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Poster Session

Poster Session 2

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1)
Tue 12 Dec 3:15 p.m. PST — 5:15 p.m. PST


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Spotlight Poster
A Deep Instance Generative Framework for MILP Solvers Under Limited Data Availability

Zijie Geng · Xijun Li · Jie Wang · Xiao Li · Yongdong Zhang · Feng Wu

In the past few years, there has been an explosive surge in the use of machine learning (ML) techniques to address combinatorial optimization (CO) problems, especially mixed-integer linear programs (MILPs). Despite the achievements, the limited availability of real-world instances often leads to sub-optimal decisions and biased solver assessments, which motivates a suite of synthetic MILP instance generation techniques. However, existing methods either rely heavily on expert-designed formulations or struggle to capture the rich features of real-world instances. To tackle this problem, we propose G2MILP, the first deep generative framework for MILP instances. Specifically, G2MILP represents MILP instances as bipartite graphs, and applies a masked variational autoencoder to iteratively corrupt and replace parts of the original graphs to generate new ones. The appealing feature of G2MILP is that it can learn to generate novel and realistic MILP instances without prior expert-designed formulations, while preserving the structures and computational hardness of real-world datasets, simultaneously. Thus the generated instances can facilitate downstream tasks for enhancing MILP solvers under limited data availability. We design a suite of benchmarks to evaluate the quality of the generated MILP instances. Experiments demonstrate that our method can produce instances that closely resemble real-world datasets in terms of both structures and computational hardness. The deliverables are released at

Unsupervised Protein-Ligand Binding Energy Prediction via Neural Euler's Rotation Equation

Wengong Jin · Siranush Sarkizova · Xun Chen · Nir HaCohen · Caroline Uhler

Protein-ligand binding prediction is a fundamental problem in AI-driven drug discovery. Previous work focused on supervised learning methods for small molecules where binding affinity data is abundant, but it is hard to apply the same strategy to other ligand classes like antibodies where labelled data is limited. In this paper, we explore unsupervised approaches and reformulate binding energy prediction as a generative modeling task. Specifically, we train an energy-based model on a set of unlabelled protein-ligand complexes using SE(3) denoising score matching (DSM) and interpret its log-likelihood as binding affinity. Our key contribution is a new equivariant rotation prediction network called Neural Euler's Rotation Equations (NERE) for SE(3) DSM. It predicts a rotation by modeling the force and torque between protein and ligand atoms, where the force is defined as the gradient of an energy function with respect to atom coordinates. Using two protein-ligand and antibody-antigen binding affinity prediction benchmarks, we show that NERE outperforms all unsupervised baselines (physics-based potentials and protein language models) in both cases and surpasses supervised baselines in the antibody case.

AI for Interpretable Chemistry: Predicting Radical Mechanistic Pathways via Contrastive Learning

Mohammadamin Tavakoli · Pierre Baldi · Ann Marie Carlton · Yin Ting Chiu · Alexander Shmakov · David Van Vranken

Deep learning-based reaction predictors have undergone significant architectural evolution. However, their reliance on reactions from the US Patent Office results in a lack of interpretable predictions and limited generalizability to other chemistry domains, such as radical and atmospheric chemistry. To address these challenges, we introduce a new reaction predictor system, RMechRP, that leverages contrastive learning in conjunction with mechanistic pathways, the most interpretable representation of chemical reactions. Specifically designed for radical reactions, RMechRP provides different levels of interpretation of chemical reactions. We develop and train multiple deep-learning models using RMechDB, a public database of radical reactions, to establish the first benchmark for predicting radical reactions. Our results demonstrate the effectiveness of RMechRP in providing accurate and interpretable predictions of radical reactions, and its potential for various applications in atmospheric chemistry.

Accelerating Molecular Graph Neural Networks via Knowledge Distillation

Filip Ekström Kelvinius · Dimitar Georgiev · Artur Toshev · Johannes Gasteiger

Recent advances in graph neural networks (GNNs) have enabled more comprehensive modeling of molecules and molecular systems, thereby enhancing the precision of molecular property prediction and molecular simulations. Nonetheless, as the field has been progressing to bigger and more complex architectures, state-of-the-art GNNs have become largely prohibitive for many large-scale applications. In this paper, we explore the utility of knowledge distillation (KD) for accelerating molecular GNNs. To this end, we devise KD strategies that facilitate the distillation of hidden representations in directional and equivariant GNNs, and evaluate their performance on the regression task of energy and force prediction. We validate our protocols across different teacher-student configurations and datasets, and demonstrate that they can consistently boost the predictive accuracy of student models without any modifications to their architecture. Moreover, we conduct comprehensive optimization of various components of our framework, and investigate the potential of data augmentation to further enhance performance. All in all, we manage to close the gap in predictive accuracy between teacher and student models by as much as 96.7\% and 62.5\% for energy and force prediction respectively, while fully preserving the inference throughput of the more lightweight models.

TensorNet: Cartesian Tensor Representations for Efficient Learning of Molecular Potentials

Guillem Simeon · Gianni De Fabritiis

The development of efficient machine learning models for molecular systems representation is becoming crucial in scientific research. We introduce TensorNet, an innovative O(3)-equivariant message-passing neural network architecture that leverages Cartesian tensor representations. By using Cartesian tensor atomic embeddings, feature mixing is simplified through matrix product operations. Furthermore, the cost-effective decomposition of these tensors into rotation group irreducible representations allows for the separate processing of scalars, vectors, and tensors when necessary. Compared to higher-rank spherical tensor models, TensorNet demonstrates state-of-the-art performance with significantly fewer parameters. For small molecule potential energies, this can be achieved even with a single interaction layer. As a result of all these properties, the model's computational cost is substantially decreased. Moreover, the accurate prediction of vector and tensor molecular quantities on top of potential energies and forces is possible. In summary, TensorNet's framework opens up a new space for the design of state-of-the-art equivariant models.

Spotlight Poster
LinkerNet: Fragment Poses and Linker Co-Design with 3D Equivariant Diffusion

Jiaqi Guan · Xingang Peng · PeiQi Jiang · Yunan Luo · Jian Peng · Jianzhu Ma

Targeted protein degradation techniques, such as PROteolysis TArgeting Chimeras (PROTACs), have emerged as powerful tools for selectively removing disease-causing proteins. One challenging problem in this field is designing a linker to connect different molecular fragments to form a stable drug-candidate molecule. Existing models for linker design assume that the relative positions of the fragments are known, which may not be the case in real scenarios. In this work, we address a more general problem where the poses of the fragments are unknown in 3D space. We develop a 3D equivariant diffusion model that jointly learns the generative process of both fragment poses and the 3D structure of the linker. By viewing fragments as rigid bodies, we design a fragment pose prediction module inspired by the Newton-Euler equations in rigid body mechanics. Empirical studies on ZINC and PROTAC-DB datasets demonstrate that our model can generate chemically valid, synthetically-accessible, and low-energy molecules under both unconstrained and constrained generation settings.

GeoTMI: Predicting Quantum Chemical Property with Easy-to-Obtain Geometry via Positional Denoising

Hyeonsu Kim · Jeheon Woo · SEONGHWAN KIM · Seokhyun Moon · Jun Hyeong Kim · Woo Youn Kim

As quantum chemical properties have a dependence on their geometries, graph neural networks (GNNs) using 3D geometric information have achieved high prediction accuracy in many tasks. However, they often require 3D geometries obtained from high-level quantum mechanical calculations, which are practically infeasible, limiting their applicability to real-world problems. To tackle this, we propose a new training framework, GeoTMI, that employs denoising process to predict properties accurately using easy-to-obtain geometries (corrupted versions of correct geometries, such as those obtained from low-level calculations). Our starting point was the idea that the correct geometry is the best description of the target property. Hence, to incorporate information of the correct, GeoTMI aims to maximize mutual information between three variables: the correct and the corrupted geometries and the property. GeoTMI also explicitly updates the corrupted input to approach the correct geometry as it passes through the GNN layers, contributing to more effective denoising. We investigated the performance of the proposed method using 3D GNNs for three prediction tasks: molecular properties, a chemical reaction property, and relaxed energy in a heterogeneous catalytic system. Our results showed consistent improvements in accuracy across various tasks, demonstrating the effectiveness and robustness of GeoTMI.

Implicit Transfer Operator Learning: Multiple Time-Resolution Models for Molecular Dynamics

Mathias Schreiner · Ole Winther · Simon Olsson

Computing properties of molecular systems rely on estimating expectations of the (unnormalized) Boltzmann distribution. Molecular dynamics (MD) is a broadly adopted technique to approximate such quantities. However, stable simulations rely on very small integration time-steps ($10^{-15}\,\mathrm{s}$), whereas convergence of some moments, e.g. binding free energy or rates, might rely on sampling processes on time-scales as long as $10^{-1}\, \mathrm{s}$, and these simulations must be repeated for every molecular system independently. Here, we present Implicit Transfer Operator (ITO) Learning, a framework to learn surrogates of the simulation process with multiple time-resolutions. We implement ITO with denoising diffusion probabilistic models with a new SE(3) equivariant architecture and show the resulting models can generate self-consistent stochastic dynamics across multiple time-scales, even when the system is only partially observed. Finally, we present a coarse-grained CG-SE3-ITO model which can quantitatively model all-atom molecular dynamics using only coarse molecular representations. As such, ITO provides an important step towards multiple time- and space-resolution acceleration of MD. Code is available at \href{}{}.

De novo Drug Design using Reinforcement Learning with Multiple GPT Agents

Xiuyuan Hu · Guoqing Liu · Yang Zhao · Hao Zhang

De novo drug design is a pivotal issue in pharmacology and a new area of focus in AI for science research. A central challenge in this field is to generate molecules with specific properties while also producing a wide range of diverse candidates. Although advanced technologies such as transformer models and reinforcement learning have been applied in drug design, their potential has not been fully realized. Therefore, we propose MolRL-MGPT, a reinforcement learning algorithm with multiple GPT agents for drug molecular generation. To promote molecular diversity, we encourage the agents to collaborate in searching for desirable molecules in diverse directions. Our algorithm has shown promising results on the GuacaMol benchmark and exhibits efficacy in designing inhibitors against SARS-CoV-2 protein targets. The codes are available at:

Semantic segmentation of sparse irregular point clouds for leaf/wood discrimination

Yuchen BAI · Jean-Baptiste Durand · Grégoire Vincent · Florence Forbes

Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) has become an essential part of the remote sensing toolbox used for biosphere monitoring. In particular, Lidar provides the opportunity to map forest leaf area with unprecedented accuracy, while leaf area has remained an important source of uncertainty affecting models of gas exchanges between the vegetation and the atmosphere. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are easy to mobilize and therefore allow frequent revisits to track the response of vegetation to climate change. However, miniature sensors embarked on UAVs usually provide point clouds of limited density, which are further affected by a strong decrease in density from top to bottom of the canopy due to progressively stronger occlusion. In such a context, discriminating leaf points from wood points presents a significant challenge due in particular to strong class imbalance and spatially irregular sampling intensity. Here we introduce a neural network model based on the Pointnet ++ architecture which makes use of point geometry only (excluding any spectral information). To cope with local data sparsity, we propose an innovative sampling scheme which strives to preserve local important geometric information. We also propose a loss function adapted to the severe class imbalance. We show that our model outperforms state-of-the-art alternatives on UAV point clouds. We discuss future possible improvements, particularly regarding much denser point clouds acquired from below the canopy.

Spotlight Poster
Debias Coarsely, Sample Conditionally: Statistical Downscaling through Optimal Transport and Probabilistic Diffusion Models

Zhong Yi Wan · Ricardo Baptista · Anudhyan Boral · Yi-Fan Chen · John Anderson · Fei Sha · Leonardo Zepeda-Núñez

We introduce a two-stage probabilistic framework for statistical downscaling using unpaired data. Statistical downscaling seeks a probabilistic map to transform low-resolution data from a biased coarse-grained numerical scheme to high-resolution data that is consistent with a high-fidelity scheme. Our framework tackles the problem bycomposing two transformations: (i) a debiasing step via an optimal transport map, and (ii) an upsampling step achieved by a probabilistic diffusion model with a posteriori conditional sampling. This approach characterizes a conditional distribution without needing paired data, and faithfully recovers relevant physical statistics from biased samples. We demonstrate the utility of the proposed approach on one- and two-dimensional fluid flow problems, which are representative of the core difficulties present in numerical simulations of weather and climate. Our method produces realistic high-resolution outputs from low-resolution inputs, by upsampling resolutions of $8\times$ and $16\times$. Moreover, our procedure correctly matches the statistics of physical quantities, even when the low-frequency content of the inputs and outputs do not match, a crucial but difficult-to-satisfy assumption needed by current state-of-the-art alternatives. Code for this work is available at:

StreamNet: Memory-Efficient Streaming Tiny Deep Learning Inference on the Microcontroller

Hong-Sheng Zheng · Yu-Yuan Liu · Chen-Fong Hsu · Tsung Tai Yeh

With the emerging Tiny Machine Learning (TinyML) inference applications, there is a growing interest when deploying TinyML models on the low-power Microcontroller Unit (MCU). However, deploying TinyML models on MCUs reveals several challenges due to the MCU’s resource constraints, such as small flash memory, tight SRAM memory budget, and slow CPU performance. Unlike typical layer-wise inference, patch-based inference reduces the peak usage of SRAM memory on MCUs by saving small patches rather than the entire tensor in the SRAM memory. However, the processing of patch-based inference tremendously increases the amount of MACs against the layer-wise method. Thus, this notoriously computational overhead makes patch-based inference undesirable on MCUs. This work designs StreamNet that employs the stream buffer to eliminate the redundant computation of patch-based inference. StreamNet uses 1D and 2D streaming processing and provides an parameter selection algorithm that automatically improve the performance of patch-based inference with minimal requirements on the MCU’s SRAM memory space. In 10 TinyML models, StreamNet-2D achieves a geometric mean of 7.3X speedup and saves 81\% of MACs over the state-of-the-art patch-based inference.

Adaptive Contextual Perception: How To Generalize To New Backgrounds and Ambiguous Objects

Zhuofan Ying · Peter Hase · Mohit Bansal

Biological vision systems make adaptive use of context to recognize objects in new settings with novel contexts as well as occluded or blurry objects in familiar settings. In this paper, we investigate how vision models adaptively use context for out-of-distribution (OOD) generalization and leverage our analysis results to improve model OOD generalization. First, we formulate two distinct OOD settings where the contexts are either beneficial Object-Disambiguation or irrelevant Background-Invariance, reflecting the diverse contextual challenges faced in biological vision. We then analyze model performance in these two different OOD settings and demonstrate that models that excel in one setting tend to struggle in the other. Notably, prior works on learning causal features improve on one setting but hurt on the other. This underscores the importance of generalizing across both OOD settings, as this ability is crucial for both human cognition and robust AI systems. Next, to better understand the model properties contributing to OOD generalization, we use representational geometry analysis and our own probing methods to examine a population of models, and we discover that those with more factorized representations and appropriate feature weighting are more successful in handling Object-Disambiguation and Background-Invariance tests. We further validate these findings through causal intervention, manipulating representation factorization and feature weighting to demonstrate their causal effect on performance. Motivated by our analysis results, we propose new augmentation methods aimed at enhancing model generalization. The proposed methods outperform strong baselines, yielding improvements in both in-distribution and OOD tests. We conclude that, in order to replicate the generalization abilities of biological vision, computer vision models must have factorized object vs. background representations and appropriately weigh both kinds of features.

3D-Aware Visual Question Answering about Parts, Poses and Occlusions

Xingrui Wang · Wufei Ma · Zhuowan Li · Adam Kortylewski · Alan Yuille

Despite rapid progress in Visual question answering (\textit{VQA}), existing datasets and models mainly focus on testing reasoning in 2D. However, it is important that VQA models also understand the 3D structure of visual scenes, for example to support tasks like navigation or manipulation. This includes an understanding of the 3D object pose, their parts and occlusions. In this work, we introduce the task of 3D-aware VQA, which focuses on challenging questions that require a compositional reasoning over the 3D structure of visual scenes. We address 3D-aware VQA from both the dataset and the model perspective. First, we introduce Super-CLEVR-3D, a compositional reasoning dataset that contains questions about object parts, their 3D poses, and occlusions. Second, we propose PO3D-VQA, a 3D-aware VQA model that marries two powerful ideas: probabilistic neural symbolic program execution for reasoning and deep neural networks with 3D generative representations of objects for robust visual recognition. Our experimental results show our model PO3D-VQA outperforms existing methods significantly, but we still observe a significant performance gap compared to 2D VQA benchmarks, indicating that 3D-aware VQA remains an important open research area.

Mip-Grid: Anti-aliased Grid Representations for Neural Radiance Fields

Seungtae Nam · Daniel Rho · Jong Hwan Ko · Eunbyung Park

Despite the remarkable achievements of neural radiance fields (NeRF) in representing 3D scenes and generating novel view images, the aliasing issue, rendering 'jaggies' or 'blurry' images at varying camera distances, remains unresolved in most existing approaches. The recently proposed mip-NeRF has effectively addressed this challenge by introducing integrated positional encodings (IPE). However, it relies on MLP architecture to represent the radiance fields, missing out on the fast training speed offered by the latest grid-based methods. In this work, we present mip-Grid, a novel approach that integrates anti-aliasing techniques into grid-based representations for radiance fields, mitigating the aliasing artifacts while enjoying fast training time. Notably, the proposed method uses a single-scale shared grid representation and a single-sampling approach, which only introduces minimal additions to the model parameters and computational costs. To handle scale ambiguity, mip-Grid generates multiple grids by applying simple convolution operations over the shared grid and uses the scale-aware coordinate to retrieve the appropriate features from the generated multiple grids. To test the effectiveness, we incorporated the proposed approach into the two recent representative grid-based methods, TensoRF and K-Planes. The experimental results demonstrated that mip-Grid greatly improved the rendering performance of both methods and showed comparable performance to mip-NeRF on multi-scale datasets while achieving significantly faster training time.

MG-ViT: A Multi-Granularity Method for Compact and Efficient Vision Transformers

Yu Zhang · Yepeng Liu · Duoqian Miao · Qi Zhang · Yiwei Shi · Liang Hu

Vision Transformer (ViT) faces obstacles in wide application due to its huge computational cost. Almost all existing studies on compressing ViT adopt the manner of splitting an image with a single granularity, with very few exploration of splitting an image with multi-granularity. As we know, important information often randomly concentrate in few regions of an image, necessitating multi-granularity attention allocation to an image. Enlightened by this, we introduce the multi-granularity strategy to compress ViT, which is simple but effective. We propose a two-stage multi-granularity framework, MG-ViT, to balance ViT’s performance and computational cost. In single-granularity inference stage, an input image is split into a small number of patches for simple inference. If necessary, multi-granularity inference stage will be instigated, where the important patches are further subsplit into multi-finer-grained patches for subsequent inference. Moreover, prior studies on compression only for classification, while we extend the multi-granularity strategy to hierarchical ViT for downstream tasks such as detection and segmentation. Extensive experiments Prove the effectiveness of the multi-granularity strategy. For instance, on ImageNet, without any loss of performance, MG-ViT reduces 47\% FLOPs of LV-ViT-S and 56\% FLOPs of DeiT-S.

CRoSS: Diffusion Model Makes Controllable, Robust and Secure Image Steganography

Jiwen Yu · Xuanyu Zhang · Youmin Xu · Jian Zhang

Current image steganography techniques are mainly focused on cover-based methods, which commonly have the risk of leaking secret images and poor robustness against degraded container images. Inspired by recent developments in diffusion models, we discovered that two properties of diffusion models, the ability to achieve translation between two images without training, and robustness to noisy data, can be used to improve security and natural robustness in image steganography tasks. For the choice of diffusion model, we selected Stable Diffusion, a type of conditional diffusion model, and fully utilized the latest tools from open-source communities, such as LoRAs and ControlNets, to improve the controllability and diversity of container images. In summary, we propose a novel image steganography framework, named Controllable, Robust and Secure Image Steganography (CRoSS), which has significant advantages in controllability, robustness, and security compared to cover-based image steganography methods. These benefits are obtained without additional training. To our knowledge, this is the first work to introduce diffusion models to the field of image steganography. In the experimental section, we conducted detailed experiments to demonstrate the advantages of our proposed CRoSS framework in controllability, robustness, and security.

Lookup Table meets Local Laplacian Filter: Pyramid Reconstruction Network for Tone Mapping

Feng Zhang · Ming Tian · Zhiqiang Li · Bin Xu · Qingbo Lu · Changxin Gao · Nong Sang

Tone mapping aims to convert high dynamic range (HDR) images to low dynamic range (LDR) representations, a critical task in the camera imaging pipeline. In recent years, 3-Dimensional LookUp Table (3D LUT) based methods have gained attention due to their ability to strike a favorable balance between enhancement performance and computational efficiency. However, these methods often fail to deliver satisfactory results in local areas since the look-up table is a global operator for tone mapping, which works based on pixel values and fails to incorporate crucial local information. To this end, this paper aims to address this issue by exploring a novel strategy that integrates global and local operators by utilizing closed-form Laplacian pyramid decomposition and reconstruction. Specifically, we employ image-adaptive 3D LUTs to manipulate the tone in the low-frequency image by leveraging the specific characteristics of the frequency information. Furthermore, we utilize local Laplacian filters to refine the edge details in the high-frequency components in an adaptive manner. Local Laplacian filters are widely used to preserve edge details in photographs, but their conventional usage involves manual tuning and fixed implementation within camera imaging pipelines or photo editing tools. We propose to learn parameter value maps progressively for local Laplacian filters from annotated data using a lightweight network. Our model achieves simultaneous global tone manipulation and local edge detail preservation in an end-to-end manner. Extensive experimental results on two benchmark datasets demonstrate that the proposed method performs favorably against state-of-the-art methods.

Spotlight Poster
SPAE: Semantic Pyramid AutoEncoder for Multimodal Generation with Frozen LLMs

Lijun Yu · Yong Cheng · Zhiruo Wang · Vivek Kumar · Wolfgang Macherey · Yanping Huang · David Ross · Irfan Essa · Yonatan Bisk · Ming-Hsuan Yang · Kevin Murphy · Alexander Hauptmann · Lu Jiang · Lu Jiang

In this work, we introduce Semantic Pyramid AutoEncoder (SPAE) for enabling frozen LLMs to perform both understanding and generation tasks involving non-linguistic modalities such as images or videos. SPAE converts between raw pixels and interpretable lexical tokens (or words) extracted from the LLM's vocabulary. The resulting tokens capture both the rich semantic meaning and the fine-grained details needed for visual reconstruction, effectively translating the visual content into a language comprehensible to the LLM, and empowering it to perform a wide array of multimodal tasks. Our approach is validated through in-context learning experiments with frozen PaLM 2 and GPT 3.5 on a diverse set of image understanding and generation tasks.Our method marks the first successful attempt to enable a frozen LLM to generate image content while surpassing state-of-the-art performance in image understanding tasks, under the same setting, by over 25%.

Spotlight Poster
PAPR: Proximity Attention Point Rendering

Yanshu Zhang · Shichong Peng · Alireza Moazeni · Ke Li

Learning accurate and parsimonious point cloud representations of scene surfaces from scratch remains a challenge in 3D representation learning. Existing point-based methods often suffer from the vanishing gradient problem or require a large number of points to accurately model scene geometry and texture. To address these limitations, we propose Proximity Attention Point Rendering (PAPR), a novel method that consists of a point-based scene representation and a differentiable renderer. Our scene representation uses a point cloud where each point is characterized by its spatial position, influence score, and view-independent feature vector. The renderer selects the relevant points for each ray and produces accurate colours using their associated features. PAPR effectively learns point cloud positions to represent the correct scene geometry, even when the initialization drastically differs from the target geometry. Notably, our method captures fine texture details while using only a parsimonious set of points. We also demonstrate four practical applications of our method: zero-shot geometry editing, object manipulation, texture transfer, and exposure control. More results and code are available on our project website at

Unsupervised Optical Flow Estimation with Dynamic Timing Representation for Spike Camera

Lujie Xia · Ziluo Ding · Rui Zhao · Jiyuan Zhang · Lei Ma · Zhaofei Yu · Tiejun Huang · Ruiqin Xiong

Efficiently selecting an appropriate spike stream data length to extract precise information is the key to the spike vision tasks. To address this issue, we propose a dynamic timing representation for spike streams. Based on multi-layers architecture, it applies dilated convolutions on temporal dimension to extract features on multi-temporal scales with few parameters. And we design layer attention to dynamically fuse these features. Moreover, we propose an unsupervised learning method for optical flow estimation in a spike-based manner to break the dependence on labeled data. In addition, to verify the robustness, we also build a spike-based synthetic validation dataset for extreme scenarios in autonomous driving, denoted as SSES dataset. It consists of various corner cases. Experiments show that our method can predict optical flow from spike streams in different high-speed scenes, including real scenes. For instance, our method achieves $15\%$ and $19\%$ error reduction on PHM dataset compared to the best spike-based work, SCFlow, in $\Delta t=10$ and $\Delta t=20$ respectively, using the same settings as in previous works. The source code and dataset are available at \href{}{}.

Structure from Duplicates: Neural Inverse Graphics from a Pile of Objects

Tianhang Cheng · Wei-Chiu Ma · Kaiyu Guan · Antonio Torralba · Shenlong Wang

Abstract Our world is full of identical objects (\emph{e.g.}, cans of coke, cars of same model). These duplicates, when seen together, provide additional and strong cues for us to effectively reason about 3D. Inspired by this observation, we introduce Structure from Duplicates (SfD), a novel inverse graphics framework that reconstructs geometry, material, and illumination from a single image containing multiple identical objects. SfD begins by identifying multiple instances of an object within an image, and then jointly estimates the 6DoF pose for all instances. An inverse graphics pipeline is subsequently employed to jointly reason about the shape, material of the object, and the environment light, while adhering to the shared geometry and material constraint across instances.Our primary contributions involve utilizing object duplicates as a robust prior for single-image inverse graphics and proposing an in-plane rotation-robust Structure from Motion (SfM) formulation for joint 6-DoF object pose estimation. By leveraging multi-view cues from a single image, SfD generates more realistic and detailed 3D reconstructions, significantly outperforming existing single image reconstruction models and multi-view reconstruction approaches with a similar or greater number of observations.

Convolutions Die Hard: Open-Vocabulary Segmentation with Single Frozen Convolutional CLIP

Qihang Yu · Ju He · Xueqing Deng · Xiaohui Shen · Liang-Chieh Chen

Open-vocabulary segmentation is a challenging task requiring segmenting and recognizing objects from an open set of categories in diverse environments. One way to address this challenge is to leverage multi-modal models, such as CLIP, to provide image and text features in a shared embedding space, which effectively bridges the gap between closed-vocabulary and open-vocabulary recognition.Hence, existing methods often adopt a two-stage framework to tackle the problem, where the inputs first go through a mask generator and then through the CLIP model along with the predicted masks. This process involves extracting features from raw images multiple times, which can be ineffective and inefficient. By contrast, we propose to build everything into a single-stage framework using a shared Frozen Convolutional CLIP backbone, which not only significantly simplifies the current two-stage pipeline, but also remarkably yields a better accuracy-cost trade-off. The resulting single-stage system, called FC-CLIP, benefits from the following observations: the frozen CLIP backbone maintains the ability of open-vocabulary classification and can also serve as a strong mask generator, and the convolutional CLIP generalizes well to a larger input resolution than the one used during contrastive image-text pretraining. Surprisingly, FC-CLIP advances state-of-the-art results on various benchmarks, while running practically fast. Specifically, when training on COCO panoptic data only and testing in a zero-shot manner, FC-CLIP achieve 26.8 PQ, 16.8 AP, and 34.1 mIoU on ADE20K, 18.2 PQ, 27.9 mIoU on Mapillary Vistas, 44.0 PQ, 26.8 AP, 56.2 mIoU on Cityscapes, outperforming the prior art under the same setting by +4.2 PQ, +2.4 AP, +4.2 mIoU on ADE20K, +4.0 PQ on Mapillary Vistas and +20.1 PQ on Cityscapes, respectively. Additionally, the training and testing time of FC-CLIP is 7.5x and 6.6x significantly faster than the same prior art, while using 5.9x fewer total model parameters. Meanwhile, FC-CLIP also sets a new state-of-the-art performance across various open-vocabulary semantic segmentation datasets. Code and models are available at

Label-efficient Segmentation via Affinity Propagation

Wentong Li · Yuqian Yuan · Song Wang · Wenyu Liu · Dongqi Tang · Jian liu · Jianke Zhu · Lei Zhang

Weakly-supervised segmentation with label-efficient sparse annotations has attracted increasing research attention to reduce the cost of laborious pixel-wise labeling process, while the pairwise affinity modeling techniques play an essential role in this task. Most of the existing approaches focus on using the local appearance kernel to model the neighboring pairwise potentials. However, such a local operation fails to capture the long-range dependencies and ignores the topology of objects. In this work, we formulate the affinity modeling as an affinity propagation process, and propose a local and a global pairwise affinity terms to generate accurate soft pseudo labels. An efficient algorithm is also developed to reduce significantly the computational cost. The proposed approach can be conveniently plugged into existing segmentation networks. Experiments on three typical label-efficient segmentation tasks, i.e. box-supervised instance segmentation, point/scribble-supervised semantic segmentation and CLIP-guided semantic segmentation, demonstrate the superior performance of the proposed approach.

DAC-DETR: Divide the Attention Layers and Conquer

Zhengdong Hu · Yifan Sun · Jingdong Wang · Yi Yang

This paper reveals a characteristic of DEtection Transformer (DETR) that negatively impacts its training efficacy, i.e., the cross-attention and self-attention layers in DETR decoder have contrary impacts on the object queries (though both impacts are important). Specifically, we observe the cross-attention tends to gather multiple queries around the same object, while the self-attention disperses these queries far away. To improve the training efficacy, we propose a Divide-And-Conquer DETR (DAC-DETR) that divides the cross-attention out from this contrary for better conquering. During training, DAC-DETR employs an auxiliary decoder that focuses on learning the cross-attention layers. The auxiliary decoder, while sharing all the other parameters, has NO self-attention layers and employs one-to-many label assignment to improve the gathering effect. Experiments show that DAC-DETR brings remarkable improvement over popular DETRs. For example, under the 12 epochs training scheme on MS-COCO, DAC-DETR improves Deformable DETR (ResNet-50) by +3.4 AP and achieves 50.9 (ResNet-50) / 58.1 AP (Swin-Large) based on some popular methods (i.e., DINO and an IoU-related loss). Our code will be made available at

Mitigating the Effect of Incidental Correlations on Part-based Learning

Gaurav Bhatt · Deepayan Das · Leonid Sigal · Vineeth N Balasubramanian

Intelligent systems possess a crucial characteristic of breaking complicated problems into smaller reusable components or parts and adjusting to new tasks using these part representations. However, current part-learners encounter difficulties in dealing with incidental correlations resulting from the limited observations of objects that may appear only in specific arrangements or with specific backgrounds. These incidental correlations may have a detrimental impact on the generalization and interpretability of learned part representations. This study asserts that part-based representations could be more interpretable and generalize better with limited data, employing two innovative regularization methods. The first regularization separates foreground and background information's generative process via a unique mixture-of-parts formulation. Structural constraints are imposed on the parts using a weakly-supervised loss, guaranteeing that the mixture-of-parts for foreground and background entails soft, object-agnostic masks. The second regularization assumes the form of a distillation loss, ensuring the invariance of the learned parts to the incidental background correlations. Furthermore, we incorporate sparse and orthogonal constraints to facilitate learning high-quality part representations.By reducing the impact of incidental background correlations on the learned parts, we exhibit state-of-the-art (SoTA) performance on few-shot learning tasks on benchmark datasets, including MiniImagenet, TieredImageNet, and FC100. We also demonstrate that the part-based representations acquired through our approach generalize better than existing techniques, even under domain shifts of the background and common data corruption on the ImageNet-9 dataset.

Generative Category-level Object Pose Estimation via Diffusion Models

Jiyao Zhang · Mingdong Wu · Hao Dong

Object pose estimation plays a vital role in embodied AI and computer vision, enabling intelligent agents to comprehend and interact with their surroundings. Despite the practicality of category-level pose estimation, current approaches encounter challenges with partially observed point clouds, known as the multihypothesis issue. In this study, we propose a novel solution by reframing categorylevel object pose estimation as conditional generative modeling, departing from traditional point-to-point regression. Leveraging score-based diffusion models, we estimate object poses by sampling candidates from the diffusion model and aggregating them through a two-step process: filtering out outliers via likelihood estimation and subsequently mean-pooling the remaining candidates. To avoid the costly integration process when estimating the likelihood, we introduce an alternative method that distils an energy-based model from the original score-based model, enabling end-to-end likelihood estimation. Our approach achieves state-of-the-art performance on the REAL275 dataset, surpassing 50% and 60% on strict 5 ◦ 2cm and 5 ◦ 5cm metrics, respectively. Furthermore, our method demonstrates strong generalization to novel categories without the need for fine-tuning and can readily adapt to object pose tracking tasks, yielding comparable results to the current state-of-the-art baselines. Our checkpoints and demonstrations can be found at

Tuning Multi-mode Token-level Prompt Alignment across Modalities

Dongsheng Wang · Miaoge Li · Xinyang Liu · MingSheng Xu · Bo Chen · Hanwang Zhang

Advancements in prompt tuning of vision-language models have underscored their potential in enhancing open-world visual concept comprehension. However, prior works only primarily focus on single-mode (only one prompt for each modality) and holistic level (image or sentence) semantic alignment, which fails to capture the sample diversity, leading to sub-optimal prompt discovery. To address the limitation, we propose a multi-mode token-level tuning framework that leverages the optimal transportation to learn and align a set of prompt tokens across modalities. Specifically, we rely on two essential factors: 1) multi-mode prompts discovery, which guarantees diverse semantic representations, and 2) token-level alignment, which helps explore fine-grained similarity. Consequently, the similarity can be calculated as a hierarchical transportation problem between the modality-specific sets. Extensive experiments on popular image recognition benchmarks show the superior generalization and few-shot abilities of our approach. The qualitative analysis demonstrates that the learned prompt tokens have the ability to capture diverse visual concepts.

Discovering Intrinsic Spatial-Temporal Logic Rules to Explain Human Actions

Chengzhi Cao · Chao Yang · Ruimao Zhang · Shuang Li

We propose an interpretable model to uncover the behavioral patterns of human movements by analyzing their trajectories. Our approach is based on the belief that human actions are driven by intentions and are influenced by environmental factors such as spatial relationships with surrounding objects. To model this, we use a set of spatial-temporal logic rules that include intention variables as principles. These rules are automatically discovered and used to capture the dynamics of human actions. To learn the model parameters and rule content, we design an EM learning algorithm that treats the unknown rule content as a latent variable. In the E-step, we evaluate the posterior over the latent rule content, and in the M-step, we optimize the rule generator and model parameters by maximizing the expected log-likelihood. Our model has wide-ranging applications in areas such as sports analytics, robotics, and autonomous cars. We demonstrate the model's superior interpretability and prediction performance on both pedestrian and NBA basketball player datasets, achieving promising results.

M$^{2}$SODAI: Multi-Modal Maritime Object Detection Dataset With RGB and Hyperspectral Image Sensors

Jonggyu Jang · Sangwoo Oh · Youjin Kim · Dongmin Seo · Youngchol Choi · Hyun Jong Yang

Object detection in aerial images is a growing area of research, with maritime object detection being a particularly important task for reliable surveillance, monitoring, and active rescuing. Notwithstanding astonishing advances of computer visiontechnologies, detecting ships and floating matters in these images are challenging due to factors such as object distance. What makes it worse is pervasive sea surface effects such as sunlight reflection, wind, and waves. Hyperspectral image (HSI) sensors, providing more than 100 channels in wavelengths of visible and near-infrared, can extract intrinsic information of materials from a few pixels of HSIs.The advent of HSI sensors motivates us to leverage HSIs to circumvent false positives due to the sea surface effects.Unfortunately, there are few public HSI datasets due to the high cost and labor involved in collecting them, hindering object detection research based on HSIs. We have collected and annotated a new dataset called ``Multi-Modal Ship and flOating matter Detection in Aerial Images (M$^{2}$SODAI),'', which includes synchronized image pairs of RGB and HSI data, along with bounding box labels for nearly 6,000 instances per category. We also propose a new multi-modal extension of the feature pyramid network called DoubleFPN.Extensive experiments on our benchmark demonstrate that fusion of RGB and HSI data can enhance mAP, especially in the presence of the sea surface effects.

CamoPatch: An Evolutionary Strategy for Generating Camoflauged Adversarial Patches

Phoenix Williams · Ke Li

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have demonstrated vulnerabilities to adversarial examples, which raises concerns about their reliability in safety-critical applications. While the majority of existing methods generate adversarial examples by making small modifications to the entire image, recent research has proposed a practical alternative known as adversarial patches. Adversarial patches have shown to be highly effective in causing DNNs to misclassify by distorting a localized area (patch) of the image. However, existing methods often produce clearly visible distortions since they do not consider the visibility of the patch. To address this, we propose a novel method for constructing adversarial patches that approximates the appearance of the area it covers. We achieve this by using a set of semi-transparent, RGB-valued circles, drawing inspiration from the computational art community. We utilize an evolutionary strategy to optimize the properties of each shape, and employ a simulated annealing approach to optimize the patch's location. Our approach achieves better or comparable performance to state-of-the-art methods on ImageNet DNN classifiers while achieving a lower $l_2$ distance from the original image. By minimizing the visibility of the patch, this work further highlights the vulnerabilities of DNNs to adversarial patches.

Decorate3D: Text-Driven High-Quality Texture Generation for Mesh Decoration in the Wild

Yanhui Guo · Xinxin Zuo · Peng Dai · Juwei Lu · Xiaolin Wu · Li cheng · Youliang Yan · Songcen Xu · Xiaofei Wu

This paper presents Decorate3D, a versatile and user-friendly method for the creation and editing of 3D objects using images. Decorate3D models a real-world object of interest by neural radiance field (NeRF) and decomposes the NeRF representation into an explicit mesh representation, a view-dependent texture, and a diffuse UV texture. Subsequently, users can either manually edit the UV or provide a prompt for the automatic generation of a new 3D-consistent texture. To achieve high-quality 3D texture generation, we propose a structure-aware score distillation sampling method to optimize a neural UV texture based on user-defined text and empower an image diffusion model with 3D-consistent generation capability. Furthermore, we introduce a few-view resampling training method and utilize a super-resolution model to obtain refined high-resolution UV textures (2048$\times$2048) for 3D texturing. Extensive experiments collectively validate the superior performance of Decorate3D in retexturing real-world 3D objects. Project page:

DDF-HO: Hand-Held Object Reconstruction via Conditional Directed Distance Field

Chenyangguang Zhang · Yan Di · Ruida Zhang · Guangyao Zhai · Fabian Manhardt · Federico Tombari · Xiangyang Ji

Reconstructing hand-held objects from a single RGB image is an important and challenging problem. Existing works utilizing Signed Distance Fields (SDF) reveal limitations in comprehensively capturing the complex hand-object interactions, since SDF is only reliable within the proximity of the target, and hence, infeasible to simultaneously encode local hand and object cues. To address this issue, we propose DDF-HO, a novel approach leveraging Directed Distance Field (DDF) as the shape representation. Unlike SDF, DDF maps a ray in 3D space, consisting of an origin and a direction, to corresponding DDF values, including a binary visibility signal determining whether the ray intersects the objects and a distance value measuring the distance from origin to target in the given direction. We randomly sample multiple rays and collect local to global geometric features for them by introducing a novel 2D ray-based feature aggregation scheme and a 3D intersection-aware hand pose embedding, combining 2D-3D features to model hand-object interactions. Extensive experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate that DDF-HO consistently outperforms all baseline methods by a large margin, especially under Chamfer Distance, with about 80% leap forward. Codes are available at

Align Your Prompts: Test-Time Prompting with Distribution Alignment for Zero-Shot Generalization

Jameel Abdul Samadh · Mohammad Hanan Gani · Noor Hussein · Muhammad Uzair Khattak · Muhammad Muzammal Naseer · Fahad Shahbaz Khan · Salman Khan

The promising zero-shot generalization of vision-language models such as CLIP has led to their adoption using prompt learning for numerous downstream tasks. Previous works have shown test-time prompt tuning using entropy minimization to adapt text prompts for unseen domains. While effective, this overlooks the key cause for performance degradation to unseen domains -- distribution shift. In this work, we explicitly handle this problem by aligning the out-of-distribution (OOD) test sample statistics to those of the source data using prompt tuning. We use a single test sample to adapt multi-modal prompts at test time by minimizing the feature distribution shift to bridge the gap in the test domain. Evaluating against the domain generalization benchmark, our method improves zero-shot top-1 accuracy beyond existing prompt-learning techniques, with a 3.08% improvement over the baseline MaPLe. In cross-dataset generalization with unseen categories across 10 datasets, our method improves consistently across all datasets compared to the existing state-of-the-art. Our source code and models are available at

Compressed Video Prompt Tuning

Bing Li · Jiaxin Chen · Xiuguo Bao · Di Huang

Compressed videos offer a compelling alternative to raw videos, showing the possibility to significantly reduce the on-line computational and storage cost. However, current approaches to compressed video processing generally follow the resource-consuming pre-training and fine-tuning paradigm, which does not fully take advantage of such properties, making them not favorable enough for widespread applications. Inspired by recent successes of prompt tuning techniques in computer vision, this paper presents the first attempt to build a prompt based representation learning framework, which enables effective and efficient adaptation of pre-trained raw video models to compressed video understanding tasks. To this end, we propose a novel prompt tuning approach, namely Compressed Video Prompt Tuning (CVPT), emphatically dealing with the challenging issue caused by the inconsistency between pre-training and downstream data modalities. Specifically, CVPT replaces the learnable prompts with compressed modalities (\emph{e.g.} Motion Vectors and Residuals) by re-parameterizing them into conditional prompts followed by layer-wise refinement. The conditional prompts exhibit improved adaptability and generalizability to instances compared to conventional individual learnable ones, and the Residual prompts enhance the noisy motion cues in the Motion Vector prompts for further fusion with the visual cues from I-frames. Additionally, we design Selective Cross-modal Complementary Prompt (SCCP) blocks. After inserting them into the backbone, SCCP blocks leverage semantic relations across diverse levels and modalities to improve cross-modal interactions between prompts and input flows. Extensive evaluations on HMDB-51, UCF-101 and Something-Something v2 demonstrate that CVPT remarkably outperforms the state-of-the-art counterparts, delivering a much better balance between accuracy and efficiency.

ReTR: Modeling Rendering Via Transformer for Generalizable Neural Surface Reconstruction

Yixun Liang · Hao He · Yingcong Chen

Generalizable neural surface reconstruction techniques have attracted great attention in recent years. However, they encounter limitations of low confidence depth distribution and inaccurate surface reasoning due to the oversimplified volume rendering process employed. In this paper, we present Reconstruction TRansformer (ReTR), a novel framework that leverages the transformer architecture to redesign the rendering process, enabling complex render interaction modeling. It introduces a learnable $\textit{meta-ray token}$ and utilizes the cross-attention mechanism to simulate the interaction of rendering process with sampled points and render the observed color. Meanwhile, by operating within a high-dimensional feature space rather than the color space, ReTR mitigates sensitivity to projected colors in source views. Such improvements result in accurate surface assessment with high confidence. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on various datasets, showcasing how our method outperforms the current state-of-the-art approaches in terms of reconstruction quality and generalization ability. $\textit{Our code is available at }$

Saving 100x Storage: Prototype Replay for Reconstructing Training Sample Distribution in Class-Incremental Semantic Segmentation

Jinpeng Chen · Runmin Cong · Yuxuan LUO · Horace Ip · Sam Kwong

Existing class-incremental semantic segmentation (CISS) methods mainly tackle catastrophic forgetting and background shift, but often overlook another crucial issue. In CISS, each step focuses on different foreground classes, and the training set for a single step only includes images containing pixels of the current foreground classes, excluding images without them. This leads to an overrepresentation of these foreground classes in the single-step training set, causing the classification biased towards these classes. To address this issue, we present STAR, which preserves the main characteristics of each past class by storing a compact prototype and necessary statistical data, and aligns the class distribution of single-step training samples with the complete dataset by replaying these prototypes and repeating background pixels with appropriate frequency. Compared to the previous works that replay raw images, our method saves over 100 times the storage while achieving better performance. Moreover, STAR incorporates an old-class features maintaining (OCFM) loss, keeping old-class features unchanged while preserving sufficient plasticity for learning new classes. Furthermore, a similarity-aware discriminative (SAD) loss is employed to specifically enhance the feature diversity between similar old-new class pairs. Experiments on two public datasets, Pascal VOC 2012 and ADE20K, reveal that our model surpasses all previous state-of-the-art methods.

Masked Image Residual Learning for Scaling Deeper Vision Transformers

Guoxi Huang · Hongtao Fu · Adrian G. Bors

Deeper Vision Transformers (ViTs) are more challenging to train. We expose a degradation problem in deeper layers of ViT when using masked image modeling (MIM) for pre-training.To ease the training of deeper ViTs, we introduce a self-supervised learning framework called $\textbf{M}$asked $\textbf{I}$mage $\textbf{R}$esidual $\textbf{L}$earning ($\textbf{MIRL}$), which significantly alleviates the degradation problem, making scaling ViT along depth a promising direction for performance upgrade. We reformulate the pre-training objective for deeper layers of ViT as learning to recover the residual of the masked image.We provide extensive empirical evidence showing that deeper ViTs can be effectively optimized using MIRL and easily gain accuracy from increased depth. With the same level of computational complexity as ViT-Base and ViT-Large, we instantiate $4.5{\times}$ and $2{\times}$ deeper ViTs, dubbed ViT-S-54 and ViT-B-48.The deeper ViT-S-54, costing $3{\times}$ less than ViT-Large, achieves performance on par with ViT-Large.ViT-B-48 achieves 86.2\% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet. On one hand, deeper ViTs pre-trained with MIRL exhibit excellent generalization capabilities on downstream tasks, such as object detection and semantic segmentation. On the other hand, MIRL demonstrates high pre-training efficiency. With less pre-training time, MIRL yields competitive performance compared to other approaches.

LuminAIRe: Illumination-Aware Conditional Image Repainting for Lighting-Realistic Generation

Jiajun Tang · Haofeng Zhong · Shuchen Weng · Boxin Shi

We present the ilLumination-Aware conditional Image Repainting (LuminAIRe) task to address the unrealistic lighting effects in recent conditional image repainting (CIR) methods. The environment lighting and 3D geometry conditions are explicitly estimated from given background images and parsing masks using a parametric lighting representation and learning-based priors. These 3D conditions are then converted into illumination images through the proposed physically-based illumination rendering and illumination attention module. With the injection of illumination images, physically-correct lighting information is fed into the lighting-realistic generation process and repainted images with harmonized lighting effects in both foreground and background regions can be acquired, whose superiority over the results of state-of-the-art methods is confirmed through extensive experiments. For facilitating and validating the LuminAIRe task, a new dataset Car-LuminAIRe with lighting annotations and rich appearance variants is collected.

Segment Anything in 3D with NeRFs

Jiazhong Cen · Zanwei Zhou · Jiemin Fang · chen yang · Wei Shen · Lingxi Xie · Dongsheng Jiang · XIAOPENG ZHANG · Qi Tian

Recently, the Segment Anything Model (SAM) emerged as a powerful vision foundation model which is capable to segment anything in 2D images. This paper aims to generalize SAM to segment 3D objects. Rather than replicating the data acquisition and annotation procedure which is costly in 3D, we design an efficient solution, leveraging the Neural Radiance Field (NeRF) as a cheap and off-the-shelf prior that connects multi-view 2D images to the 3D space. We refer to the proposed solution as SA3D, for Segment Anything in 3D. It is only required to provide a manual segmentation prompt (e.g., rough points) for the target object in a single view, which is used to generate its 2D mask in this view with SAM. Next, SA3D alternately performs mask inverse rendering and cross-view self-prompting across various views to iteratively complete the 3D mask of the target object constructed with voxel grids. The former projects the 2D mask obtained by SAM in the current view onto 3D mask with guidance of the density distribution learned by the NeRF; The latter extracts reliable prompts automatically as the input to SAM from the NeRF-rendered 2D mask in another view. We show in experiments that SA3D adapts to various scenes and achieves 3D segmentation within minutes. Our research offers a generic and efficient methodology to lift a 2D vision foundation model to 3D, as long as the 2D model can steadily address promptable segmentation across multiple views.

Real-World Image Super-Resolution as Multi-Task Learning

Wenlong Zhang · Xiaohui Li · Guangyuan SHI · Xiangyu Chen · Yu Qiao · Xiaoyun Zhang · Xiao-Ming Wu · Chao Dong

In this paper, we take a new look at real-world image super-resolution (real-SR) from a multi-task learning perspective. We demonstrate that the conventional formulation of real-SR can be viewed as solving multiple distinct degradation tasks using a single shared model. This poses a challenge known as task competition or task conflict in multi-task learning, where certain tasks dominate the learning process, resulting in poor performance on other tasks. This problem is exacerbated in the case of real-SR, due to the involvement of numerous degradation tasks. To address the issue of task competition in real-SR, we propose a task grouping approach. Our approach efficiently identifies the degradation tasks where a real-SR model falls short and groups these unsatisfactory tasks into multiple task groups. We then utilize the task groups to fine-tune the real-SR model in a simple way, which effectively mitigates task competition and facilitates knowledge transfer. Extensive experiments demonstrate our method achieves significantly enhanced performance across a wide range of degradation scenarios.

VPGTrans: Transfer Visual Prompt Generator across LLMs

Ao Zhang · Hao Fei · Yuan Yao · Wei Ji · Li Li · Zhiyuan Liu · Tat-Seng Chua

Since developing a new multimodal LLM (MLLM) by pre-training on tremendous image-text pairs from scratch can be exceedingly resource-consuming, connecting an existing LLM with a comparatively lightweight visual prompt generator (VPG) becomes a feasible paradigm. However, further tuning the VPG component of the MLLM still incurs significant computational costs, such as thousands of GPU hours and millions of training data points. An alternative solution is transferring an existing VPG from one MLLM to the target MLLM. In this work, we investigate VPG transferability across LLMs for the first time, aiming to reduce the cost of VPG training. Specifically, we explore VPG transfer across different LLM sizes (e.g., small-to-large) and types. We identify key factors to maximize transfer efficiency, based on which we develop a simple yet highly effective two-stage transfer framework, called VPGTrans. Notably, it enables VPG transfer from BLIP-2 OPT 2.7B to BLIP-2 OPT 6.7B with less than 10% of the GPU hours using only 10.7% of the training data compared to training a VPG for OPT 6.7B from scratch. Furthermore, we provide a series of intriguing findings and discuss potential explanations behind them. Finally, we showcase the practical value of our VPGTrans approach, by customizing two novel MLLMs, including VL-LLaMA and VL-Vicuna, with recently released LLaMA and Vicuna LLMs.

What Do Deep Saliency Models Learn about Visual Attention?

Shi Chen · Ming Jiang · Qi Zhao

In recent years, deep saliency models have made significant progress in predicting human visual attention. However, the mechanisms behind their success remain largely unexplained due to the opaque nature of deep neural networks. In this paper, we present a novel analytic framework that sheds light on the implicit features learned by saliency models and provides principled interpretation and quantification of their contributions to saliency prediction. Our approach decomposes these implicit features into interpretable bases that are explicitly aligned with semantic attributes and reformulates saliency prediction as a weighted combination of probability maps connecting the bases and saliency. By applying our framework, we conduct extensive analyses from various perspectives, including the positive and negative weights of semantics, the impact of training data and architectural designs, the progressive influences of fine-tuning, and common error patterns of state-of-the-art deep saliency models. Additionally, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework by exploring visual attention characteristics in various application scenarios, such as the atypical attention of people with autism spectrum disorder, attention to emotion-eliciting stimuli, and attention evolution over time. Our code is publicly available at \url{}.

Mask Propagation for Efficient Video Semantic Segmentation

Yuetian Weng · Mingfei Han · Haoyu He · Mingjie Li · Lina Yao · Xiaojun Chang · Bohan Zhuang

Video Semantic Segmentation (VSS) involves assigning a semantic label to each pixel in a video sequence. Prior work in this field has demonstrated promising results by extending image semantic segmentation models to exploit temporal relationships across video frames; however, these approaches often incur significant computational costs. In this paper, we propose an efficient mask propagation framework for VSS, called MPVSS. Our approach first employs a strong query-based image segmentor on sparse key frames to generate accurate binary masks and class predictions. We then design a flow estimation module utilizing the learned queries to generate a set of segment-aware flow maps, each associated with a mask prediction from the key frame. Finally, the mask-flow pairs are warped to serve as the mask predictions for the non-key frames. By reusing predictions from key frames, we circumvent the need to process a large volume of video frames individually with resource-intensive segmentors, alleviating temporal redundancy and significantly reducing computational costs. Extensive experiments on VSPW and Cityscapes demonstrate that our mask propagation framework achieves SOTA accuracy and efficiency trade-offs. For instance, our best model with Swin-L backbone outperforms the SOTA MRCFA using MiT-B5 by 4.0% mIoU, requiring only 26% FLOPs on the VSPW dataset. Moreover, our framework reduces up to 4× FLOPs compared to the per-frame Mask2Former baseline with only up to 2% mIoU degradation on the Cityscapes validation set. Code is available at

Stanford-ORB: A Real-World 3D Object Inverse Rendering Benchmark

Zhengfei Kuang · Yunzhi Zhang · Hong-Xing Yu · Samir Agarwala · Elliott / Shangzhe Wu · Jiajun Wu

We introduce Stanford-ORB, a new real-world 3D Object inverse Rendering Benchmark. Recent advances in inverse rendering have enabled a wide range of real-world applications in 3D content generation, moving rapidly from research and commercial use cases to consumer devices. While the results continue to improve, there is no real-world benchmark that can quantitatively assess and compare the performance of various inverse rendering methods. Existing real-world datasets typically only consist of the shape and multi-view images of objects, which are not sufficient for evaluating the quality of material recovery and object relighting. Methods capable of recovering material and lighting often resort to synthetic data for quantitative evaluation, which on the other hand does not guarantee generalization to complex real-world environments. We introduce a new dataset of real-world objects captured under a variety of natural scenes with ground-truth 3D scans, multi-view images, and environment lighting. Using this dataset, we establish the first comprehensive real-world evaluation benchmark for object inverse rendering tasks from in-the-wild scenes, and compare the performance of various existing methods. All data, code, and models can be accessed at

CommonScenes: Generating Commonsense 3D Indoor Scenes with Scene Graph Diffusion

Guangyao Zhai · Evin Pınar Örnek · Shun-Cheng Wu · Yan Di · Federico Tombari · Nassir Navab · Benjamin Busam

Controllable scene synthesis aims to create interactive environments for numerous industrial use cases. Scene graphs provide a highly suitable interface to facilitate these applications by abstracting the scene context in a compact manner. Existing methods, reliant on retrieval from extensive databases or pre-trained shape embeddings, often overlook scene-object and object-object relationships, leading to inconsistent results due to their limited generation capacity. To address this issue, we present CommonScenes, a fully generative model that converts scene graphs into corresponding controllable 3D scenes, which are semantically realistic and conform to commonsense. Our pipeline consists of two branches, one predicting the overall scene layout via a variational auto-encoder and the other generating compatible shapes via latent diffusion, capturing global scene-object and local inter-object relationships in the scene graph while preserving shape diversity. The generated scenes can be manipulated by editing the input scene graph and sampling the noise in the diffusion model. Due to the lack of a scene graph dataset offering high-quality object-level meshes with relations, we also construct SG-FRONT, enriching the off-the-shelf indoor dataset 3D-FRONT with additional scene graph labels. Extensive experiments are conducted on SG-FRONT, where CommonScenes shows clear advantages over other methods regarding generation consistency, quality, and diversity. Codes and the dataset are available on the website.

