divergence result considers the same setting (fixing the optimization problem ahead) as our convergence result, indicating that there is a phase transition from divergence to convergence when increasing $\beta_2$. These positive and negative results provide suggestions on how to tune Adam hyperparameters: for instance, when Adam does not work well, we suggest tuning up $\beta_2$ and trying $\beta_1< \sqrt{\beta_2}$.

Oracle-Efficient Online Learning for Smoothed Adversaries

Nika Haghtalab · Yanjun Han · Abhishek Shetty · Kunhe Yang

We study the design of computationally efficient online learning algorithms under smoothed analysis. In this setting, at every step, an adversary generates a sample from an adaptively chosen distribution whose density is upper bounded by $1/\sigma$ times the uniform density. Given access to an offline optimization (ERM) oracle, we give the first computationally efficient online algorithms whose sublinear regret depends only on the pseudo/VC dimension $d$ of the class and the smoothness parameter $\sigma$. In particular, we achieve \emph{oracle-efficient} regret bounds of $ O ( \sqrt{T d\sigma^{-1}} ) $ for learning real-valued functions and $ O ( \sqrt{T d\sigma^{-\frac{1}{2}} } )$ for learning binary-valued functions. Our results establish that online learning is computationally as easy as offline learning, under the smoothed analysis framework. This contrasts the computational separation between online learning with worst-case adversaries and offline learning established by [HK16].Our algorithms also achieve improved bounds for some settings with binary-valued functions and worst-case adversaries. These include an oracle-efficient algorithm with $O ( \sqrt{T(d |\mathcal{X}|)^{1/2} })$ regret that refines the earlier $O ( \sqrt{T|\mathcal{X}|})$ bound of [DS16] for finite domains, and an oracle-efficient algorithm with $O(T^{3/4} d^{1/2})$ regret for the transductive setting.

Active Learning of Classifiers with Label and Seed Queries

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

We study exact active learning of binary and multiclass classifiers with margin. Given an $n$-point set $X \subset \mathbb{R}^m$, we want to learn an unknown classifier on $X$ whose classes have finite strong convex hull margin, a new notion extending the SVM margin. In the standard active learning setting, where only label queries are allowed, learning a classifier with strong convex hull margin $\gamma$ requires in the worst case $\Omega\big(1+\frac{1}{\gamma}\big)^{\frac{m-1}{2}}$ queries. On the other hand, using the more powerful \emph{seed} queries (a variant of equivalence queries), the target classifier could be learned in $O(m \log n)$ queries via Littlestone's Halving algorithm; however, Halving is computationally inefficient. In this work we show that, by carefully combining the two types of queries, a binary classifier can be learned in time $\operatorname{poly}(n+m)$ using only $O(m^2 \log n)$ label queries and $O\big(m \log \frac{m}{\gamma}\big)$ seed queries; the result extends to $k$-class classifiers at the price of a $k!k^2$ multiplicative overhead. Similar results hold when the input points have bounded bit complexity, or when only one class has strong convex hull margin against the rest. We complement the upper bounds by showing that in the worst case any algorithm needs $\Omega\big(k m \log \frac{1}{\gamma}\big)$ seed and label queries to learn a $k$-class classifier with strong convex hull margin $\gamma$.

Near-Optimal Goal-Oriented Reinforcement Learning in Non-Stationary Environments

Liyu Chen · Haipeng Luo

We initiate the study of dynamic regret minimization for goal-oriented reinforcement learning modeled by a non-stationary stochastic shortest path problem with changing cost and transition functions.We start by establishing a lower bound $\Omega((B_{\star} SAT_{\star}(\Delta_c + B_{\star}^2\Delta_P))^{1/3}K^{2/3})$, where $B_{\star}$ is the maximum expected cost of the optimal policy of any episode starting from any state, $T_{\star}$ is the maximum hitting time of the optimal policy of any episode starting from the initial state, $SA$ is the number of state-action pairs, $\Delta_c$ and $\Delta_P$ are the amount of changes of the cost and transition functions respectively, and $K$ is the number of episodes.The different roles of $\Delta_c$ and $\Delta_P$ in this lower bound inspire us to design algorithms that estimate costs and transitions separately.Specifically, assuming the knowledge of $\Delta_c$ and $\Delta_P$, we develop a simple but sub-optimal algorithm and another more involved minimax optimal algorithm (up to logarithmic terms).These algorithms combine the ideas of finite-horizon approximation [Chen et al., 2021b], special Bernstein-style bonuses of the MVP algorithm [Zhang et al., 2020], adaptive confidence widening [Wei and Luo, 2021], as well as some new techniques such as properly penalizing long-horizon policies.Finally, when $\Delta_c$ and $\Delta_P$ are unknown, we develop a variant of the MASTER algorithm [Wei and Luo, 2021] and integrate the aforementioned ideas into it to achieve $\widetilde{O}(\min\{B_{\star} S\sqrt{ALK}, (B_{\star}^2S^2AT_{\star}(\Delta_c+B_{\star}\Delta_P))^{1/3}K^{2/3}\})$ regret, where $L$ is the unknown number of changes of the environment.

Sharper Convergence Guarantees for Asynchronous SGD for Distributed and Federated Learning

Anastasiia Koloskova · Sebastian Stich · Martin Jaggi

We study the asynchronous stochastic gradient descent algorithm, for distributed training over $n$ workers that might be heterogeneous. In this algorithm, workers compute stochastic gradients in parallel at their own pace and return them to the server without any synchronization.Existing convergence rates of this algorithm for non-convex smooth objectives depend on the maximum delay $\tau_{\max}$ and reach an $\epsilon$-stationary point after $O\!\left(\sigma^2\epsilon^{-2}+ \tau_{\max}\epsilon^{-1}\right)$ iterations, where $\sigma$ is the variance of stochastic gradients. In this work (i) we obtain a tighter convergence rate of $O\!\left(\sigma^2\epsilon^{-2}+ \sqrt{\tau_{\max}\tau_{avg}}\epsilon^{-1}\right)$ *without any change in the algorithm* where $\tau_{avg}$ is the average delay, which can be significantly smaller than $\tau_{\max}$. We also provide (ii) a simple delay-adaptive learning rate scheme, under which asynchronous SGD achieves a convergence rate of $O\!\left(\sigma^2\epsilon^{-2}+ \tau_{avg}\epsilon^{-1}\right)$, and does not require any extra hyperparameter tuning nor extra communications. Our result allows to show *for the first time* that asynchronous SGD is *always faster* than mini-batch SGD. In addition, (iii) we consider the case of heterogeneous functions motivated by federated learning applications and improve the convergence rate by proving a weaker dependence on the maximum delay compared to prior works.

Improved Coresets for Euclidean $k$-Means

Vincent Cohen-Addad · Kasper Green Larsen · David Saulpic · Chris Schwiegelshohn · Omar Ali Sheikh-Omar

Given a set of $n$ points in $d$ dimensions, the Euclidean $k$-means problem (resp. Euclidean $k$-median) consists of finding $k$ centers such that the sum of squared distances (resp. sum of distances) from every point to its closest center is minimized. The arguably most popular way of dealing with this problem in the big data setting is to first compress the data by computing a weighted subset known as a coreset and then run any algorithm on this subset. The guarantee of the coreset is that for any candidate solution, the ratio between coreset cost and the cost of the original instance is less than a $(1\pm \varepsilon)$ factor. The current state of the art coreset size is $\tilde O(\min(k^{2} \cdot \varepsilon^{-2},k\cdot \varepsilon^{-4}))$ for Euclidean $k$-means and $\tilde O(\min(k^{2} \cdot \varepsilon^{-2},k\cdot \varepsilon^{-3}))$ for Euclidean $k$-median. The best known lower bound for both problems is $\Omega(k\varepsilon^{-2})$. In this paper, we improve these bounds to $\tilde O(\min(k^{3/2} \cdot \varepsilon^{-2},k\cdot \varepsilon^{-4}))$ for Euclidean $k$-means and $\tilde O(\min(k^{4/3} \cdot \varepsilon^{-2},k\cdot \varepsilon^{-3}))$ for Euclidean $k$-median. In particular, ours is the first provable bound that breaks through the $k^2$ barrier while retaining an optimal dependency on $\varepsilon$.

Sampling from Log-Concave Distributions with Infinity-Distance Guarantees

Oren Mangoubi · Nisheeth Vishnoi

For a $d$-dimensional log-concave distribution $\pi(\theta) \propto e^{-f(\theta)}$ constrained to a convex body $K$, the problem of outputting samples from a distribution $\nu$ which is $\varepsilon$-close in infinity-distance $\sup_{\theta \in K} |\log \frac{\nu(\theta)}{\pi(\theta)}|$ to $\pi$ arises in differentially private optimization. While sampling within total-variation distance $\varepsilon$ of $\pi$ can be done by algorithms whose runtime depends polylogarithmically on $\frac{1}{\varepsilon}$, prior algorithms for sampling in $\varepsilon$ infinity distance have runtime bounds that depend polynomially on $\frac{1}{\varepsilon}$. We bridge this gap by presenting an algorithm that outputs a point $\varepsilon$-close to $\pi$ in infinity distance that requires at most $\mathrm{poly}(\log \frac{1}{\varepsilon}, d)$ calls to a membership oracle for $K$ and evaluation oracle for $f$, when $f$ is Lipschitz. Our approach departs from prior works that construct Markov chains on a $\frac{1}{\varepsilon^2}$-discretization of $K$ to achieve a sample with $\varepsilon$ infinity-distance error, and present a method to directly convert continuous samples from $K$ with total-variation bounds to samples with infinity bounds. This approach also allows us to obtain an improvement on the dimension $d$ in the running time for the problem of sampling from a log-concave distribution on polytopes $K$ with infinity distance $\varepsilon$, by plugging in TV-distance running time bounds for the Dikin Walk Markov chain.

Stochastic Halpern Iteration with Variance Reduction for Stochastic Monotone Inclusions

Xufeng Cai · Chaobing Song · Cristóbal Guzmán · Jelena Diakonikolas

We study stochastic monotone inclusion problems, which widely appear in machine learning applications, including robust regression and adversarial learning. We propose novel variants of stochastic Halpern iteration with recursive variance reduction. In the cocoercive---and more generally Lipschitz-monotone---setup, our algorithm attains $\epsilon$ norm of the operator with $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{\epsilon^3})$ stochastic operator evaluations, which significantly improves over state of the art $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{\epsilon^4})$ stochastic operator evaluations required for existing monotone inclusion solvers applied to the same problem classes. We further show how to couple one of the proposed variants of stochastic Halpern iteration with a scheduled restart scheme to solve stochastic monotone inclusion problems with ${\mathcal{O}}(\frac{\log(1/\epsilon)}{\epsilon^2})$ stochastic operator evaluations under additional sharpness or strong monotonicity assumptions.

Sequential Information Design: Learning to Persuade in the Dark

Martino Bernasconi · Matteo Castiglioni · Alberto Marchesi · Nicola Gatti · Francesco Trovò

We study a repeated information design problem faced by an informed sender who tries to influence the behavior of a self-interested receiver. We consider settings where the receiver faces a sequential decision making (SDM) problem. At each round, the sender observes the realizations of random events in the SDM problem. This begets the challenge of how to incrementally disclose such information to the receiver to persuade them to follow (desirable) action recommendations. We study the case in which the sender does not know random events probabilities, and, thus, they have to gradually learn them while persuading the receiver. Our goal is to design online learning algorithms that are no-regret for the sender, while at the same time being persuasive for the receiver. We start by providing a non-trivial polytopal approximation of the set of sender's persuasive information structures. This is crucial to design efficient learning algorithms. Next, we prove a negative result: no learning algorithm can be persuasive. Thus, we relax persuasiveness requirements by focusing on algorithms that guarantee that the receiver's regret in following recommendations grows sub-linearly. In the full-feedback setting---where the sender observes all random events realizations---, we provide an algorithm with $\tilde{O}(\sqrt{T})$ regret for both the sender and the receiver. Instead, in the bandit-feedback setting---where the sender only observes the realizations of random events actually occurring in the SDM problem---, we design an algorithm that, given an $\alpha \in [1/2, 1]$ as input, ensures $\tilde{O}({T^\alpha})$ and $\tilde{O}( T^{\max \{ \alpha, 1-\frac{\alpha}{2} \} })$ regrets for the sender and the receiver, respectively. This result is complemented by a lower bound showing that such a regrets trade-off is essentially tight.

Adaptive Stochastic Variance Reduction for Non-convex Finite-Sum Minimization

Ali Kavis · Stratis Skoulakis · Kimon Antonakopoulos · Leello Tadesse Dadi · Volkan Cevher

We propose an adaptive variance-reduction method, called AdaSpider, for minimization of $L$-smooth, non-convex functions with a finite-sum structure. In essence, AdaSpider combines an AdaGrad-inspired (Duchi et al., 2011), but a fairly distinct, adaptive step-size schedule with the recursive \textit{stochastic path integrated estimator} proposed in (Fang et al., 2018). To our knowledge, AdaSpider is the first parameter-free non-convex variance-reduction method in the sense that it does not require the knowledge of problem-dependent parameters, such as smoothness constant $L$, target accuracy $\epsilon$ or any bound on gradient norms. In doing so, we are able to compute an $\epsilon$-stationary point with $\tilde{O}\left(n + \sqrt{n}/\epsilon^2\right)$ oracle-calls, which matches the respective lower bound up to logarithmic factors.

Exponential Separations in Symmetric Neural Networks

Aaron Zweig · Joan Bruna

In this work we demonstrate a novel separation between symmetric neural network architectures. Specifically, we consider the Relational Network~\parencite{santoro2017simple} architecture as a natural generalization of the DeepSets~\parencite{zaheer2017deep} architecture, and study their representational gap. Under the restriction to analytic activation functions, we construct a symmetric function acting on sets of size $N$ with elements in dimension $D$, which can be efficiently approximated by the former architecture, but provably requires width exponential in $N$ and $D$ for the latter.

Distributional Convergence of the Sliced Wasserstein Process

Jiaqi Xi · Jonathan Niles-Weed

Motivated by the statistical and computational challenges of computing Wasserstein distances in high-dimensional contexts, machine learning researchers have defined modified Wasserstein distances based on computing distances between one-dimensional projections of the measures. Different choices of how to aggregate these projected distances (averaging, random sampling, maximizing) give rise to different distances, requiring different statistical analyses. We define the \emph{Sliced Wasserstein Process}, a stochastic process defined by the empirical Wasserstein distance between projections of empirical probability measures to all one-dimensional subspaces, and prove a uniform distributional limit theorem for this process. As a result, we obtain a unified framework in which to prove sample complexity and distributional limit results for all Wasserstein distances based on one-dimensional projections. We illustrate these results on a number of examples where no distributional limits were previously known.

Bridging Central and Local Differential Privacy in Data Acquisition Mechanisms

Alireza Fallah · Ali Makhdoumi · azarakhsh malekian · Asuman Ozdaglar

We study the design of optimal Bayesian data acquisition mechanisms for a platform interested in estimating the mean of a distribution by collecting data from privacy-conscious users. In our setting, users have heterogeneous sensitivities for two types of privacy losses corresponding to local and central differential privacy measures. The local privacy loss is due to the leakage of a user's information when she shares her data with the platform, and the central privacy loss is due to the released estimate by the platform to the public. The users share their data in exchange for a payment (e.g., through monetary transfers or services) that compensates for their privacy losses. The platform does not know the privacy sensitivity of users and must design a mechanism to solicit their preferences and then deliver both local and central privacy guarantees while minimizing the estimation error plus the expected payment to users. We first establish minimax lower bounds for the estimation error, given a vector of privacy guarantees, and show that a linear estimator is (near) optimal. We then turn to our main goal: designing an optimal data acquisition mechanism. We establish that the design of such mechanisms in a Bayesian setting (where the platform knows the distribution of users' sensitivities and not their realizations) can be cast as a nonconvex optimization problem. Additionally, for the class of linear estimators, we prove that finding the optimal mechanism admits a Polynomial Time Approximation Scheme.

Unlabelled Sample Compression Schemes for Intersection-Closed Classes and Extremal Classes

Joachim Rubinstein · Benjamin Rubinstein

The sample compressibility of concept classes plays an important role in learning theory, as a sufficient condition for PAC learnability, and more recently as an avenue for robust generalisation in adaptive data analysis. Whether compression schemes of size $O(d)$ must necessarily exist for all classes of VC dimension $d$ is unknown, but conjectured to be true by Warmuth. Recently Chalopin, Chepoi, Moran, and Warmuth (2018) gave a beautiful unlabelled sample compression scheme of size VC dimension for all maximum classes: classes that meet the Sauer-Shelah-Perles Lemma with equality. They also offered a counterexample to compression schemes based on a promising approach known as corner peeling. In this paper we simplify and extend their proof technique to deal with so-called extremal classes of VC dimension $d$ which contain maximum classes of VC dimension $d-1$. A criterion is given which would imply that all extremal classes admit unlabelled compression schemes of size $d$. We also prove that all intersection-closed classes with VC dimension $d$ admit unlabelled compression schemes of size at most $11d$.

On Margin Maximization in Linear and ReLU Networks

Gal Vardi · Ohad Shamir · Nati Srebro

The implicit bias of neural networks has been extensively studied in recent years. Lyu and Li (2019) showed that in homogeneous networks trained with the exponential or the logistic loss, gradient flow converges to a KKT point of the max margin problem in parameter space. However, that leaves open the question of whether this point will generally be an actual optimum of the max margin problem. In this paper, we study this question in detail, for several neural network architectures involving linear and ReLU activations. Perhaps surprisingly, we show that in many cases, the KKT point is not even a local optimum of the max margin problem. On the flip side, we identify multiple settings where a local or global optimum can be guaranteed.

Memorization and Optimization in Deep Neural Networks with Minimum Over-parameterization

Simone Bombari · Mohammad Hossein Amani · Marco Mondelli

The Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) has emerged as a powerful tool to provide memorization, optimization and generalization guarantees in deep neural networks. A line of work has studied the NTK spectrum for two-layer and deep networks with at least a layer with $\Omega(N)$ neurons, $N$ being the number of training samples. Furthermore, there is increasing evidence suggesting that deep networks with sub-linear layer widths are powerful memorizers and optimizers, as long as the number of parameters exceeds the number of samples. Thus, a natural open question is whether the NTK is well conditioned in such a challenging sub-linear setup. In this paper, we answer this question in the affirmative. Our key technical contribution is a lower bound on the smallest NTK eigenvalue for deep networks with the minimum possible over-parameterization: up to logarithmic factors, the number of parameters is $\Omega(N)$ and, hence, the number of neurons is as little as $\Omega(\sqrt{N})$. To showcase the applicability of our NTK bounds, we provide two results concerning memorization capacity and optimization guarantees for gradient descent training.

A Scalable Deterministic Global Optimization Algorithm for Training Optimal Decision Tree

Kaixun Hua · Jiayang Ren · Yankai Cao

The training of optimal decision tree via mixed-integer programming (MIP) has attracted much attention in recent literature. However, for large datasets, state-of-the-art approaches struggle to solve the optimal decision tree training problems to a provable global optimal solution within a reasonable time. In this paper, we reformulate the optimal decision tree training problem as a two-stage optimization problem and propose a tailored reduced-space branch and bound algorithm to train optimal decision tree for the classification tasks with continuous features. We present several structure-exploiting lower and upper bounding methods. The computation of bounds can be decomposed into the solution of many small-scale subproblems and can be naturally parallelized. With these bounding methods, we prove that our algorithm can converge by branching only on variables representing the optimal decision tree structure, which is invariant to the size of datasets. Moreover, we propose a novel sample reduction method that can predetermine the cost of part of samples at each BB node. Combining the sample reduction method with the parallelized bounding strategies, our algorithm can be extremely scalable. Our algorithm can find global optimal solutions on dataset with over 245,000 samples (1000 cores, less than 1% optimality gap, within 2 hours). We test 21 real-world datasets from UCI Repository. The results reveal that for datasets with over 7,000 samples, our algorithm can, on average, improve the training accuracy by 3.6% and testing accuracy by 2.8%, compared to the current state-of-the-art.

Is $L^2$ Physics Informed Loss Always Suitable for Training Physics Informed Neural Network?

Chuwei Wang · Shanda Li · Di He · Liwei Wang

The Physics-Informed Neural Network (PINN) approach is a new and promising way to solve partial differential equations using deep learning. The $L^2$ Physics-Informed Loss is the de-facto standard in training Physics-Informed Neural Networks. In this paper, we challenge this common practice by investigating the relationship between the loss function and the approximation quality of the learned solution. In particular, we leverage the concept of stability in the literature of partial differential equation to study the asymptotic behavior of the learned solution as the loss approaches zero. With this concept, we study an important class of high-dimensional non-linear PDEs in optimal control, the Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman (HJB) Equation, and prove that for general $L^p$ Physics-Informed Loss, a wide class of HJB equation is stable only if $p$ is sufficiently large. Therefore, the commonly used $L^2$ loss is not suitable for training PINN on those equations, while $L^{\infty}$ loss is a better choice. Based on the theoretical insight, we develop a novel PINN training algorithm to minimize the $L^{\infty}$ loss for HJB equations which is in a similar spirit to adversarial training. The effectiveness of the proposed algorithm is empirically demonstrated through experiments. Our code is released at

Recursive Reasoning in Minimax Games: A Level $k$ Gradient Play Method

Zichu Liu · Lacra Pavel

Despite the success of generative adversarial networks (GANs) in generating visually appealing images, they are notoriously challenging to train. In order to stabilize the learning dynamics in minimax games, we propose a novel recursive reasoning algorithm: Level $k$ Gradient Play (Lv.$k$ GP) algorithm. Our algorithm does not require sophisticated heuristics or second-order information, as do existing algorithms based on predictive updates. We show that as k increases, Lv.$k$ GP converges asymptotically towards an accurate estimation of players' future strategy.Moreover, we justify that Lv.$\infty$ GP naturally generalizes a line of provably convergent game dynamics which rely on predictive updates. Furthermore, we provide its local convergence property in nonconvex-nonconcave zero-sum games and global convergence in bilinear and quadratic games. By combining Lv.$k$ GP with Adam optimizer, our algorithm shows a clear advantage in terms of performance and computational overhead compared to other methods. Using a single Nvidia RTX3090 GPU and 30 times fewer parameters than BigGAN on CIFAR-10, we achieve an FID of 10.17 for unconditional image generation within 30 hours, allowing GAN training on common computational resources to reach state-of-the-art performance.

Concept Activation Regions: A Generalized Framework For Concept-Based Explanations

Jonathan Crabbé · Mihaela van der Schaar

Concept-based explanations permit to understand the predictions of a deep neural network (DNN) through the lens of concepts specified by users. Existing methods assume that the examples illustrating a concept are mapped in a fixed direction of the DNN's latent space. When this holds true, the concept can be represented by a concept activation vector (CAV) pointing in that direction. In this work, we propose to relax this assumption by allowing concept examples to be scattered across different clusters in the DNN's latent space. Each concept is then represented by a region of the DNN's latent space that includes these clusters and that we call concept activation region (CAR). To formalize this idea, we introduce an extension of the CAV formalism that is based on the kernel trick and support vector classifiers. This CAR formalism yields global concept-based explanations and local concept-based feature importance. We prove that CAR explanations built with radial kernels are invariant under latent space isometries. In this way, CAR assigns the same explanations to latent spaces that have the same geometry. We further demonstrate empirically that CARs offer (1) more accurate descriptions of how concepts are scattered in the DNN's latent space; (2) global explanations that are closer to human concept annotations and (3) concept-based feature importance that meaningfully relate concepts with each other. Finally, we use CARs to show that DNNs can autonomously rediscover known scientific concepts, such as the prostate cancer grading system.

Fair Rank Aggregation

Diptarka Chakraborty · Syamantak Das · Arindam Khan · Aditya Subramanian

Ranking algorithms find extensive usage in diverse areas such as web search, employment, college admission, voting, etc. The related rank aggregation problem deals with combining multiple rankings into a single aggregate ranking. However, algorithms for both these problems might be biased against some individuals or groups due to implicit prejudice or marginalization in the historical data. We study ranking and rank aggregation problems from a fairness or diversity perspective, where the candidates (to be ranked) may belong to different groups and each group should have a fair representation in the final ranking. We allow the designer to set the parameters that define fair representation. These parameters specify the allowed range of the number of candidates from a particular group in the top-$k$ positions of the ranking. Given any ranking, we provide a fast and exact algorithm for finding the closest fair ranking for the Kendall tau metric under {\em strong fairness}, i.e., when the final ranking is fair for all values of $k$. We also provide an exact algorithm for finding the closest fair ranking for the Ulam metric under strong fairness when there are only $O(1)$ number of groups. Our algorithms are simple, fast, and might be extendable to other relevant metrics. We also give a novel meta-algorithm for the general rank aggregation problem under the fairness framework. Surprisingly, this meta-algorithm works for any generalized mean objective (including center and median problems) and any fairness criteria. As a byproduct, we obtain 3-approximation algorithms for both center and median problems, under both Kendall tau and Ulam metrics. Furthermore, using sophisticated techniques we obtain a $(3-\varepsilon)$-approximation algorithm, for a constant $\varepsilon>0$, for the Ulam metric under strong fairness.

Variance Reduced ProxSkip: Algorithm, Theory and Application to Federated Learning

Grigory Malinovsky · Kai Yi · Peter Richtarik

We study distributed optimization methods based on the {\em local training (LT)} paradigm, i.e., methods which achieve communication efficiency by performing richer local gradient-based training on the clients before (expensive) parameter averaging is allowed to take place. While these methods were first proposed about a decade ago, and form the algorithmic backbone of federated learning, there is an enormous gap between their practical performance, and our theoretical understanding. Looking back at the progress of the field, we {\em identify 5 generations of LT methods}: 1) heuristic, 2) homogeneous, 3) sublinear, 4) linear, and 5) accelerated. The 5${}^{\rm th}$ generation was initiated by the ProxSkip method of Mishchenko et al. (2022), whose analysis provided the first theoretical confirmation that LT is a communication acceleration mechanism. Inspired by this recent progress, we contribute to the 5${}^{\rm th}$ generation of LT methods by showing that it is possible to enhance ProxSkip further using {\em variance reduction}. While all previous theoretical results for LT methods ignore the cost of local work altogether, and are framed purely in terms of the number of communication rounds, we construct a method that can be substantially faster in terms of the {\em total training time} than the state-of-the-art method ProxSkip in theory and practice in the regime when local computation is sufficiently expensive. We characterize this threshold theoretically, and confirm our theoretical predictions with empirical results. Our treatment of variance reduction is generic, and can work with a large number of variance reduction techniques, which may lead to future applications in the future. Finally, we corroborate our theoretical results with carefully engineered proof-of-concept experiments.

Recursive Reinforcement Learning

Ernst Moritz Hahn · Mateo Perez · Sven Schewe · Fabio Somenzi · Ashutosh Trivedi · Dominik Wojtczak

Recursion is the fundamental paradigm to finitely describe potentially infinite objects. As state-of-the-art reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms cannot directly reason about recursion, they must rely on the practitioner's ingenuity in designing a suitable "flat" representation of the environment. The resulting manual feature constructions and approximations are cumbersome and error-prone; their lack of transparency hampers scalability. To overcome these challenges, we develop RL algorithms capable of computing optimal policies in environments described as a collection of Markov decision processes (MDPs) that can recursively invoke one another. Each constituent MDP is characterized by several entry and exit points that correspond to input and output values of these invocations. These recursive MDPs (or RMDPs) are expressively equivalent to probabilistic pushdown systems (with call-stack playing the role of the pushdown stack), and can model probabilistic programs with recursive procedural calls. We introduce Recursive Q-learning---a model-free RL algorithm for RMDPs---and prove that it converges for finite, single-exit and deterministic multi-exit RMDPs under mild assumptions.

The price of ignorance: how much does it cost to forget noise structure in low-rank matrix estimation?

Jean Barbier · TianQi Hou · Marco Mondelli · Manuel Saenz

We consider the problem of estimating a rank-$1$ signal corrupted by structured rotationally invariant noise, and address the following question: \emph{how well do inference algorithms perform when the noise statistics is unknown and hence Gaussian noise is assumed?} While the matched Bayes-optimal setting with unstructured noise is well understood, the analysis of this mismatched problem is only at its premises. In this paper, we make a step towards understanding the effect of the strong source of mismatch which is the noise statistics. Our main technical contribution is the rigorous analysis of a Bayes estimator and of an approximate message passing (AMP) algorithm, both of which incorrectly assume a Gaussian setup. The first result exploits the theory of spherical integrals and of low-rank matrix perturbations; the idea behind the second one is to design and analyze an artificial AMP which, by taking advantage of the flexibility in the denoisers, is able to "correct" the mismatch. Armed with these sharp asymptotic characterizations, we unveil a rich and often unexpected phenomenology. For example, despite AMP is in principle designed to efficiently compute the Bayes estimator, the former is \emph{outperformed} by the latter in terms of mean-square error. We show that this performance gap is due to an incorrect estimation of the signal norm. In fact, when the SNR is large enough, the overlaps of the AMP and the Bayes estimator coincide, and they even match those of optimal estimators taking into account the structure of the noise.

PDSketch: Integrated Domain Programming, Learning, and Planning

Jiayuan Mao · Tomás Lozano-Pérez · Josh Tenenbaum · Leslie Kaelbling

This paper studies a model learning and online planning approach towards building flexible and general robots. Specifically, we investigate how to exploit the locality and sparsity structures in the underlying environmental transition model to improve model generalization, data-efficiency, and runtime-efficiency. We present a new domain definition language, named PDSketch. It allows users to flexibly define high-level structures in the transition models, such as object and feature dependencies, in a way similar to how programmers use TensorFlow or PyTorch to specify kernel sizes and hidden dimensions of a convolutional neural network. The details of the transition model will be filled in by trainable neural networks. Based on the defined structures and learned parameters, PDSketch automatically generates domain-independent planning heuristics without additional training. The derived heuristics accelerate the performance-time planning for novel goals.

Human-AI Shared Control via Policy Dissection

Quanyi Li · Zhenghao Peng · Haibin Wu · Lan Feng · Bolei Zhou

Human-AI shared control allows human to interact and collaborate with autonomous agents to accomplish control tasks in complex environments. Previous Reinforcement Learning (RL) methods attempted goal-conditioned designs to achieve human-controllable policies at the cost of redesigning the reward function and training paradigm. Inspired by the neuroscience approach to investigate the motor cortex in primates, we develop a simple yet effective frequency-based approach called Policy Dissection to align the intermediate representation of the learned neural controller with the kinematic attributes of the agent behavior. Without modifying the neural controller or retraining the model, the proposed approach can convert a given RL-trained policy into a human-controllable policy. We evaluate the proposed approach on many RL tasks such as autonomous driving and locomotion. The experiments show that human-AI shared control system achieved by Policy Dissection in driving task can substantially improve the performance and safety in unseen traffic scenes. With human in the inference loop, the locomotion robots also exhibit versatile controllable motion skills even though they are only trained to move forward. Our results suggest the promising direction of implementing human-AI shared autonomy through interpreting the learned representation of the autonomous agents. Code and demo videos are available at

Embodied Scene-aware Human Pose Estimation

Zhengyi Luo · Shun Iwase · Ye Yuan · Kris Kitani

We propose embodied scene-aware human pose estimation where we estimate 3D poses based on a simulated agent's proprioception and scene awareness, along with external third-person observations. Unlike prior methods that often resort to multistage optimization, non-causal inference, and complex contact modeling to estimate human pose and human scene interactions, our method is one-stage, causal, and recovers global 3D human poses in a simulated environment. Since 2D third-person observations are coupled with the camera pose, we propose to disentangle the camera pose and use a multi-step projection gradient defined in the global coordinate frame as the movement cue for our embodied agent. Leveraging a physics simulation and prescanned scenes (e.g., 3D mesh), we simulate our agent in everyday environments (library, office, bedroom, etc.) and equip our agent with environmental sensors to intelligently navigate and interact with the geometries of the scene. Our method also relies only on 2D keypoints and can be trained on synthetic datasets derived from popular human motion databases. To evaluate, we use the popular H36M and PROX datasets and achieve high quality pose estimation on the challenging PROX dataset without ever using PROX motion sequences for training. Code and videos are available on the project page.