Towards Label-free Scene Understanding by Vision Foundation Models

Runnan Chen · Youquan Liu · Lingdong Kong · Nenglun Chen · Xinge ZHU · Yuexin Ma · Tongliang Liu · Wenping Wang

Vision foundation models such as Contrastive Vision-Language Pre-training (CLIP) and Segment Anything (SAM) have demonstrated impressive zero-shot performance on image classification and segmentation tasks. However, the incorporation of CLIP and SAM for label-free scene understanding has yet to be explored. In this paper, we investigate the potential of vision foundation models in enabling networks to comprehend 2D and 3D worlds without labelled data. The primary challenge lies in effectively supervising networks under extremely noisy pseudo labels, which are generated by CLIP and further exacerbated during the propagation from the 2D to the 3D domain. To tackle these challenges, we propose a novel Cross-modality Noisy Supervision (CNS) method that leverages the strengths of CLIP and SAM to supervise 2D and 3D networks simultaneously. In particular, we introduce a prediction consistency regularization to co-train 2D and 3D networks, then further impose the networks' latent space consistency using the SAM's robust feature representation. Experiments conducted on diverse indoor and outdoor datasets demonstrate the superior performance of our method in understanding 2D and 3D open environments. Our 2D and 3D network achieves label-free semantic segmentation with 28.4\% and 33.5\% mIoU on ScanNet, improving 4.7\% and 7.9\%, respectively. For nuImages and nuScenes datasets, the performance is 22.1\% and 26.8\% with improvements of 3.5\% and 6.0\%, respectively. Code is available. (

Real3D-AD: A Dataset of Point Cloud Anomaly Detection

Jiaqi Liu · Guoyang Xie · Ruitao Chen · Xinpeng Li · Jinbao Wang · Yong Liu · Chengjie Wang · Feng Zheng

High-precision point cloud anomaly detection is the gold standard for identifying the defects of advancing machining and precision manufacturing. Despite some methodological advances in this area, the scarcity of datasets and the lack of a systematic benchmark hinder its development. We introduce Real3D-AD, a challenging high-precision point cloud anomaly detection dataset, addressing the limitations in the field. With 1,254 high-resolution 3D items (from forty thousand to millions of points for each item), Real3D-AD is the largest dataset for high-precision 3D industrial anomaly detection to date. Real3D-AD surpasses existing 3D anomaly detection datasets available in terms of point cloud resolution (0.0010mm-0.0015mm), $360^{\circ}$ degree coverage and perfect prototype. Additionally, we present a comprehensive benchmark for Real3D-AD, revealing the absence of baseline methods for high-precision point cloud anomaly detection. To address this, we propose Reg3D-AD, a registration-based 3D anomaly detection method incorporating a novel feature memory bank that preserves local and global representations. Extensive experiments on the Real3D-AD dataset highlight the effectiveness of Reg3D-AD. For reproducibility and accessibility, we provide the Real3D-AD dataset, benchmark source code, and Reg3D-AD on our website:

Tame a Wild Camera: In-the-Wild Monocular Camera Calibration

Shengjie Zhu · Abhinav Kumar · Masa Hu · Xiaoming Liu

3D sensing for monocular in-the-wild images, e.g., depth estimation and 3D object detection, has become increasingly important.However, the unknown intrinsic parameter hinders their development and deployment.Previous methods for the monocular camera calibration rely on specific 3D objects or strong geometry prior, such as using a checkerboard or imposing a Manhattan World assumption.This work instead calibrates intrinsic via exploiting the monocular 3D prior.Given an undistorted image as input, our method calibrates the complete 4 Degree-of-Freedom (DoF) intrinsic parameters.First, we show intrinsic is determined by the two well-studied monocular priors: monocular depthmap and surface normal map.However, this solution necessitates a low-bias and low-variance depth estimation.Alternatively, we introduce the incidence field, defined as the incidence rays between points in 3D space and pixels in the 2D imaging plane.We show that: 1) The incidence field is a pixel-wise parametrization of the intrinsic invariant to image cropping and resizing.2) The incidence field is a learnable monocular 3D prior, determined pixel-wisely by up-to-sacle monocular depthmap and surface normal.With the estimated incidence field, a robust RANSAC algorithm recovers intrinsic.We show the effectiveness of our method through superior performance on synthetic and zero-shot testing datasets.Beyond calibration, we demonstrate downstream applications in image manipulation detection \& restoration, uncalibrated two-view pose estimation, and 3D sensing.

MixFormerV2: Efficient Fully Transformer Tracking

Yutao Cui · Tianhui Song · Gangshan Wu · Limin Wang

Transformer-based trackers have achieved strong accuracy on the standard benchmarks. However, their efficiency remains an obstacle to practical deployment on both GPU and CPU platforms. In this paper, to overcome this issue, we propose a fully transformer tracking framework, coined as \emph{MixFormerV2}, without any dense convolutional operation and complex score prediction module. Our key design is to introduce four special prediction tokens and concatenate them with the tokens from target template and search areas. Then, we apply the unified transformer backbone on these mixed token sequence. These prediction tokens are able to capture the complex correlation between target template and search area via mixed attentions. Based on them, we can easily predict the tracking box and estimate its confidence score through simple MLP heads. To further improve the efficiency of MixFormerV2, we present a new distillation-based model reduction paradigm, including dense-to-sparse distillation and deep-to-shallow distillation. The former one aims to transfer knowledge from the dense-head based MixViT to our fully transformer tracker, while the latter one is used to prune some layers of the backbone. We instantiate two types of MixForemrV2, where the MixFormerV2-B achieves an AUC of 70.6\% on LaSOT and AUC of 56.7\% on TNL2k with a high GPU speed of 165 FPS, and the MixFormerV2-S surpasses FEAR-L by 2.7\% AUC on LaSOT with a real-time CPU speed.

TMT-VIS: Taxonomy-aware Multi-dataset Joint Training for Video Instance Segmentation

Rongkun Zheng · Lu Qi · Xi Chen · Yi Wang · Kun Wang · Yu Qiao · Hengshuang Zhao

Training on large-scale datasets can boost the performance of video instance segmentation while the annotated datasets for VIS are hard to scale up due to the high labor cost. What we possess are numerous isolated filed-specific datasets, thus, it is appealing to jointly train models across the aggregation of datasets to enhance data volume and diversity. However, due to the heterogeneity in category space, as mask precision increase with the data volume, simply utilizing multiple datasets will dilute the attention of models on different taxonomy. Thus, increasing the data scale and enriching taxonomy space while improving classification precision is important. In this work, we analyze that providing extra taxonomy information can help models concentrate on specific taxonomy, and propose our model named Taxonomy-aware Multi-dataset Joint Training for Video Instance Segmentation (TMT-VIS) to address this vital challenge. Specifically, we design a two-stage taxonomy aggregation module that first compiles taxonomy information from input videos and then aggregates these taxonomy priors into instance queries before the transformer decoder. We conduct extensive experimental evaluations on four popular and challenging benchmarks, including YouTube-VIS 2019, YouTube-VIS 2021, OVIS, and UVO. Our model shows significant improvement over the baseline solutions, and sets new state-of-the-art records on all these benchmarks. These appealing and encouraging results demonstrate the effectiveness and generality of our proposed approach. The code and trained models will be publicly available.

Learning Neural Implicit through Volume Rendering with Attentive Depth Fusion Priors

Pengchong Hu · Zhizhong Han

Learning neural implicit representations has achieved remarkable performance in 3D reconstruction from multi-view images. Current methods use volume rendering to render implicit representations into either RGB or depth images that are supervised by the multi-view ground truth. However, rendering a view each time suffers from incomplete depth at holes and unawareness of occluded structures from the depth supervision, which severely affects the accuracy of geometry inference via volume rendering. To resolve this issue, we propose to learn neural implicit representations from multi-view RGBD images through volume rendering with an attentive depth fusion prior. Our prior allows neural networks to sense coarse 3D structures from the Truncated Signed Distance Function (TSDF) fused from all available depth images for rendering. The TSDF enables accessing the missing depth at holes on one depth image and the occluded parts that are invisible from the current view. By introducing a novel attention mechanism, we allow neural networks to directly use the depth fusion prior with the inferred occupancy as the learned implicit function. Our attention mechanism works with either a one-time fused TSDF that represents a whole scene or an incrementally fused TSDF that represents a partial scene in the context of Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). Our evaluations on widely used benchmarks including synthetic and real-world scans show our superiority over the latest neural implicit methods.

Towards A Richer 2D Understanding of Hands at Scale

Tianyi Cheng · Dandan Shan · Ayda Hassen · Richard Higgins · David Fouhey

As humans, we learn a lot about how to interact with the world by observing others interacting with their hands. To help AI systems obtain a better understanding of hand interactions, we introduce a new model that produces a rich understanding of hand interaction. Our system produces a richer output than past systems at a larger scale. Our outputs include boxes and segments for hands, in-contact objects, and second objects touched by tools as well as contact and grasp type. Supporting this method are annotations of 257K images, 401K hands, 288K objects, and 19K second objects spanning four datasets. We show that our method provides rich information and performs and generalizes well.

HotBEV: Hardware-oriented Transformer-based Multi-View 3D Detector for BEV Perception

Peiyan Dong · Zhenglun Kong · Xin Meng · Pinrui Yu · Yifan Gong · Geng Yuan · Hao Tang · Yanzhi Wang

The bird's-eye-view (BEV) perception plays a critical role in autonomous driving systems, involving the accurate and efficient detection and tracking of objects from a top-down perspective. To achieve real-time decision-making in self-driving scenarios, low-latency computation is essential. While recent approaches to BEV detection have focused on improving detection precision using Lift-Splat-Shoot (LSS)-based or transformer-based schemas, the substantial computational and memory burden of these approaches increases the risk of system crashes when multiple on-vehicle tasks run simultaneously. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of literature on efficient BEV detector paradigms, let alone achieving realistic speedups.Unlike existing works that focus on reducing computation costs, this paper focuses on developing an efficient model design that prioritizes actual on-device latency.To achieve this goal, we propose a latency-aware design methodology that considers key hardware properties, such as memory access cost and degree of parallelism.Given the prevalence of GPUs as the main computation platform for autonomous driving systems, we develop a theoretical latency prediction model and introduce efficient building operators.By leveraging these operators and following an effective local-to-global visual modeling process, we propose a hardware-oriented backbone that is also optimized for strong feature capturing and fusing.Using these insights, we present a new hardware-oriented framework for efficient yet accurate camera-view BEV detectors.Experiments show that HotBEV achieves a 2\%$\sim$23\% NDS gain, and 2\%$\sim$7.8\% mAP gain with a 1.1$\times$$\sim$3.4$\times$ speedups compared to existing works on V100;On multiple GPU devices such as GPU GTX 2080 and the low-end GTX 1080, HotBEV achieves 1.1$\times$$\sim$6.3$\times$ faster than others.

Spotlight Poster
QuantSR: Accurate Low-bit Quantization for Efficient Image Super-Resolution

Haotong Qin · Yulun Zhang · Yifu Ding · Yifan liu · Xianglong Liu · Martin Danelljan · Fisher Yu

Low-bit quantization in image super-resolution (SR) has attracted copious attention in recent research due to its ability to reduce parameters and operations significantly. However, many quantized SR models suffer from accuracy degradation compared to their full-precision counterparts, especially at ultra-low bit widths (2-4 bits), limiting their practical applications. To address this issue, we propose a novel quantized image SR network, called QuantSR, which achieves accurate and efficient SR processing under low-bit quantization. To overcome the representation homogeneity caused by quantization in the network, we introduce the Redistribution-driven Learnable Quantizer (RLQ). This is accomplished through an inference-agnostic efficient redistribution design, which adds additional information in both forward and backward passes to improve the representation ability of quantized networks. Furthermore, to achieve flexible inference and break the upper limit of accuracy, we propose the Depth-dynamic Quantized Architecture (DQA). Our DQA allows for the trade-off between efficiency and accuracy during inference through weight sharing. Our comprehensive experiments show that QuantSR outperforms existing state-of-the-art quantized SR networks in terms of accuracy while also providing more competitive computational efficiency. In addition, we demonstrate the scheme's satisfactory architecture generality by providing QuantSR-C and QuantSR-T for both convolution and Transformer versions, respectively. Our code and models are released at .

ViSt3D: Video Stylization with 3D CNN

Ayush Pande · Gaurav Sharma

Visual stylization has been a very popular research area in recent times. While image stylization has seen a rapid advancement in the recent past, video stylization, while being more challenging, is relatively less explored. The immediate method of stylizing videos by stylizing each frame independently has been tried with some success. To the best of our knowledge, we present the first approach to video stylization using 3D CNN directly, building upon insights from 2D image stylization. Stylizing video is highly challenging, as the appearance and video motion, which includes both camera and subject motions, are inherently entangled in the representations learnt by a 3D CNN. Hence, a naive extension of 2D CNN stylization methods to 3D CNN does not work. To perform stylization with 3D CNN, we propose to explicitly disentangle motion and appearance, stylize the appearance part, and then add back the motion component and decode the final stylized video. In addition, we propose a dataset, curated from existing datasets, to train video stylization networks. We also provide an independently collected test set to study the generalization of video stylization methods. We provide results on this test dataset comparing the proposed method with 2D stylization methods applied frame by frame. We show successful stylization with 3D CNN for the first time, and obtain better stylization in terms of texture cf.\ the existing 2D methods.

IDEA: An Invariant Perspective for Efficient Domain Adaptive Image Retrieval

Haixin Wang · Hao Wu · Jinan Sun · Shikun Zhang · Chong Chen · Xian-Sheng Hua · Xiao Luo

In this paper, we investigate the problem of unsupervised domain adaptive hashing, which leverage knowledge from a label-rich source domain to expedite learning to hash on a label-scarce target domain. Although numerous existing approaches attempt to incorporate transfer learning techniques into deep hashing frameworks, they often neglect the essential invariance for adequate alignment between these two domains. Worse yet, these methods fail to distinguish between causal and non-causal effects embedded in images, rendering cross-domain retrieval ineffective. To address these challenges, we propose an Invariance-acquired Domain AdaptivE HAshing (IDEA) model. Our IDEA first decomposes each image into a causal feature representing label information, and a non-causal feature indicating domain information. Subsequently, we generate discriminative hash codes using causal features with consistency learning on both source and target domains. More importantly, we employ a generative model for synthetic samples to simulate the intervention of various non-causal effects, ultimately minimizing their impact on hash codes for domain invariance. Comprehensive experiments conducted on benchmark datasets validate the superior performance of our IDEA compared to a variety of competitive baselines.

Uni3DETR: Unified 3D Detection Transformer

Zhenyu Wang · Ya-Li Li · Xi Chen · Hengshuang Zhao · Shengjin Wang

Existing point cloud based 3D detectors are designed for the particular scene, either indoor or outdoor ones. Because of the substantial differences in object distribution and point density within point clouds collected from various environments, coupled with the intricate nature of 3D metrics, there is still a lack of a unified network architecture that can accommodate diverse scenes. In this paper, we propose Uni3DETR, a unified 3D detector that addresses indoor and outdoor 3D detection within the same framework. Specifically, we employ the detection transformer with point-voxel interaction for object prediction, which leverages voxel features and points for cross-attention and behaves resistant to the discrepancies from data. We then propose the mixture of query points, which sufficiently exploits global information for dense small-range indoor scenes and local information for large-range sparse outdoor ones. Furthermore, our proposed decoupled IoU provides an easy-to-optimize training target for localization by disentangling the $xy$ and $z$ space. Extensive experiments validate that Uni3DETR exhibits excellent performance consistently on both indoor and outdoor 3D detection. In contrast to previous specialized detectors, which may perform well on some particular datasets but suffer a substantial degradation on different scenes, Uni3DETR demonstrates the strong generalization ability under heterogeneous conditions (Fig. 1).

Training on Foveated Images Improves Robustness to Adversarial Attacks

Muhammad Shah · Aqsa Kashaf · Bhiksha Raj

Deep neural networks (DNNs) have been shown to be vulnerable to adversarial attacks-- subtle, perceptually indistinguishable perturbations of inputs that change the response of the model. In the context of vision, we hypothesize that an important contributor to the robustness of human visual perception is constant exposure to low-fidelity visual stimuli in our peripheral vision. To investigate this hypothesis, we develop RBlur, an image transform that simulates the loss in fidelity of peripheral vision by blurring the image and reducing its color saturation based on the distance from a given fixation point. We show that compared to DNNs trained on the original images, DNNs trained on images transformed by RBlur are substantially more robust to adversarial attacks, as well as other, non-adversarial, corruptions, achieving up to 25% higher accuracy on perturbed data.

Volume Feature Rendering for Fast Neural Radiance Field Reconstruction

Kang Han · Wei Xiang · Lu Yu

Neural radiance fields (NeRFs) are able to synthesize realistic novel views from multi-view images captured from distinct positions and perspectives. In NeRF's rendering pipeline, neural networks are used to represent a scene independently or transform queried learnable feature vector of a point to the expected color or density. With the aid of geometry guides either in the form of occupancy grids or proposal networks, the number of color neural network evaluations can be reduced from hundreds to dozens in the standard volume rendering framework. However, many evaluations of the color neural network are still a bottleneck for fast NeRF reconstruction. This paper revisits volume feature rendering (VFR) for the purpose of fast NeRF reconstruction. The VFR integrates the queried feature vectors of a ray into one feature vector, which is then transformed to the final pixel color by a color neural network. This fundamental change to the standard volume rendering framework requires only one single color neural network evaluation to render a pixel, which substantially lowers the high computational complexity of the rendering framework attributed to a large number of color neural network evaluations. Consequently, we can use a comparably larger color neural network to achieve a better rendering quality while maintaining the same training and rendering time costs. This approach achieves the state-of-the-art rendering quality on both synthetic and real-world datasets while requiring less training time compared with existing methods.

Multi-body SE(3) Equivariance for Unsupervised Rigid Segmentation and Motion Estimation

Jia-Xing Zhong · Ta-Ying Cheng · Yuhang He · Kai Lu · Kaichen Zhou · Andrew Markham · Niki Trigoni

A truly generalizable approach to rigid segmentation and motion estimation is fundamental to 3D understanding of articulated objects and moving scenes. In view of the closely intertwined relationship between segmentation and motion estimates, we present an SE(3) equivariant architecture and a training strategy to tackle this task in an unsupervised manner. Our architecture is composed of two interconnected, lightweight heads. These heads predict segmentation masks using point-level invariant features and estimate motion from SE(3) equivariant features, all without the need for category information. Our training strategy is unified and can be implemented online, which jointly optimizes the predicted segmentation and motion by leveraging the interrelationships among scene flow, segmentation mask, and rigid transformations. We conduct experiments on four datasets to demonstrate the superiority of our method. The results show that our method excels in both model performance and computational efficiency, with only 0.25M parameters and 0.92G FLOPs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work designed for category-agnostic part-level SE(3) equivariance in dynamic point clouds.

Spotlight Poster
From Pixels to UI Actions: Learning to Follow Instructions via Graphical User Interfaces

Peter Shaw · Mandar Joshi · James Cohan · Jonathan Berant · Panupong Pasupat · Hexiang Hu · Urvashi Khandelwal · Kenton Lee · Kristina N Toutanova

Much of the previous work towards digital agents for graphical user interfaces (GUIs) has relied on text-based representations (derived from HTML or other structured data sources), which are not always readily available. These input representations have been often coupled with custom, task-specific action spaces. This paper focuses on creating agents that interact with the digital world using the same conceptual interface that humans commonly use — via pixel-based screenshots and a generic action space corresponding to keyboard and mouse actions. Building upon recent progress in pixel-based pretraining, we show, for the first time, that it is possible for such agents to outperform human crowdworkers on the MiniWob++ benchmark of GUI-based instruction following tasks.

DFRD: Data-Free Robustness Distillation for Heterogeneous Federated Learning

kangyang Luo · Shuai Wang · Yexuan Fu · Xiang Li · Yunshi Lan · Ming Gao

Federated Learning (FL) is a privacy-constrained decentralized machine learning paradigm in which clients enable collaborative training without compromising private data. However, how to learn a robust global model in the data-heterogeneous and model-heterogeneous FL scenarios is challenging. To address it, we resort to data-free knowledge distillation to propose a new FL method (namely DFRD).DFRD equips a conditional generator on the server to approximate the training space of the local models uploaded by clients, and systematically investigates its training in terms of fidelity, transferability and diversity. To overcome the catastrophic forgetting of the global model caused by the distribution shifts of the generator across communication rounds, we maintain an exponential moving average copy of the generator on the server. Additionally, we propose dynamic weighting and label sampling to accurately extract knowledge from local models. Finally, our extensive experiments on various image classification tasks illustrate that DFRD achieves significant performance gains compared to SOTA baselines.

SALSA VERDE: a machine learning attack on LWE with sparse small secrets

Cathy Li · Emily Wenger · Zeyuan Allen-Zhu · Francois Charton · Kristin E. Lauter

Learning with Errors (LWE) is a hard math problem used in post-quantum cryptography. Homomorphic Encryption (HE) schemes rely on the hardness of the LWE problem for their security, and two LWE-based cryptosystems were recently standardized by NIST for digital signatures and key exchange (KEM). Thus, it is critical to continue assessing the security of LWE and specific parameter choices. For example, HE uses secrets with small entries, and the HE community has considered standardizing small sparse secrets to improve efficiency and functionality. However, prior work, SALSA and PICANTE, showed that ML attacks can recover sparse binary secrets. Building on these, we propose VERDE, an improved ML attack that can recover sparse binary, ternary, and narrow Gaussian secrets. Using improved preprocessing and secret recovery techniques, VERDE can attack LWE with larger dimensions ($n=512$) and smaller moduli ($\log_2 q=12$ for $n=256$), using less time and power. We propose novel architectures for scaling. Finally, we develop a theory that explains the success of ML LWE attacks.

GeoPhy: Differentiable Phylogenetic Inference via Geometric Gradients of Tree Topologies

Takahiro Mimori · Michiaki Hamada

Phylogenetic inference, grounded in molecular evolution models, is essential for understanding the evolutionary relationships in biological data. Accounting for the uncertainty of phylogenetic tree variables, which include tree topologies and evolutionary distances on branches, is crucial for accurately inferring species relationships from molecular data and tasks requiring variable marginalization. Variational Bayesian methods are key to developing scalable, practical models; however, it remains challenging to conduct phylogenetic inference without restricting the combinatorially vast number of possible tree topologies. In this work, we introduce a novel, fully differentiable formulation of phylogenetic inference that leverages a unique representation of topological distributions in continuous geometric spaces. Through practical considerations on design spaces and control variates for gradient estimations, our approach, GeoPhy, enables variational inference without limiting the topological candidates. In experiments using real benchmark datasets, GeoPhy significantly outperformed other approximate Bayesian methods that considered whole topologies.

ProteinNPT: Improving Protein Property Prediction and Design with Non-Parametric Transformers

Pascal Notin · Ruben Weitzman · Debora Marks · Yarin Gal

Protein design holds immense potential for optimizing naturally occurring proteins, with broad applications in drug discovery, material design, and sustainability. However, computational methods for protein engineering are confronted with significant challenges, such as an expansive design space, sparse functional regions, and a scarcity of available labels. These issues are further exacerbated in practice by the fact most real-life design scenarios necessitate the simultaneous optimization of multiple properties. In this work, we introduce ProteinNPT, a non-parametric transformer variant tailored to protein sequences and particularly suited to label-scarce and multi-task learning settings. We first focus on the supervised fitness prediction setting and develop several cross-validation schemes which support robust performance assessment. We subsequently reimplement prior top-performing baselines, introduce several extensions of these baselines by integrating diverse branches of the protein engineering literature, and demonstrate that ProteinNPT consistently outperforms all of them across a diverse set of protein property prediction tasks. Finally, we demonstrate the value of our approach for iterative protein design across extensive in silico Bayesian optimization and conditional sampling experiments.

PoET: A generative model of protein families as sequences-of-sequences

Timothy Truong Jr · Tristan Bepler

Generative protein language models are a natural way to design new proteins with desired functions. However, current models are either difficult to direct to produce a protein from a specific family of interest, or must be trained on a large multiple sequence alignment (MSA) from the specific family of interest, making them unable to benefit from transfer learning across families. To address this, we propose Protein Evolutionary Transformer (PoET), an autoregressive generative model of whole protein families that learns to generate sets of related proteins as sequences-of-sequences across tens of millions of natural protein sequence clusters. PoET can be used as a retrieval-augmented language model to generate and score arbitrary modifications conditioned on any protein family of interest, and can extrapolate from short context lengths to generalize well even for small families. This is enabled by a unique Transformer layer; we model tokens sequentially within sequences while attending between sequences order invariantly, allowing PoET to scale to context lengths beyond those used during training. In extensive experiments on deep mutational scanning datasets, we show that PoET outperforms existing protein language models and evolutionary sequence models for variant function prediction across proteins of all MSA depths. We also demonstrate PoET's ability to controllably generate new protein sequences.

Neural Frailty Machine: Beyond proportional hazard assumption in neural survival regressions

Ruofan Wu · Jiawei Qiao · Mingzhe Wu · Wen Yu · Ming Zheng · Tengfei LIU · Tianyi Zhang · Weiqiang Wang

We present neural frailty machine (NFM), a powerful and flexible neural modeling framework for survival regressions. The NFM framework utilizes the classical idea of multiplicative frailty in survival analysis as a principled way of extending the proportional hazard assumption, at the same time being able to leverage the strong approximation power of neural architectures for handling nonlinear covariate dependence. Two concrete models are derived under the framework that extends neural proportional hazard models and nonparametric hazard regression models. Both models allow efficient training under the likelihood objective. Theoretically, for both proposed models, we establish statistical guarantees of neural function approximation with respect to nonparametric components via characterizing their rate of convergence. Empirically, we provide synthetic experiments that verify our theoretical statements. We also conduct experimental evaluations over $6$ benchmark datasets of different scales, showing that the proposed NFM models achieve predictive performance comparable to or sometimes surpassing state-of-the-art survival models. Our code is publicly availabel at

Med-UniC: Unifying Cross-Lingual Medical Vision-Language Pre-Training by Diminishing Bias

Zhongwei Wan · Che Liu · Mi Zhang · Jie Fu · Benyou Wang · Sibo Cheng · Lei Ma · César Quilodrán-Casas · Rossella Arcucci

The scarcity of data presents a critical obstacle to the efficacy of medical vision-language pre-training (VLP). A potential solution lies in the combination of datasets from various language communities.Nevertheless, the main challenge stems from the complexity of integrating diverse syntax and semantics, language-specific medical terminology, and culture-specific implicit knowledge. Therefore, one crucial aspect to consider is the presence of community bias caused by different languages.This paper presents a novel framework named Unifying Cross-Lingual Medical Vision-Language Pre-Training (\textbf{Med-UniC}), designed to integrate multi-modal medical data from the two most prevalent languages, English and Spanish. Specifically, we propose \textbf{C}ross-lingual \textbf{T}ext Alignment \textbf{R}egularization (\textbf{CTR}) to explicitly unify cross-lingual semantic representations of medical reports originating from diverse language communities. \textbf{CTR} is optimized through latent language disentanglement, rendering our optimization objective to not depend on negative samples, thereby significantly mitigating the bias from determining positive-negative sample pairs within analogous medical reports. Furthermore, it ensures that the cross-lingual representation is not biased toward any specific language community.\textbf{Med-UniC} reaches superior performance across 5 medical image tasks and 10 datasets encompassing over 30 diseases, offering a versatile framework for unifying multi-modal medical data within diverse linguistic communities.The experimental outcomes highlight the presence of community bias in cross-lingual VLP. Reducing this bias enhances the performance not only in vision-language tasks but also in uni-modal visual tasks.

AVIS: Autonomous Visual Information Seeking with Large Language Model Agent

Ziniu Hu · Ahmet Iscen · Chen Sun · Kai-Wei Chang · Yizhou Sun · David Ross · Cordelia Schmid · Alireza Fathi

In this paper, we propose an autonomous information seeking visual question answering framework, AVIS. Our method leverages a Large Language Model (LLM) to dynamically strategize the utilization of external tools and to investigate their outputs via tree search, thereby acquiring the indispensable knowledge needed to provide answers to the posed questions. Responding to visual questions that necessitate external knowledge, such as "What event is commemorated by the building depicted in this image?", is a complex task. This task presents a combinatorial search space that demands a sequence of actions, including invoking APIs, analyzing their responses, and making informed decisions. We conduct a user study to collect a variety of instances of human decision-making when faced with this task. This data is then used to design a system comprised of three components: an LLM-powered planner that dynamically determines which tool to use next, an LLM-powered reasoner that analyzes and extracts key information from the tool outputs, and a working memory component that retains the acquired information throughout the process. The collected user behavior serves as a guide for our system in two key ways. First, we create a transition graph by analyzing the sequence of decisions made by users. This graph delineates distinct states and confines the set of actions available at each state. Second, we use examples of user decision-making to provide our LLM-powered planner and reasoner with relevant contextual instances, enhancing their capacity to make informed decisions. We show that AVIS achieves state-of-the-art results on knowledge-based visual question answering benchmarks such as Infoseek and OK-VQA.

Spotlight Poster
The Goldilocks of Pragmatic Understanding: Fine-Tuning Strategy Matters for Implicature Resolution by LLMs

Laura Ruis · Akbir Khan · Stella Biderman · Sara Hooker · Tim Rocktäschel · Edward Grefenstette

Despite widespread use of LLMs as conversational agents, evaluations of performance fail to capture a crucial aspect of communication: interpreting language in context---incorporating its pragmatics. Humans interpret language using beliefs and prior knowledge about the world. For example, we intuitively understand the response "I wore gloves" to the question "Did you leave fingerprints?" as meaning "No". To investigate whether LLMs have the ability to make this type of inference, known as an implicature, we design a simple task and evaluate four categories of widely used state-of-the-art models. We find that, despite only evaluating on utterances that require a binary inference (yes or no), models in three of these categories perform close to random. However, LLMs instruction-tuned at the example-level perform significantly better. These results suggest that certain fine-tuning strategies are far better at inducing pragmatic understanding in models. We present our findings as the starting point for further research into evaluating how LLMs interpret language in context and to drive the development of more pragmatic and useful models of human discourse.

Composing Parameter-Efficient Modules with Arithmetic Operation

Jinghan Zhang · shiqi chen · Junteng Liu · Junxian He

As an efficient alternative to conventional full fine-tuning, parameter-efficient fine-tuning (PEFT) is becoming the prevailing method to adapt pretrained language models. In PEFT, a lightweight module is learned on each dataset while the underlying pretrained language model remains unchanged, resulting in multiple compact modules representing diverse skills when applied to various domains and tasks. In this paper, we propose to compose these parameter-efficient modules through linear arithmetic operations in the weight space, thereby integrating different module capabilities. Specifically, we first define an addition and negation operator for the module, and then further compose these two basic operators to perform flexible arithmetic. Our approach requires no additional training and enables highly flexible module composition. We apply different arithmetic operations to compose the parameter-efficient modules for (1) distribution generalization, (2) multi-tasking, (3) detoxifying, and (4) domain transfer. Additionally, we extend our approach to detoxify Alpaca-LoRA, the latest instruction-tuned large language model based on LLaMA. Empirical results demonstrate that our approach produces new and effective parameter-efficient modules that significantly outperform existing ones across all settings.

Spotlight Poster
HyTrel: Hypergraph-enhanced Tabular Data Representation Learning

Pei Chen · Soumajyoti Sarkar · Leonard Lausen · Balasubramaniam Srinivasan · Sheng Zha · Ruihong Huang · George Karypis

Language models pretrained on large collections of tabular data have demonstrated their effectiveness in several downstream tasks.However, many of these models do not take into account the row/column permutation invariances, hierarchical structure, etc. that exist in tabular data. To alleviate these limitations, we propose HyTrel, a tabular language model, that captures the permutation invariances and three more structural properties of tabular data by using hypergraphs--where the table cells make up the nodes and the cells occurring jointly together in each row, column, and the entire table are used to form three different types of hyperedges. We show thatHyTrel is maximally invariant under certain conditions for tabular data, i.e., two tables obtain the same representations via HyTreliff the two tables are identical up to permutation. Our empirical results demonstrate that HyTrel consistently outperforms other competitive baselines on four downstream tasks with minimal pretraining, illustrating the advantages of incorporating inductive biases associated with tabular data into the representations. Finally, our qualitative analyses showcase that HyTrel can assimilate the table structure to generate robust representations for the cells, rows, columns, and the entire table.

Parameterizing Context: Unleashing the Power of Parameter-Efficient Fine-Tuning and In-Context Tuning for Continual Table Semantic Parsing

Yongrui Chen · Shenyu Zhang · Guilin Qi · Xinnan Guo

Continual table semantic parsing aims to train a parser on a sequence of tasks, where each task requires the parser to translate natural language into SQL based on task-specific tables but only offers limited training examples. Conventional methods tend to suffer from overfitting with limited supervision, as well as catastrophic forgetting due to parameter updates.Despite recent advancements that partially alleviate these issues through semi-supervised data augmentation and retention of a few past examples, the performance is still limited by the volume of unsupervised data and stored examples.To overcome these challenges, this paper introduces a novel method integrating parameter-efficient fine-tuning (PEFT) and in-context tuning (ICT) for training a continual table semantic parser. Initially, we present a task-adaptive PEFT framework capable of fully circumventing catastrophic forgetting, which is achieved by freezing the pre-trained model backbone and fine-tuning small-scale prompts. Building on this, we propose a teacher-student framework-based solution. The teacher addresses the few-shot problem using ICT, which procures contextual information by demonstrating a few training examples. In turn, the student leverages the proposed PEFT framework to learn from the teacher's output distribution, and subsequently compresses and saves the contextual information to the prompts, eliminating the need to store any training examples.Experimental evaluations on two benchmarks affirm the superiority of our method over prevalent few-shot and continual learning baselines across various metrics.

Augmenting Language Models with Long-Term Memory

Weizhi Wang · Li Dong · Hao Cheng · Xiaodong Liu · Xifeng Yan · Jianfeng Gao · Furu Wei

Existing large language models (LLMs) can only afford fix-sized inputs due to the input length limit, preventing them from utilizing rich long-context information from past inputs. To address this, we propose a framework, Language Models Augmented with Long-Term Memory (LongMem), which enables LLMs to memorize long history. We design a novel decoupled network architecture with the original backbone LLM frozen as a memory encoder and an adaptive residual side-network as a memory retriever and reader. Such a decoupled memory design can easily cache and update long-term past contexts for memory retrieval without suffering from memory staleness. Enhanced with memory-augmented adaptation training, LongMem can thus memorize long past context and use long-term memory for language modeling. The proposed memory retrieval module can handle unlimited-length context in its memory bank to benefit various downstream tasks. Typically, LongMem can enlarge the long-form memory to 65k tokens and thus cache many-shot extra demonstration examples as long-form memory for in-context learning. Experiments show that our method outperforms strong long-context models on ChapterBreak, a challenging long-context modeling benchmark, and achieves remarkable improvements on memory-augmented in-context learning over LLMs. The results demonstrate that the proposed method is effective in helping language models to memorize and utilize long-form contents.

CAMEL: Communicative Agents for "Mind" Exploration of Large Language Model Society

Guohao Li · Hasan Hammoud · Hani Itani · Dmitrii Khizbullin · Bernard Ghanem

The rapid advancement of chat-based language models has led to remarkable progress in complex task-solving. However, their success heavily relies on human input to guide the conversation, which can be challenging and time-consuming. This paper explores the potential of building scalable techniques to facilitate autonomous cooperation among communicative agents, and provides insight into their “cognitive” processes. To address the challenges of achieving autonomous cooperation, we propose a novel communicative agent framework named role-playing . Our approach involves using inception prompting to guide chat agents toward task completion while maintaining consistency with human intentions. We showcase how role-playing can be used to generate conversational data for studying the behaviors and capabilities of a society of agents, providing a valuable resource for investigating conversational language models. In particular, we conduct comprehensive studies on instruction-following cooperation in multi-agent settings. Our contributions include introducing a novel communicative agent framework, offering a scalable approach for studying the cooperative behaviors and capabilities of multi-agent systems, and open-sourcing our library to support research on communicative agents and beyond:

Large language models transition from integrating across position-yoked, exponential windows to structure-yoked, power-law windows

David Skrill · Samuel Norman-Haignere

Modern language models excel at integrating across long temporal scales needed to encode linguistic meaning and show non-trivial similarities to biological neural systems. Prior work suggests that human brain responses to language exhibit hierarchically organized "integration windows" that substantially constrain the overall influence of an input token (e.g., a word) on the neural response. However, little prior work has attempted to use integration windows to characterize computations in large language models (LLMs). We developed a simple word-swap procedure for estimating integration windows from black-box language models that does not depend on access to gradients or knowledge of the model architecture (e.g., attention weights). Using this method, we show that trained LLMs exhibit stereotyped integration windows that are well-fit by a convex combination of an exponential and a power-law function, with a partial transition from exponential to power-law dynamics across network layers. We then introduce a metric for quantifying the extent to which these integration windows vary with structural boundaries (e.g., sentence boundaries), and using this metric, we show that integration windows become increasingly yoked to structure at later network layers. None of these findings were observed in an untrained model, which as expected integrated uniformly across its input. These results suggest that LLMs learn to integrate information in natural language using a stereotyped pattern: integrating across position-yoked, exponential windows at early layers, followed by structure-yoked, power-law windows at later layers. The methods we describe in this paper provide a general-purpose toolkit for understanding temporal integration in language models, facilitating cross-disciplinary research at the intersection of biological and artificial intelligence.

Large Language Models for Automated Data Science: Introducing CAAFE for Context-Aware Automated Feature Engineering

Noah Hollmann · Samuel Müller · Frank Hutter

As the field of automated machine learning (AutoML) advances, it becomes increasingly important to incorporate domain knowledge into these systems.We present an approach for doing so by harnessing the power of large language models (LLMs). Specifically, we introduce Context-Aware Automated Feature Engineering (CAAFE), a feature engineering method for tabular datasets that utilizes an LLM to iteratively generate additional semantically meaningful features for tabular datasets based on the description of the dataset. The method produces both Python code for creating new features and explanations for the utility of the generated features.Despite being methodologically simple, CAAFE improves performance on 11 out of 14 datasets -- boosting mean ROC AUC performance from 0.798 to 0.822 across all dataset - similar to the improvement achieved by using a random forest instead of logistic regression on our datasets. Furthermore, CAAFE is interpretable by providing a textual explanation for each generated feature.CAAFE paves the way for more extensive semi-automation in data science tasks and emphasizes the significance of context-aware solutions that can extend the scope of AutoML systems to semantic AutoML. We release our code, a simple demo and a python package.

Is Your Code Generated by ChatGPT Really Correct? Rigorous Evaluation of Large Language Models for Code Generation

Jiawei Liu · Chunqiu Steven Xia · Yuyao Wang · LINGMING ZHANG

Program synthesis has been long studied with recent approaches focused on directly using the power of Large Language Models (LLMs) to generate code. Programming benchmarks, with curated synthesis problems and test-cases, are used to measure the performance of various LLMs on code synthesis. However, these test-cases can be limited in both quantity and quality for fully assessing the functional correctness of the generated code. Such limitation in the existing benchmarks begs the following question: In the era of LLMs, is the code generated really correct? To answer this, we propose EvalPlus – a code synthesis evaluation framework to rigorously benchmark the functional correctness of LLM-synthesized code. EvalPlus augments a given evaluation dataset with large amounts of test-cases newly produced by an automatic test input generator, powered by both LLM- and mutation-based strategies. While EvalPlus is general, we extend the test-cases of the popular HumanEval benchmark by 80x to build HumanEval+. Our extensive evaluation across 26 popular LLMs (e.g., GPT-4 and ChatGPT) demonstrates that HumanEval+ is able to catch significant amounts of previously undetected wrong code synthesized by LLMs, reducing the pass@k by up-to 19.3-28.9%. We also surprisingly found that test insufficiency can lead to mis-ranking. For example, both WizardCoder-CodeLlama and Phind-CodeLlama now outperform ChatGPT on HumanEval+, while none of them could on HumanEval. Our work not only indicates that prior popular code synthesis evaluation results do not accurately reflect the true performance of LLMs for code synthesis, but also opens up a new direction to improve such programming benchmarks through automated testing. We have open-sourced our tools, enhanced datasets as well as all LLM-generated code at to facilitate and accelerate future LLM-for-code research.

Spotlight Poster
Birth of a Transformer: A Memory Viewpoint

Alberto Bietti · Vivien Cabannes · Diane Bouchacourt · Herve Jegou · Leon Bottou

Large language models based on transformers have achieved great empirical successes. However, as they are deployed more widely, there is a growing need to better understand their internal mechanisms in order to make them more reliable. These models appear to store vast amounts of knowledge from their training data, and to adapt quickly to new information provided in their context or prompt. We study how transformers balance these two types of knowledge by considering a synthetic setup where tokens are generated from either global or context-specific bigram distributions. By a careful empirical analysis of the training process on a simplified two-layer transformer, we illustrate the fast learning of global bigrams and the slower development of an "induction head" mechanism for the in-context bigrams. We highlight the role of weight matrices as associative memories, provide theoretical insights on how gradients enable their learning during training, and study the role of data-distributional properties.

Spotlight Poster
Fine-Grained Human Feedback Gives Better Rewards for Language Model Training

Zeqiu Wu · Yushi Hu · Weijia Shi · Nouha Dziri · Alane Suhr · Prithviraj Ammanabrolu · Noah Smith · Mari Ostendorf · Hannaneh Hajishirzi

Language models (LMs) often exhibit undesirable text generation behaviors, including generating false, toxic, or irrelevant outputs. Reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF)---where human preference judgments on LM outputs are transformed into a learning signal---has recently shown promise in addressing these issues. However, such holistic feedback conveys limited information on long text outputs; it does not indicate which aspects of the outputs influenced user preference; e.g., which parts contain what type(s) of errors. In this paper, we use fine-grained human feedback (e.g., which sentence is false, which sub-sentence is irrelevant) as an explicit training signal. We introduce Fine-Grained RLHF, a framework that enables training and learning from reward functions that are fine-grained in two respects: (1) density, providing a reward after every segment (e.g., a sentence) is generated; and (2) incorporating multiple reward models associated with different feedback types (e.g., factual incorrectness, irrelevance, and information incompleteness). We conduct experiments on detoxification and long-form question answering to illustrate how learning with this reward function leads to improved performance, supported by both automatic and human evaluation. Additionally, we show that LM behaviors can be customized using different combinations of fine-grained reward models. We release all data, collected human feedback, and codes at

AR-Diffusion: Auto-Regressive Diffusion Model for Text Generation

Tong Wu · Zhihao Fan · Xiao Liu · Hai-Tao Zheng · Yeyun Gong · yelong shen · Jian Jiao · Juntao Li · zhongyu wei · Jian Guo · Nan Duan · Weizhu Chen

Diffusion models have gained significant attention in the realm of image generation due to their exceptional performance. Their success has been recently expanded to text generation via generating all tokens within a sequence concurrently. However, natural language exhibits a far more pronounced sequential dependency in comparison to images, and the majority of existing language models are trained with a left-to-right auto-regressive approach.To account for the inherent sequential characteristic of natural language, we introduce Auto-Regressive Diffusion (AR-Diffusion). AR-Diffusion ensures that the generation of tokens on the right depends on the generated ones on the left, a mechanism achieved through employing a dynamic number of denoising steps that vary based on token position. This results in tokens on the left undergoing fewer denoising steps than those on the right, thereby enabling them to generate earlier and subsequently influence the generation of tokens on the right.In a series of experiments on various text generation tasks, including text summarization, machine translation, and common sense generation, AR-Diffusion clearly demonstrated its superiority over existing diffusion language models and that it can be $100\times\sim600\times$ faster when achieving comparable results. Our code is available at

Preference-grounded Token-level Guidance for Language Model Fine-tuning

Shentao Yang · Shujian Zhang · Congying Xia · Yihao Feng · Caiming Xiong · Mingyuan Zhou

Aligning language models (LMs) with preferences is an important problem in natural language generation. A key challenge is that preferences are typically provided at the sequence level while LM training and generation both occur at the token level. There is, therefore, a granularity mismatch between the preference and the LM training losses, which may complicate the learning problem. In this paper, we address this issue by developing an alternate training process, where we iterate between grounding the sequence-level preference into token-level training guidance, and improving the LM with the learned guidance. For guidance learning, we design a framework that extends the pairwise-preference learning in imitation learning to both variable-length LM generation and the utilization of the preference among multiple generations. For LM training, based on the amount of supervised data, we present two minimalist learning objectives that utilize the learned guidance. In experiments, our method performs competitively on two distinct representative LM tasks --- discrete-prompt generation and text summarization.

From Cloze to Comprehension: Retrofitting Pre-trained Masked Language Models to Pre-trained Machine Reader

Weiwen Xu · Xin Li · Wenxuan Zhang · Meng Zhou · Wai Lam · Luo Si · Lidong Bing

We present Pre-trained Machine Reader (PMR), a novel method for retrofitting pre-trained masked language models (MLMs) to pre-trained machine reading comprehension (MRC) models without acquiring labeled data.PMR can resolve the discrepancy between model pre-training and downstream fine-tuning of existing MLMs.To build the proposed PMR, we constructed a large volume of general-purpose and high-quality MRC-style training data by using Wikipedia hyperlinks and designed a Wiki Anchor Extraction task to guide the MRC-style pre-training.Apart from its simplicity, PMR effectively solves extraction tasks, such as Extractive Question Answering and Named Entity Recognition. PMR shows tremendous improvements over existing approaches, especially in low-resource scenarios.When applied to the sequence classification task in the MRC formulation, PMR enables the extraction of high-quality rationales to explain the classification process, thereby providing greater prediction explainability. PMR also has the potential to serve as a unified model for tackling various extraction and classification tasks in the MRC formulation.

Grammar Prompting for Domain-Specific Language Generation with Large Language Models

Bailin Wang · Zi Wang · Xuezhi Wang · Yuan Cao · Rif A. Saurous · Yoon Kim

Large language models (LLMs) can learn to perform a wide range of natural language tasks from just a handful of in-context examples. However, for generating strings from highly structured languages (e.g., semantic parsing to complex domain-specific languages), it is challenging for the LLM to generalize from just a few exemplars. We propose \emph{grammar prompting}, a simple approach to enable LLMs to use external knowledge and domain-specific constraints, expressed through a grammar in Backus--Naur Form (BNF), during in-context learning. Grammar prompting augments each demonstration example with a specialized grammar that is minimally sufficient for generating the particular output example, where the specialized grammar is a subset of the full DSL grammar. For inference, the LLM first predicts a BNF grammar given a test input, and then generates the output according to the rules of the grammar. Experiments demonstrate that grammar prompting can enable LLMs to perform competitively on a diverse set of DSL generation tasks, including semantic parsing (SMCalFlow, Overnight, GeoQuery), PDDL planning, and SMILES-based molecule generation.

Intrinsic Dimension Estimation for Robust Detection of AI-Generated Texts

Eduard Tulchinskii · Kristian Kuznetsov · Laida Kushnareva · Daniil Cherniavskii · Sergey Nikolenko · Evgeny Burnaev · Serguei Barannikov · Irina Piontkovskaya

Rapidly increasing quality of AI-generated content makes it difficult to distinguish between human and AI-generated texts, which may lead to undesirable consequences for society. Therefore, it becomes increasingly important to study the properties of human texts that are invariant over text domains and various proficiency of human writers, can be easily calculated for any language, and can robustly separate natural and AI-generated texts regardless of the generation model and sampling method. In this work, we propose such an invariant of human texts, namely the intrinsic dimensionality of the manifold underlying the set of embeddings of a given text sample. We show that the average intrinsic dimensionality of fluent texts in natural language is hovering around the value $9$ for several alphabet-based languages and around $7$ for Chinese, while the average intrinsic dimensionality of AI-generated texts for each language is $\approx 1.5$ lower, with a clear statistical separation between human-generated and AI-generated distributions. This property allows us to build a score-based artificial text detector. The proposed detector's accuracy is stable over text domains, generator models, and human writer proficiency levels, outperforming SOTA detectors in model-agnostic and cross-domain scenarios by a significant margin.

ComSL: A Composite Speech-Language Model for End-to-End Speech-to-Text Translation

Chenyang Le · Yao Qian · Long Zhou · Shujie LIU · Yanmin Qian · Michael Zeng · Xuedong Huang

Joint speech-language training is challenging due to the large demand for training data and GPU consumption, as well as the modality gap between speech and language. We present ComSL, a speech-language model built atop a composite architecture of public pre-trained speech-only and language-only models and optimized data-efficiently for spoken language tasks. Particularly, we propose to incorporate cross-modality learning into transfer learning and conduct them simultaneously for downstream tasks in a multi-task learning manner. Our approach has demonstrated effectiveness in end-to-end speech-to-text translation tasks, achieving a new state-of-the-art average BLEU score of 31.5 on the multilingual speech to English text translation task for 21 languages, as measured on the public CoVoST2 evaluation set.

Incomplete Multimodality-Diffused Emotion Recognition

Yuanzhi Wang · Yong Li · Zhen Cui

Human multimodal emotion recognition (MER) aims to perceive and understand human emotions via various heterogeneous modalities, such as language, vision, and acoustic. Compared with unimodality, the complementary information in the multimodalities facilitates robust emotion understanding. Nevertheless, in real-world scenarios, the missing modalities hinder multimodal understanding and result in degraded MER performance. In this paper, we propose an Incomplete Multimodality-Diffused emotion recognition (IMDer) method to mitigate the challenge of MER under incomplete multimodalities. To recover the missing modalities, IMDer exploits the score-based diffusion model that maps the input Gaussian noise into the desired distribution space of the missing modalities and recovers missing data abided by their original distributions. Specially, to reduce semantic ambiguity between the missing and the recovered modalities, the available modalities are embedded as the condition to guide and refine the diffusion-based recovering process. In contrast to previous work, the diffusion-based modality recovery mechanism in IMDer allows to simultaneously reach both distribution consistency and semantic disambiguation. Feature visualization of the recovered modalities illustrates the consistent modality-specific distribution and semantic alignment. Besides, quantitative experimental results verify that IMDer obtains state-of-the-art MER accuracy under various missing modality patterns.

Self-Evaluation Guided Beam Search for Reasoning

Yuxi Xie · Kenji Kawaguchi · Yiran Zhao · James Xu Zhao · Min-Yen Kan · Junxian He · Michael Xie

Breaking down a problem into intermediate steps has demonstrated impressive performance in Large Language Model (LLM) reasoning. However, the growth of the reasoning chain introduces uncertainty and error accumulation, making it challenging to elicit accurate final results. To tackle this challenge of uncertainty in multi-step reasoning, we introduce a stepwise self-evaluation mechanism to guide and calibrate the reasoning process of LLMs. We propose a decoding algorithm integrating the self-evaluation guidance via stochastic beam search. The self-evaluation guidance serves as a better-calibrated automatic criterion, facilitating an efficient search in the reasoning space and resulting in superior prediction quality. Stochastic beam search balances exploitation and exploration of the search space with temperature-controlled randomness. Our approach surpasses the corresponding Codex-backboned baselines in few-shot accuracy by $6.34$%, $9.56$%, and $5.46$% on the GSM8K, AQuA, and StrategyQA benchmarks, respectively. Experiment results with Llama-2 on arithmetic reasoning demonstrate the efficiency of our method in outperforming the baseline methods with comparable computational budgets. Further analysis in multi-step reasoning finds our self-evaluation guidance pinpoints logic failures and leads to higher consistency and robustness. Our code is publicly available at [](

ASL Citizen: A Community-Sourced Dataset for Advancing Isolated Sign Language Recognition

Aashaka Desai · Lauren Berger · Fyodor Minakov · Nessa Milano · Chinmay Singh · Kriston Pumphrey · Richard Ladner · Hal Daumé III · Alex X Lu · Naomi Caselli · Danielle Bragg

Sign languages are used as a primary language by approximately 70 million D/deaf people world-wide. However, most communication technologies operate in spoken and written languages, creating inequities in access. To help tackle this problem, we release ASL Citizen, the first crowdsourced Isolated Sign Language Recognition (ISLR) dataset, collected with consent and containing 83,399 videos for 2,731 distinct signs filmed by 52 signers in a variety of environments. We propose that this dataset be used for sign language dictionary retrieval for American Sign Language (ASL), where a user demonstrates a sign to their webcam to retrieve matching signs from a dictionary. We show that training supervised machine learning classifiers with our dataset advances the state-of-the-art on metrics relevant for dictionary retrieval, achieving 63\% accuracy and a recall-at-10 of 91\%, evaluated entirely on videos of users who are not present in the training or validation sets.

DOSE: Diffusion Dropout with Adaptive Prior for Speech Enhancement

Wenxin Tai · Yue Lei · Fan Zhou · Goce Trajcevski · Ting Zhong

Speech enhancement (SE) aims to improve the intelligibility and quality of speech in the presence of non-stationary additive noise. Deterministic deep learning models have traditionally been used for SE, but recent studies have shown that generative approaches, such as denoising diffusion probabilistic models (DDPMs), can also be effective. However, incorporating condition information into DDPMs for SE remains a challenge. We propose a model-agnostic method called DOSE that employs two efficient condition-augmentation techniques to address this challenge, based on two key insights: (1) We force the model to prioritize the condition factor when generating samples by training it with dropout operation; (2) We inject the condition information into the sampling process by providing an informative adaptive prior. Experiments demonstrate that our approach yields substantial improvements in high-quality and stable speech generation, consistency with the condition factor, and inference efficiency. Codes are publicly available at

Spotlight Poster
Gaussian Partial Information Decomposition: Bias Correction and Application to High-dimensional Data

Praveen Venkatesh · Corbett Bennett · Sam Gale · Tamina Ramirez · Greggory Heller · Severine Durand · Shawn Olsen · Stefan Mihalas

Recent advances in neuroscientific experimental techniques have enabled us to simultaneously record the activity of thousands of neurons across multiple brain regions. This has led to a growing need for computational tools capable of analyzing how task-relevant information is represented and communicated between several brain regions. Partial information decompositions (PIDs) have emerged as one such tool, quantifying how much unique, redundant and synergistic information two or more brain regions carry about a task-relevant message. However, computing PIDs is computationally challenging in practice, and statistical issues such as the bias and variance of estimates remain largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose a new method for efficiently computing and estimating a PID definition on multivariate Gaussian distributions. We show empirically that our method satisfies an intuitive additivity property, and recovers the ground truth in a battery of canonical examples, even at high dimensionality. We also propose and evaluate, for the first time, a method to correct the bias in PID estimates at finite sample sizes. Finally, we demonstrate that our Gaussian PID effectively characterizes inter-areal interactions in the mouse brain, revealing higher redundancy between visual areas when a stimulus is behaviorally relevant.

Spotlight Poster
Exploring Loss Functions for Time-based Training Strategy in Spiking Neural Networks

Yaoyu Zhu · Wei Fang · Xiaodong Xie · Tiejun Huang · Zhaofei Yu

Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) are considered promising brain-inspired energy-efficient models due to their event-driven computing paradigm.The spatiotemporal spike patterns used to convey information in SNNs consist of both rate coding and temporal coding, where the temporal coding is crucial to biological-plausible learning rules such as spike-timing-dependent-plasticity.The time-based training strategy is proposed to better utilize the temporal information in SNNs and learn in an asynchronous fashion.However, some recent works train SNNs by the time-based scheme with rate-coding-dominated loss functions.In this paper, we first map rate-based loss functions to time-based counterparts and explain why they are also applicable to the time-based training scheme.After that, we infer that loss functions providing adequate positive overall gradients help training by theoretical analysis.Based on this, we propose the enhanced counting loss to replace the commonly used mean square counting loss.In addition, we transfer the training of scale factor in weight standardization into thresholds.Experiments show that our approach outperforms previous time-based training methods in most datasets. Our work provides insights for training SNNs with time-based schemes and offers a fresh perspective on the correlation between rate coding and temporal coding.Our code is available at

Scaling laws for language encoding models in fMRI

Richard Antonello · Aditya Vaidya · Alexander Huth

Representations from transformer-based unidirectional language models are known to be effective at predicting brain responses to natural language. However, most studies comparing language models to brains have used GPT-2 or similarly sized language models. Here we tested whether larger open-source models such as those from the OPT and LLaMA families are better at predicting brain responses recorded using fMRI. Mirroring scaling results from other contexts, we found that brain prediction performance scales logarithmically with model size from 125M to 30B parameter models, with ~15% increased encoding performance as measured by correlation with a held-out test set across 3 subjects. Similar log-linear behavior was observed when scaling the size of the fMRI training set. We also characterized scaling for acoustic encoding models that use HuBERT, WavLM, and Whisper, and we found comparable improvements with model size. A noise ceiling analysis of these large, high-performance encoding models showed that performance is nearing the theoretical maximum for brain areas such as the precuneus and higher auditory cortex. These results suggest that increasing scale in both models and data will yield incredibly effective models of language processing in the brain, enabling better scientific understanding as well as applications such as decoding.

Spotlight Poster
Computing a human-like reaction time metric from stable recurrent vision models

Lore Goetschalckx · Lakshmi Narasimhan Govindarajan · Alekh Karkada Ashok · Aarit Ahuja · David Sheinberg · Thomas Serre

The meteoric rise in the adoption of deep neural networks as computational models of vision has inspired efforts to ``align” these models with humans. One dimension of interest for alignment includes behavioral choices, but moving beyond characterizing choice patterns to capturing temporal aspects of visual decision-making has been challenging. Here, we sketch a general-purpose methodology to construct computational accounts of reaction times from a stimulus-computable, task-optimized model. Specifically, we introduce a novel metric leveraging insights from subjective logic theory summarizing evidence accumulation in recurrent vision models. We demonstrate that our metric aligns with patterns of human reaction times for stimulus manipulations across four disparate visual decision-making tasks spanning perceptual grouping, mental simulation, and scene categorization. This work paves the way for exploring the temporal alignment of model and human visual strategies in the context of various other cognitive tasks toward generating testable hypotheses for neuroscience. Links to the code and data can be found on the project page:

Explaining V1 Properties with a Biologically Constrained Deep Learning Architecture

Galen Pogoncheff · Jacob Granley · Michael Beyeler

Convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have recently emerged as promising models of the ventral visual stream, despite their lack of biological specificity.While current state-of-the-art models of the primary visual cortex (V1) have surfaced from training with adversarial examples and extensively augmented data, these models are still unable to explain key neural properties observed in V1 that arise from biological circuitry.To address this gap, we systematically incorporated neuroscience-derived architectural components into CNNs to identify a set of mechanisms and architectures that more comprehensively explain V1 activity.Upon enhancing task-driven CNNs with architectural components that simulate center-surround antagonism, local receptive fields, tuned normalization, and cortical magnification, we uncover models with latent representations that yield state-of-the-art explanation of V1 neural activity and tuning properties.Moreover, analyses of the learned parameters of these components and stimuli that maximally activate neurons of the evaluated networks provide support for their role in explaining neural properties of V1.Our results highlight an important advancement in the field of NeuroAI, as we systematically establish a set of architectural components that contribute to unprecedented explanation of V1.The neuroscience insights that could be gleaned from increasingly accurate in-silico models of the brain have the potential to greatly advance the fields of both neuroscience and artificial intelligence.

Energy Guided Diffusion for Generating Neurally Exciting Images

Pawel Pierzchlewicz · Konstantin Willeke · Arne Nix · Pavithra Elumalai · Kelli Restivo · Tori Shinn · Cate Nealley · Gabrielle Rodriguez · Saumil Patel · Katrin Franke · Andreas Tolias · Fabian Sinz

In recent years, most exciting inputs (MEIs) synthesized from encoding models of neuronal activity have become an established method for studying tuning properties of biological and artificial visual systems. However, as we move up the visual hierarchy, the complexity of neuronal computations increases. Consequently, it becomes more challenging to model neuronal activity, requiring more complex models. In this study, we introduce a novel readout architecture inspired by the mechanism of visual attention. This new architecture, which we call attention readout, together with a data-driven convolutional core outperforms previous task-driven models in predicting the activity of neurons in macaque area V4. However, as our predictive network becomes deeper and more complex, synthesizing MEIs via straightforward gradient ascent (GA) can struggle to produce qualitatively good results and overfit to idiosyncrasies of a more complex model, potentially decreasing the MEI's model-to-brain transferability. To solve this problem, we propose a diffusion-based method for generating MEIs via Energy Guidance (EGG). We show that for models of macaque V4, EGG generates single neuron MEIs that generalize better across varying model architectures than the state-of-the-art GA, while at the same time reducing computational costs by a factor of 4.7x, facilitating experimentally challenging closed-loop experiments. Furthermore, EGG diffusion can be used to generate other neurally exciting images, like most exciting naturalistic images that are on par with a selection of highly activating natural images, or image reconstructions that generalize better across architectures. Finally, EGG is simple to implement, requires no retraining of the diffusion model, and can easily be generalized to provide other characterizations of the visual system, such as invariances. Thus, EGG provides a general and flexible framework to study the coding properties of the visual system in the context of natural images.

AMAG: Additive, Multiplicative and Adaptive Graph Neural Network For Forecasting Neuron Activity

Jingyuan Li · Leo Scholl · Trung Le · Pavithra Rajeswaran · Amy Orsborn · Eli Shlizerman

Latent Variable Models (LVMs) propose to model the dynamics of neural populations by capturing low-dimensional structures that represent features involved in neural activity. Recent LVMs are based on deep learning methodology where a deep neural network is trained to reconstruct the same neural activity given as input and as a result to build the latent representation. Without taking past or future activity into account such a task is non-causal. In contrast, the task of forecasting neural activity based on given input extends the reconstruction task. LVMs that are trained on such a task could potentially capture temporal causality constraints within its latent representation. Forecasting has received less attention than reconstruction due to recording challenges such as limited neural measurements and trials. In this work, we address modeling neural population dynamics via the forecasting task and improve forecasting performance by including a prior, which consists of pairwise neural unit interaction as a multivariate dynamic system. Our proposed model---Additive, Multiplicative, and Adaptive Graph Neural Network (AMAG)---leverages additive and multiplicative message-passing operations analogous to the interactions in neuronal systems and adaptively learns the interaction among neural units to forecast their future activity. We demonstrate the advantage of AMAG compared to non-GNN based methods on synthetic data and multiple modalities of neural recordings (field potentials from penetrating electrodes or surface-level micro-electrocorticography) from four rhesus macaques. Our results show the ability of AMAG to recover ground truth spatial interactions and yield estimation for future dynamics of the neural population.

Strong and Precise Modulation of Human Percepts via Robustified ANNs

Guy Gaziv · Michael Lee · James J DiCarlo

The visual object category reports of artificial neural networks (ANNs) are notoriously sensitive to tiny, adversarial image perturbations. Because human category reports (aka human percepts) are thought to be insensitive to those same small-norm perturbations -- and locally stable in general -- this argues that ANNs are incomplete scientific models of human visual perception. Consistent with this, we show that when small-norm image perturbations are generated by standard ANN models, human object category percepts are indeed highly stable. However, in this very same "human-presumed-stable" regime, we find that robustified ANNs reliably discover low-norm image perturbations that strongly disrupt human percepts. These previously undetectable human perceptual disruptions are massive in amplitude, approaching the same level of sensitivity seen in robustified ANNs. Further, we show that robustified ANNs support precise perceptual state interventions: they guide the construction of low-norm image perturbations that strongly alter human category percepts toward specific prescribed percepts. In sum, these contemporary models of biological visual processing are now accurate enough to guide strong and precise interventions on human perception.

Convolution Monge Mapping Normalization for learning on sleep data

Théo Gnassounou · Rémi Flamary · Alexandre Gramfort

In many machine learning applications on signals and biomedical data, especially electroencephalogram (EEG), one major challenge is the variability of the data across subjects, sessions, and hardware devices. In this work, we propose a new method called Convolutional Monge Mapping Normalization ($\texttt{CMMN}$), which consists in filtering the signals in order to adapt their power spectrum density (PSD) to a Wasserstein barycenter estimated on training data. $\texttt{CMMN}$ relies on novel closed-form solutions for optimal transport mappings and barycenters and provides individual test time adaptation to new data without needing to retrain a prediction model. Numerical experiments on sleep EEG data show that $\texttt{CMMN}$ leads to significant and consistent performance gains independent from the neural network architecture when adapting between subjects, sessions, and even datasets collected with different hardware. Notably our performance gain is on par with much more numerically intensive Domain Adaptation (DA) methods and can be used in conjunction with those for even better performances.

Oral Poster
Emergence of Shape Bias in Convolutional Neural Networks through Activation Sparsity

Tianqin Li · Ziqi Wen · Yangfan Li · Tai Sing Lee

Current deep-learning models for object recognition are known to be heavily biased toward texture. In contrast, human visual systems are known to be biased toward shape and structure. What could be the design principles in human visual systems that led to this difference? How could we introduce more shape bias into the deep learning models? In this paper, we report that sparse coding, a ubiquitous principle in the brain, can in itself introduce shape bias into the network. We found that enforcing the sparse coding constraint using a non-differential Top-K operation can lead to the emergence of structural encoding in neurons in convolutional neural networks, resulting in a smooth decomposition of objects into parts and subparts and endowing the networks with shape bias. We demonstrated this emergence of shape bias and its functional benefits for different network structures with various datasets. For object recognition convolutional neural networks, the shape bias leads to greater robustness against style and pattern change distraction. For the image synthesis generative adversary networks, the emerged shape bias leads to more coherent and decomposable structures in the synthesized images. Ablation studies suggest that sparse codes tend to encode structures, whereas the more distributed codes tend to favor texture. Our code is host at the github repository:

A normative theory of social conflict

Sergey Shuvaev · Evgeny Amelchenko · Dmitry Smagin · Natalia Kudryavtseva · Grigori Enikolopov · Alex Koulakov

Social conflict is a survival mechanism yielding both normal and pathological behaviors. To understand its underlying principles, we collected behavioral and whole-brain neural data from mice advancing through stages of social conflict. We modeled the animals’ interactions as a normal-form game using Bayesian inference to account for the partial observability of animals’ strengths. We find that our behavioral and neural data are consistent with the first-level Theory of Mind (1-ToM) model where mice form “primary” beliefs about the strengths of all mice involved and “secondary” beliefs that estimate the beliefs of their opponents. Our model identifies the brain regions that carry the information about these beliefs and offers a framework for studies of social behaviors in partially observable settings.

Neural Data Transformer 2: Multi-context Pretraining for Neural Spiking Activity

Joel Ye · Jennifer Collinger · Leila Wehbe · Robert Gaunt

The neural population spiking activity recorded by intracortical brain-computer interfaces (iBCIs) contain rich structure. Current models of such spiking activity are largely prepared for individual experimental contexts, restricting data volume to that collectable within a single session and limiting the effectiveness of deep neural networks (DNNs). The purported challenge in aggregating neural spiking data is the pervasiveness of context-dependent shifts in the neural data distributions. However, large scale unsupervised pretraining by nature spans heterogeneous data, and has proven to be a fundamental recipe for successful representation learning across deep learning. We thus develop Neural Data Transformer 2 (NDT2), a spatiotemporal Transformer for neural spiking activity, and demonstrate that pretraining can leverage motor BCI datasets that span sessions, subjects, and experimental tasks. NDT2 enables rapid adaptation to novel contexts in downstream decoding tasks and opens the path to deployment of pretrained DNNs for iBCI control. Code:

Large Language Models are Visual Reasoning Coordinators

Liangyu Chen · Bo Li · Sheng Shen · Jingkang Yang · Chunyuan Li · Kurt Keutzer · Trevor Darrell · Ziwei Liu

Visual reasoning requires multimodal perception and commonsense cognition of the world. Recently, multiple vision-language models (VLMs) have been proposed with excellent commonsense reasoning ability in various domains. However, how to harness the collective power of these complementary VLMs is rarely explored. Existing methods like ensemble still struggle to aggregate these models with the desired higher-order communications. In this work, we propose Cola, a novel paradigm that coordinates multiple VLMs for visual reasoning. Our key insight is that a large language model (LLM) can efficiently coordinate multiple VLMs by facilitating natural language communication that leverages their distinct and complementary capabilities. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our instruction tuning variant, Cola-FT, achieves state-of-the-art performance on visual question answering (VQA), outside knowledge VQA, visual entailment, and visual spatial reasoning tasks. Moreover, we show that our in-context learning variant, Cola-Zero, exhibits competitive performance in zero and few-shot settings, without finetuning. Through systematic ablation studies and visualizations, we validate that a coordinator LLM indeed comprehends the instruction prompts as well as the separate functionalities of VLMs; it then coordinates them to enable impressive visual reasoning capabilities.

Neural Circuits for Fast Poisson Compressed Sensing in the Olfactory Bulb

Jacob Zavatone-Veth · Paul Masset · William Tong · Joseph D. Zak · Venkatesh Murthy · Cengiz Pehlevan

Within a single sniff, the mammalian olfactory system can decode the identity and concentration of odorants wafted on turbulent plumes of air. Yet, it must do so given access only to the noisy, dimensionally-reduced representation of the odor world provided by olfactory receptor neurons. As a result, the olfactory system must solve a compressed sensing problem, relying on the fact that only a handful of the millions of possible odorants are present in a given scene. Inspired by this principle, past works have proposed normative compressed sensing models for olfactory decoding. However, these models have not captured the unique anatomy and physiology of the olfactory bulb, nor have they shown that sensing can be achieved within the 100-millisecond timescale of a single sniff. Here, we propose a rate-based Poisson compressed sensing circuit model for the olfactory bulb. This model maps onto the neuron classes of the olfactory bulb, and recapitulates salient features of their connectivity and physiology. For circuit sizes comparable to the human olfactory bulb, we show that this model can accurately detect tens of odors within the timescale of a single sniff. We also show that this model can perform Bayesian posterior sampling for accurate uncertainty estimation. Fast inference is possible only if the geometry of the neural code is chosen to match receptor properties, yielding a distributed neural code that is not axis-aligned to individual odor identities. Our results illustrate how normative modeling can help us map function onto specific neural circuits to generate new hypotheses.

Hierarchical VAEs provide a normative account of motion processing in the primate brain

Hadi Vafaii · Jacob Yates · Daniel Butts

The relationship between perception and inference, as postulated by Helmholtz in the 19th century, is paralleled in modern machine learning by generative models like Variational Autoencoders (VAEs) and their hierarchical variants. Here, we evaluate the role of hierarchical inference and its alignment with brain function in the domain of motion perception. We first introduce a novel synthetic data framework, Retinal Optic Flow Learning (ROFL), which enables control over motion statistics and their causes. We then present a new hierarchical VAE and test it against alternative models on two downstream tasks: (i) predicting ground truth causes of retinal optic flow (e.g., self-motion); and (ii) predicting the responses of neurons in the motion processing pathway of primates. We manipulate the model architectures (hierarchical versus non-hierarchical), loss functions, and the causal structure of the motion stimuli. We find that hierarchical latent structure in the model leads to several improvements. First, it improves the linear decodability of ground truth variables and does so in a sparse and disentangled manner. Second, our hierarchical VAE outperforms previous state-of-the-art models in predicting neuronal responses and exhibits sparse latent-to-neuron relationships. These results depend on the causal structure of the world, indicating that alignment between brains and artificial neural networks depends not only on architecture but also on matching ecologically relevant stimulus statistics. Taken together, our results suggest that hierarchical Bayesian inference underlines the brain's understanding of the world, and hierarchical VAEs can effectively model this understanding.

Beyond Geometry: Comparing the Temporal Structure of Computation in Neural Circuits with Dynamical Similarity Analysis

Mitchell Ostrow · Adam Eisen · Leo Kozachkov · Ila Fiete

How can we tell whether two neural networks utilize the same internal processes for a particular computation? This question is pertinent for multiple subfields of neuroscience and machine learning, including neuroAI, mechanistic interpretability, and brain-machine interfaces. Standard approaches for comparing neural networks focus on the spatial geometry of latent states. Yet in recurrent networks, computations are implemented at the level of dynamics, and two networks performing the same computation with equivalent dynamics need not exhibit the same geometry. To bridge this gap, we introduce a novel similarity metric that compares two systems at the level of their dynamics, called Dynamical Similarity Analysis (DSA). Our method incorporates two components: Using recent advances in data-driven dynamical systems theory, we learn a high-dimensional linear system that accurately captures core features of the original nonlinear dynamics. Next, we compare different systems passed through this embedding using a novel extension of Procrustes Analysis that accounts for how vector fields change under orthogonal transformation. In four case studies, we demonstrate that our method disentangles conjugate and non-conjugate recurrent neural networks (RNNs), while geometric methods fall short. We additionally show that our method can distinguish learning rules in an unsupervised manner. Our method opens the door to comparative analyses of the essential temporal structure of computation in neural circuits.

Joint processing of linguistic properties in brains and language models

SUBBAREDDY OOTA · Manish Gupta · Mariya Toneva

Language models have been shown to be very effective in predicting brain recordings of subjects experiencing complex language stimuli. For a deeper understanding of this alignment, it is important to understand the correspondence between the detailed processing of linguistic information by the human brain versus language models. We investigate this correspondence via a direct approach, in which we eliminate information related to specific linguistic properties in the language model representations and observe how this intervention affects the alignment with fMRI brain recordings obtained while participants listened to a story. We investigate a range of linguistic properties (surface, syntactic, and semantic) and find that the elimination of each one results in a significant decrease in brain alignment. Specifically, we find that syntactic properties (i.e. Top Constituents and Tree Depth) have the largest effect on the trend of brain alignment across model layers. These findings provide clear evidence for the role of specific linguistic information in the alignment between brain and language models, and open new avenues for mapping the joint information processing in both systems. We make the code publicly available

Spike-driven Transformer

Man Yao · Man Yao · JiaKui Hu · Zhaokun Zhou · Li Yuan · Yonghong Tian · Bo Xu · Guoqi Li

Spiking Neural Networks (SNNs) provide an energy-efficient deep learning option due to their unique spike-based event-driven (i.e., spike-driven) paradigm. In this paper, we incorporate the spike-driven paradigm into Transformer by the proposed Spike-driven Transformer with four unique properties: (1) Event-driven, no calculation is triggered when the input of Transformer is zero; (2) Binary spike communication, all matrix multiplications associated with the spike matrix can be transformed into sparse additions; (3) Self-attention with linear complexity at both token and channel dimensions; (4) The operations between spike-form Query, Key, and Value are mask and addition. Together, there are only sparse addition operations in the Spike-driven Transformer. To this end, we design a novel Spike-Driven Self-Attention (SDSA), which exploits only mask and addition operations without any multiplication, and thus having up to $87.2\times$ lower computation energy than vanilla self-attention. Especially in SDSA, the matrix multiplication between Query, Key, and Value is designed as the mask operation. In addition, we rearrange all residual connections in the vanilla Transformer before the activation functions to ensure that all neurons transmit binary spike signals. It is shown that the Spike-driven Transformer can achieve 77.1\% top-1 accuracy on ImageNet-1K, which is the state-of-the-art result in the SNN field.

Self-Supervised Learning of Representations for Space Generates Multi-Modular Grid Cells

Rylan Schaeffer · Mikail Khona · Tzuhsuan Ma · Cristobal Eyzaguirre · Sanmi Koyejo · Ila Fiete

To solve the spatial problems of mapping, localization and navigation, the mammalian lineage has developed striking spatial representations. One important spatial representation is the Nobel-prize winning grid cells: neurons that represent self-location, a local and aperiodic quantity, with seemingly bizarre non-local and spatially periodic activity patterns of a few discrete periods. Why has the mammalian lineage learnt this peculiar grid representation? Mathematical analysis suggests that this multi-periodic representation has excellent properties as an algebraic code with high capacity and intrinsic error-correction, but to date, synthesis of multi-modular grid cells in deep recurrent neural networks remains absent. In this work, we begin by identifying key insights from four families of approaches to answering the grid cell question: dynamical systems, coding theory, function optimization and supervised deep learning. We then leverage our insights to propose a new approach that elegantly combines the strengths of all four approaches. Our approach is a self-supervised learning (SSL) framework - including data, data augmentations, loss functions and a network architecture - motivated from a normative perspective, with no access to supervised position information. Without making assumptions about internal or readout representations, we show that multiple grid cell modules can emerge in networks trained on our SSL framework and that the networks generalize significantly beyond their training distribution. This work contains insights for neuroscientists interested in the origins of grid cells as well as machine learning researchers interested in novel SSL frameworks.

Spotlight Poster
DeWave: Discrete Encoding of EEG Waves for EEG to Text Translation

Yiqun Duan · Charles Chau · Zhen Wang · Yu-Kai Wang · Chin-teng Lin

The translation of brain dynamics into natural language is pivotal for brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), a field that has seen substantial growth in recent years. With the swift advancement of large language models, such as ChatGPT, the need to bridge the gap between the brain and languages becomes increasingly pressing. Current methods, however, require eye-tracking fixations or event markers to segment brain dynamics into word-level features, which can restrict the practical application of these systems. These event markers may not be readily available or could be challenging to acquire during real-time inference, and the sequence of eye fixations may not align with the order of spoken words. To tackle these issues, we introduce a novel framework, DeWave, that integrates discrete encoding sequences into open-vocabulary EEG-to-text translation tasks. DeWave uses a quantized variational encoder to derive discrete codex encoding and align it with pre-trained language models. This discrete codex representation brings forth two advantages: 1) it alleviates the order mismatch between eye fixations and spoken words by introducing text-EEG contrastive alignment training, and 2) it minimizes the interference caused by individual differences in EEG waves through an invariant discrete codex. Our model surpasses the previous baseline (40.1 and 31.7) by 3.06% and 6.34\%, respectively, achieving 41.35 BLEU-1 and 33.71 Rouge-F on the ZuCo Dataset. Furthermore, this work is the first to facilitate the translation of entire EEG signal periods without the need for word-level order markers (e.g., eye fixations), scoring 20.5 BLEU-1 and 29.5 Rouge-1 on the ZuCo Dataset, respectively.

Training neural operators to preserve invariant measures of chaotic attractors

Ruoxi Jiang · Peter Y. Lu · Elena Orlova · Rebecca Willett

Chaotic systems make long-horizon forecasts difficult because small perturbations in initial conditions cause trajectories to diverge at an exponential rate. In this setting, neural operators trained to minimize squared error losses, while capable of accurate short-term forecasts, often fail to reproduce statistical or structural properties of the dynamics over longer time horizons and can yield degenerate results. In this paper, we propose an alternative framework designed to preserve invariant measures of chaotic attractors that characterize the time-invariant statistical properties of the dynamics. Specifically, in the multi-environment setting (where each sample trajectory is governed by slightly different dynamics), we consider two novel approaches to training with noisy data. First, we propose a loss based on the optimal transport distance between the observed dynamics and the neural operator outputs. This approach requires expert knowledge of the underlying physics to determine what statistical features should be included in the optimal transport loss. Second, we show that a contrastive learning framework, which does not require any specialized prior knowledge, can preserve statistical properties of the dynamics nearly as well as the optimal transport approach. On a variety of chaotic systems, our method is shown empirically to preserve invariant measures of chaotic attractors.

MMGP: a Mesh Morphing Gaussian Process-based machine learning method for regression of physical problems under nonparametrized geometrical variability

Fabien Casenave · Brian Staber · Xavier Roynard

When learning simulations for modeling physical phenomena in industrial designs, geometrical variabilities are of prime interest. While classical regression techniques prove effective for parameterized geometries, practical scenarios often involve the absence of shape parametrization during the inference stage, leaving us with only mesh discretizations as available data. Learning simulations from such mesh-based representations poses significant challenges, with recent advances relying heavily on deep graph neural networks to overcome the limitations of conventional machine learning approaches. Despite their promising results, graph neural networks exhibit certain drawbacks, including their dependency on extensive datasets and limitations in providing built-in predictive uncertainties or handling large meshes. In this work, we propose a machine learning method that do not rely on graph neural networks. Complex geometrical shapes and variations with fixed topology are dealt with using well-known mesh morphing onto a common support, combined with classical dimensionality reduction techniques and Gaussian processes. The proposed methodology can easily deal with large meshes without the need for explicit shape parameterization and provides crucial predictive uncertainties, which are essential for informed decision-making. In the considered numerical experiments, the proposed method is competitive with respect to existing graph neural networks, regarding training efficiency and accuracy of the predictions.

Solving Inverse Physics Problems with Score Matching

Benjamin Holzschuh · Simona Vegetti · Nils Thuerey

We propose to solve inverse problems involving the temporal evolution of physics systems by leveraging recent advances from diffusion models. Our method moves the system's current state backward in time step by step by combining an approximate inverse physics simulator and a learned correction function. A central insight of our work is that training the learned correction with a single-step loss is equivalent to a score matching objective, while recursively predicting longer parts of the trajectory during training relates to maximum likelihood training of a corresponding probability flow.We highlight the advantages of our algorithm compared to standard denoising score matching and implicit score matching, as well as fully learned baselines for a wide range of inverse physics problems. The resulting inverse solver has excellent accuracy and temporal stability and, in contrast to other learned inverse solvers, allows for sampling the posterior of the solutions. Code and experiments are available at

PETAL: Physics Emulation Through Averaged Linearizations for Solving Inverse Problems

Jihui Jin · Etienne Ollivier · Richard Touret · Matthew McKinley · Karim Sabra · Justin Romberg

Inverse problems describe the task of recovering an underlying signal of interest given observables. Typically, the observables are related via some non-linear forward model applied to the underlying unknown signal. Inverting the non-linear forward model can be computationally expensive, as it often involves computing and inverting a linearization at a series of estimates. Rather than inverting the physics-based model, we instead train a surrogate forward model (emulator) and leverage modern auto-grad libraries to solve for the input within a classical optimization framework. Current methods to train emulators are done in a black box supervised machine learning fashion and fail to take advantage of any existing knowledge of the forward model. In this article, we propose a simple learned weighted average model that embeds linearizations of the forward model around various reference points into the model itself, explicitly incorporating known physics. Grounding the learned model with physics based linearizations improves the forward modeling accuracy and provides richer physics based gradient information during the inversion process leading to more accurate signal recovery. We demonstrate the efficacy on an ocean acoustic tomography (OAT) example that aims to recover ocean sound speed profile (SSP) variations from acoustic observations (e.g. eigenray arrival times) within simulation of ocean dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico.

Transformer-based Planning for Symbolic Regression

Parshin Shojaee · Kazem Meidani · Amir Barati Farimani · Chandan Reddy

Symbolic regression (SR) is a challenging task in machine learning that involves finding a mathematical expression for a function based on its values. Recent advancements in SR have demonstrated the effectiveness of pre-trained transformer models in generating equations as sequences, leveraging large-scale pre-training on synthetic datasets and offering notable advantages in terms of inference time over classical Genetic Programming (GP) methods. However, these models primarily rely on supervised pre-training objectives borrowed from text generation and overlook equation discovery goals like accuracy and complexity. To address this, we propose TPSR, a Transformer-based Planning strategy for Symbolic Regression that incorporates Monte Carlo Tree Search planning algorithm into the transformer decoding process. Unlike conventional decoding strategies, TPSR enables the integration of non-differentiable equation verification feedback, such as fitting accuracy and complexity, as external sources of knowledge into the transformer equation generation process. Extensive experiments on various datasets show that our approach outperforms state-of-the-art methods, enhancing the model's fitting-complexity trade-off, extrapolation abilities, and robustness to noise.

Spotlight Poster
Unifying Predictions of Deterministic and Stochastic Physics in Mesh-reduced Space with Sequential Flow Generative Model

Luning Sun · Xu Han · Han Gao · Jian-Xun Wang · Liping Liu

Accurate prediction of dynamical systems in unstructured meshes has recently shown successes in scientific simulations. Many dynamical systems have a nonnegligible level of stochasticity introduced by various factors (e.g. chaoticity), so there is a need for a unified framework that captures both deterministic and stochastic components in the rollouts of these systems. Inspired by regeneration learning, we propose a new model that combines generative and sequential networks to model dynamical systems. Specifically, we use an autoencoder to learn compact representations of full-space physical variables in a low-dimensional space. We then integrate a transformer with a conditional normalizing flow model to model the temporal sequence of latent representations. We evaluate the new model in both deterministic and stochastic systems. The model outperforms several competitive baseline models and makes more accurate predictions of deterministic systems. Its own prediction error is also reflected in its uncertainty estimations. When predicting stochastic systems, the proposed model generates high-quality rollout samples. The mean and variance of these samples well match the statistics of samples computed from expensive numerical simulations.

Representation Equivalent Neural Operators: a Framework for Alias-free Operator Learning

Francesca Bartolucci · Emmanuel de Bézenac · Bogdan Raonic · Roberto Molinaro · Siddhartha Mishra · Rima Alaifari

Recently, operator learning, or learning mappings between infinite-dimensional function spaces, has garnered significant attention, notably in relation to learning partial differential equations from data. Conceptually clear when outlined on paper, neural operators necessitate discretization in the transition to computer implementations. This step can compromise their integrity, often causing them to deviate from the underlying operators. This research offers a fresh take on neural operators with a framework Representation equivalent Neural Operators (ReNO) designed to address these issues. At its core is the concept of operator aliasing, which measures inconsistency between neural operators and their discrete representations. We explore this for widely-used operator learning techniques. Our findings detail how aliasing introduces errors when handling different discretizations and grids and loss of crucial continuous structures. More generally, this framework not only sheds light on existing challenges but, given its constructive and broad nature, also potentially offers tools for developing new neural operators.

Find What You Want: Learning Demand-conditioned Object Attribute Space for Demand-driven Navigation

Hongcheng Wang · Andy Guan Hong Chen · Xiaoqi Li · Mingdong Wu · Hao Dong

The task of Visual Object Navigation (VON) involves an agent's ability to locate a particular object within a given scene. To successfully accomplish the VON task, two essential conditions must be fulfiled: 1) the user knows the name of the desired object; and 2) the user-specified object actually is present within the scene. To meet these conditions, a simulator can incorporate predefined object names and positions into the metadata of the scene. However, in real-world scenarios, it is often challenging to ensure that these conditions are always met. Humans in an unfamiliar environment may not know which objects are present in the scene, or they may mistakenly specify an object that is not actually present. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, humans may still have a demand for an object, which could potentially be fulfilled by other objects present within the scene in an equivalent manner. Hence, this paper proposes Demand-driven Navigation (DDN), which leverages the user's demand as the task instruction and prompts the agent to find an object which matches the specified demand. DDN aims to relax the stringent conditions of VON by focusing on fulfilling the user's demand rather than relying solely on specified object names. This paper proposes a method of acquiring textual attribute features of objects by extracting common sense knowledge from a large language model (LLM). These textual attribute features are subsequently aligned with visual attribute features using Contrastive Language-Image Pre-training (CLIP). Incorporating the visual attribute features as prior knowledge, enhances the navigation process. Experiments on AI2Thor with the ProcThor dataset demonstrate that the visual attribute features improve the agent's navigation performance and outperform the baseline methods commonly used in the VON and VLN task and methods with LLMs. The codes and demonstrations can be viewed at

Online POMDP Planning with Anytime Deterministic Guarantees

Moran Barenboim · Vadim Indelman

Autonomous agents operating in real-world scenarios frequently encounter uncertainty and make decisions based on incomplete information. Planning under uncertainty can be mathematically formalized using partially observable Markov decision processes (POMDPs). However, finding an optimal plan for POMDPs can be computationally expensive and is feasible only for small tasks. In recent years, approximate algorithms, such as tree search and sample-based methodologies, have emerged as state-of-the-art POMDP solvers for larger problems. Despite their effectiveness, these algorithms offer only probabilistic and often asymptotic guarantees toward the optimal solution due to their dependence on sampling. To address these limitations, we derive a deterministic relationship between a simplified solution that iseasier to obtain and the theoretically optimal one. First, we derive bounds for selecting a subset of the observations to branch from while computing a complete belief at each posterior node. Then, since a complete belief update may be computationally demanding, we extend the bounds to support reduction of both the state and the observation spaces. We demonstrate how our guarantees can be integrated with existing state-of-the-art solvers that sample a subset of states and observations. As a result, the returned solution holds deterministic bounds relative to the optimal policy. Lastly, we substantiate our findings with supporting experimental results.

Information Maximizing Curriculum: A Curriculum-Based Approach for Learning Versatile Skills

Denis Blessing · Onur Celik · Xiaogang Jia · Xiaogang Jia · Moritz Reuss · Maximilian Li · Rudolf Lioutikov · Gerhard Neumann

Imitation learning uses data for training policies to solve complex tasks. However,when the training data is collected from human demonstrators, it often leadsto multimodal distributions because of the variability in human actions. Mostimitation learning methods rely on a maximum likelihood (ML) objective to learna parameterized policy, but this can result in suboptimal or unsafe behavior dueto the mode-averaging property of the ML objective. In this work, we proposeInformation Maximizing Curriculum, a curriculum-based approach that assignsa weight to each data point and encourages the model to specialize in the data itcan represent, effectively mitigating the mode-averaging problem by allowing themodel to ignore data from modes it cannot represent. To cover all modes and thus,enable versatile behavior, we extend our approach to a mixture of experts (MoE)policy, where each mixture component selects its own subset of the training datafor learning. A novel, maximum entropy-based objective is proposed to achievefull coverage of the dataset, thereby enabling the policy to encompass all modeswithin the data distribution. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach oncomplex simulated control tasks using versatile human demonstrations, achievingsuperior performance compared to state-of-the-art methods.

Accelerating Motion Planning via Optimal Transport

An T. Le · Georgia Chalvatzaki · Armin Biess · Jan Peters

Motion planning is still an open problem for many disciplines, e.g., robotics, autonomous driving, due to their need for high computational resources that hinder real-time, efficient decision-making. A class of methods striving to provide smooth solutions is gradient-based trajectory optimization. However, those methods usually suffer from bad local minima, while for many settings, they may be inapplicable due to the absence of easy-to-access gradients of the optimization objectives. In response to these issues, we introduce Motion Planning via Optimal Transport (MPOT)---a \textit{gradient-free} method that optimizes a batch of smooth trajectories over highly nonlinear costs, even for high-dimensional tasks, while imposing smoothness through a Gaussian Process dynamics prior via the planning-as-inference perspective. To facilitate batch trajectory optimization, we introduce an original zero-order and highly-parallelizable update rule----the Sinkhorn Step, which uses the regular polytope family for its search directions. Each regular polytope, centered on trajectory waypoints, serves as a local cost-probing neighborhood, acting as a \textit{trust region} where the Sinkhorn Step ``transports'' local waypoints toward low-cost regions. We theoretically show that Sinkhorn Step guides the optimizing parameters toward local minima regions of non-convex objective functions. We then show the efficiency of MPOT in a range of problems from low-dimensional point-mass navigation to high-dimensional whole-body robot motion planning, evincing its superiority compared to popular motion planners, paving the way for new applications of optimal transport in motion planning.

Where are we in the search for an Artificial Visual Cortex for Embodied Intelligence?

Arjun Majumdar · Karmesh Yadav · Sergio Arnaud · Jason Ma · Claire Chen · Sneha Silwal · Aryan Jain · Vincent-Pierre Berges · Tingfan Wu · Jay Vakil · Pieter Abbeel · Jitendra Malik · Dhruv Batra · Yixin Lin · Oleksandr Maksymets · Aravind Rajeswaran · Franziska Meier

We present the largest and most comprehensive empirical study of pre-trained visual representations (PVRs) or visual ‘foundation models’ for Embodied AI. First, we curate CortexBench, consisting of 17 different tasks spanning locomotion, navigation, dexterous, and mobile manipulation. Next, we systematically evaluate existing PVRs and find that none are universally dominant. To study the effect of pre-training data size and diversity, we combine over 4,000 hours of egocentric videos from 7 different sources (over 4.3M images) and ImageNet to train different-sized vision transformers using Masked Auto-Encoding (MAE) on slices of this data. Contrary to inferences from prior work, we find that scaling dataset size and diversity does not improve performance universally (but does so on average). Our largest model, named VC-1, outperforms all prior PVRs on average but does not universally dominate either. Next, we show that task- or domain-specific adaptation of VC-1 leads to substantial gains, with VC-1 (adapted) achieving competitive or superior performance than the best known results on all of the benchmarks in CortexBench. Finally, we present real-world hardware experiments, in which VC-1 and VC-1 (adapted) outperform the strongest pre-existing PVR. Overall, this paper presents no new techniques but a rigorous systematic evaluation, a broad set of findings about PVRs (that in some cases, refute those made in narrow domains in prior work), and open-sourced code and models (that required over 10,000 GPU-hours to train) for the benefit of the research community.

POMDP Planning for Object Search in Partially Unknown Environment

Yongbo Chen · Hanna Kurniawati

Efficiently searching for target objects in complex environments that contain various types of furniture, such as shelves, tables, and beds, is crucial for mobile robots, but it poses significant challenges due to various factors such as localization errors, limited field of view, and visual occlusion. To address this problem, we propose a Partially Observable Markov Decision Process (POMDP) formulation with a growing state space for object search in a 3D region. We solve this POMDP by carefully designing a perception module and developing a planning algorithm, called Growing Partially Observable Monte-Carlo Planning (GPOMCP), based on online Monte-Carlo tree search and belief tree reuse with a novel upper confidence bound. We have demonstrated that belief tree reuse is reasonable and achieves good performance when the belief differences are limited. Additionally, we introduce a guessed target object with an updating grid world to guide the search in the information-less and reward-less cases, like the absence of any detected objects. We tested our approach using Gazebo simulations on four scenarios of target finding in a realistic indoor living environment with the Fetch robot simulator. Compared to the baseline approaches, which are based on POMCP, our results indicate that our approach enables the robot to find the target object with a higher success rate faster while using the same computational requirements.

FGPrompt: Fine-grained Goal Prompting for Image-goal Navigation

Xinyu Sun · Peihao Chen · Jugang Fan · Jian Chen · Thomas Li · Mingkui Tan

Learning to navigate to an image-specified goal is an important but challenging task for autonomous systems like household robots. The agent is required to well understand and reason the location of the navigation goal from a picture shot in the goal position. Existing methods try to solve this problem by learning a navigation policy, which captures semantic features of the goal image and observation image independently and lastly fuses them for predicting a sequence of navigation actions. However, these methods suffer from two major limitations. 1) They may miss detailed information in the goal image, and thus fail to reason the goal location. 2) More critically, it is hard to focus on the goal-relevant regions in the observation image, because they attempt to understand observation without goal conditioning. In this paper, we aim to overcome these limitations by designing a Fine-grained Goal Prompting (\sexyname) method for image-goal navigation. In particular, we leverage fine-grained and high-resolution feature maps in the goal image as prompts to perform conditioned embedding, which preserves detailed information in the goal image and guides the observation encoder to pay attention to goal-relevant regions. Compared with existing methods on the image-goal navigation benchmark, our method brings significant performance improvement on 3 benchmark datasets (\textit{i.e.,} Gibson, MP3D, and HM3D). Especially on Gibson, we surpass the state-of-the-art success rate by 8\% with only 1/50 model size.

Adaptive Normalization for Non-stationary Time Series Forecasting: A Temporal Slice Perspective

Zhiding Liu · Mingyue Cheng · Zhi Li · Zhi Li · Zhenya Huang · Qi Liu · Yanhu Xie · Enhong Chen

Deep learning models have progressively advanced time series forecasting due to their powerful capacity in capturing sequence dependence. Nevertheless, it is still challenging to make accurate predictions due to the existence of non-stationarity in real-world data, denoting the data distribution rapidly changes over time. To mitigate such a dilemma, several efforts have been conducted by reducing the non-stationarity with normalization operation. However, these methods typically overlook the distribution discrepancy between the input series and the horizon series, and assume that all time points within the same instance share the same statistical properties, which is too ideal and may lead to suboptimal relative improvements. To this end, we propose a novel slice-level adaptive normalization, referred to \textbf{SAN}, which is a novel scheme for empowering time series forecasting with more flexible normalization and denormalization. SAN includes two crucial designs. First, SAN tries to eliminate the non-stationarity of time series in units of a local temporal slice (i.e., sub-series) rather than a global instance. Second, SAN employs a slight network module to independently model the evolving trends of statistical properties of raw time series. Consequently, SAN could serve as a general model-agnostic plugin and better alleviate the impact of the non-stationary nature of time series data. We instantiate the proposed SAN on four widely used forecasting models and test their prediction results on benchmark datasets to evaluate its effectiveness. Also, we report some insightful findings to deeply analyze and understand our proposed SAN. We make our codes publicly available.

Deciphering Spatio-Temporal Graph Forecasting: A Causal Lens and Treatment

Yutong Xia · Yuxuan Liang · Haomin Wen · Xu Liu · Kun Wang · Zhengyang Zhou · Roger Zimmermann

Spatio-Temporal Graph (STG) forecasting is a fundamental task in many real-world applications. Spatio-Temporal Graph Neural Networks have emerged as the most popular method for STG forecasting, but they often struggle with temporal out-of-distribution (OoD) issues and dynamic spatial causation. In this paper, we propose a novel framework called CaST to tackle these two challenges via causal treatments. Concretely, leveraging a causal lens, we first build a structural causal model to decipher the data generation process of STGs. To handle the temporal OoD issue, we employ the back-door adjustment by a novel disentanglement block to separate the temporal environments from input data. Moreover, we utilize the front-door adjustment and adopt edge-level convolution to model the ripple effect of causation. Experiments results on three real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of CaST, which consistently outperforms existing methods with good interpretability. Our source code is available at

Koopa: Learning Non-stationary Time Series Dynamics with Koopman Predictors

Yong Liu · Chenyu Li · Jianmin Wang · Mingsheng Long

Real-world time series are characterized by intrinsic non-stationarity that poses a principal challenge for deep forecasting models. While previous models suffer from complicated series variations induced by changing temporal distribution, we tackle non-stationary time series with modern Koopman theory that fundamentally considers the underlying time-variant dynamics. Inspired by Koopman theory of portraying complex dynamical systems, we disentangle time-variant and time-invariant components from intricate non-stationary series by Fourier Filter and design Koopman Predictor to advance respective dynamics forward. Technically, we propose Koopa as a novel Koopman forecaster composed of stackable blocks that learn hierarchical dynamics. Koopa seeks measurement functions for Koopman embedding and utilizes Koopman operators as linear portraits of implicit transition. To cope with time-variant dynamics that exhibits strong locality, Koopa calculates context-aware operators in the temporal neighborhood and is able to utilize incoming ground truth to scale up forecast horizon. Besides, by integrating Koopman Predictors into deep residual structure, we ravel out the binding reconstruction loss in previous Koopman forecasters and achieve end-to-end forecasting objective optimization. Compared with the state-of-the-art model, Koopa achieves competitive performance while saving 77.3% training time and 76.0% memory.

Diversify Your Vision Datasets with Automatic Diffusion-based Augmentation

Lisa Dunlap · Alyssa Umino · Han Zhang · Jiezhi Yang · Joseph Gonzalez · Trevor Darrell

Many fine-grained classification tasks, like rare animal identification, have limited training data and consequently classifiers trained on these datasets often fail to generalize to variations in the domain like changes in weather or location. As such, we explore how natural language descriptions of the domains seen in training data can be used with large vision models trained on diverse pretraining datasets to generate useful variations of the training data. We introduce ALIA (Automated Language-guided Image Augmentation), a method which utilizes large vision and language models to automatically generate natural language descriptions of a dataset's domains and augment the training data via language-guided image editing. To maintain data integrity, a model trained on the original dataset filters out minimal image edits and those which corrupt class-relevant information. The resulting dataset is visually consistent with the original training data and offers significantly enhanced diversity. We show that ALIA is able to surpasses traditional data augmentation and text-to-image generated data on fine-grained classification tasks, including cases of domain generalization and contextual bias. Code is available at

HyP-NeRF: Learning Improved NeRF Priors using a HyperNetwork

Bipasha Sen · Gaurav Singh · Aditya Agarwal · Rohith Agaram · Madhava Krishna · Srinath Sridhar

Neural Radiance Fields (NeRF) have become an increasingly popular representation to capture high-quality appearance and shape of scenes and objects. However, learning generalizable NeRF priors over categories of scenes or objects has been challenging due to the high dimensionality of network weight space. To address the limitations of existing work on generalization, multi-view consistency and to improve quality, we propose HyP-NeRF, a latent conditioning method for learning generalizable category-level NeRF priors using hypernetworks. Rather than using hypernetworks to estimate only the weights of a NeRF, we estimate both the weights and the multi-resolution hash encodings resulting in significant quality gains. To improve quality even further, we incorporate a denoise and finetune strategy that denoises images rendered from NeRFs estimated by the hypernetwork and finetunes it while retaining multiview consistency. These improvements enable us to use HyP-NeRF as a generalizable prior for multiple downstream tasks including NeRF reconstruction from single-view or cluttered scenes and text-to-NeRF. We provide qualitative comparisons and evaluate HyP-NeRF on three tasks: generalization, compression, and retrieval, demonstrating our state-of-the-art results.

Meet in the Middle: A New Pre-training Paradigm

Anh Nguyen · Nikos Karampatziakis · Weizhu Chen

Most language models (LMs) are trained and applied in an autoregressive left-to-right fashion, predicting the next token from the preceding ones. However, this ignores that the full sequence is available during training. In this paper, we introduce ``Meet in the Middle'' (MIM) a new pre-training paradigm that improves data efficiency by training in two directions, left-to-right and right-to-left, and encouraging the respective modelsto agree on their token distribution for each position. While the primary outcome is an improved left-to-right LM,we also obtain secondary benefits in the infilling task. There, we leverage the two pre-trained directions to propose an infilling procedure that builds the completion simultaneously from both sides. We conduct extensive experiments on both programming and natural languages and show that MIM significantly surpasses existing pre-training paradigms, in both left-to-right generation as well as infilling.Code and models available at

Lightweight Vision Transformer with Bidirectional Interaction

Qihang Fan · Huaibo Huang · Xiaoqiang Zhou · Ran He

Recent advancements in vision backbones have significantly improved their performance by simultaneously modeling images’ local and global contexts. However, the bidirectional interaction between these two contexts has not been well explored and exploited, which is important in the human visual system. This paper proposes a Fully Adaptive Self-Attention (FASA) mechanism for vision transformer to model the local and global information as well as the bidirectional interaction between them in context-aware ways. Specifically, FASA employs self-modulated convolutions to adaptively extract local representation while utilizing self-attention in down-sampled space to extract global representation. Subsequently, it conducts a bidirectional adaptation process between local and global representation to model their interaction. In addition, we introduce a fine-grained downsampling strategy to enhance the down-sampled self-attention mechanism for finer-grained global perception capability. Based on FASA, we develop a family of lightweight vision backbones, Fully Adaptive Transformer (FAT) family. Extensive experiments on multiple vision tasks demonstrate that FAT achieves impressive performance. Notably, FAT accomplishes a 77.6% accuracy on ImageNet-1K using only 4.5M parameters and 0.7G FLOPs, which surpasses the most advanced ConvNets and Transformers with similar model size and computational costs. Moreover, our model exhibits faster speed on modern GPU compared to other models.

Memory-Efficient Fine-Tuning of Compressed Large Language Models via sub-4-bit Integer Quantization

Jeonghoon Kim · Jung Hyun Lee · Sungdong Kim · Joonsuk Park · Kang Min Yoo · Se Jung Kwon · Dongsoo Lee

Large language models (LLMs) face the challenges in fine-tuning and deployment due to their high memory demands and computational costs. While parameter-efficient fine-tuning (PEFT) methods aim to reduce the memory usage of the optimizer state during fine-tuning, the inherent size of pre-trained LLM weights continues to be a pressing concern. Even though quantization techniques are widely proposed to ease memory demands and accelerate LLM inference, most of these techniques are geared towards the deployment phase.To bridge this gap, this paper presents Parameter-Efficient and Quantization-aware Adaptation (PEQA) – a simple yet effective method that combines the advantages of PEFT with quantized LLMs. By updating solely the quantization scales, PEQA can be directly applied to quantized LLMs, ensuring seamless task transitions. Parallel to existing PEFT methods, PEQA significantly reduces the memory overhead associated with the optimizer state. Furthermore, it leverages the advantages of quantization to substantially reduce model sizes. Even after fine-tuning, the quantization structure of a PEQA-tuned LLM remains intact, allowing for accelerated inference on the deployment stage.We employ PEQA-tuning for task-specific adaptation on LLMs with up to $65$ billion parameters. To assess the logical reasoning and language comprehension of PEQA-tuned LLMs, we fine-tune low-bit quantized LLMs using a instruction dataset. Our results show that even when LLMs are quantized to below 4-bit precision, their capabilities in language modeling, few-shot in-context learning, and comprehension can be resiliently restored to (or even improved over) their full-precision original performances with PEQA.

Tanh Works Better with Asymmetry

Dongjin Kim · Woojeong Kim · Suhyun Kim

Batch Normalization is commonly located in front of activation functions, as proposed by the original paper. Swapping the order, i.e., using Batch Normalization after activation functions, has also been attempted, but its performance is generally not much different from the conventional order when ReLU or a similar activation function is used. However, in the case of bounded activation functions like Tanh, we discovered that the swapped order achieves considerably better performance than the conventional order on various benchmarks and architectures. This paper reports this remarkable phenomenon and closely examines what contributes to this performance improvement. By looking at the output distributions of individual activation functions, not the whole layers, we found that many of them are asymmetrically saturated. The experiments designed to induce a different degree of asymmetric saturation support the hypothesis that asymmetric saturation helps improve performance. In addition, Batch Normalization after bounded activation functions relocates the asymmetrically saturated output of activation functions near zero, enabling the swapped model to have high sparsity, further improving performance. Extensive experiments with Tanh, LeCun Tanh, and Softsign show that the swapped models achieve improved performance with a high degree of asymmetric saturation. Finally, based on this investigation, we test a Tanh function shifted to be asymmetric. This shifted Tanh function that is manipulated to have consistent asymmetry shows even higher accuracy than the original Tanh used in the swapped order, confirming the asymmetry's importance. The code is available at

A General Framework for Equivariant Neural Networks on Reductive Lie Groups

Ilyes Batatia · Mario Geiger · Jose Munoz · Tess Smidt · Lior Silberman · Christoph Ortner

Reductive Lie Groups, such as the orthogonal groups, the Lorentz group, or the unitary groups, play essential roles across scientific fields as diverse as high energy physics, quantum mechanics, quantum chromodynamics, molecular dynamics, computer vision, and imaging. In this paper, we present a general Equivariant Neural Network architecture capable of respecting the symmetries of the finite-dimensional representations of any reductive Lie Group. Our approach generalizes the successful ACE and MACE architectures for atomistic point clouds to any data equivariant to a reductive Lie group action. We also introduce the lie-nn software library, which provides all the necessary tools to develop and implement such general G-equivariant neural networks. It implements routines for the reduction of generic tensor products of representations into irreducible representations, making it easy to apply our architecture to a wide range of problems and groups. The generality and performance of our approach are demonstrated by applying it to the tasks of top quark decay tagging (Lorentz group) and shape recognition (orthogonal group).

Clustering the Sketch: Dynamic Compression for Embedding Tables

Henry Tsang · Thomas Ahle

Embedding tables are used by machine learning systems to work with categorical features.In modern Recommendation Systems, these tables can be very large, necessitating the development of new methods for fitting them in memory, even during training.We suggest Clustered Compositional Embeddings (CCE) which combines clustering-based compression like quantization to codebooks with dynamic methods like The Hashing Trick and Compositional Embeddings [Shi et al., 2020].Experimentally CCE achieves the best of both worlds: The high compression rate of codebook-based quantization, but \emph{dynamically} like hashing-based methods, so it can be used during training.Theoretically, we prove that CCE is guaranteed to converge to the optimal codebook and give a tight bound for the number of iterations required.

Systematic Visual Reasoning through Object-Centric Relational Abstraction

Taylor Webb · Shanka Subhra Mondal · Jonathan D Cohen

Human visual reasoning is characterized by an ability to identify abstract patterns from only a small number of examples, and to systematically generalize those patterns to novel inputs. This capacity depends in large part on our ability to represent complex visual inputs in terms of both objects and relations. Recent work in computer vision has introduced models with the capacity to extract object-centric representations, leading to the ability to process multi-object visual inputs, but falling short of the systematic generalization displayed by human reasoning. Other recent models have employed inductive biases for relational abstraction to achieve systematic generalization of learned abstract rules, but have generally assumed the presence of object-focused inputs. Here, we combine these two approaches, introducing Object-Centric Relational Abstraction (OCRA), a model that extracts explicit representations of both objects and abstract relations, and achieves strong systematic generalization in tasks (including a novel dataset, CLEVR-ART, with greater visual complexity) involving complex visual displays.

Learning Sample Difficulty from Pre-trained Models for Reliable Prediction

Peng Cui · Dan Zhang · Zhijie Deng · Yinpeng Dong · Jun Zhu

Large-scale pre-trained models have achieved remarkable success in many applications, but how to leverage them to improve the prediction reliability of downstream models is undesirably under-explored. Moreover, modern neural networks have been found to be poorly calibrated and make overconfident predictions regardless of inherent sample difficulty and data uncertainty. To address this issue, we propose to utilize large-scale pre-trained models to guide downstream model training with sample difficulty-aware entropy regularization. Pre-trained models that have been exposed to large-scale datasets and do not overfit the downstream training classes enable us to measure each training sample’s difficulty via feature-space Gaussian modeling and relative Mahalanobis distance computation. Importantly, by adaptively penalizing overconfident prediction based on the sample difficulty, we simultaneously improve accuracy and uncertainty calibration across challenging benchmarks (e.g., +0.55% ACC and −3.7% ECE on ImageNet1k using ResNet34), consistently surpassing competitive baselines for reliable prediction. The improved uncertainty estimate further improves selective classification (abstaining from erroneous predictions) and out-of-distribution detection.

Oral Poster
Bridging Discrete and Backpropagation: Straight-Through and Beyond

Liyuan Liu · Chengyu Dong · Xiaodong Liu · Bin Yu · Jianfeng Gao

Backpropagation, the cornerstone of deep learning, is limited to computing gradients for continuous variables. This limitation poses challenges for problems involving discrete latent variables. To address this issue, we propose a novel approach to approximate the gradient of parameters involved in generating discrete latent variables. First, we examine the widely used Straight-Through (ST) heuristic and demonstrate that it works as a first-order approximation of the gradient. Guided by our findings, we propose ReinMax, which achieves second-order accuracy by integrating Heun’s method, a second-order numerical method for solving ODEs. ReinMax does not require Hessian or other second-order derivatives, thus having negligible computation overheads. Extensive experimental results on various tasks demonstrate the superiority of ReinMax over the state of the art.

Module-wise Training of Neural Networks via the Minimizing Movement Scheme

Skander Karkar · Ibrahim Ayed · Emmanuel de Bézenac · Patrick Gallinari

Greedy layer-wise or module-wise training of neural networks is compelling in constrained and on-device settings where memory is limited, as it circumvents a number of problems of end-to-end back-propagation. However, it suffers from a stagnation problem, whereby early layers overfit and deeper layers stop increasing the test accuracy after a certain depth. We propose to solve this issue by introducing a simple module-wise regularization inspired by the minimizing movement scheme for gradient flows in distribution space. We call the method TRGL for Transport Regularized Greedy Learning and study it theoretically, proving that it leads to greedy modules that are regular and that progressively solve the task. Experimentally, we show improved accuracy of module-wise training of various architectures such as ResNets, Transformers and VGG, when our regularization is added, superior to that of other module-wise training methods and often to end-to-end training, with as much as 60% less memory usage.

You Only Condense Once: Two Rules for Pruning Condensed Datasets

Yang He · Lingao Xiao · Joey Tianyi Zhou

Dataset condensation is a crucial tool for enhancing training efficiency by reducing the size of the training dataset, particularly in on-device scenarios. However, these scenarios have two significant challenges: 1) the varying computational resources available on the devices require a dataset size different from the pre-defined condensed dataset, and 2) the limited computational resources often preclude the possibility of conducting additional condensation processes. We introduce You Only Condense Once (YOCO) to overcome these limitations. On top of one condensed dataset, YOCO produces smaller condensed datasets with two embarrassingly simple dataset pruning rules: Low LBPE Score and Balanced Construction. YOCO offers two key advantages: 1) it can flexibly resize the dataset to fit varying computational constraints, and 2) it eliminates the need for extra condensation processes, which can be computationally prohibitive. Experiments validate our findings on networks including ConvNet, ResNet and DenseNet, and datasets including CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100 and ImageNet. For example, our YOCO surpassed various dataset condensation and dataset pruning methods on CIFAR-10 with ten Images Per Class (IPC), achieving 6.98-8.89% and 6.31-23.92% accuracy gains, respectively. The code is available at:

Sharpness-Aware Minimization Leads to Low-Rank Features

Maksym Andriushchenko · Dara Bahri · Hossein Mobahi · Nicolas Flammarion

Sharpness-aware minimization (SAM) is a recently proposed method that minimizes the sharpness of the training loss of a neural network. While its generalization improvement is well-known and is the primary motivation, we uncover an additional intriguing effect of SAM: reduction of the feature rank which happens at different layers of a neural network. We show that this low-rank effect occurs very broadly: for different architectures such as fully-connected networks, convolutional networks, vision transformers and for different objectives such as regression, classification, language-image contrastive training. To better understand this phenomenon, we provide a mechanistic understanding of how low-rank features arise in a simple two-layer network. We observe that a significant number of activations gets entirely pruned by SAM which directly contributes to the rank reduction. We confirm this effect theoretically and check that it can also occur in deep networks, although the overall rank reduction mechanism can be more complex, especially for deep networks with pre-activation skip connections and self-attention layers.