A Character-Level Length-Control Algorithm for Non-Autoregressive Sentence Summarization

Puyuan Liu · Xiang Zhang · Lili Mou

Sentence summarization aims at compressing a long sentence into a short one that keeps the main gist, and has extensive real-world applications such as headline generation. In previous work, researchers have developed various approaches to improve the ROUGE score, which is the main evaluation metric for summarization, whereas controlling the summary length has not drawn much attention. In our work, we address a new problem of explicit character-level length control for summarization, and propose a dynamic programming algorithm based on the Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC) model. Results show that our approach not only achieves higher ROUGE scores but also yields more complete sentences.

E-MAPP: Efficient Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning with Parallel Program Guidance

Can Chang · Ni Mu · Jiajun Wu · Ling Pan · Huazhe Xu

A critical challenge in multi-agent reinforcement learning(MARL) is for multiple agents to efficiently accomplish complex, long-horizon tasks. The agents often have difficulties in cooperating on common goals, dividing complex tasks, and planning through several stages to make progress. We propose to address these challenges by guiding agents with programs designed for parallelization, since programs as a representation contain rich structural and semantic information, and are widely used as abstractions for long-horizon tasks. Specifically, we introduce Efficient Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning with Parallel Program Guidance(E-MAPP), a novel framework that leverages parallel programs to guide multiple agents to efficiently accomplish goals that require planning over $10+$ stages. E-MAPP integrates the structural information from a parallel program, promotes the cooperative behaviors grounded in program semantics, and improves the time efficiency via a task allocator. We conduct extensive experiments on a series of challenging, long-horizon cooperative tasks in the Overcooked environment. Results show that E-MAPP outperforms strong baselines in terms of the completion rate, time efficiency, and zero-shot generalization ability by a large margin.

Semi-Supervised Generative Models for Multiagent Trajectories

Dennis Fassmeyer · Pascal Fassmeyer · Ulf Brefeld

Analyzing the spatiotemporal behavior of multiple agents is of great interest to many communities. Existing probabilistic models in this realm are formalized either in an unsupervised framework, where the latent space is described by discrete or continuous variables, or in a supervised framework, where weakly preserved labels add explicit information to continuous latent representations. To overcome inherent limitations, we propose a novel objective function for processing multi-agent trajectories based on semi-supervised variational autoencoders, where equivariance and interaction of agents are captured via customized graph networks. The resulting architecture disentangles discrete and continuous latent effects and provides a natural solution for injecting expensive domain knowledge into interactive sequential systems. Empirically, our model not only outperforms various state-of-the-art baselines in trajectory forecasting, but also learns to effectively leverage unsupervised multi-agent sequences for classification tasks on interactive real-world sports datasets.

Scale-invariant Learning by Physics Inversion

Philipp Holl · Vladlen Koltun · Nils Thuerey

Solving inverse problems, such as parameter estimation and optimal control, is a vital part of science. Many experiments repeatedly collect data and rely on machine learning algorithms to quickly infer solutions to the associated inverse problems. We find that state-of-the-art training techniques are not well-suited to many problems that involve physical processes. The highly nonlinear behavior, common in physical processes, results in strongly varying gradients that lead first-order optimizers like SGD or Adam to compute suboptimal optimization directions.We propose a novel hybrid training approach that combines higher-order optimization methods with machine learning techniques. We take updates from a scale-invariant inverse problem solver and embed them into the gradient-descent-based learning pipeline, replacing the regular gradient of the physical process.We demonstrate the capabilities of our method on a variety of canonical physical systems, showing that it yields significant improvements on a wide range of optimization and learning problems.

Compositional Generalization in Unsupervised Compositional Representation Learning: A Study on Disentanglement and Emergent Language

Zhenlin Xu · Marc Niethammer · Colin Raffel

Deep learning models struggle with compositional generalization, i.e. the ability to recognize or generate novel combinations of observed elementary concepts. In hopes of enabling compositional generalization, various unsupervised learning algorithms have been proposed with inductive biases that aim to induce compositional structure in learned representations (e.g. disentangled representation and emergent language learning). In this work, we evaluate these unsupervised learning algorithms in terms of how well they enable \textit{compositional generalization}. Specifically, our evaluation protocol focuses on whether or not it is easy to train a simple model on top of the learned representation that generalizes to new combinations of compositional factors. We systematically study three unsupervised representation learning algorithms - $\beta$-VAE, $\beta$-TCVAE, and emergent language (EL) autoencoders - on two datasets that allow directly testing compositional generalization. We find that directly using the bottleneck representation with simple models and few labels may lead to worse generalization than using representations from layers before or after the learned representation itself. In addition, we find that the previously proposed metrics for evaluating the levels of compositionality are not correlated with actual compositional generalization in our framework. Surprisingly, we find that increasing pressure to produce a disentangled representation (e.g. increasing $\beta$ in the $\beta$-VAE) produces representations with worse generalization, while representations from EL models show strong compositional generalization. Motivated by this observation, we further investigate the advantages of using EL to induce compositional structure in unsupervised representation learning, finding that it shows consistently stronger generalization than disentanglement models, especially when using less unlabeled data for unsupervised learning and fewer labels for downstream tasks. Taken together, our results shed new light onto the compositional generalization behavior of different unsupervised learning algorithms with a new setting to rigorously test this behavior, and suggest the potential benefits of developing EL learning algorithms for more generalizable representations. Our code is publicly available at .

Are Defenses for Graph Neural Networks Robust?

Felix Mujkanovic · Simon Geisler · Stephan Günnemann · Aleksandar Bojchevski

A cursory reading of the literature suggests that we have made a lot of progress in designing effective adversarial defenses for Graph Neural Networks (GNNs). Yet, the standard methodology has a serious flaw – virtually all of the defenses are evaluated against non-adaptive attacks leading to overly optimistic robustness estimates. We perform a thorough robustness analysis of 7 of the most popular defenses spanning the entire spectrum of strategies, i.e., aimed at improving the graph, the architecture, or the training. The results are sobering – most defenses show no or only marginal improvement compared to an undefended baseline. We advocate using custom adaptive attacks as a gold standard and we outline the lessons we learned from successfully designing such attacks. Moreover, our diverse collection of perturbed graphs forms a (black-box) unit test offering a first glance at a model's robustness.

Human-AI Collaborative Bayesian Optimisation

Arun Kumar A V · Santu Rana · Alistair Shilton · Svetha Venkatesh

Abstract Human-AI collaboration looks at harnessing the complementary strengths of both humans and AI. We propose a new method for human-AI collaboration in Bayesian optimisation where the optimum is mainly pursued by the Bayesian optimisation algorithm following complex computation, whilst getting occasional help from the accompanying expert having a deeper knowledge of the underlying physical phenomenon. We expect experts to have some understanding of the correlation structures of the experimental system, but not the location of the optimum. The expert provides feedback by either changing the current recommendation or providing her belief on the good and bad regions of the search space based on the current observations. Our proposed method takes such feedback to build a model that aligns with the expert’s model and then uses it for optimisation. We provide theoretical underpinning on why such an approach may be more efficient than the one without expert’s feedback. The empirical results show the robustness and superiority of our method with promising efficiency gains.

On the Interpretability of Regularisation for Neural Networks Through Model Gradient Similarity

Vincent Szolnoky · Viktor Andersson · Balazs Kulcsar · Rebecka Jörnsten

Most complex machine learning and modelling techniques are prone to over-fitting and may subsequently generalise poorly to future data. Artificial neural networks are no different in this regard and, despite having a level of implicit regularisation when trained with gradient descent, often require the aid of explicit regularisers. We introduce a new framework, Model Gradient Similarity (MGS), that (1) serves as a metric of regularisation, which can be used to monitor neural network training, (2) adds insight into how explicit regularisers, while derived from widely different principles, operate via the same mechanism underneath by increasing MGS, and (3) provides the basis for a new regularisation scheme which exhibits excellent performance, especially in challenging settings such as high levels of label noise or limited sample sizes.

Modular Flows: Differential Molecular Generation

Yogesh Verma · Samuel Kaski · Markus Heinonen · Vikas Garg

Generating new molecules is fundamental to advancing critical applications such as drug discovery and material synthesis. Flows can generate molecules effectively by inverting the encoding process, however, existing flow models either require artifactual dequantization or specific node/edge orderings, lack desiderata such as permutation invariance, or induce discrepancy between encoding and decoding steps that necessitates post hoc validity correction. Inspired by graph PDEs, we circumvent these issues with novel continuous normalizing E(3)-equivariant flows, based on a system of coupled node ODEs, that repeatedly reconcile locally toward globally aligned densities. Our models can be cast as message passing temporal networks, and result in superlative density estimation and molecular generation. In particular, our generated samples achieve state of the art on both the standard QM9 and ZINC250K benchmarks.

Error Correction Code Transformer

Yoni Choukroun · Lior Wolf

Error correction code is a major part of the physical communication layer, ensuring the reliable transfer of data over noisy channels.Recently, neural decoders were shown to outperform classical decoding techniques.However, the existing neural approaches present strong overfitting, due to the exponential training complexity, or a restrictive inductive bias, due to reliance on Belief Propagation.Recently, Transformers have become methods of choice in many applications, thanks to their ability to represent complex interactions between elements.In this work, we propose to extend for the first time the Transformer architecture to the soft decoding of linear codes at arbitrary block lengths.We encode each channel's output dimension to a high dimension for a better representation of the bits' information to be processed separately.The element-wise processing allows the analysis of channel output reliability, while the algebraic code and the interaction between the bits are inserted into the model via an adapted masked self-attention module.The proposed approach demonstrates the power and flexibility of Transformers and outperforms existing state-of-the-art neural decoders by large margins, at a fraction of their time complexity.

BYOL-Explore: Exploration by Bootstrapped Prediction

Zhaohan Guo · Shantanu Thakoor · Miruna Pislar · Bernardo Avila Pires · Florent Altché · Corentin Tallec · Alaa Saade · Daniele Calandriello · Jean-Bastien Grill · Yunhao Tang · Michal Valko · Remi Munos · Mohammad Gheshlaghi Azar · Bilal Piot

We present BYOL-Explore, a conceptually simple yet general approach for curiosity-driven exploration in visually complex environments. BYOL-Explore learns the world representation, the world dynamics and the exploration policy all-together by optimizing a single prediction loss in the latent space with no additional auxiliary objective. We show that BYOL-Explore is effective in DM-HARD-8, a challenging partially-observable continuous-action hard-exploration benchmark with visually rich 3-D environment. On this benchmark, we solve the majority of the tasks purely through augmenting the extrinsic reward with BYOL-Explore intrinsic reward, whereas prior work could only get off the ground with human demonstrations. As further evidence of the generality of BYOL-Explore, we show that it achieves superhuman performance on the ten hardest exploration games in Atari while having a much simpler design than other competitive agents.

TransBoost: Improving the Best ImageNet Performance using Deep Transduction

Omer Belhasin · Guy Bar-Shalom · Ran El-Yaniv

This paper deals with deep transductive learning, and proposes TransBoost as a procedure for fine-tuning any deep neural model to improve its performance on any (unlabeled) test set provided at training time. TransBoost is inspired by a large margin principle and is efficient and simple to use. Our method significantly improves the ImageNet classification performance on a wide range of architectures, such as ResNets, MobileNetV3-L, EfficientNetB0, ViT-S, and ConvNext-T, leading to state-of-the-art transductive performance.Additionally we show that TransBoost is effective on a wide variety of image classification datasets. The implementation of TransBoost is provided at: .

MorphTE: Injecting Morphology in Tensorized Embeddings

Guobing Gan · Peng Zhang · Sunzhu Li · Xiuqing Lu · Benyou Wang

In the era of deep learning, word embeddings are essential when dealing with text tasks. However, storing and accessing these embeddings requires a large amount of space. This is not conducive to the deployment of these models on resource-limited devices. Combining the powerful compression capability of tensor products, we propose a word embedding compression method with morphological augmentation, Morphologically-enhanced Tensorized Embeddings (MorphTE). A word consists of one or more morphemes, the smallest units that bear meaning or have a grammatical function. MorphTE represents a word embedding as an entangled form of its morpheme vectors via the tensor product, which injects prior semantic and grammatical knowledge into the learning of embeddings. Furthermore, the dimensionality of the morpheme vector and the number of morphemes are much smaller than those of words, which greatly reduces the parameters of the word embeddings. We conduct experiments on tasks such as machine translation and question answering. Experimental results on four translation datasets of different languages show that MorphTE can compress word embedding parameters by about $20$ times without performance loss and significantly outperforms related embedding compression methods.

Attention-based Neural Cellular Automata

Mattie Tesfaldet · Derek Nowrouzezahrai · Chris Pal

Recent extensions of Cellular Automata (CA) have incorporated key ideas from modern deep learning, dramatically extending their capabilities and catalyzing a new family of Neural Cellular Automata (NCA) techniques. Inspired by Transformer-based architectures, our work presents a new class of attention-based NCAs formed using a spatially localized—yet globally organized—self-attention scheme. We introduce an instance of this class named Vision Transformer Cellular Automata (ViTCA). We present quantitative and qualitative results on denoising autoencoding across six benchmark datasets, comparing ViTCA to a U-Net, a U-Net-based CA baseline (UNetCA), and a Vision Transformer (ViT). When comparing across architectures configured to similar parameter complexity, ViTCA architectures yield superior performance across all benchmarks and for nearly every evaluation metric. We present an ablation study on various architectural configurations of ViTCA, an analysis of its effect on cell states, and an investigation on its inductive biases. Finally, we examine its learned representations via linear probes on its converged cell state hidden representations, yielding, on average, superior results when compared to our U-Net, ViT, and UNetCA baselines.

Benchopt: Reproducible, efficient and collaborative optimization benchmarks

Thomas Moreau · Mathurin Massias · Alexandre Gramfort · Pierre Ablin · Pierre-Antoine Bannier · Benjamin Charlier · Mathieu Dagréou · Tom Dupre la Tour · Ghislain DURIF · Cassio F. Dantas · Quentin Klopfenstein · Johan Larsson · En Lai · Tanguy Lefort · Benoît Malézieux · Badr MOUFAD · Binh T. Nguyen · Alain Rakotomamonjy · Zaccharie Ramzi · Joseph Salmon · Samuel Vaiter

Numerical validation is at the core of machine learning research as it allows us to assess the actual impact of new methods, and to confirm the agreement between theory and practice. Yet, the rapid development of the field poses several challenges: researchers are confronted with a profusion of methods to compare, limited transparency and consensus on best practices, as well as tedious re-implementation work. As a result, validation is often very partial, which can lead to wrong conclusions that slow down the progress of research. We propose Benchopt, a collaborative framework to automatize, publish and reproduce optimization benchmarks in machine learning across programming languages and hardware architectures. Benchopt simplifies benchmarking for the community by providing an off-the-shelf tool for running, sharing and extending experiments. To demonstrate its broad usability, we showcase benchmarks on three standard ML tasks: $\ell_2$-regularized logistic regression, Lasso and ResNet18 training for image classification. These benchmarks highlight key practical findings that give a more nuanced view of state-of-the-art for these problems, showing that for practical evaluation, the devil is in the details.

EAGER: Asking and Answering Questions for Automatic Reward Shaping in Language-guided RL

Thomas Carta · Pierre-Yves Oudeyer · Olivier Sigaud · Sylvain Lamprier

Reinforcement learning (RL) in long horizon and sparse reward tasks is notoriously difficult and requires a lot of training steps. A standard solution to speed up the process is to leverage additional reward signals, shaping it to better guide the learning process.In the context of language-conditioned RL, the abstraction and generalisation properties of the language input provide opportunities for more efficient ways of shaping the reward.In this paper, we leverage this idea and propose an automated reward shaping method where the agent extracts auxiliary objectives from the general language goal. These auxiliary objectives use a question generation (QG) and a question answering (QA) system: they consist of questions leading the agent to try to reconstruct partial information about the global goal using its own trajectory.When it succeeds, it receives an intrinsic reward proportional to its confidence in its answer. This incentivizes the agent to generate trajectories which unambiguously explain various aspects of the general language goal.Our experimental study using various BabyAI environments shows that this approach, which does not require engineer intervention to design the auxiliary objectives, improves sample efficiency by effectively directing the exploration.