Spotlight Poster
AlpacaFarm: A Simulation Framework for Methods that Learn from Human Feedback

Yann Dubois · Chen Xuechen Li · Rohan Taori · Tianyi Zhang · Ishaan Gulrajani · Jimmy Ba · Carlos Guestrin · Percy Liang · Tatsunori Hashimoto

Large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT have seen widespread adoption due to their ability to follow user instructions well.Developing these LLMs involves a complex yet poorly understood workflow requiring training with human feedback. Replicating and understanding this instruction-following process faces three major challenges: the high cost of data collection, the lack of trustworthy evaluation, and the absence of reference method implementations. We address these bottlenecks with AlpacaFarm, a simulator that enables research and development for learning from feedback at a low cost. First, we design LLM based simulator for human feedback that is 45x cheaper than crowdworkers and displays high agreement with humans. Second, we identify an evaluation dataset representative of real-world instructions and propose an automatic evaluation procedure. Third, we contribute reference implementations for several methods (PPO, best-of-n, expert iteration, among others) that learn from pairwise feedback. Finally, as an end-to-end validation of AlpacaFarm, we train and evaluate eleven models on 10k pairs of human feedback and show that rankings of models trained in AlpacaFarm match rankings of models trained on human data. As a demonstration of the research possible in AlpacaFarm, we find that methods that use a reward model can substantially improve over supervised fine-tuning and that our reference PPO implementation leads to a +10% win-rate improvement against Davinci003.

Oral Poster
Monarch Mixer: A Simple Sub-Quadratic GEMM-Based Architecture

Dan Fu · Simran Arora · Jessica Grogan · Isys Johnson · Evan Sabri Eyuboglu · Armin Thomas · Benjamin Spector · Michael Poli · Atri Rudra · Christopher Ré

Machine learning models are increasingly being scaled in both sequence length and model dimension to reach longer contexts and better performance. However, existing architectures such as Transformers scale quadratically along both these axes. We ask: are there performant architectures that can scale sub-quadratically along sequence length and model dimension? We introduce Monarch Mixer (M2), a new architecture that uses the same sub-quadratic primitive along both sequence length and model dimension: Monarch matrices, a simple class of expressive structured matrices that captures many linear transforms, achieves high hardware efficiency on GPUs, and scales sub-quadratically. As a proof of concept, we explore the performance of M2 in three domains: non-causal BERT-style language modeling, ViT-style image classification, and causal GPT-style language modeling. For non-causal BERT-style modeling, M2 matches BERT-base and BERT-large in downstream GLUE quality with up to 27% fewer parameters, and achieves up to 9.1$\times$ higher throughput at sequence length 4K. On ImageNet, M2 outperforms ViT-b by 1% in accuracy, with only half the parameters. Causal GPT-style models introduce a technical challenge: enforcing causality via masking introduces a quadratic bottleneck. To alleviate this bottleneck, we develop a novel theoretical view of Monarch matrices based on multivariate polynomial evaluation and interpolation, which lets us parameterize M2 to be causal while remaining sub-quadratic. Using this parameterization, M2 matches GPT-style Transformers at 360M parameters in pretraining perplexity on The PILE—showing for the first time that it may be possible to match Transformer quality without attention or MLPs.

Probabilistic Weight Fixing: Large-scale training of neural network weight uncertainties for quantisation.

Chris Subia-Waud · Srinandan Dasmahapatra

Weight-sharing quantization has emerged as a technique to reduce energy expenditure during inference in large neural networks by constraining their weights to a limited set of values. However, existing methods often assume weights are treated solely based on value, neglecting the unique role of weight position. This paper proposes a probabilistic framework based on Bayesian neural networks (BNNs) and a variational relaxation to identify which weights can be moved to which cluster center and to what degree based on their individual position-specific learned uncertainty distributions. We introduce a new initialization setting and a regularization term, enabling the training of BNNs with complex dataset-model combinations. Leveraging the flexibility of weight values from probability distributions, we enhance noise resilience and compressibility. Our iterative clustering procedure demonstrates superior compressibility and higher accuracy compared to state-of-the-art methods on both ResNet models and the more complex transformer-based architectures. In particular, our method outperforms the state-of-the-art quantization method top-1 accuracy by 1.6\% on ImageNet using DeiT-Tiny, with its 5 million+ weights now represented by only 296 unique values. Code available at

ScaleLong: Towards More Stable Training of Diffusion Model via Scaling Network Long Skip Connection

Zhongzhan Huang · Pan Zhou · Pan Zhou · Shuicheng Yan · Liang Lin

In diffusion models, UNet is the most popular network backbone, since its long skip connects (LSCs) to connect distant network blocks can aggregate long-distant information and alleviate vanishing gradient. Unfortunately, UNet often suffers from unstable training in diffusion models which can be alleviated by scaling its LSC coefficients smaller. However, theoretical understandings of the instability of UNet in diffusion models and also the performance improvement of LSC scaling remain absent yet. To solve this issue, we theoretically show that the coefficients of LSCs in UNet have big effects on the stableness of the forward and backward propagation and robustness of UNet. Specifically, the hidden feature and gradient of UNet at any layer can oscillate and their oscillation ranges are actually large which explains the instability of UNet training. Moreover, UNet is also provably sensitive to perturbed input, and predicts an output distant from the desired output, yielding oscillatory loss and thus oscillatory gradient. Besides, we also observe the theoretical benefits of the LSC coefficient scaling of UNet in the stableness of hidden features and gradient and also robustness. Finally, inspired by our theory, we propose an effective coefficient scaling framework ScaleLong that scales the coefficients of LSC in UNet and better improve the training stability of UNet. Experimental results on CIFAR10, CelebA, ImageNet and COCO show that our methods are superior to stabilize training, and yield about 1.5x training acceleration on different diffusion models with UNet or UViT backbones.

A Data-Free Approach to Mitigate Catastrophic Forgetting in Federated Class Incremental Learning for Vision Tasks

Sara Babakniya · Zalan Fabian · Chaoyang He · Mahdi Soltanolkotabi · Salman Avestimehr

Deep learning models often suffer from forgetting previously learned information when trained on new data. This problem is exacerbated in federated learning (FL), where the data is distributed and can change independently for each user. Many solutions are proposed to resolve this catastrophic forgetting in a centralized setting. However, they do not apply directly to FL because of its unique complexities, such as privacy concerns and resource limitations. To overcome these challenges, this paper presents a framework for \textbf{federated class incremental learning} that utilizes a generative model to synthesize samples from past distributions. This data can be later exploited alongside the training data to mitigate catastrophic forgetting. To preserve privacy, the generative model is trained on the server using data-free methods at the end of each task without requesting data from clients. Moreover, our solution does not demand the users to store old data or models, which gives them the freedom to join/leave the training at any time. Additionally, we introduce SuperImageNet, a new regrouping of the ImageNet dataset specifically tailored for federated continual learning. We demonstrate significant improvements compared to existing baselines through extensive experiments on multiple datasets.

Inconsistency, Instability, and Generalization Gap of Deep Neural Network Training

Rie Johnson · Tong Zhang

As deep neural networks are highly expressive, it is important to find solutions with small generalization gap (the difference between the performance on the training data and unseen data). Focusing on the stochastic nature of training, we first present a theoretical analysis in which the bound of generalization gap depends on what we call inconsistency and instability of model outputs, which can be estimated on unlabeled data. Our empirical study based on this analysis shows that instability and inconsistency are strongly predictive of generalization gap in various settings. In particular, our finding indicates that inconsistency is a more reliable indicator of generalization gap than the sharpness of the loss landscape. Furthermore, we show that algorithmic reduction of inconsistency leads to superior performance. The results also provide a theoretical basis for existing methods such as co-distillation and ensemble.

Towards Anytime Classification in Early-Exit Architectures by Enforcing Conditional Monotonicity

Metod Jazbec · James Allingham · Dan Zhang · Eric Nalisnick

Modern predictive models are often deployed to environments in which computational budgets are dynamic. Anytime algorithms are well-suited to such environments as, at any point during computation, they can output a prediction whose quality is a function of computation time. Early-exit neural networks have garnered attention in the context of anytime computation due to their capability to provide intermediate predictions at various stages throughout the network. However, we demonstrate that current early-exit networks are not directly applicable to anytime settings, as the quality of predictions for individual data points is not guaranteed to improve with longer computation. To address this shortcoming, we propose an elegant post-hoc modification, based on the Product-of-Experts, that encourages an early-exit network to become gradually confident. This gives our deep models the property of conditional monotonicity in the prediction quality---an essential building block towards truly anytime predictive modeling using early-exit architectures. Our empirical results on standard image-classification tasks demonstrate that such behaviors can be achieved while preserving competitive accuracy on average.

Accurate Interpolation for Scattered Data through Hierarchical Residual Refinement

Shizhe Ding · Boyang Xia · Dongbo Bu

Accurate interpolation algorithms are highly desired in various theoretical and engineering scenarios. Unlike the traditional numerical algorithms that have exact zero-residual constraints on observed points, the neural network-based interpolation methods exhibit non-zero residuals at these points. These residuals, which provide observations of an underlying residual function, can guide predicting interpolation functions, but have not been exploited by the existing approaches. To fill this gap, we propose Hierarchical INTerpolation Network (HINT), which utilizes the residuals on observed points to guide target function estimation in a hierarchical fashion. HINT consists of several sequentially arranged lightweight interpolation blocks. The first interpolation block estimates the main component of the target function, while subsequent blocks predict the residual components using observed points residuals of the preceding blocks. The main component and residual components are accumulated to form the final interpolation results. Furthermore, under the assumption that finer residual prediction requires a more focused attention range on observed points, we utilize hierarchical local constraints in correlation modeling between observed and target points. Extensive experiments demonstrate that HINT outperforms existing interpolation algorithms significantly in terms of interpolation accuracy across a wide variety of datasets, which underscores its potential for practical scenarios.

Geometric Transformer with Interatomic Positional Encoding

Yusong Wang · Shaoning Li · Tong Wang · Bin Shao · Nanning Zheng · Tie-Yan Liu

The widespread adoption of Transformer architectures in various data modalities has opened new avenues for the applications in molecular modeling. Nevertheless, it remains elusive that whether the Transformer-based architecture can do molecular modeling as good as equivariant GNNs. In this paper, by designing Interatomic Positional Encoding (IPE) thatparameterizes atomic environments as Transformer's positional encodings,we propose Geoformer, a novel geometric Transformer to effectively model molecular structures for various molecular property prediction. We evaluate Geoformer on several benchmarks, including the QM9 dataset and the recently proposed Molecule3D dataset. Compared with both Transformers and equivariant GNN models, Geoformer outperforms the state-of-the-art (SoTA) algorithms on QM9, and achieves the best performance on Molecule3D for both random and scaffold splits.By introducing IPE, Geoformer paves the way for molecular geometric modeling based on Transformer architecture.Codes are available at

Random-Access Infinite Context Length for Transformers

Amirkeivan Mohtashami · Martin Jaggi

While Transformers have shown remarkable success in natural language processing, their attention mechanism's large memory requirements have limited their ability to handle longer contexts. Prior approaches, such as recurrent memory or retrieval-based augmentation, have either compromised the random-access flexibility of attention (i.e., the capability to select any token in the entire context) or relied on separate mechanisms for relevant context retrieval, which may not be compatible with the model's attention. In this paper, we present a novel approach that allows access to the complete context while retaining random-access flexibility, closely resembling running attention on the entire context. Our method uses a landmark token to represent each block of the input and trains the attention to use it for selecting relevant blocks, enabling retrieval of blocks directly through the attention mechanism instead of by relying on a separate mechanism. Our approach seamlessly integrates with specialized data structures and the system's memory hierarchy, enabling processing of arbitrarily long context lengths. We demonstrate that our method can obtain comparable performance with Transformer-XL while significantly reducing the number of retrieved tokens in each step. Finally, we show that fine-tuning LLaMA 7B with our method successfully extends its context length capacity to over 32k tokens, allowing for inference at the context lengths of GPT-4. We release the implementation of landmark attention and the code to reproduce our experiments at

Designing Robust Transformers using Robust Kernel Density Estimation

Xing Han · Tongzheng Ren · Tan Nguyen · Khai Nguyen · Joydeep Ghosh · Nhat Ho

Transformer-based architectures have recently exhibited remarkable successes across different domains beyond just powering large language models. However, existing approaches typically focus on predictive accuracy and computational cost, largely ignoring certain other practical issues such as robustness to contaminated samples. In this paper, by re-interpreting the self-attention mechanism as a non-parametric kernel density estimator, we adapt classical robust kernel density estimation methods to develop novel classes of transformers that are resistant to adversarial attacks and data contamination. We first propose methods that down-weight outliers in RKHS when computing the self-attention operations. We empirically show that these methods produce improved performance over existing state-of-the-art methods, particularly on image data under adversarial attacks. Then we leverage the median-of-means principle to obtain another efficient approach that results in noticeably enhanced performance and robustness on language modeling and time series classification tasks. Our methods can be combined with existing transformers to augment their robust properties, thus promising to impact a wide variety of applications.

Spotlight Poster
Schema-learning and rebinding as mechanisms of in-context learning and emergence

Sivaramakrishnan Swaminathan · Antoine Dedieu · Rajkumar Vasudeva Raju · Murray Shanahan · Miguel Lazaro-Gredilla · Dileep George

In-context learning (ICL) is one of the most powerful and most unexpected capabilities to emerge in recent transformer-based large language models (LLMs). Yet the mechanisms that underlie it are poorly understood. In this paper, we demonstrate that comparable ICL capabilities can be acquired by an alternative sequence prediction learning method using clone-structured causal graphs (CSCGs). Moreover, a key property of CSCGs is that, unlike transformer-based LLMs, they are {\em interpretable}, which considerably simplifies the task of explaining how ICL works. Specifically, we show that it uses a combination of (a) learning template (schema) circuits for pattern completion, (b) retrieving relevant templates in a context-sensitive manner, and (c) rebinding of novel tokens to appropriate slots in the templates. We go on to marshall evidence for the hypothesis that similar mechanisms underlie ICL in LLMs. For example, we find that, with CSCGs as with LLMs, different capabilities emerge at different levels of overparameterization, suggesting that overparameterization helps in learning more complex template (schema) circuits. By showing how ICL can be achieved with small models and datasets, we open up a path to novel architectures, and take a vital step towards a more general understanding of the mechanics behind this important capability.

Polyhedron Attention Module: Learning Adaptive-order Interactions

Tan Zhu · Fei Dou · Xinyu Wang · Jin Lu · Jinbo Bi

Learning feature interactions can be the key for multivariate predictive modeling. ReLU-activated neural networks create piecewise linear prediction models, and other nonlinear activation functions lead to models with only high-order feature interactions. Recent methods incorporate candidate polynomial terms of fixed orders into deep learning, which is subject to the issue of combinatorial explosion, or learn the orders that are difficult to adapt to different regions of the feature space. We propose a Polyhedron Attention Module (PAM) to create piecewise polynomial models where the input space is split into polyhedrons which define the different pieces and on each piece the hyperplanes that define the polyhedron boundary multiply to form the interactive terms, resulting in interactions of adaptive order to each piece. PAM is interpretable to identify important interactions in predicting a target. Theoretic analysis shows that PAM has stronger expression capability than ReLU-activated networks. Extensive experimental results demonstrate the superior classification performance of PAM on massive datasets of the click-through rate prediction and PAM can learn meaningful interaction effects in a medical problem.

Coneheads: Hierarchy Aware Attention

Albert Tseng · Tao Yu · Toni Liu · Christopher De Sa

Attention networks such as transformers have achieved state-of-the-art performance in many domains. These networks rely heavily on the dot product attention operator, which computes the similarity between two points by taking their inner product.However, the inner product does not explicitly model the complex structural properties of real world datasets, such as hierarchies between data points.To remedy this, we introduce cone attention, a drop-in replacement for dot product attention based on hyperbolic entailment cones.Cone attention associates two points by the depth of their lowest common ancestor in a hierarchy defined by hyperbolic cones, which intuitively measures the divergence of two points and gives a $\textit{hierarchy aware}$ similarity score.We test cone attention on a wide variety of models and tasks and show that it improves task-level performance over dot product attention and other baselines, and is able to match dot-product attention with significantly fewer parameters.Our results suggest that cone attention is an effective way to capture hierarchical relationships when calculating attention.

The Quantization Model of Neural Scaling

Eric Michaud · Ziming Liu · Uzay Girit · Max Tegmark

We propose the Quantization Model of neural scaling laws, explaining both the observed power law dropoff of loss with model and data size, and also the sudden emergence of new capabilities with scale. We derive this model from what we call the Quantization Hypothesis, where network knowledge and skills are "quantized" into discrete chunks (quanta). We show that when quanta are learned in order of decreasing use frequency, then a power law in use frequencies explains observed power law scaling of loss. We validate this prediction on toy datasets, then study how scaling curves decompose for large language models. Using language model gradients, we automatically decompose model behavior into a diverse set of skills (quanta). We tentatively find that the frequency at which these quanta are used in the training distribution roughly follows a power law corresponding with the empirical scaling exponent for language models, a prediction of our theory.

Pruning vs Quantization: Which is Better?

Andrey Kuzmin · Markus Nagel · Mart van Baalen · Arash Behboodi · Tijmen Blankevoort

Neural network pruning and quantization techniques are almost as old as neural networks themselves. However, to date, only ad-hoc comparisons between the two have been published. In this paper, we set out to answer the question of which is better: neural network quantization or pruning? By answering this question, we hope to inform design decisions made on neural network hardware going forward. We provide an extensive comparison between the two techniques for compressing deep neural networks. First, we give an analytical comparison of expected quantization and pruning error for general data distributions.Then, we provide lower and upper bounds for the per-layer pruning and quantization error in trained networks and compare these to empirical error after optimization.Finally, we provide an extensive experimental comparison for training 8 large-scale models trained on 3 tasks and provide insights into the representations learned during fine-tuning with quantization and pruning in the loop.Our results show that in most cases quantization outperforms pruning. Only in some scenarios with a very high compression ratio, compression might be beneficial from an accuracy standpoint.

Oral Poster
QLoRA: Efficient Finetuning of Quantized LLMs

Tim Dettmers · Artidoro Pagnoni · Ari Holtzman · Luke Zettlemoyer

We present QLoRA, an efficient finetuning approach that reduces memory usage enough to finetune a 65B parameter model on a single 48GB GPU while preserving full 16-bit finetuning task performance. QLoRA backpropagates gradients through a frozen, 4-bit quantized pretrained language model into Low Rank Adapters~(LoRA). Our best model family, which we name Guanaco, outperforms all previous openly released models on the Vicuna benchmark, reaching 99.3% of the performance level of ChatGPT while only requiring 24 hours of finetuning on a single GPU. QLoRA introduces a number of innovations to save memory without sacrificing performance: (a) 4-bit NormalFloat (NF4), a new data type that is information-theoretically optimal for normally distributed weights (b) Double Quantization to reduce the average memory footprint by quantizing the quantization constants, and (c) Paged Optimziers to manage memory spikes. We use QLoRA to finetune more than 1,000 models, providing a detailed analysis of instruction following and chatbot performance across 8 instruction datasets, multiple model types (LLaMA, T5), and model scales that would be infeasible to run with regular finetuning (e.g. 33B and 65B parameter models). Our results show that QLoRA finetuning on a small, high-quality dataset leads to state-of-the-art results, even when using smaller models than the previous SoTA. We provide a detailed analysis of chatbot performance based on both human and GPT-4 evaluations, showing that GPT-4 evaluations are a cheap and reasonable alternative to human evaluation. Furthermore, we find that current chatbot benchmarks are not trustworthy to accurately evaluate the performance levels of chatbots. A lemon-picked analysis demonstrates where Guanaco fails compared to ChatGPT. We release all of our models and code, including CUDA kernels for 4-bit training.

How a Student becomes a Teacher: learning and forgetting through Spectral methods

Lorenzo Giambagli · Lorenzo Buffoni · Lorenzo Chicchi · Duccio Fanelli

In theoretical Machine Learning, the teacher-student paradigm is often employed as an effective metaphor for real-life tuition. A student network is trained on data generated by a fixed teacher network until it matches the instructor’s ability to cope with the assigned task. The above scheme proves particularly relevant when the student network is overparameterized (namely, when larger layer sizes are employed) as compared to the underlying teacher network. Under these operating conditions, it is tempting to speculate that the student ability to handle the given task could be eventually stored in a sub-portion of the whole network. This latter should be to some extent reminiscent of the frozen teacher structure, according to suitable metrics, while being approximately invariant across different architectures of the student candidate network. Unfortunately, state-of-the-art conventional learning techniques could not help in identifying the existence of such an invariant subnetwork, due to the inherent degree of non-convexity that characterizes the examined problem. In this work, we take a decisive leap forward by proposing a radically different optimization scheme which builds on a spectral representation of the linear transfer of information between layers. The gradient is hence calculated with respect to both eigenvalues and eigenvectors with negligible increase in terms of computational and complexity load, as compared to standard training algorithms. Working in this framework, we could isolate a stable student substructure, that mirrors the true complexity of the teacher in terms of computing neurons, path distribution and topological attributes. When pruning unimportant nodes of the trained student, as follows a ranking that reflects the optimized eigenvalues, no degradation in the recorded performance is seen above a threshold that corresponds to the effective teacher size. The observed behavior can be pictured as a genuine second-order phase transition that bears universality traits.

DatasetDM: Synthesizing Data with Perception Annotations Using Diffusion Models

Weijia Wu · Yuzhong Zhao · Hao Chen · Yuchao Gu · Rui Zhao · Yefei He · Hong Zhou · Mike Zheng Shou · Chunhua Shen

Current deep networks are very data-hungry and benefit from training on large-scale datasets, which are often time-consuming to collect and annotate. By contrast, synthetic data can be generated infinitely using generative models such as DALL-E and diffusion models, with minimal effort and cost. In this paper, we present DatasetDM, a generic dataset generation model that can produce diverse syntheticimages and the corresponding high-quality perception annotations (e.g., segmentation masks, and depth). Our method builds upon the pre-trained diffusion model and extends text-guided image synthesis to perception data generation. We show that the rich latent code of the diffusion model can be effectively decoded as accurate perception annotations using a decoder module. Training the decoder only needs less than 1% (around 100 images) of manually labeled images, enabling the generation of an infinitely large annotated dataset. Then these synthetic data can be used for training various perception models on downstream tasks. To showcase the power of the proposed approach, we generate datasets with rich dense pixel-wise labels for a wide range of downstream tasks, including semantic15segmentation, instance segmentation, and depth estimation. Notably, it achieves 1) state-of-the-art results on semantic segmentation and instance segmentation; 2) significantly more efficient and robust in domain generalization than the real data; 3) state-of-the-art results in zero-shot segmentation setting; and 4) flexibility for efficient application and novel task composition (e.g., image editing)

TextDiffuser: Diffusion Models as Text Painters

Jingye Chen · Yupan Huang · Yupan Huang · Tengchao Lv · Lei Cui · Qifeng Chen · Furu Wei

Diffusion models have gained increasing attention for their impressive generation abilities but currently struggle with rendering accurate and coherent text. To address this issue, we introduce TextDiffuser, focusing on generating images with visually appealing text that is coherent with backgrounds. TextDiffuser consists of two stages: first, a Transformer model generates the layout of keywords extracted from text prompts, and then diffusion models generate images conditioned on the text prompt and the generated layout. Additionally, we contribute the first large-scale text images dataset with OCR annotations, MARIO-10M, containing 10 million image-text pairs with text recognition, detection, and character-level segmentation annotations. We further collect the MARIO-Eval benchmark to serve as a comprehensive tool for evaluating text rendering quality. Through experiments and user studies, we demonstrate that TextDiffuser is flexible and controllable to create high-quality text images using text prompts alone or together with text template images, and conduct text inpainting to reconstruct incomplete images with text. We will make the code, model and dataset publicly available.

A Unified Framework for U-Net Design and Analysis

Christopher Williams · Fabian Falck · George Deligiannidis · Chris C Holmes · Arnaud Doucet · Saifuddin Syed

U-Nets are a go-to neural architecture across numerous tasks for continuous signals on a square such as images and Partial Differential Equations (PDE), however their design and architecture is understudied. In this paper, we provide a framework for designing and analysing general U-Net architectures. We present theoretical results which characterise the role of the encoder and decoder in a U-Net, their high-resolution scaling limits and their conjugacy to ResNets via preconditioning. We propose Multi-ResNets, U-Nets with a simplified, wavelet-based encoder without learnable parameters. Further, we show how to design novel U-Net architectures which encode function constraints, natural bases, or the geometry of the data. In diffusion models, our framework enables us to identify that high-frequency information is dominated by noise exponentially faster, and show how U-Nets with average pooling exploit this. In our experiments, we demonstrate how Multi-ResNets achieve competitive and often superior performance compared to classical U-Nets in image segmentation, PDE surrogate modelling, and generative modelling with diffusion models. Our U-Net framework paves the way to study the theoretical properties of U-Nets and design natural, scalable neural architectures for a multitude of problems beyond the square.

Energy Discrepancies: A Score-Independent Loss for Energy-Based Models

Tobias Schröder · Zijing Ou · Jen Lim · Yingzhen Li · Sebastian Vollmer · Andrew Duncan

Energy-based models are a simple yet powerful class of probabilistic models, but their widespread adoption has been limited by the computational burden of training them. We propose a novel loss function called Energy Discrepancy (ED) which does not rely on the computation of scores or expensive Markov chain Monte Carlo. We show that energy discrepancy approaches the explicit score matching and negative log-likelihood loss under different limits, effectively interpolating between both. Consequently, minimum energy discrepancy estimation overcomes the problem of nearsightedness encountered in score-based estimation methods, while also enjoying theoretical guarantees. Through numerical experiments, we demonstrate that ED learns low-dimensional data distributions faster and more accurately than explicit score matching or contrastive divergence. For high-dimensional image data, we describe how the manifold hypothesis puts limitations on our approach and demonstrate the effectiveness of energy discrepancy by training the energy-based model as a prior of a variational decoder model.

Learning Space-Time Continuous Latent Neural PDEs from Partially Observed States

Valerii Iakovlev · Markus Heinonen · Harri Lähdesmäki

We introduce a novel grid-independent model for learning partial differential equations (PDEs) from noisy and partial observations on irregular spatiotemporal grids. We propose a space-time continuous latent neural PDE model with an efficient probabilistic framework and a novel encoder design for improved data efficiency and grid independence. The latent state dynamics are governed by a PDE model that combines the collocation method and the method of lines. We employ amortized variational inference for approximate posterior estimation and utilize a multiple shooting technique for enhanced training speed and stability. Our model demonstrates state-of-the-art performance on complex synthetic and real-world datasets, overcoming limitations of previous approaches and effectively handling partially-observed data. The proposed model outperforms recent methods, showing its potential to advance data-driven PDE modeling and enabling robust, grid-independent modeling of complex partially-observed dynamic processes across various domains.

Addressing Negative Transfer in Diffusion Models

Hyojun Go · Kim · Yunsung Lee · Seunghyun Lee · Shinhyeok Oh · Hyeongdon Moon · Seungtaek Choi

Diffusion-based generative models have achieved remarkable success in various domains. It trains a shared model on denoising tasks that encompass different noise levels simultaneously, representing a form of multi-task learning (MTL). However, analyzing and improving diffusion models from an MTL perspective remains under-explored. In particular, MTL can sometimes lead to the well-known phenomenon of $\textit{negative transfer}$, which results in the performance degradation of certain tasks due to conflicts between tasks. In this paper, we first aim to analyze diffusion training from an MTL standpoint, presenting two key observations: $\textbf{(O1)}$ the task affinity between denoising tasks diminishes as the gap between noise levels widens, and $\textbf{(O2)}$ negative transfer can arise even in diffusion training. Building upon these observations, we aim to enhance diffusion training by mitigating negative transfer. To achieve this, we propose leveraging existing MTL methods, but the presence of a huge number of denoising tasks makes this computationally expensive to calculate the necessary per-task loss or gradient. To address this challenge, we propose clustering the denoising tasks into small task clusters and applying MTL methods to them. Specifically, based on $\textbf{(O2)}$, we employ interval clustering to enforce temporal proximity among denoising tasks within clusters. We show that interval clustering can be solved using dynamic programming, utilizing signal-to-noise ratio, timestep, and task affinity for clustering objectives. Through this, our approach addresses the issue of negative transfer in diffusion models by allowing for efficient computation of MTL methods. We validate the efficacy of proposed clustering and its integration with MTL methods through various experiments, demonstrating 1) improved generation quality and 2) faster training convergence of diffusion models. Our project page is available at

Scenario Diffusion: Controllable Driving Scenario Generation With Diffusion

Ethan Pronovost · Meghana Reddy Ganesina · Noureldin Hendy · Zeyu Wang · Andres Morales · Kai Wang · Nick Roy

Automated creation of synthetic traffic scenarios is a key part of scaling the safety validation of autonomous vehicles (AVs). In this paper, we propose Scenario Diffusion, a novel diffusion-based architecture for generating traffic scenarios that enables controllable scenario generation. We combine latent diffusion, object detection and trajectory regression to generate distributions of synthetic agent poses, orientations and trajectories simultaneously. This distribution is conditioned on the map and sets of tokens describing the desired scenario to provide additional control over the generated scenario. We show that our approach has sufficient expressive capacity to model diverse traffic patterns and generalizes to different geographical regions.

PTQD: Accurate Post-Training Quantization for Diffusion Models

Yefei He · Luping Liu · Jing Liu · Weijia Wu · Hong Zhou · Bohan Zhuang

Diffusion models have recently dominated image synthesis and other related generative tasks. However, the iterative denoising process is expensive in computations at inference time, making diffusion models less practical for low-latency and scalable real-world applications. Post-training quantization of diffusion models can significantly reduce the model size and accelerate the sampling process without requiring any re-training. Nonetheless, applying existing post-training quantization methods directly to low-bit diffusion models can significantly impair the quality of generated samples. Specifically, for each denoising step, quantization noise leads to deviations in the estimated mean and mismatches with the predetermined variance schedule. Moreover, as the sampling process proceeds, the quantization noise may accumulate, resulting in a low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) during the later denoising steps. To address these challenges, we propose a unified formulation for the quantization noise and diffusion perturbed noise in the quantized denoising process. Specifically, we first disentangle the quantization noise into its correlated and residual uncorrelated parts regarding its full-precision counterpart. The correlated part can be easily corrected by estimating the correlation coefficient. For the uncorrelated part, we subtract the bias from the quantized results to correct the mean deviation and calibrate the denoising variance schedule to absorb the excess variance resulting from quantization. Moreover, we introduce a mixed-precision scheme for selecting the optimal bitwidth for each denoising step, which prioritizes lower bitwidths to expedite early denoising steps, while ensuring that higher bitwidths maintain a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) in the later steps. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our method outperforms previous post-training quantized diffusion models in generating high-quality samples, with only a $0.06$ increase in FID score compared to full-precision LDM-4 on ImageNet $256\times256$, while saving $19.9\times$ bit operations. Code is available at [](

Generative Modeling through the Semi-dual Formulation of Unbalanced Optimal Transport

Jaemoo Choi · Jaewoong Choi · Myungjoo Kang

Optimal Transport (OT) problem investigates a transport map that bridges two distributions while minimizing a given cost function. In this regard, OT between tractable prior distribution and data has been utilized for generative modeling tasks. However, OT-based methods are susceptible to outliers and face optimization challenges during training. In this paper, we propose a novel generative model based on the semi-dual formulation of Unbalanced Optimal Transport (UOT). Unlike OT, UOT relaxes the hard constraint on distribution matching. This approach provides better robustness against outliers, stability during training, and faster convergence. We validate these properties empirically through experiments. Moreover, we study the theoretical upper-bound of divergence between distributions in UOT. Our model outperforms existing OT-based generative models, achieving FID scores of 2.97 on CIFAR-10 and 6.36 on CelebA-HQ-256. The code is available at \url{}.

Learning Energy-based Model via Dual-MCMC Teaching

Jiali Cui · Tian Han

This paper studies the fundamental learning problem of the energy-based model (EBM). Learning the EBM can be achieved using the maximum likelihood estimation (MLE), which typically involves the Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) sampling, such as the Langevin dynamics. However, the noise-initialized Langevin dynamics can be challenging in practice and hard to mix. This motivates the exploration of joint training with the generator model where the generator model serves as a complementary model to bypass MCMC sampling. However, such a method can be less accurate than the MCMC and result in biased EBM learning. While the generator can also serve as an initializer model for better MCMC sampling, its learning can be biased since it only matches the EBM and has no access to empirical training examples. Such biased generator learning may limit the potential of learning the EBM. To address this issue, we present a joint learning framework that interweaves the maximum likelihood learning algorithm for both the EBM and the complementary generator model. In particular, the generator model is learned by MLE to match both the EBM and the empirical data distribution, making it a more informative initializer for MCMC sampling of EBM. Learning generator with observed examples typically requires inference of the generator posterior. To ensure accurate and efficient inference, we adopt the MCMC posterior sampling and introduce a complementary inference model to initialize such latent MCMC sampling. We show that three separate models can be seamlessly integrated into our joint framework through two (dual-) MCMC teaching, enabling effective and efficient EBM learning.

Spotlight Poster
In-Context Learning Unlocked for Diffusion Models

Zhendong Wang · Yifan Jiang · Yadong Lu · yelong shen · Pengcheng He · Weizhu Chen · Zhangyang "Atlas" Wang · Mingyuan Zhou

We present Prompt Diffusion, a framework for enabling in-context learning in diffusion-based generative models. Given a pair of task-specific example images, such as depth from/to image and scribble from/to image, and a text guidance, our model automatically understands the underlying task and performs the same task on a new query image following the text guidance. To achieve this, we propose a vision-language prompt that can model a wide range of vision-language tasks and a diffusion model that takes it as input. The diffusion model is trained jointly on six different tasks using these prompts. The resulting Prompt Diffusion model becomes the first diffusion-based vision-language foundation model capable of in-context learning. It demonstrates high-quality in-context generation for the trained tasks and effectively generalizes to new, unseen vision tasks using their respective prompts. Our model also shows compelling text-guided image editing results. Our framework aims to facilitate research into in-context learning for computer vision. We share our code and pre-trained models at

Energy-Based Models for Anomaly Detection: A Manifold Diffusion Recovery Approach

Sangwoong Yoon · Young-Uk Jin · Yung-Kyun Noh · Frank Park

We present a new method of training energy-based models (EBMs) for anomaly detection that leverages low-dimensional structures within data. The proposed algorithm, Manifold Projection-Diffusion Recovery (MPDR), first perturbs a data point along a low-dimensional manifold that approximates the training dataset. Then, EBM is trained to maximize the probability of recovering the original data. The training involves the generation of negative samples via MCMC, as in conventional EBM training, but from a different distribution concentrated near the manifold. The resulting near-manifold negative samples are highly informative, reflecting relevant modes of variation in data. An energy function of MPDR effectively learns accurate boundaries of the training data distribution and excels at detecting out-of-distribution samples. Experimental results show that MPDR exhibits strong performance across various anomaly detection tasks involving diverse data types, such as images, vectors, and acoustic signals.

Dynamic Prompt Learning: Addressing Cross-Attention Leakage for Text-Based Image Editing

kai wang · Fei Yang · Shiqi Yang · Shiqi Yang · Muhammad Atif Butt · Joost van de Weijer

Large-scale text-to-image generative models have been a ground-breaking development in generative AI, with diffusion models showing their astounding ability to synthesize convincing images following an input text prompt. The goal of image editing research is to give users control over the generated images by modifying the text prompt. Current image editing techniques are susceptible to unintended modifications of regions outside the targeted area, such as on the background or on distractor objects which have some semantic or visual relationship with the targeted object. According to our experimental findings, inaccurate cross-attention maps are at the root of this problem. Based on this observation, we propose $\textit{Dynamic Prompt Learning}$ ($DPL$) to force cross-attention maps to focus on correct $\textit{noun}$ words in the text prompt. By updating the dynamic tokens for nouns in the textual input with the proposed leakage repairment losses, we achieve fine-grained image editing over particular objects while preventing undesired changes to other image regions. Our method $DPL$, based on the publicly available $\textit{Stable Diffusion}$, is extensively evaluated on a wide range of images, and consistently obtains superior results both quantitatively (CLIP score, Structure-Dist) and qualitatively (on user-evaluation). We show improved prompt editing results for Word-Swap, Prompt Refinement, and Attention Re-weighting, especially for complex multi-object scenes.

Diffusion Model for Graph Inverse Problems: Towards Effective Source Localization on Complex Networks

Xin Yan · Hui Fang · Qiang He

Information diffusion problems, such as the spread of epidemics or rumors, are widespread in society. The inverse problems of graph diffusion, which involve locating the sources and identifying the paths of diffusion based on currently observed diffusion graphs, are crucial to controlling the spread of information. The problem of localizing the source of diffusion is highly ill-posed, presenting a major obstacle in accurately assessing the uncertainty involved. Besides, while comprehending how information diffuses through a graph is crucial, there is a scarcity of research on reconstructing the paths of information propagation. To tackle these challenges, we propose a probabilistic model called DDMSL (Discrete Diffusion Model for Source Localization). Our approach is based on the natural diffusion process of information propagation over complex networks, which can be formulated using a message-passing function. First, we model the forward diffusion of information using Markov chains. Then, we design a reversible residual network to construct a denoising-diffusion model in discrete space for both source localization and reconstruction of information diffusion paths. We provide rigorous theoretical guarantees for DDMSL and demonstrate its effectiveness through extensive experiments on five real-world datasets.

DPM-Solver-v3: Improved Diffusion ODE Solver with Empirical Model Statistics

Kaiwen Zheng · Cheng Lu · Jianfei Chen · Jun Zhu

Diffusion probabilistic models (DPMs) have exhibited excellent performance for high-fidelity image generation while suffering from inefficient sampling. Recent works accelerate the sampling procedure by proposing fast ODE solvers that leverage the specific ODE form of DPMs. However, they highly rely on specific parameterization during inference (such as noise/data prediction), which might not be the optimal choice. In this work, we propose a novel formulation towards the optimal parameterization during sampling that minimizes the first-order discretization error of the ODE solution. Based on such formulation, we propose \textit{DPM-Solver-v3}, a new fast ODE solver for DPMs by introducing several coefficients efficiently computed on the pretrained model, which we call \textit{empirical model statistics}. We further incorporate multistep methods and a predictor-corrector framework, and propose some techniques for improving sample quality at small numbers of function evaluations (NFE) or large guidance scales. Experiments show that DPM-Solver-v3 achieves consistently better or comparable performance in both unconditional and conditional sampling with both pixel-space and latent-space DPMs, especially in 5$\sim$10 NFEs. We achieve FIDs of 12.21 (5 NFE), 2.51 (10 NFE) on unconditional CIFAR10, and MSE of 0.55 (5 NFE, 7.5 guidance scale) on Stable Diffusion, bringing a speed-up of 15\%$\sim$30\% compared to previous state-of-the-art training-free methods. Code is available at \url{}.

AmadeusGPT: a natural language interface for interactive animal behavioral analysis

Shaokai Ye · Jessy Lauer · Mu Zhou · Alexander Mathis · Mackenzie Mathis

The process of quantifying and analyzing animal behavior involves translating the naturally occurring descriptive language of their actions into machine-readable code. Yet, codifying behavior analysis is often challenging without deep understanding of animal behavior and technical machine learning knowledge. To limit this gap, we introduce AmadeusGPT: a natural language interface that turns natural language descriptions of behaviors into machine-executable code. Large-language models (LLMs) such as GPT3.5 and GPT4 allow for interactive language-based queries that are potentially well suited for making interactive behavior analysis. However, the comprehension capability of these LLMs is limited by the context window size, which prevents it from remembering distant conversations. To overcome the context window limitation, we implement a novel dual-memory mechanism to allow communication between short-term and long-term memory using symbols as context pointers for retrieval and saving. Concretely, users directly use language-based definitions of behavior and our augmented GPT develops code based on the core AmadeusGPT API, which contains machine learning, computer vision, spatio-temporal reasoning, and visualization modules. Users then can interactively refine results, and seamlessly add new behavioral modules as needed. We used the MABe 2022 behavior challenge tasks to benchmark AmadeusGPT and show excellent performance. Note, an end-user would not need to write any code to achieve this. Thus, collectively AmadeusGPT presents a novel way to merge deep biological knowledge, large-language models, and core computer vision modules into a more naturally intelligent system. Code and demos can be found at:

Optimal Transport-Guided Conditional Score-Based Diffusion Model

Xiang Gu · Liwei Yang · Jian Sun · Zongben Xu

Conditional score-based diffusion model (SBDM) is for conditional generation of target data with paired data as condition, and has achieved great success in image translation. However, it requires the paired data as condition, and there would be insufficient paired data provided in real-world applications. To tackle the applications with partially paired or even unpaired dataset, we propose a novel Optimal Transport-guided Conditional Score-based diffusion model (OTCS) in this paper. We build the coupling relationship for the unpaired or partially paired dataset based on $L_2$-regularized unsupervised or semi-supervised optimal transport, respectively. Based on the coupling relationship, we develop the objective for training the conditional score-based model for unpaired or partially paired settings, which is based on a reformulation and generalization of the conditional SBDM for paired setting. With the estimated coupling relationship, we effectively train the conditional score-based model by designing a ``resampling-by-compatibility'' strategy to choose the sampled data with high compatibility as guidance. Extensive experiments on unpaired super-resolution and semi-paired image-to-image translation demonstrated the effectiveness of the proposed OTCS model. From the viewpoint of optimal transport, OTCS provides an approach to transport data across distributions, which is a challenge for OT on large-scale datasets. We theoretically prove that OTCS realizes the data transport in OT with a theoretical bound.

Direct Diffusion Bridge using Data Consistency for Inverse Problems

Hyungjin Chung · Jeongsol Kim · Jong Chul Ye

Diffusion model-based inverse problem solvers have shown impressive performance, but are limited in speed, mostly as they require reverse diffusion sampling starting from noise. Several recent works have tried to alleviate this problem by building a diffusion process, directly bridging the clean and the corrupted for specific inverse problems. In this paper, we first unify these existing works under the name Direct Diffusion Bridges (DDB), showing that while motivated by different theories, the resulting algorithms only differ in the choice of parameters. Then, we highlight a critical limitation of the current DDB framework, namely that it does not ensure data consistency. To address this problem, we propose a modified inference procedure that imposes data consistency without the need for fine-tuning. We term the resulting method data Consistent DDB (CDDB), which outperforms its inconsistent counterpart in terms of both perception and distortion metrics, thereby effectively pushing the Pareto-frontier toward the optimum. Our proposed method achieves state-of-the-art results on both evaluation criteria, showcasing its superiority over existing methods. Code is open-sourced here.

DPOK: Reinforcement Learning for Fine-tuning Text-to-Image Diffusion Models

Ying Fan · Olivia Watkins · Yuqing Du · Yuqing Du · Hao Liu · Moonkyung Ryu · Craig Boutilier · Pieter Abbeel · Mohammad Ghavamzadeh · Kangwook Lee · Kimin Lee

Learning from human feedback has been shown to improve text-to-image models. These techniques first learn a reward function that captures what humans care about in the task and then improve the models based on the learned reward function. Even though relatively simple approaches (e.g., rejection sampling based on reward scores) have been investigated, fine-tuning text-to-image models with the reward function remains challenging. In this work, we propose using online reinforcement learning (RL) to fine-tune text-to-image models. We focus on diffusion models, defining the fine-tuning task as an RL problem, and updating the pre-trained text-to-image diffusion models using policy gradient to maximize the feedback-trained reward. Our approach, coined DPOK, integrates policy optimization with KL regularization. We conduct an analysis of KL regularization for both RL fine-tuning and supervised fine-tuning. In our experiments, we show that DPOK is generally superior to supervised fine-tuning with respect to both image-text alignment and image quality. Our code is available at

Spotlight Poster
Complexity Matters: Rethinking the Latent Space for Generative Modeling

Tianyang Hu · Fei Chen · Haonan Wang · Jiawei Li · Wenjia Wang · Jiacheng Sun · Zhenguo Li

In generative modeling, numerous successful approaches leverage a low-dimensional latent space, e.g., Stable Diffusion models the latent space induced by an encoder and generates images through a paired decoder. Although the selection of the latent space is empirically pivotal, determining the optimal choice and the process of identifying it remain unclear. In this study, we aim to shed light on this under-explored topic by rethinking the latent space from the perspective of model complexity. Our investigation starts with the classic generative adversarial networks (GANs). Inspired by the GAN training objective, we propose a novel "distance" between the latent and data distributions, whose minimization coincides with that of the generator complexity. The minimizer of this distance is characterized as the optimal data-dependent latent that most effectively capitalizes on the generator's capacity. Then, we consider parameterizing such a latent distribution by an encoder network and propose a two-stage training strategy called Decoupled Autoencoder (DAE), where the encoder is only updated in the first stage with an auxiliary decoder and then frozen in the second stage while the actual decoder is being trained. DAE can improve the latent distribution and as a result, improve the generative performance. Our theoretical analyses are corroborated by comprehensive experiments on various models such as VQGAN and Diffusion Transformer, where our modifications yield significant improvements in sample quality with decreased model complexity.

Im-Promptu: In-Context Composition from Image Prompts

Bhishma Dedhia · Michael Chang · Jake Snell · Tom Griffiths · Niraj Jha

Large language models are few-shot learners that can solve diverse tasks from a handful of demonstrations. This implicit understanding of tasks suggests that the attention mechanisms over word tokens may play a role in analogical reasoning. In this work, we investigate whether analogical reasoning can enable in-context composition over composable elements of visual stimuli. First, we introduce a suite of three benchmarks to test the generalization properties of a visual in-context learner. We formalize the notion of an analogy-based in-context learner and use it to design a meta-learning framework called Im-Promptu. Whereas the requisite token granularity for language is well established, the appropriate compositional granularity for enabling in-context generalization in visual stimuli is usually unspecified. To this end, we use Im-Promptu to train multiple agents with different levels of compositionality, including vector representations, patch representations, and object slots. Our experiments reveal tradeoffs between extrapolation abilities and the degree of compositionality, with non-compositional representations extending learned composition rules to unseen domains but performing poorly on combinatorial tasks. Patch-based representations require patches to contain entire objects for robust extrapolation. At the same time, object-centric tokenizers coupled with a cross-attention module generate consistent and high-fidelity solutions, with these inductive biases being particularly crucial for compositional generalization. Lastly, we demonstrate a use case of Im-Promptu as an intuitive programming interface for image generation.

Gaussian Mixture Solvers for Diffusion Models

Hanzhong Guo · Cheng Lu · Fan Bao · Tianyu Pang · Shuicheng Yan · Chao Du · Chongxuan LI

Recently, diffusion models have achieved great success in generative tasks. Sampling from diffusion models is equivalent to solving the reverse diffusion stochastic differential equations (SDEs) or the corresponding probability flow ordinary differential equations (ODEs). In comparison, SDE-based solvers can generate samples of higher quality and are suited for image translation tasks like stroke-based synthesis. During inference, however, existing SDE-based solvers are severely constrained by the efficiency-effectiveness dilemma. Our investigation suggests that this is because the Gaussian assumption in the reverse transition kernel is frequently violated (even in the case of simple mixture data) given a limited number of discretization steps. To overcome this limitation, we introduce a novel class of SDE-based solvers called \emph{Gaussian Mixture Solvers (GMS)} for diffusion models. Our solver estimates the first three-order moments and optimizes the parameters of a Gaussian mixture transition kernel using generalized methods of moments in each step during sampling. Empirically, our solver outperforms numerous SDE-based solvers in terms of sample quality in image generation and stroke-based synthesis in various diffusion models, which validates the motivation and effectiveness of GMS. Our code is available at

Spotlight Poster
Score-based Generative Modeling through Stochastic Evolution Equations in Hilbert Spaces

Sungbin Lim · EUN BI YOON · Taehyun Byun · Taewon Kang · Seungwoo Kim · Kyungjae Lee · Sungjoon Choi

Continuous-time score-based generative models consist of a pair of stochastic differential equations (SDEs)—a forward SDE that smoothly transitions data into a noise space and a reverse SDE that incrementally eliminates noise from a Gaussian prior distribution to generate data distribution samples—are intrinsically connected by the time-reversal theory on diffusion processes. In this paper, we investigate the use of stochastic evolution equations in Hilbert spaces, which expand the applicability of SDEs in two aspects: sample space and evolution operator, so they enable encompassing recent variations of diffusion models, such as generating functional data or replacing drift coefficients with image transformation. To this end, we derive a generalized time-reversal formula to build a bridge between probabilistic diffusion models and stochastic evolution equations and propose a score-based generative model called Hilbert Diffusion Model (HDM). Combining with Fourier neural operator, we verify the superiority of HDM for sampling functions from functional datasets with a power of kernel two-sample test of 4.2 on Quadratic, 0.2 on Melbourne, and 3.6 on Gridwatch, which outperforms existing diffusion models formulated in function spaces. Furthermore, the proposed method shows its strength in motion synthesis tasks by utilizing the Wiener process with values in Hilbert space. Finally, our empirical results on image datasets also validate a connection between HDM and diffusion models using heat dissipation, revealing the potential for exploring evolution operators and sample spaces.

Projection Regret: Reducing Background Bias for Novelty Detection via Diffusion Models

Sungik Choi · Hankook Lee · Honglak Lee · Moontae Lee

Novelty detection is a fundamental task of machine learning which aims to detect abnormal (i.e. out-of-distribution (OOD)) samples. Since diffusion models have recently emerged as the de facto standard generative framework with surprising generation results, novelty detection via diffusion models has also gained much attention. Recent methods have mainly utilized the reconstruction property of in-distribution samples. However, they often suffer from detecting OOD samples that share similar background information to the in-distribution data. Based on our observation that diffusion models can project any sample to an in-distribution sample with similar background information, we propose Projection Regret (PR), an efficient novelty detection method that mitigates the bias of non-semantic information. To be specific, PR computes the perceptual distance between the test image and its diffusion-based projection to detect abnormality. Since the perceptual distance often fails to capture semantic changes when the background information is dominant, we cancel out the background bias by comparing it against recursive projections. Extensive experiments demonstrate that PR outperforms the prior art of generative-model-based novelty detection methods by a significant margin.

Score-based Source Separation with Applications to Digital Communication Signals

Tejas Jayashankar · Gary C.F. Lee · Alejandro Lancho · Amir Weiss · Yury Polyanskiy · Gregory Wornell

We propose a new method for separating superimposed sources using diffusion-based generative models. Our method relies only on separately trained statistical priors of independent sources to establish a new objective function guided by $\textit{maximum a posteriori}$ estimation with an $\textit{$\alpha$-posterior}$, across multiple levels of Gaussian smoothing. Motivated by applications in radio-frequency (RF) systems, we are interested in sources with underlying discrete nature and the recovery of encoded bits from a signal of interest, as measured by the bit error rate (BER). Experimental results with RF mixtures demonstrate that our method results in a BER reduction of 95\% over classical and existing learning-based methods. Our analysis demonstrates that our proposed method yields solutions that asymptotically approach the modes of an underlying discrete distribution. Furthermore, our method can be viewed as a multi-source extension to the recently proposed score distillation sampling scheme, shedding additional light on its use beyond conditional sampling. The project webpage is available at

Recommender Systems with Generative Retrieval

Shashank Rajput · Nikhil Mehta · Anima Singh · Raghunandan Hulikal Keshavan · Trung Vu · Lukasz Heldt · Lichan Hong · Yi Tay · Vinh Tran · Jonah Samost · Maciej Kula · Ed Chi · Maheswaran Sathiamoorthy

Modern recommender systems perform large-scale retrieval by embedding queries and item candidates in the same unified space, followed by approximate nearest neighbor search to select top candidates given a query embedding. In this paper, we propose a novel generative retrieval approach, where the retrieval model autoregressively decodes the identifiers of the target candidates. To that end, we create semantically meaningful tuple of codewords to serve as a Semantic ID for each item. Given Semantic IDs for items in a user session, a Transformer-based sequence-to-sequence model is trained to predict the Semantic ID of the next item that the user will interact with. We show that recommender systems trained with the proposed paradigm significantly outperform the current SOTA models on various datasets. In addition, we show that incorporating Semantic IDs into the sequence-to-sequence model enhances its ability to generalize, as evidenced by the improved retrieval performance observed for items with no prior interaction history.

Exposing flaws of generative model evaluation metrics and their unfair treatment of diffusion models

George Stein · Jesse Cresswell · Rasa Hosseinzadeh · Yi Sui · Brendan Ross · Valentin Villecroze · Zhaoyan Liu · Anthony Caterini · Eric Taylor · Gabriel Loaiza-Ganem

We systematically study a wide variety of generative models spanning semantically-diverse image datasets to understand and improve the feature extractors and metrics used to evaluate them.Using best practices in psychophysics, we measure human perception of image realism for generated samples by conducting the largest experiment evaluating generative models to date, and find that no existing metric strongly correlates with human evaluations.Comparing to 17 modern metrics for evaluating the overall performance, fidelity, diversity, rarity, and memorization of generative models, we find that the state-of-the-art perceptual realism of diffusion models as judged by humans is not reflected in commonly reported metrics such as FID. This discrepancy is not explained by diversity in generated samples, though one cause is over-reliance on Inception-V3.We address these flaws through a study of alternative self-supervised feature extractors, find that the semantic information encoded by individual networks strongly depends on their training procedure, and show that DINOv2-ViT-L/14 allows for much richer evaluation of generative models. Next, we investigate data memorization, and find that generative models do memorize training examples on simple, smaller datasets like CIFAR10, but not necessarily on more complex datasets like ImageNet. However, our experiments show that current metrics do not properly detect memorization: none in the literature is able to separate memorization from other phenomena such as underfitting or mode shrinkage. To facilitate further development of generative models and their evaluation we release all generated image datasets, human evaluation data, and a modular library to compute 17 common metrics for 9 different encoders at

Divide, Evaluate, and Refine: Evaluating and Improving Text-to-Image Alignment with Iterative VQA Feedback

Jaskirat Singh · Liang Zheng

The field of text-conditioned image generation has made unparalleled progress with the recent advent of latent diffusion models. While revolutionary, as the complexity of given text input increases, the current state of art diffusion models may still fail in generating images that accurately convey the semantics of the given prompt. Furthermore, such misalignments are often left undetected by pretrained multi-modal models such as CLIP. To address these problems, in this paper, we explore a simple yet effective decompositional approach towards both evaluation and improvement of text-to-image alignment. In particular, we first introduce a Decompositional-Alignment-Score which given a complex caption decomposes it into a set of disjoint assertions. The alignment of each assertion with generated images is then measured using a VQA model. Finally, alignment scores for different assertions are combined aposteriori to give the final text-to-image alignment score. Experimental analysis reveals that the proposed alignment metric shows a significantly higher correlation with human ratings as opposed to traditional CLIP, BLIP scores. Furthermore, we also find that the assertion level alignment scores also provide useful feedback which can then be used in a simple iterative procedure to gradually increase the expressivity of different assertions in the final image outputs. Human user studies indicate that the proposed approach surpasses previous state-of-the-art by 8.7% in overall text-to-image alignment accuracy.