VER: Scaling On-Policy RL Leads to the Emergence of Navigation in Embodied Rearrangement

Erik Wijmans · Irfan Essa · Dhruv Batra

We present Variable Experience Rollout (VER), a technique for efficiently scaling batched on-policy reinforcement learning in heterogenous environments (where different environments take vastly different times to generate rollouts) to many GPUs residing on, potentially, many machines. VER combines the strengths of and blurs the line between synchronous and asynchronous on-policy RL methods (SyncOnRL and AsyncOnRL, respectively). Specifically, it learns from on-policy experience (like SyncOnRL) and has no synchronization points (like AsyncOnRL) enabling high throughput.We find that VER leads to significant and consistent speed-ups across a broad range of embodied navigation and mobile manipulation tasks in photorealistic 3D simulation environments. Specifically, for PointGoal navigation and ObjectGoal navigation in Habitat 1.0, VER is 60-100% faster (1.6-2x speedup) than DD-PPO, the current state of art for distributed SyncOnRL, with similar sample efficiency. For mobile manipulation tasks (open fridge/cabinet, pick/place objects) in Habitat 2.0 VER is 150% faster (2.5x speedup) on 1 GPU and 170% faster (2.7x speedup) on 8 GPUs than DD-PPO. Compared to SampleFactory (the current state-of-the-art AsyncOnRL), VER matches its speed on 1 GPU, and is 70% faster (1.7x speedup) on 8 GPUs with better sample efficiency.We leverage these speed-ups to train chained skills for GeometricGoal rearrangement tasks in the Home Assistant Benchmark (HAB). We find a surprising emergence of navigation in skills that do not ostensible require any navigation. Specifically, the Pick skill involves a robot picking an object from a table. During training the robot was always spawned close to the table and never needed to navigate. However, we find that if base movement is part of the action space, the robot learns to navigate then pick an object in new environments with 50% success, demonstrating surprisingly high out-of-distribution generalization.

Redistribution of Weights and Activations for AdderNet Quantization

Ying Nie · Kai Han · Haikang Diao · Chuanjian Liu · Enhua Wu · Yunhe Wang

Adder Neural Network (AdderNet) provides a new way for developing energy-efficient neural networks by replacing the expensive multiplications in convolution with cheaper additions (i.e., L1-norm). To achieve higher hardware efficiency, it is necessary to further study the low-bit quantization of AdderNet. Due to the limitation that the commutative law in multiplication does not hold in L1-norm, the well-established quantization methods on convolutional networks cannot be applied on AdderNets. Thus, the existing AdderNet quantization techniques propose to use only one shared scale to quantize both the weights and activations simultaneously. Admittedly, such an approach can keep the commutative law in the L1-norm quantization process, while the accuracy drop after low-bit quantization cannot be ignored. To this end, we first thoroughly analyze the difference on distributions of weights and activations in AdderNet and then propose a new quantization algorithm by redistributing the weights and the activations. Specifically, the pre-trained full-precision weights in different kernels are clustered into different groups, then the intra-group sharing and inter-group independent scales can be adopted. To further compensate the accuracy drop caused by the distribution difference, we then develop a lossless range clamp scheme for weights and a simple yet effective outliers clamp strategy for activations. Thus, the functionality of full-precision weights and the representation ability of full-precision activations can be fully preserved. The effectiveness of the proposed quantization method for AdderNet is well verified on several benchmarks, e.g., our 4-bit post-training quantized adder ResNet-18 achieves an 66.5% top-1 accuracy on the ImageNet with comparable energy efficiency, which is about 8.5% higher than that of the previous AdderNet quantization methods. Code will be available at

Eliciting Thinking Hierarchy without a Prior

Yuqing Kong · Yunqi Li · Yubo Zhang · Zhihuan Huang · Jinzhao Wu

When we use the wisdom of the crowds, we usually rank the answers according to their popularity, especially when we cannot verify the answers. However, this can be very dangerous when the majority make systematic mistakes. A fundamental question arises: can we build a hierarchy among the answers without any prior where the higher-ranking answers, which may not be supported by the majority, are from more sophisticated people? To address the question, we propose 1) a novel model to describe people's thinking hierarchy; 2) two algorithms to learn the thinking hierarchy without any prior; 3) a novel open-response based crowdsourcing approach based on the above theoretic framework. In addition to theoretic justifications, we conduct four empirical crowdsourcing studies and show that a) the accuracy of the top-ranking answers learned by our approach is much higher than that of plurality voting (In one question, the plurality answer is supported by 74 respondents but the correct answer is only supported by 3 respondents. Our approach ranks the correct answer the highest without any prior); b) our model has a high goodness-of-fit, especially for the questions where our top-ranking answer is correct. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to propose a thinking hierarchy model with empirical validations in the general problem-solving scenarios; and the first to propose a practical open-response-based crowdsourcing approach that beats plurality voting without any prior.

First Contact: Unsupervised Human-Machine Co-Adaptation via Mutual Information Maximization

Siddharth Reddy · Sergey Levine · Anca Dragan

How can we train an assistive human-machine interface (e.g., an electromyography-based limb prosthesis) to translate a user's raw command signals into the actions of a robot or computer when there is no prior mapping, we cannot ask the user for supervision in the form of action labels or reward feedback, and we do not have prior knowledge of the tasks the user is trying to accomplish? The key idea in this paper is that, regardless of the task, when an interface is more intuitive, the user's commands are less noisy. We formalize this idea as a completely unsupervised objective for optimizing interfaces: the mutual information between the user's command signals and the induced state transitions in the environment. To evaluate whether this mutual information score can distinguish between effective and ineffective interfaces, we conduct a large-scale observational study on 540K examples of users operating various keyboard and eye gaze interfaces for typing, controlling simulated robots, and playing video games. The results show that our mutual information scores are predictive of the ground-truth task completion metrics in a variety of domains, with an average Spearman's rank correlation of 0.43. In addition to offline evaluation of existing interfaces, we use our unsupervised objective to learn an interface from scratch: we randomly initialize the interface, have the user attempt to perform their desired tasks using the interface, measure the mutual information score, and update the interface to maximize mutual information through reinforcement learning. We evaluate our method through a small-scale user study with 12 participants who perform a 2D cursor control task using a perturbed mouse, and an experiment with one expert user playing the Lunar Lander game using hand gestures captured by a webcam. The results show that we can learn an interface from scratch, without any user supervision or prior knowledge of tasks, with less than 30 minutes of human-in-the-loop training.

Identifying good directions to escape the NTK regime and efficiently learn low-degree plus sparse polynomials

Eshaan Nichani · Yu Bai · Jason Lee

A recent goal in the theory of deep learning is to identify how neural networks can escape the “lazy training,” or Neural Tangent Kernel (NTK) regime, where the network is coupled with its first order Taylor expansion at initialization. While the NTK is minimax optimal for learning dense polynomials (Ghorbani et al, 2021), it cannot learn features, and hence has poor sample complexity for learning many classes of functions including sparse polynomials. Recent works have thus aimed to identify settings where gradient based algorithms provably generalize better than the NTK. One such example is the “QuadNTK” approach of Bai & Lee (2020), which analyzes the second-order term in the Taylor expansion. Bai & Lee (2020) show that the second-order term can learn sparse polynomials efficiently; however, it sacrifices the ability to learn general dense polynomials.In this paper, we analyze how gradient descent on a two-layer neural network can escape the NTK regime by utilizing a spectral characterization of the NTK (Montanari & Zhong, 2020) and building on the QuadNTK approach. We first expand upon the spectral analysis to identify “good” directions in parameter space in which we can move without harming generalization. Next, we show that a wide two-layer neural network can jointly use the NTK and QuadNTK to fit target functions consisting of a dense low-degree term and a sparse high-degree term -- something neither the NTK nor the QuadNTK can do on their own. Finally, we construct a regularizer which encourages the parameter vector to move in the “good" directions, and show that gradient descent on the regularized loss will converge to a global minimizer, which also has low test error. This yields an end to end convergence and generalization guarantee with provable sample complexity improvement over both the NTK and QuadNTK on their own.

Identification, Amplification and Measurement: A bridge to Gaussian Differential Privacy

Yi Liu · Ke Sun · Bei Jiang · Linglong Kong

Gaussian differential privacy (GDP) is a single-parameter family of privacy notions that provides coherent guarantees to avoid the exposure of sensitive individual information. Despite the extra interpretability and tighter bounds under composition GDP provides, many widely used mechanisms (e.g., the Laplace mechanism) inherently provide GDP guarantees but often fail to take advantage of this new framework because their privacy guarantees were derived under a different background. In this paper, we study the asymptotic properties of privacy profiles and develop a simple criterion to identify algorithms with GDP properties. We propose an efficient method for GDP algorithms to narrow down possible values of an optimal privacy measurement, $\mu$ with an arbitrarily small and quantifiable margin of error. For non GDP algorithms, we provide a post-processing procedure that can amplify existing privacy guarantees to meet the GDP condition. As applications, we compare two single-parameter families of privacy notions, $\epsilon$-DP, and $\mu$-GDP, and show that all $\epsilon$-DP algorithms are intrinsically also GDP. Lastly, we show that the combination of our measurement process and the composition theorem of GDP is a powerful and convenient tool to handle compositions compared to the traditional standard and advanced composition theorems.

Dataset Distillation via Factorization

Songhua Liu · Kai Wang · Xingyi Yang · Jingwen Ye · Xinchao Wang

In this paper, we study dataset distillation (DD), from a novel perspective and introduce a \emph{dataset factorization} approach, termed \emph{HaBa}, which is a plug-and-play strategy portable to any existing DD baseline. Unlike conventional DD approaches that aim to produce distilled and representative samples, \emph{HaBa} explores decomposing a dataset into two components: data \emph{Ha}llucination networks and \emph{Ba}ses, where the latter is fed into the former to reconstruct image samples. The flexible combinations between bases and hallucination networks, therefore, equip the distilled data with exponential informativeness gain, which largely increase the representation capability of distilled datasets. To furthermore increase the data efficiency of compression results, we further introduce a pair of adversarial contrastive \xw{constraints} on the resultant hallucination networks and bases, which increase the diversity of generated images and inject more discriminant information into the factorization. Extensive comparisons and experiments demonstrate that our method can yield significant improvement on downstream classification tasks compared with previous state of the arts, while reducing the total number of compressed parameters by up to 65\%. Moreover, distilled datasets by our approach also achieve \textasciitilde10\% higher accuracy than baseline methods in cross-architecture generalization. Our code is available \href{}{here}.

Oscillatory Tracking of Continuous Attractor Neural Networks Account for Phase Precession and Procession of Hippocampal Place Cells

Tianhao Chu · Zilong Ji · Junfeng Zuo · Wenhao Zhang · Tiejun Huang · Yuanyuan Mi · Si Wu

Hippocampal place cells of freely moving rodents display an intriguing temporal organization in their responses known as `theta phase precession', in which individual neurons fire at progressively earlier phases in successive theta cycles as the animal traverses the place fields. Recent experimental studies found that in addition to phase precession, many place cells also exhibit accompanied phase procession, but the underlying neural mechanism remains unclear. Here, we propose a neural circuit model to elucidate the generation of both kinds of phase shift in place cells' firing. Specifically, we consider a continuous attractor neural network (CANN) with feedback inhibition, which is inspired by the reciprocal interaction between the hippocampus and the medial septum. The feedback inhibition induces intrinsic mobility of the CANN which competes with the extrinsic mobility arising from the external drive. Their interplay generates an oscillatory tracking state, that is, the network bump state (resembling the decoded virtual position of the animal) sweeps back and forth around the external moving input (resembling the physical position of the animal). We show that this oscillatory tracking naturally explains the forward and backward sweeps of the decoded position during the animal's locomotion. At the single neuron level, the forward and backward sweeps account for, respectively, theta phase precession and procession. Furthermore, by tuning the feedback inhibition strength, we also explain the emergence of bimodal cells and unimodal cells, with the former having co-existed phase precession and procession, and the latter having only significant phase precession. We hope that this study facilitates our understanding of hippocampal temporal coding and lays foundation for unveiling their computational functions.

Palm up: Playing in the Latent Manifold for Unsupervised Pretraining

Hao Liu · Tom Zahavy · Volodymyr Mnih · Satinder Singh

Large and diverse datasets have been the cornerstones of many impressive advancements in artificial intelligence. Intelligent creatures, however, learn by interacting with the environment, which changes the input sensory signals and the state of the environment. In this work, we aim to bring the best of both worlds and propose an algorithm that exhibits an exploratory behavior whilst it utilizes large diverse datasets. Our key idea is to leverage deep generative models that are pretrained on static datasets and introduce a dynamic model in the latent space. The transition dynamics simply mixes an action and a random sampled latent. It then applies an exponential moving average for temporal persistency, the resulting latent is decoded to image using pretrained generator. We then employ an unsupervised reinforcement learning algorithm to explore in this environment and perform unsupervised representation learning on the collected data. We further leverage the temporal information of this data to pair data points as a natural supervision for representation learning. Our experiments suggest that the learned representations can be successfully transferred to downstream tasks in both vision and reinforcement learning domains.

Towards Trustworthy Automatic Diagnosis Systems by Emulating Doctors' Reasoning with Deep Reinforcement Learning

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

The automation of the medical evidence acquisition and diagnosis process has recently attracted increasing attention in order to reduce the workload of doctors and democratize access to medical care. However, most works proposed in the machine learning literature focus solely on improving the prediction accuracy of a patient's pathology. We argue that this objective is insufficient to ensure doctors' acceptability of such systems. In their initial interaction with patients, doctors do not only focus on identifying the pathology a patient is suffering from; they instead generate a differential diagnosis (in the form of a short list of plausible diseases) because the medical evidence collected from patients is often insufficient to establish a final diagnosis. Moreover, doctors explicitly explore severe pathologies before potentially ruling them out from the differential, especially in acute care settings. Finally, for doctors to trust a system's recommendations, they need to understand how the gathered evidences led to the predicted diseases. In particular, interactions between a system and a patient need to emulate the reasoning of doctors. We therefore propose to model the evidence acquisition and automatic diagnosis tasks using a deep reinforcement learning framework that considers three essential aspects of a doctor's reasoning, namely generating a differential diagnosis using an exploration-confirmation approach while prioritizing severe pathologies. We propose metrics for evaluating interaction quality based on these three aspects. We show that our approach performs better than existing models while maintaining competitive pathology prediction accuracy.

Large-Scale Retrieval for Reinforcement Learning

Peter Humphreys · Arthur Guez · Olivier Tieleman · Laurent Sifre · Theophane Weber · Timothy Lillicrap

Effective decision making involves flexibly relating past experiences and relevant contextual information to a novel situation. In deep reinforcement learning (RL), the dominant paradigm is for an agent to amortise information that helps decision-making into its network weights via gradient descent on training losses. Here, we pursue an alternative approach in which agents can utilise large-scale context-sensitive database lookups to support their parametric computations. This allows agents to directly learn in an end-to-end manner to utilise relevant information to inform their outputs. In addition, new information can be attended to by the agent, without retraining, by simply augmenting the retrieval dataset. We study this approach for offline RL in 9x9 Go, a challenging game for which the vast combinatorial state space privileges generalisation over direct matching to past experiences. We leverage fast, approximate nearest neighbor techniques in order to retrieve relevant data from a set of tens of millions of expert demonstration states. Attending to this information provides a significant boost to prediction accuracy and game-play performance over simply using these demonstrations as training trajectories, providing a compelling demonstration of the value of large-scale retrieval in offline RL agents.

What Can Transformers Learn In-Context? A Case Study of Simple Function Classes

Shivam Garg · Dimitris Tsipras · Percy Liang · Gregory Valiant

In-context learning is the ability of a model to condition on a prompt sequence consisting of in-context examples (input-output pairs corresponding to some task) along with a new query input, and generate the corresponding output. Crucially, in-context learning happens only at inference time without any parameter updates to the model. While large language models such as GPT-3 exhibit some ability to perform in-context learning, it is unclear what the relationship is between tasks on which this succeeds and what is present in the training data. To investigate this, we consider the problem of training a model to in-context learn a function class (e.g., linear functions): given data derived from some functions in the class, can we train a model (e.g., a Transformer) to in-context learn most functions from that class? We show empirically that standard Transformers can be trained from scratch to perform in-context learning of linear functions---that is, the trained model is able to learn unseen linear functions from in-context examples with performance comparable to the optimal least squares estimator. In fact, in-context learning is possible even under two forms of distribution shift: (i) between the training data of the Transformer and inference-time prompts, and (ii) between the in-context examples and the query input during inference. We also show that we can train Transformers to in-context learn more complex function classes: sparse linear functions where the model outperforms least squares and nearly matches the performance of Lasso, and two-layer neural networks where the model performs comparably to neural networks trained on in-context examples using gradient descent.

Chain of Thought Imitation with Procedure Cloning

Mengjiao (Sherry) Yang · Dale Schuurmans · Pieter Abbeel · Ofir Nachum

Imitation learning aims to extract high-performance policies from logged demonstrations of expert behavior. It is common to frame imitation learning as a supervised learning problem in which one fits a function approximator to the input-output mapping exhibited by the logged demonstrations (input observations to output actions). While the framing of imitation learning as a supervised input-output learning problem allows for applicability in a wide variety of settings, it is also an overly simplistic view of the problem in situations where the expert demonstrations provide much richer insight into expert behavior. For example, applications such as path navigation, robot manipulation, and strategy games acquire expert demonstrations via planning, search, or some other multi-step algorithm, revealing not just the output action to be imitated but also the procedure for how to determine this action. While these intermediate computations may use tools not available to the agent during inference (e.g., environment simulators), they are nevertheless informative as a way to explain an expert’s mapping of state to actions. To properly leverage expert procedure information without relying on the privileged tools the expert may have used to perform the procedure, we propose procedure cloning, which applies supervised sequence prediction to imitate the complete series of expert computations. This way, procedure cloning learns not only what to do (i.e., the output action), but how and why to do it (i.e., the procedure). Through empirical analysis on navigation, simulated robotic manipulation, and game-playing environments, we show that imitating the intermediate computations of an expert’s behavior enables procedure cloning to learn policies exhibiting significant generalization to unseen environment configurations, including those configurations for which running the expert’s procedure directly is infeasible.

First-Order Algorithms for Min-Max Optimization in Geodesic Metric Spaces

Michael Jordan · Tianyi Lin · Emmanouil-Vasileios Vlatakis-Gkaragkounis

From optimal transport to robust dimensionality reduction, many machine learning applicationscan be cast into the min-max optimization problems over Riemannian manifolds. Though manymin-max algorithms have been analyzed in the Euclidean setting, it has been elusive how theseresults translate to the Riemannian case. Zhang et al. (2022) have recently identified that geodesic convexconcave Riemannian problems admit always Sion’s saddle point solutions. Immediately, an importantquestion that arises is if a performance gap between the Riemannian and the optimal Euclidean spaceconvex concave algorithms is necessary. Our work is the first to answer the question in the negative:We prove that the Riemannian corrected extragradient (RCEG) method achieves last-iterate at alinear convergence rate at the geodesically strongly convex concave case, matching the euclidean one.Our results also extend to the stochastic or non-smooth case where RCEG & Riemanian gradientascent descent (RGDA) achieve respectively near-optimal convergence rates up to factors dependingon curvature of the manifold. Finally, we empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of RCEG insolving robust PCA.

On the Identifiability of Nonlinear ICA: Sparsity and Beyond

Yujia Zheng · Ignavier Ng · Kun Zhang

Nonlinear independent component analysis (ICA) aims to recover the underlying independent latent sources from their observable nonlinear mixtures. How to make the nonlinear ICA model identifiable up to certain trivial indeterminacies is a long-standing problem in unsupervised learning. Recent breakthroughs reformulate the standard independence assumption of sources as conditional independence given some auxiliary variables (e.g., class labels and/or domain/time indexes) as weak supervision or inductive bias. However, nonlinear ICA with unconditional priors cannot benefit from such developments. We explore an alternative path and consider only assumptions on the mixing process, such as Structural Sparsity. We show that under specific instantiations of such constraints, the independent latent sources can be identified from their nonlinear mixtures up to a permutation and a component-wise transformation, thus achieving nontrivial identifiability of nonlinear ICA without auxiliary variables. We provide estimation methods and validate the theoretical results experimentally. The results on image data suggest that our conditions may hold in a number of practical data generating processes.

Biologically-plausible backpropagation through arbitrary timespans via local neuromodulators

Yuhan Helena Liu · Stephen Smith · Stefan Mihalas · Eric Shea-Brown · Uygar Sümbül

The spectacular successes of recurrent neural network models where key parameters are adjusted via backpropagation-based gradient descent have inspired much thought as to how biological neuronal networks might solve the corresponding synaptic credit assignment problem [1, 2, 3]. There is so far little agreement, however, as to how biological networks could implement the necessary backpropagation through time, given widely recognized constraints of biological synaptic network signaling architectures. Here, we propose that extra-synaptic diffusion of local neuromodulators such as neuropeptides may afford an effective mode of backpropagation lying within the bounds of biological plausibility. Going beyond existing temporal truncation-based gradient approximations [4, 5, 6], our approximate gradient-based update rule, ModProp, propagates credit information through arbitrary time steps. ModProp suggests that modulatory signals can act on receiving cells by convolving their eligibility traces via causal, time-invariant and synapse-type-specific filter taps. Our mathematical analysis of ModProp learning, together with simulation results on benchmark temporal tasks, demonstrate the advantage of ModProp over existing biologically-plausible temporal credit assignment rules. These results suggest a potential neuronal mechanism for signaling credit information related to recurrent interactions over a longer time horizon. Finally, we derive an in-silico implementation of ModProp that could serve as a low-complexity and causal alternative to backpropagation through time.

Nonlinear MCMC for Bayesian Machine Learning

James Vuckovic

We explore the application of a nonlinear MCMC technique first introduced in [1] to problems in Bayesian machine learning. We provide a convergence guarantee in total variation that uses novel results for long-time convergence and large-particle (``propagation of chaos'') convergence. We apply this nonlinear MCMC technique to sampling problems including a Bayesian neural network on CIFAR10.

Transition to Linearity of General Neural Networks with Directed Acyclic Graph Architecture

Libin Zhu · Chaoyue Liu · Misha Belkin

In this paper we show that feedforward neural networks corresponding to arbitrary directed acyclic graphs undergo transition to linearity as their ``width'' approaches infinity. The width of these general networks is characterized by the minimum in-degree of their neurons, except for the input and first layers. Our results identify the mathematical structure underlying transition to linearity and generalize a number of recent works aimed at characterizing transition to linearity or constancy of the Neural Tangent Kernel for standard architectures.

Fast Algorithms for Packing Proportional Fairness and its Dual

Francisco Criado · David Martinez-Rubio · Sebastian Pokutta

The proportional fair resource allocation problem is a major problem studied in flow control of networks, operations research, and economic theory, where it has found numerous applications. This problem, defined as the constrained maximization of $\sum_i \log x_i$, is known as the packing proportional fairness problem when the feasible set is defined by positive linear constraints and $x \in \mathbb{R}_{\geq 0}^n$. In this work, we present a distributed accelerated first-order method for this problem which improves upon previous approaches. We also design an algorithm for the optimization of its dual problem. Both algorithms are width-independent.

Approaching Quartic Convergence Rates for Quasi-Stochastic Approximation with Application to Gradient-Free Optimization

Caio Kalil Lauand · Sean Meyn

Stochastic approximation is a foundation for many algorithms found in machine learning and optimization. It is in general slow to converge: the mean square error vanishes as $O(n^{-1})$. A deterministic counterpart known as quasi-stochastic approximation is a viable alternative in many applications, including gradient-free optimization and reinforcement learning. It was assumed in prior research that the optimal achievable convergence rate is $O(n^{-2})$. It is shown in this paper that through design it is possible to obtain far faster convergence, of order $O(n^{-4+\delta})$, with $\delta>0$ arbitrary. Two techniques are introduced for the first time to achieve this rate of convergence. The theory is also specialized within the context of gradient-free optimization, and tested on standard benchmarks. The main results are based on a combination of novel application of results from number theory and techniques adapted from stochastic approximation theory.

Robust Generalized Method of Moments: A Finite Sample Viewpoint

Dhruv Rohatgi · Vasilis Syrgkanis

For many inference problems in statistics and econometrics, the unknown parameter is identified by a set of moment conditions. A generic method of solving moment conditions is the Generalized Method of Moments (GMM). However, classical GMM estimation is potentially very sensitive to outliers. Robustified GMM estimators have been developed in the past, but suffer from several drawbacks: computational intractability, poor dimension-dependence, and no quantitative recovery guarantees in the presence of a constant fraction of outliers. In this work, we develop the first computationally efficient GMM estimator (under intuitive assumptions) that can tolerate a constant $\epsilon$ fraction of adversarially corrupted samples, and that has an $\ell_2$ recovery guarantee of $O(\sqrt{\epsilon})$. To achieve this, we draw upon and extend a recent line of work on algorithmic robust statistics for related but simpler problems such as mean estimation, linear regression and stochastic optimization. As a special case, we apply our algorithm to instrumental variables linear regression with heterogeneous treatment effects, and experimentally demonstrate that it can tolerate as much as $10$ -- $15\%$ corruption, significantly improving upon baseline methods.

Adapting to Online Label Shift with Provable Guarantees

Yong Bai · Yu-Jie Zhang · Peng Zhao · Masashi Sugiyama · Zhi-Hua Zhou

The standard supervised learning paradigm works effectively when training data shares the same distribution as the upcoming testing samples. However, this stationary assumption is often violated in real-world applications, especially when testing data appear in an online fashion. In this paper, we formulate and investigate the problem of \emph{online label shift} (OLaS): the learner trains an initial model from the labeled offline data and then deploys it to an unlabeled online environment where the underlying label distribution changes over time but the label-conditional density does not. The non-stationarity nature and the lack of supervision make the problem challenging to be tackled. To address the difficulty, we construct a new unbiased risk estimator that utilizes the unlabeled data, which exhibits many benign properties albeit with potential non-convexity. Building upon that, we propose novel online ensemble algorithms to deal with the non-stationarity of the environments. Our approach enjoys optimal \emph{dynamic regret}, indicating that the performance is competitive with a clairvoyant who knows the online environments in hindsight and then chooses the best decision for each round. The obtained dynamic regret bound scales with the intensity and pattern of label distribution shift, hence exhibiting the adaptivity in the OLaS problem. Extensive experiments are conducted to validate the effectiveness and support our theoretical findings.

Understanding and Extending Subgraph GNNs by Rethinking Their Symmetries

Fabrizio Frasca · Beatrice Bevilacqua · Michael Bronstein · Haggai Maron

Subgraph GNNs are a recent class of expressive Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) which model graphs as collections of subgraphs. So far, the design space of possible Subgraph GNN architectures as well as their basic theoretical properties are still largely unexplored. In this paper, we study the most prominent form of subgraph methods, which employs node-based subgraph selection policies such as ego-networks or node marking and deletion. We address two central questions: (1) What is the upper-bound of the expressive power of these methods? and (2) What is the family of equivariant message passing layers on these sets of subgraphs?. Our first step in answering these questions is a novel symmetry analysis which shows that modelling the symmetries of node-based subgraph collections requires a significantly smaller symmetry group than the one adopted in previous works. This analysis is then used to establish a link between Subgraph GNNs and Invariant Graph Networks (IGNs). We answer the questions above by first bounding the expressive power of subgraph methods by 3-WL, and then proposing a general family of message-passing layers for subgraph methods that generalises all previous node-based Subgraph GNNs. Finally, we design a novel Subgraph GNN dubbed SUN, which theoretically unifies previous architectures while providing better empirical performance on multiple benchmarks.

Reconstruction on Trees and Low-Degree Polynomials

Frederic Koehler · Elchanan Mossel

The study of Markov processes and broadcasting on trees has deep connections to a variety of areas including statistical physics, graphical models, phylogenetic reconstruction, Markov Chain Monte Carlo, and community detection in random graphs. Notably, the celebrated Belief Propagation (BP) algorithm achieves Bayes-optimal performance for the reconstruction problem of predicting the value of the Markov process at the root of the tree from its values at the leaves.Recently, the analysis of low-degree polynomials has emerged as a valuable tool for predicting computational-to-statistical gaps. In this work, we investigate the performance of low-degree polynomials for the reconstruction problem on trees. Perhaps surprisingly, we show that there are simple tree models with $N$ leaves and bounded arity where (1) nontrivial reconstruction of the root value is possible with a simple polynomial time algorithm and with robustness to noise, but not with any polynomial of degree $N^{c}$ for $c > 0$ a constant depending only on the arity, and (2) when the tree is unknown and given multiple samples with correlated root assignments, nontrivial reconstruction of the root value is possible with a simple Statistical Query algorithm but not with any polynomial of degree $N^c$. These results clarify some of the limitations of low-degree polynomials vs. polynomial time algorithms for Bayesian estimation problems. They also complement recent work of Moitra, Mossel, and Sandon who studied the circuit complexity of Belief Propagation. As a consequence of our main result, we are able to prove a result of independent interest regarding the performance of RBF kernel ridge regression for learning to predict the root coloration: for some $c' > 0$ depending only on the arity, $\exp(N^{c'})$ many samples are needed for the kernel regression to obtain nontrivial correlation with the true regression function (BP). We pose related open questions about low-degree polynomials and the Kesten-Stigum threshold.

Benign Underfitting of Stochastic Gradient Descent

Tomer Koren · Roi Livni · Yishay Mansour · Uri Sherman

We study to what extent may stochastic gradient descent (SGD) be understood as a ``conventional'' learning rule that achieves generalization performance by obtaining a good fit to training data. We consider the fundamental stochastic convex optimization framework, where (one pass, $\textit{without}$-replacement) SGD is classically known to minimize the population risk at rate $O(1/\sqrt n)$, and prove that, surprisingly, there exist problem instances where the SGD solution exhibits both empirical risk and generalization gap of $\Omega(1)$. Consequently, it turns out that SGD is not algorithmically stable in $\textit{any}$ sense, and its generalization ability cannot be explained by uniform convergence or any other currently known generalization bound technique for that matter (other than that of its classical analysis). We then continue to analyze the closely related $\textit{with}$-replacement SGD, for which we show that an analogous phenomenon does not occur and prove that its population risk does in fact converge at the optimal rate. Finally, we interpret our main results in the context of without-replacement SGD for finite-sum convex optimization problems, and derive upper and lower bounds for the multi-epoch regime that significantly improve upon previously known results.

Outstanding Paper
Using natural language and program abstractions to instill human inductive biases in machines

Sreejan Kumar · Carlos G. Correa · Ishita Dasgupta · Raja Marjieh · Michael Y Hu · Robert Hawkins · Jonathan D Cohen · nathaniel daw · Karthik Narasimhan · Tom Griffiths

Strong inductive biases give humans the ability to quickly learn to perform a variety of tasks. Although meta-learning is a method to endow neural networks with useful inductive biases, agents trained by meta-learning may sometimes acquire very different strategies from humans. We show that co-training these agents on predicting representations from natural language task descriptions and programs induced to generate such tasks guides them toward more human-like inductive biases. Human-generated language descriptions and program induction models that add new learned primitives both contain abstract concepts that can compress description length. Co-training on these representations result in more human-like behavior in downstream meta-reinforcement learning agents than less abstract controls (synthetic language descriptions, program induction without learned primitives), suggesting that the abstraction supported by these representations is key.