Towards Efficient Image Compression Without Autoregressive Models

Muhammad Salman Ali · Yeongwoong Kim · Maryam Qamar · Sung-Chang Lim · Donghyun Kim · Chaoning Zhang · Sung-Ho Bae · Hui Yong Kim

Recently, learned image compression (LIC) has garnered increasing interest with its rapidly improving performance surpassing conventional codecs. A key ingredient of LIC is a hyperprior-based entropy model, where the underlying joint probability of the latent image features is modeled as a product of Gaussian distributions from each latent element. Since latents from the actual images are not spatially independent, autoregressive (AR) context based entropy models were proposed to handle the discrepancy between the assumed distribution and the actual distribution. Though the AR-based models have proven effective, the computational complexity is significantly increased due to the inherent sequential nature of the algorithm. In this paper, we present a novel alternative to the AR-based approach that can provide a significantly better trade-off between performance and complexity. To minimize the discrepancy, we introduce a correlation loss that forces the latents to be spatially decorrelated and better fitted to the independent probability model. Our correlation loss is proved to act as a general plug-in for the hyperprior (HP) based learned image compression methods. The performance gain from our correlation loss is ‘free’ in terms of computation complexity for both inference time and decoding time. To our knowledge, our method gives the best trade-off between the complexity and performance: combined with the Checkerboard-CM, it attains 90% and when combined with ChARM-CM, it attains 98% of the AR-based BD-Rate gains yet is around 50 times and 30 times faster than AR-based methods respectively

Idempotent Learned Image Compression with Right-Inverse

Yanghao Li · Tongda Xu · Yan Wang · Jingjing Liu · Ya-Qin Zhang

We consider the problem of idempotent learned image compression (LIC).The idempotence of codec refers to the stability of codec to re-compression.To achieve idempotence, previous codecs adopt invertible transforms such as DCT and normalizing flow.In this paper, we first identify that invertibility of transform is sufficient but not necessary for idempotence. Instead, it can be relaxed into right-invertibility. And such relaxation allows wider family of transforms.Based on this identification, we implement an idempotent codec using our proposed blocked convolution and null-space enhancement.Empirical results show that we achieve state-of-the-art rate-distortion performance among idempotent codecs. Furthermore, our codec can be extended into near-idempotent codec by relaxing the right-invertibility. And this near-idempotent codec has significantly less quality decay after $50$ rounds of re-compression compared with other near-idempotent codecs.

Spotlight Poster
Bootstrapping Vision-Language Learning with Decoupled Language Pre-training

Yiren Jian · Chongyang Gao · Soroush Vosoughi

We present a novel methodology aimed at optimizing the application of frozen large language models (LLMs) for resource-intensive vision-language (VL) pre-training. The current paradigm uses visual features as prompts to guide language models, with a focus on determining the most relevant visual features for corresponding text. Our approach diverges by concentrating on the language component, specifically identifying the optimal prompts to align with visual features. We introduce the Prompt-Transformer (P-Former), a model that predicts these ideal prompts, which is trained exclusively on linguistic data, bypassing the need for image-text pairings. This strategy subtly bifurcates the end-to-end VL training process into an additional, separate stage. Our experiments reveal that our framework significantly enhances the performance of a robust image-to-text baseline (BLIP-2), and effectively narrows the performance gap between models trained with either 4M or 129M image-text pairs. Importantly, our framework is modality-agnostic and flexible in terms of architectural design, as validated by its successful application in a video learning task using varied base modules. The code will be made available at

TopP&R: Robust Support Estimation Approach for Evaluating Fidelity and Diversity in Generative Models

Pum Jun Kim · Yoojin Jang · Jisu Kim · Jaejun Yoo

We propose a robust and reliable evaluation metric for generative models called Topological Precision and Recall (TopP&R, pronounced “topper”), which systematically estimates supports by retaining only topologically and statistically significant features with a certain level of confidence. Existing metrics, such as Inception Score (IS), Frechet Inception Distance (FID), and various Precision and Recall (P&R) variants, rely heavily on support estimates derived from sample features. However, the reliability of these estimates has been overlooked, even though the quality of the evaluation hinges entirely on their accuracy. In this paper, we demonstrate that current methods not only fail to accurately assess sample quality when support estimation is unreliable, but also yield inconsistent results. In contrast, TopP&R reliably evaluates the sample quality and ensures statistical consistency in its results. Our theoretical and experimental findings reveal that TopP&R provides a robust evaluation, accurately capturing the true trend of change in samples, even in the presence of outliers and non-independent and identically distributed (Non-IID) perturbations where other methods result in inaccurate support estimations. To our knowledge, TopP&R is the first evaluation metric specifically focused on the robust estimation of supports, offering statistical consistency under noise conditions.

MultiFusion: Fusing Pre-Trained Models for Multi-Lingual, Multi-Modal Image Generation

Marco Bellagente · Manuel Brack · Hannah Teufel · Felix Friedrich · Björn Deiseroth · Constantin Eichenberg · Andrew Dai · Robert Baldock · Souradeep Nanda · Koen Oostermeijer · Andres Felipe Cruz-Salinas · Patrick Schramowski · Kristian Kersting · Samuel Weinbach

The recent popularity of text-to-image diffusion models (DM) can largely be attributed to the intuitive interface they provide to users. The intended generation can be expressed in natural language, with the model producing faithful interpretations of text prompts. However, expressing complex or nuanced ideas in text alone can be difficult. To ease image generation, we propose MultiFusion that allows one to express complex and nuanced concepts with arbitrarily interleaved inputs of multiple modalities and languages. MultiFusion leverages pre-trained models and aligns them for integration into a cohesive system, thereby avoiding the need for extensive training from scratch. Our experimental results demonstrate the efficient transfer of capabilities from individual modules to the downstream model. Specifically, the fusion of all independent components allows the image generation module to utilize multilingual, interleaved multimodal inputs despite being trained solely on monomodal data in a single language.

HeadSculpt: Crafting 3D Head Avatars with Text

Xiao Han · Yukang Cao · Kai Han · Xiatian Zhu · Jiankang Deng · Yi-Zhe Song · Tao Xiang · Kwan-Yee K. Wong

Recently, text-guided 3D generative methods have made remarkable advancements in producing high-quality textures and geometry, capitalizing on the proliferation of large vision-language and image diffusion models. However, existing methods still struggle to create high-fidelity 3D head avatars in two aspects: (1) They rely mostly on a pre-trained text-to-image diffusion model whilst missing the necessary 3D awareness and head priors. This makes them prone to inconsistency and geometric distortions in the generated avatars. (2) They fall short in fine-grained editing. This is primarily due to the inherited limitations from the pre-trained 2D image diffusion models, which become more pronounced when it comes to 3D head avatars. In this work, we address these challenges by introducing a versatile coarse-to-fine pipeline dubbed HeadSculpt for crafting (i.e., generating and editing) 3D head avatars from textual prompts. Specifically, we first equip the diffusion model with 3D awareness by leveraging landmark-based control and a learned textual embedding representing the back view appearance of heads, enabling 3D-consistent head avatar generations. We further propose a novel identity-aware editing score distillation strategy to optimize a textured mesh with a high-resolution differentiable rendering technique. This enables identity preservation while following the editing instruction.We showcase HeadSculpt's superior fidelity and editing capabilities through comprehensive experiments and comparisons with existing methods.

Training Energy-Based Normalizing Flow with Score-Matching Objectives

Chen-Hao Chao · Wei-Fang Sun · Yen-Chang Hsu · Zsolt Kira · Chun-Yi Lee

In this paper, we establish a connection between the parameterization of flow-based and energy-based generative models, and present a new flow-based modeling approach called energy-based normalizing flow (EBFlow). We demonstrate that by optimizing EBFlow with score-matching objectives, the computation of Jacobian determinants for linear transformations can be entirely bypassed. This feature enables the use of arbitrary linear layers in the construction of flow-based models without increasing the computational time complexity of each training iteration from $\mathcal{O}(D^2L)$ to $\mathcal{O}(D^3L)$ for an $L$-layered model that accepts $D$-dimensional inputs. This makes the training of EBFlow more efficient than the commonly-adopted maximum likelihood training method. In addition to the reduction in runtime, we enhance the training stability and empirical performance of EBFlow through a number of techniques developed based on our analysis of the score-matching methods. The experimental results demonstrate that our approach achieves a significant speedup compared to maximum likelihood estimation while outperforming prior methods with a noticeable margin in terms of negative log-likelihood (NLL).

Oral Poster
Linguistic Binding in Diffusion Models: Enhancing Attribute Correspondence through Attention Map Alignment

Royi Rassin · Eran Hirsch · Daniel Glickman · Shauli Ravfogel · Yoav Goldberg · Gal Chechik

Text-conditioned image generation models often generate incorrect associations between entities and their visual attributes. This reflects an impaired mapping between linguistic binding of entities and modifiers in the prompt and visual binding of the corresponding elements in the generated image. As one example, a query like ``a pink sunflower and a yellow flamingo'' may incorrectly produce an image of a yellow sunflower and a pink flamingo. To remedy this issue, we propose SynGen, an approach which first syntactically analyses the prompt to identify entities and their modifiers, and then uses a novel loss function that encourages the cross-attention maps to agree with the linguistic binding reflected by the syntax. Specifically, we encourage large overlap between attention maps of entities and their modifiers, and small overlap with other entities and modifier words. The loss is optimized during inference, without retraining or fine-tuning the model. Human evaluation on three datasets, including one new and challenging set, demonstrate significant improvements of SynGen compared with current state of the art methods. This work highlights how making use of sentence structure during inference can efficiently and substantially improve the faithfulness of text-to-image generation.

VideoComposer: Compositional Video Synthesis with Motion Controllability

Xiang Wang · Hangjie Yuan · Shiwei Zhang · Dayou Chen · Jiuniu Wang · Yingya Zhang · Yujun Shen · Deli Zhao · Jingren Zhou

The pursuit of controllability as a higher standard of visual content creation has yielded remarkable progress in customizable image synthesis. However, achieving controllable video synthesis remains challenging due to the large variation of temporal dynamics and the requirement of cross-frame temporal consistency. Based on the paradigm of compositional generation, this work presents VideoComposer that allows users to flexibly compose a video with textual conditions, spatial conditions, and more importantly temporal conditions. Specifically, considering the characteristic of video data, we introduce the motion vector from compressed videos as an explicit control signal to provide guidance regarding temporal dynamics. In addition, we develop a Spatio-Temporal Condition encoder (STC-encoder) that serves as a unified interface to effectively incorporate the spatial and temporal relations of sequential inputs, with which the model could make better use of temporal conditions and hence achieve higher inter-frame consistency. Extensive experimental results suggest that VideoComposer is able to control the spatial and temporal patterns simultaneously within a synthesized video in various forms, such as text description, sketch sequence, reference video, or even simply hand-crafted motions. The code and models are publicly available at

Three Iterations of (d − 1)-WL Test Distinguish Non Isometric Clouds of d-dimensional Points

Valentino Delle Rose · Alexander Kozachinskiy · Cristobal Rojas · Mircea Petrache · Pablo Barceló

The Weisfeiler-Lehman (WL) test is a fundamental iterative algorithm for checking the isomorphism of graphs. It has also been observed that it underlies the design of several graph neural network architectures, whose capabilities and performance can be understood in terms of the expressive power of this test. Motivated by recent developments in machine learning applications to datasets involving three-dimensional objects, we study when the WL test is {\em complete} for clouds of Euclidean points represented by complete distance graphs, i.e., when it can distinguish, up to isometry, any arbitrary such cloud. Our main result states that the $(d-1)$-dimensional WL test is complete for point clouds in $d$-dimensional Euclidean space, for any $d\ge 2$, and only three iterations of the test suffice. Our result is tight for $d = 2, 3$. We also observe that the $d$-dimensional WL test only requires one iteration to achieve completeness.

Graph Contrastive Learning with Stable and Scalable Spectral Encoding

Deyu Bo · Yuan Fang · Yang Liu · Chuan Shi

Graph contrastive learning (GCL) aims to learn representations by capturing the agreements between different graph views. Traditional GCL methods generate views in the spatial domain, but it has been recently discovered that the spectral domain also plays a vital role in complementing spatial views. However, existing spectral-based graph views either ignore the eigenvectors that encode valuable positional information or suffer from high complexity when trying to address the instability of spectral features. To tackle these challenges, we first design an informative, stable, and scalable spectral encoder, termed EigenMLP, to learn effective representations from the spectral features. Theoretically, EigenMLP is invariant to the rotation and reflection transformations on eigenvectors and robust against perturbations. Then, we propose a spatial-spectral contrastive framework (Sp$^{2}$GCL) to capture the consistency between the spatial information encoded by graph neural networks and the spectral information learned by EigenMLP, thus effectively fusing these two graph views. Experiments on the node- and graph-level datasets show that our method not only learns effective graph representations but also achieves a 2--10x speedup over other spectral-based methods.

Reversible and irreversible bracket-based dynamics for deep graph neural networks

Anthony Gruber · Kookjin Lee · Nathaniel Trask

Recent works have shown that physics-inspired architectures allow the training of deep graph neural networks (GNNs) without oversmoothing. The role of these physics is unclear, however, with successful examples of both reversible (e.g., Hamiltonian) and irreversible (e.g., diffusion) phenomena producing comparable results despite diametrically opposed mechanisms, and further complications arising due to empirical departures from mathematical theory. This work presents a series of novel GNN architectures based upon structure-preserving bracket-based dynamical systems, which are provably guaranteed to either conserve energy or generate positive dissipation with increasing depth. It is shown that the theoretically principled framework employed here allows for inherently explainable constructions, which contextualize departures from theory in current architectures and better elucidate the roles of reversibility and irreversibility in network performance. Code is available at the Github repository \url{}.

Spotlight Poster
No Change, No Gain: Empowering Graph Neural Networks with Expected Model Change Maximization for Active Learning

Zixing Song · Yifei Zhang · Irwin King

Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) are crucial for machine learning applications with graph-structured data, but their success depends on sufficient labeled data. We present a novel active learning (AL) method for GNNs, extending the Expected Model Change Maximization (EMCM) principle to improve prediction performance on unlabeled data. By presenting a Bayesian interpretation for the node embeddings generated by GNNs under the semi-supervised setting, we efficiently compute the closed-form EMCM acquisition function as the selection criterion for AL without re-training. Our method establishes a direct connection with expected prediction error minimization, offering theoretical guarantees for AL performance. Experiments demonstrate our method's effectiveness compared to existing approaches, in terms of both accuracy and efficiency.

Implicit Convolutional Kernels for Steerable CNNs

Maksim Zhdanov · Nico Hoffmann · Gabriele Cesa

Steerable convolutional neural networks (CNNs) provide a general framework for building neural networks equivariant to translations and transformations of an origin-preserving group $G$, such as reflections and rotations. They rely on standard convolutions with $G$-steerable kernels obtained by analytically solving the group-specific equivariance constraint imposed onto the kernel space. As the solution is tailored to a particular group $G$, implementing a kernel basis does not generalize to other symmetry transformations, complicating the development of general group equivariant models. We propose using implicit neural representation via multi-layer perceptrons (MLPs) to parameterize $G$-steerable kernels. The resulting framework offers a simple and flexible way to implement Steerable CNNs and generalizes to any group $G$ for which a $G$-equivariant MLP can be built. We prove the effectiveness of our method on multiple tasks, including N-body simulations, point cloud classification and molecular property prediction.

Learning Large Graph Property Prediction via Graph Segment Training

Kaidi Cao · Mangpo Phothilimthana · Sami Abu-El-Haija · Dustin Zelle · Yanqi Zhou · Charith Mendis · Jure Leskovec · Bryan Perozzi

Learning to predict properties of large graphs is challenging because each prediction requires the knowledge of an entire graph, while the amount of memory available during training is bounded. Here we propose Graph Segment Training (GST), a general framework that utilizes a divide-and-conquer approach to allow learning large graph property prediction with a constant memory footprint. GST first divides a large graph into segments and then backpropagates through only a few segments sampled per training iteration. We refine the GST paradigm by introducing a historical embedding table to efficiently obtain embeddings for segments not sampled for backpropagation. To mitigate the staleness of historical embeddings, we design two novel techniques. First, we finetune the prediction head to fix the input distribution shift. Second, we introduce Stale Embedding Dropout to drop some stale embeddings during training to reduce bias. We evaluate our complete method GST-EFD (with all the techniques together) on two large graph property prediction benchmarks: MalNet and TpuGraphs. Our experiments show that GST-EFD is both memory-efficient and fast, while offering a slight boost on test accuracy over a typical full graph training regime.

Laplacian Canonization: A Minimalist Approach to Sign and Basis Invariant Spectral Embedding

George Ma · Yifei Wang · Yisen Wang

Spectral embedding is a powerful graph embedding technique that has received a lot of attention recently due to its effectiveness on Graph Transformers. However, from a theoretical perspective, the universal expressive power of spectral embedding comes at the price of losing two important invariance properties of graphs, sign and basis invariance, which also limits its effectiveness on graph data. To remedy this issue, many previous methods developed costly approaches to learn new invariants and suffer from high computation complexity. In this work, we explore a minimal approach that resolves the ambiguity issues by directly finding canonical directions for the eigenvectors, named Laplacian Canonization (LC). As a pure pre-processing method, LC is light-weighted and can be applied to any existing GNNs. We provide a thorough investigation, from theory to algorithm, on this approach, and discover an efficient algorithm named Maximal Axis Projection (MAP) that works for both sign and basis invariance and successfully canonizes more than 90\% of all eigenvectors. Experiments on real-world benchmark datasets like ZINC, MOLTOX21, and MOLPCBA show that MAP consistently outperforms existing methods while bringing minimal computation overhead. Code is available at

Re-Think and Re-Design Graph Neural Networks in Spaces of Continuous Graph Diffusion Functionals

Tingting Dan · Jiaqi Ding · Ziquan Wei · Shahar Kovalsky · Minjeong Kim · Won Hwa Kim · Guorong Wu

Graphs are ubiquitous in various domains, such as social networks and biological systems. Despite the great successes of graph neural networks (GNNs) in modeling and analyzing complex graph data, the inductive bias of locality assumption, which involves exchanging information only within neighboring connected nodes, restricts GNNs in capturing long-range dependencies and global patterns in graphs. Inspired by the classic Brachistochrone problem, we seek how to devise a new inductive bias for cutting-edge graph application and present a general framework through the lens of variational analysis. The backbone of our framework is a two-way mapping between the discrete GNN model and continuous diffusion functional, which allows us to design application-specific objective function in the continuous domain and engineer discrete deep model with mathematical guarantees. First, we address over-smoothing in current GNNs. Specifically, our inference reveals that the existing layer-by-layer models of graph embedding learning are equivalent to a ${\ell _2}$-norm integral functional of graph gradients, which is the underlying cause of the over-smoothing problem. Similar to edge-preserving filters in image denoising, we introduce the total variation (TV) to promote alignment of the graph diffusion pattern with the global information present in community topologies. On top of this, we devise a new selective mechanism for inductive bias that can be easily integrated into existing GNNs and effectively address the trade-off between model depth and over-smoothing. Second, we devise a novel generative adversarial network (GAN) to predict the spreading flows in the graph through a neural transport equation. To avoid the potential issue of vanishing flows, we tailor the objective function to minimize the transportation within each community while maximizing the inter-community flows. Our new GNN models achieve state-of-the-art (SOTA) performance on graph learning benchmarks such as Cora, Citeseer, and Pubmed.

Calibrate and Boost Logical Expressiveness of GNN Over Multi-Relational and Temporal Graphs

Dingmin Wang · Yeyuan Chen

As a powerful framework for graph representation learning, Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) have garnered significant attention in recent years. However, to the best of our knowledge, there has been no formal analysis of the logical expressiveness of GNNs as Boolean node classifiers over multi-relational graphs, where each edge carries a specific relation type. In this paper, we investigate $\mathcal{FOC}_2$, a fragment of first-order logic with two variables and counting quantifiers. On the negative side, we demonstrate that the R$^2$-GNN architecture, which extends the local message passing GNN by incorporating global readout, fails to capture $\mathcal{FOC}_2$ classifiers in the general case. Nevertheless, on the positive side, we establish that R$^2$-GNNs models are equivalent to $\mathcal{FOC}_2$ classifiers under certain restricted yet reasonable scenarios. To address the limitations of R$^2$-GNNs regarding expressiveness, we propose a simple graph transformation technique, akin to a preprocessing step, which can be executed in linear time. This transformation enables R$^2$-GNNs to effectively capture any $\mathcal{FOC}_2$ classifiers when applied to the "transformed" input graph. Moreover, we extend our analysis of expressiveness and graph transformation to temporal graphs, exploring several temporal GNN architectures and providing an expressiveness hierarchy for them. To validate our findings, we implement R$^2$-GNNs and the graph transformation technique and conduct empirical tests in node classification tasks against various well-known GNN architectures that support multi-relational or temporal graphs. Our experimental results consistently demonstrate that R$^2$-GNN with the graph transformation outperforms the baseline methods on both synthetic and real-world datasets

Recurrent Temporal Revision Graph Networks

Yizhou Chen · Anxiang Zeng · Qingtao Yu · Kerui Zhang · Cao Yuanpeng · Kangle Wu · Guangda Huzhang · Han Yu · Zhiming Zhou

Temporal graphs offer more accurate modeling of many real-world scenarios than static graphs. However, neighbor aggregation, a critical building block of graph networks, for temporal graphs, is currently straightforwardly extended from that of static graphs. It can be computationally expensive when involving all historical neighbors during such aggregation. In practice, typically only a subset of the most recent neighbors are involved. However, such subsampling leads to incomplete and biased neighbor information. To address this limitation, we propose a novel framework for temporal neighbor aggregation that uses the recurrent neural network with node-wise hidden states to integrate information from all historical neighbors for each node to acquire the complete neighbor information. We demonstrate the superior theoretical expressiveness of the proposed framework as well as its state-of-the-art performance in real-world applications. Notably, it achieves a significant +9.4% improvement on averaged precision in a real-world Ecommerce dataset over existing methods on 2-layer models.

Live Graph Lab: Towards Open, Dynamic and Real Transaction Graphs with NFT

Zhen Zhang · Bingqiao Luo · Shengliang Lu · Bingsheng He

Numerous studies have been conducted to investigate the properties of large-scale temporal graphs. Despite the ubiquity of these graphs in real-world scenarios, it's usually impractical for us to obtain the whole real-time graphs due to privacy concerns and technical limitations. In this paper, we introduce the concept of {\it Live Graph Lab} for temporal graphs, which enables open, dynamic and real transaction graphs from blockchains. Among them, Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have become one of the most prominent parts of blockchain over the past several years. With more than \$40 billion market capitalization, this decentralized ecosystem produces massive, anonymous and real transaction activities, which naturally forms a complicated transaction network. However, there is limited understanding about the characteristics of this emerging NFT ecosystem from a temporal graph analysis perspective. To mitigate this gap, we instantiate a live graph with NFT transaction network and investigate its dynamics to provide new observations and insights. Specifically, through downloading and parsing the NFT transaction activities, we obtain a temporal graph with more than 4.5 million nodes and 124 million edges. Then, a series of measurements are presented to understand the properties of the NFT ecosystem. Through comparisons with social, citation, and web networks, our analyses give intriguing findings and point out potential directions for future exploration. Finally, we also study machine learning models in this live graph to enrich the current datasets and provide new opportunities for the graph community. The source codes and dataset are available at

V-InFoR: A Robust Graph Neural Networks Explainer for Structurally Corrupted Graphs

Senzhang Wang · Jun Yin · Chaozhuo Li · Xing Xie · Jianxin Wang

GNN explanation method aims to identify an explanatory subgraph which contains the most informative components of the full graph. However, a major limitation of existing GNN explainers is that they are not robust to the structurally corrupted graphs, e.g., graphs with noisy or adversarial edges. On the one hand, existing GNN explainers mostly explore explanations based on either the raw graph features or the learned latent representations, both of which can be easily corrupted. On the other hand, the corruptions in graphs are irregular in terms of the structural properties, e.g., the size or connectivity of graphs, which makes the rigorous constraints used by previous GNN explainers unfeasible. To address these issues, we propose a robust GNN explainer called V-InfoR. Specifically, a robust graph representation extractor, which takes insights of variational inference, is proposed to infer the latent distribution of graph representations. Instead of directly using the corrupted raw features or representations of each single graph, we sample the graph representations from the inferred distribution for the downstream explanation generator, which can effectively eliminate the minor corruption. We next formulate the explanation exploration as a graph information bottleneck (GIB) optimization problem. As a more general method that does not need any rigorous structural constraints, our GIB-based method can adaptively capture both the regularity and irregularity of the severely corrupted graphs for explanation. Extensive evaluations on both synthetic and real-world datasets indicate that V-InfoR significantly improves the GNN explanation performance for the structurally corrupted graphs. Code and dataset are available at

Modeling Dynamics over Meshes with Gauge Equivariant Nonlinear Message Passing

Jung Yeon Park · Lawson Wong · Robin Walters

Data over non-Euclidean manifolds, often discretized as surface meshes, naturally arise in computer graphics and biological and physical systems. In particular, solutions to partial differential equations (PDEs) over manifolds depend critically on the underlying geometry. While graph neural networks have been successfully applied to PDEs, they do not incorporate surface geometry and do not consider local gauge symmetries of the manifold. Alternatively, recent works on gauge equivariant convolutional and attentional architectures on meshes leverage the underlying geometry but underperform in modeling surface PDEs with complex nonlinear dynamics. To address these issues, we introduce a new gauge equivariant architecture using nonlinear message passing. Our novel architecture achieves higher performance than either convolutional or attentional networks on domains with highly complex and nonlinear dynamics. However, similar to the non-mesh case, design trade-offs favor convolutional, attentional, or message passing networks for different tasks; we investigate in which circumstances our message passing method provides the most benefit.

LD2: Scalable Heterophilous Graph Neural Network with Decoupled Embeddings

Ningyi Liao · Siqiang Luo · Xiang Li · Jieming Shi

Heterophilous Graph Neural Network (GNN) is a family of GNNs that specializes in learning graphs under heterophily, where connected nodes tend to have different labels. Most existing heterophilous models incorporate iterative non-local computations to capture node relationships. However, these approaches have limited application to large-scale graphs due to their high computational costs and challenges in adopting minibatch schemes. In this work, we study the scalability issues of heterophilous GNN and propose a scalable model, LD2, which simplifies the learning process by decoupling graph propagation and generating expressive embeddings prior to training. Theoretical analysis demonstrates that LD2 achieves optimal time complexity in training, as well as a memory footprint that remains independent of the graph scale. We conduct extensive experiments to showcase that our model is capable of lightweight minibatch training on large-scale heterophilous graphs, with up to $15\times$ speed improvement and efficient memory utilization, while maintaining comparable or better performance than the baselines.

Rethinking Semi-Supervised Imbalanced Node Classification from Bias-Variance Decomposition

Divin Yan · Gengchen Wei · Chen Yang · Shengzhong Zhang · zengfeng Huang

This paper introduces a new approach to address the issue of class imbalance in graph neural networks (GNNs) for learning on graph-structured data. Our approach integrates imbalanced node classification and Bias-Variance Decomposition, establishing a theoretical framework that closely relates data imbalance to model variance. We also leverage graph augmentation technique to estimate the variance and design a regularization term to alleviate the impact of imbalance. Exhaustive tests are conducted on multiple benchmarks, including naturally imbalanced datasets and public-split class-imbalanced datasets, demonstrating that our approach outperforms state-of-the-art methods in various imbalanced scenarios. This work provides a novel theoretical perspective for addressing the problem of imbalanced node classification in GNNs.

Universal Prompt Tuning for Graph Neural Networks

Taoran Fang · Yunchao Zhang · YANG YANG · Chunping Wang · Lei Chen

In recent years, prompt tuning has sparked a research surge in adapting pre-trained models. Unlike the unified pre-training strategy employed in the language field, the graph field exhibits diverse pre-training strategies, posing challenges in designing appropriate prompt-based tuning methods for graph neural networks. While some pioneering work has devised specialized prompting functions for models that employ edge prediction as their pre-training tasks, these methods are limited to specific pre-trained GNN models and lack broader applicability. In this paper, we introduce a universal prompt-based tuning method called Graph Prompt Feature (GPF) for pre-trained GNN models under any pre-training strategy. GPF operates on the input graph's feature space and can theoretically achieve an equivalent effect to any form of prompting function. Consequently, we no longer need to illustrate the prompting function corresponding to each pre-training strategy explicitly. Instead, we employ GPF to obtain the prompted graph for the downstream task in an adaptive manner. We provide rigorous derivations to demonstrate the universality of GPF and make guarantee of its effectiveness. The experimental results under various pre-training strategies indicate that our method performs better than fine-tuning, with an average improvement of about 1.4% in full-shot scenarios and about 3.2% in few-shot scenarios. Moreover, our method significantly outperforms existing specialized prompt-based tuning methods when applied to models utilizing the pre-training strategy they specialize in. These numerous advantages position our method as a compelling alternative to fine-tuning for downstream adaptations.

MeGraph: Capturing Long-Range Interactions by Alternating Local and Hierarchical Aggregation on Multi-Scaled Graph Hierarchy

Honghua Dong · Jiawei Xu · Yu Yang · Rui Zhao · Shiwen Wu · Chun Yuan · Xiu Li · Chris Maddison · Lei Han

Graph neural networks, which typically exchange information between local neighbors, often struggle to capture long-range interactions (LRIs) within the graph. Building a graph hierarchy via graph pooling methods is a promising approach to address this challenge; however, hierarchical information propagation cannot entirely take over the role of local information aggregation. To balance locality and hierarchy, we integrate the local and hierarchical structures, represented by intra- and inter-graphs respectively, of a multi-scale graph hierarchy into a single mega graph. Our proposed MeGraph model consists of multiple layers alternating between local and hierarchical information aggregation on the mega graph. Each layer first performs local-aware message-passing on graphs of varied scales via the intra-graph edges, then fuses information across the entire hierarchy along the bidirectional pathways formed by inter-graph edges. By repeating this fusion process, local and hierarchical information could intertwine and complement each other. To evaluate our model, we establish a new Graph Theory Benchmark designed to assess LRI capture ability, in which MeGraph demonstrates dominant performance. Furthermore, MeGraph exhibits superior or equivalent performance to state-of-the-art models on the Long Range Graph Benchmark. The experimental results on commonly adopted real-world datasets further demonstrate the broad applicability of MeGraph.

MuSe-GNN: Learning Unified Gene Representation From Multimodal Biological Graph Data

Tianyu Liu · Yuge Wang · Rex Ying · Hongyu Zhao

Discovering genes with similar functions across diverse biomedical contexts poses a significant challenge in gene representation learning due to data heterogeneity. In this study, we resolve this problem by introducing a novel model called Multimodal Similarity Learning Graph Neural Network, which combines Multimodal Machine Learning and Deep Graph Neural Networks to learn gene representations from single-cell sequencing and spatial transcriptomic data. Leveraging 82 training datasets from 10 tissues, three sequencing techniques, and three species, we create informative graph structures for model training and gene representations generation, while incorporating regularization with weighted similarity learning and contrastive learning to learn cross-data gene-gene relationships. This novel design ensures that we can offer gene representations containing functional similarity across different contexts in a joint space. Comprehensive benchmarking analysis shows our model's capacity to effectively capture gene function similarity across multiple modalities, outperforming state-of-the-art methods in gene representation learning by up to $\textbf{100.4}$%. Moreover, we employ bioinformatics tools in conjunction with gene representations to uncover pathway enrichment, regulation causal networks, and functions of disease-associated genes. Therefore, our model efficiently produces unified gene representations for the analysis of gene functions, tissue functions, diseases, and species evolution.

Learning Unseen Modality Interaction

Yunhua Zhang · Hazel Doughty · Cees Snoek

Multimodal learning assumes all modality combinations of interest are available during training to learn cross-modal correspondences. In this paper, we challenge this modality-complete assumption for multimodal learning and instead strive for generalization to unseen modality combinations during inference. We pose the problem of unseen modality interaction and introduce a first solution. It exploits a module that projects the multidimensional features of different modalities into a common space with rich information preserved. This allows the information to be accumulated with a simple summation operation across available modalities. To reduce overfitting to less discriminative modality combinations during training, we further improve the model learning with pseudo-supervision indicating the reliability of a modality’s prediction. We demonstrate that our approach is effective for diverse tasks and modalities by evaluating it for multimodal video classification, robot state regression, and multimedia retrieval. Project website:

CAPro: Webly Supervised Learning with Cross-modality Aligned Prototypes

Yulei Qin · Xingyu Chen · Yunhang Shen · Chaoyou Fu · Yun Gu · Ke Li · Xing Sun · Rongrong Ji

Webly supervised learning has attracted increasing attention for its effectiveness in exploring publicly accessible data at scale without manual annotation. However, most existing methods of learning with web datasets are faced with challenges from label noise, and they have limited assumptions on clean samples under various noise. For instance, web images retrieved with queries of ”tiger cat“ (a cat species) and ”drumstick“ (a musical instrument) are almost dominated by images of tigers and chickens, which exacerbates the challenge of fine-grained visual concept learning. In this case, exploiting both web images and their associated texts is a requisite solution to combat real-world noise. In this paper, we propose Cross-modality Aligned Prototypes (CAPro), a unified prototypical contrastive learning framework to learn visual representations with correct semantics. For one thing, we leverage textual prototypes, which stem from the distinct concept definition of classes, to select clean images by text matching and thus disambiguate the formation of visual prototypes. For another, to handle missing and mismatched noisy texts, we resort to the visual feature space to complete and enhance individual texts and thereafter improve text matching. Such semantically aligned visual prototypes are further polished up with high-quality samples, and engaged in both cluster regularization and noise removal. Besides, we propose collective bootstrapping to encourage smoother and wiser label reference from appearance-similar instances in a manner of dictionary look-up. Extensive experiments on WebVision1k and NUS-WIDE (Web) demonstrate that CAPro well handles realistic noise under both single-label and multi-label scenarios. CAPro achieves new state-of-the-art performance and exhibits robustness to open-set recognition. Codes are available at

Oral Poster
Rotating Features for Object Discovery

Sindy Löwe · Phillip Lippe · Francesco Locatello · Max Welling

The binding problem in human cognition, concerning how the brain represents and connects objects within a fixed network of neural connections, remains a subject of intense debate. Most machine learning efforts addressing this issue in an unsupervised setting have focused on slot-based methods, which may be limiting due to their discrete nature and difficulty to express uncertainty. Recently, the Complex AutoEncoder was proposed as an alternative that learns continuous and distributed object-centric representations. However, it is only applicable to simple toy data. In this paper, we present Rotating Features, a generalization of complex-valued features to higher dimensions, and a new evaluation procedure for extracting objects from distributed representations. Additionally, we show the applicability of our approach to pre-trained features. Together, these advancements enable us to scale distributed object-centric representations from simple toy to real-world data. We believe this work advances a new paradigm for addressing the binding problem in machine learning and has the potential to inspire further innovation in the field.

CoLLAT: On Adding Fine-grained Audio Understanding to Language Models using Token-Level Locked-Language Tuning

Dadallage A R Silva · Spencer Whitehead · Christopher Lengerich · Hugh Leather

Humans can easily understand various audio concepts, but conventional audio classification models fail due to their inability to predict unseen classes during training. To address this challenge, recent literature has explored contrastive language-audio pretraining to learn an audio understanding model using natural language supervision from a pretrained language model. However, despite their reasonable zero-shot performance in audio understanding, these models typically fail to achieve optimal performance while preserving the text understanding capabilities of the pretrained language model. They also perform poorly when comprehending audio clips with multiple audio concepts. To bridge these gaps, we propose $CoLLAT$: $Co$ntrastive $L$ocked $L$anguage and $A$udio $T$uning. This is a framework to effectively learn an audio understanding model with a locked language model, which is learned using a novel pretraining objective for audio-to-text grounding to yield fine-grained audio understanding. Our extensive experiments, which include several downstream applications such as audio classification, cross-modal retrieval, and audio-guided image generation, demonstrate that $CoLLAT$ yields state-of-the-art performance for audio understanding. Additionally, it unlocks audio guidance to applications built on top of pretrained language models.

Topological Obstructions and How to Avoid Them

Babak Esmaeili · Robin Walters · Heiko Zimmermann · Jan-Willem van de Meent

Incorporating geometric inductive biases into models can aid interpretability and generalization, but encoding to a specific geometric structure can be challenging due to the imposed topological constraints. In this paper, we theoretically and empirically characterize obstructions to training encoders with geometric latent spaces. We show that local optima can arise due to singularities (e.g. self-intersection) or due to an incorrect degree or winding number. We then discuss how normalizing flows can potentially circumvent these obstructions by defining multimodal variational distributions. Inspired by this observation, we propose a new flow-based model that maps data points to multimodal distributions over geometric spaces and empirically evaluate our model on 2 domains. We observe improved stability during training and a higher chance of converging to a homeomorphic encoder.

Convolutional State Space Models for Long-Range Spatiotemporal Modeling

Jimmy Smith · Shalini De Mello · Jan Kautz · Scott Linderman · Wonmin Byeon

Effectively modeling long spatiotemporal sequences is challenging due to the need to model complex spatial correlations and long-range temporal dependencies simultaneously. ConvLSTMs attempt to address this by updating tensor-valued states with recurrent neural networks, but their sequential computation makes them slow to train. In contrast, Transformers can process an entire spatiotemporal sequence, compressed into tokens, in parallel. However, the cost of attention scales quadratically in length, limiting their scalability to longer sequences. Here, we address the challenges of prior methods and introduce convolutional state space models (ConvSSM) that combine the tensor modeling ideas of ConvLSTM with the long sequence modeling approaches of state space methods such as S4 and S5. First, we demonstrate how parallel scans can be applied to convolutional recurrences to achieve subquadratic parallelization and fast autoregressive generation. We then establish an equivalence between the dynamics of ConvSSMs and SSMs, which motivates parameterization and initialization strategies for modeling long-range dependencies. The result is ConvS5, an efficient ConvSSM variant for long-range spatiotemporal modeling. ConvS5 significantly outperforms Transformers and ConvLSTM on a long horizon Moving-MNIST experiment while training $3\times$ faster than ConvLSTM and generating samples $400\times$ faster than Transformers. In addition, ConvS5 matches or exceeds the performance of state-of-the-art methods on challenging DMLab, Minecraft and Habitat prediction benchmarks and enables new directions for modeling long spatiotemporal sequences.

Evolving Connectivity for Recurrent Spiking Neural Networks

Guan Wang · Yuhao Sun · Sijie Cheng · Sen Song

Recurrent spiking neural networks (RSNNs) hold great potential for advancing artificial general intelligence, as they draw inspiration from the biological nervous system and show promise in modeling complex dynamics.However, the widely-used surrogate gradient-based training methods for RSNNs are inherently inaccurate and unfriendly to neuromorphic hardware.To address these limitations, we propose the evolving connectivity (EC) framework, an inference-only method for training RSNNs.The EC framework reformulates weight-tuning as a search into parameterized connection probability distributions, and employs Natural Evolution Strategies (NES) for optimizing these distributions.Our EC framework circumvents the need for gradients and features hardware-friendly characteristics, including sparse boolean connections and high scalability.We evaluate EC on a series of standard robotic locomotion tasks, where it achieves comparable performance with deep neural networks and outperforms gradient-trained RSNNs, even solving the complex 17-DoF humanoid task.Additionally, the EC framework demonstrates a two to three fold speedup in efficiency compared to directly evolving parameters.By providing a performant and hardware-friendly alternative, the EC framework lays the groundwork for further energy-efficient applications of RSNNs and advances the development of neuromorphic devices.Our code is publicly available at

Robust Learning with Progressive Data Expansion Against Spurious Correlation

Yihe Deng · Yu Yang · Baharan Mirzasoleiman · Quanquan Gu

While deep learning models have shown remarkable performance in various tasks, they are susceptible to learning non-generalizable _spurious features_ rather than the core features that are genuinely correlated to the true label. In this paper, beyond existing analyses of linear models, we theoretically examine the learning process of a two-layer nonlinear convolutional neural network in the presence of spurious features. Our analysis suggests that imbalanced data groups and easily learnable spurious features can lead to the dominance of spurious features during the learning process. In light of this, we propose a new training algorithm called **PDE** that efficiently enhances the model's robustness for a better worst-group performance. PDE begins with a group-balanced subset of training data and progressively expands it to facilitate the learning of the core features. Experiments on synthetic and real-world benchmark datasets confirm the superior performance of our method on models such as ResNets and Transformers. On average, our method achieves a $2.8$ \% improvement in worst-group accuracy compared with the state-of-the-art method, while enjoying up to $10\times$ faster training efficiency.

Video Dynamics Prior: An Internal Learning Approach for Robust Video Enhancements

Gaurav Shrivastava · Gaurav Shrivastava · Ser Nam Lim · Abhinav Shrivastava

In this paper, we present a novel robust framework for low-level vision tasks, including denoising, object removal, frame interpolation, and super-resolution, that does not require any external training data corpus. Our proposed approach directly learns the weights of neural modules by optimizing over the corrupted test sequence, leveraging the spatio-temporal coherence and internal statistics of videos. Furthermore, we introduce a novel spatial pyramid loss that leverages the property of spatio-temporal patch recurrence in a video across the different scales of the video. This loss enhances robustness to unstructured noise in both the spatial and temporal domains. This further results in our framework being highly robust to degradation in input frames and yields state-of-the-art results on downstream tasks such as denoising, object removal, and frame interpolation. To validate the effectiveness of our approach, we conduct qualitative and quantitative evaluations on standard video datasets such as DAVIS, UCF-101, and VIMEO90K-T.

A Theory of Transfer-Based Black-Box Attacks: Explanation and Implications

Yanbo Chen · Weiwei Liu

Transfer-based attacks are a practical method of black-box adversarial attacks, in which the attacker aims to craft adversarial examples from a source (surrogate) model that is transferable to the target model. A wide range of empirical works has tried to explain the transferability of adversarial examples from different angles. However, these works only provide ad hoc explanations without quantitative analyses. The theory behind transfer-based attacks remains a mystery.This paper studies transfer-based attacks under a unified theoretical framework. We propose an explanatory model, called the manifold attack model, that formalizes popular beliefs and explains the existing empirical results. Our model explains why adversarial examples are transferable even when the source model is inaccurate. Moreover, our model implies that the existence of transferable adversarial examples depends on the “curvature” of the data manifold, which quantitatively explains why the success rates of transfer-based attacks are hard to improve. We also discuss the expressive power and the possible extensions of our model in general applications.

Fantastic Robustness Measures: The Secrets of Robust Generalization

Hoki Kim · Jinseong Park · Yujin Choi · Jaewook Lee

Adversarial training has become the de-facto standard method for improving the robustness of models against adversarial examples. However, robust overfitting remains a significant challenge, leading to a large gap between the robustness on the training and test datasets. To understand and improve robust generalization, various measures have been developed, including margin, smoothness, and flatness-based measures. In this study, we present a large-scale analysis of robust generalization to empirically verify whether the relationship between these measures and robust generalization remains valid in diverse settings. We demonstrate when and how these measures effectively capture the robust generalization gap by comparing over 1,300 models trained on CIFAR-10 under the $L_\infty$ norm and further validate our findings through an evaluation of more than 100 models from RobustBench across CIFAR-10, CIFAR-100, and ImageNet. We hope this work can help the community better understand adversarial robustness and motivate the development of more robust defense methods against adversarial attacks.

Exploiting Connections between Lipschitz Structures for Certifiably Robust Deep Equilibrium Models

Aaron Havens · Alexandre Araujo · Siddharth Garg · Farshad Khorrami · Bin Hu

Recently, deep equilibrium models (DEQs) have drawn increasing attention from the machine learning community. However, DEQs are much less understood in terms of certified robustness than their explicit network counterparts. In this paper, we advance the understanding of certified robustness of DEQs via exploiting the connections between various Lipschitz network parameterizations for both explicit and implicit models. Importantly, we show that various popular Lipschitz network structures, including convex potential layers (CPL), SDP-based Lipschitz layers (SLL), almost orthogonal layers (AOL), Sandwich layers, and monotone DEQs (MonDEQ) can all be reparameterized as special cases of the Lipschitz-bounded equilibrium networks (LBEN) without changing the prescribed Lipschitz constant in the original network parameterization. A key feature of our reparameterization technique is that it preserves the Lipschitz prescription used in different structures. This opens the possibility of achieving improved certified robustness of DEQs via a combination of network reparameterization, structure-preserving regularization, and LBEN-based fine-tuning. We also support our theoretical understanding with new empirical results, which show that our proposed method improves the certified robust accuracy of DEQs on classification tasks. All codes and experiments are made available at \url{}.

The Adversarial Consistency of Surrogate Risks for Binary Classification

Natalie Frank · Jonathan Niles-Weed

We study the consistency of surrogate risks for robust binary classification.It is common to learn robust classifiers by adversarial training, which seeks to minimize the expected $0$-$1$ loss when each example can be maliciously corrupted within a small ball.We give a simple and complete characterization of the set of surrogate loss functions that are \emph{consistent}, i.e., that can replace the $0$-$1$ loss without affecting the minimizing sequences of the original adversarial risk, for any data distribution.We also prove a quantitative version of adversarial consistency for the $\rho$-margin loss.Our results reveal that the class of adversarially consistent surrogates is substantially smaller than in the standard setting, where many common surrogates are known to be consistent.

Spotlight Poster
On the Connection between Pre-training Data Diversity and Fine-tuning Robustness

Vivek Ramanujan · Thao Nguyen · Sewoong Oh · Ali Farhadi · Ludwig Schmidt

Pre-training has been widely adopted in deep learning to improve model performance, especially when the training data for a target task is limited. In our work, we seek to understand the implications of this training strategy on the generalization properties of downstream models. More specifically, we ask the following question: how do properties of the pre-training distribution affect the robustness of a fine-tuned model? The properties we explore include the label space, label semantics, image diversity, data domains, and data quantity of the pre-training distribution. We find that the primary factor influencing downstream effective robustness (Taori et al., 2020) is data quantity, while other factors have limited significance. For example, reducing the number of ImageNet pre-training classes by 4x while increasing the number of images per class by 4x (that is, keeping total data quantity fixed) does not impact the robustness of fine-tuned models. We demonstrate our findings on pre-training distributions drawn from various natural and synthetic data sources, primarily using the iWildCam-WILDS distribution shift as a test for robustness.

(Almost) Provable Error Bounds Under Distribution Shift via Disagreement Discrepancy

Elan Rosenfeld · Saurabh Garg

We derive a new, (almost) guaranteed upper bound on the error of deep neural networks under distribution shift using unlabeled test data. Prior methods are either vacuous in practice or accurate on average but heavily underestimate error for a sizeable fraction of shifts. In particular, the latter only give guarantees based on complex continuous measures such as test calibration, which cannot be identified without labels, and are therefore unreliable. Instead, our bound requires a simple, intuitive condition which is well justified by prior empirical works and holds in practice effectively 100\% of the time. The bound is inspired by $\mathcal{H}\Delta\mathcal{H}$-divergence but is easier to evaluate and substantially tighter, consistently providing non-vacuous test error upper bounds. Estimating the bound requires optimizing one multiclass classifier to disagree with another, for which some prior works have used sub-optimal proxy losses; we devise a "disagreement loss" which is theoretically justified and performs better in practice. We expect this loss can serve as a drop-in replacement for future methods which require maximizing multiclass disagreement. Across a wide range of natural and synthetic distribution shift benchmarks, our method gives valid error bounds while achieving average accuracy comparable to—though not better than—competitive estimation baselines.

Hierarchical Randomized Smoothing

Yan Scholten · Jan Schuchardt · Aleksandar Bojchevski · Stephan Günnemann

Real-world data is complex and often consists of objects that can be decomposed into multiple entities (e.g. images into pixels, graphs into interconnected nodes). Randomized smoothing is a powerful framework for making models provably robust against small changes to their inputs - by guaranteeing robustness of the majority vote when randomly adding noise before classification. Yet, certifying robustness on such complex data via randomized smoothing is challenging when adversaries do not arbitrarily perturb entire objects (e.g. images) but only a subset of their entities (e.g. pixels). As a solution, we introduce hierarchical randomized smoothing: We partially smooth objects by adding random noise only on a randomly selected subset of their entities. By adding noise in a more targeted manner than existing methods we obtain stronger robustness guarantees while maintaining high accuracy. We initialize hierarchical smoothing using different noising distributions, yielding novel robustness certificates for discrete and continuous domains. We experimentally demonstrate the importance of hierarchical smoothing in image and node classification, where it yields superior robustness-accuracy trade-offs. Overall, hierarchical smoothing is an important contribution towards models that are both - certifiably robust to perturbations and accurate.

Spotlight Poster
Characterizing the Optimal $0-1$ Loss for Multi-class Classification with a Test-time Attacker

Sihui Dai · Wenxin Ding · Arjun Nitin Bhagoji · Daniel Cullina · Heather Zheng · Ben Zhao · Prateek Mittal

Finding classifiers robust to adversarial examples is critical for their safedeployment. Determining the robustness of the best possible classifier under agiven threat model for a fixed data distribution and comparing it to thatachieved by state-of-the-art training methods is thus an important diagnostictool. In this paper, we find achievable information-theoretic lower bounds onrobust loss in the presence of a test-time attacker for *multi-classclassifiers on any discrete dataset*. We provide a general framework for findingthe optimal $0-1$ loss that revolves around the construction of a conflicthypergraph from the data and adversarial constraints. The prohibitive cost ofthis formulation in practice leads us to formulate other variants of the attacker-classifiergame that more efficiently determine the range of the optimal loss. Ourvaluation shows, for the first time, an analysis of the gap to optimalrobustness for classifiers in the multi-class setting on benchmark datasets.

Optimal Transport Model Distributional Robustness

Van-Anh Nguyen · Trung Le · Anh Bui · Thanh-Toan Do · Dinh Phung

Distributional robustness is a promising framework for training deep learning models that are less vulnerable to adversarial examples and data distribution shifts. Previous works have mainly focused on exploiting distributional robustness in the data space. In this work, we explore an optimal transport-based distributional robustness framework in model spaces. Specifically, we examine a model distribution within a Wasserstein ball centered on a given model distribution that maximizes the loss. We have developed theories that enable us to learn the optimal robust center model distribution. Interestingly, our developed theories allow us to flexibly incorporate the concept of sharpness awareness into training, whether it's a single model, ensemble models, or Bayesian Neural Networks, by considering specific forms of the center model distribution. These forms include a Dirac delta distribution over a single model, a uniform distribution over several models, and a general Bayesian Neural Network. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Sharpness-Aware Minimization (SAM) is a specific case of our framework when using a Dirac delta distribution over a single model, while our framework can be seen as a probabilistic extension of SAM. To validate the effectiveness of our framework in the aforementioned settings, we conducted extensive experiments, and the results reveal remarkable improvements compared to the baselines.

Effective Targeted Attacks for Adversarial Self-Supervised Learning

Minseon Kim · Hyeonjeong Ha · Sooel Son · Sung Ju Hwang

Recently, unsupervised adversarial training (AT) has been highlighted as a means of achieving robustness in models without any label information. Previous studies in unsupervised AT have mostly focused on implementing self-supervised learning (SSL) frameworks, which maximize the instance-wise classification loss to generate adversarial examples. However, we observe that simply maximizing the self-supervised training loss with an untargeted adversarial attack often results in generating ineffective adversaries that may not help improve the robustness of the trained model, especially for non-contrastive SSL frameworks without negative examples. To tackle this problem, we propose a novel positive mining for targeted adversarial attack to generate effective adversaries for adversarial SSL frameworks. Specifically, we introduce an algorithm that selects the most confusing yet similar target example for a given instance based on entropy and similarity, and subsequently perturbs the given instance towards the selected target. Our method demonstrates significant enhancements in robustness when applied to non-contrastive SSL frameworks, and less but consistent robustness improvements with contrastive SSL frameworks, on the benchmark datasets.

Learning Invariant Representations with a Nonparametric Nadaraya-Watson Head

Alan Wang · Minh Nguyen · Mert Sabuncu

Machine learning models will often fail when deployed in an environment with a data distribution that is different than the training distribution. When multiple environments are available during training, many methods exist that learn representations which are invariant across the different distributions, with the hope that these representations will be transportable to unseen domains. In this work, we present a nonparametric strategy for learning invariant representations based on the recently-proposed Nadaraya-Watson (NW) head. The NW head makes a prediction by comparing the learned representations of the query to the elements of a support set that consists of labeled data. We demonstrate that by manipulating the support set, one can encode different causal assumptions. In particular, restricting the support set to a single environment encourages the model to learn invariant features that do not depend on the environment. We present a causally-motivated setup for our modeling and training strategy and validate on three challenging real-world domain generalization tasks in computer vision.

Cross-Scale MAE: A Tale of Multiscale Exploitation in Remote Sensing

Maofeng Tang · Andrei Cozma · Konstantinos Georgiou · Hairong Qi

Remote sensing images present unique challenges to image analysis due to the extensive geographic coverage, hardware limitations, and misaligned multi-scale images. This paper revisits the classical multi-scale representation learning prob- lem but under the general framework of self-supervised learning for remote sensing image understanding. We present Cross-Scale MAE, a self-supervised model built upon the Masked Auto-Encoder (MAE). During pre-training, Cross-Scale MAE employs scale augmentation techniques and enforces cross-scale consistency constraints through both contrastive and generative losses to ensure consistent and meaningful representations well-suited for a wide range of downstream tasks. Further, our implementation leverages the xFormers library to accelerate network pre-training on a single GPU while maintaining the quality of learned represen- tations. Experimental evaluations demonstrate that Cross-Scale MAE exhibits superior performance compared to standard MAE and other state-of-the-art remote sensing MAE methods.

Identifiable Contrastive Learning with Automatic Feature Importance Discovery

Qi Zhang · Yifei Wang · Yisen Wang

Existing contrastive learning methods rely on pairwise sample contrast $z_x^\top z_{x'}$ to learn data representations, but the learned features often lack clear interpretability from a human perspective. Theoretically, it lacks feature identifiability and different initialization may lead to totally different features. In this paper, we study a new method named tri-factor contrastive learning (triCL) that involves a 3-factor contrast in the form of $z_x^\top S z_{x'}$, where $S=\text{diag}(s_1,\dots,s_k)$ is a learnable diagonal matrix that automatically captures the importance of each feature. We show that by this simple extension, triCL can not only obtain identifiable features that eliminate randomness but also obtain more interpretable features that are ordered according to the importance matrix $S$. We show that features with high importance have nice interpretability by capturing common classwise features, and obtain superior performance when evaluated for image retrieval using a few features. The proposed triCL objective is general and can be applied to different contrastive learning methods like SimCLR and CLIP. We believe that it is a better alternative to existing 2-factor contrastive learning by improving its identifiability and interpretability with minimal overhead. Code is available at

Test-time Training for Matching-based Video Object Segmentation

Juliette Bertrand · Giorgos Kordopatis Zilos · Yannis Kalantidis · Giorgos Tolias

The video object segmentation (VOS) task involves the segmentation of an object over time based on a single initial mask. Current state-of-the-art approaches use a memory of previously processed frames and rely on matching to estimate segmentation masks of subsequent frames. Lacking any adaptation mechanism, such methods are prone to test-time distribution shifts. This work focuses on matching-based VOS under distribution shifts such as video corruptions, stylization, and sim-to-real transfer. We explore test-time training strategies that are agnostic to the specific task as well as strategies that are designed specifically for VOS. This includes a variant based on mask cycle consistency tailored to matching-based VOS methods. The experimental results on common benchmarks demonstrate that the proposed test-time training yields significant improvements in performance. In particular for the sim-to-real scenario and despite using only a single test video, our approach manages to recover a substantial portion of the performance gain achieved through training on real videos. Additionally, we introduce DAVIS-C, an augmented version of the popular DAVIS test set, featuring extreme distribution shifts like image-/video-level corruptions and stylizations. Our results illustrate that test-time training enhances performance even in these challenging cases.

Self-supervised Object-Centric Learning for Videos

Görkay Aydemir · Weidi Xie · Fatma Guney

Unsupervised multi-object segmentation has shown impressive results on images by utilizing powerful semantics learned from self-supervised pretraining. An additional modality such as depth or motion is often used to facilitate the segmentation in video sequences. However, the performance improvements observed in synthetic sequences, which rely on the robustness of an additional cue, do not translate to more challenging real-world scenarios. In this paper, we propose the first fully unsupervised method for segmenting multiple objects in real-world sequences. Our object-centric learning framework spatially binds objects to slots on each frame and then relates these slots across frames. From these temporally-aware slots, the training objective is to reconstruct the middle frame in a high-level semantic feature space. We propose a masking strategy by dropping a significant portion of tokens in the feature space for efficiency and regularization. Additionally, we address over-clustering by merging slots based on similarity. Our method can successfully segment multiple instances of complex and high-variety classes in YouTube videos.