Revisiting Injective Attacks on Recommender Systems

Haoyang LI · Shimin DI · Lei Chen

Recent studies have demonstrated that recommender systems (RecSys) are vulnerable to injective attacks.Given a limited fake user budget, attackers can inject fake users with carefully designed behaviors into the open platforms, making RecSys recommend a target item to more real users for profits. In this paper, we first revisit existing attackers and reveal that they suffer from the difficulty-agnostic and diversity-deficit issues. Existing attackers concentrate their efforts on difficult users who have low tendencies toward the target item, thus reducing their effectiveness. Moreover, they are incapable of affecting the target RecSys to recommend the target item to real users in a diverse manner, because their generated fake user behaviors are dominated by large communities. To alleviate these two issues, we propose a difficulty and diversity aware attacker, namely DADA. We design the difficulty-aware and diversity-aware objectives to enable easy users from various communities to contribute more weights when optimizing attackers. By incorporating these two objectives, the proposed attacker DADA can concentrate on easy users while also affecting a broader range of real users simultaneously, thereby boosting the effectiveness. Extensive experiments on three real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed attacker.

PointNeXt: Revisiting PointNet++ with Improved Training and Scaling Strategies

Guocheng Qian · Yuchen Li · Houwen Peng · Jinjie Mai · Hasan Hammoud · Mohamed Elhoseiny · Bernard Ghanem

PointNet++ is one of the most influential neural architectures for point cloud understanding. Although the accuracy of PointNet++ has been largely surpassed by recent networks such as PointMLP and Point Transformer, we find that a large portion of the performance gain is due to improved training strategies, i.e. data augmentation and optimization techniques, and increased model sizes rather than architectural innovations. Thus, the full potential of PointNet++ has yet to be explored. In this work, we revisit the classical PointNet++ through a systematic study of model training and scaling strategies, and offer two major contributions. First, we propose a set of improved training strategies that significantly improve PointNet++ performance. For example, we show that, without any change in architecture, the overall accuracy (OA) of PointNet++ on ScanObjectNN object classification can be raised from 77.9% to 86.1%, even outperforming state-of-the-art PointMLP. Second, we introduce an inverted residual bottleneck design and separable MLPs into PointNet++ to enable efficient and effective model scaling and propose PointNeXt, the next version of PointNets. PointNeXt can be flexibly scaled up and outperforms state-of-the-art methods on both 3D classification and segmentation tasks. For classification, PointNeXt reaches an overall accuracy of 87.7 on ScanObjectNN, surpassing PointMLP by 2.3%, while being 10x faster in inference. For semantic segmentation, PointNeXt establishes a new state-of-the-art performance with 74.9% mean IoU on S3DIS (6-fold cross-validation), being superior to the recent Point Transformer. The code and models are available at

SIXO: Smoothing Inference with Twisted Objectives

Dieterich Lawson · Allan Raventós · andrew warrington · Scott Linderman

Sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) is an inference algorithm for state space models that approximates the posterior by sampling from a sequence of target distributions. The target distributions are often chosen to be the filtering distributions, but these ignore information from future observations, leading to practical and theoretical limitations in inference and model learning. We introduce SIXO, a method that instead learns target distributions that approximate the smoothing distributions, incorporating information from all observations. The key idea is to use density ratio estimation to fit functions that warp the filtering distributions into the smoothing distributions. We then use SMC with these learned targets to define a variational objective for model and proposal learning. SIXO yields provably tighter log marginal lower bounds and offers more accurate posterior inferences and parameter estimates in a variety of domains.

Robust Graph Structure Learning via Multiple Statistical Tests

Yaohua Wang · Fangyi Zhang · Ming Lin · Senzhang Wang · Xiuyu Sun · Rong Jin

Graph structure learning aims to learn connectivity in a graph from data. It is particularly important for many computer vision related tasks since no explicit graph structure is available for images for most cases. A natural way to construct a graph among images is to treat each image as a node and assign pairwise image similarities as weights to corresponding edges. It is well known that pairwise similarities between images are sensitive to the noise in feature representations, leading to unreliable graph structures. We address this problem from the viewpoint of statistical tests. By viewing the feature vector of each node as an independent sample, the decision of whether creating an edge between two nodes based on their similarity in feature representation can be thought as a ${\it single}$ statistical test. To improve the robustness in the decision of creating an edge, multiple samples are drawn and integrated by ${\it multiple}$ statistical tests to generate a more reliable similarity measure, consequentially more reliable graph structure. The corresponding elegant matrix form named $\mathcal{B}$$\textbf{-Attention}$ is designed for efficiency. The effectiveness of multiple tests for graph structure learning is verified both theoretically and empirically on multiple clustering and ReID benchmark datasets. Source codes are available at

Fairness Reprogramming

Guanhua Zhang · Yihua Zhang · Yang Zhang · Wenqi Fan · Qing Li · Sijia Liu · Shiyu Chang

Despite a surge of recent advances in promoting machine Learning (ML) fairness, the existing mainstream approaches mostly require training or finetuning the entire weights of the neural network to meet the fairness criteria. However, this is often infeasible in practice for those large-scale trained models due to large computational and storage costs, low data efficiency, and model privacy issues. In this paper, we propose a new generic fairness learning paradigm, called FairReprogram, which incorporates the model reprogramming technique. Specifically, FairReprogram considers the case where models can not be changed and appends to the input a set of perturbations, called the fairness trigger, which is tuned towards the fairness criteria under a min-max formulation. We further introduce an information-theoretic framework that explains why and under what conditions fairness goals can be achieved using the fairness trigger. We show both theoretically and empirically that the fairness trigger can effectively obscure demographic biases in the output prediction of fixed ML models by providing false demographic information that hinders the model from utilizing the correct demographic information to make the prediction. Extensive experiments on both NLP and CV datasets demonstrate that our method can achieve better fairness improvements than retraining-based methods with far less data dependency under two widely-used fairness criteria. Codes are available at

Private Graph All-Pairwise-Shortest-Path Distance Release with Improved Error Rate

Chenglin Fan · Ping Li · Xiaoyun Li

Releasing all pairwise shortest path (APSP) distances between vertices on general graphs under weight Differential Privacy (DP) is known as a challenging task. In previous work, to achieve DP with some fixed budget, with high probability the maximal absolute error among all published pairwise distances is roughly O(n) where n is the number of nodes. It was shown that this error could be reduced for some special graphs, which, however, is hard for general graphs. Therefore, whether the approximation error can be reduced to sublinear is posted as an interesting open problem.In this paper, we break the linear barrier on the distance approximation error of previous result, by proposing an algorithm that releases a constructed synthetic graph privately. Computing all pairwise distances on the constructed graph only introduces O(n^{1/2}) error in answering all pairwise shortest path distances for fixed privacy parameter. Our method is based on a novel graph diameter (link length) augmentation via constructing ``shortcuts'' for the paths. By adding a set of shortcut edges to the original graph, we show that any node pair has a shortest path with link length O(n^{1/2}). Then by adding noises with some positive mean to the edge weights, the new graph is differentially private and can be published to answer all pairwise shortest path distances with O(n^{1/2}) approximation error using standard APSP computation. Numerical examples are also provided.Additionally, we also consider the graph with small feedback vertex set number. A feedback vertex set (FVS) of a graph is a set of vertices whose removal leaves a graph without cycles, and the feedback vertex set number of a graph, k, is the size of a smallest feedback vertex set. We propose a DP algorithm with error rate O(k), which improves the error of general graphs provided k=o(n^{1/2}).

Optimal Comparator Adaptive Online Learning with Switching Cost

Zhiyu Zhang · Ashok Cutkosky · Yannis Paschalidis

Practical online learning tasks are often naturally defined on unconstrained domains, where optimal algorithms for general convex losses are characterized by the notion of comparator adaptivity. In this paper, we design such algorithms in the presence of switching cost - the latter penalizes the typical optimism in adaptive algorithms, leading to a delicate design trade-off. Based on a novel dual space scaling strategy discovered by a continuous-time analysis, we propose a simple algorithm that improves the existing comparator adaptive regret bound [ZCP22a] to the optimal rate. The obtained benefits are further extended to the expert setting, and the practicality of the proposed algorithm is demonstrated through a sequential investment task.

Supervised Training of Conditional Monge Maps

Charlotte Bunne · Andreas Krause · Marco Cuturi

Optimal transport (OT) theory describes general principles to define and select, among many possible choices, the most efficient way to map a probability measure onto another. That theory has been mostly used to estimate, given a pair of source and target probability measures $(\mu,\nu)$, a parameterized map $T_\theta$ that can efficiently map $\mu$ onto $\nu$. In many applications, such as predicting cell responses to treatments, pairs of input/output data measures $(\mu,\nu)$ that define optimal transport problems do not arise in isolation but are associated with a context $c$, as for instance a treatment when comparing populations of untreated and treated cells. To account for that context in OT estimation, we introduce CondOT, a multi-task approach to estimate a family of OT maps conditioned on a context variable, using several pairs of measures $(\mu_i, \nu_i)$ tagged with a context label $c_i$. CondOT learns a global map $\mathcal{T}_{\theta}$ conditioned on context that is not only expected to fit all labeled pairs in the dataset $\{(c_i, (\mu_i, \nu_i))\}$, i.e., $\mathcal{T}_{\theta}(c_i) \sharp\mu_i \approx \nu_i$, but should also generalize to produce meaningful maps $\mathcal{T}_{\theta}(c_{\text{new}})$ when conditioned on unseen contexts $c_{\text{new}}$. Our approach harnesses and provides a novel usage for partially input convex neural networks, for which we introduce a robust and efficient initialization strategy inspired by Gaussian approximations. We demonstrate the ability of CondOT to infer the effect of an arbitrary combination of genetic or therapeutic perturbations on single cells, using only observations of the effects of said perturbations separately.

Deterministic Langevin Monte Carlo with Normalizing Flows for Bayesian Inference

Richard Grumitt · Biwei Dai · Uros Seljak

We propose a general purpose Bayesian inference algorithm for expensive likelihoods, replacing the stochastic term in the Langevin equation with a deterministic density gradient term. The particle density is evaluated from the current particle positions using a Normalizing Flow (NF), which is differentiable and has good generalization properties in high dimensions. We take advantage of NF preconditioning and NF based Metropolis-Hastings updates for a faster convergence. We show on various examples that the method is competitive against state of the art sampling methods.

CGLB: Benchmark Tasks for Continual Graph Learning

Xikun Zhang · Dongjin Song · Dacheng Tao

Continual learning on graph data, which aims to accommodate new tasks over newly emerged graph data while maintaining the model performance over existing tasks, is attracting increasing attention from the community. Unlike continual learning on Euclidean data ($\textit{e.g.}$, images, texts, etc.) that has established benchmarks and unified experimental settings, benchmark tasks are rare for Continual Graph Learning (CGL). Moreover, due to the variety of graph data and its complex topological structures, existing works adopt different protocols to configure datasets and experimental settings. This creates a great obstacle to compare different techniques and thus hinders the development of CGL. To this end, we systematically study the task configurations in different application scenarios and develop a comprehensive Continual Graph Learning Benchmark (CGLB) curated from different public datasets. Specifically, CGLB contains both node-level and graph-level continual graph learning tasks under task-incremental (currently widely adopted) and class-incremental (more practical, challenging, yet underexplored) settings, as well as a toolkit for training, evaluating, and visualizing different CGL methods. Within CGLB, we also systematically explain the difference among these task configurations by comparing them to classical continual learning settings. Finally, we comprehensively compare state-of-the-art baselines on CGLB to investigate their effectiveness. Given CGLB and the developed toolkit, the barrier to exploring CGL has been greatly lowered and researchers can focus more on the model development without worrying about tedious work on pre-processing of datasets or encountering unseen pitfalls. The benchmark and the toolkit are available through

ADBench: Anomaly Detection Benchmark

Songqiao Han · Xiyang Hu · Hailiang Huang · Minqi Jiang · Yue Zhao

Given a long list of anomaly detection algorithms developed in the last few decades, how do they perform with regard to (i) varying levels of supervision, (ii) different types of anomalies, and (iii) noisy and corrupted data? In this work, we answer these key questions by conducting (to our best knowledge) the most comprehensive anomaly detection benchmark with 30 algorithms on 57 benchmark datasets, named ADBench. Our extensive experiments (98,436 in total) identify meaningful insights into the role of supervision and anomaly types, and unlock future directions for researchers in algorithm selection and design. With ADBench, researchers can easily conduct comprehensive and fair evaluations for newly proposed methods on the datasets (including our contributed ones from natural language and computer vision domains) against the existing baselines. To foster accessibility and reproducibility, we fully open-source ADBench and the corresponding results.

Meta-Album: Multi-domain Meta-Dataset for Few-Shot Image Classification

Ihsan Ullah · Dustin Carrión-Ojeda · Sergio Escalera · Isabelle Guyon · Mike Huisman · Felix Mohr · Jan N. van Rijn · Haozhe Sun · Joaquin Vanschoren · Phan Anh Vu

We introduce Meta-Album, an image classification meta-dataset designed to facilitate few-shot learning, transfer learning, meta-learning, among other tasks. It includes 40 open datasets, each having at least 20 classes with 40 examples per class, with verified licences. They stem from diverse domains, such as ecology (fauna and flora), manufacturing (textures, vehicles), human actions, and optical character recognition, featuring various image scales (microscopic, human scales, remote sensing). All datasets are preprocessed, annotated, and formatted uniformly, and come in 3 versions (Micro $\subset$ Mini $\subset$ Extended) to match users’ computational resources. We showcase the utility of the first 30 datasets on few-shot learning problems. The other 10 will be released shortly after. Meta-Album is already more diverse and larger (in number of datasets) than similar efforts, and we are committed to keep enlarging it via a series of competitions. As competitions terminate, their test data are released, thus creating a rolling benchmark, available through Our website contains the source code of challenge winning methods, baseline methods, data loaders, and instructions for contributing either new datasets or algorithms to our expandable meta-dataset.

BOND: Benchmarking Unsupervised Outlier Node Detection on Static Attributed Graphs

Kay Liu · Yingtong Dou · Yue Zhao · Xueying Ding · Xiyang Hu · Ruitong Zhang · Kaize Ding · Canyu Chen · Hao Peng · Kai Shu · Lichao Sun · Jundong Li · George H Chen · Zhihao Jia · Philip S Yu

Detecting which nodes in graphs are outliers is a relatively new machine learning task with numerous applications. Despite the proliferation of algorithms developed in recent years for this task, there has been no standard comprehensive setting for performance evaluation. Consequently, it has been difficult to understand which methods work well and when under a broad range of settings. To bridge this gap, we present—to the best of our knowledge—the first comprehensive benchmark for unsupervised outlier node detection on static attributed graphs called BOND, with the following highlights. (1) We benchmark the outlier detection performance of 14 methods ranging from classical matrix factorization to the latest graph neural networks. (2) Using nine real datasets, our benchmark assesses how the different detection methods respond to two major types of synthetic outliers and separately to “organic” (real non-synthetic) outliers. (3) Using an existing random graph generation technique, we produce a family of synthetically generated datasets of different graph sizes that enable us to compare the running time and memory usage of the different outlier detection algorithms. Based on our experimental results, we discuss the pros and cons of existing graph outlier detection algorithms, and we highlight opportunities for future research. Importantly, our code is freely available and meant to be easily extendable:

Is one annotation enough? - A data-centric image classification benchmark for noisy and ambiguous label estimation

Lars Schmarje · Vasco Grossmann · Claudius Zelenka · Sabine Dippel · Rainer Kiko · Mariusz Oszust · Matti Pastell · Jenny Stracke · Anna Valros · Nina Volkmann · Reinhard Koch

High-quality data is necessary for modern machine learning. However, the acquisition of such data is difficult due to noisy and ambiguous annotations of humans. The aggregation of such annotations to determine the label of an image leads to a lower data quality. We propose a data-centric image classification benchmark with nine real-world datasets and multiple annotations per image to allow researchers to investigate and quantify the impact of such data quality issues. With the benchmark we can study the impact of annotation costs and (semi-)supervised methods on the data quality for image classification by applying a novel methodology to a range of different algorithms and diverse datasets. Our benchmark uses a two-phase approach via a data label improvement method in the first phase and a fixed evaluation model in the second phase. Thereby, we give a measure for the relation between the input labeling effort and the performance of (semi-)supervised algorithms to enable a deeper insight into how labels should be created for effective model training. Across thousands of experiments, we show that one annotation is not enough and that the inclusion of multiple annotations allows for a better approximation of the real underlying class distribution. We identify that hard labels can not capture the ambiguity of the data and this might lead to the common issue of overconfident models. Based on the presented datasets, benchmarked methods, and analysis, we create multiple research opportunities for the future directed at the improvement of label noise estimation approaches, data annotation schemes, realistic (semi-)supervised learning, or more reliable image collection.

Dungeons and Data: A Large-Scale NetHack Dataset

Eric Hambro · Roberta Raileanu · Danielle Rothermel · Vegard Mella · Tim Rocktäschel · Heinrich Küttler · Naila Murray

Recent breakthroughs in the development of agents to solve challenging sequential decision making problems such as Go, StarCraft, or DOTA, have relied on both simulated environments and large-scale datasets. However, progress on this research has been hindered by the scarcity of open-sourced datasets and the prohibitive computational cost to work with them. Here we present the NetHack Learning Dataset (NLD), a large and highly-scalable dataset of trajectories from the popular game of NetHack, which is both extremely challenging for current methods and very fast to run. NLD consists of three parts: 10 billion state transitions from 1.5 million human trajectories collected on the NAO public NetHack server from 2009 to 2020; 3 billion state-action-score transitions from 100,000 trajectories collected from the symbolic bot winner of the NetHack Challenge 2021; and, accompanying code for users to record, load and stream any collection of such trajectories in a highly compressed form. We evaluate a wide range of existing algorithms for learning from demonstrations, showing that significant research advances are needed to fully leverage large-scale datasets for challenging sequential decision making tasks.

Honor of Kings Arena: an Environment for Generalization in Competitive Reinforcement Learning

Hua Wei · Jingxiao Chen · Xiyang Ji · Hongyang Qin · Minwen Deng · Siqin Li · Liang Wang · Weinan Zhang · Yong Yu · Liu Linc · Lanxiao Huang · Deheng Ye · Qiang Fu · Wei Yang

This paper introduces Honor of Kings Arena, a reinforcement learning (RL) environment based on the Honor of Kings, one of the world’s most popular games at present. Compared to other environments studied in most previous work, ours presents new generalization challenges for competitive reinforcement learning. It is a multi-agent problem with one agent competing against its opponent; and it requires the generalization ability as it has diverse targets to control and diverse opponents to compete with. We describe the observation, action, and reward specifications for the Honor of Kings domain and provide an open-source Python-based interface for communicating with the game engine. We provide twenty target heroes with a variety of tasks in Honor of Kings Arena and present initial baseline results for RL-based methods with feasible computing resources. Finally, we showcase the generalization challenges imposed by Honor of Kings Arena and possible remedies to the challenges. All of the software, including the environment-class, are publicly available.

EPIC-KITCHENS VISOR Benchmark: VIdeo Segmentations and Object Relations

Ahmad Darkhalil · Dandan Shan · Bin Zhu · Jian Ma · Amlan Kar · Richard Higgins · Sanja Fidler · David Fouhey · Dima Damen

We introduce VISOR, a new dataset of pixel annotations and a benchmark suite for segmenting hands and active objects in egocentric video. VISOR annotates videos from EPIC-KITCHENS, which comes with a new set of challenges not encountered in current video segmentation datasets. Specifically, we need to ensure both short- and long-term consistency of pixel-level annotations as objects undergo transformative interactions, e.g. an onion is peeled, diced and cooked - where we aim to obtain accurate pixel-level annotations of the peel, onion pieces, chopping board, knife, pan, as well as the acting hands. VISOR introduces an annotation pipeline, AI-powered in parts, for scalability and quality. In total, we publicly release 272K manual semantic masks of 257 object classes, 9.9M interpolated dense masks, 67K hand-object relations, covering 36 hours of 179 untrimmed videos. Along with the annotations, we introduce three challenges in video object segmentation, interaction understanding and long-term reasoning.For data, code and leaderboards:

EgoTaskQA: Understanding Human Tasks in Egocentric Videos

Baoxiong Jia · Ting Lei · Song-Chun Zhu · Siyuan Huang

Understanding human tasks through video observations is an essential capability of intelligent agents. The challenges of such capability lie in the difficulty of generating a detailed understanding of situated actions, their effects on object states (\ie, state changes), and their causal dependencies. These challenges are further aggravated by the natural parallelism from multi-tasking and partial observations in multi-agent collaboration. Most prior works leverage action localization or future prediction as an \textit{indirect} metric for evaluating such task understanding from videos. To make a \textit{direct} evaluation, we introduce the EgoTaskQA benchmark that provides a single home for the crucial dimensions of task understanding through question answering on real-world egocentric videos. We meticulously design questions that target the understanding of (1) action dependencies and effects, (2) intents and goals, and (3) agents' beliefs about others. These questions are divided into four types, including descriptive (what status?), predictive (what will?), explanatory (what caused?), and counterfactual (what if?) to provide diagnostic analyses on \textit{spatial, temporal, and causal} understandings of goal-oriented tasks. We evaluate state-of-the-art video reasoning models on our benchmark and show their significant gaps between humans in understanding complex goal-oriented egocentric videos. We hope this effort would drive the vision community to move onward with goal-oriented video understanding and reasoning.

SCAMPS: Synthetics for Camera Measurement of Physiological Signals

Daniel McDuff · Miah Wander · Xin Liu · Brian Hill · Javier Hernandez · Jonathan Lester · Tadas Baltrusaitis

The use of cameras and computational algorithms for noninvasive, low-cost and scalable measurement of physiological (e.g., cardiac and pulmonary) vital signs is very attractive. However, diverse data representing a range of environments, body motions, illumination conditions and physiological states is laborious, time consuming and expensive to obtain. Synthetic data have proven a valuable tool in several areas of machine learning, yet are not widely available for camera measurement of physiological states. Synthetic data offer "perfect" labels (e.g., without noise and with precise synchronization), labels that may not be possible to obtain otherwise (e.g., precise pixel level segmentation maps) and provide a high degree of control over variation and diversity in the dataset. We present SCAMPS, a dataset of synthetics containing 2,800 videos (1.68M frames) with aligned cardiac and respiratory signals and facial action intensities. The RGB frames are provided alongside segmentation maps and precise descriptive statistics about the underlying waveforms, including inter-beat interval, heart rate variability, and pulse arrival time. Finally, we present baseline results training on these synthetic data and testing on real-world datasets to illustrate generalizability.

Robustness Disparities in Face Detection

Samuel Dooley · George Z Wei · Tom Goldstein · John Dickerson

Facial analysis systems have been deployed by large companies and critiqued by scholars and activists for the past decade. Many existing algorithmic audits examine the performance of these systems on later stage elements of facial analysis systems like facial recognition and age, emotion, or perceived gender prediction; however, a core component to these systems has been vastly understudied from a fairness perspective: face detection, sometimes called face localization. Since face detection is a pre-requisite step in facial analysis systems, the bias we observe in face detection will flow downstream to the other components like facial recognition and emotion prediction. Additionally, no prior work has focused on the robustness of these systems under various perturbations and corruptions, which leaves open the question of how various people are impacted by these phenomena. We present the first of its kind detailed benchmark of face detection systems, specifically examining the robustness to noise of commercial and academic models. We use both standard and recently released academic facial datasets to quantitatively analyze trends in face detection robustness. Across all the datasets and systems, we generally find that photos of individuals who are masculine presenting, older, of darker skin type, or have dim lighting are more susceptible to errors than their counterparts in other identities.

Long Range Graph Benchmark

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

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) that are based on the message passing (MP) paradigm generally exchange information between 1-hop neighbors to build node representations at each layer. In principle, such networks are not able to capture long-range interactions (LRI) that may be desired or necessary for learning a given task on graphs. Recently, there has been an increasing interest in development of Transformer-based methods for graphs that can consider full node connectivity beyond the original sparse structure, thus enabling the modeling of LRI. However, MP-GNNs that simply rely on 1-hop message passing often fare better in several existing graph benchmarks when combined with positional feature representations, among other innovations, hence limiting the perceived utility and ranking of Transformer-like architectures. Here, we present the Long Range Graph Benchmark (LRGB) with 5 graph learning datasets: $\texttt{PascalVOC-SP}$, $\texttt{COCO-SP}$, $\texttt{PCQM-Contact}$, $\texttt{Peptides-func}$ and $\texttt{Peptides-struct}$ that arguably require LRI reasoning to achieve strong performance in a given task. We benchmark both baseline GNNs and Graph Transformer networks to verify that the models which capture long-range dependencies perform significantly better on these tasks. Therefore, these datasets are suitable for benchmarking and exploration of MP GNNs and Graph Transformer architectures that are intended to capture LRI.

CLEVRER-Humans: Describing Physical and Causal Events the Human Way

Jiayuan Mao · Xuelin Yang · Xikun Zhang · Noah Goodman · Jiajun Wu

Building machines that can reason about physical events and their causal relationships is crucial for flexible interaction with the physical world. However, most existing physical and causal reasoning benchmarks are exclusively based on synthetically generated events and synthetic natural language descriptions of the causal relationships. This design brings up two issues. First, there is a lack of diversity in both event types and natural language descriptions; second, causal relationships based on manually-defined heuristics are different from human judgments. To address both shortcomings, we present the CLEVRER-Humans benchmark, a video reasoning dataset for causal judgment of physical events with human labels. We employ two techniques to improve data collection efficiency: first, a novel iterative event cloze task to elicit a new representation of events in videos, which we term Causal Event Graphs (CEGs); second, a data augmentation technique based on neural language generative models. We convert the collected CEGs into questions and answers to be consistent with prior work. Finally, we study a collection of baseline approaches for CLEVRER-Humans question-answering, highlighting great challenges set forth by our benchmark.

CLiMB: A Continual Learning Benchmark for Vision-and-Language Tasks

Tejas Srinivasan · Ting-Yun Chang · Leticia Pinto Alva · Georgios Chochlakis · Mohammad Rostami · Jesse Thomason

Current state-of-the-art vision-and-language models are evaluated on tasks either individually or in a multi-task setting, overlooking the challenges of continually learning (CL) tasks as they arrive. Existing CL benchmarks have facilitated research on task adaptation and mitigating "catastrophic forgetting", but are limited to vision-only and language-only tasks. We present CLiMB, a benchmark to study the challenge of learning multimodal tasks in a CL setting, and to systematically evaluate how upstream continual learning can rapidly generalize to new multimodal and unimodal tasks. CLiMB includes implementations of several CL algorithms and a modified Vision-Language Transformer (ViLT) model that can be deployed on both multimodal and unimodal tasks. We find that common CL methods can help mitigate forgetting during multimodal task learning, but do not enable cross-task knowledge transfer. We envision that CLiMB will facilitate research on a new class of CL algorithms for this challenging multimodal setting.

OLIVES Dataset: Ophthalmic Labels for Investigating Visual Eye Semantics

Mohit Prabhushankar · Kiran Kokilepersaud · Yash-yee Logan · Stephanie Trejo Corona · Ghassan AlRegib · Charles Wykoff

Clinical diagnosis of the eye is performed over multifarious data modalities including scalar clinical labels, vectorized biomarkers, two-dimensional fundus images, and three-dimensional Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scans. Clinical practitioners use all available data modalities for diagnosing and treating eye diseases like Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) or Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). Enabling usage of machine learning algorithms within the ophthalmic medical domain requires research into the relationships and interactions between all relevant data over a treatment period. Existing datasets are limited in that they neither provide data nor consider the explicit relationship modeling between the data modalities. In this paper, we introduce the Ophthalmic Labels for Investigating Visual Eye Semantics (OLIVES) dataset that addresses the above limitation. This is the first OCT and near-IR fundus dataset that includes clinical labels, biomarker labels, disease labels, and time-series patient treatment information from associated clinical trials. The dataset consists of 1268 near-IR fundus images each with at least 49 OCT scans, and 16 biomarkers, along with 4 clinical labels and a disease diagnosis of DR or DME. In total, there are 96 eyes' data averaged over a period of at least two years with each eye treated for an average of 66 weeks and 7 injections. We benchmark the utility of OLIVES dataset for ophthalmic data as well as provide benchmarks and concrete research directions for core and emerging machine learning paradigms within medical image analysis.

SkinCon: A skin disease dataset densely annotated by domain experts for fine-grained debugging and analysis

Roxana Daneshjou · Mert Yuksekgonul · Zhuo Ran Cai · Roberto Novoa · James Zou

For the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) in high risk settings, such as healthcare, methods that provide interpretability/explainability or allow fine-grained error analysis are critical. Many recent methods for interpretability/explainability and fine-grained error analysis use concepts, which are meta-labels which are semantically meaningful to humans. However, there are only a few datasets that include concept-level meta-labels and most of these meta-labels are relevant for natural images that do not require domain expertise. Previous densely annotated datasets in medicine focused on meta-labels that are relevant to a single disease such as osteoarthritis or melanoma. In dermatology, skin disease is described using an established clinical lexicon that allow clinicians to describe physical exam findings to one another. To provide the first medical dataset densely annotated by domain experts to provide annotations useful across multiple disease processes, we developed SkinCon: a skin disease dataset densely annotated by dermatologists. SkinCon includes 3230 images from the Fitzpatrick 17k skin disease dataset densely annotated with 48 clinical concepts, 22 of which have at least 50 images representing the concept. The concepts used were chosen by two dermatologists considering the clinical descriptor terms used to describe skin lesions. Examples include "plaque", "scale", and "erosion". These same concepts were also used to label 656 skin disease images from the Diverse Dermatology Images dataset, providing an additional external dataset with diverse skin tone representations. We review the potential applications for the SkinCon dataset, such as probing models, concept-based explanations, concept bottlenecks, error analysis, and slice discovery. Furthermore, we use SkinCon to demonstrate two of these use cases: debugging mistakes of an existing dermatology AI model with concepts and developing interpretable models with post-hoc concept bottleneck models.

Understanding Aesthetics with Language: A Photo Critique Dataset for Aesthetic Assessment

Daniel Vera Nieto · Luigi Celona · Clara Fernandez Labrador

Computational inference of aesthetics is an ill-defined task due to its subjective nature. Many datasets have been proposed to tackle the problem by providing pairs of images and aesthetic scores based on human ratings. However, humans are better at expressing their opinion, taste, and emotions by means of language rather than summarizing them in a single number. In fact, photo critiques provide much richer information as they reveal how and why users rate the aesthetics of visual stimuli. In this regard, we propose the Reddit Photo Critique Dataset (RPCD), which contains tuples of image and photo critiques. RPCD consists of 74K images and 220K comments and is collected from a Reddit community used by hobbyists and professional photographers to improve their photography skills by leveraging constructive community feedback. The proposed dataset differs from previous aesthetics datasets mainly in three aspects, namely (i) the large scale of the dataset and the extension of the comments criticizing different aspects of the image, (ii) it contains mostly UltraHD images, and (iii) it can easily be extended to new data as it is collected through an automatic pipeline. To the best of our knowledge, in this work, we propose the first attempt to estimate the aesthetic quality of visual stimuli from the critiques. To this end, we exploit the polarity of the sentiment of criticism as an indicator of aesthetic judgment. We demonstrate how sentiment polarity correlates positively with the aesthetic judgment available for two aesthetic assessment benchmarks. Finally, we experiment with several models by using the sentiment scores as a target for ranking images. Dataset and baselines are available

ENS-10: A Dataset For Post-Processing Ensemble Weather Forecasts

Saleh Ashkboos · Langwen Huang · Nikoli Dryden · Tal Ben-Nun · Peter Dueben · Lukas Gianinazzi · Luca Kummer · Torsten Hoefler

Post-processing ensemble prediction systems can improve the reliability of weather forecasting, especially for extreme event prediction. In recent years, different machine learning models have been developed to improve the quality of weather post-processing. However, these models require a comprehensive dataset of weather simulations to produce high-accuracy results, which comes at a high computational cost to generate. This paper introduces the ENS-10 dataset, consisting of ten ensemble members spanning 20 years (1998--2017). The ensemble members are generated by perturbing numerical weather simulations to capture the chaotic behavior of the Earth. To represent the three-dimensional state of the atmosphere, ENS-10 provides the most relevant atmospheric variables at 11 distinct pressure levels and the surface at \ang{0.5} resolution for forecast lead times T=0, 24, and 48 hours (two data points per week). We propose the ENS-10 prediction correction task for improving the forecast quality at a 48-hour lead time through ensemble post-processing. We provide a set of baselines and compare their skill at correcting the predictions of three important atmospheric variables. Moreover, we measure the baselines' skill at improving predictions of extreme weather events using our dataset. The ENS-10 dataset is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

Hard ImageNet: Segmentations for Objects with Strong Spurious Cues

Mazda Moayeri · Sahil Singla · Soheil Feizi

Deep classifiers are known to rely on spurious features, leading to reduced generalization. The severity of this problem varies significantly by class. We identify $15$ classes in ImageNet with very strong spurious cues, and collect segmentation masks for these challenging objects to form \emph{Hard ImageNet}. Leveraging noise, saliency, and ablation based metrics, we demonstrate that models rely on spurious features in Hard ImageNet far more than in RIVAL10, an ImageNet analog to CIFAR10. We observe Hard ImageNet objects are less centered and occupy much less space in their images than RIVAL10 objects, leading to greater spurious feature reliance. Further, we use robust neural features to automatically rank our images based on the degree of spurious cues present. Comparing images with high and low rankings within a class reveals the exact spurious features models rely upon, and shows reduced performance when spurious features are absent. With Hard ImageNet's image rankings, object segmentations, and our extensive evaluation suite, the community can begin to address the problem of learning to detect challenging objects \emph{for the right reasons}, despite the presence of strong spurious cues.