No Representation Rules Them All in Category Discovery

Sagar Vaze · Andrea Vedaldi · Andrew Zisserman

In this paper we tackle the problem of Generalized Category Discovery (GCD). Specifically, given a dataset with labelled and unlabelled images, the task is to cluster all images in the unlabelled subset, whether or not they belong to the labelled categories. Our first contribution is to recognise that most existing GCD benchmarks only contain labels for a single clustering of the data, making it difficult to ascertain whether models are leveraging the available labels to solve the GCD task, or simply solving an unsupervised clustering problem. As such, we present a synthetic dataset, named 'Clevr-4', for category discovery. Clevr-4 contains four equally valid partitions of the data, i.e based on object 'shape', 'texture' or 'color' or 'count'. To solve the task, models are required to extrapolate the taxonomy specified by labelled set, rather than simply latch onto a single natural grouping of the data. We use this dataset to demonstrate the limitations of unsupervised clustering in the GCD setting, showing that even very strong unsupervised models fail on Clevr-4. We further use Clevr-4 to examine the weaknesses of existing GCD algorithms, and propose a new method which addresses these shortcomings, leveraging consistent findings from the representation learning literature to do so. Our simple solution, which is based on `Mean Teachers' and termed $\mu$GCD, substantially outperforms implemented baselines on Clevr-4. Finally, when we transfer these findings to real data on the challenging Semantic Shift Benchmark suite, we find that $\mu$GCD outperforms all prior work, setting a new state-of-the-art.

To Repeat or Not To Repeat: Insights from Scaling LLM under Token-Crisis

Fuzhao Xue · Yao Fu · Wangchunshu Zhou · Zangwei Zheng · Zangwei Zheng · Yang You

Recent research has highlighted the importance of dataset size in scaling language models. However, large language models (LLMs) are notoriously token-hungry during pre-training, and high-quality text data on the web is likely to be approaching its scaling limit for LLMs. To further enhance LLMs, a straightforward approach is to repeat the pre-training data for additional epochs. In this study, we empirically investigate three key aspects under this approach. First, we explore the consequences of repeating pre-training data, revealing that the model is susceptible to overfitting, leading to multi-epoch degradation. Second, we examine the key factors contributing to multi-epoch degradation, finding that significant factors include dataset size, model parameters, and training objectives, while less influential factors consist of dataset quality and model FLOPs. Finally, we explore whether widely used regularization can alleviate multi-epoch degradation. Most regularization techniques do not yield significant improvements, except for dropout, which demonstrates remarkable effectiveness but requires careful tuning when scaling up the model size. Additionally, we discover that leveraging mixture-of-experts (MoE) enables cost-effective and efficient hyper-parameter tuning for computationally intensive dense LLMs with comparable trainable parameters, potentially impacting efficient LLM development on a broader scale.

Understanding Contrastive Learning via Distributionally Robust Optimization

Junkang Wu · Jiawei Chen · Jiancan Wu · Wentao Shi · Xiang Wang · Xiangnan He

This study reveals the inherent tolerance of contrastive learning (CL) towards sampling bias, wherein negative samples may encompass similar semantics (\eg labels). However, existing theories fall short in providing explanations for this phenomenon. We bridge this research gap by analyzing CL through the lens of distributionally robust optimization (DRO), yielding several key insights: (1) CL essentially conducts DRO over the negative sampling distribution, thus enabling robust performance across a variety of potential distributions and demonstrating robustness to sampling bias; (2) The design of the temperature $\tau$ is not merely heuristic but acts as a Lagrange Coefficient, regulating the size of the potential distribution set; (3) A theoretical connection is established between DRO and mutual information, thus presenting fresh evidence for ``InfoNCE as an estimate of MI'' and a new estimation approach for $\phi$-divergence-based generalized mutual information. We also identify CL's potential shortcomings, including over-conservatism and sensitivity to outliers, and introduce a novel Adjusted InfoNCE loss (ADNCE) to mitigate these issues. It refines potential distribution, improving performance and accelerating convergence. Extensive experiments on various domains (image, sentence, and graph) validate the effectiveness of the proposal.

Pretraining task diversity and the emergence of non-Bayesian in-context learning for regression

Allan Raventós · Mansheej Paul · Feng Chen · Surya Ganguli

Pretrained transformers exhibit the remarkable ability of in-context learning (ICL): they can learn tasks from just a few examples provided in the prompt without updating any weights. This raises a foundational question: can ICL solve fundamentally new tasks that are very different from those seen during pretraining? To probe this question, we examine ICL’s performance on linear regression while varying the diversity of tasks in the pretraining dataset. We empirically demonstrate a task diversity threshold for the emergence of ICL. Below this threshold, the pretrained transformer cannot solve unseen regression tasks, instead behaving like a Bayesian estimator with the non-diverse pretraining task distribution as the prior. Beyond this threshold, the transformer significantly outperforms this estimator; its behavior aligns with that of ridge regression, corresponding to a Gaussian prior over all tasks, including those not seen during pretraining. Thus, when pretrained on data with task diversity greater than the threshold, transformers can optimally solve fundamentally new tasks in-context. Importantly, this capability hinges on it deviating from the Bayes optimal estimator with the pretraining distribution as the prior. This study also explores the effect of regularization, model capacity and task structure and underscores, in a concrete example, the critical role of task diversity, alongside data and model scale, in the emergence of ICL.

Scale-teaching: Robust Multi-scale Training for Time Series Classification with Noisy Labels

Zhen Liu · ma peitian · Dongliang Chen · Wenbin Pei · Qianli Ma

Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) have been criticized because they easily overfit noisy (incorrect) labels. To improve the robustness of DNNs, existing methods for image data regard samples with small training losses as correctly labeled data (small-loss criterion). Nevertheless, time series' discriminative patterns are easily distorted by external noises (i.e., frequency perturbations) during the recording process. This results in training losses of some time series samples that do not meet the small-loss criterion. Therefore, this paper proposes a deep learning paradigm called Scale-teaching to cope with time series noisy labels. Specifically, we design a fine-to-coarse cross-scale fusion mechanism for learning discriminative patterns by utilizing time series at different scales to train multiple DNNs simultaneously. Meanwhile, each network is trained in a cross-teaching manner by using complementary information from different scales to select small-loss samples as clean labels. For unselected large-loss samples, we introduce multi-scale embedding graph learning via label propagation to correct their labels by using selected clean samples. Experiments on multiple benchmark time series datasets demonstrate the superiority of the proposed Scale-teaching paradigm over state-of-the-art methods in terms of effectiveness and robustness.

Change point detection and inference in multivariate non-parametric models under mixing conditions

Carlos Misael Madrid Padilla · Haotian Xu · Daren Wang · OSCAR HERNAN MADRID PADILLA · Yi Yu

This paper addresses the problem of localizing and inferring multiple change points, in non-parametric multivariate time series settings. Specifically, we consider a multivariate time series with potentially short-range dependence, whose underlying distributions have Hölder smooth densities and can change over time in a piecewise-constant manner. The change points, which correspond to the times when the distribution changes, are unknown. We present the limiting distributions of the change point estimators under the scenarios where the minimal jump size vanishes or remains constant. Such results have not been revealed in the literature in non-parametric change point settings. As byproducts, we develop a sharp estimator that can accurately localize the change points in multivariate non-parametric time series, and a consistent block-type long-run variance estimator. Numerical studies are provided to complement our theoretical findings.

Pairwise Causality Guided Transformers for Event Sequences

Xiao Shou · Debarun Bhattacharjya · Tian Gao · Dharmashankar Subramanian · Oktie Hassanzadeh · Kristin P Bennett

Although pairwise causal relations have been extensively studied in observational longitudinal analyses across many disciplines, incorporating knowledge of causal pairs into deep learning models for temporal event sequences remains largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose a novel approach for enhancing the performance of transformer-based models in multivariate event sequences by injecting pairwise qualitative causal knowledge such as `event Z amplifies future occurrences of event Y'. We establish a new framework for causal inference in temporal event sequences using a transformer architecture, providing a theoretical justification for our approach, and show how to obtain unbiased estimates of the proposed measure. Experimental results demonstrate that our approach outperforms several state-of-the-art models in terms of prediction accuracy by effectively leveraging knowledge about causal pairs. We also consider a unique application where we extract knowledge around sequences of societal events by generating them from a large language model, and demonstrate how a causal knowledge graph can help with event prediction in such sequences. Overall, our framework offers a practical means of improving the performance of transformer-based models in multivariate event sequences by explicitly exploiting pairwise causal information.

Oral Poster
Additive Decoders for Latent Variables Identification and Cartesian-Product Extrapolation

Sébastien Lachapelle · Divyat Mahajan · Ioannis Mitliagkas · Simon Lacoste-Julien

We tackle the problems of latent variables identification and "out-of-support'' image generation in representation learning. We show that both are possible for a class of decoders that we call additive, which are reminiscent of decoders used for object-centric representation learning (OCRL) and well suited for images that can be decomposed as a sum of object-specific images. We provide conditions under which exactly solving the reconstruction problem using an additive decoder is guaranteed to identify the blocks of latent variables up to permutation and block-wise invertible transformations. This guarantee relies only on very weak assumptions about the distribution of the latent factors, which might present statistical dependencies and have an almost arbitrarily shaped support. Our result provides a new setting where nonlinear independent component analysis (ICA) is possible and adds to our theoretical understanding of OCRL methods. We also show theoretically that additive decoders can generate novel images by recombining observed factors of variations in novel ways, an ability we refer to as Cartesian-product extrapolation. We show empirically that additivity is crucial for both identifiability and extrapolation on simulated data.

Globally injective and bijective neural operators

Takashi Furuya · Michael Puthawala · Matti Lassas · Maarten V. de Hoop

Recently there has been great interest in operator learning, where networks learn operators between function spaces from an essentially infinite-dimensional perspective. In this work we present results for when the operators learned by these networks are injective and surjective. As a warmup, we combine prior work in both the finite-dimensional ReLU and operator learning setting by giving sharp conditions under which ReLU layers with linear neural operators are injective. We then consider the case when the activation function is pointwise bijective and obtain sufficient conditions for the layer to be injective. We remark that this question, while trivial in the finite-rank setting, is subtler in the infinite-rank setting and is proven using tools from Fredholm theory. Next, we prove that our supplied injective neural operators are universal approximators and that their implementation, with finite-rank neural networks, are still injective. This ensures that injectivity is not 'lost' in the transcription from analytical operators to their finite-rank implementation with networks. Finally, we conclude with an increase in abstraction and consider general conditions when subnetworks, which may have many layers, are injective and surjective and provide an exact inversion from a 'linearization.’ This section uses general arguments from Fredholm theory and Leray-Schauder degree theory for non-linear integral equations to analyze the mapping properties of neural operators in function spaces. These results apply to subnetworks formed from the layers considered in this work, under natural conditions. We believe that our work has applications in Bayesian uncertainty quantification where injectivity enables likelihood estimation and in inverse problems where surjectivity and injectivity corresponds to existence and uniqueness of the solutions, respectively.

Spotlight Poster
What Makes Data Suitable for a Locally Connected Neural Network? A Necessary and Sufficient Condition Based on Quantum Entanglement.

‪Yotam Alexander‬‏ · Nimrod De La Vega · Noam Razin · Nadav Cohen

The question of what makes a data distribution suitable for deep learning is a fundamental open problem. Focusing on locally connected neural networks (a prevalent family of architectures that includes convolutional and recurrent neural networks as well as local self-attention models), we address this problem by adopting theoretical tools from quantum physics. Our main theoretical result states that a certain locally connected neural network is capable of accurate prediction over a data distribution if and only if the data distribution admits low quantum entanglement under certain canonical partitions of features. As a practical application of this result, we derive a preprocessing method for enhancing the suitability of a data distribution to locally connected neural networks. Experiments with widespread models over various datasets demonstrate our findings. We hope that our use of quantum entanglement will encourage further adoption of tools from physics for formally reasoning about the relation between deep learning and real-world data.

Provable Advantage of Curriculum Learning on Parity Targets with Mixed Inputs

Emmanuel Abbe · Elisabetta Cornacchia · Aryo Lotfi

Experimental results have shown that curriculum learning, i.e., presenting simpler examples before more complex ones, can improve the efficiency of learning. Some recent theoretical results also showed that changing the sampling distribution can help neural networks learn parities, with formal results only for large learning rates and one-step arguments. Here we show a separation result in the number of training steps with standard (bounded) learning rates on a common sample distribution: if the data distribution is a mixture of sparse and dense inputs, there exists a regime in which a 2-layer ReLU neural network trained by a curriculum noisy-GD (or SGD) algorithm that uses sparse examples first, can learn parities of sufficiently large degree, while any fully connected neural network of possibly larger width or depth trained by noisy-GD on the unordered samples cannot learn without additional steps. We also provide experimental results supporting the qualitative separation beyond the specific regime of the theoretical results.

Spotlight Poster
The Exact Sample Complexity Gain from Invariances for Kernel Regression

Behrooz Tahmasebi · Stefanie Jegelka

In practice, encoding invariances into models improves sample complexity. In this work, we study this phenomenon from a theoretical perspective. In particular, we provide minimax optimal rates for kernel ridge regression on compact manifolds, with a target function that is invariant to a group action on the manifold. Our results hold for any smooth compact Lie group action, even groups of positive dimension. For a finite group, the gain effectively multiplies the number of samples by the group size. For groups of positive dimension, the gain is observed by a reduction in the manifold's dimension, in addition to a factor proportional to the volume of the quotient space. Our proof takes the viewpoint of differential geometry, in contrast to the more common strategy of using invariant polynomials. This new geometric viewpoint on learning with invariances may be of independent interest.

Reliable learning in challenging environments

Maria-Florina Balcan · Steve Hanneke · Rattana Pukdee · Dravyansh Sharma

The problem of designing learners that provide guarantees that their predictions are provably correct is of increasing importance in machine learning. However, learning theoretic guarantees have only been considered in very specific settings. In this work, we consider the design and analysis of reliable learners in challenging test-time environments as encountered in modern machine learning problems: namely adversarial test-time attacks (in several variations) and natural distribution shifts. In this work, we provide a reliable learner with provably optimal guarantees in such settings. We discuss computationally feasible implementations of the learner and further show that our algorithm achieves strong positive performance guarantees on several natural examples: for example, linear separators under log-concave distributions or smooth boundary classifiers under smooth probability distributions.

Representational Strengths and Limitations of Transformers

Clayton Sanford · Daniel Hsu · Matus Telgarsky · Matus Telgarsky

Attention layers, as commonly used in transformers, form the backbone of modern deep learning, yet there is no mathematical description of their benefits and deficiencies as compared with other architectures. In this work we establish both positive and negative results on the representation power of attention layers, with a focus on intrinsic complexity parameters such as width, depth, and embedding dimension. On the positive side, we present a sparse averaging task, where recurrent networks and feedforward networks all have complexity scaling polynomially in the input size, whereas transformers scale merely logarithmically in the input size; furthermore, we use the same construction to show the necessity and role of a large embedding dimension in a transformer. On the negative side, we present a triple detection task, where attention layers in turn have complexity scaling linearly in the input size; as this scenario seems rare in practice, we also present natural variants that can be efficiently solved by attention layers. The proof techniques emphasize the value of communication complexity in the analysis of transformers and related models, and the role of sparse averaging as a prototypical attention task, which even finds use in the analysis of triple detection.

A General Theory of Correct, Incorrect, and Extrinsic Equivariance

Dian Wang · Xupeng Zhu · Jung Yeon Park · Mingxi Jia · Guanang Su · Robert Platt · Robin Walters

Although equivariant machine learning has proven effective at many tasks, success depends heavily on the assumption that the ground truth function is symmetric over the entire domain matching the symmetry in an equivariant neural network. A missing piece in the equivariant learning literature is the analysis of equivariant networks when symmetry exists only partially in the domain. In this work, we present a general theory for such a situation. We propose pointwise definitions of correct, incorrect, and extrinsic equivariance, which allow us to quantify continuously the degree of each type of equivariance a function displays. We then study the impact of various degrees of incorrect or extrinsic symmetry on model error. We prove error lower bounds for invariant or equivariant networks in classification or regression settings with partially incorrect symmetry. We also analyze the potentially harmful effects of extrinsic equivariance. Experiments validate these results in three different environments.

Spotlight Poster
Convergence of mean-field Langevin dynamics: time-space discretization, stochastic gradient, and variance reduction

Taiji Suzuki · Denny Wu · Atsushi Nitanda

The mean-field Langevin dynamics (MFLD) is a nonlinear generalization of the Langevin dynamics that incorporates a distribution-dependent drift, and it naturally arises from the optimization of two-layer neural networks via (noisy) gradient descent. Recent works have shown that MFLD globally minimizes an entropy-regularized convex functional in the space of measures. However, all prior analyses assumed the infinite-particle or continuous-time limit, and cannot handle stochastic gradient updates. We provide a general framework to prove a uniform-in-time propagation of chaos for MFLD that takes into account the errors due to finite-particle approximation, time-discretization, and stochastic gradient. To demonstrate the wide applicability of our framework, we establish quantitative convergence rate guarantees to the regularized global optimal solution for $(i)$ a wide range of learning problems such as mean-field neural network and MMD minimization, and $(ii)$ different gradient estimators including SGD and SVRG. Despite the generality of our results, we achieve an improved convergence rate in both the SGD and SVRG settings when specialized to the standard Langevin dynamics.

Oral Poster
Outstanding Paper Runner-up
Scaling Data-Constrained Language Models

Niklas Muennighoff · Alexander Rush · Boaz Barak · Teven Le Scao · Nouamane Tazi · Aleksandra Piktus · Sampo Pyysalo · Thomas Wolf · Colin Raffel

The current trend of scaling language models involves increasing both parameter count and training dataset size. Extrapolating this trend suggests that training dataset size may soon be limited by the amount of text data available on the internet. Motivated by this limit, we investigate scaling language models in data-constrained regimes. Specifically, we run a large set of experiments varying the extent of data repetition and compute budget, ranging up to 900 billion training tokens and 9 billion parameter models. We find that with constrained data for a fixed compute budget, training with up to 4 epochs of repeated data yields negligible changes to loss compared to having unique data. However, with more repetition, the value of adding compute eventually decays to zero. We propose and empirically validate a scaling law for compute optimality that accounts for the decreasing value of repeated tokens and excess parameters. Finally, we experiment with approaches mitigating data scarcity, including augmenting the training dataset with code data or removing commonly used filters. Models and datasets from our 400 training runs are freely available at

Phase diagram of early training dynamics in deep neural networks: effect of the learning rate, depth, and width

Dayal Singh Kalra · Maissam Barkeshli

We systematically analyze optimization dynamics in deep neural networks (DNNs) trained with stochastic gradient descent (SGD) and study the effect of learning rate $\eta$, depth $d$, and width $w$ of the neural network. By analyzing the maximum eigenvalue $\lambda^H_t$ of the Hessian of the loss, which is a measure of sharpness of the loss landscape, we find that the dynamics can show four distinct regimes: (i) an early time transient regime, (ii) an intermediate saturation regime, (iii) a progressive sharpening regime, and (iv) a late time "edge of stability" regime. The early and intermediate regimes (i) and (ii) exhibit a rich phase diagram depending on $\eta \equiv c / \lambda_0^H $, $d$, and $w$. We identify several critical values of $c$, which separate qualitatively distinct phenomena in the early time dynamics of training loss and sharpness. Notably, we discover the opening up of a "sharpness reduction" phase, where sharpness decreases at early times, as $d$ and $ 1/w$ are increased.

Learning threshold neurons via edge of stability

Kwangjun Ahn · Sebastien Bubeck · Sinho Chewi · Yin Tat Lee · Felipe Suarez · Felipe Suarez · Yi Zhang

Existing analyses of neural network training often operate under the unrealistic assumption of an extremely small learning rate. This lies in stark contrast to practical wisdom and empirical studies, such as the work of J. Cohen et al. (ICLR 2021), which exhibit startling new phenomena (the "edge of stability"' or "unstable convergence") and potential benefits for generalization in the large learning rate regime. Despite a flurry of recent works on this topic, however, the latter effect is still poorly understood. In this paper, we take a step towards understanding genuinely non-convex training dynamics with large learning rates by performing a detailed analysis of gradient descent for simplified models of two-layer neural networks. For these models, we provably establish the edge of stability phenomenon and discover a sharp phase transition for the step size below which the neural network fails to learn ``threshold-like'' neurons (i.e., neurons with a non-zero first-layer bias). This elucidates one possible mechanism by which the edge of stability can in fact lead to better generalization, as threshold neurons are basic building blocks with useful inductive bias for many tasks.

On student-teacher deviations in distillation: does it pay to disobey?

Vaishnavh Nagarajan · Aditya Menon · Srinadh Bhojanapalli · Hossein Mobahi · Sanjiv Kumar

Knowledge distillation (KD) has been widely used to improve the test accuracy of a "student" network, by training it to mimic the soft probabilities of a trained "teacher" network. Yet, it has been shown in recent work that, despite being trained to fit the teacher's probabilities, the student may not only significantly deviate from the teacher probabilities, but may also outdo than the teacher in performance. Our work aims to reconcile this seemingly paradoxical observation. Specifically, we characterize the precise nature of the student-teacher deviations, and argue how they can co-occur with better generalization. First, through experiments on image and language data, we identify that these probability deviations correspond to the student systematically exaggerating the confidence levels of the teacher.Next, we theoretically and empirically establish another form of exaggeration in some simple settings: KD exaggerates the implicit bias of gradient descent in converging faster along the top eigendirections of the data. Finally, we tie these two observations together: we demonstrate that the exaggerated bias of KD can simultaneously result in both (a) the exaggeration of confidence and (b) the improved generalization of the student, thus offering a resolution to the apparent paradox. Our analysis brings existing theory and practice closer by considering the role of gradient descent in KD and by demonstrating the exaggerated bias effect in both theoretical and empirical settings.

Estimating Propensity for Causality-based Recommendation without Exposure Data

Zhongzhou Liu · Yuan Fang · Min Wu

Causality-based recommendation systems focus on the causal effects of user-item interactions resulting from item exposure (i.e., which items are recommended or exposed to the user), as opposed to conventional correlation-based recommendation. They are gaining popularity due to their multi-sided benefits to users, sellers and platforms alike. However, existing causality-based recommendation methods require additional input in the form of exposure data and/or propensity scores (i.e., the probability of exposure) for training. Such data, crucial for modeling causality in recommendation, are often not available in real-world situations due to technical or privacy constraints. In this paper, we bridge the gap by proposing a new framework, called Propensity Estimation for Causality-based Recommendation (PropCare). It can estimate the propensity and exposure from a more practical setup, where only interaction data are available without any ground truth on exposure or propensity in training and inference. We demonstrate that, by relating the pairwise characteristics between propensity and item popularity, PropCare enables competitive causality-based recommendation given only the conventional interaction data. We further present a theoretical analysis on the bias of the causal effect under our model estimation. Finally, we empirically evaluate PropCare through both quantitative and qualitative experiments.

Causal discovery from observational and interventional data across multiple environments

Adam Li · Amin Jaber · Elias Bareinboim

A fundamental problem in many sciences is the learning of causal structure underlying a system, typically through observation and experimentation. Commonly, one even collects data across multiple domains, such as gene sequencing from different labs, or neural recordings from different species. Although there exist methods for learning the equivalence class of causal diagrams from observational and experimental data, they are meant to operate in a single domain. In this paper, we develop a fundamental approach to structure learning in non-Markovian systems (i.e. when there exist latent confounders) leveraging observational and interventional data collected from multiple domains. Specifically, we start by showing that learning from observational data in multiple domains is equivalent to learning from interventional data with unknown targets in a single domain. But there are also subtleties when considering observational and experimental data. Using causal invariances derived from do-calculus, we define a property called S-Markov that connects interventional distributions from multiple-domains to graphical criteria on a selection diagram. Leveraging the S-Markov property, we introduce a new constraint-based causal discovery algorithm, S-FCI, that can learn from observational and interventional data from different domains. We prove that the algorithm is sound and subsumes existing constraint-based causal discovery algorithms.

Global Optimality in Bivariate Gradient-based DAG Learning

Chang Deng · Kevin Bello · Pradeep Ravikumar · Bryon Aragam

Recently, a new class of non-convex optimization problems motivated by the statistical problem of learning an acyclic directed graphical model from data has attracted significant interest. While existing work uses standard first-order optimization schemes to solve this problem, proving the global optimality of such approaches has proven elusive. The difficulty lies in the fact that unlike other non-convex problems in the literature, this problem is not "benign", and possesses multiple spurious solutions that standard approaches can easily get trapped in. In this paper, we prove that a simple path-following optimization scheme globally converges to the global minimum of the population loss in the bivariate setting.

Spotlight Poster
A Cross-Moment Approach for Causal Effect Estimation

Yaroslav Kivva · Saber Salehkaleybar · Saber Salehkaleybar · Negar Kiyavash

We consider the problem of estimating the causal effect of a treatment on an outcome in linear structural causal models (SCM) with latent confounders when we have access to a single proxy variable.Several methods (such as difference-in-difference (DiD) estimator or negative outcome control) have been proposed in this setting in the literature. However, these approaches require either restrictive assumptions on the data generating model or having access to at least two proxy variables.We propose a method to estimate the causal effect using cross moments between the treatment, the outcome, and the proxy variable. In particular, we show that the causal effect can be identified with simple arithmetic operations on the cross moments if the latent confounder in linear SCM is non-Gaussian.In this setting, DiD estimator provides an unbiased estimate only in the special case where the latent confounder has exactly the same direct causal effects on the outcomes in the pre-treatment and post-treatment phases. This translates to the common trend assumption in DiD, which we effectively relax.Additionally, we provide an impossibility result that shows the causal effect cannot be identified if the observational distribution over the treatment, the outcome, and the proxy is jointly Gaussian. Our experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets showcase the effectivenessof the proposed approach in estimating the causal effect.

Oral Poster
Conformal Meta-learners for Predictive Inference of Individual Treatment Effects

Ahmed Alaa · Zaid Ahmad · Mark van der Laan

We investigate the problem of machine learning-based (ML) predictive inference on individual treatment effects (ITEs). Previous work has focused primarily on developing ML-based “meta-learners” that can provide point estimates of the conditional average treatment effect (CATE)—these are model-agnostic approaches for combining intermediate nuisance estimates to produce estimates of CATE. In this paper, we develop conformal meta-learners, a general framework for issuing predictive intervals for ITEs by applying the standard conformal prediction (CP) procedure on top of CATE meta-learners. We focus on a broad class of meta-learners based on two-stage pseudo-outcome regression and develop a stochastic ordering framework to study their validity. We show that inference with conformal meta-learners is marginally valid if their (pseudo-outcome) conformity scores stochastically dominate “oracle” conformity scores evaluated on the unobserved ITEs. Additionally, we prove that commonly used CATE meta-learners, such as the doubly-robust learner, satisfy a model- and distribution-free stochastic (or convex) dominance condition, making their conformal inferences valid for practically-relevant levels of target coverage. Whereas existing procedures conduct inference on nuisance parameters (i.e., potential outcomes) via weighted CP, conformal meta-learners enable direct inference on the target parameter (ITE). Numerical experiments show that conformal meta-learners provide valid intervals with competitive efficiency while retaining the favorable point estimation properties of CATE meta-learners.

Oral Poster
Causal normalizing flows: from theory to practice

Adrián Javaloy · Pablo Sanchez-Martin · Isabel Valera

In this work, we deepen on the use of normalizing flows for causal reasoning. Specifically, we first leverage recent results on non-linear ICA to show that causal models are identifiable from observational data given a causal ordering, and thus can be recovered using autoregressive normalizing flows (NFs). Second, we analyze different design and learning choices for causal normalizing flows to capture the underlying causal data-generating process. Third, we describe how to implement the do-operator in causal NFs, and thus, how to answer interventional and counterfactual questions. Finally, in our experiments, we validate our design and training choices through a comprehensive ablation study; compare causal NFs to other approaches for approximating causal models; and empirically demonstrate that causal NFs can be used to address real-world problems—where the presence of mixed discrete-continuous data and partial knowledge on the causal graph is the norm. The code for this work can be found at

Oral Poster
A Measure-Theoretic Axiomatisation of Causality

Junhyung Park · Simon Buchholz · Bernhard Schölkopf · Krikamol Muandet

Causality is a central concept in a wide range of research areas, yet there is still no universally agreed axiomatisation of causality. We view causality both as an extension of probability theory and as a study of what happens when one intervenes on a system, and argue in favour of taking Kolmogorov's measure-theoretic axiomatisation of probability as the starting point towards an axiomatisation of causality. To that end, we propose the notion of a causal space, consisting of a probability space along with a collection of transition probability kernels, called causal kernels, that encode the causal information of the space. Our proposed framework is not only rigorously grounded in measure theory, but it also sheds light on long-standing limitations of existing frameworks including, for example, cycles, latent variables and stochastic processes.

Comparing Causal Frameworks: Potential Outcomes, Structural Models, Graphs, and Abstractions

Duligur Ibeling · Thomas Icard

The aim of this paper is to make clear and precise the relationship between the Rubin causal model (RCM) and structural causal model (SCM) frameworks for causal inference. Adopting a neutral logical perspective, and drawing on previous work, we show what is required for an RCM to be representable by an SCM. A key result then shows that every RCM---including those that violate algebraic principles implied by the SCM framework---emerges as an abstraction of some representable RCM. Finally, we illustrate the power of this ameliorative perspective by pinpointing an important role for SCM principles in classic applications of RCMs; conversely, we offer a characterization of the algebraic constraints implied by a graph, helping to substantiate further comparisons between the two frameworks.

Passive learning of active causal strategies in agents and language models

Andrew Lampinen · Stephanie Chan · Ishita Dasgupta · Andrew Nam · Jane Wang

What can be learned about causality and experimentation from passive data? This question is salient given recent successes of passively-trained language models in interactive domains such as tool use. Passive learning is inherently limited. However, we show that purely passive learning can in fact allow an agent to learn generalizable strategies for determining and using causal structures, as long as the agent can intervene at test time. We formally illustrate that learning a strategy of first experimenting, then seeking goals, can allow generalization from passive learning in principle. We then show empirically that agents trained via imitation on expert data can indeed generalize at test time to infer and use causal links which are never present in the training data; these agents can also generalize experimentation strategies to novel variable sets never observed in training.We then show that strategies for causal intervention and exploitation can be generalized from passive data even in a more complex environment with high-dimensional observations, with the support of natural language explanations. Explanations can even allow passive learners to generalize out-of-distribution from perfectly-confounded training data. Finally, we show that language models, trained only on passive next-word prediction, can generalize causal intervention strategies from a few-shot prompt containing explanations and reasoning. These results highlight the surprising power of passive learning of active causal strategies, and have implications for understanding the behaviors and capabilities of language models.

Reusable Slotwise Mechanisms

Trang Nguyen · Amin Mansouri · Kanika Madan · Khuong Duy Nguyen · Kartik Ahuja · Dianbo Liu · Yoshua Bengio

Agents with the ability to comprehend and reason about the dynamics of objects would be expected to exhibit improved robustness and generalization in novel scenarios. However, achieving this capability necessitates not only an effective scene representation but also an understanding of the mechanisms governing interactions among object subsets. Recent studies have made significant progress in representing scenes using object slots. In this work, we introduce Reusable Slotwise Mechanisms, or RSM, a framework that models object dynamics by leveraging communication among slots along with a modular architecture capable of dynamically selecting reusable mechanisms for predicting the future states of each object slot. Crucially, RSM leverages the Central Contextual Information (CCI), enabling selected mechanisms to access the remaining slots through a bottleneck, effectively allowing for modeling of higher order and complex interactions that might require a sparse subset of objects. Experimental results demonstrate the superior performance of RSM compared to state-of-the-art methods across various future prediction and related downstream tasks, including Visual Question Answering and action planning. Furthermore, we showcase RSM’s Out-of-Distribution generalization ability to handle scenes in intricate scenarios.

Inner Product-based Neural Network Similarity

Wei Chen · Zichen Miao · Qiang Qiu

Analyzing representational similarity among neural networks (NNs) is essential for interpreting or transferring deep models. In application scenarios where numerous NN models are learned, it becomes crucial to assess model similarities in computationally efficient ways. In this paper, we propose a new paradigm for reducing NN representational similarity to filter subspace distance. Specifically, when convolutional filters are decomposed as a linear combination of a set of filter subspace elements, denoted as filter atoms, and have those decomposed atom coefficients shared across networks, NN representational similarity can be significantly simplified as calculating the cosine distance among respective filter atoms, to achieve millions of times computation reduction over popular probing-based methods. We provide both theoretical and empirical evidence that such simplified filter subspace-based similarity preserves a strong linear correlation with other popular probing-based metrics, while being significantly more efficient to obtain and robust to probing data. We further validate the effectiveness of the proposed method in various application scenarios where numerous models exist, such as federated and continual learning as well as analyzing training dynamics. We hope our findings can help further explorations of real-time large-scale representational similarity analysis in neural networks.

Loss Decoupling for Task-Agnostic Continual Learning

Yan-Shuo Liang · Wu-Jun Li

Continual learning requires the model to learn multiple tasks in a sequential order. To perform continual learning, the model must possess the abilities to maintain performance on old tasks (stability) and adapt itself to learn new tasks (plasticity). Task-agnostic problem in continual learning is a challenging problem, in which task identities are not available in the inference stage and hence the model must learn to distinguish all the classes in all the tasks. In task-agnostic problem, the model needs to learn two new objectives for learning a new task, including distinguishing new classes from old classes and distinguishing between different new classes. For task-agnostic problem, replay-based methods are commonly used. These methods update the model with both saved old samples and new samples for continual learning. Most existing replay-based methods mix the two objectives in task-agnostic problem together, inhibiting the models from achieving a good trade-off between stability and plasticity. In this paper, we propose a simple yet effective method, called loss decoupling (LODE), for task-agnostic continual learning. LODE separates the two objectives for the new task by decoupling the loss of the new task. As a result, LODE can assign different weights for different objectives, which provides a way to obtain a better trade-off between stability and plasticity than those methods with coupled loss. Experiments show that LODE can outperform existing state-of-the-art replay-based methods on multiple continual learning datasets.

Beyond probability partitions: Calibrating neural networks with semantic aware grouping

Jia-Qi Yang · De-Chuan Zhan · Le Gan

Research has shown that deep networks tend to be overly optimistic about their predictions, leading to an underestimation of prediction errors. Due to the limited nature of data, existing studies have proposed various methods based on model prediction probabilities to bin the data and evaluate calibration error. We propose a more generalized definition of calibration error called Partitioned Calibration Error (PCE), revealing that the key difference among these calibration error metrics lies in how the data space is partitioned. We put forth an intuitive proposition that an accurate model should be calibrated across any partition, suggesting that the input space partitioning can extend beyond just the partitioning of prediction probabilities, and include partitions directly related to the input. Through semantic-related partitioning functions, we demonstrate that the relationship between model accuracy and calibration lies in the granularity of the partitioning function. This highlights the importance of partitioning criteria for training a calibrated and accurate model. To validate the aforementioned analysis, we propose a method that involves jointly learning a semantic aware grouping function based on deep model features and logits to partition the data space into subsets. Subsequently, a separate calibration function is learned for each subset. Experimental results demonstrate that our approach achieves significant performance improvements across multiple datasets and network architectures, thus highlighting the importance of the partitioning function for calibration.

Conformalized matrix completion

Yu Gui · Rina Barber · Cong Ma

Matrix completion aims to estimate missing entries in a data matrix, using the assumption of a low-complexity structure (e.g., low-rankness) so that imputation is possible. While many effective estimation algorithms exist in the literature, uncertainty quantification for this problem has proved to be challenging, and existing methods are extremely sensitive to model misspecification. In this work, we propose a distribution-free method for predictive inference in the matrix completion problem. Our method adapts the framework of conformal prediction, which provides prediction intervals with guaranteed distribution-free validity in the setting of regression, to the problem of matrix completion. Our resulting method, conformalized matrix completion (cmc), offers provable predictive coverage regardless of the accuracy of the low-rank model. Empirical results on simulated and real data demonstrate that cmc is robust to model misspecification while matching the performance of existing model-based methods when the model is correct.

Neuro-symbolic Learning Yielding Logical Constraints

Zenan Li · Yunpeng Huang · Zhaoyu Li · Yuan Yao · Jingwei Xu · Taolue Chen · Xiaoxing Ma · Jian Lu

Neuro-symbolic systems combine the abilities of neural perception and logical reasoning. However, end-to-end learning of neuro-symbolic systems is still an unsolved challenge. This paper proposes a natural framework that fuses neural network training, symbol grounding, and logical constraint synthesis into a coherent and efficient end-to-end learning process. The capability of this framework comes from the improved interactions between the neural and the symbolic parts of the system in both the training and inference stages. Technically, to bridge the gap between the continuous neural network and the discrete logical constraint, we introduce a difference-of-convex programming technique to relax the logical constraints while maintaining their precision. We also employ cardinality constraints as the language for logical constraint learning and incorporate a trust region method to avoid the degeneracy of logical constraint in learning. Both theoretical analyses and empirical evaluations substantiate the effectiveness of the proposed framework.

Time-uniform confidence bands for the CDF under nonstationarity

Paul Mineiro · Steven Howard

Estimation of a complete univariate distribution from a sequence of observations is a useful primitive for both manual and automated decision making. This problem has received extensive attention in the i.i.d. setting, but the arbitrary data dependent setting remains largely unaddressed. We present computationally felicitous time-uniform and value-uniform bounds on the CDF of the running averaged conditional distribution of a sequence of real-valued random variables. Consistent with known impossibility results, our CDF bounds are always valid but sometimes trivial when the instance is too hard, and we give an instance-dependent convergence guarantee. The importance-weighted extension is appropriate for estimating complete counterfactual distributions of rewards given data from a randomized experiment, e.g., from an A/B test or a contextual bandit.

Flow: Per-instance Personalized Federated Learning

Kunjal Panchal · Sunav Choudhary · Nisarg Parikh · Lijun Zhang · Hui Guan

Federated learning (FL) suffers from data heterogeneity, where the diverse data distributions across clients make it challenging to train a single global model effectively. Existing personalization approaches aim to address the data heterogeneity issue by creating a personalized model for each client from the global model that fits their local data distribution. However, these personalized models may achieve lower accuracy than the global model in some clients, resulting in limited performance improvement compared to that without personalization. To overcome this limitation, we propose a per-instance personalization FL algorithm Flow. Flow creates dynamic personalized models that are adaptive not only to each client’s data distributions but also to each client’s data instances. The personalized model allows each instance to dynamically determine whether it prefers the local parameters or its global counterpart to make correct predictions, thereby improving clients’accuracy. We provide theoretical analysis on the convergence of Flow and empirically demonstrate the superiority of Flow in improving clients’ accuracy compared to state-of-the-art personalization approaches on both vision and language-based tasks.

Neural approximation of Wasserstein distance via a universal architecture for symmetric and factorwise group invariant functions

Samantha Chen · Yusu Wang

Learning distance functions between complex objects, such as the Wasserstein distance to compare point sets, is a common goal in machine learning applications. However, functions on such complex objects (e.g., point sets and graphs) are often required to be invariant to a wide variety of group actions e.g. permutation or rigid transformation. Therefore, continuous and symmetric *product* functions (such as distance functions) on such complex objects must also be invariant to the *product* of such group actions. We call these functions symmetric and factor-wise group invariant functions (or SGFI functions} in short).In this paper, we first present a general neural network architecture for approximating SFGI functions. The main contribution of this paper combines this general NN with a sketching idea in order to develop a specific and efficient neural network which can approximate the $p$-th Wasserstein distance between point sets.Very importantly, the required model complexity is *independent* of the sizes of input point sets. On the theoretical front, to the best of our knowledge, this is the first result showing that there exists a neural network with the capacity to approximate Wasserstein distance with bounded model complexity. Our work provides an interesting integration of sketching ideas for geometric problems with universal approximation of symmetric functions. On the empirical front, we present a range of results showing that our newly proposed neural network architecture performs comparatively or better than other models (including a SOTA Siamese Autoencoder based approach). In particular, our NN generalizes significantly better and trains much faster than the SOTA Siamese AE.Finally, this line of investigation could be useful in exploring effective neural network design for solving a broad range of geometric optimization problems (e.g., $k$-means in a metric space).

Diffusion Representation for Asymmetric Kernels via Magnetic Transform

Mingzhen He · FAN He · Ruikai Yang · Xiaolin Huang

As a nonlinear dimension reduction technique, the diffusion map (DM) has been widely used. In DM, kernels play an important role for capturing the nonlinear relationship of data. However, only symmetric kernels can be used now, which prevents the use of DM in directed graphs, trophic networks, and other real-world scenarios where the intrinsic and extrinsic geometries in data are asymmetric. A promising technique is the magnetic transform which converts an asymmetric matrix to a Hermitian one. However, we are facing essential problems, including how diffusion distance could be preserved and how divergence could be avoided during diffusion process. Via theoretical proof, we successfully establish a diffusion representation framework with the magnetic transform, named MagDM. The effectiveness and robustness for dealing data endowed with asymmetric proximity are demonstrated on three synthetic datasets and two trophic networks.

Deep learning with kernels through RKHM and the Perron-Frobenius operator

Yuka Hashimoto · Masahiro Ikeda · Hachem Kadri

Reproducing kernel Hilbert $C^*$-module (RKHM) is a generalization of reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS) by means of $C^*$-algebra, and the Perron-Frobenius operator is a linear operator related to the composition of functions. Combining these two concepts, we present deep RKHM, a deep learning framework for kernel methods. We derive a new Rademacher generalization bound in this setting and provide a theoretical interpretation of benign overfitting by means of Perron-Frobenius operators. By virtue of $C^*$-algebra, the dependency of the bound on output dimension is milder than existing bounds. We show that $C^*$-algebra is a suitable tool for deep learning with kernels, enabling us to take advantage of the product structure of operators and to provide a clear connection with convolutional neural networks. Our theoretical analysis provides a new lens through which one can design and analyze deep kernel methods.

Spotlight Poster
Learning Functional Transduction

Mathieu Chalvidal · Thomas Serre · Rufin VanRullen

Research in statistical learning has polarized into two general approaches to perform regression analysis: Transductive methods construct estimates directly based on exemplar data using generic relational principles which might suffer from the curse of dimensionality. Conversely, inductive methods can potentially fit highly complex functions at the cost of compute-intensive solution searches. In this work, we leverage the theory of vector-valued Reproducing Kernel Banach Spaces (RKBS) to propose a hybrid approach: We show that transductive regression systems can be meta-learned with gradient descent to form efficient in-context neural approximators of function defined over both finite and infinite-dimensional spaces (operator regression). Once trained, our Transducer can almost instantaneously capture new functional relationships and produce original image estimates, given a few pairs of input and output examples. We demonstrate the benefit of our meta-learned transductive approach to model physical systems influenced by varying external factors with little data at a fraction of the usual deep learning training costs for partial differential equations and climate modeling applications.

Spotlight Poster
Fast Approximation of Similarity Graphs with Kernel Density Estimation

Peter Macgregor · He Sun

Constructing a similarity graph from a set $X$ of data points in $ \mathbb{R}^d$ is the first step of many modern clustering algorithms. However, typical constructions of a similarity graph have high time complexity, and a quadratic space dependency with respect to $|X|$. We address this limitation and present a new algorithmic framework that constructs a sparse approximation of the fully connected similarity graph while preserving its cluster structure. Our presented algorithm is based on the kernel density estimation problem, and is applicable for arbitrary kernel functions. We compare our designed algorithm with the well-known implementations from the scikit-learn library and the FAISS library, and find that our method significantly outperforms the implementation from both libraries on a variety of datasets.

Gradient-Free Kernel Stein Discrepancy

Matthew Fisher · Chris Oates

Stein discrepancies have emerged as a powerful statistical tool, being applied to fundamental statistical problems including parameter inference, goodness-of-fit testing, and sampling. The canonical Stein discrepancies require the derivatives of a statistical model to be computed, and in return provide theoretical guarantees of convergence detection and control. However, for complex statistical models, the stable numerical computation of derivatives can require bespoke algorithmic development and render Stein discrepancies impractical. This paper focuses on posterior approximation using Stein discrepancies, and introduces a collection of non-canonical Stein discrepancies that are gradient-free, meaning that derivatives of the statistical model are not required. Sufficient conditions for convergence detection and control are established, and applications to sampling and variational inference are presented.

Balancing Risk and Reward: A Batched-Bandit Strategy for Automated Phased Release

Yufan Li · Jialiang Mao · Iavor Bojinov

Phased releases are a common strategy in the technology industry for gradually releasing new products or updates through a sequence of A/B tests in which the number of treated units gradually grows until full deployment or deprecation. Performing phased releases in a principled way requires selecting the proportion of units assigned to the new release in a way that balances the risk of an adverse effect with the need to iterate and learn from the experiment rapidly. In this paper, we formalize this problem and propose an algorithm that automatically determines the release percentage at each stage in the schedule, balancing the need to control risk while maximizing ramp-up speed. Our framework models the challenge as a constrained batched bandit problem that ensures that our pre-specified experimental budget is not depleted with high probability. Our proposed algorithm leverages an adaptive Bayesian approach in which the maximal number of units assigned to the treatment is determined by the posterior distribution, ensuring that the probability of depleting the remaining budget is low. Notably, our approach analytically solves the ramp sizes by inverting probability bounds, eliminating the need for challenging rare-event Monte Carlo simulation. It only requires computing means and variances of outcome subsets, making it highly efficient and parallelizable.

Spotlight Poster
Universal Online Learning with Gradient Variations: A Multi-layer Online Ensemble Approach

Yu-Hu Yan · Peng Zhao · Zhi-Hua Zhou

In this paper, we propose an online convex optimization approach with two different levels of adaptivity. On a higher level, our approach is agnostic to the unknown types and curvatures of the online functions, while at a lower level, it can exploit the unknown niceness of the environments and attain problem-dependent guarantees. Specifically, we obtain $\mathcal{O}(\log V_T)$, $\mathcal{O}(d \log V_T)$ and $\hat{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{V_T})$ regret bounds for strongly convex, exp-concave and convex loss functions, respectively, where $d$ is the dimension, $V_T$ denotes problem-dependent gradient variations and the $\hat{\mathcal{O}}(\cdot)$-notation omits $\log V_T$ factors. Our result not only safeguards the worst-case guarantees but also directly implies the small-loss bounds in analysis. Moreover, when applied to adversarial/stochastic convex optimization and game theory problems, our result enhances the existing universal guarantees. Our approach is based on a multi-layer online ensemble framework incorporating novel ingredients, including a carefully designed optimism for unifying diverse function types and cascaded corrections for algorithmic stability. Notably, despite its multi-layer structure, our algorithm necessitates only one gradient query per round, making it favorable when the gradient evaluation is time-consuming. This is facilitated by a novel regret decomposition equipped with carefully designed surrogate losses.

Active Bipartite Ranking

James Cheshire · Vincent Laurent · Stephan Clémençon

In this paper, we develop an active learning framework for the bipartite ranking problem.Motivated by numerous applications, ranging from supervised anomaly detection to credit-scoring through the design of medical diagnosis support systems, and usually formulated as the problem of optimizing (a scalar summary of) the ROC curve, bipartite ranking has been the subject of much attention in the passive context. Various dedicated algorithms have been recently proposed and studied by the machine-learning community. In contrast, active bipartite ranking rule is poorly documented in the literature. Due to its global nature, a strategy for labeling sequentially data points that are difficult to rank w.r.t. to the others is required. This learning task is much more complex than binary classification, for which many active algorithms have been designed. It is the goal of this article to provide a rigorous formulation of such a selective sampling approach. We propose a dedicated algorithm, referred to as active-rank, which aims to minimise the distance between the ROC curve of the ranking function built and the optimal one, w.r.t. the sup norm. We show that, for a fixed confidence level $\epsilon$ and probability $\delta$, active-rank is PAC$(\epsilon,\delta)$. In addition, we provide a problem dependent upper bound on the expected sampling time of active-rank and also demonstrate a problem dependent lower bound on the expected sampling time of any PAC$(\epsilon,\delta)$ algorithm. Beyond the theoretical analysis carried out, numerical results are presented, providing strong empirical evidence of the performance of the algorithm proposed, which compares favorably with more naive approaches.

No-Regret Online Prediction with Strategic Experts

Omid Sadeghi · Maryam Fazel

We study a generalization of the online binary prediction with expert advice framework where at each round, the learner is allowed to pick $m\geq 1$ experts from a pool of $K$ experts and the overall utility is a modular or submodular function of the chosen experts. We focus on the setting in which experts act strategically and aim to maximize their influence on the algorithm's predictions by potentially misreporting their beliefs about the events. Among others, this setting finds applications in forecasting competitions where the learner seeks not only to make predictions by aggregating different forecasters but also to rank them according to their relative performance. Our goal is to design algorithms that satisfy the following two requirements: 1) \emph{Incentive-compatible}: Incentivize the experts to report their beliefs truthfully, and 2) \emph{No-regret}: Achieve sublinear regret with respect to the true beliefs of the best fixed set of $m$ experts in hindsight. Prior works have studied this framework when $m=1$ and provided incentive-compatible no-regret algorithms for the problem. We first show that a simple reduction of our problem to the $m=1$ setting is neither efficient nor effective. Then, we provide algorithms that utilize the specific structure of the utility functions to achieve the two desired goals.

PERFOGRAPH: A Numerical Aware Program Graph Representation for Performance Optimization and Program Analysis

Ali TehraniJamsaz · Quazi Ishtiaque Mahmud · Le Chen · Nesreen K. Ahmed · Ali Jannesari

The remarkable growth and significant success of machine learning have expanded its applications into programming languages and program analysis. However, a key challenge in adopting the latest machine learning methods is the representation of programming languages which has a direct impact on the ability of machine learning methods to reason about programs. The absence of numerical awareness, aggregate data structure information, and improper way of presenting variables in previous representation works have limited their performances. To overcome the limitations and challenges of current program representations, we propose a novel graph-based program representation called PERFOGRAPH. PERFOGRAPH can capture numerical information and the aggregate data structure by introducing new nodes and edges. Furthermore, we propose an adapted embedding method to incorporate numerical awareness.These enhancements make PERFOGRAPH a highly flexible and scalable representation that can effectively capture programs' intricate dependencies and semantics. Consequently, it serves as a powerful tool for various applications such as program analysis, performance optimization, and parallelism discovery. Our experimental results demonstrate that PERFOGRAPH outperforms existing representations and sets new state-of-the-art results by reducing the error rate by 7.4% (AMD dataset) and 10% (NVIDIA dataset) in the well-known Device Mapping challenge. It also sets new state-of-the-art results in various performance optimization tasks like Parallelism Discovery and Numa and Prefetchers Configuration prediction.

Object-centric Learning with Cyclic Walks between Parts and Whole

Ziyu Wang · Mike Zheng Shou · Mengmi Zhang

Learning object-centric representations from complex natural environments enables both humans and machines with reasoning abilities from low-level perceptual features. To capture compositional entities of the scene, we proposed cyclic walks between perceptual features extracted from vision transformers and object entities. First, a slot-attention module interfaces with these perceptual features and produces a finite set of slot representations. These slots can bind to any object entities in the scene via inter-slot competitions for attention. Next, we establish entity-feature correspondence with cyclic walks along high transition probability based on the pairwise similarity between perceptual features (aka "parts") and slot-binded object representations (aka "whole"). The whole is greater than its parts and the parts constitute the whole. The part-whole interactions form cycle consistencies, as supervisory signals, to train the slot-attention module. Our rigorous experiments on \textit{seven} image datasets in \textit{three} \textit{unsupervised} tasks demonstrate that the networks trained with our cyclic walks can disentangle foregrounds and backgrounds, discover objects, and segment semantic objects in complex scenes. In contrast to object-centric models attached with a decoder for the pixel-level or feature-level reconstructions, our cyclic walks provide strong learning signals, avoiding computation overheads and enhancing memory efficiency. Our source code and data are available at: \href{}{link}.

Stable Vectorization of Multiparameter Persistent Homology using Signed Barcodes as Measures

David Loiseaux · Luis Scoccola · Mathieu Carrière · Magnus Bakke Botnan · Steve OUDOT

Persistent homology (PH) provides topological descriptors for geometric data, such as weighted graphs, which are interpretable, stable to perturbations, and invariant under, e.g., relabeling. Most applications of PH focus on the one-parameter case---where the descriptors summarize the changes in topology of data as it is filtered by a single quantity of interest---and there is now a wide array of methods enabling the use of one-parameter PH descriptors in data science, which rely on the stable vectorization of these descriptors as elements of a Hilbert space. Although the multiparameter PH (MPH) of data that is filtered by several quantities of interest encodes much richer information than its one-parameter counterpart, the scarceness of stability results for MPH descriptors has so far limited the available options for the stable vectorization of MPH. In this paper, we aim to bring together the best of both worlds by showing how the interpretation of signed barcodes---a recent family of MPH descriptors---as signed Radon measures leads to natural extensions of vectorization strategies from one parameter to multiple parameters. The resulting feature vectors are easy to define and to compute, and provably stable. While, as a proof of concept, we focus on simple choices of signed barcodes and vectorizations, we already see notable performance improvements when comparing our feature vectors to state-of-the-art topology-based methods on various types of data.

DisDiff: Unsupervised Disentanglement of Diffusion Probabilistic Models

Tao Yang · Yuwang Wang · Yan Lu · Nanning Zheng

Targeting to understand the underlying explainable factors behind observations and modeling the conditional generation process on these factors, we connect disentangled representation learning to diffusion probabilistic models (DPMs) to take advantage of the remarkable modeling ability of DPMs. We propose a new task, disentanglement of (DPMs): given a pre-trained DPM, without any annotations of the factors, the task is to automatically discover the inherent factors behind the observations and disentangle the gradient fields of DPM into sub-gradient fields, each conditioned on the representation of each discovered factor. With disentangled DPMs, those inherent factors can be automatically discovered, explicitly represented and clearly injected into the diffusion process via the sub-gradient fields. To tackle this task, we devise an unsupervised approach, named DisDiff, and for the first time achieving disentangled representation learning in the framework of DPMs. Extensive experiments on synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of DisDiff.

GUST: Combinatorial Generalization by Unsupervised Grouping with Neuronal Coherence

Hao Zheng · Hui Lin · Rong Zhao

Dynamically grouping sensory information into structured entities is essential for understanding the world of combinatorial nature. However, the grouping ability and therefore combinatorial generalization are still challenging artificial neural networks. Inspired by the evidence that successful grouping is indicated by neuronal coherence in the human brain, we introduce GUST (Grouping Unsupervisely by Spike Timing network), an iterative network architecture with biological constraints to bias the network towards a dynamical state of neuronal coherence that softly reflects the grouping information in the temporal structure of its spiking activity. We evaluate and analyze the model on synthetic datasets. Interestingly, the segregation ability is directly learned from superimposed stimuli with a succinct unsupervised objective. Two learning stages are present, from coarsely perceiving global features to additionally capturing local features. Further, the learned symbol-like building blocks can be systematically composed to represent novel scenes in a bio-plausible manner.

Learning Interpretable Low-dimensional Representation via Physical Symmetry

Xuanjie Liu · Daniel Chin · Yichen Huang · Gus Xia

We have recently seen great progress in learning interpretable music representations, ranging from basic factors, such as pitch and timbre, to high-level concepts, such as chord and texture. However, most methods rely heavily on music domain knowledge. It remains an open question what general computational principles give rise to interpretable representations, especially low-dim factors that agree with human perception. In this study, we take inspiration from modern physics and use physical symmetry as a self-consistency constraint for the latent space. Specifically, it requires the prior model that characterises the dynamics of the latent states to be equivariant with respect to certain group transformations. We show that physical symmetry leads the model to learn a linear pitch factor from unlabelled monophonic music audio in a self-supervised fashion. In addition, the same methodology can be applied to computer vision, learning a 3D Cartesian space from videos of a simple moving object without labels. Furthermore, physical symmetry naturally leads to counterfactual representation augmentation, a new technique which improves sample efficiency.

SaVeNet: A Scalable Vector Network for Enhanced Molecular Representation Learning

Sarp Aykent · Tian Xia

Geometric representation learning of molecules is challenging yet essential for applications in multiple domains. Despite the impressive breakthroughs made by geometric deep learning in various molecular representation learning tasks, effectively capturing complicated geometric features across spatial dimensions is still underexplored due to the significant difficulties in modeling efficient geometric representations and learning the inherent correlation in 3D structural modeling. These include computational inefficiency, underutilization of vectorial embeddings, and limited generalizability to integrate various geometric properties. To address the raised concerns, we introduce an efficient and effective framework, Scalable Vector Network (SaVeNet), designed to accommodate a range of geometric requirements without depending on costly embeddings. In addition, the proposed framework scales effectively with introduced direction noise. Theoretically, we analyze the desired properties (i.e., invariance and equivariant) and framework efficiency of the SaVeNet. Empirically, we conduct a comprehensive series of experiments to evaluate the efficiency and expressiveness of the proposed model. Our efficiency-focused experiments underscore the model's empirical superiority over existing methods. Experimental results on synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate the expressiveness of our model, which achieves state-of-the-art performance across various tasks within molecular representation learning.