Video compression dataset and benchmark of learning-based video-quality metrics

Anastasia Antsiferova · Sergey Lavrushkin · Maksim Smirnov · Aleksandr Gushchin · Dmitriy Vatolin · Dmitriy Kulikov

Video-quality measurement is a critical task in video processing. Nowadays, many implementations of new encoding standards - such as AV1, VVC, and LCEVC - use deep-learning-based decoding algorithms with perceptual metrics that serve as optimization objectives. But investigations of the performance of modern video- and image-quality metrics commonly employ videos compressed using older standards, such as AVC. In this paper, we present a new benchmark for video-quality metrics that evaluates video compression. It is based on a new dataset consisting of about 2,500 streams encoded using different standards, including AVC, HEVC, AV1, VP9, and VVC. Subjective scores were collected using crowdsourced pairwise comparisons. The list of evaluated metrics includes recent ones based on machine learning and neural networks. The results demonstrate that new no-reference metrics exhibit high correlation with subjective quality and approach the capability of top full-reference metrics.

TweetNERD - End to End Entity Linking Benchmark for Tweets

Shubhanshu Mishra · Aman Saini · Raheleh Makki · Sneha Mehta · Aria Haghighi · Ali Mollahosseini

Named Entity Recognition and Disambiguation (NERD) systems are foundational for information retrieval, question answering, event detection, and other natural language processing (NLP) applications. We introduce TweetNERD, a dataset of 340K+ Tweets across 2010-2021, for benchmarking NERD systems on Tweets. This is the largest and most temporally diverse open sourced dataset benchmark for NERD on Tweets and can be used to facilitate research in this area. We describe evaluation setup with TweetNERD for three NERD tasks: Named Entity Recognition (NER), Entity Linking with True Spans (EL), and End to End Entity Linking (End2End); and provide performance of existing publicly available methods on specific TweetNERD splits. TweetNERD is available at: under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license. Check out more details at

BigBio: A Framework for Data-Centric Biomedical Natural Language Processing

Jason Fries · Leon Weber · Natasha Seelam · Gabriel Altay · Debajyoti Datta · Samuele Garda · Sunny Kang · Rosaline Su · Wojciech Kusa · Samuel Cahyawijaya · Fabio Barth · Simon Ott · Matthias Samwald · Stephen Bach · Stella Biderman · Mario Sänger · Bo Wang · Alison Callahan · Daniel León Periñán · Théo Gigant · Patrick Haller · Jenny Chim · Jose Posada · John Giorgi · Karthik Rangasai Sivaraman · Marc Pàmies · Marianna Nezhurina · Robert Martin · Michael Cullan · Moritz Freidank · Nathan Dahlberg · Shubhanshu Mishra · Shamik Bose · Nicholas Broad · Yanis Labrak · Shlok Deshmukh · Sid Kiblawi · Ayush Singh · Minh Chien Vu · Trishala Neeraj · Jonas Golde · Albert Villanova del Moral · Benjamin Beilharz

Training and evaluating language models increasingly requires the construction of meta-datasets -- diverse collections of curated data with clear provenance. Natural language prompting has recently lead to improved zero-shot generalization by transforming existing, supervised datasets into a variety of novel instruction tuning tasks, highlighting the benefits of meta-dataset curation. While successful in general-domain text, translating these data-centric approaches to biomedical language modeling remains challenging, as labeled biomedical datasets are significantly underrepresented in popular data hubs. To address this challenge, we introduce BigBio a community library of 126+ biomedical NLP datasets, currently covering 13 task categories and 10+ languages. BigBio facilitates reproducible meta-dataset curation via programmatic access to datasets and their metadata, and is compatible with current platforms for prompt engineering and end-to-end few/zero shot language model evaluation. We discuss our process for task schema harmonization, data auditing, contribution guidelines, and outline two illustrative use cases: zero-shot evaluation of biomedical prompts and large-scale, multi-task learning. BigBio is an ongoing community effort and is available at

Pythae: Unifying Generative Autoencoders in Python - A Benchmarking Use Case

Clément Chadebec · Louis Vincent · Stephanie Allassonniere

In recent years, deep generative models have attracted increasing interest due to their capacity to model complex distributions. Among those models, variational autoencoders have gained popularity as they have proven both to be computationally efficient and yield impressive results in multiple fields. Following this breakthrough, extensive research has been done in order to improve the original publication, resulting in a variety of different VAE models in response to different tasks. In this paper we present \textbf{Pythae}, a versatile \textit{open-source} Python library providing both a \textit{unified implementation} and a dedicated framework allowing \textit{straightforward}, \emph{reproducible} and \textit{reliable} use of generative autoencoder models. We then propose to use this library to perform a case study benchmark where we present and compare 19 generative autoencoder models representative of some of the main improvements on downstream tasks such as image reconstruction, generation, classification, clustering and interpolation. The open-source library can be found at \url{}.

A Dataset for Efforts Towards Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Safe Working Environments

Eirik Lund Flogard · Ole Jakob Mengshoel

Among United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we highlight SDG 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth. Specifically, we consider how to achieve subgoal 8.8, "protect labour rights and promote safe working environments for all workers [...]", in light of poor health, safety and environment (HSE) conditions being a widespread problem at workplaces. In EU alone, it is estimated that more than 4000 deaths occur each year due to poor working conditions. To handle the problem and achieve SDG 8, governmental agencies conduct labour inspections and it is therefore essential that these are carried out efficiently. Current research suggests that machine learning (ML) can be used to improve labour inspections, for instance by selecting organisations for inspections more effectively. However, the research in this area is very limited, in part due to a lack of publicly available data. Consequently, we introduce a new dataset called the Labour Inspection Checklists Dataset (LICD), which we have made publicly available. LICD consists of 63634 instances where each instance is an inspection conducted by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority. LICD has 577 features and labels. The dataset provides several ML research opportunities; we discuss two demonstration experiments. One experiment deals with the problem of selecting a relevant checklist for inspecting a given target organisation. The other experiment concerns the problem of predicting HSE violations, given a specific checklist and a target organisation. Our experimental results, while promising, suggest that achieving good ML classification performance is difficult for both problems. This motivates future research to improve ML performance, inspire other data analysis efforts, and ultimately achieve SDG 8.

(f,Gamma)-Divergences: Interpolating between f-Divergences and Integral Probability Metrics

Jeremiah Birrell · Paul Dupuis · Markos A. Katsoulakis · Yannis Pantazis · Luc Rey-Bellet

We develop a rigorous and general framework for constructing information-theoretic divergences that subsume both $f$-divergences and integral probability metrics (IPMs), such as the $1$-Wasserstein distance. We prove under which assumptions these divergences, hereafter referred to as $(f,\Gamma)$-divergences, provide a notion of `distance' between probability measures and show that they can be expressed as a two-stage mass-redistribution/mass-transport process. The $(f,\Gamma)$-divergences inherit features from IPMs, such as the ability to compare distributions which are not absolutely continuous, as well as from $f$-divergences, namely the strict concavity of their variational representations and the ability to control heavy-tailed distributions for particular choices of $f$. When combined, these features establish a divergence with improved properties for estimation, statistical learning, and uncertainty quantification applications. Using statistical learning as an example, we demonstrate their advantage in training generative adversarial networks (GANs) for heavy-tailed, not-absolutely continuous sample distributions. We also show improved performance and stability over gradient-penalized Wasserstein GAN in image generation.

A Bregman Learning Framework for Sparse Neural Networks

Leon Bungert · Tim Roith · Daniel Tenbrinck · Martin Burger

We propose a learning framework based on stochastic Bregman iterations, also known as mirror descent, to train sparse neural networks with an inverse scale space approach. We derive a baseline algorithm called LinBreg, an accelerated version using momentum, and AdaBreg, which is a Bregmanized generalization of the Adam algorithm. In contrast to established methods for sparse training the proposed family of algorithms constitutes a regrowth strategy for neural networks that is solely optimization-based without additional heuristics. Our Bregman learning framework starts the training with very few initial parameters, successively adding only significant ones to obtain a sparse and expressive network. The proposed approach is extremely easy and efficient, yet supported by the rich mathematical theory of inverse scale space methods. We derive a statistically profound sparse parameter initialization strategy and provide a rigorous stochastic convergence analysis of the loss decay and additional convergence proofs in the convex regime. Using only $3.4\%$ of the parameters of ResNet-18 we achieve $90.2\%$ test accuracy on CIFAR-10, compared to $93.6\%$ using the dense network. Our algorithm also unveils an autoencoder architecture for a denoising task. The proposed framework also has a huge potential for integrating sparse backpropagation and resource-friendly training. Code is available at

D-GCCA: Decomposition-based Generalized Canonical Correlation Analysis for Multi-view High-dimensional Data

Hai Shu · Zhe Qu · Hongtu Zhu

Modern biomedical studies often collect multi-view data, that is, multiple types of data measured on the same set of objects. A popular model in high-dimensional multi-view data analysis is to decompose each view’s data matrix into a low-rank common-source matrix generated by latent factors common across all data views, a low-rank distinctive-source matrix corresponding to each view, and an additive noise matrix. We propose a novel decomposition method for this model, called decomposition-based generalized canonical correlation analysis (D-GCCA). The D-GCCA rigorously defines the decomposition on the L2 space of random variables in contrast to the Euclidean dot product space used by most existing methods, thereby being able to provide the estimation consistency for the low-rank matrix recovery. Moreover, to well calibrate common latent factors, we impose a desirable orthogonality constraint on distinctive latent factors. Existing methods, however, inadequately consider such orthogonality and may thus suffer from substantial loss of undetected common-source variation. Our D-GCCA takes one step further than generalized canonical correlation analysis by separating common and distinctive components among canonical variables, while enjoying an appealing interpretation from the perspective of principal component analysis. Furthermore, we propose to use the variable-level proportion of signal variance explained by common or distinctive latent factors for selecting the variables most influenced. Consistent estimators of our D-GCCA method are established with good finite-sample numerical performance, and have closed-form expressions leading to efficient computation especially for large-scale data. The superiority of D-GCCA over state-of-the-art methods is also corroborated in simulations and real-world data examples.

A Primer for Neural Arithmetic Logic Modules

Bhumika Mistry · Katayoun Farrahi · Jonathon Hare

Neural Arithmetic Logic Modules have become a growing area of interest, though remain a niche field. These modules are neural networks which aim to achieve systematic generalisation in learning arithmetic and/or logic operations such as $\{+, -, \times, \div, \leq, \textrm{AND}\}$ while also being interpretable. This paper is the first in discussing the current state of progress of this field, explaining key works, starting with the Neural Arithmetic Logic Unit (NALU). Focusing on the shortcomings of the NALU, we provide an in-depth analysis to reason about design choices of recent modules. A cross-comparison between modules is made on experiment setups and findings, where we highlight inconsistencies in a fundamental experiment causing the inability to directly compare across papers. To alleviate the existing inconsistencies, we create a benchmark which compares all existing arithmetic NALMs. We finish by providing a novel discussion of existing applications for NALU and research directions requiring further exploration.

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

Chase van de Geijn · Victor Kyriacou · Irene Papadopoulou · Vasiliki Vasileiou

This work aims to reproduce Lang et al.'s StylEx which proposes a novel approach to explain how a classifier makes its decision. They claim that StylEx creates a post-hoc counterfactual explanation whose principal attributes correspond to properties that are intuitive to humans. The paper boasts a large range of real-world practicality. However, StylEx proves difficult to reproduce due to its time complexity and holes in the information provided. This paper tries to fill in these holes by: i) re-implementation of StylEx in a different framework, ii) creating a low resource training benchmark.

[Re] A Cluster-based Approach for Improving Isotropy in Contextual Embedding Space

Benjamin Džubur

Scope of Reproducibility The authors of the paper, which we reproduced, introduce a method that is claimed to improve the isotropy (a measure of uniformity) of the space of Contextual Word Representations (CWRs), outputted by models such as BERT or GPT-2. As a result, the method would mitigate the problem of very high correlation between arbitrary embeddings of such models. Additionally, the method is claimed to remove some syntactic information embedded in CWRs, resulting in better performance on semantic NLP tasks. To verify these claims, we reproduce all experiments described in the paper. Methodology We used the authors' Python implementation of the proposed cluster-based method, which we verified against our own implementation based on the description in the paper. We re-implemented the global method based on the paper from Mu and Viswanath, which the cluster-based method was primarily compared with. Additionally, we re-implemented all of the experiments based on descriptions in the paper and our communication with the authors. Results We found that the cluster-based method does indeed consistently noticeably increase the isotropy of a set of CWRs over the global method. However, when it comes to semantic tasks, we found that the cluster-based method performs better than the global method in some and worse in other tasks, or that the improvements are within margin of error. Additionally, the results of one side experiment, which analyzes the structural information of CWRs, also contradict the authors' findings for the GPT-2 model. What was easy The described methods were easy to understand and implement, as they rely on PCA and K-Means clustering. What was difficult There were many ambiguities in the paper: which splits of data were used, the procedures of the experiments were not described in detail, some hyperparameters values were not disclosed. Additionally, running the approach on big datasets was too computationally expensive. There was an unhandled edge case in the authors' code, causing the method to fail in rare cases. Some results had to be submitted online, where there is a monthly limit of submissions, causing delays. Communication with original authors We exchanged many e-mails with the authors, which were very responsive and helpful in describing the missing information required for reproduction. In the end, we still could not completely identify the sources of some remaining discrepancies in the results, even after ensuring the data, preprocessing and some other implementation details were the same.

[Re] Replication study of 'Data-Driven Methods for Balancing Fairness and Efficiency in Ride-Pooling'

Vera Neplenbroek · Sabijn Perdijk · Victor Prins

We evaluate the following claims related to fairness-based objective functions presented in the original work: (1) For the four objective functions, the success rate in the worst-off neighborhood increases monotonically with respect to the overall success rate. (2) The proposed objective functions do not lead to a higher income for the lowest-earning drivers, nor a higher total income, compared to a request-maximizing objective function. (3) The driver-side fairness objective can outperform a request-maximizing objective in terms of overall success rate and success rate in the worst-off neighborhood. We evaluate the claims by the original authors by (a) replicating their experiments, (b) testing for sensitivity to a different value estimator, (c) examining sensitivity to changes in the preprocessing method, and (d) testing for generalizability by applying their method to a different dataset. We reproduced the first claim since we observed the same monotonic increase of the success rate in the worst-off neighborhood with respect to the overall success rate. The second claim we did not reproduce, since we found that the driver-side fairness objective function obtains a higher income for the lowest-earning drivers than the request-maximizing objective function. We reproduced the third claim, since the driver-side objective function performs best in terms of overall success rate and success rate in the worst-off neighborhood, and also reduces the spread of income. Changes of the value estimator, preprocessing method and even dataset all led to consistent results regarding these claims.