Noether Embedding: Efficient Learning of Temporal Regularities

Chi Gao · Zidong Zhou · Luping Shi

Learning to detect and encode temporal regularities (TRs) in events is a prerequisite for human-like intelligence. These regularities should be formed from limited event samples and stored as easily retrievable representations. Existing event embeddings, however, cannot effectively decode TR validity with well-trained vectors, let alone satisfy the efficiency requirements. We develop Noether Embedding (NE) as the first efficient TR learner with event embeddings. Specifically, NE possesses the intrinsic time-translation symmetries of TRs indicated as conserved local energies in the embedding space. This structural bias reduces the calculation of each TR validity to embedding each event sample, enabling NE to achieve data-efficient TR formation insensitive to sample size and time-efficient TR retrieval in constant time complexity. To comprehensively evaluate the TR learning capability of embedding models, we define complementary tasks of TR detection and TR query, formulate their evaluation metrics, and assess embeddings on classic ICEWS14, ICEWS18, and GDELT datasets. Our experiments demonstrate that NE consistently achieves about double the F1 scores for detecting valid TRs compared to classic embeddings, and it provides over ten times higher confidence scores for querying TR intervals. Additionally, we showcase NE's potential applications in social event prediction, personal decision-making, and memory-constrained scenarios.

Selectivity Drives Productivity: Efficient Dataset Pruning for Enhanced Transfer Learning

Yihua Zhang · Yimeng Zhang · Aochuan Chen · jinghan jia · Jiancheng Liu · Gaowen Liu · Mingyi Hong · Shiyu Chang · Sijia Liu

Massive data is often considered essential for deep learning applications, but it also incurs significant computational and infrastructural costs. Therefore, dataset pruning (DP) has emerged as an effective way to improve data efficiency by identifying and removing redundant training samples without sacrificing performance. In this work, we aim to address the problem of DP for transfer learning, i.e., how to prune a source dataset for improved pretraining efficiency and lossless finetuning accuracy on downstream target tasks. To our best knowledge, the problem of DP for transfer learning remains open, as previous studies have primarily addressed DP and transfer learning as separate problems. By contrast, we establish a unified viewpoint to integrate DP with transfer learning and find that existing DP methods are not suitable for the transfer learning paradigm. We then propose two new DP methods, label mapping and feature mapping, for supervised and self-supervised pretraining settings respectively, by revisiting the DP problem through the lens of source-target domain mapping. Furthermore, we demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach on numerous transfer learning tasks. We show that source data classes can be pruned by up to $40\%\sim 80\%$ without sacrificing the downstream performance, resulting in a significant $2\sim 5\times$ speed-up during the pretraining stage. Besides, our proposal exhibits broad applicability and can improve other computationally intensive transfer learning techniques, such as adversarial pretraining.

Spotlight Poster
Improved Frequency Estimation Algorithms with and without Predictions

Anders Aamand · Justin Chen · Huy Nguyen · Sandeep Silwal · Ali Vakilian

Estimating frequencies of elements appearing in a data stream is a key task in large-scale data analysis. Popular sketching approaches to this problem (e.g., CountMin and CountSketch) come with worst-case guarantees that probabilistically bound the error of the estimated frequencies for any possible input. The work of Hsu et al.~(2019) introduced the idea of using machine learning to tailor sketching algorithms to the specific data distribution they are being run on. In particular, their learning-augmented frequency estimation algorithm uses a learned heavy-hitter oracle which predicts which elements will appear many times in the stream. We give a novel algorithm, which in some parameter regimes, already theoretically outperforms the learning based algorithm of Hsu et al. without the use of any predictions. Augmenting our algorithm with heavy-hitter predictions further reduces the error and improves upon the state of the art. Empirically, our algorithms achieve superior performance in all experiments compared to prior approaches.

Adaptive Topological Feature via Persistent Homology: Filtration Learning for Point Clouds

Naoki Nishikawa · Yuichi Ike · Kenji Yamanishi

Machine learning for point clouds has been attracting much attention, with many applications in various fields, such as shape recognition and material science. For enhancing the accuracy of such machine learning methods, it is often effective to incorporate global topological features, which are typically extracted by persistent homology. In the calculation of persistent homology for a point cloud, we choose a filtration for the point cloud, an increasing sequence of spaces. Since the performance of machine learning methods combined with persistent homology is highly affected by the choice of a filtration, we need to tune it depending on data and tasks. In this paper, we propose a framework that learns a filtration adaptively with the use of neural networks. In order to make the resulting persistent homology isometry-invariant, we develop a neural network architecture with such invariance. Additionally, we show a theoretical result on a finite-dimensional approximation of filtration functions, which justifies the proposed network architecture. Experimental results demonstrated the efficacy of our framework in several classification tasks.

Foundation Model is Efficient Multimodal Multitask Model Selector

Fanqing Meng · Wenqi Shao · zhanglin peng · Chonghe Jiang · Kaipeng Zhang · Yu Qiao · Ping Luo

This paper investigates an under-explored but important problem: given a collection of pre-trained neural networks, predicting their performance on each multi-modal task without fine-tuning them, such as image recognition, referring, captioning, visual question answering, and text question answering.A brute-force approach is to finetune all models on all target datasets, bringing high computational costs. Although recent-advanced approaches employed lightweight metrics to measure models’ transferability, they often depend heavily on the prior knowledge of a single task, making them inapplicable in a multi-modal multi-task scenario. To tackle this issue, we propose an efficient multi-task model selector (EMMS), which employs large-scale foundation models to transform diverse label formats such as categories, texts, and bounding boxes of different downstream tasks into a unified noisy label embedding. EMMS can estimate a model’s transferability through a simple weighted linear regression, which can be efficiently solved by an alternating minimization algorithm with a convergence guarantee. Extensive experiments on 5 downstream tasks with 24 datasets show that EMMS is fast, effective, and generic enough to assess the transferability of pre-trained models, making it the first model selection method in the multi-task scenario. For instance, compared with the state- of-the-art method LogME enhanced by our label embeddings, EMMS achieves 9.0%, 26.3%, 20.1%, 54.8%, 12.2% performance gain on image recognition, referring, captioning, visual question answering, and text question answering, while bringing 5.13×, 6.29×, 3.59×, 6.19×, and 5.66× speedup in wall-clock time, respectively. The code is available at

FeCAM: Exploiting the Heterogeneity of Class Distributions in Exemplar-Free Continual Learning

Dipam Goswami · Yuyang Liu · Bartłomiej Twardowski · Joost van de Weijer

Exemplar-free class-incremental learning (CIL) poses several challenges since it prohibits the rehearsal of data from previous tasks and thus suffers from catastrophic forgetting. Recent approaches to incrementally learning the classifier by freezing the feature extractor after the first task have gained much attention. In this paper, we explore prototypical networks for CIL, which generate new class prototypes using the frozen feature extractor and classify the features based on the Euclidean distance to the prototypes. In an analysis of the feature distributions of classes, we show that classification based on Euclidean metrics is successful for jointly trained features. However, when learning from non-stationary data, we observe that the Euclidean metric is suboptimal and that feature distributions are heterogeneous. To address this challenge, we revisit the anisotropic Mahalanobis distance for CIL. In addition, we empirically show that modeling the feature covariance relations is better than previous attempts at sampling features from normal distributions and training a linear classifier. Unlike existing methods, our approach generalizes to both many- and few-shot CIL settings, as well as to domain-incremental settings. Interestingly, without updating the backbone network, our method obtains state-of-the-art results on several standard continual learning benchmarks. Code is available at

Few-Shot Class-Incremental Learning via Training-Free Prototype Calibration

Qi-Wei Wang · Da-Wei Zhou · Yi-Kai Zhang · De-Chuan Zhan · Han-Jia Ye

Real-world scenarios are usually accompanied by continuously appearing classes with scare labeled samples, which require the machine learning model to incrementally learn new classes and maintain the knowledge of base classes. In this Few-Shot Class-Incremental Learning (FSCIL) scenario, existing methods either introduce extra learnable components or rely on a frozen feature extractor to mitigate catastrophic forgetting and overfitting problems. However, we find a tendency for existing methods to misclassify the samples of new classes into base classes, which leads to the poor performance of new classes. In other words, the strong discriminability of base classes distracts the classification of new classes. To figure out this intriguing phenomenon, we observe that although the feature extractor is only trained on base classes, it can surprisingly represent the semantic similarity between the base and unseen new classes. Building upon these analyses, we propose a simple yet effective Training-frEE calibratioN (TEEN) strategy to enhance the discriminability of new classes by fusing the new prototypes (i.e., mean features of a class) with weighted base prototypes. In addition to standard benchmarks in FSCIL, TEEN demonstrates remarkable performance and consistent improvements over baseline methods in the few-shot learning scenario. Code is available at:

When Visual Prompt Tuning Meets Source-Free Domain Adaptive Semantic Segmentation

Xinhong Ma · Yiming Wang · Hao Liu · Tianyu Guo · Yunhe Wang

Source-free domain adaptive semantic segmentation aims to adapt a pre-trained source model to the unlabeled target domain without accessing the private source data. Previous methods usually fine-tune the entire network, which suffers from expensive parameter tuning. To avoid this problem, we propose to utilize visual prompt tuning for parameter-efficient adaptation. However, the existing visual prompt tuning methods are unsuitable for source-free domain adaptive semantic segmentation due to the following two reasons: (1) Commonly used visual prompts like input tokens or pixel-level perturbations cannot reliably learn informative knowledge beneficial for semantic segmentation. (2) Visual prompts require sufficient labeled data to fill the gap between the pre-trained model and downstream tasks. To alleviate these problems, we propose a universal unsupervised visual prompt tuning (Uni-UVPT) framework, which is applicable to various transformer-based backbones. Specifically, we first divide the source pre-trained backbone with frozen parameters into multiple stages, and propose a lightweight prompt adapter for progressively encoding informative knowledge into prompts and enhancing the generalization of target features between adjacent backbone stages. Cooperatively, a novel adaptive pseudo-label correction strategy with a multiscale consistency loss is designed to alleviate the negative effect of target samples with noisy pseudo labels and raise the capacity of visual prompts to spatial perturbations. Extensive experiments demonstrate that Uni-UVPT achieves state-of-the-art performance on GTA5 $\to$ Cityscapes and SYNTHIA $\to$ Cityscapes tasks and can serve as a universal and parameter-efficient framework for large-model unsupervised knowledge transfer. Code will be available at and

Revisiting Scalarization in Multi-Task Learning: A Theoretical Perspective

Yuzheng Hu · Ruicheng Xian · Qilong Wu · Qiuling Fan · Lang Yin · Han Zhao

Linear scalarization, i.e., combining all loss functions by a weighted sum, has been the default choice in the literature of multi-task learning (MTL) since its inception. In recent years, there is a surge of interest in developing Specialized Multi-Task Optimizers (SMTOs) that treat MTL as a multi-objective optimization problem. However, it remains open whether there is a fundamental advantage of SMTOs over scalarization. In fact, heated debates exist in the community comparing these two types of algorithms, mostly from an empirical perspective. To approach the above question, in this paper, we revisit scalarization from a theoretical perspective. We focus on linear MTL models and study whether scalarization is capable of fully exploring the Pareto front. Our findings reveal that, in contrast to recent works that claimed empirical advantages of scalarization, scalarization is inherently incapable of full exploration, especially for those Pareto optimal solutions that strike the balanced trade-offs between multiple tasks. More concretely, when the model is under-parametrized, we reveal a multi-surface structure of the feasible region and identify necessary and sufficient conditions for full exploration. This leads to the conclusion that scalarization is in general incapable of tracing out the Pareto front. Our theoretical results partially answer the open questions in Xin et al. (2021), and provide a more intuitive explanation on why scalarization fails beyond non-convexity. We additionally perform experiments on a real-world dataset using both scalarization and state-of-the-art SMTOs. The experimental results not only corroborate our theoretical findings, but also unveil the potential of SMTOs in finding balanced solutions, which cannot be achieved by scalarization.

Retaining Beneficial Information from Detrimental Data for Neural Network Repair

Long-Kai Huang · Peilin Zhao · Junzhou Huang · Sinno Pan

The performance of deep learning models heavily relies on the quality of the training data. Inadequacies in the training data, such as corrupt input or noisy labels, can lead to the failure of model generalization. Recent studies propose repairing the model by identifying the training samples that contribute to the failure and removing their influence from the model. However, it is important to note that the identified data may contain both beneficial and detrimental information. Simply erasing the information of the identified data from the model can have a negative impact on its performance, especially when accurate data is mistakenly identified as detrimental and removed. To overcome this challenge, we propose a novel approach that leverages the knowledge obtained from a retained clean set. Our method first identifies harmful data by utilizing the clean set, then separates the beneficial and detrimental information within the identified data. Finally, we utilize the extracted beneficial information to enhance the model's performance. Through empirical evaluations, we demonstrate that our method outperforms baseline approaches in both identifying harmful data and rectifying model failures. Particularly in scenarios where identification is challenging and a significant amount of benign data is involved, our method improves performance while the baselines deteriorate due to the erroneous removal of beneficial information.

A Theory of Multimodal Learning

Zhou Lu

Human perception of the empirical world involves recognizing the diverse appearances, or 'modalities', of underlying objects. Despite the longstanding consideration of this perspective in philosophy and cognitive science, the study of multimodality remains relatively under-explored within the field of machine learning. Nevertheless, current studies of multimodal machine learning are limited to empirical practices, lacking theoretical foundations beyond heuristic arguments. An intriguing finding from the practice of multimodal learning is that a model trained on multiple modalities can outperform a finely-tuned unimodal model, even on unimodal tasks. This paper provides a theoretical framework that explains this phenomenon, by studying generalization properties of multimodal learning algorithms. We demonstrate that multimodal learning allows for a superior generalization bound compared to unimodal learning, up to a factor of $O(\sqrt{n})$, where $n$ represents the sample size. Such advantage occurs when both connection and heterogeneity exist between the modalities.

Revisit the Power of Vanilla Knowledge Distillation: from Small Scale to Large Scale

Zhiwei Hao · Jianyuan Guo · Kai Han · Han Hu · Chang Xu · Yunhe Wang

The tremendous success of large models trained on extensive datasets demonstrates that scale is a key ingredient in achieving superior results. Therefore, the reflection on the rationality of designing knowledge distillation (KD) approaches for limited-capacity architectures solely based on small-scale datasets is now deemed imperative. In this paper, we identify the small data pitfall that presents in previous KD methods, which results in the underestimation of the power of vanilla KD framework on large-scale datasets such as ImageNet-1K. Specifically, we show that employing stronger data augmentation techniques and using larger datasets can directly decrease the gap between vanilla KD and other meticulously designed KD variants. This highlights the necessity of designing and evaluating KD approaches in the context of practical scenarios, casting off the limitations of small-scale datasets. Our investigation of the vanilla KD and its variants in more complex schemes, including stronger training strategies and different model capacities, demonstrates that vanilla KD is elegantly simple but astonishingly effective in large-scale scenarios. Without bells and whistles, we obtain state-of-the-art ResNet-50, ViT-S, and ConvNeXtV2-T models for ImageNet, which achieve 83.1%, 84.3%, and 85.0% top-1 accuracy, respectively. PyTorch code and checkpoints can be found at

One-for-All: Bridge the Gap Between Heterogeneous Architectures in Knowledge Distillation

Zhiwei Hao · Jianyuan Guo · Kai Han · Yehui Tang · Han Hu · Yunhe Wang · Chang Xu

Knowledge distillation (KD) has proven to be a highly effective approach for enhancing model performance through a teacher-student training scheme. However, most existing distillation methods are designed under the assumption that the teacher and student models belong to the same model family, particularly the hint-based approaches. By using centered kernel alignment (CKA) to compare the learned features between heterogeneous teacher and student models, we observe significant feature divergence. This divergence illustrates the ineffectiveness of previous hint-based methods in cross-architecture distillation. To tackle the challenge in distilling heterogeneous models, we propose a simple yet effective one-for-all KD framework called OFA-KD, which significantly improves the distillation performance between heterogeneous architectures. Specifically, we project intermediate features into an aligned latent space such as the logits space, where architecture-specific information is discarded. Additionally, we introduce an adaptive target enhancement scheme to prevent the student from being disturbed by irrelevant information. Extensive experiments with various architectures, including CNN, Transformer, and MLP, demonstrate the superiority of our OFA-KD framework in enabling distillation between heterogeneous architectures. Specifically, when equipped with our OFA-KD, the student models achieve notable performance improvements, with a maximum gain of 8.0% on the CIFAR-100 dataset and 0.7% on the ImageNet-1K dataset. PyTorch code and checkpoints can be found at

ExPT: Synthetic Pretraining for Few-Shot Experimental Design

Tung Nguyen · Sudhanshu Agrawal · Aditya Grover

Experimental design is a fundamental problem in many science and engineering fields. In this problem, sample efficiency is crucial due to the time, money, and safety costs of real-world design evaluations. Existing approaches either rely on active data collection or access to large, labeled datasets of past experiments, making them impractical in many real-world scenarios. In this work, we address the more challenging yet realistic setting of few-shot experimental design, where only a few labeled data points of input designs and their corresponding values are available. We approach this problem as a conditional generation task, where a model conditions on a few labeled examples and the desired output to generate an optimal input design. To this end, we introduce Experiment Pretrained Transformers (ExPT), a foundation model for few-shot experimental design that employs a novel combination of synthetic pretraining with in-context learning. In ExPT, we only assume knowledge of a finite collection of unlabelled data points from the input domain and pretrain a transformer neural network to optimize diverse synthetic functions defined over this domain. Unsupervised pretraining allows ExPT to adapt to any design task at test time in an in-context fashion by conditioning on a few labeled data points from the target task and generating the candidate optima. We evaluate ExPT on few-shot experimental design in challenging domains and demonstrate its superior generality and performance compared to existing methods. The source code is available at

Neural Priming for Sample-Efficient Adaptation

Matthew Wallingford · Vivek Ramanujan · Alex Fang · Aditya Kusupati · Roozbeh Mottaghi · Aniruddha Kembhavi · Ludwig Schmidt · Ali Farhadi

We propose Neural Priming, a technique for adapting large pretrained models to distribution shifts and downstream tasks given few or no labeled examples. Presented with class names or unlabeled test samples, Neural Priming enables the model to recall and conditions its parameters on relevant data seen throughout pretraining, thereby priming it for the test distribution. Neural Priming can be performed at test time in even for pretraining datasets as large as LAION-2B. Performing lightweight updates on the recalled data significantly improves accuracy across a variety of distribution shift and transfer learning benchmarks. Concretely, in the zero-shot setting, we see a 2.45% improvement in accuracy on ImageNet and 3.81% accuracy improvement on average across standard transfer learning benchmarks. Further, using our test time inference scheme, we see a 1.41% accuracy improvement on ImageNetV2. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of Neural Priming in addressing the common challenge of limited labeled data and changing distributions. Code and models are open-sourced at

Evolving Standardization for Continual Domain Generalization over Temporal Drift

Mixue Xie · Shuang Li · Longhui Yuan · Chi Liu · Zehui Dai

The capability of generalizing to out-of-distribution data is crucial for the deployment of machine learning models in the real world. Existing domain generalization (DG) mainly embarks on offline and discrete scenarios, where multiple source domains are simultaneously accessible and the distribution shift among domains is abrupt and violent. Nevertheless, such setting may not be universally applicable to all real-world applications, as there are cases where the data distribution gradually changes over time due to various factors, e.g., the process of aging. Additionally, as the domain constantly evolves, new domains will continually emerge. Re-training and updating models with both new and previous domains using existing DG methods can be resource-intensive and inefficient. Therefore, in this paper, we present a problem formulation for Continual Domain Generalization over Temporal Drift (CDGTD). CDGTD addresses the challenge of gradually shifting data distributions over time, where domains arrive sequentially and models can only access the data of the current domain. The goal is to generalize to unseen domains that are not too far into the future. To this end, we propose an Evolving Standardization (EvoS) method, which characterizes the evolving pattern of feature distribution and mitigates the distribution shift by standardizing features with generated statistics of corresponding domain. Specifically, inspired by the powerful ability of transformers to model sequence relations, we design a multi-scale attention module (MSAM) to learn the evolving pattern under sliding time windows of different lengths. MSAM can generate statistics of current domain based on the statistics of previous domains and the learned evolving pattern. Experiments on multiple real-world datasets including images and texts validate the efficacy of our EvoS.

Spotlight Poster
Hierarchical Decomposition of Prompt-Based Continual Learning: Rethinking Obscured Sub-optimality

Liyuan Wang · Jingyi Xie · Xingxing Zhang · Mingyi Huang · Hang Su · Jun Zhu

Prompt-based continual learning is an emerging direction in leveraging pre-trained knowledge for downstream continual learning, and has almost reached the performance pinnacle under supervised pre-training. However, our empirical research reveals that the current strategies fall short of their full potential under the more realistic self-supervised pre-training, which is essential for handling vast quantities of unlabeled data in practice. This is largely due to the difficulty of task-specific knowledge being incorporated into instructed representations via prompt parameters and predicted by uninstructed representations at test time. To overcome the exposed sub-optimality, we conduct a theoretical analysis of the continual learning objective in the context of pre-training, and decompose it into hierarchical components: within-task prediction, task-identity inference, and task-adaptive prediction. Following these empirical and theoretical insights, we propose Hierarchical Decomposition (HiDe-)Prompt, an innovative approach that explicitly optimizes the hierarchical components with an ensemble of task-specific prompts and statistics of both uninstructed and instructed representations, further with the coordination of a contrastive regularization strategy. Our extensive experiments demonstrate the superior performance of HiDe-Prompt and its robustness to pre-training paradigms in continual learning (e.g., up to 15.01% and 9.61% lead on Split CIFAR-100 and Split ImageNet-R, respectively).

Spuriosity Didn’t Kill the Classifier: Using Invariant Predictions to Harness Spurious Features

Cian Eastwood · Shashank Singh · Andrei L Nicolicioiu · Marin Vlastelica Pogančić · Julius von Kügelgen · Bernhard Schölkopf

To avoid failures on out-of-distribution data, recent works have sought to extract features that have an invariant or stable relationship with the label across domains, discarding "spurious" or unstable features whose relationship with the label changes across domains. However, unstable features often carry complementary information that could boost performance if used correctly in the test domain. In this work, we show how this can be done without test-domain labels. In particular, we prove that pseudo-labels based on stable features provide sufficient guidance for doing so, provided that stable and unstable features are conditionally independent given the label. Based on this theoretical insight, we propose Stable Feature Boosting (SFB), an algorithm for: (i) learning a predictor that separates stable and conditionally-independent unstable features; and (ii) using the stable-feature predictions to adapt the unstable-feature predictions in the test domain. Theoretically, we prove that SFB can learn an asymptotically-optimal predictor without test-domain labels. Empirically, we demonstrate the effectiveness of SFB on real and synthetic data.

Spotlight Poster
Constant Approximation for Individual Preference Stable Clustering

Anders Aamand · Justin Chen · Allen Liu · Sandeep Silwal · Pattara Sukprasert · Ali Vakilian · Fred Zhang

Individual preference (IP) stability, introduced by Ahmadi et al. (ICML 2022), is a natural clustering objective inspired by stability and fairness constraints. A clustering is $\alpha$-IP stable if the average distance of every data point to its own cluster is at most $\alpha$ times the average distance to any other cluster. Unfortunately, determining if a dataset admits a $1$-IP stable clustering is NP-Hard. Moreover, before this work, it was unknown if an $o(n)$-IP stable clustering always exists, as the prior state of the art only guaranteed an $O(n)$-IP stable clustering. We close this gap in understanding and show that an $O(1)$-IP stable clustering always exists for general metrics, and we give an efficient algorithm which outputs such a clustering. We also introduce generalizations of IP stability beyond average distance and give efficient near optimal algorithms in the cases where we consider the maximum and minimum distances within and between clusters.

Self-Adaptive Motion Tracking against On-body Displacement of Flexible Sensors

Chengxu Zuo · Fang Jiawei · Shihui Guo · Yipeng Qin

Flexible sensors are promising for ubiquitous sensing of human status due to their flexibility and easy integration as wearable systems. However, on-body displacement of sensors is inevitable since the device cannot be firmly worn at a fixed position across different sessions. This displacement issue causes complicated patterns and significant challenges to subsequent machine learning algorithms. Our work proposes a novel self-adaptive motion tracking network to address this challenge. Our network consists of three novel components: i) a light-weight learnable Affine Transformation layer whose parameters can be tuned to efficiently adapt to unknown displacements; ii) a Fourier-encoded LSTM network for better pattern identification; iii) a novel sequence discrepancy loss equipped with auxiliary regressors for unsupervised tuning of Affine Transformation parameters.

Differentiable Random Partition Models

Thomas Sutter · Alain Ryser · Joram Liebeskind · Julia Vogt

Partitioning a set of elements into an unknown number of mutually exclusive subsets is essential in many machine learning problems.However, assigning elements, such as samples in a dataset or neurons in a network layer, to an unknown and discrete number of subsets is inherently non-differentiable, prohibiting end-to-end gradient-based optimization of parameters.We overcome this limitation by proposing a novel two-step method for inferring partitions, which allows its usage in variational inference tasks.This new approach enables reparameterized gradients with respect to the parameters of the new random partition model.Our method works by inferring the number of elements per subset and, second, by filling these subsets in a learned order.We highlight the versatility of our general-purpose approach on three different challenging experiments: variational clustering, inference of shared and independent generative factors under weak supervision, and multitask learning.

Generalized Semi-Supervised Learning via Self-Supervised Feature Adaptation

Jiachen Liang · RuiBing Hou · Hong Chang · Bingpeng MA · Shiguang Shan · Xilin Chen

Traditional semi-supervised learning (SSL) assumes that the feature distributions of labeled and unlabeled data are consistent which rarely holds in realistic scenarios. In this paper, we propose a novel SSL setting, where unlabeled samples are drawn from a mixed distribution that deviates from the feature distribution of labeled samples.Under this setting, previous SSL methods tend to predict wrong pseudo-labels with the model fitted on labeled data, resulting in noise accumulation. To tackle this issue, we propose \emph{Self-Supervised Feature Adaptation} (SSFA), a generic framework for improving SSL performance when labeled and unlabeled data come from different distributions. SSFA decouples the prediction of pseudo-labels from the current model to improve the quality of pseudo-labels. Particularly, SSFA incorporates a self-supervised task into the SSL framework and uses it to adapt the feature extractor of the model to the unlabeled data. In this way, the extracted features better fit the distribution of unlabeled data, thereby generating high-quality pseudo-labels. Extensive experiments show that our proposed SSFA is applicable to various pseudo-label-based SSL learners and significantly improves performance in labeled, unlabeled, and even unseen distributions.

Spotlight Poster
Hierarchical clustering with dot products recovers hidden tree structure

Annie Gray · Alexander Modell · Patrick Rubin-Delanchy · Nick Whiteley

In this paper we offer a new perspective on the well established agglomerative clustering algorithm, focusing on recovery of hierarchical structure. We recommend a simple variant of the standard algorithm, in which clusters are merged by maximum average dot product and not, for example, by minimum distance or within-cluster variance. We demonstrate that the tree output by this algorithm provides a bona fide estimate of generative hierarchical structure in data, under a generic probabilistic graphical model. The key technical innovations are to understand how hierarchical information in this model translates into tree geometry which can be recovered from data, and to characterise the benefits of simultaneously growing sample size and data dimension. We demonstrate superior tree recovery performance with real data over existing approaches such as UPGMA, Ward's method, and HDBSCAN.

Spotlight Poster
Multi-Object Representation Learning via Feature Connectivity and Object-Centric Regularization

Alex Foo · Wynne Hsu · Mong Li Lee

Discovering object-centric representations from images has the potential to greatly improve the robustness, sample efficiency and interpretability of machine learning algorithms. Current works on multi-object images typically follow a generative approach that optimizes for input reconstruction and fail to scale to real-world datasets despite significant increases in model capacity. We address this limitation by proposing a novel method that leverages feature connectivity to cluster neighboring pixels likely to belong to the same object. We further design two object-centric regularization terms to refine object representations in the latent space, enabling our approach to scale to complex real-world images. Experimental results on simulated, real-world, complex texture and common object images demonstrate a substantial improvement in the quality of discovered objects compared to state-of-the-art methods, as well as the sample efficiency and generalizability of our approach. We also show that the discovered object-centric representations can accurately predict key object properties in downstream tasks, highlighting the potential of our method to advance the field of multi-object representation learning.

Partial Label Learning with Dissimilarity Propagation guided Candidate Label Shrinkage

Yuheng Jia · Fuchao Yang · Yongqiang Dong

In partial label learning (PLL), each sample is associated with a group of candidate labels, among which only one label is correct. The key of PLL is to disambiguate the candidate label set to find the ground-truth label. To this end, we first construct a constrained regression model to capture the confidence of the candidate labels, and multiply the label confidence matrix by its transpose to build a second-order similarity matrix, whose elements indicate the pairwise similarity relationships of samples globally. Then we develop a semantic dissimilarity matrix by considering the complement of the intersection of the candidate label set, and further propagate the initial dissimilarity relationships to the whole data set by leveraging the local geometric structure of samples. The similarity and dissimilarity matrices form an adversarial relationship, which is further utilized to shrink the solution space of the label confidence matrix and promote the dissimilarity matrix. We finally extend the proposed model to a kernel version to exploit the non-linear structure of samples and solve the proposed model by the inexact augmented Lagrange multiplier method. By exploiting the adversarial prior, the proposed method can significantly outperformstate-of-the-art PLL algorithms when evaluated on 10 artificial and 7 real-world partial label data sets. We also prove the effectiveness of our method with some theoretical guarantees. The code is publicly available at

A Riemannian Exponential Augmented Lagrangian Method for Computing the Projection Robust Wasserstein Distance

Bo Jiang · Ya-Feng Liu

Projection robust Wasserstein (PRW) distance is recently proposed to efficiently mitigate the curse of dimensionality in the classical Wasserstein distance. In this paper, by equivalently reformulating the computation of the PRW distance as an optimization problem over the Cartesian product of the Stiefel manifold and the Euclidean space with additional nonlinear inequality constraints, we propose a Riemannian exponential augmented Lagrangian method (REALM) for solving this problem. Compared with the existing Riemannian exponential penalty-based approaches, REALM can potentially avoid too small penalty parameters and exhibit more stable numerical performance. To solve the subproblems in REALM efficiently, we design an inexact Riemannian Barzilai-Borwein method with Sinkhorn iteration (iRBBS), which selects the stepsizes adaptively rather than tuning the stepsizes in efforts as done in the existing methods. We show that iRBBS can return an $\epsilon$-stationary point of the original PRW distance problem within $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-3})$ iterations, which matches the best known iteration complexity result. Extensive numerical results demonstrate that our proposed methods outperform the state-of-the-art solvers for computing the PRW distance.

Spotlight Poster
Convex and Non-convex Optimization Under Generalized Smoothness

Haochuan Li · Jian Qian · Yi Tian · Alexander Rakhlin · Ali Jadbabaie

Classical analysis of convex and non-convex optimization methods often requires the Lipschitz continuity of the gradient, which limits the analysis to functions bounded by quadratics. Recent work relaxed this requirement to a non-uniform smoothness condition with the Hessian norm bounded by an affine function of the gradient norm, and proved convergence in the non-convex setting via gradient clipping, assuming bounded noise. In this paper, we further generalize this non-uniform smoothness condition and develop a simple, yet powerful analysis technique that bounds the gradients along the trajectory, thereby leading to stronger results for both convex and non-convex optimization problems. In particular, we obtain the classical convergence rates for (stochastic) gradient descent and Nesterov's accelerated gradient method in the convex and/or non-convex setting under this general smoothness condition. The new analysis approach does not require gradient clipping and allows heavy-tailed noise with bounded variance in the stochastic setting.

Federated Learning with Manifold Regularization and Normalized Update Reaggregation

Xuming An · Li Shen · Han Hu · Yong Luo

Federated Learning (FL) is an emerging collaborative machine learning framework where multiple clients train the global model without sharing their own datasets. In FL, the model inconsistency caused by the local data heterogeneity across clients results in the near-orthogonality of client updates, which leads to the global update norm reduction and slows down the convergence. Most previous works focus on eliminating the difference of parameters (or gradients) between the local and global models, which may fail to reflect the model inconsistency due to the complex structure of the machine learning model and the Euclidean space's limitation in meaningful geometric representations.In this paper, we propose FedMRUR by adopting the manifold model fusion scheme and a new global optimizer to alleviate the negative impacts.Concretely, FedMRUR adopts a hyperbolic graph manifold regularizer enforcing the representations of the data in the local and global models are close to each other in a low-dimensional subspace. Because the machine learning model has the graph structure, the distance in hyperbolic space can reflect the model bias better than the Euclidean distance.In this way, FedMRUR exploits the manifold structures of the representations to significantly reduce the model inconsistency.FedMRUR also aggregates the client updates norms as the global update norm, which can appropriately enlarge each client's contribution to the global update, thereby mitigating the norm reduction introduced by the near-orthogonality of client updates.Furthermore, we theoretically prove that our algorithm can achieve a linear speedup property $\mathcal{O}(\frac{1}{\sqrt{SKT}})$ for non-convex setting under partial client participation, where $S$ is the participated clients number, $K$ is the local interval and $T$ is the total number of communication rounds.Experiments demonstrate that FedMRUR can achieve a new state-of-the-art (SOTA) accuracy with less communication.

Bilevel Coreset Selection in Continual Learning: A New Formulation and Algorithm

Jie Hao · Kaiyi Ji · Mingrui Liu

Coreset is a small set that provides a data summary for a large dataset, such that training solely on the small set achieves competitive performance compared with a large dataset. In rehearsal-based continual learning, the coreset is typically used in the memory replay buffer to stand for representative samples in previous tasks, and the coreset selection procedure is typically formulated as a bilevel problem. However, the typical bilevel formulation for coreset selection explicitly performs optimization over discrete decision variables with greedy search, which is computationally expensive. Several works consider other formulations to address this issue, but they ignore the nested nature of bilevel optimization problems and may not solve the bilevel coreset selection problem accurately. To address these issues, we propose a new bilevel formulation, where the inner problem tries to find a model which minimizes the expected training error sampled from a given probability distribution, and the outer problem aims to learn the probability distribution with approximately $K$ (coreset size) nonzero entries such that learned model in the inner problem minimizes the training error over the whole data. To ensure the learned probability has approximately $K$ nonzero entries, we introduce a novel regularizer based on the smoothed top-$K$ loss in the upper problem. We design a new optimization algorithm that provably converges to the $\epsilon$-stationary point with $O(1/\epsilon^4)$ computational complexity. We conduct extensive experiments in various settings in continual learning, including balanced data, imbalanced data, and label noise, to show that our proposed formulation and new algorithm significantly outperform competitive baselines. From bilevel optimization point of view, our algorithm significantly improves the vanilla greedy coreset selection method in terms of running time on continual learning benchmark datasets. The code is available at

Exact Verification of ReLU Neural Control Barrier Functions

Hongchao Zhang · Junlin Wu · Yevgeniy Vorobeychik · Andrew Clark

Control Barrier Functions (CBFs) are a popular approach for safe control of nonlinear systems. In CBF-based control, the desired safety properties of the system are mapped to nonnegativity of a CBF, and the control input is chosen to ensure that the CBF remains nonnegative for all time. Recently, machine learning methods that represent CBFs as neural networks (neural control barrier functions, or NCBFs) have shown great promise due to the universal representability of neural networks. However, verifying that a learned CBF guarantees safety remains a challenging research problem. This paper presents novel exact conditions and algorithms for verifying safety of feedforward NCBFs with ReLU activation functions. The key challenge in doing so is that, due to the piecewise linearity of the ReLU function, the NCBF will be nondifferentiable at certain points, thus invalidating traditional safety verification methods that assume a smooth barrier function. We resolve this issue by leveraging a generalization of Nagumo's theorem for proving invariance of sets with nonsmooth boundaries to derive necessary and sufficient conditions for safety. Based on this condition, we propose an algorithm for safety verification of NCBFs that first decomposes the NCBF into piecewise linear segments and then solves a nonlinear program to verify safety of each segment as well as the intersections of the linear segments. We mitigate the complexity by only considering the boundary of the safe region and by pruning the segments with Interval Bound Propagation (IBP) and linear relaxation. We evaluate our approach through numerical studies with comparison to state-of-the-art SMT-based methods. Our code is available at

Neural Lyapunov Control for Discrete-Time Systems

Junlin Wu · Andrew Clark · Yiannis Kantaros · Yevgeniy Vorobeychik

While ensuring stability for linear systems is well understood, it remains a major challenge for nonlinear systems. A general approach in such cases is to compute a combination of a Lyapunov function and an associated control policy. However, finding Lyapunov functions for general nonlinear systems is a challenging task. To address this challenge, several methods have been proposed that represent Lyapunov functions using neural networks. However, such approaches either focus on continuous-time systems, or highly restricted classes of nonlinear dynamics. We propose the first approach for learning neural Lyapunov control in a broad class of discrete-time systems. Three key ingredients enable us to effectively learn provably stable control policies. The first is a novel mixed-integer linear programming approach for verifying the discrete-time Lyapunov stability conditions, leveraging the particular structure of these conditions. The second is a novel approach for computing verified sublevel sets. The third is a heuristic gradient-based method for quickly finding counterexamples to significantly speed up Lyapunov function learning. Our experiments on four standard benchmarks demonstrate that our approach significantly outperforms state-of-the-art baselines. For example, on the path tracking benchmark, we outperform recent neural Lyapunov control baselines by an order of magnitude in both running time and the size of the region of attraction, and on two of the four benchmarks (cartpole and PVTOL), ours is the first automated approach to return a provably stable controller. Our code is available at:

Revisiting Implicit Differentiation for Learning Problems in Optimal Control

Ming Xu · Timothy L. Molloy · Stephen Gould

This paper proposes a new method for differentiating through optimal trajectories arising from non-convex, constrained discrete-time optimal control (COC) problems using the implicit function theorem (IFT). Previous works solve a differential Karush-Kuhn-Tucker (KKT) system for the trajectory derivative, and achieve this efficiently by solving an auxiliary Linear Quadratic Regulator (LQR) problem. In contrast, we directly evaluate the matrix equations which arise from applying variable elimination on the Lagrange multiplier terms in the (differential) KKT system. By appropriately accounting for the structure of the terms within the resulting equations, we show that the trajectory derivatives scale linearly with the number of timesteps. Furthermore, our approach allows for easy parallelization, significantly improved scalability with model size, direct computation of vector-Jacobian products and improved numerical stability compared to prior works. As an additional contribution, we unify prior works, addressing claims that computing trajectory derivatives using IFT scales quadratically with the number of timesteps. We evaluate our method on a both synthetic benchmark and four challenging, learning from demonstration benchmarks including a 6-DoF maneuvering quadrotor and 6-DoF rocket powered landing.

ReHLine: Regularized Composite ReLU-ReHU Loss Minimization with Linear Computation and Linear Convergence

Ben Dai · Yixuan Qiu

Empirical risk minimization (ERM) is a crucial framework that offers a general approach to handling a broad range of machine learning tasks. In this paper, we propose a novel algorithm, called ReHLine, for minimizing a set of regularized ERMs with convex piecewise linear-quadratic loss functions and optional linear constraints. The proposed algorithm can effectively handle diverse combinations of loss functions, regularization, and constraints, making it particularly well-suited for complex domain-specific problems. Examples of such problems include FairSVM, elastic net regularized quantile regression, Huber minimization, etc. In addition, ReHLine enjoys a provable linear convergence rate and exhibits a per-iteration computational complexity that scales linearly with the sample size. The algorithm is implemented with both Python and R interfaces, and its performance is benchmarked on various tasks and datasets. Our experimental results demonstrate that ReHLine significantly surpasses generic optimization solvers in terms of computational efficiency on large-scale datasets. Moreover, it also outperforms specialized solvers such as Liblinear in SVMs, hqreg in Huber minimization, and Lightning (SAGA, SAG, SDCA, SVRG) in smoothed SVMs, exhibiting exceptional flexibility and efficiency. The source code, project page, accompanying software, and the Python/R interface can be accessed through the link:

Dynamic Non-monotone Submodular Maximization

Kiarash Banihashem · Leyla Biabani · Samira Goudarzi · MohammadTaghi Hajiaghayi · Peyman Jabbarzade · Morteza Monemizadeh

Maximizing submodular functions has been increasingly used in many applications of machine learning, such as data summarization, recommendation systems, and feature selection. Moreover, there has been a growing interest in both submodular maximization and dynamic algorithms. In 2020, Monemizadeh and Lattanzi, Mitrovic, Norouzi-Fard, Tarnawski, and Zadimoghaddam initiated developing dynamic algorithms for the monotone submodular maximization problem under the cardinality constraint $k$. In 2022, Chen and Peng studied the complexity of this problem and raised an important open question: "\emph{Can we extend [fully dynamic] results (algorithm or hardness) to non-monotone submodular maximization?}". We affirmatively answer their question by demonstrating a reduction from maximizing a non-monotone submodular function under the cardinality constraint $k$ to maximizing a monotone submodular function under the same constraint. Through this reduction, we obtain the first dynamic algorithms to solve the non-monotone submodular maximization problem under the cardinality constraint $k$. Our algorithms maintain an $(8+\epsilon)$-approximate of the solution and use expected amortized $O(\epsilon^{-3}k^3\log^3(n)\log(k))$ or $O(\epsilon^{-1}k^2\log^3(k))$ oracle queries per update, respectively. Furthermore, we showcase the benefits of our dynamic algorithm for video summarization and max-cut problems on several real-world data sets.

Energy-Efficient Scheduling with Predictions

Eric Balkanski · Noemie Perivier · Clifford Stein · Hao-Ting Wei

An important goal of modern scheduling systems is to efficiently manage power usage. In energy-efficient scheduling, the operating system controls the speed at which a machine is processing jobs with the dual objective of minimizing energy consumption and optimizing the quality of service cost of the resulting schedule. Since machine-learned predictions about future requests can often be learned from historical data, a recent line of work on learning-augmented algorithms aims to achieve improved performance guarantees by leveraging predictions. In particular, for energy-efficient scheduling, Bamas et. al. [NeurIPS '20] and Antoniadis et. al. [SWAT '22] designed algorithms with predictions for the energy minimization with deadlines problem and achieved an improved competitive ratio when the prediction error is small while also maintaining worst-case bounds even when the prediction error is arbitrarily large.In this paper, we consider a general setting for energy-efficient scheduling and provide a flexible learning-augmented algorithmic framework that takes as input an offline and an online algorithm for the desired energy-efficient scheduling problem. We show that, when the prediction error is small, this framework gives improved competitive ratios for many different energy-efficient scheduling problems, including energy minimization with deadlines, while also maintaining a bounded competitive ratio regardless of the prediction error. Finally, we empirically demonstrate that this framework achieves an improved performance on real and synthetic datasets.

Adjustable Robust Reinforcement Learning for Online 3D Bin Packing

Yuxin Pan · Yize Chen · Fangzhen Lin

Designing effective policies for the online 3D bin packing problem (3D-BPP) has been a long-standing challenge, primarily due to the unpredictable nature of incoming box sequences and stringent physical constraints. While current deep reinforcement learning (DRL) methods for online 3D-BPP have shown promising results in optimizing average performance over an underlying box sequence distribution, they often fail in real-world settings where some worst-case scenarios can materialize. Standard robust DRL algorithms tend to overly prioritize optimizing the worst-case performance at the expense of performance under normal problem instance distribution. To address these issues, we first introduce a permutation-based attacker to investigate the practical robustness of both DRL-based and heuristic methods proposed for solving online 3D-BPP. Then, we propose an adjustable robust reinforcement learning (AR2L) framework that allows efficient adjustment of robustness weights to achieve the desired balance of the policy's performance in average and worst-case environments. Specifically, we formulate the objective function as a weighted sum of expected and worst-case returns, and derive the lower performance bound by relating to the return under a mixture dynamics. To realize this lower bound, we adopt an iterative procedure that searches for the associated mixture dynamics and improves the corresponding policy. We integrate this procedure into two popular robust adversarial algorithms to develop the exact and approximate AR2L algorithms. Experiments demonstrate that AR2L is versatile in the sense that it improves policy robustness while maintaining an acceptable level of performance for the nominal case.

BQ-NCO: Bisimulation Quotienting for Efficient Neural Combinatorial Optimization

Darko Drakulic · Sofia Michel · Florian Mai · Arnaud Sors · Jean-Marc Andreoli

Despite the success of neural-based combinatorial optimization methods for end-to-end heuristic learning, out-of-distribution generalization remains a challenge. In this paper, we present a novel formulation of Combinatorial Optimization Problems (COPs) as Markov Decision Processes (MDPs) that effectively leverages common symmetries of COPs to improve out-of-distribution robustness. Starting from a direct MDP formulation of a constructive method, we introduce a generic way to reduce the state space, based on Bisimulation Quotienting (BQ) in MDPs. Then, for COPs with a recursive nature, we specialize the bisimulation and show how the reduced state exploits the symmetries of these problems and facilitates MDP solving. Our approach is principled and we prove that an optimal policy for the proposed BQ-MDP actually solves the associated COPs. We illustrate our approach on five classical problems: the Euclidean and Asymmetric Traveling Salesman, Capacitated Vehicle Routing, Orienteering and Knapsack Problems. Furthermore, for each problem, we introduce a simple attention-based policy network for the BQ-MDPs, which we train by imitation of (near) optimal solutions of small instances from a single distribution. We obtain new state-of-the-art results for the five COPs on both synthetic and realistic benchmarks. Notably, in contrast to most existing neural approaches, our learned policies show excellent generalization performance to much larger instances than seen during training, without any additional search procedure. Our code is available at: link.

A Combinatorial Algorithm for Approximating the Optimal Transport in the Parallel and MPC Settings

Nathaniel Lahn · Sharath Raghvendra · Kaiyi Zhang

Optimal Transport is a popular distance metric for measuring similarity between distributions. Exact and approximate combinatorial algorithms for computing the optimal transport distance are hard to parallelize. This has motivated the development of numerical solvers (e.g. Sinkhorn method) that can exploit GPU parallelism and produce approximate solutions. We introduce the first parallel combinatorial algorithm to find an additive $\varepsilon$-approximation of the OT distance. The parallel complexity of our algorithm is $O(\log(n)/ \varepsilon^2)$ where $n$ is the total support size for the input distributions. In Massive Parallel Computation (MPC) frameworks such as Hadoop and MapReduce, our algorithm computes an $\varepsilon$-approximate transport plan in $O(\log (\log (n/\varepsilon))/\varepsilon^2)$ rounds with $O(n/\varepsilon)$ space per machine; all prior algorithms in the MPC framework take $\Omega(\log n)$ rounds. We also provide a GPU-friendly matrix-based interpretation of our algorithm where each step of the algorithm is row or column manipulation of the matrix. Experiments suggest that our combinatorial algorithm is faster than the state-of-the-art approximate solvers in the GPU, especially for higher values of $n$.

Spotlight Poster
One-step differentiation of iterative algorithms

Jerome Bolte · Edouard Pauwels · Samuel Vaiter

In appropriate frameworks, automatic differentiation is transparent to the user, at the cost of being a significant computational burden when the number of operations is large. For iterative algorithms, implicit differentiation alleviates this issue but requires custom implementation of Jacobian evaluation. In this paper, we study one-step differentiation, also known as Jacobian-free backpropagation, a method as easy as automatic differentiation and as performant as implicit differentiation for fast algorithms (e.g. superlinear optimization methods). We provide a complete theoretical approximation analysis with specific examples (Newton's method, gradient descent) along with its consequences in bilevel optimization. Several numerical examples illustrate the well-foundness of the one-step estimator.

Rethinking Gauss-Newton for learning over-parameterized models

Michael Arbel · Romain Menegaux · Pierre Wolinski

This work studies the global convergence and implicit bias of Gauss Newton's (GN) when optimizing over-parameterized one-hidden layer networks in the mean-field regime. We first establish a global convergence result for GN in the continuous-time limit exhibiting a faster convergence rate compared to GD due to improved conditioning. We then perform an empirical study on a synthetic regression task to investigate the implicit bias of GN's method.While GN is consistently faster than GD in finding a global optimum, the learned model generalizes well on test data when starting from random initial weights with a small variance and using a small step size to slow down convergence. Specifically, our study shows that such a setting results in a hidden learning phenomenon, where the dynamics are able to recover features with good generalization properties despite the model having sub-optimal training and test performances due to an under-optimized linear layer. This study exhibits a trade-off between the convergence speed of GN and the generalization ability of the learned solution.

Many-body Approximation for Non-negative Tensors

KAZU GHALAMKARI · Mahito Sugiyama · Yoshinobu Kawahara

We present an alternative approach to decompose non-negative tensors, called many-body approximation. Traditional decomposition methods assume low-rankness in the representation, resulting in difficulties in global optimization and target rank selection. We avoid these problems by energy-based modeling of tensors, where a tensor and its mode correspond to a probability distribution and a random variable, respectively. Our model can be globally optimized in terms of the KL divergence minimization by taking the interaction between variables (that is, modes), into account that can be tuned more intuitively than ranks. Furthermore, we visualize interactions between modes as tensor networks and reveal a nontrivial relationship between many-body approximation and low-rank approximation. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in tensor completion and approximation.

A Computationally Efficient Sparsified Online Newton Method

Fnu Devvrit · Sai Surya Duvvuri · Rohan Anil · Vineet Gupta · Cho-Jui Hsieh · Inderjit Dhillon

Second-order methods hold significant promise for enhancing the convergence of deep neural network training; however, their large memory and computational demands have limited their practicality. Thus there is a need for scalable second-order methods that can efficiently train large models. In this paper, we introduce the Sparsified Online Newton~(SONew) method, a memory-efficient second-order algorithm that yields a sparsified yet effective preconditioner. The algorithm emerges from a novel use of the LogDet matrix divergence measure; we combine it with sparsity constraints to minimize regret in the online convex optimization framework. Empirically, we test our method on large scale benchmarks of up to 1B parameters. We achieve up to $30\\%$ faster convergence, $3.4\\%$ relative improvement in validation performance, and $80\\%$ relative improvement in training loss, in comparison to memory efficient optimizers including first order methods. Powering the method is a surprising fact -- imposing structured sparsity patterns, like tridiagonal and banded structure, requires little to no overhead, making it as efficient and parallelizable as first-order methods. In wall-clock time, tridiagonal SONew is only about $3\\%$ slower per step than first-order methods but gives overall gains due to much faster convergence. In contrast, one of the state-of-the-art (SOTA) memory-intensive second-order methods, Shampoo, is unable to scale to large benchmarks. Additionally, while Shampoo necessitates significant engineering efforts to scale to large benchmarks, SONew offers a more straightforward implementation, increasing its practical appeal. SONew code is available at:

Unbiased Compression Saves Communication in Distributed Optimization: When and How Much?

Yutong He · Xinmeng Huang · Kun Yuan

Communication compression is a common technique in distributed optimizationthat can alleviate communication overhead by transmitting compressed gradientsand model parameters. However, compression can introduce information distortion,which slows down convergence and incurs more communication rounds to achievedesired solutions. Given the trade-off between lower per-round communicationcosts and additional rounds of communication, it is unclear whether communicationcompression reduces the total communication cost.This paper explores the conditions under which unbiased compression, a widelyused form of compression, can reduce the total communication cost, as well as theextent to which it can do so. To this end, we present the first theoretical formulationfor characterizing the total communication cost in distributed optimization withunbiased compressors. We demonstrate that unbiased compression alone does notnecessarily save the total communication cost, but this outcome can be achievedif the compressors used by all workers are further assumed independent. Weestablish lower bounds on the communication rounds required by algorithms usingindependent unbiased compressors to minimize smooth convex functions andshow that these lower bounds are tight by refining the analysis for ADIANA.Our results reveal that using independent unbiased compression can reduce thetotal communication cost by a factor of up to $\Theta(\sqrt{\min\\{n,\kappa\\}})$ when all localsmoothness constants are constrained by a common upper bound, where $n$ is thenumber of workers and $\kappa$ is the condition number of the functions being minimized.These theoretical findings are supported by experimental results.

Optimal Time Complexities of Parallel Stochastic Optimization Methods Under a Fixed Computation Model

Alexander Tyurin · Peter Richtarik

Parallelization is a popular strategy for improving the performance of methods. Optimization methods are no exception: design of efficient parallel optimization methods and tight analysis of their theoretical properties are important research endeavors. While the minimax complexities are well known for sequential optimization methods, the theory of parallel optimization methods is less explored. In this paper, we propose a new protocol that generalizes the classical oracle framework approach. Using this protocol, we establish minimax complexities for parallel optimization methods that have access to an unbiased stochastic gradient oracle with bounded variance. We consider a fixed computation model characterized by each worker requiring a fixed but worker-dependent time to calculate stochastic gradient. We prove lower bounds and develop optimal algorithms that attain them. Our results have surprising consequences for the literature of asynchronous optimization methods.

Navigating Data Heterogeneity in Federated Learning: A Semi-Supervised Federated Object Detection

Taehyeon Kim · Eric Lin · Junu Lee · Christian Lau · Vaikkunth Mugunthan

Federated Learning (FL) has emerged as a potent framework for training models across distributed data sources while maintaining data privacy. Nevertheless, it faces challenges with limited high-quality labels and non-IID client data, particularly in applications like autonomous driving. To address these hurdles, we navigate the uncharted waters of Semi-Supervised Federated Object Detection (SSFOD). We present a pioneering SSFOD framework, designed for scenarios where labeled data reside only at the server while clients possess unlabeled data. Notably, our method represents the inaugural implementation of SSFOD for clients with 0% labeled non-IID data, a stark contrast to previous studies that maintain some subset of labels at each client. We propose FedSTO, a two-stage strategy encompassing Selective Training followed by Orthogonally enhanced full-parameter training, to effectively address data shift (e.g. weather conditions) between server and clients. Our contributions include selectively refining the backbone of the detector to avert overfitting, orthogonality regularization to boost representation divergence, and local EMA-driven pseudo label assignment to yield high-quality pseudo labels. Extensive validation on prominent autonomous driving datasets (BDD100K, Cityscapes, and SODA10M) attests to the efficacy of our approach, demonstrating state-of-the-art results. Remarkably, FedSTO, using just 20-30% of labels, performs nearly as well as fully-supervised centralized training methods.

A Unified Solution for Privacy and Communication Efficiency in Vertical Federated Learning

Ganyu Wang · Bin Gu · Qingsong Zhang · Xiang Li · Boyu Wang · Charles Ling

Vertical Federated Learning (VFL) is a collaborative machine learning paradigm that enables multiple participants to jointly train a model on their private data without sharing it.To make VFL practical, privacy security and communication efficiency should both be satisfied. Recent research has shown that Zero-Order Optimization (ZOO) in VFL can effectively conceal the internal information of the model without adding costly privacy protective add-ons, making it a promising approach for privacy and efficiency.However, there are still two key problems that have yet to be resolved. First, the convergence rate of ZOO-based VFL is significantly slower compared to gradient-based VFL, resulting in low efficiency in model training and more communication round, which hinders its application on large neural networks. Second, although ZOO-based VFL has demonstrated resistance to state-of-the-art (SOTA) attacks, its privacy guarantee lacks a theoretical explanation.To address these challenges, we propose a novel cascaded hybrid optimization approach that employs a zeroth-order (ZO) gradient on the most critical output layer of the clients, with other parts utilizing the first-order (FO) gradient. This approach preserves the privacy protection of ZOO while significantly enhancing convergence.Moreover, we theoretically prove that applying ZOO to the VFL is equivalent to adding Gaussian Mechanism to the gradient information, which offers an implicit differential privacy guarantee. Experimental results demonstrate that our proposed framework achieves similar utility as the Gaussian mechanism under the same privacy budget, while also having significantly lower communication costs compared with SOTA communication-efficient VFL frameworks.

Finding Local Minima Efficiently in Decentralized Optimization

Wenhan Xian · Heng Huang

In this paper we study the second-order optimality of decentralized stochastic algorithm that escapes saddle point efficiently for nonconvex optimization problems. We propose a new pure gradient-based decentralized stochastic algorithm PEDESTAL with a novel convergence analysis framework to address the technical challenges unique to the decentralized stochastic setting. Our method is the first decentralized stochastic algorithm to achieve second-order optimality with non-asymptotic analysis. We provide theoretical guarantees with the gradient complexity of $\tilde{O} (\epsilon^{-3})$ to find $O(\epsilon, \sqrt{\epsilon})$-second-order stationary point, which matches state-of-the-art results of centralized counterparts or decentralized methods to find first-order stationary point. We also conduct two decentralized tasks in our experiments, a matrix sensing task with synthetic data and a matrix factorization task with a real-world dataset to validate the performance of our method.

Momentum Provably Improves Error Feedback!

Ilyas Fatkhullin · Alexander Tyurin · Peter Richtarik

Due to the high communication overhead when training machine learning models in a distributed environment, modern algorithms invariably rely on lossy communication compression. However, when untreated, the errors caused by compression propagate, and can lead to severely unstable behavior, including exponential divergence. Almost a decade ago, Seide et al. [2014] proposed an error feedback (EF) mechanism, which we refer to as EF14, as an immensely effective heuristic for mitigating this issue. However, despite steady algorithmic and theoretical advances in the EF field in the last decade, our understanding is far from complete. In this work we address one of the most pressing issues. In particular, in the canonical nonconvex setting, all known variants of EF rely on very large batch sizes to converge, which can be prohibitive in practice. We propose a surprisingly simple fix which removes this issue both theoretically, and in practice: the application of Polyak's momentum to the latest incarnation of EF due to Richtárik et al. [2021] known as EF21. Our algorithm, for which we coin the name EF21-SGDM, improves the communication and sample complexities of previous error feedback algorithms under standard smoothness and bounded variance assumptions, and does not require any further strong assumptions such as bounded gradient dissimilarity. Moreover, we propose a double momentum version of our method that improves the complexities even further. Our proof seems to be novel even when compression is removed form the method, and as such, our proof technique is of independent interest in the study of nonconvex stochastic optimization enriched with Polyak's momentum.

Every Parameter Matters: Ensuring the Convergence of Federated Learning with Dynamic Heterogeneous Models Reduction

Hanhan Zhou · Tian Lan · Guru Prasadh Venkataramani · Wenbo Ding

Cross-device Federated Learning (FL) faces significant challenges where low-end clients that could potentially make unique contributions are excluded from training large models due to their resource bottlenecks. Recent research efforts have focused on model-heterogeneous FL, by extracting reduced-size models from the global model and applying them to local clients accordingly. Despite the empirical success, general theoretical guarantees of convergence on this method remain an open question. This paper presents a unifying framework for heterogeneous FL algorithms with online model extraction and provides a general convergence analysis for the first time. In particular, we prove that under certain sufficient conditions and for both IID and non-IID data, these algorithms converge to a stationary point of standard FL for general smooth cost functions. Moreover, we introduce the concept of minimum coverage index, together with model reduction noise, which will determine the convergence of heterogeneous federated learning, and therefore we advocate for a holistic approach that considers both factors to enhance the efficiency of heterogeneous federated learning.

Learning the Efficient Frontier

Philippe Chatigny · Ivan Sergienko · Ryan Ferguson · Jordan Weir · Maxime Bergeron

The efficient frontier (EF) is a fundamental resource allocation problem where one has to find an optimal portfolio maximizing a reward at a given level of risk. This optimal solution is traditionally found by solving a convex optimization problem. In this paper, we introduce NeuralEF: a fast neural approximation framework that robustly forecasts the result of the EF convex optimizations problems with respect to heterogeneous linear constraints and variable number of optimization inputs. By reformulating an optimization problem as a sequence to sequence problem, we show that NeuralEF is a viable solution to accelerate large-scale simulation while handling discontinuous behavior.

Efficient Meta Neural Heuristic for Multi-Objective Combinatorial Optimization

Jinbiao Chen · Jiahai Wang · Zizhen Zhang · Zhiguang Cao · Te Ye · Siyuan Chen

Recently, neural heuristics based on deep reinforcement learning have exhibited promise in solving multi-objective combinatorial optimization problems (MOCOPs). However, they are still struggling to achieve high learning efficiency and solution quality. To tackle this issue, we propose an efficient meta neural heuristic (EMNH), in which a meta-model is first trained and then fine-tuned with a few steps to solve corresponding single-objective subproblems. Specifically, for the training process, a (partial) architecture-shared multi-task model is leveraged to achieve parallel learning for the meta-model, so as to speed up the training; meanwhile, a scaled symmetric sampling method with respect to the weight vectors is designed to stabilize the training. For the fine-tuning process, an efficient hierarchical method is proposed to systematically tackle all the subproblems. Experimental results on the multi-objective traveling salesman problem (MOTSP), multi-objective capacitated vehicle routing problem (MOCVRP), and multi-objective knapsack problem (MOKP) show that, EMNH is able to outperform the state-of-the-art neural heuristics in terms of solution quality and learning efficiency, and yield competitive solutions to the strong traditional heuristics while consuming much shorter time.

Direction-oriented Multi-objective Learning: Simple and Provable Stochastic Algorithms

Peiyao Xiao · Hao Ban · Hao Ban · Kaiyi Ji

Multi-objective optimization (MOO) has become an influential framework in many machine learning problems with multiple objectives such as learning with multiple criteria and multi-task learning (MTL). In this paper, we propose a new direction-oriented multi-objective formulation by regularizing the common descent direction within a neighborhood of a direction that optimizes a linear combination of objectives such as the average loss in MTL or a weighted loss that places higher emphasis on some tasks than the others. This formulation includes GD and MGDA as special cases, enjoys the direction-oriented benefit as in CAGrad, and facilitates the design of stochastic algorithms. To solve this problem, we propose Stochastic Direction-oriented Multi-objective Gradient descent (SDMGrad) with simple SGD type of updates, and its variant SDMGrad-OS with an efficient objective sampling. We develop a comprehensive convergence analysis for the proposed methods with different loop sizes and regularization coefficients. We show that both SDMGrad and SDMGrad-OS achieve improved sample complexities to find an $\epsilon$-accurate Pareto stationary point while achieving a small $\epsilon$-level distance toward a conflict-avoidant (CA) direction. For a constant-level CA distance, their sample complexities match the best known $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-2})$ without bounded function value assumption. Extensive experiments show that our methods achieve competitive or improved performance compared to existing gradient manipulation approaches in a series of tasks on multi-task supervised learning and reinforcement learning. Code is available at

Hypervolume Maximization: A Geometric View of Pareto Set Learning

Xiaoyuan Zhang · Xi Lin · Bo Xue · Yifan Chen · Qingfu Zhang

This paper presents a novel approach to multiobjective algorithms aimed at modeling the Pareto set using neural networks. Whereas previous methods mainly focused on identifying a finite number of solutions, our approach allows for the direct modeling of the entire Pareto set. Furthermore, we establish an equivalence between learning the complete Pareto set and maximizing the associated hypervolume, which enables the convergence analysis of hypervolume (as a new metric) for Pareto set learning. Specifically, our new analysis framework reveals the connection between the learned Pareto solution and its representation in a polar coordinate system. We evaluate our proposed approach on various benchmark problems and real-world problems, and the encouraging results make it a potentially viable alternative to existing multiobjective algorithms. Code is available at \url{}.

Universal Gradient Descent Ascent Method for Nonconvex-Nonconcave Minimax Optimization

Taoli Zheng · Linglingzhi Zhu · Anthony Man-Cho So · Jose Blanchet · Jiajin Li

Nonconvex-nonconcave minimax optimization has received intense attention over the last decade due to its broad applications in machine learning. Most existing algorithms rely on one-sided information, such as the convexity (resp. concavity) of the primal (resp. dual) functions, or other specific structures, such as the Polyak-Łojasiewicz (PŁ) and Kurdyka-Łojasiewicz (KŁ) conditions. However, verifying these regularity conditions is challenging in practice. To meet this challenge, we propose a novel universally applicable single-loop algorithm, the doubly smoothed gradient descent ascent method (DS-GDA), which naturally balances the primal and dual updates. That is, DS-GDA with the same hyperparameters is able to uniformly solve nonconvex-concave, convex-nonconcave, and nonconvex-nonconcave problems with one-sided KŁ properties, achieving convergence with $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-4})$ complexity. Sharper (even optimal) iteration complexity can be obtained when the KŁ exponent is known. Specifically, under the one-sided KŁ condition with exponent $\theta\in(0,1)$, DS-GDA converges with an iteration complexity of $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-2\max\\{2\theta,1\\}})$. They all match the corresponding best results in the literature. Moreover, we show that DS-GDA is practically applicable to general nonconvex-nonconcave problems even without any regularity conditions, such as the PŁ condition, KŁ condition, or weak Minty variational inequalities condition. For various challenging nonconvex-nonconcave examples in the literature, including *Forsaken*, *Bilinearly-coupled minimax*, *Sixth-order polynomial*, and *PolarGame*, the proposed DS-GDA can all get rid of limit cycles. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first first-order algorithm to achieve convergence on all of these formidable problems.

Recovering Simultaneously Structured Data via Non-Convex Iteratively Reweighted Least Squares

Christian Kümmerle · Christian Kümmerle · Johannes Maly

We propose a new algorithm for the problem of recovering data that adheres to multiple, heterogenous low-dimensional structures from linear observations. Focussing on data matrices that are simultaneously row-sparse and low-rank, we propose and analyze an iteratively reweighted least squares (IRLS) algorithm that is able to leverage both structures. In particular, it optimizes a combination of non-convex surrogates for row-sparsity and rank, a balancing of which is built into the algorithm. We prove locally quadratic convergence of the iterates to a simultaneously structured data matrix in a regime of minimal sample complexity (up to constants and a logarithmic factor), which is known to be impossible for a combination of convex surrogates. In experiments, we show that the IRLS method exhibits favorable empirical convergence, identifying simultaneously row-sparse and low-rank matrices from fewer measurements than state-of-the-art methods.

Spotlight Poster
Outlier-Robust Gromov-Wasserstein for Graph Data

Lemin Kong · Jiajin Li · Jianheng Tang · Anthony Man-Cho So

Gromov-Wasserstein (GW) distance is a powerful tool for comparing and aligning probability distributions supported on different metric spaces. Recently, GW has become the main modeling technique for aligning heterogeneous data for a wide range of graph learning tasks. However, the GW distance is known to be highly sensitive to outliers, which can result in large inaccuracies if the outliers are given the same weight as other samples in the objective function. To mitigate this issue, we introduce a new and robust version of the GW distance called RGW. RGW features optimistically perturbed marginal constraints within a Kullback-Leibler divergence-based ambiguity set. To make the benefits of RGW more accessible in practice, we develop a computationally efficient and theoretically provable procedure using Bregman proximal alternating linearized minimization algorithm. Through extensive experimentation, we validate our theoretical results and demonstrate the effectiveness of RGW on real-world graph learning tasks, such as subgraph matching and partial shape correspondence.

Two-Stage Predict+Optimize for MILPs with Unknown Parameters in Constraints

Xinyi Hu · Jasper Lee · Jimmy Lee

Consider the setting of constrained optimization, with some parameters unknown at solving time and requiring prediction from relevant features. Predict+Optimize is a recent framework for end-to-end training supervised learning models for such predictions, incorporating information about the optimization problem in the training process in order to yield better predictions in terms of the quality of the predicted solution under the true parameters. Almost all prior works have focused on the special case where the unknowns appear only in the optimization objective and not the constraints. Hu et al. proposed the first adaptation of Predict+Optimize to handle unknowns appearing in constraints, but the framework has somewhat ad-hoc elements, and they provided a training algorithm only for covering and packing linear programs. In this work, we give a new simpler and more powerful framework called Two-Stage Predict+Optimize, which we believe should be the canonical framework for the Predict+Optimize setting. We also give a training algorithm usable for all mixed integer linear programs, vastly generalizing the applicability of the framework. Experimental results demonstrate the superior prediction performance of our training framework over all classical and state-of-the-art methods.

DELTA: Diverse Client Sampling for Fasting Federated Learning

Lin Wang · Yongxin Guo · Tao Lin · Xiaoying Tang

Partial client participation has been widely adopted in Federated Learning (FL) to reduce the communication burden efficiently. However, an inadequate client sampling scheme can lead to the selection of unrepresentative subsets, resulting in significant variance in model updates and slowed convergence. Existing sampling methods are either biased or can be further optimized for faster convergence.In this paper, we present DELTA, an unbiased sampling scheme designed to alleviate these issues. DELTA characterizes the effects of client diversity and local variance, and samples representative clients with valuable information for global model updates. In addition, DELTA is a proven optimal unbiased sampling scheme that minimizes variance caused by partial client participation and outperforms other unbiased sampling schemes in terms of convergence. Furthermore, to address full-client gradient dependence, we provide a practical version of DELTA depending on the available clients' information, and also analyze its convergence. Our results are validated through experiments on both synthetic and real-world datasets.

A Finite-Particle Convergence Rate for Stein Variational Gradient Descent

Jiaxin Shi · Lester Mackey

We provide the first finite-particle convergence rate for Stein variational gradient descent (SVGD), a popular algorithm for approximating a probability distribution with a collection of particles. Specifically, whenever the target distribution is sub-Gaussian with a Lipschitz score, SVGD with $n$ particles and an appropriate step size sequence drives the kernel Stein discrepancy to zero at an order ${1/}{\sqrt{\log\log n}}$ rate. We suspect that the dependence on $n$ can be improved, and we hope that our explicit, non-asymptotic proof strategy will serve as a template for future refinements.

Optimization and Bayes: A Trade-off for Overparameterized Neural Networks

Zhengmian Hu · Heng Huang

This paper proposes a novel algorithm, Transformative Bayesian Learning (TansBL), which bridges the gap between empirical risk minimization (ERM) and Bayesian learning for neural networks. We compare ERM, which uses gradient descent to optimize, and Bayesian learning with importance sampling for their generalization and computational complexity. We derive the first algorithm-dependent PAC-Bayesian generalization bound for infinitely wide networks based on an exact KL divergence between the trained posterior distribution obtained by infinitesimal step size gradient descent and a Gaussian prior. Moreover, we show how to transform gradient-based optimization into importance sampling by incorporating a weight. While Bayesian learning has better generalization, it suffers from low sampling efficiency. Optimization methods, on the other hand, have good sampling efficiency but poor generalization. Our proposed algorithm TansBL enables a trade-off between generalization and sampling efficiency.

Spotlight Poster
Unexpected Improvements to Expected Improvement for Bayesian Optimization

Sebastian Ament · Samuel Daulton · David Eriksson · Maximilian Balandat · Eytan Bakshy

Expected Improvement (EI) is arguably the most popular acquisition function in Bayesian optimization and has found countless successful applications, but its performance is often exceeded by that of more recent methods. Notably, EI and its variants, including for the parallel and multi-objective settings, are challenging to optimize because their acquisition values vanish numerically in many regions. This difficulty generally increases as the number of observations, dimensionality of the search space, or the number of constraints grow, resulting in performance that is inconsistent across the literature and most often sub-optimal. Herein, we propose LogEI, a new family of acquisition functions whose members either have identical or approximately equal optima as their canonical counterparts, but are substantially easier to optimize numerically. We demonstrate that numerical pathologies manifest themselves in “classic” analytic EI, Expected Hypervolume Improvement (EHVI), as well as their constrained, noisy, and parallel variants, and propose corresponding reformulations that remedy these pathologies. Our empirical results show that members of the LogEI family of acquisition functions substantially improve on the optimization performance of their canonical counterparts and surprisingly, are on par with or exceed the performance of recent state-of-the-art acquisition functions, highlighting the understated role of numerical optimization in the literature.

Spotlight Poster
Information Maximization Perspective of Orthogonal Matching Pursuit with Applications to Explainable AI

Aditya Chattopadhyay · Ryan Pilgrim · Rene Vidal

Information Pursuit (IP) is a classical active testing algorithm for predicting an output by sequentially and greedily querying the input in order of information gain. However, IP is computationally intensive since it involves estimating mutual information in high-dimensional spaces. This paper explores Orthogonal Matching Pursuit (OMP) as an alternative to IP for greedily selecting the queries. OMP is a classical signal processing algorithm for sequentially encoding a signal in terms of dictionary atoms chosen in order of correlation gain. In each iteration, OMP selects the atom that is most correlated with the signal residual (the signal minus its reconstruction thus far). Our first contribution is to establish a fundamental connection between IP and OMP, where we prove that IP with random projections of dictionary atoms as queries ``almost'' reduces to OMP, with the difference being that IP selects atoms in order of normalized correlation gain. We call this version IP-OMP and present simulations indicating that this difference does not have any appreciable effect on the sparse code recovery rate of IP-OMP compared to that of OMP for random Gaussian dictionaries. Inspired by this connection, our second contribution is to explore the utility of IP-OMP for generating explainable predictions, an area in which IP has recently gained traction. More specifically, we propose a simple explainable AI algorithm which encodes an image as a sparse combination of semantically meaningful dictionary atoms that are defined as text embeddings of interpretable concepts. The final prediction is made using the weights of this sparse combination, which serve as an explanation. Empirically, our proposed algorithm is not only competitive with existing explainability methods but also computationally less expensive.

Bayesian Metric Learning for Uncertainty Quantification in Image Retrieval

Frederik Warburg · Marco Miani · Silas Brack · Søren Hauberg

We propose a Bayesian encoder for metric learning. Rather than relying on neural amortization as done in prior works, we learn a distribution over the network weights with the Laplace Approximation. We first prove that the contrastive loss is a negative log-likelihood on the spherical space. We propose three methods that ensure a positive definite covariance matrix. Lastly, we present a novel decomposition of the Generalized Gauss-Newton approximation. Empirically, we show that our Laplacian Metric Learner (LAM) yields well-calibrated uncertainties, reliably detects out-of-distribution examples, and has state-of-the-art predictive performance.

Adaptive Uncertainty Estimation via High-Dimensional Testing on Latent Representations

Tsai Hor Chan · Kin Wai Lau · Jiajun Shen · Guosheng Yin · Lequan Yu

Uncertainty estimation aims to evaluate the confidence of a trained deep neural network. However, existing uncertainty estimation approaches rely on low-dimensional distributional assumptions and thus suffer from the high dimensionality of latent features. Existing approaches tend to focus on uncertainty on discrete classification probabilities, which leads to poor generalizability to uncertainty estimation for other tasks. Moreover, most of the literature requires seeing the out-of-distribution (OOD) data in the training for better estimation of uncertainty, which limits the uncertainty estimation performance in practice because the OOD data are typically unseen. To overcome these limitations, we propose a new framework using data-adaptive high-dimensional hypothesis testing for uncertainty estimation, which leverages the statistical properties of the feature representations. Our method directly operates on latent representations and thus does not require retraining the feature encoder under a modified objective. The test statistic relaxes the feature distribution assumptions to high dimensionality, and it is more discriminative to uncertainties in the latent representations. We demonstrate that encoding features with Bayesian neural networks can enhance testing performance and lead to more accurate uncertainty estimation. We further introduce a family-wise testing procedure to determine the optimal threshold of OOD detection, which minimizes the false discovery rate (FDR). Extensive experiments validate the satisfactory performance of our framework on uncertainty estimation and task-specific prediction over a variety of competitors. The experiments on the OOD detection task also show satisfactory performance of our method when the OOD data are unseen in the training. Codes are available at

Towards Accelerated Model Training via Bayesian Data Selection

Zhijie Deng · Peng Cui · Jun Zhu

Mislabeled, duplicated, or biased data in real-world scenarios can lead to prolonged training and even hinder model convergence. Traditional solutions prioritizing easy or hard samples lack the flexibility to handle such a variety simultaneously. Recent work has proposed a more reasonable data selection principle by examining the data's impact on the model's generalization loss. However, its practical adoption relies on less principled approximations and additional holdout data. This work solves these problems by leveraging a lightweight Bayesian treatment and incorporating off-the-shelf zero-shot predictors built on large-scale pre-trained models. The resulting algorithm is efficient and easy to implement. We perform extensive empirical studies on challenging benchmarks with considerable data noise and imbalance in the online batch selection scenario, and observe superior training efficiency over competitive baselines. Notably, on the challenging WebVision benchmark, our method can achieve similar predictive performance with significantly fewer training iterations than leading data selection methods.

Sparse Deep Learning for Time Series Data: Theory and Applications

Mingxuan Zhang · Yan Sun · Faming Liang

Sparse deep learning has become a popular technique for improving the performance of deep neural networks in areas such as uncertainty quantification, variable selection, and large-scale network compression. However, most existing research has focused on problems where the observations are independent and identically distributed (i.i.d.), and there has been little work on the problems where the observations are dependent, such as time series data and sequential data in natural language processing. This paper aims to address this gap by studying the theory for sparse deep learning with dependent data. We show that sparse recurrent neural networks (RNNs) can be consistently estimated, and their predictions are asymptotically normally distributed under appropriate assumptions, enabling the prediction uncertainty to be correctly quantified. Our numerical results show that sparse deep learning outperforms state-of-the-art methods, such as conformal predictions, in prediction uncertainty quantification for time series data. Furthermore, our results indicate that the proposed method can consistently identify the autoregressive order for time series data and outperform existing methods in large-scale model compression. Our proposed method has important practical implications in fields such as finance, healthcare, and energy, where both accurate point estimates and prediction uncertainty quantification are of concern.

Undirected Probabilistic Model for Tensor Decomposition

Zerui Tao · Toshihisa Tanaka · Qibin Zhao

Tensor decompositions (TDs) serve as a powerful tool for analyzing multiway data. Traditional TDs incorporate prior knowledge about the data into the model, such as a directed generative process from latent factors to observations. In practice, selecting proper structural or distributional assumptions beforehand is crucial for obtaining a promising TD representation. However, since such prior knowledge is typically unavailable in real-world applications, choosing an appropriate TD model can be challenging. This paper aims to address this issue by introducing a flexible TD framework that discards the structural and distributional assumptions, in order to learn as much information from the data. Specifically, we construct a TD model that captures the joint probability of the data and latent tensor factors through a deep energy-based model (EBM). Neural networks are then employed to parameterize the joint energy function of tensor factors and tensor entries. The flexibility of EBM and neural networks enables the learning of underlying structures and distributions. In addition, by designing the energy function, our model unifies the learning process of different types of tensors, such as static tensors and dynamic tensors with time stamps. The resulting model presents a doubly intractable nature due to the presence of latent tensor factors and the unnormalized probability function. To efficiently train the model, we derive a variational upper bound of the conditional noise-contrastive estimation objective that learns the unnormalized joint probability by distinguishing data from conditional noises. We show advantages of our model on both synthetic and several real-world datasets.

On Convergence of Polynomial Approximations to the Gaussian Mixture Entropy

Caleb Dahlke · Jason Pacheco

Gaussian mixture models (GMMs) are fundamental to machine learning due to their flexibility as approximating densities. However, uncertainty quantification of GMMs remains a challenge as differential entropy lacks a closed form. This paper explores polynomial approximations, specifically Taylor and Legendre, to the GMM entropy from a theoretical and practical perspective. We provide new analysis of a widely used approach due to Huber et al.(2008) and show that the series diverges under simple conditions. Motivated by this divergence we provide a novel Taylor series that is provably convergent to the true entropy of any GMM. We demonstrate a method for selecting a center such that the series converges from below, providing a lower bound on GMM entropy. Furthermore, we demonstrate that orthogonal polynomial series result in more accurate polynomial approximations. Experimental validation supports our theoretical results while showing that our method is comparable in computation to Huber et al. We also show that in application, the use of these polynomial approximations, such as in Nonparametric Variational Inference by Gershamn et al. (2012), rely on the convergence of the methods in computing accurate approximations. This work contributes useful analysis to existing methods while introducing a novel approximation supported by firm theoretical guarantees.

Bayesian Learning via Q-Exponential Process

Shuyi Li · Michael O'Connor · Shiwei Lan

Regularization is one of the most fundamental topics in optimization, statistics and machine learning. To get sparsity in estimating a parameter $u\in\mathbb{R}^d$, an $\ell_q$ penalty term, $\Vert u\Vert_q$, is usually added to the objective function. What is the probabilistic distribution corresponding to such $\ell_q$ penalty? What is the \emph{correct} stochastic process corresponding to $\Vert u\Vert_q$ when we model functions $u\in L^q$? This is important for statistically modeling high-dimensional objects such as images, with penalty to preserve certainty properties, e.g. edges in the image.In this work, we generalize the $q$-exponential distribution (with density proportional to) $\exp{(- \frac{1}{2}|u|^q)}$ to a stochastic process named \emph{$Q$-exponential (Q-EP) process} that corresponds to the $L_q$ regularization of functions. The key step is to specify consistent multivariate $q$-exponential distributions by choosing from a large family of elliptic contour distributions. The work is closely related to Besov process which is usually defined in terms of series. Q-EP can be regarded as a definition of Besov process with explicit probabilistic formulation, direct control on the correlation strength, and tractable prediction formula. From the Bayesian perspective, Q-EP provides a flexible prior on functions with sharper penalty ($q<2$) than the commonly used Gaussian process (GP, $q=2$).We compare GP, Besov and Q-EP in modeling functional data, reconstructing images and solving inverse problems and demonstrate the advantage of our proposed methodology.

Self-Consistent Velocity Matching of Probability Flows

Lingxiao Li · Samuel Hurault · Justin Solomon

We present a discretization-free scalable framework for solving a large class of mass-conserving partial differential equations (PDEs), including the time-dependent Fokker-Planck equation and the Wasserstein gradient flow. The main observation is that the time-varying velocity field of the PDE solution needs to be self-consistent: it must satisfy a fixed-point equation involving the probability flow characterized by the same velocity field. Instead of directly minimizing the residual of the fixed-point equation with neural parameterization, we use an iterative formulation with a biased gradient estimator that bypasses significant computational obstacles with strong empirical performance. Compared to existing approaches, our method does not suffer from temporal or spatial discretization, covers a wider range of PDEs, and scales to high dimensions. Experimentally, our method recovers analytical solutions accurately when they are available and achieves superior performance in high dimensions with less training time compared to alternatives.

Beyond Normal: On the Evaluation of Mutual Information Estimators

Paweł Czyż · Frederic Grabowski · Julia Vogt · Niko Beerenwinkel · Alexander Marx

Mutual information is a general statistical dependency measure which has found applications in representation learning, causality, domain generalization and computational biology. However, mutual information estimators are typically evaluated on simple families of probability distributions, namely multivariate normal distribution and selected distributions with one-dimensional random variables. In this paper, we show how to construct a diverse family of distributions with known ground-truth mutual information and propose a language-independent benchmarking platform for mutual information estimators. We discuss the general applicability and limitations of classical and neural estimators in settings involving high dimensions, sparse interactions, long-tailed distributions, and high mutual information. Finally, we provide guidelines for practitioners on how to select appropriate estimator adapted to the difficulty of problem considered and issues one needs to consider when applying an estimator to a new data set.

Spotlight Poster
The Behavior and Convergence of Local Bayesian Optimization

Kaiwen Wu · Kyurae Kim · Roman Garnett · Jacob Gardner

A recent development in Bayesian optimization is the use of local optimization strategies, which can deliver strong empirical performance on high-dimensional problems compared to traditional global strategies. The "folk wisdom" in the literature is that the focus on local optimization sidesteps the curse of dimensionality; however, little is known concretely about the expected behavior or convergence of Bayesian local optimization routines. We first study the behavior of the local approach, and find that the statistics of individual local solutions of Gaussian process sample paths are surprisingly good compared to what we would expect to recover from global methods. We then present the first rigorous analysis of such a Bayesian local optimization algorithm recently proposed by Müller et al. (2021), and derive convergence rates in both the noisy and noiseless settings.

Pointwise uncertainty quantification for sparse variational Gaussian process regression with a Brownian motion prior

Luke Travis · Kolyan Ray

We study pointwise estimation and uncertainty quantification for a sparse variational Gaussian process method with eigenvector inducing variables. For a rescaled Brownian motion prior, we derive theoretical guarantees and limitations for the frequentist size and coverage of pointwise credible sets. For sufficiently many inducing variables, we precisely characterize the asymptotic frequentist coverage, deducing when credible sets from this variational method are conservative and when overconfident/misleading. We numerically illustrate the applicability of our results and discuss connections with other common Gaussian process priors.

Survival Permanental Processes for Survival Analysis with Time-Varying Covariates

Hideaki Kim

Survival or time-to-event data with time-varying covariates are common in practice, and exploring the non-stationarity in covariates is essential to accurately analyzing the nonlinear dependence of time-to-event outcomes on covariates. Traditional survival analysis methods such as Cox proportional hazards model have been extended to address the time-varying covariates through a counting process formulation, although sophisticated machine learning methods that can accommodate time-varying covariates have been limited. In this paper, we propose a non-parametric Bayesian survival model to analyze the nonlinear dependence of time-to-event outcomes on time-varying covariates. We focus on a computationally feasible Cox process called permanental process, which assumes the square root of hazard function to be generated from a Gaussian process, and tailor it for survival data with time-varying covariates. We verify that the proposed model holds with the representer theorem, a beneficial property for functional analysis, which offers us a fast Bayesian estimation algorithm that scales linearly with the number of observed events without relying on Markov Chain Monte Carlo computation. We evaluate our algorithm on synthetic and real-world data, and show that it achieves comparable predictive accuracy while being tens to hundreds of times faster than state-of-the-art methods.

Fast Projected Newton-like Method for Precision Matrix Estimation under Total Positivity

Jian-Feng CAI · José Vinícius de Miranda Cardoso · Daniel Palomar · Jiaxi Ying

We study the problem of estimating precision matrices in Gaussian distributions that are multivariate totally positive of order two ($\mathrm{MTP}_2$). The precision matrix in such a distribution is an M-matrix. This problem can be formulated as a sign-constrained log-determinant program. Current algorithms are designed using the block coordinate descent method or the proximal point algorithm, which becomes computationally challenging in high-dimensional cases due to the requirement to solve numerous nonnegative quadratic programs or large-scale linear systems. To address this issue, we propose a novel algorithm based on the two-metric projection method, incorporating a carefully designed search direction and variable partitioning scheme. Our algorithm substantially reduces computational complexity, and its theoretical convergence is established. Experimental results on synthetic and real-world datasets demonstrate that our proposed algorithm provides a significant improvement in computational efficiency compared to the state-of-the-art methods.

Embroid: Unsupervised Prediction Smoothing Can Improve Few-Shot Classification

Neel Guha · Mayee Chen · Kush Bhatia · Azalia Mirhoseini · Frederic Sala · Christopher Ré

Recent work has shown that language models' (LMs) prompt-based learning capabilities make them well suited for automating data labeling in domains where manual annotation is expensive. The challenge is that while writing an initial prompt is cheap, improving a prompt is costly---practitioners often require significant labeled data in order to evaluate the impact of prompt modifications. Our work asks whether it is possible to improve prompt-based learning without additional labeled data. We approach this problem by attempting to modify the predictions of a prompt, rather than the prompt itself. Our intuition is that accurate predictions should also be consistent: samples which are similar under some feature representation should receive the same prompt prediction. We propose Embroid, a method which computes multiple representations of a dataset under different embedding functions, and uses the consistency between the LM predictions for neighboring samples to identify mispredictions. Embroid then uses these neighborhoods to create additional predictions for each sample, and combines these predictions with a simple latent variable graphical model in order to generate a final corrected prediction. In addition to providing a theoretical analysis of Embroid, we conduct a rigorous empirical evaluation across six different LMs and up to 95 different tasks. We find that (1) Embroid substantially improves performance over original prompts (e.g., by an average of 7.3 points on GPT-JT), (2) also realizes improvements for more sophisticated prompting strategies (e.g., chain-of-thought), and (3) can be specialized to domains like law through the embedding functions.

Unbiased learning of deep generative models with structured discrete representations

Henry C Bendekgey · Gabe Hope · Erik Sudderth

By composing graphical models with deep learning architectures, we learn generative models with the strengths of both frameworks. The structured variational autoencoder (SVAE) inherits structure and interpretability from graphical models, and flexible likelihoods for high-dimensional data from deep learning, but poses substantial optimization challenges. We propose novel algorithms for learning SVAEs, and are the first to demonstrate the SVAE's ability to handle multimodal uncertainty when data is missing by incorporating discrete latent variables. Our memory-efficient implicit differentiation scheme makes the SVAE tractable to learn via gradient descent, while demonstrating robustness to incomplete optimization. To more rapidly learn accurate graphical model parameters, we derive a method for computing natural gradients without manual derivations, which avoids biases found in prior work. These optimization innovations enable the first comparisons of the SVAE to state-of-the-art time series models, where the SVAE performs competitively while learning interpretable and structured discrete data representations.

Learning Large-Scale MTP$_2$ Gaussian Graphical Models via Bridge-Block Decomposition

Xiwen WANG · Jiaxi Ying · Daniel Palomar

This paper studies the problem of learning the large-scale Gaussian graphical models that are multivariate totally positive of order two ($\text{MTP}_2$). By introducing the concept of bridge, which commonly exists in large-scale sparse graphs, we show that the entire problem can be equivalently optimized through (1) several smaller-scaled sub-problems induced by a \emph{bridge-block decomposition} on the thresholded sample covariance graph and (2) a set of explicit solutions on entries corresponding to \emph{bridges}. From practical aspect, this simple and provable discipline can be applied to break down a large problem into small tractable ones, leading to enormous reduction on the computational complexity and substantial improvements for all existing algorithms. The synthetic and real-world experiments demonstrate that our proposed method presents a significant speed-up compared to the state-of-the-art benchmarks.

Langevin Quasi-Monte Carlo

Sifan Liu

Langevin Monte Carlo (LMC) and its stochastic gradient versions are powerful algorithms for sampling from complex high-dimensional distributions. To sample from a distribution with density $\pi(\theta)\propto \exp(-U(\theta)) $, LMC iteratively generates the next sample by taking a step in the gradient direction $\nabla U$ with added Gaussian perturbations. Expectations w.r.t. the target distribution $\pi$ are estimated by averaging over LMC samples. In ordinary Monte Carlo, it is well known that the estimation error can be substantially reduced by replacing independent random samples by quasi-random samples like low-discrepancy sequences. In this work, we show that the estimation error of LMC can also be reduced by using quasi-random samples. Specifically, we propose to use completely uniformly distributed (CUD) sequences with certain low-discrepancy property to generate the Gaussian perturbations. Under smoothness and convexity conditions, we prove that LMC with a low-discrepancy CUD sequence achieves smaller error than standard LMC. The theoretical analysis is supported by compelling numerical experiments, which demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach.

Sampling from Structured Log-Concave Distributions via a Soft-Threshold Dikin Walk

Oren Mangoubi · Nisheeth K. Vishnoi

Given a Lipschitz or smooth convex function $f:K \to \mathbb{R}^d$ for a bounded polytope $K:=${ $\theta \in \mathbb{R}^d: A\theta \leq b$}, where $A\in \mathbb{R}^{m\times d}$ and $b \in \mathbb{R}^m$, we consider the problem of sampling from the log-concave distribution $\pi(\theta) \propto e^{-f(\theta)}$ constrained to $K$. Interest in this problem derives from its applications to Bayesian inference and differential privacy. We present a generalization of the Dikin walk to this setting that requires at most $O((md + d L^2 R^2) \times md^{\omega-1} \log(\frac{w}{\delta}))$ arithmetic operations to sample from $\pi$ within error $\delta>0$ in the total variation distance from a $w$-warm start. Here $L$ is the Lipschitz constant of $f$, $K$ is contained in a ball of radius $R$ and contains a ball of smaller radius $r$, and $\omega \approx 2.37$ is the matrix-multiplication constant. This improves on the running time of prior works for a range of structured settings important for the aforementioned inference and privacy applications. Technically, we depart from previous Dikin walks by adding a soft-threshold regularizer derived from the Lipschitz or smoothness properties of $f$ to a barrier function for $K$ that allows our version of the Dikin walk to propose updates that have a high Metropolis acceptance ratio for $f$, while at the same time remaining inside the polytope $K$.

Differentiable and Stable Long-Range Tracking of Multiple Posterior Modes

Ali Younis · Erik Sudderth

Particle filters flexibly represent multiple posterior modes nonparametrically, via a collection of weighted samples, but have classically been applied to tracking problems with known dynamics and observation likelihoods. Such generative models may be inaccurate or unavailable for high-dimensional observations like images. We instead leverage training data to discriminatively learn particle-based representations of uncertainty in latent object states, conditioned on arbitrary observations via deep neural network encoders. While prior discriminative particle filters have used heuristic relaxations of discrete particle resampling, or biased learning by truncating gradients at resampling steps, we achieve unbiased and low-variance gradient estimates by representing posteriors as continuous mixture densities. Our theory and experiments expose dramatic failures of existing reparameterization-based estimators for mixture gradients, an issue we address via an importance-sampling gradient estimator. Unlike standard recurrent neural networks, our mixture density particle filter represents multimodal uncertainty in continuous latent states, improving accuracy and robustness. On a range of challenging tracking and robot localization problems, our approach achieves dramatic improvements in accuracy, will also showing much greater stability across multiple training runs.

Spotlight Poster
Distributionally Robust Skeleton Learning of Discrete Bayesian Networks

Yeshu Li · Brian Ziebart

We consider the problem of learning the exact skeleton of general discrete Bayesian networks from potentially corrupted data. Building on distributionally robust optimization and a regression approach, we propose to optimize the most adverse risk over a family of distributions within bounded Wasserstein distance or KL divergence to the empirical distribution. The worst-case risk accounts for the effect of outliers. The proposed approach applies for general categorical random variables without assuming faithfulness, an ordinal relationship or a specific form of conditional distribution. We present efficient algorithms and show the proposed methods are closely related to the standard regularized regression approach. Under mild assumptions, we derive non-asymptotic guarantees for successful structure learning with logarithmic sample complexities for bounded-degree graphs. Numerical study on synthetic and real datasets validates the effectiveness of our method.

Fast Scalable and Accurate Discovery of DAGs Using the Best Order Score Search and Grow Shrink Trees

Bryan Andrews · Joseph Ramsey · Ruben Sanchez Romero · Jazmin Camchong · Erich Kummerfeld

Learning graphical conditional independence structures is an important machine learning problem and a cornerstone of causal discovery. However, the accuracy and execution time of learning algorithms generally struggle to scale to problems with hundreds of highly connected variables---for instance, recovering brain networks from fMRI data. We introduce the best order score search (BOSS) and grow-shrink trees (GSTs) for learning directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) in this paradigm. BOSS greedily searches over permutations of variables, using GSTs to construct and score DAGs from permutations. GSTs efficiently cache scores to eliminate redundant calculations. BOSS achieves state-of-the-art performance in accuracy and execution time, comparing favorably to a variety of combinatorial and gradient-based learning algorithms under a broad range of conditions. To demonstrate its practicality, we apply BOSS to two sets of resting-state fMRI data: simulated data with pseudo-empirical noise distributions derived from randomized empirical fMRI cortical signals and clinical data from 3T fMRI scans processed into cortical parcels. BOSS is available for use within the TETRAD project which includes Python and R wrappers.

NAS-X: Neural Adaptive Smoothing via Twisting

Dieterich Lawson · Michael Li · Scott Linderman

Sequential latent variable models (SLVMs) are essential tools in statistics and machine learning, with applications ranging from healthcare to neuroscience. As their flexibility increases, analytic inference and model learning can become challenging, necessitating approximate methods. Here we introduce neural adaptive smoothing via twisting (NAS-X), a method that extends reweighted wake-sleep (RWS) to the sequential setting by using smoothing sequential Monte Carlo (SMC) to estimate intractable posterior expectations. Combining RWS and smoothing SMC allows NAS-X to provide low-bias and low-variance gradient estimates, and fit both discrete and continuous latent variable models. We illustrate the theoretical advantages of NAS-X over previous methods and explore these advantages empirically in a variety of tasks, including a challenging application to mechanistic models of neuronal dynamics. These experiments show that NAS-X substantially outperforms previous VI- and RWS-based methods in inference and model learning, achieving lower parameter error and tighter likelihood bounds.

Towards Understanding the Dynamics of Gaussian-Stein Variational Gradient Descent

Tianle Liu · Promit Ghosal · Krishnakumar Balasubramanian · Natesh Pillai

Stein Variational Gradient Descent (SVGD) is a nonparametric particle-based deterministic sampling algorithm. Despite its wide usage, understanding the theoretical properties of SVGD has remained a challenging problem. For sampling from a Gaussian target, the SVGD dynamics with a bilinear kernel will remain Gaussian as long as the initializer is Gaussian. Inspired by this fact, we undertake a detailed theoretical study of the Gaussian-SVGD, i.e., SVGD projected to the family of Gaussian distributions via the bilinear kernel, or equivalently Gaussian variational inference (GVI) with SVGD. We present a complete picture by considering both the mean-field PDE and discrete particle systems. When the target is strongly log-concave, the mean-field Gaussian-SVGD dynamics is proven to converge linearly to the Gaussian distribution closest to the target in KL divergence. In the finite-particle setting, there is both uniform in time convergence to the mean-field limit and linear convergence in time to the equilibrium if the target is Gaussian. In the general case, we propose a density-based and a particle-based implementation of the Gaussian-SVGD, and show that several recent algorithms for GVI, proposed from different perspectives, emerge as special cases of our unified framework. Interestingly, one of the new particle-based instance from this framework empirically outperforms existing approaches. Our results make concrete contributions towards obtaining a deeper understanding of both SVGD and GVI.

Spotlight Poster
Compression with Bayesian Implicit Neural Representations

Zongyu Guo · Gergely Flamich · Jiajun He · Zhibo Chen · José Miguel Hernández-Lobato

Many common types of data can be represented as functions that map coordinates to signal values, such as pixel locations to RGB values in the case of an image. Based on this view, data can be compressed by overfitting a compact neural network to its functional representation and then encoding the network weights. However, most current solutions for this are inefficient, as quantization to low-bit precision substantially degrades the reconstruction quality. To address this issue, we propose overfitting variational Bayesian neural networks to the data and compressing an approximate posterior weight sample using relative entropy coding instead of quantizing and entropy coding it. This strategy enables direct optimization of the rate-distortion performance by minimizing the $\beta$-ELBO, and target different rate-distortion trade-offs for a given network architecture by adjusting $\beta$. Moreover, we introduce an iterative algorithm for learning prior weight distributions and employ a progressive refinement process for the variational posterior that significantly enhances performance. Experiments show that our method achieves strong performance on image and audio compression while retaining simplicity.

Variational Inference with Gaussian Score Matching

Chirag Modi · Robert Gower · Charles Margossian · Yuling Yao · David Blei · Lawrence Saul

Variational inference (VI) is a method to approximate the computationally intractable posterior distributions that arise in Bayesian statistics. Typically, VI fits a simple parametric distribution to be close to the target posterior, optimizing an appropriate objective such as the evidence lower bound (ELBO). In this work, we present a new approach to VI. Our method is based on the principle of score matching---namely, that if two distributions are equal then their score functions (i.e., gradients of the log density) are equal at every point on their support. With this principle, we develop score-matching VI, an iterative algorithm that seeks to match the scores between the variational approximation and the exact posterior. At each iteration, score-matching VI solves an inner optimization, one that minimally adjusts the current variational estimate to match the scores at a newly sampled value of the latent variables. We show that when the variational family is a Gaussian, this inner optimization enjoys a closed-form solution, which we call Gaussian score matching VI (GSM-VI). GSM-VI is a ``black box'' variational algorithm in that it only requires a differentiable joint distribution, and as such it can be applied to a wide class of models. We compare GSM-VI to black box variational inference (BBVI), which has similar requirements but instead optimizes the ELBO. We first study how GSM-VI behaves as a function of the problem dimensionality, the condition number of the target covariance matrix (when the target is Gaussian), and the degree of mismatch between the approximating and exact posterior distribution. We then study GSM-VI on a collection of real-world Bayesian inference problems from the posteriorDB database of datasets and models. We find that GSM-VI is faster than BBVI and equally or more accurate. Specifically, over a wide range of target posteriors, GSM-VI requires 10-100x fewer gradient evaluations than BBVI to obtain a comparable quality of approximation.

Imitation Learning from Vague Feedback

Xin-Qiang Cai · Yu-Jie Zhang · Chao-Kai Chiang · Masashi Sugiyama

Imitation learning from human feedback studies how to train well-performed imitation agents with an annotator's relative comparison of two demonstrations (one demonstration is better/worse than the other), which is usually easier to collect than the perfect expert data required by traditional imitation learning. However, in many real-world applications, it is still expensive or even impossible to provide a clear pairwise comparison between two demonstrations with similar quality. This motivates us to study the problem of imitation learning with vague feedback, where the data annotator can only distinguish the paired demonstrations correctly when their quality differs significantly, i.e., one from the expert and another from the non-expert. By modeling the underlying demonstration pool as a mixture of expert and non-expert data, we show that the expert policy distribution can be recovered when the proportion $\alpha$ of expert data is known. We also propose a mixture proportion estimation method for the unknown $\alpha$ case. Then, we integrate the recovered expert policy distribution with generative adversarial imitation learning to form an end-to-end algorithm. Experiments show that our methods outperform standard and preference-based imitation learning methods on various tasks.

Keep Various Trajectories: Promoting Exploration of Ensemble Policies in Continuous Control

Chao Li · Chen GONG · Qiang He · Xinwen Hou

The combination of deep reinforcement learning (DRL) with ensemble methods has been proved to be highly effective in addressing complex sequential decision-making problems. This success can be primarily attributed to the utilization of multiple models, which enhances both the robustness of the policy and the accuracy of value function estimation. However, there has been limited analysis of the empirical success of current ensemble RL methods thus far. Our new analysis reveals that the sample efficiency of previous ensemble DRL algorithms may be limited by sub-policies that are not as diverse as they could be. Motivated by these findings, our study introduces a new ensemble RL algorithm, termed \textbf{T}rajectories-awar\textbf{E} \textbf{E}nsemble exploratio\textbf{N} (TEEN). The primary goal of TEEN is to maximize the expected return while promoting more diverse trajectories. Through extensive experiments, we demonstrate that TEEN not only enhances the sample diversity of the ensemble policy compared to using sub-policies alone but also improves the performance over ensemble RL algorithms. On average, TEEN outperforms the baseline ensemble DRL algorithms by 41\% in performance on the tested representative environments.

Efficient Potential-based Exploration in Reinforcement Learning using Inverse Dynamic Bisimulation Metric

Yiming Wang · Ming Yang · Renzhi Dong · Binbin Sun · Furui Liu · Leong Hou U

Reward shaping is an effective technique for integrating domain knowledge into reinforcement learning (RL). However, traditional approaches like potential-based reward shaping totally rely on manually designing shaping reward functions, which significantly restricts exploration efficiency and introduces human cognitive biases.While a number of RL methods have been proposed to boost exploration by designing an intrinsic reward signal as exploration bonus. Nevertheless, these methods heavily rely on the count-based episodic term in their exploration bonus which falls short in scalability. To address these limitations, we propose a general end-to-end potential-based exploration bonus for deep RL via potentials of state discrepancy, which motivates the agent to discover novel states and provides them with denser rewards without manual intervention. Specifically, we measure the novelty of adjacent states by calculating their distance using the bisimulation metric-based potential function, which enhances agent's exploration and ensures policy invariance. In addition, we offer a theoretical guarantee on our inverse dynamic bisimulation metric, bounding the value difference and ensuring that the agent explores states with higher TD error, thus significantly improving training efficiency. The proposed approach is named \textbf{LIBERTY} (exp\textbf{L}oration v\textbf{I}a \textbf{B}isimulation m\textbf{E}t\textbf{R}ic-based s\textbf{T}ate discrepanc\textbf{Y}) which is comprehensively evaluated on the MuJoCo and the Arcade Learning Environments. Extensive experiments have verified the superiority and scalability of our algorithm compared with other competitive methods.

Structured State Space Models for In-Context Reinforcement Learning

Chris Lu · Yannick Schroecker · Albert Gu · Emilio Parisotto · Jakob Foerster · Satinder Singh · Feryal Behbahani

Structured state space sequence (S4) models have recently achieved state-of-the-art performance on long-range sequence modeling tasks. These models also have fast inference speeds and parallelisable training, making them potentially useful in many reinforcement learning settings. We propose a modification to a variant of S4 that enables us to initialise and reset the hidden state in parallel, allowing us to tackle reinforcement learning tasks. We show that our modified architecture runs asymptotically faster than Transformers in sequence length and performs better than RNN's on a simple memory-based task. We evaluate our modified architecture on a set of partially-observable environments and find that, in practice, our model outperforms RNN's while also running over five times faster. Then, by leveraging the model’s ability to handle long-range sequences, we achieve strong performance on a challenging meta-learning task in which the agent is given a randomly-sampled continuous control environment, combined with a randomly-sampled linear projection of the environment's observations and actions. Furthermore, we show the resulting model can adapt to out-of-distribution held-out tasks. Overall, the results presented in this paper show that structured state space models are fast and performant for in-context reinforcement learning tasks. We provide code at

Effectively Learning Initiation Sets in Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning

Akhil Bagaria · Ben Abbatematteo · Omer Gottesman · Matt Corsaro · Sreehari Rammohan · George Konidaris

An agent learning an option in hierarchical reinforcement learning must solve three problems: identify the option's subgoal (termination condition), learn a policy, and learn where that policy will succeed (initiation set). The termination condition is typically identified first, but the option policy and initiation set must be learned simultaneously, which is challenging because the initiation set depends on the option policy, which changes as the agent learns. Consequently, data obtained from option execution becomes invalid over time, leading to an inaccurate initiation set that subsequently harms downstream task performance. We highlight three issues---data non-stationarity, temporal credit assignment, and pessimism---specific to learning initiation sets, and propose to address them using tools from off-policy value estimation and classification. We show that our method learns higher-quality initiation sets faster than existing methods (in MiniGrid and Montezuma's Revenge), can automatically discover promising grasps for robot manipulation (in Robosuite), and improves the performance of a state-of-the-art option discovery method in a challenging maze navigation task in MuJoCo.

Finite-Time Analysis of Single-Timescale Actor-Critic

Xuyang Chen · Lin Zhao

Actor-critic methods have achieved significant success in many challenging applications. However, its finite-time convergence is still poorly understood in the most practical single-timescale form. Existing works on analyzing single-timescale actor-critic have been limited to i.i.d. sampling or tabular setting for simplicity. We investigate the more practical online single-timescale actor-critic algorithm on continuous state space, where the critic assumes linear function approximation and updates with a single Markovian sample per actor step. Previous analysis has been unable to establish the convergence for such a challenging scenario. We demonstrate that the online single-timescale actor-critic method provably finds an $\epsilon$-approximate stationary point with $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\epsilon^{-2})$ sample complexity under standard assumptions, which can be further improved to $\mathcal{O}(\epsilon^{-2})$ under the i.i.d. sampling. Our novel framework systematically evaluates and controls the error propagation between the actor and critic. It offers a promising approach for analyzing other single-timescale reinforcement learning algorithms as well.

Robust Knowledge Transfer in Tiered Reinforcement Learning

Jiawei Huang · Niao He

In this paper, we study the Tiered Reinforcement Learning setting, a parallel transfer learning framework, where the goal is to transfer knowledge from the low-tier (source) task to the high-tier (target) task to reduce the exploration risk of the latter while solving the two tasks in parallel. Unlike previous work, we do not assume the low-tier and high-tier tasks share the same dynamics or reward functions, and focus on robust knowledge transfer without prior knowledge on the task similarity. We identify a natural and necessary condition called the ``Optimal Value Dominance'' for our objective. Under this condition, we propose novel online learning algorithms such that, for the high-tier task, it can achieve constant regret on partial states depending on the task similarity and retain near-optimal regret when the two tasks are dissimilar, while for the low-tier task, it can keep near-optimal without making sacrifice. Moreover, we further study the setting with multiple low-tier tasks, and propose a novel transfer source selection mechanism, which can ensemble the information from all low-tier tasks and allow provable benefits on a much larger state-action space.

No-Regret Online Reinforcement Learning with Adversarial Losses and Transitions

Tiancheng Jin · Junyan Liu · Chloé Rouyer · William Chang · Chen-Yu Wei · Haipeng Luo

Existing online learning algorithms for adversarial Markov Decision Processes achieve $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{T})$ regret after $T$ rounds of interactions even if the loss functions are chosen arbitrarily by an adversary, with the caveat that the transition function has to be fixed.This is because it has been shown that adversarial transition functions make no-regret learning impossible.Despite such impossibility results, in this work, we develop algorithms that can handle both adversarial losses and adversarial transitions, with regret increasing smoothly in the degree of maliciousness of the adversary.More concretely, we first propose an algorithm that enjoys $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(\sqrt{T} + C^{P})$ regret where $C^{P}$ measures how adversarial the transition functions are and can be at most $\mathcal{O}(T)$.While this algorithm itself requires knowledge of $C^{P}$, we further develop a black-box reduction approach that removes this requirement.Moreover, we also show that further refinements of the algorithm not only maintains the same regret bound, but also simultaneously adapts to easier environments (where losses are generated in a certain stochastically constrained manner as in [Jin et al. 2021]) and achieves $\widetilde{\mathcal{O}}(U + \sqrt{UC^{L}} + C^{P})$ regret, where $U$ is some standard gap-dependent coefficient and $C^{L}$ is the amount of corruption on losses.

General Munchausen Reinforcement Learning with Tsallis Kullback-Leibler Divergence

Lingwei Zhu · Zheng Chen · Matthew Schlegel · Martha White

Many policy optimization approaches in reinforcement learning incorporate a Kullback-Leilbler (KL) divergence to the previous policy, to prevent the policy from changing too quickly. This idea was initially proposed in a seminal paper on Conservative Policy Iteration, with approximations given by algorithms like TRPO and Munchausen Value Iteration (MVI). We continue this line of work by investigating a generalized KL divergence---called the Tsallis KL divergence. Tsallis KL defined by the $q$-logarithm is a strict generalization, as $q = 1$ corresponds to the standard KL divergence; $q > 1$ provides a range of new options. We characterize the types of policies learned under the Tsallis KL, and motivate when $q >1$ could be beneficial. To obtain a practical algorithm that incorporates Tsallis KL regularization, we extend MVI, which is one of the simplest approaches to incorporate KL regularization. We show that this generalized MVI($q$) obtains significant improvements over the standard MVI($q = 1$) across 35 Atari games.

Accelerating Monte Carlo Tree Search with Probability Tree State Abstraction

Yangqing Fu · Ming Sun · Buqing Nie · Yue Gao

Monte Carlo Tree Search (MCTS) algorithms such as AlphaGo and MuZero have achieved superhuman performance in many challenging tasks. However, the computational complexity of MCTS-based algorithms is influenced by the size of the search space. To address this issue, we propose a novel probability tree state abstraction (PTSA) algorithm to improve the search efficiency of MCTS. A general tree state abstraction with path transitivity is defined. In addition, the probability tree state abstraction is proposed for fewer mistakes during the aggregation step. Furthermore, the theoretical guarantees of the transitivity and aggregation error bound are justified. To evaluate the effectiveness of the PTSA algorithm, we integrate it with state-of-the-art MCTS-based algorithms, such as Sampled MuZero and Gumbel MuZero. Experimental results on different tasks demonstrate that our method can accelerate the training process of state-of-the-art algorithms with 10%-45% search space reduction.

Multi-Modal Inverse Constrained Reinforcement Learning from a Mixture of Demonstrations

Guanren Qiao · Guiliang Liu · Pascal Poupart · Zhiqiang Xu

Inverse Constraint Reinforcement Learning (ICRL) aims to recover the underlying constraints respected by expert agents in a data-driven manner. Existing ICRL algorithms typically assume that the demonstration data is generated by a single type of expert. However, in practice, demonstrations often comprise a mixture of trajectories collected from various expert agents respecting different constraints, making it challenging to explain expert behaviors with a unified constraint function. To tackle this issue, we propose a Multi-Modal Inverse Constrained Reinforcement Learning (MMICRL) algorithm for simultaneously estimating multiple constraints corresponding to different types of experts. MMICRL constructs a flow-based density estimator that enables unsupervised expert identification from demonstrations, so as to infer the agent-specific constraints. Following these constraints, MMICRL imitates expert policies with a novel multi-modal constrained policy optimization objective that minimizes the agent-conditioned policy entropy and maximizes the unconditioned one. To enhance robustness, we incorporate this objective into the contrastive learning framework. This approach enables imitation policies to capture the diversity o